Round 16: (1) Eric Froehlich (Blue-Red Ensoul Artifact) vs. Marc Tobiasch (Jeskai)

Posted in Event Coverage on August 2, 2015

By Marc Calderaro

Though first-ranked Eric Froehlich was just recently elected into the Pro Tour Hall of Fame Class of 2015, he has a lot riding on this match. Player of the Year is still up for grabs, with twentieth-ranked Mike Sigrist being the last man standing against Froehlich. If Froehlich wins here, Sigrist has to win the whole Pro Tour to be Player of the Year. If Froehlich loses or draws, Sigrist just has to make it to the finals.

"Siiiiiggggi." Froehlich taunted toward the front table. The two are great friends and tested together for this Pro Tour, but among top-level Magic pros there will always be some competitive razzing. Being right next to your comrade in arms during such a high-profile match is too much to not say something.

This race has been crazy this whole weekend. Froehlich 0-3'ed the first draft, and the chatter was how live the race was. But as they say, the rumors of his death were greatly exaggerated, and Froehlich is still playing and defending his position as top of the food chain.

And though there's a lot riding on some ranked players, Froehlich's opponent, Marc Tobiasch is playing for something important too. Though not as prestigious, a win or a draw here will, he's sure, lock him for Silver Pro Player status. It's easy to get lost in the big-time races at a Pro Tour, but for Tobiasch this match might mean just as much to him as it does to Froehlich.

When it came to actual placing, however, because each players' breakers were very bad, a win would not jump them into the Top 16, only help them remain in the Top 25. Froehlich wanted to offer a draw to help out Tobiasch, but looking over at Sigrist, he couldn't quite do it yet. The two discussed what a win, loss, or draw might mean for each of them, mathematically, after shuffling up.

While Eric Froehlich was looking to pad his Player of the Year lead, Mark Tobiasch's Silver status in the Pro Tour Players Club was on the line.

Tobiasch comes in with the deck advantage. Froehlich and his Blue-Red Ensoul Artifact deck has only lost two games of Constructed, both to Jeskai. And with the Jeskai Charms in his main deck, Tobiasch is playing one of the hardest versions of the deck to overcome. Full of flying hasters and endless burn, unless Froehlich comes screaming out the gates, Tobiasch could likely wait Froehlich out. It'll be a battle for sure.

The Games

Froehlich was on the play and went Ornithopter, Hangarback Walker, Phyrexian Revoker on his opponent's Soulfire Grand Master, then Chief of the Foundry. It was a pretty optimal start for the American, but Tobiasch's draw was no pushover. And here was when the German showed just how strong his deck was against the Thopter legion.

By the fourth turn, Tobiasch had two Mantis Rider on the field, and was swinging for 6 damage in the air very quickly. The scores were 11-13 in his favor when he got his fifth turn back. His hand was full of burn and Valorous Stance, and he used the white spell to take out Froehlich's flying defense to continue his full-court press.

But Froehlich saw it coming. After the Mantis Riders attacked, Froehlich sacrificed his Hangarback Walker to a Shrapnel Blast (targeting one Rider) and made three Thopter tokens. They were 2/2 thanks to the Chief, and threaten to decimate Tobiasch's air assault, but a Stoke the Flames took out the lord and Froehlich settled for trading the three Thopters for the second rider. No more fliers for Tobiasch.

Froehlich's attention was as fixated on Sigrist's match as it was for his own.

Throughout the match, you could see both Froehlich and Sigrist stealing glances at one another, checking in on board states and potential game wins or losses.

After Froehlich turned back to his game, he went in on the assault. But that was when Tobiasch's kicked in his afterburners, or really. The Hall of Fame elect was at healthy 10 life, but a Jeskai Charm and two Lightning Strike was enough to make him pack it in for the second game.

Meanwhile, on the front table, Mike Sigrist had won his first game over Bryan Gottlieb.

"Sigrist," Froehlich muttered under his breath.

In the second game, Froehlich went for another strategy entirely. On turn two he cast Ensoul Artifact on a Ghostfire Blade, then the next turn a second on Darksteel Citadel. But Tobiasch was more than prepared and dispatched them both with ease. Roast and Jeskai Charm staved off consecutive 5/5s. The Charm put Citadel on the top of Froehlich's deck, setting him back significantly.

Knocking the Player of the Year off of his throne was no easy task, but Tobiasch was dead set on his goal of Silver.

Froehlich was getting low on cards, but he wasn't done yet. His Whirler Rogue resolved, and then he tried for a Thopter Spy Network. Against Tobiasch was on the ball with a Negate, and his Mantis Rider and Soulfire Grand Master kept him on the aggressive. It was 9-13 in the German's favor. Tobiasch had all the answers to Froehlich's questions.

Tobiasch then went more aggressive, turning his Grandmaster indestructible with his Valorous Stance, and attacked in. Because he was returning the combat trick with Soulfire Grand Master's ability, there was very little to lose in doing so. Froehlich had to start chump-blocking as his life total was so low.

Froehlich was losing steam, and since Tobiasch's spells weren't costing him a card, thanks to the Grandmaster, it was only a matter of time.

"You still interested in drawing?" Froehlich asked.

The young Tobiasch had proved his point. He had the probable Player of the Year and new Hall of Fame Class of 2015 member on the ropes—he was beatable.

Tobiasch extended his hand, and the two players drew the match.

Eric Froehlich's Blue-Red Ensoul Artifact—Pro Tour Magic Origins

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Marc Tobiasch's Jeskai—Pro Tour Magic Origins

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