Meet the 2014-15 Player and Rookie of the Year

Posted in Event Coverage on August 3, 2015

By Corbin Hosler

2014-15 Player of the Year: Mike Sigrist

Winning Player of the Year is one of the highest honors that can be earned in Magic. In fact, second only to being inducted into the Hall of Fame, winning the Player of the Year title is the most visible goal all players on the Pro Tour chase.

Eric Froehlich had already accomplished one of those things this weekend—he was named to the Magic Hall of Fame class of 2015 along with Willy Edel and Shota Yasooka—and the second was well within his reach entering Vancouver.

Froehlich came in with a slim lead, which meant approximately nothing if he couldn't also turn in a strong performance in Vancouver. Dozens of players came to Pro Tour Magic Origins with an opportunity to earn the title with a particularly strong finish coupled with an early exit from Froehlich.

And when the newly-named Magic Hall of Fame member started the tournament 0-3, it looked like some of those longshots may actually have a realistic chance of making a run at the title.

But you can never count Froehlich out, and after the nightmare start he rattled off an increasingly-improbable string of wins, running his record all the way to 11-4 and one by one eliminating those who could challenge him.

In the end, it was just Mike Sigrist who had a shot to upend Froehlich, and it would take a win in the final round to advance to the Top 8, where he would then need to string together several more wins to steal away the title. It would take nothing less than a Pro Tour finals appearance to pull it off, and it wasn't something Sigrist even worried himself with.

"I didn't even think about it last night," he admitted on Sunday.

Whatever he did, it worked. Sigrist stormed through the quarters and semis on Sunday, with Froehlich sweating every round from the sidelines. Though Sigrist went on to lose a close Game 5 in the finals, he walks away from Vancouver as your 2014-15 Magic Player of the Year.

Sigrist made the Top 8 of two Pro Tours this season and stands at the top of the Magic world, but you'd be wrong if you think that's the most important thing in his life right now; after the event ended, he rushed home to be with his wife, who is nine months pregnant with twin girls.

"I know she would have loved to be here, and it's been an emotional struggle for both us while I've been gone testing for the Pro Tour, but I'm looking forward to being back home with her," Sigrist said. "I did not expect to win this, but it's been incredible. I've really devoted myself the last few years, and it feels good to have it pay off like this. Eric was just as deserving of this, and I feel lucky and thankful to win."

2014-15 Rookie of the Year: Justin Cohen

Cohen still can't believe his fortune. A relative newcomer to the Pro Tour scene, Cohen exploded in a big way back in February, when he made an incredible run to the finals of Pro Tour Fate Reforged. It was a huge accomplishment for anyone, much less a Pro Tour rookie who had just earned his first Pro Point a few months earlier at Grand Prix Omaha.

It was an improbable run, but it was a memorable one for the Team Ultra PRO member. And it was more than enough to jumpstart his Rookie of the Year candidacy.

Cohen continued to compete after his incredible run, and though he didn't quite reach his goal of attaining Platinum status in the Pro Tour Players Club, he's more than happy with his runaway victory in the race for the best new player on the professional scene.

"It's cool, and the recognition is nice," he said. "It still feels a little weird since most of it came from one event. It's like an extra reward for getting second at the Pro Tour."

"I definitely learned a lot, and I'll be back and working harder next season. I've got a great team and I'm going to double down on working hard. I learned this year that it takes a good amount of discipline to consistently do well. There were a few Grand Prix that I started strong but the wheels came off at the end. Those final rounds are where the Pro Points are, and coming back next year I know what I need to do to stay tight and finish the tournament."

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