Round 3 Feature Match: Patrick Cox vs. (11) Eric Froehlich

Posted in PRO TOUR FATE REFORGED on February 6, 2015

By Jacob Van Lunen

Jacob Van Lunen began playing Magic in 1995. He has participated in organized play at every level of competition and was a member of the winning team at Pro Tour San Diego in 2007, thanks to an innovative draft strategy. As a writer, Van Lunen has had more than three hundred Magic strategy pieces published

At this point Eric Froehlich, affectionately known as Efro, needs little introduction. The eleventh-ranked player in the world has a staggering three Pro Tour Top 8s and thirteen Grand Prix Top 8s to his name, including his first win last weekend in San Jose. It’s no surprise to see Froehlich entering the third round with an undefeated record. Froehlich is armed with a powerful Abzan deck featuring impressive cards like Sentinels of High Arashin.

His opponent, Patrick Cox, is no slouch either. Cox earned his second Pro Tour Top 8 last August at Pro Tour Magic 2015, proving that he’s more than a one-hit wonder. Cox put his Top 8 to good use last season by attaining Gold in the Pro Players Club. Cox is piloting an aggressive and consistent Red-White deck.

The players waited in the feature match area while the tournament at large got underway with the third round.

No slouches to the game, both Eric Froehlich and Patrick Cox squared off to enter the Modern rounds with an undefeated draft record.

Froehlich lamented. "This is the problem with starting 2-0 and getting a feature match. We might end up with a shorter lunch break.”

Cox laughed and nodded as the judges told them to start playing.

The Games

Cox got off to an aggressive start with Leaping Master. Froehlich was ready to tango with Typhoid Rats to hold the ground. The rats tried to block, but Feat of Resistance saved Cox’s Leaping Master and made it into a more threatening 3/2 that could potentially start jumping if the game went late.

From here, each player advanced their board on the coming turns, Cox with Summit Prowler and Froehlich with a pair of morphs.

Cox broke through for big damage when he targeted Leaping Master with a ferocious Temur Battle Rage after it got blocked by one of Froehlich’s morphs and it looked like Cox might be able to force through enough damage to close the game with his 3/2 Leaping Master.

Froehlich turtled up with Armament Corps, making it into a 5/5 and putting a +1/+1 counter on his remaining morph. Cox had Canyon Lurkers on the following turn.

With no play on his turn, it looked like Froehlich had a big instant or an impressive morph. Cox thought better of attacking into Froehlich, who had plenty of mana and cards in hand, and decided to cast Wardscale Dragon and pass the turn.

Here’s where the game swung massively in Froehlich’s favor. Froehlich unmorphed Abzan Guide on Cox’s end step. On his turn he used Hunt the Weak to dispatch of Cox’s dragon and gain 6 life. Then he attacked with the Abzan Guide and, when Cox went for the block, used Become Immense to take out Summit Prowler and gain another 12 life.

Froehlich found his opening.

From here, the superior board of Froehlich never faltered. With a 5/5 Armament Corps repeatedly attacking and a 6/6 Abzan Guide playing defense it was only a matter of time before Cox was forced to move on to the second game.

Froehlich had an early Typhoid Rats to hold the ground again, but it looked like Cox would be able to fly over the top with Abzan Falconer, one of the best uncommons in Khans of Tarkir.

Cox had a morph and Gore Swine, which, while unimpressive with Typhoid Rats on the other side of the table, could become a serious threat if it picked up a +1/+1 counter to gain flying alongside Abzan Falconer.

Froehlich thought for a bit and, having seen little in the way of removal from Cox, deployed one of the most powerful rares in the format, High Sentinels of Arashin.

Cox looks for an answer to one of the block's most dominating flying creatures.

With such a powerful rare on the other side of the table, Cox knew he had to turn the game into a race. Elite Scaleguard came down, pumping Gore Swine and clearing the way for his team through Froehlich’s blocking force.

The race wasn’t meant to be, though. Froehlich unmorphed Abzan guide and gained back a big chunk of the damage he suffered the turn prior. Savage Punch took care of Elite Scaleguard, once again giving him the ability to block.

Cox had Smite the Monstrous for High Sentinels of Arashin and continued attacking in the air, Froehlich needed to get into the sky and Longshot Squad was the perfect card for the situation.

Cox was out of gas while the hits kept coming for Froehlich. It was only a matter of time before Cox’s life total had dwindled to nothing.

Cox 0 – Froehlich 2