Experts' corner

Aaron Tarbell

Short and Sweet: Bringing M Ray to Worlds

Aaron explains the strengths and weaknesses of M Rayquaza-EX in the upcoming Worlds format.

08/10/2017 by Aaron Tarbell

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Hello everyone! Well, NAIC is behind us and now we have the Pokémon World Championships to look forward to in just about two weeks. Most of our community is excited to see what goes down at Worlds, whether as spectators or competitors, and it’s interesting to see what decks get hyped and how popular opinion evolves in the weeks leading up to it.

For this article, I’m going to examine one of my favorite decks at the moment: Mega Rayquaza. I’ll go over the new techs available to the deck, its matchups, and why I think it’s a great Meta call for Worlds 2017.

Why Mega Ray?

M Rayquaza-EX has always been one of those decks that has a ton of power but has not really had a format where it was a comfortable play. Even in formats when it has won large tournaments, such as St. Louis Regionals 2017, the fields it won in were not very suited for it to succeed. In particular, St. Louis, while having had Despair Ray Gardevoir have mild success and Volcanion having seen a Top 8 placement, had a ton of Night March in the field along with a couple of fringe Trevenant, Decidueye-GX Vileplume, Toad Bats, and Lurantis Vileplume decks have moderate to high success as well. Each of these decks, at the time, bolstered a strong M Rayquaza-EX matchup with the ability to either item lock, consistently bump Sky Field, or out trade M Rayquaza-EX. Even with me considering M Rayquaza-EX to never have had a format where it was a secure or even a very good play insight of its success, I am humbled to say that the format that has been created Worlds 2017 might just be the format that the agro dragon, M Rayquaza-EX, has been waiting for.

Firstly, let’s address the hard counter one of that any deck can realistically fit in, Sudowoodo. This card obviously proposes problems for this deck since it limits M Rayquaza’s damage output to half of its normal potential and causes M Rayquaza-EX decks to have a hard time setting up early from not being able to play all of the wonderful support Pokémon the deck wants to play down such as Tapu Lele-GX, Shaymin-EX, and Hoopa-EX. The good news is, M Rayquaza has the potential to knockout the Sudowoodo early against most of the perceived popular decks such as Gardevoir-GX and Metagross-GX. While it is not the soundest solution to the card, M Rayquaza-EX still has a “good enough” damage output at 120 damage with a full bench, and Sudowoodo is not the most common card in decks even with how splashable it is. Unfortunately, if Sudowoodo is in the majority of decks at the tournament, M Rayquaza-EX will probably not have a good time at Worlds.


Secondly, the matchups M Rayquaza-EX is shaping up to see at this tournament are extremely favorable with certain builds of the deck. Gardevoir-GX struggles to keep up with the deck whenever M Rayquaza-EX gets a solid turn one. A constant and consistent 240 damage output against Gardevoir-GX would be hard for the deck to keep up with even if Gardevoir was a basic since Gardevoir-GX requires eight total energy between the two active Pokémon to take a one hit knock out on a M Rayquaza. Combine this disadvantage with the paradigm that M Rayquaza will typically go ahead in the prize trade early due to being able to evolve into an attacker on the first turn, M Rayquaza needing only two energy cards to access the damage necessary to knock out Gardevoir-GX while Gardevoir needs around four (one Double Colorless Energy and three Fairy Energy) to return knockouts and three (one Double Colorless Energy and two Fairy Energy) to take cheap Knock Outs on Shaymin-EX, and M Rayquaza being able to play solid basic attackers such as Magearna-EX to take knockouts on Gardevoir-GX without even promoting their main attacker, and Gardevoir-GX decks are in for a bad time.

Metagross is a very winnable matchup for the same reason. The deck is just not able to deal with going behind early and then being knocked out in a single attack. With Professor Kukui allowing M Rayquaza to have a way to get over the 240 threshold and knock out Metagross-GX, Metagross-GX has a hard time even having energy in play to attack with let alone take knockouts on something with more than 180 HP. Necrozma-GX and Tapu Koko in Metagross can be troublesome from the deck being able to load up these two threats in a single turn each and end the game, but if M Rayquaza-EX is able to set up early, the deck is able to knockout Metagross or Necrozma-GX before the Necrozma-GX is accelerated to, and the M Rayquaza-EX deck is able to use Hex Maniac in situations where the Professor Kukui was not found or the Metagross deck was able to get multiple Metagross-GX set up to prevent Geotech System from loading up the only true threat against M Rayquaza in the matchup, Necrozma-GX.

Volcanion has historically been a strong matchup for M Rayquaza-EX, and with Volcanion also gaining some ground as one of the strongest decks in format, M Rayquaza is set up to knock ‘em down. Volcanion has the potential to have a strong matchup now against M Rayquaza-EX if it plays Sudowoodo from Guardians Rising, but most lists from prior formats that had seen success were not playing it yet. Sudowoodo makes it hard to trade with Volcanion-EX and baby Volcanion with choice bands effectively, but most lists that play Sudowoodo also play Sky Field, so after a M Rayquaza is able to find a Hex Maniac to turn off Sudowoodo, the M Rayquaza-EX deck is typically able to play enough Pokémon to take a knockout on a threat while the Volcanion-EX deck typically cannot return knockout a M Rayquaza-EX. If the M Rayquaza also plays a Sudowoodo, the Volcanion player is effectively forced to play with a bench of three for the majority of the game though which can inhibit the Volcanion’s ability to knockout M Rayquaza-EX with no damage on them, and, therefore, the M Rayquaza-EX deck has the ability to regain the advantage in the prize trade if the Volcanion deck is not running hot enough. If the Volcanion deck does not run Sudowoodo though, Emerald break is usually too much for it to deal with.

Greninja has also started to gain hype in some circles with the inclusion of Tapu Fini, but M Rayquaza-EX has also always bolstered a mildly favorable to strong matchup against the deck as well. Greninja has shown time and again its inconsistencies, and as long as that has been going on, M Rayquaza has been there to contrast it. Where Greninja has historically lost favorable matchups due to being inconsistent, M Rayquaza-EX has historically been consistent but suffered from having few favorable matchups in fields. Most games that Greninja does not set up early, M Rayquaza is able to pull out wins from just going too far ahead too early. Now that M Rayquaza-EX now has access to both Guzma to avoid getting high retreat cost Pokémon, such as Hoopa-EX and Dragonite-EX, stuck in the active positon, and a Acerola to heal all of the damage from Giant Water Shuriken and return precious energies and Spirit Links to the hand, the Greninja struggles an incredible amount from having a Pokémon knocked out every turn and having to deal with prize denial.

Darkrai decks attempt to mirror Rayquaza’s aggression through a separate mechanism, energy attachments, but in the matchup, Rayquaza is much more consistent and does not need to deal as much damage to take the knockouts on threats such as Dark Pulse Darkrai-EX. Rayquaza can struggle if the Darkrai deck plays Sudowoodo, but if the Darkrai deck doesn’t get nine Energies into play in the first few turns, M Rayquaza-EX is typically able to knock it out or just survive with dealing 120 damage every turn.

Zoroark is an atrocious matchup, but given how strong of a matchup that most of the perceived popular decks will have against it, I believe most competitors will be able to safely avoid the deck for the vast majority of their rounds.

Decidueye has also been a hindrance to M Rayquaza-EX’s success. Fortunately, Guzma and Acerola are here to offer hopes at salvation in a formerly hopeless matchup. The Guzma addition allows M Rayquaza-EX the abilities to both to retreat out of Pokémon that are stuck in the Active position while M Rayquaza on the bench are taking massive amounts of damage and to attack pesky Decidueye-GX with the potential for knockout with a max power Emerald Break in the same turn. Acerola also offering prize denial against a deck that has to be deliberate about its damage output also gives Rayquaza the chance to keep up against the deck even under Item lock. If the opposing Decidueye-GX deck does not play Vileplume, the game becomes much easier from being able to recycle Guzma, Acerola, and Hex Maniac through VS Seeker or Puzzle of Time to provide even more prize denial while supporting all of the aggression of a Mega Rayquaza deck.

Finally, most of the new cards released in Burning Shadows support people to play decks that have poor M Rayquaza-EX matchups while providing M Rayquaza-EX mechanics that it has wanted since its creation. Not to be repetitive of the matchups section or other people listing their favorite cards from the new set, but Gardevoir-GX is obviously good and should see success sometime in the future even if not this worlds. Necrozma-GX is hard for M Rayquaza-EX to deal with if it is able to pop its GX attack, but in the current format, M Rayquaza-EX should be able to prevent decks that do not play Double Colorless Energy from loading up the Necrozma-GX early. Guzma and Float stone finally give Rayquaza the mobility and space to avoid playing formerly necessary cards like Keldeo-EX and Zoroark to get fat Pokémon out of the active position while supporting Rayquaza’s aggression by allowing the deck to attack what it wants to. Acerola existing provides so much for the deck, because its near useless against Rayquaza due to Rayquaza’s ability to take one hit knockouts consistently, and it allows Rayquaza to be healed while recovering energy and Spirit Links for subsequent M Rayquaza-EX to use. Darkrai-EX supports certain Rayquaza builds by being a recovery Pokémon after Sky field is bumped and then put back into play from its awesome ability, and it also encourages players to play Darkrai decks that have poor matchups against Rayquaza unless they include Sudowoodo.

Now it is time to take a look at a list for this awesome Meta call that I have been working on.

Magearna Version


The one Sudowoodo is for mirror and is generally helpful for preventing opponents from using your Sky Field to their advantage. It also helps in some rocky matchups like Darkrai and Decidueye by limiting the number of Pokémon Darkrai can put energy on, so each knockout lowers their damage output more, and Decidueye typically wants all five of their bench spaces to get their strong set ups while playing support Pokémon.
The Magearna and metal energy are what make this list really shine. Magearna’s ability helps against attacks that can inhibit Rayquaza’s aggressive game plan such as Righteous Edge and Confuse Ray. The Magearna is also a cute way to take cheap knockouts on Shaymin-EX or Gardevoir-GX at the end of a game if not enough M Rayquaza-EX can be set up.
Oranguru prevents late game N’s from being as detrimental and can allow the deck to be more aggressive early by discarding draw supporters, since if the deck misses a draw supporter off of an aggressive Set Up, Oranguru can still permit the deck to draw a few more cards.
4 Rayquaza-EX are included since there are no reliable back up attackers in the deck. The fourth is cuttable for something better, but it has helped the deck with establishing more early M Rayquaza in testing.


Two Float Stone are included due to the mobility they provide, and with Guzma, they allow the formerly active Pokémon to still attack that turn. (Potentially cut-able)
Skyla allows the deck to play a few less trainers by hitting the exact trainer desired early such as a Spirit Link or Sky Field, incase Garbodor sees some play.
Karen is to help against Vespiquen. (cuttable). Rescue stretcher is explicitly to get back M Rayquaza, but it is cuttable for another Dragonite or Super Rod.
Three Mega Turbo are played due to being necessary to load up M Rayquaza in one turn, and without Puzzle of Time, just two can lead to awkward scenarios where they cannot be used from either not being found or being discarded early.


Four Metals is fine. Magearna helps the energy be conserved, so five is not needed. There are no Puzzles of Time, so three is not enough.


Thank you for reading this article and see you at Worlds!


[+0] okko


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