Scrambling for a Good Deck: Exeggutor
Hi everyone, my name is Mees Brenninkmeijer and I am so honored and thrilled to be writing for PokeBeach! If you haven’t already, be sure to sign up for our article program – there’s a special one-time discount until the end of the week! Don’t miss out – even if you’re not happy with the program, there’s a 30-day money-back guarantee, so there’s no risk to you! We’ll be giving you weekly advice with these articles but we’ll also be helping you with your deck lists and holding metagame discussions that only you can see. It’s going to be very exciting!
Anyway, since this is my first article, I’ll start with a bit of an introduction, go over my season, and then we’ll talk extensively about the powerful Exeggutor deck and all the insider details you would ever want to know about it.
I have been playing the Pokemon TCG since Gym Heroes and Gym Challenge, but only started playing at a competitive level in 2007. As a Senior I played in the World Championships in 2008 and 2009, but sadly had to bow-out in 2010 when I was one of the highest ranking Senior player in the world. Moving up to the Master division was a new challenge that I embraced and I managed to win several City Championship and a Regional Championship in my first year. To date, I have multiple City and Regional Championship wins and am the two-time consecutive runner up for the National Championships in the Netherlands. Additionally, I have been invited for every World Championship since I aged up, and was able to actually compete in 2013 and 2014.
When the new CP invite system was introduced, I was immediately excited that my chance of playing in Worlds was not decided by a single tournament (the National Championship) but needed a consistent and ambitious series of results.
For those unfamiliar with the invite structure in Europe, I’ll explain it briefly: players in Europe get an invite if they have 300 Championship Points. The top 22 players in Europe will receive a travel award and an invitation to the second day of worlds, skipping the first day.
At the moment this article was written, I have 802 Championship Points, ranking second in the global Master rankings. The cutoff is currently 610 CP, but I imagine that at the end of the season this will be closer to 800 CP.
To an American player, this may seem extremely high, but keep in mind that the whole of Europe is a lot smaller than the United States and the tournaments are more concentrated and easier to reach for most players, thus allowing travel to a lot of tournaments. A friend of mine has played over 15 Regionals, and that doesn’t seem to be a rarity for the top players here.
Regionals started off the 2014/15 tournament season with a blast, being the series that can possible give you the most points in any best finish limit (600 for Regionals, 200 for City Championships, 90 for League Challenges and 500 for Nationals). Doing well at these tournaments is very important.
Because you might be unfamiliar with me as a player, I’ll try to briefly guide you through my season.
Thanks to my friends Curtis Lyon, Kevin Kobayashi, Aziz al-Yami, and Brit Pybas, I knew about Donphan before it became popular. We tested the initial list played by Dylan Bryan and quickly discovered the flaws in the deck and ways to beat it, but also saw the amazing potential the deck had in the current metagame. Curtis played a version of Landorus-EX/Raichu with great success at one of the first Regionals of the year, with Raichu to counter Yveltal-EX-based decks. One of the biggest issues in the Donphan deck was that an Yveltal player who knew how to play the matchup had a very distinct advantage, one that was unacceptable for us: regular Yveltal from XY and Yveltal-EX from XY both resist Fighting so when paired with Hard Charm from XY Donphan deals 40 less damage to them. So we decided that Raichu was the partner Donphan needed to rise above the other decks. Donphan/Raichu got me a top 8 finish at the first Regional event I attended, which made me hungry to play more tournaments. Seeing no reason to switch decks, I managed to get another top 4 finish, and a disappointing top 16 where I faced 2 very bad matchups in a row.
VS Seeker Joins the Format
Just before the end of the first series of Regionals, Phantom Forces gets released and brings one very important card to the table: VS Seeker. Being one of the best cards we’ve seen released in some time, it makes nearly every single deck better because they get better access to Supporters and more versatility. With an Item card being the best card from the new set, and Donphan’s popularity still high and augmented by the newly released Robo Substitute, playing Seismitoad-EX seemed like an obvious decision. The initial list I played is very different from what you see today, with a more conservative approach to the Seismitoad-EX deck.
Short Expansion of Interest to Expanded
Expanded wasn’t played at Regionals here because we never reach the requirements for a two-day tournament. However, there is a series of tournaments in Germany that is Expanded-only. Excited for a new (old) format I decided to revisit Accelgor, believing it to be one of the best cards in the Expanded cardpool. It’s ability to inflict Paralysis without any chance involved is unparalleled in the game and should be respected. The Expanded metagame didn’t respect Accelgor (yet), because Virizion-EX/Genesect-EX was still a very prominent deck in Expanded. Luckily, playing Donphan, I noticed how weak Virizion-EX/Genesect-EX was versus Hawlucha and Donphan, being a non-EX Pokemon that can deliver a two hit KO against Virizion and Genesect. Having paired Donphan with a secondary attacker before, I didn’t hesitate to build Donphan/Accelgor. The deck turned out to be a perfect counter to the metagame, not only were there a lot of decks that flat out lost to Accelgor, there was also a good share of the newly released Manectric-EX decks which Donphan handles well.
Back to the City (Championships)
Going into the first City Championship I felt uncomfortable because the format was wide open. I couldn’t properly predict what people would be using, leading me to the safe choice of Yveltal. Yveltal has been a very solid play all year around, and the list I built with Aziz was super consistent and solid in every game it entered, having high counts of VS Seeker and Lysandre to deal with Donphan, along with a Keldeo-EX to one hit KO Donphan. Despite these techs against Donphan, I ended up losing to one in top 4, which ended my day with a decent record. Again amazed by Donphan’s potential (even against decks that try to counter it), my good friend Benjamin Pham and I decided to re-invent the deck. We completely cut Float Stone, relying solely on Robo Substitute and Hawlucha as our walls. We filled the open spots with Items and Lysandre's Trump Card, which theoretically allows you to play an infinite amount of Robo Substitutes. My friend loses to me in top 4, and I finish second.
Going back to the last Regionals where I played Donphan, I remembered getting owned by Fairy twice in a row, but discredited the deck at the time because it felt sluggish and limited. Toying around with M Manectric-EX and it’s potential as a high HP damage sponge for Max Potion was done before, but I had never explored it any further. Just before a small City Championship I decide to build and play Fairies, which results in a first place finish. Almost every game I played with the deck I was surprised by how good Mega Manectric was and the fantastic synergy it had with the rest of the deck. I spent the rest of my Cities playing Fairies with 2 more wins and a top 4 finish as the result. Going into the ECC I still felt that Fairy was a strong contender.
Me and Aziz had worked on a Seismitoad-EX deck that was completely different from the standard during City Championships, Aziz won a big City Championship in the New York Mini Marathon with it. The deck featured extreme draw power, Super Scoop Up, no Energy removal and most importantly: Lysandre's Trump Card. Decks at the time were usually very bad at one hit KOing Seismitoad EX, and being able to draw your whole deck in 3 turns, playing 4 Super Scoop Up, and recycling all of them with Lysandre’s Trump Card was broken. However, the European Challenge Cup was won by Virizion EX/Genesect EX, turning me and many others away from Seismitoad-EX as a deck. The extreme engine with a lot of Item based draw wasn’t forgotten though, and ended up making it’s way into a couple of decks I tested: Charizard-EX/Crobat, Donphan, and Night March. These decks all profited much from Seismitoad-EX being absent from the metagame, and for the first Regionals in this format I decided on playing Night March, which is not only really good, but also one of my favorite decks to play with. My list was geared towards beating Fighting-based decks, because of the quick popularity they gained following Andrew Mahone’s win with Landorus-EX/Crobat. My metacall turns out to be correct, and I Night March all the way to a first place.
Having to wait another month to play in a Regionals, me and Aziz play a lot of different decks, but in the end nothing can really beat Seismitoad-EX except for Seismitoad-EX itself. The whole crew ends up playing Seismitoad-EX/Jynx, our creation that was designed to beat the large amount of Seismitoad decks that would be countering the successful Flareon deck that won Regionals Florida. Curtis ended up winning, with Brit having a strong top 8 finish. Myself? I was at home cheering them on, waiting to play next week.
Jason Klacznyski playing Exeggutor in the first week of States sparked my interest in the deck and I immediately hit up a friend for a skeleton list. Playing with the deck made me realize how broken it was, but there was still one more hurdle: Seismitoad-EX. Seismitoad-EX locking down your ability to deal extra damage with Hypnotoxic Laser and Muscle Band, and making it impossible to remove Energies with Crushing Hammer made the matchup very hard to beat. Luckily, the skeleton list had a Team Flare Grunt, which was amazing vs. Seismitoad-EX, but not enough. At some point in a game versus Aziz, I tell him “What if we run 4 Team Flare Grunt and just run Seismitoad EX out of Double Colorless Energy? They can’t even use Lysandre’s Trump Card.” We put them in, change the list up a couple more times and have made the best deck I’ve ever played! Brit ends up making some changes to the list and wins a State Championship with the deck. I pilot the deck to a top 8, top 4 and a second place finish, losing to unlucky Crushing Hammer flips versus Virizion EX based decks and a Seismitoad EX deck.
At this point, everyone is coming down from the intense State Championship month and slowly preparing for the new set and the tournaments that will be played with these exciting new cards. Having closed out the season myself, all that is left at this point is the National Championships, which I will be extensively testing and writing about.
All About Eggs
“Blockade,” Exeggutor’s first attack, is the best attack in the game (contested by Quaking Punch). “But Mees, it only deals 10 damage, how can this be good?” The answer is to that somewhat lame: “This deck doesn’t need to deal damage because your opponent will be doing nothing, preferably.” For those unfamiliar with how the deck works, the general strategy is to use “Blockade” the whole game, never allowing your opponent to play Supporters while removing their Energy cards with Crushing Hammer. An easy way to understand how this deck works is by remembering all the games you couldn’t draw a Supporter to save your life, while your opponent got to play all his cards.
The skeleton list I used for the tournaments I played in and will be using as the base for this article looks like this:
This concludes the public portion of this article.
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