Experts' corner

Zach Lesage

Ray Bans on for Ray’ - Looking at Rayquaza-GX

Zach goes over his refreshing thoughts on Rayquaza-GX and his unique list for this up-and-coming deck. He also includes an offbeat list for your viewing pleasure.

08/13/2018 by Zach Lesage

Dragons in the Sky

Hello from the sky, 60cards readers! I am high in the air with ya boi, Rayquaza-GX, chillin’ on this article today! In this article, I address why Rayquaza-GX is good, my Rayquaza-GX deck, and I outline the popular matchups heading into Worlds.

I will also show some changes that I have made to my Zoroark-GX/Magcargo/Oranguru deck that I discussed in my last article. Additionally, I will take you on a journey through the depths of my mind to showcase my offbeat thoughts on a unique Rayquaza-GX variant. This article is jam-packed with information, and I don’t want to wait any longer, so let’s jump right into it: 



Zoroark-GX/Magcargo/Oranguru Deck Updated

Why the Changes?

I will be the first to admit it, I do not always build a perfect deck! In the days after my Zoroark-GX/Magcargo/Oranguru article went online, I realized some flaws in the deck and updated the list on my end. With the fresh release of Celestial Storm on PTCGO, I was able to test against the format quickly and determine the few loose ends that needed to be fixed. I explain the added cards below, so that I can sell you on these ideas heading into Worlds: 

One Sylveon-EX and One Choice Band

With the rise of Rayquaza-GX on the horizon, I wanted to make sure that this deck could at least have a fighting chance against that deck!

The goal is to use Dress Up with a Choice Band to Knock Out a Rayquaza-GX in one hit. While it might seem difficult to pull off, the three-card combo of Double Colorless Energy, Sylveon-EX, and Choice Band, it is actually a viable strategy in this deck. That is because you can use a Supporter to draw cards, use Trade on Zoroark-GX up to four times, and use Smooth Over on Magcargo to search for any specific card. With all of the draw power in this deck and the power to get vital cards back with Puzzle of Time, you should be able to get out this combo fairly easily.

Two Crushing Hammer 

With quite a few decks playing additional copies of Basic Energy Cards due to the high popularity of Enhanced Hammer, I thought it would be a great idea to add a few Crushing Hammer. The inclusion of these cards allows for both Buzzwole/Buzzwole-GX/Lycanroc-GX and Rayquaza-GX to be more manageable matchups. The premise for this card over Team Flare Grunt is based on the ability to play them while using a Supporter instead of being forced to discard only one Energy per turn. With all of the positivity coming from playing these cards, there isn’t a reason to not play them at this point. 

Two Evosoda

I decided to cut my experimental copies of Timer Ball for the more consistent copies of Evosoda. I originally advocated for Timer Ball because you could potentially get out a Zoroark-GX and a Magcargo in the same turn, but that rarely happened. While I was able to go approximately even on flips, there were multiple turns where I was disappointed with double tails. That being said, Evosoda allows me to take the middle of the road approach to always get one Evolution card from my deck consistently. If you were loving the Timer Balls, feel free to keep them in here instead of the copies Evosoda, you are probably a luckier person than me!

Floating Thoughts

I may want to add in two copies of Weakness Policy into this deck to improve the Buzzwole/Buzzwole-GX/Lycanroc-GX matchup. I know that Tord Reklev has them in his list at the 2018 North American International Championships in Columbus, OH, which is at least a telling sign that they aren’t bad based on his success there.

They are a tough cut to make from the above list, but I think the deck can get away with cutting a Crushing Hammer and a Max Potion. Those are difficult cuts to make, but if it ultimately improves the Buzzwole/Buzzwole-GX/Lycanroc-GX matchup, I am not opposed to it at all. The key deciding factor to making the decision to do those cuts are based on the success of Buzzwole at the weekend of League Cups before Worlds! Keep your eyes peeled to make your final decision. Right now, Zoroark-GX/Magcargo/Oranguru is one of my top picks heading into Worlds, and the changes that I have made this the deck allow it to have a better matchup spread. Be sure to test out those changes to see if you like my updated list too.

Now this article is not about Zoroark-GX/Magcargo/Oranguru, it is actually about Rayquaza-GX in the current metagame. Let’s dive right into that: 

What Makes Rayquaza-GX Good?

If you have been anywhere peeping out the Pokémon side of social media, you have heard some discussion about Rayquaza-GX. With any potential newcomer to the upper echelon of decks in our format, there is going to be a divide of some sort. This holds true for Rayquaza-GX, because there are some top players who are naysayers on the deck and others who see great potential in our dragon friend. I am somewhere closer to the middle, because I see how destructive that Rayquaza-GX can be, but I also see redeeming qualities with the potential of having an outstanding first turn. Rayquaza-GX is going to be a hard deck to gauge. It can discard valuable resources quickly, but it has so much raw power that leads me to believe that it might be one of the best decks in format. Regardless of what anyone thinks about a deck, it is only as good as its surroundings, which means that we need to look at the metagame that it sits in.  

Based on my findings through playtesting with decks that have been either updated or created from the release of Celestial Storm, the metagame is in a weird spot. Celestial Storm did not add many new decks to the format, notably only Rayquaza-GX, Rayquaza-GX/Garbodor, and Stakataka-GX/Dusk Mane Necrozma, but it did add a few techs to other decks. The metagame is mostly based on the immediate aftermath of the 2018 North American International Championships in Columbus, United States that saw Zoroark-GX dominate the top cut. In the finals, we saw Stephane Ivanoff win with Zoroark-GX/Garbodor/Garbodor over Tord Reklev’s Zoroark-GX/Oranguru deck. Most players who attended that event or learned about the results afterwards have directly put those decks to the test to drop both of them on top of the tier list. While Ivanoff’s Zoroark-GX/Garbodor/Garbodor has mostly remained the same, Reklev’s deck has grown to include Magcargo from Celestial Storm to grab whatever card it likes from the deck each turn. While Buzzwole/Buzzwole-GX/Lycanroc-GX took a bit of a backseat at the NAIC, it still performed well, and it seems to be lurking around with so many successful Zoroark-GX decks at the top of the game.

Rayquaza-GX is able to swiftly sneak into the upper half of the metagame, because it is a deck that most players will not tech against or play test their decks against. Rayquaza-GX only has a handful of counters that include Garbodor with Trashalanche, Tapu Lele that is Fairy-type, Dedenne that is Fairy-type, Gardevoir-GX, and Sylveon-EX. Without a doubt, all of those cards can quickly halt Rayquaza-GX from experiencing success, but they are all underplayed cards. Let’s take a full glance at the metagame that Rayquaza-GX is flying into:

Tier 1 (Highly Played)





Tier 2 (Moderately Played)





Stakataka-GX/Dusk Mane Necrozma

Tier 3 (Lightly Played)

Dawn Wings Necrozma-GX/Malamar

Ultra Necrozma-GX/Malamar


Yveltal BREAK/Hoopa/Mewtwo




Greninja BREAK


Looking at the these decks, it does bring me slightly closer to making some conclusions about Rayquaza in this metagame. Firstly, in order to make any kind of headway when it comes to make conclusions, I must go over the flaws that Rayquaza-GX suffers from. In a nutshell, Rayquaza-GX suffers from its destructive Stormy Winds Ability, the way it viciously discards Item Cards against Trashalanche, playing against decks that feature almost exclusively single-Prize-Card attackers, decks that block EX/GX Pokemon from attacking, and direct Fairy-type counters. Upon taking a second glance at the metagame share, we can identify some match-ups that we might have trouble against:

Decks That Play Single-Prize-Card Attackers


Decks That Play Garbodor with Trashalanche


Decks That Block EX/GX Pokemon

Yveltal BREAK/Hoopa/Mewtwo


Decks That Play Fairy-type Pokemon 


So out of an entire metagame, that means that there are only five ‘played’ decks with which Rayquaza-GX has an unfavorable matchup. That means that there are at least ten decks that are ‘played’ that shouldn’t present any issues for Rayquaza-GX. There are other factors such as Zoroark-GX decks adding in a Sylveon-EX or a Tapu Lele, decks playing copies of Hoopa, or other fringe decks in the metagame that have a way to stop Rayquaza-GX in its tracks. While the metagame that Celestial Storm brought with it is quickly becoming a fully discovered format, at least we know most of what will see play at Worlds. That being said, I am sure you want to see the list that I have been playtesting since the release of Celestial Storm. Lets take a look: 

Rayquaza-GX Deck

Deck Strategy

The goal of this deck at its core is to attack a lot of energy to all of its Pokémon and to swing hard with Dragon Break on Rayquaza-GX. Rayquaza-GX has an Ability, Stormy Winds, that allows it to accelerate Energy to itself, but it comes at the cost of discarding the top three cards of your deck. With the potential of grabbing an Energy being high versus the self destruction of your deck being reality, Rayquaza-GX can be a dangerous card to play at any time. The above list tries to compensate for Rayquaza-GX’s destructive tendencies by playing multiple copies of supporting cards and by playing other ways to attach Energy. The other ways that you can attach Energy in this deck are by using Max Elixir, using Dreamy Mist on Latias Prism Star, and you can always manually attach an Energy for your turn.

The biggest tip that I can provide for this deck is to try to play as conservatively as possible. Some examples of playing conservatively with this deck are searching your deck for multiple Rayquaza before using Stormy Winds, using Super Rod before playing a Max Elixir, and playing your Supporter Cards without waste. The only other thing that you need to know is that sometimes this deck will discard your best cards even if you play optimally, because you can’t control the destructiveness of Rayquaza-GX. On the other hand, you can also have games where you attach seven Energy on your first turn to obliterate your opponent's field! There are a few cards that I play in this list that raise eyebrows, so I will go over a few of the unique cards in this deck. Without any waiting, here are the cards:

One Pheromosa

This card is one of the most simple cards in the deck! While it might look like it sticks out like a sore thumb, it is basically played because it has a free retreat cost. Additionally, you can use Pheromosa’s White Ray Attack after one of your Rayquaza-GX with a Wishful Baton attached to it is Knocked Out. White Ray can be a game-changing attack during the late game, because it can do upwards of 180 damage to Knock Out most Pokemon in the current metagame.

Four Wishful Baton

Be prepared to pull this card out of your bulk for sale, because it is actually a great card in Rayquaza-GX. I know that it is possible for your opponent to use a Field Blower against you when you have this card attached to a Rayquaza-GX, but you need to ask yourself, "What if they can’t?" I have played almost 100 games with Rayquaza-GX now, and there have been countless occasions where my opponent either couldn’t find a copy of Field Blower or they did not play Field Blower in their list at all. The point is, when you are able to move three Energy from a Knocked Out Pokemon to your next Pokemon, you usually take command of that game.  

Two Pal Pad

While this card isn’t the most unique card of all time, it is seldom played in our current metagame. The basic premise behind this card is to gather back your important Supporter Cards after you are forced to discard them with Rayquaza-GX, Professor Sycamore, Mysterious Treasure, Ultra Ball, Acro Bike, or when you play them naturally down from your hand. You can create situations during the late game where you use Pal Pad to get back two copies of Guzma to guarantee that you can bring up whatever Pokémon you like.

After looking at all of these cool cards, I am sure you want to know how the deck works in some specific matchups! Let’s go ahead and jump into that right now:

Popular Matchups

The matchups listed in this section of the article are based on my findings when I have tested out decks in our new Celestial Storm format. All of these decks have standardized lists when testing without any unique techs that are unpopular within that specific deck list. 

Rayquaza-GX (mirror match) - EVEN

What is there to be said about one of the most destructive and luck-based mirror matches in our current format that hasn’t already been said? Well, it is my goal to spew out important information that can try to give you an edge in any way possible so stay tuned! The goal in this matchup is to race your opponent by seeing who can Knock Out three double-Prize-Card Pokemon the quickest! The best thing is, most lists do not play Field Blower and most lists do not play four copies of Wishful Baton. If you are able to get your copies of Wishful Baton out early, your opening will be forced into letting you keep all of your Energy in play whenever they Knock Out a precious Rayquaza-GX. If you find yourself stumbling in this matchup, feel free to throw a few single-Prize-Card Pokemon at your opponent, namely Latias Prism Star, to try and offset the Prize Card Trade. I have also played games where Pheromosa was able to use White Ray for 180 damage to draw that last remaining Prize Card in a game. There is nothing that you can do if your opponent has an explosive start, so don’t get too down on yourself if you lose a game due to that. My best advice is to play conservatively, avoid giving up free Prize Cards, and try to get double-Prize-Card Knock Outs quicker than your opponent.

Buzzwole/Buzzwole-GX/Lycanroc-GX - EVEN / SLIGHTLY UNFAVORABLE

If you have played any games with Rayquaza-GX, you will have realized that quite a few match-ups can become a grind. This match-up is tough because you need to attack multiple single Prize Card attackers, you have to watch out for Lycanroc-GX using Dangerous Rogue GX, and there is always the threat of Buzzwole-GX getting powered up with a Beast Ring.

In this matchup, you want to try to quickly get at least five Basic Energy in your board to be able to Knock Out your opponents Buzzwole freely. It is always important to have another Rayquaza-GX powered up on your Bench for when they Knock Out your active Rayquaza-GX. I have found plenty of success at isolating any EX/GX Pokemon that your opposing has in play to help you win the game a few turns quicker. Additionally, if it is possible for you to play around the enhanced four Prize Card damage from Sledgehammer and Dangerous Rogue GX, you should have some decent success. Most Buzzwole/Buzzwole-GX/Lycanroc-GX decks play either zero or a limited amount of Field Blower which means that your Wishful Baton work most of the time. If you follow all of these tips and play very carefully, you should have a fairly even matchup.

Zoroark-GX/Garbodor/Garbodor - EVEN/SLIGHTLY UNFAVORABLE 

Ugh, this matchup is a pain to even write about, because Garbodor with Trashalanche really grinds my gears. The thing is, Rayquaza-GX has a favourable matchup against Zoroark-GX variants because they do not have the natural capability of Knocking Out a Rayquaza-GX. The only down side to any Zoroark-GX match-up is that they usually play some kind of auxiliary Pokémon partner and they have the room to specifically tech against their tougher matchups. In this case, Zoroark-GX/Garbodor/Garbodor has Garbodor with Trashalanche which can quickly Knock Out a Rayquaza-GX and they can play additional techs to make the match-up worse. The best thing that you can do in this match-up is to avoid playing many Item Cards to avoid Trashalanche and to target Garbodor/Trubbish when choosing the Pokémon that you want to Knock Out. Once you are able to get around Trashalanche or to isolate their Garbodor/Trubbish in play, the matchup becomes easier. If you ever find yourself short of Knocking Out a Zoroark-GX, remember that Latias Prism Star can do 30 damage with Dreamy Mist. If you remember to follow most of these tips, you should have a matchup that is closer to even rather than an instantly unfavorable one.

Zoroark-GX/Magcargo/Oranguru - SLIGHTLY FAVORABLE 

This matchup is slightly favorable, because you are able to quickly power up your Pokémon and attack multiple double-Prize=Card Pokemon to win the game. Additonally, you don’t need to worry about their Enhanced Hammer harming your Energy, and if they are able to discard your Basic Energy Cards, you can get them back with Latias Prism Star. The biggest thing to worry about when you are playing this matchup is the possibility of decking out, so try to conserve the cards you have in your deck. If you are playing a best-two-out-of-three match against Zoroark-GX/Magcargo/Oranguru, be sure to take note if your opponent plays any copies of Delinquent and Team Rocket’s Handiwork, because those cards can seriously hurt this deck. While most lists do not play the Sylveon-EX/Choice Band combo that I included in my above list, it is something that you might want to watch out for in the upcoming weeks leading into Worlds.

A Different Approach

Throughout my countless hours of trying to perfect Rayquaza-GX, I have made many different prototypes of the deck to create the absolute best deck. I try to always keep track of all different versions of my decks to create a library of ideas that I can either use at as intended or as a way for me to evolve other concepts. One of my favourite concepts along the way, Rayquaza-GX/Pheromosa/Beast Ring, is built on the premise of playing catch-up at great speeds.

The goal of the deck is to start with Pokemon that are not Rayquaza-GX in order to use Stormy Winds more often, to use Beast Ring to create a massive board state, and to have a few more single-Prize-Card Pokemon in the deck. While the below list seems refined, there are still changes that I might make to the list, or there might be inherent flaws that I haven’t been able to catch during my testing. I invite you to the try out the below list, experiment with the concept a bit, and even give me some feedback to make a better deck. One of my favorite aspects of the game is experimenting on different concepts so I hope you like this fun (and maybe super competitive) deck!

Rayquaza-GX/Pheromosa/Beast Ring 

Worlds is Ahead

That’s all for today,60cards peeps. I hope that you enjoyed this article and learned a few things about our newcomer Dragon-type friend, Rayquaza-GX! For my future articles, I will be doing a mix between new decks with Celestial Storm cards, post rotation deck lists, and thought pieces to improve you as a player. My goal is to make EVERY reader on 60cards excited to read my articles, find them interesting, and even learn something or two! As for me, I have been testing for Day 2 of Worlds, coaching, and putting my new MacBook Pro to use by writing plenty of articles! 

For updates on my travel plans, tournament schedule, premium deck lists, strategies, and my most recent articles, feel free to check out and follow my professional Pokemon Twitter @ zlesage_pokemon. Also, remember to give this article a ‘like’ to let me know what you thought of this article - it gives me the motivation needed to write! Thanks for supporting 60cards, reading my articles, and watching me grow asa player!

Until next time,


#60Cards #PokeAcademy #PlayPokemon #Pokemon

[+23] okko


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