Experts' corner

Chris Fulop

Despair Ray

A Fulop/Ghaziaskar Production. Today's article will focus on a deck I am extremely excited about, and a deck that is not only good in the short term, but one that will only get better with the release of the next upcoming Sun and Moon expansion.

19. 04. 2017 by Chris Fulop

Hello again everyone! Today's article will focus on a deck I am extremely excited about, and a deck that is not only good in the short term, but one that will only get better with the release of the next upcoming Sun and Moon expansion. This whole article will be dedicated to this one deck in extreme detail because I am convinced it is the best deck in the format. I need to give specific thanks to 2005 US National Champion Seena Ghaziaskar for helping me test this deck and refine it to the point where it is at now.

The deck I am talking about is Mega Rayquaza with Mega Gardevoir. Now, I'm not going to pretend that I am the first person to make this pairing: In fact, I had been fairly critical of the pairing in previous iterations. My infatuation with Mega Rayquaza is fairly well documented by this point, and while I consider the archetype, even beyond this build, to be generally a good deck, I think this is by far the best approach.

"But Chris! Mega Rayquaza has not put up particularly great results at Regionals lately! It can't be that good if it isn't winning!"

Lets address the Donphan in the room, shall we?

Of course it hasn't been winning Regionals: I haven't traveled to any.

Jokes aside, lets actually discuss this. I feel like there is a very big misunderstanding about Mega Rayquaza as a deck. I look at lists, and I watch players on stream, or play against them online, and I feel like everything is outdated. I watch people building and playing the deck like it was a whole format ago ( or Expanded. ) Mega Rayquaza's debut in the game was as an extremely aggressive, streamlined and consistent "turbo" deck. That engine is no longer in Standard. Yet because of this appearance, I constantly watch players try to build lists and play lists as if not much has change. A lot has changed. Playing a worse version of a previously great build isn't the only way to play the deck, and in fact it is a really bad way to go about it.

The deck cannot reliably pull off a turn one Emerald Break. Building to try and accomplish this eats up a ton of deck space. It weakens you against Vileplume as the deck is so reliant on Items. One of the other big enemies of this deck is Parallel City. Even builds that get closer to pulling off a very aggressive build of this deck end up burning a ton of resources early to do so, and they are in turn ill equipped to fight against Parallel City when facing down Ns. ( And Garbodor at times! ) Mega Rayquaza is both not -quite- reliable enough in speed, and is constantly playing a game of resource management with minimal margin for error in some of it's matchups.

What is often overlooked is that Mega Rayquaza is a 220 HP monster that hits for 240 damage. You don't need to be blisteringly fast for this card to be good! Mega Rayquaza plays really well from behind, actually. I see too many players burn through resources on the first turn, drop a Sky Field, fill up their bench, and swing in with a Mega Rayquaza on the first possible turn. Slow down. Hit something with energy. Slow down, build your board, and don't spam a full field of Pokemon that are going to get pitched when Sky Field gets countered and you just threw away a bunch of your Pokemon for minimal impact. Slowing down the early game does wonders towards making the deck's end game stronger. All you need to do on the first turn is attach an energy to a Rayquaza EX, and end the turn with a Mega Evolution. The deck's early game is extremely smooth and consistent if your goal is to just get a turn 2 Mega Rayquaza EX. You can reliably do this without overextending, and without burning resources. You can do this while devoting very few cards towards "speeding up" the deck. I watch some very good players misunderstand Rayquaza's role in this format because it's previous identity was so well defined. I don't mean this to be insulting or just downplaying everyone as an idiot. It took me a lot of time to really come to these conclusions, and a lot of it is because I desperately wanted to FORCE the deck to be good, and I was dedicated.

Another problem the archetype faces is that in general, a lot of the better players shy away from the deck, and I think that stems at least partially from that fact that most Rayquaza decks are handled incorrectly. What allure is there to the deck if the average list isn't terribly impressive? Misunderstandings...USUALLY caused by a failure to be willing to deviate enough from a stock list when that stock list proves poorly this are not uncommon. You have players like Jose Marrero who is an expert with the deck consistently put up good results with it. Players who really put the time in with the deck have done really well with it, and talking to them about the deck and it's matchups compared to how non-Rayquaza players view those same matchups yield a stark contrast. I've heard a player site Yveltal as a 70-30 favorite against Rayquaza, while Jose...and myself...view it as 60-40 in favor of Rayquaza. Such a gap in projected winrates is insane. A 30 percent swing is...well, massive.

A matchup like Yveltal Garbodor is really swayed by how well the Rayquaza player knows how to manage it's resources and play for a long game. You don't always need to be the aggressive in these types of games, as you walk into disruption and Ns well before you have a board capable of sustaining your game. It is easy to play Rayquaza in terms of just spamming Emerald Breaks as soon and as often as you can, but that is rarely correct. That being said, I feel like this actually benefits an experienced Rayquaza player, because most players have misleading experiences against the deck, and that works to their advantage. I've certainly played against top tier players who I felt mismanaged their game plan against me, which only further reinforces my belief on this issue.

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