AG Spotlight: Mega Rayquaza

By TheTiksiBranch. Art by LifeisDANK.
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Rayquaza's history

AG Spotlight: Mega Rayquaza by LifeisDANK

Ever since its introduction in the third generation, Rayquaza has always been a threat in Ubers. Its great offenses and wide movepool have given it multiple viable sets to run. The physical / special split of the fourth generation gave it access to physical Dragon-type moves, which made its lack of a good Flying-type STAB attack less problematic for physical sets and also increased the viability of the previously less common Dragon Dance and Swords Dance sets. Draco Meteor and coverage moves such as Overheat made mixed sets an option as well.

Although it greatly appreciated BW's new toy in V-create, Rayquaza's role had remained largely the same until the release of Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire. ORAS gave it a ludicrously strong Mega Evolution that, unlike all other Mega Evolutions, needs no Mega Stone. This lets Mega Rayquaza run any item, greatly boosting its already insane versatility and power. Access to a new, solid Speed tier, amazing Flying-type STAB move in Dragon Ascent, and unheard-of dual base 180 offenses broke the scale, making Mega Rayquaza the first (and as of now only) Pokémon to be outright banned from Ubers. It then found a home in the brand new Anything Goes metagame, where it quickly and undoubtedly showed why it deserved its spot there.

Mega Rayquaza's qualities

Mega Rayquaza's simply unbelievable base 180 offensive stats immediately come to mind. It has no problem using them effectively with its wide offensive movepool, which lets it lure in and smash some of its would-be checks, and access to setup moves in Dragon Dance and Swords Dance. Dragon Dance and Extreme Speed help patch up its impressive but not exceptional Speed, which leaves it outsped by threats such as Fairy Arceus, Mewtwo, and Darkrai.

While Mega Rayquaza's bulk isn't particularly noteworthy, it is bolstered by a solid defensive typing in Dragon / Flying and helpful ability in Delta Stream, which halves the damage it takes from Ice-type attacks, removes its weakness to Rock, and turns its neutrality to Electric into a resistance. Notably, Delta Stream lets it survive an Ice Beam from Primal Kyogre, as well as a Life Orb Ice Beam from Mewtwo; Mega Rayquaza can then set up a Dragon Dance and OHKO even Primal Kyogre's most physically bulky set with Dragon Ascent after Stealth Rock damage. This is a feat regular Rayquaza could only dream of.

Mega Rayquaza's ability to hold regular items, in addition to its many other strong traits, gives it an offensive versatility almost unheard of for a Mega Evolution. Lum Berry is the premier option, letting it shake off a turn of status from Pokémon like Klefki and pound them with the appropriate move. It also is a deterrent to many users of status moves, as giving Lum Mega Rayquaza a free turn to use Dragon Dance could result in a sweep. Mega Rayquaza has more room than most Pokémon to run Lum Berry due to its many advantages, including the ability to set up. Life Orb is another viable possibility, giving some extra power and keeping move choice freedom.

Playing with Mega Rayquaza

Dragon Dance

Mega Rayquaza

Using this set is fairly simple: bring Mega Rayquaza in on a Pokémon that doesn't threaten it, set up a Dragon Dance, and destroy the foe with the appropriate moves. Dragon Ascent lets Mega Rayquaza do massive damage, Extreme Speed picks off faster and frail threats as well as weakened opposing priority users, and the final moveslot is used for coverage. Nearly every Pokémon that resists Dragon Ascent gets hit super effectively by Earthquake, V-create, or both. In particular, Earthquake hits Primal Groudon, Rock Arceus, and Mega Diancie and does not lower stats. V-create, on the other hand, hits Skarmory and Ferrothorn and has a higher Base Power. Both moves get super effective coverage on Steel Arceus and Klefki. The EV spread and Adamant nature maximize damage output and allow Mega Rayquaza to outspeed much of the metagame, especially after a Dragon Dance. This set can be used either to wallbreak early-game or to sweep closer to the mid-game if Mega Rayquaza's checks have already been cleaned. The danger of getting swept by a boosted Mega Rayquaza is something every team absolutely must prepare for.

Choice Band

Mega Rayquaza

This set trades the ability to set up for immediate power. Choice Band Dragon Ascent hits incredibly hard and can even pressure dedicated physical walls such as Lugia and bulky Yveltal. Extreme Speed is very important to get the first strike on faster and weaker threats, even more so for this set because Mega Rayquaza cannot boost its speed with Dragon Dance. V-create nails all relevant Steel-types and hits neutral targets as Dragon Ascent does due to its absurd Base Power. Waterfall covers Rock-types and crushes Primal Groudon so long as Delta Stream is active. Extreme Speed as usual is very important to get the first strike on faster and weaker threats, and is even more so for this set because Mega Rayquaza cannot boost its speed with Dragon Dance. The EV spread for this set is fairly self explanatory, maximizing Attack and Speed. A Jolly nature can used to outspeed Pokémon like Timid Mega Diancie and Latias, because Mega Rayquaza cannot boost its Speed, while an Adamant nature increases power.

Other sets

Swords Dance gives Mega Rayquaza uncharted levels of power after a single boost. However, because Mega Rayquaza cannot boost its Speed, it usually does not hold a Lum Berry, and even a +2 Extreme Speed cannot OHKO bulkier Pokémon such as the Arceus formes, this set requires more team support than the Dragon Dance set. A mixed Life Orb set allows Mega Rayquaza to surprise physical walls such as bulky Yveltal with a strong Draco Meteor, but it cannot set up at all. A bulky Dragon Dance set takes advantage of Mega Rayquaza's unexpectedly useful natural bulk to take Extreme Speed from Arceus Normal and opposing Mega Rayquaza better, but it risks being outsped by threats that the offensive Dragon Dance variant has fewer worries about.

Playing against Mega Rayquaza

Because of its potential versatility and terrifying power, Mega Rayquaza in fact has no counters. Even though often it allows Mega Rayquaza to have some free turns (which is often very dangerous for a team), figuring out what set it is running and what coverage it has can be key to stopping it. Regardless, because of its insane power, expansive coverage options, and ability to set up, it really has no hard counters.

Depending on your team and ability to check it, stopping Mega Rayquaza from setting up a Dragon Dance is either important or life-and-death. After Dragon Dance, either Dragon Ascent or a coverage move will blast a gaping hole through all but the bulkiest Pokémon. Arceus doesn't appreciate taking a boosted Extreme Speed, but it avoids the OHKO at full health and can hit back with its own Extreme Speed. Lugia can tank a boosted hit reasonably well with Multiscale and nullify Mega Rayquaza's boosts with Whirlwind, but it struggles to do much other than that besides crippling it with Toxic, which can be deflected with Lum Berry. Skarmory is a reasonably safe answer that can also phaze with Whirlwind as well if Mega Rayquaza doesn't carry V-create. In reverse, Rock Arceus performs well as long as Mega Rayquaza does carry V-create and not Earthquake. Unaware Clefable can be used as an emergency check, surviving exactly one attack from non-Choice Band sets and doing good damage with Moonblast in return, but it can't OHKO Mega Rayquaza even after Special Defense drops from Dragon Ascent. There is a significantly larger number of offensive threats that can scare unboosted Mega Rayquaza, but these usually become less useful if Mega Rayquaza sets up a boost or if they take some chip damage. Dragon Arceus and Fairy Arceus outspeed Mega Rayquaza and hit it with super effective STAB Judgment; they can also always survive an Adamant Lum Berry +1 Dragon Ascent after Stealth Rock damage if they run a 252 HP / 0 Def EV spread. The former does fear the rare Draco Meteor, however. Mega Diancie can punish Mega Rayquaza with Moonblast, but it is outsped by Jolly sets and OHKOed by Earthquake or Waterfall. Choice Scarf Xerneas always outspeeds unboosted Mega Rayquaza and OHKOes with Moonblast, but cannot handle a boosted Dragon Ascent. Arceus Normal hits hard with its own Extreme Speed and can notably survive two of Mega Rayquaza's boosted Extreme Speeds.

Fitting Mega Rayquaza onto a team

Mega Rayquaza fits best on offense and hyper offense teams. The threat of it setting up and the roles it can play make Mega Rayquaza very easy to fit on teams and put enormous pressure on opponents. It creates holes for its teammates, checks threats such as Primal Groudon and Ground Arceus, and can even sweep teams itself. It also finds a place on teams struggling with stall, which has major problems handling it. Depending on what coverage moves it carries and which set it uses, it needs teammates to stop what it can't destroy itself. Sets lacking Earthquake and Waterfall need teammates such as Water and Ground Arceus that can deal with Primal Groudon by either stalling it or outright KOing it. Sets lacking V-create need an answer to Skarmory; Ho-Oh makes for an excellent answer, especially since after it scares Skarmory away, few things will appreciate risking a Sacred Fire burn. An Extreme Speed Arceus answer such as Ghost Arceus or Skarmory is also important. As both Mega Rayquaza and many of its potential answers (especially Lugia and Yveltal) are weak to Stealth Rock, entry hazard control is also key. Teammates such as Skarmory and some Arceus formes, notably Water and Ghost, are again great partners, as they can both set hazards and Defog them away should need be.

Get out there!

Mega Rayquaza is clearly a defining threat of Anything Goes. Its versatility and power leave it with few answers. This means that it needs to be played around with great care, and it easily punishes the opponent's mistakes. Mega Rayquaza is a threat all teams must prepare for, and so it will be for the foreseeable future.

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