Posted in PRO TOUR KHANS OF TARKIR - COVERAGE - EVENTS on October 13, 2014

By Corbin Hosler

When 5th-ranked Ivan Floch sat down at the table for the third Quarterfinal match of the day, he wasn't just chasing his second consecutive Pro Tour title. He was chasing history.

Only one player in the history of Magic has won back-to-back Pro Tours, and that was back in 2001 by "German Juggernaut" and hall of famer Kai Budde.

He's a big deal. You may have heard of him.

But Floch had the opportunity to do just that on Sunday in Honolulu after being crowned champion at Pro Tour Magic 2015. His Blue-Black Control deck was one of the more unique in the tournament, eschewing the main-deck Pearl Lake Ancient and instead using four copies of Prognostic Sphinx as his finisher of choice. It's a deck that excels against the Abzan decks that were heavily represented in the tournament.

His opponent, Mike Sigrist, was one of those playing Abzan. But Sigrist, fresh off a win at Grand Prix Washington D.C. a few months ago (where he beat fellow Pro Tour Khans of Tarkir Top 8 member Yuuya Watanabe in the finals), wasn't playing the midrange variant that most people had chosen. Instead, Sigrist was running an aggressive list making use of Fleecemane Lion, Rakshasa Deathdealer, and Herald of Torment. Unlike the slower builds of the deck, Sigrist's had the ability to play resilient threats before the control decks had time to set up, which forced them to choose between using a removal spell or keeping up a counterspell mana.

It was enough to give Sigrist's deck an edge against much of the field, and Floch knew going in that he was an underdog.

"We practiced the match last night. I was winning 30 percent of the games," Floch admitted sheepishly before the match.

5th-ranked Ivan Floch knew his Quarterfinals match against Mike Sigrist was going to be tough to win his way out of. But the Pro Tour winner was ready to put up a fight.

The Games

Floch knew he needed to catch some breaks to take the match, and that's exactly what he got in the first game as Sigrist tossed back his first hand and then saw his only creature discarded to Thoughtseize. A Sorin, Solemn Visitor from the top of the deck gave Sigrist another threat, though the only place Sorin visited was the graveyard after a Despise from Floch sent the Planeswalker packing.

Just like that, Floch had stripped Sigrist's hand of threats, and the way looked clear for him to hold on with counterspells and eventually take over with the Prognostic Sphinx in his hand.

Floch looks to navigate his way through the uphill battle.

But the top of Sigrist's deck rewarded him, and an end-of-turn Abzan Charm (choosing to draw two cards and lose two life) allowed him to deploy Fleecemane Lion and Rakshasa Deathdealer on turn 4. Floch was unable to do more than play Prognostic Sphinx a turn later and begin blocking the Lion, though thanks to its monstrous ability Floch couldn't kill it. But the Sphinx did allow him to prevent the four damage a turn while he searched for an answer to the Deathdealer, which Sigrist made sure to protect by always leaving open four mana to regenerate it twice if needed.

A second Prognostic Sphinx seemed like a start for Floch, but a pair of Hero's Downfall forced Floch to discard to the Sphinx's ability, saving both but leaving them unable to block the lethal damage the feline duo presented on the next turn.

Floch 0, Sigrist 1

Things got off to a faster start in the second game, with Rakshasa Deathdealer appearing on turn 2 for Sigrist. While it met a Hero's Downfall on Floch's turn, that meant the defending champion was unable to counter the follow-up Herald of Torment from the American.

Sigrist comes out of the gates early, backed by some of Abzan's solid mid-game threats should his early options be answered.

A Clever Impersonator traded with the Herald on the next turn, but the hits kept coming from Sigrist. Sorin, Solemn Visitor was next to join the party, followed by Ajani, Mentor of Heroes. The combination gave the Abzan player complete control of the battlefield, and a Wingmate Roc (with its bird friend in tow) sent things from bad to worse. Silence the Believers stemmed the tide, but Siege Rhino made an appearance to finish things off on the next turn.

Mike Sigrist defeats Ivan Floch 2-0 and advances to the Semifinals!

Ivan Floch – Blue-Black Control Pro Tour Khans of Tarkir

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Mike Sigrist – Abzan Aggro Pro Tour Khans of Tarkir

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