When people think of a threatening Pokemon that can devastate teams in a matter of seconds, Rayquaza immediately comes to mind. With base offenses of 150 each, Rayquaza is by far one of Uber's most threatening wallbreakers and sweepers. Its great offensive typing coupled with boosting moves such as Dragon Dance and Swords Dance make Rayquaza an even bigger threat in seconds. If you thought having two of the most useful boosting moves as well as some of the best attacking stats in the game was threatening enough, it also gets an expansive movepool which includes the best priority move in the game, ExtremeSpeed. Rayquaza also has another tool it can use to great effect: its ability, Air Lock. Thanks to Air Lock, it negates weather and weather-related abilities, which means it can check Pokemon that rely on weather to sweep, such as Kingdra and Venasaur. Rayquaza is also a very versatile Pokemon, as its stats imply. It has the ability to run either physical or mixed sets, and it can run a boosting set or immediately go on the offensive with its powerful attacks. It can even use Choice items to become an even bigger threat.
While one might look at Rayquaza and think "this must be one of the hardest Pokemon to take down", it does have a few flaws. For one, thanks to its Flying subtype, it has a weakness to Stealth Rock, the most common form of entry hazard, which limits its ability to switch in. Its 105 / 90 / 90 defenses, which are low by Uber standards, don't help this cause either. Nevertheless, Rayquaza still remains one of the most threatening sweepers in the Uber tier, and it can demolish teams in a heartbeat if given the chance.
Rayquaza's Dragon Dance set is a beast feared ever since its release in 2003, and it continues to strike terror in the heart of its opponents. After one Dragon Dance, Rayquaza's Attack skyrockets to 598 while its Speed rests at 475, outpacing every unboosted Pokemon in the metagame bar Deoxys-S. Outrage is Rayquaza's most powerful physical STAB attack, and alongside with Earthquake, Rayquaza can hit nearly every single Pokemon in the tier for at least neutral damage. Overheat is used in the last slot to get rid of the Pokemon that would give Dragon Dance Rayquaza trouble otherwise: Ferrothorn, Forretress, and Skarmory.Team Options & Additional Comments >>>
Mixed Rayquaza is one of the most powerful wallbreakers in the entire Uber tier. Base 150 Attack and Special Attack go a long way in helping Rayquaza pick walls apart. This set attempts to lure in and obliterate usual Rayquaza switch-ins with its powerful special attacks. A Draco Meteor coming off 399 Special Attack will severely dent anything not resisting it, including Groudon and Lugia, both of which are cleanly 2HKOed after Stealth Rock. Any Steel-types courageous enough to face a Draco Meteor are swiftly barbecued by a Fire Blast. V-create can be used as Draco Meteor will weaken Fire Blast, but the stat drops from Rayquaza aren't too hot either. ExtremeSpeed allows Rayquaza to take down weakened Pokemon and does decent damage even without investment. Outrage gives Rayquaza a powerful physical STAB move while Dragon Tail allows Rayquaza to scout any switch-ins.Team Options & Additional Comments >>>
Similar to Salamence's old set in DPP, this Rayquaza set utilizes a lot of surprise factor to eliminate its usual counters. Unlike the Mixed Attacker set, this Rayquaza is easily able to sweep on its own, even after using Draco Meteor. This is likely Rayquaza's most independent set, not relying on teammates to take care of its usual checks and counters.
The idea when using this set is to Dragon Dance up as Groudon or another physical wall switches in and go straight for the OHKO with Draco Meteor. With this strategy, you can easily sweep with Rayquaza should the opponent lack another check to it. Most teams do not carry extra checks to Rayquaza as its usage has dropped significantly. Outrage is Rayquaza's physical move of choice. Even with few Attack EVs, Rayquaza's Outrage is still incredibly powerful, easily 2HKOing 252/0 Kyogre. Ho-Oh is also cleanly OHKOed after Stealth Rock by either Draco Meteor or Outrage. Even if Stealth Rock is not up, Rayquaza can still smash Ho-Oh with a +1 Outrage, something the standard Mixed Rayquaza cannot do.
The choice of Fire Blast or Earthquake is entirely up to your team's needs. Fire Blast utilizes this set's focus on Special Attack EVs, and OHKOes Skarmory, Forretress, Ferrothorn, Metagross, and Scizor, the former two assuming that Sturdy is broken. Earthquake on the other hand is boosted by Dragon Dance and smashes Dialga, Jirachi, and Heatran. Unfortunately, Rayquaza cannot carry five moves, so pick the one that suits your team best.Team Options & Additional Comments >>>
Rayquaza is often seen boosting its Attack and Speed by Dragon Dance, but it is capable of utilizing Swords Dance to double its Attack. After a Swords Dance, Rayquaza reaches a ground-breaking 876 Attack. Although Rayquaza's meager base 95 Speed might seem rather underwhelming, fear not, for Rayquaza receives ExtremeSpeed, which allows it to bypass its low Speed and hit many foes first. After just one Swords Dance, Rayquaza can OHKO a significant part of the metagame with ExtremeSpeed, given Stealth Rock support. Darkrai is always OHKOed by a +2 ExtremeSpeed factoring in Stealth Rock damage, while offensive Mewtwo and Choice Scarf Palkia are also prone to being OHKOed with Stealth Rock. Although Swords Dance Rayquaza gets stiff competition from Swords Dance Arceus, which has more bulk, recovery, and a more powerful STAB priority move, Rayquaza still has a few perks over the Alpha Pokemon. Rayquaza's base Attack is 30 points higher than Arceus's, it is immune to Spikes and Toxic Spikes, and it has a fantastic STAB-type in Dragon. Swords Dance Rayquaza can also beat Giratina-O easily, which is something Extreme Killer Arceus can only dream of.
Dragon Claw is the primary STAB move. After a Swords Dance, it will always OHKO Giratina, and do insane amounts of damage to anything not resisting it. V-create makes short work of any Forretress or Ferrothorn hoping to wall Rayquaza. V-create also helps Rayquaza hit Steel Arceus, Dialga, and Metagross, which will otherwise eat ExtremeSpeed and Dragon Claws all day. Caution must be used with V-create however, as it makes Rayquaza slower, making it easier to be revenge killed. For example, if Giratina-O switches into V-create, it will outspeed due to the Speed drop and OHKO Rayquaza the next turn.Team Options & Additional Comments >>>
While Rayquaza is usually seen fixing its Speed troubles with Dragon Dance, there are times when Rayquaza would just like to have that speed right off the bat. Choice Scarf not only fixes this problem, but it turns Rayquaza into something that it fears the most: a revenge killer. This variant of Rayquaza prefers to be used on offensive teams as it keeps up offensive pressure. However, the difference between Choice Scarf Rayquaza and other common Choice Scarf users, such as Palkia and Terrakion, is that Rayquaza uses its ability, Air Lock, to revenge kill Pokemon that use weather to sweep, such as Kingdra and Excadrill. Rayquaza can also clean late game if Pokemon are weakened with a very powerful STAB Outrage. Again, Garchomp is a competitor for this role; however, Garchomp lacks V-create as well as the ability to outspeed Kindgra, Venusaur, and Excadrill. Salamence is also a competitor for the Choice Scarf role, due to Moxie granting it an Attack boost after every KO, but, like Garchomp, it lacks V-create and the ability to outspeed weather sweepers.
Outrage is your mandatory Dragon-type STAB attack, and its no wonder. Packing base 180 power after STAB is calculated, if a Pokemon doesn't resist it, it won't enjoy taking an Outrage. However, just like the Choice Band set, V-create is just as powerful as Outrage, and because it doesn't lock Rayquaza into an attack, it is often best to start the battle by firing off V-create. Draco Meteor is strong, doesn't lock Rayquaza into Outrage, has base 210 power after STAB, and keeps the potential to OHKO Pokemon such as Darkrai and Skymin. Earthquake is there alongside V-create and Outrage to retain perfect coverage of the entire Uber metagame. However, if you find faster Choice Scarf users such as Palkia or priority users such as Arceus and other Rayquaza a problem, ExtremeSpeed is a viable option in the last slot. Thanks to ExtremeSpeed, Rayquaza can get the jump on weakened Pokemon such as Choice Scarf Palkia, Arceus, Rayquaza, and other Pokemon that use either priority or speed to take care of Rayquaza.Team Options & Additional Comments >>>
Choice Band Rayquaza is an extremely powerful threat, reaching an enormous Attack stat of 657; with a Choice Band, Rayquaza is capable of 2HKOing the majority of the metagame. Although it may seem inferior to Choice Band Garchomp and Zekrom at first glance, with Garchomp having STAB on Earthquake, higher base Speed, and immunity to Thunder Wave and other Electric-type attacks, while Zekrom sports an Electric STAB as well as Volt Switch to keep up the momentum, this is not the case. Rayquaza does have several key advantages over Garchomp, namely higher Attack, a priority move in ExtremeSpeed, and an immunity to Ground-type attacks; it also has a better movepool than Zekrom, as Zekrom lacks ExtremeSpeed and Earthquake. Rayquaza also has V-create to OHKO Ferrothorn, a Pokemon that gives Zekrom trouble.
Choice Band Rayquaza lures in Pokemon such as Lugia and Groudon that are reliably 2HKOed by Outrage without hazards. However, thanks to the release of V-create, a move just as powerful as Rayquaza's Outrage, it is recommended to open the battle with it, as it has the same power of Outrage without being locked into it. To take into account just how powerful V-create is, it can 2HKO 4/0 Kyogre, one of Ubers bulkiest Pokemon. As such, make sure to scout out your opponent's team before locking Rayquaza into Outrage; otherwise, it's easy pickings for revenge killers. It is also hard for stall teams to beat Rayquaza, as immunity to Ground-type attacks, Toxic Spikes, and Spikes make it able to switch in and out a pretty easily.
An Outrage from this set is so powerful it can 2HKO even defensive Groudon as well as Lugia after Stealth Rock damage. Earthquake and V-create are your best options to hit Steels, the former pairing nicely with Outrage to give Rayquaza the ability to hit everything neutrally barring Skarmory and Shedinja. The latter hits every Steel-type barring Heatran neutrally or super effectively, and is again just as powerful as Outrage. ExtremeSpeed gives Rayquaza strong priority for picking off faster Pokemon such as Darkrai and Mewtwo. Unlike Garchomp and Zekrom, Rayquaza's priority allows it to become a capable revenge killer as well as a powerful sweeper.Team Options & Additional Comments >>>
A Focus Sash Dragon Dance lead is viable and almost always gets at least one killl. However, it lacks power and can't sweep late game. A Choice Specs set is a viable option on Rayquaza, as it can surprise its usual switch-ins. Generally, Dialga and Palkia are better choices for this, as Rayquaza can destroy Lugia with its mixed set just as easily, while Palkia and Dialga lacking Rayquaza's weakness to Stealth Rock. Thunder Wave can cripple Pokemon like Choice Scarf Dialga switching into Rayquaza, but you shouldn't really be focusing on this and you should focus more on setting Rayquaza up. Ice Beam is pretty useless with Draco Meteor, but it can knock down Groudon without suffering a Special Attack drop. Rayquaza is capable of producing 101 HP Substitutes if you want to block any attempts of Seismic Toss or status. However, the amount of EVs needed to make 101 HP Subs just isn't worth the use. Bulk Up is rather novelty but you can use this move to survive a Choice Banded Stone Edge from Groudon and OHKO back with Outrage if you're holding a Life Orb. Toxic can poison Lugia on the switch, making it useless at tanking, but once again you should be more focused on sweeping. Sleep Talking an Outrage doesn't lock you into it, so that's an option. Rest can be used for defensive purposes, but it is rather novelty because Rayquaza dies very quickly. Crunch is a reasonable option on the Dragon Dance set, as it can hit the Psychic-type Ubers hard without resorting to Outrage. Tailwind is another nice option for Rayquaza, as it allows it to outspeed Pokemon such as Choice Scarf Palkia, Salamence, and Hydregion for 3 turns. However, Dragon Dance is usually a superior option in raising Speed, as it also raises Attack, though outpacing common scarfers is a nice plus to the move.
Checks and Counters
With base attacking stats of 150 each, a great offensive STAB, and an expansive movepool, Rayquaza has no true counters. As such, the best way to tackle Rayquaza is by revenge killing it. Choice Scarf users such as Palkia, Terrakion, Kyurem-White, Jirachi, and Garchomp can all check the Dragon Dance sets and take out Rayquaza easily due to its frailty. Meanwhile, Terrakion, Choice Scarf Dialga and Jirachi are capable of revenge killing the Swords Dance set due to resisting ExtremeSpeed. Palkia, Latios, Latias, Hydregion, Garchomp, and Salamence can also revenge kill most Rayquaza sets other than the Dragon Dance set. However, they take a hefty amount of damage from a boosted ExtremeSpeed. For example, a Swords Dance-boosted ExtremeSpeed will OHKO both Latios and Latias. Pokemon packing powerful priority attacks such as Scizor, Mamoswine, and Arceus can KO Rayquaza without any worries. Ditto is also unique, as it can not only revenge kill Rayquaza, it copies any boost Rayquaza may have gained, which means that it can end up sweeping due to Rayquaza's boosts.
While revenge killing Rayquaza is usually the best way of dealing with it, there are other methods of taking out the powerful Pokemon. Lugia can still handle physical sets easily with Reflect, Roost and Ice Beam, especially Lugia that still have Multiscale intact. Dragon Dance Rayquaza needs Stealth Rock to get past it, too. Support Groudon also does a decent job at checking Rayquaza, and can phaze it away with Dragon Tail, doing a decent chunk of damage. However, both Pokemon will not fare well against mixed sets, as Draco Meteor and Outrage can score KOs on both of them. Also, the Choice Band set can possibly 2HKO both, so scout first before using these Pokemon to check Rayquaza. Skarmory can handle Dragon Dance and Swords Dance Rayquaza if they lack Overheat or V-create. While it is rarely seen, Cresselia can Thunder Wave, set up Reflect and Ice Beam Rayquaza, making it another reliable check.
With the numerous amount of Arceus, some forms can also deem great checks to Rayquaza. Rock Arceus can outspeed Rayquaza and OHKO it 62.5% of the time. It can also take an unboosted Life Orb Earthquake and Draco Meteor. Grass and Ground Arceus can also do the same and outright OHKO Rayquaza with Ice Beam. Wallceus can just take Rayquaza's hits, Recover, burn it with Will-O-Wisp, and hit hard with STAB Return. Ghost Arceus is probably the best choice against Mixed Rayquaza, as it is immune to ExtremeSpeed. However, they are only checks for a reason. After a Dragon Dance, Rayquaza can actually OHKO max HP Arceus with a Life Orb boosted Outrage; Steel and Rock Arceus are also KOed by Earthquake from the Dragon Dance set. Additionally, Draco Meteor plus ExtremeSpeed will take out most Arceus forms after a little prior damage.