Pokemon of the Week 8: Rayquaza

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Pokemon and Daniel Arsham team up for art collaboration.. Image Courtesy The Pokemon Company, James Law /

Welcome to Pokemon of the Week, the eighth installment in a recurring series that looks at the impact of some of our favorite Pokemon on the anime, TCG and VGC. Taking a trip down memory lane to see the impact these Pokemon have had on the series and our lives is what makes Pokemon the magical thing it is.

Legendary Pokemon are a popular if not polarizing part of Pokemon history. Everyone has their favorites. If you have played either of the competitive outlets we discuss here they often polarize the game. We have yet to discuss one here but that finally ends.

Rayquaza, the Sky High Pokemon, is a deserving first entry. As the cover entry of the third version in the third generation Rayquaza has been iconic for years. Known as the Master of the Weather Trio Rayquaza is there to mitigate any issues between Kyogre and Groudon. Canonically Rayquaza is also listed at the first Pokemon to ever Mega Evolve and in the game is able to do so without holding a Mega Stone which further sets him apart.

Speaking of Mega Rayquaza, this Legendary Pokemon boasts the highest base stat total overall of any Pokemon, tied with both forms of Mega Mewtwo. It also has the highest Attack and Special Attack of all Dragon-types and Flying-types.

Regular Rayquaza has made appearances in three Super Smash Bros. games to date. Furthermore, Rayquaza is the featured Legendary for the upcoming Pokemon Go event, Dragon Week. It is a legend among the Legendaries and that starts with its first movie appearance.

Photo: Pokémon Alpha Sapphire.. © 2014 Pokémon. © 1995-2014 Nintendo/Creatures Inc./GAME FREAK inc.
Photo: Pokémon Alpha Sapphire.. © 2014 Pokémon. © 1995-2014 Nintendo/Creatures Inc./GAME FREAK inc. /

In the anime

Like most Legendary Pokemon in the franchise Rayquaza primarily and originally appeared in a movie. The Sky High Pokemon debuted alongside its natural rival in Deoxys in Destiny Deoxys. Deoxys invaded Rayquaza’s realm looking for another Deoxys. Rayquaza defends the world against all threats and that is how it saw Deoxys. This led to an epic battle that would almost tear the world apart. Ultimately they came to an impasse but the rivalry is honestly never ending.

Rayquza would continue its role as a defender every time it would make an appearance. In the Mega Evolution specials Mega Rayquaza defended the world against Primal Ground and Primal Kyogre. Fitting its name, Rayquaza would make occasional appearances in the core series whenever the adventure would makes its way into the atmosphere.

Years later Deoxys and Rayquaza would face off again, seen in the opening sequence of an episode during the Alolan adventure. Rayquaza will always be inextricably linked to its Hoenn counterparts. As we will see when we move onto to the VGC realm that will continue to remain true.

Like most Legendary Pokemon, it is not in the series often. It makes appearances briefly and brilliantly and gives the fans memories. It would not only appear in this movie but would then return for the Hoopa movie as well, as most Legendries did. In this case Rayquaza paired with Latios and Latias to go against, you guessed it Primal Groudon and Primal Kyogre in addition to Dialga, Palkia, Giratina and Kyurem.

Pokemon cards (Photo by John Keeble/Getty Images) /


Rayquaza has been a fan favorite many times in the TCG, providing explosiveness to any strategy it becomes known for. The first notable finisher was Rayquaza EX. For a Fire and a Lightning Energy this behemoth would allow you to discard either all Fire or Lightning Energy attached to it to do 60 damage times the number discarded. Three energy was often enough to take care of anything in the format at the time.

Eelektrik NVI was the basis of the strategy because of its ability Dynamotor. Once during your turn you could attach a Lightning Energy from your discard pile to one of your benched Pokemon. With multiple eels on your bench you could chain Rayquaza EX attacks to one-shot multiple threats. This would catapult Jon Bristow all the way to 8th place at the 2013 World Championships.

The EX would resurface the following year at the German National Championship in a strategy known as RayBoar. This was based around Emboar, which packed an ability that allowed you to play as many Fire Energy from your hand to your Pokemon every turn. This allowed for you to do something similar to the previous Lightning variant with a different flavor.

A new EX would come out years later and become one of the most enjoyable rogue strategies of its time. Mega Rayquaza EX used its Emerald Break attack to threaten everything it came up against. For three Colorless Energy the Sky High Pokemon did 30 damage times the number of your bench Pokemon. There was a stadium in the game, Sky Field, which allowed your bench to go up to eight Pokemon. Add the speed of Shaymin EX and the deck was a turbo strategy that if left unchecked would run through anything. This led to success for the better part of three seasons, including Regional Championship wins at Liverpool (2016), Leipzig (2017), Collinsville (2017) and the Austrian Open (2017).

Not to be outdone by its EX counterpart, Rayquaza GX came out in at the beginning of the 2018-2019 season and burst onto the scene at the World Championships. This card had plenty going for it. Its ability, Stormy Winds, allowed you to discard the top three cards when you played it onto your bench. Then you could attach a basic Energy from your Discard Pile to it. This type of Energy acceleration makes for a potent strategy to begin with but made its attack Dragon Break even better. For a Grass Energy, Lightning Energy and Colorless Energy this card did 30 damage times the number of Grass and Lightning Energy attached to all your Pokemon.

To top it off, Rayquaza GX boasted the best early game GX attack in the game. For a single Grass Energy Tempest GX allowed the player to discard their hand and draw 10 cards. This deck, like the Mega Rayquaza EX strategy, was always off to the races. It would finish in fourth and fifth place at that initial World Championships. It would go on to win the Melbourne Special Event mere weeks later and would remain a staple of every format it was in as long as its consistent partner Vikavolt remained legal.

Photo: Pokémon Alpha Sapphire.. © 2014 Pokémon. © 1995-2014 Nintendo/Creatures Inc./GAME FREAK inc. /


As a Legendary Pokemon, Rayquaza suffers in VGC from only being legal in certain Restricted Formats. Typically every three years the Legendary Pokemon will be reintroduced into competitive play so the amount of tournaments Rayquaza has appeared in suffers due to this rule. Normal Rayquaza has actually seen very limited play without the ability to Mega Evolve and help control the weather war.

That being said it has certainly experienced its fair share of success. The most notable moment for Rayquaza is featured below as fan favorite VGC player Wolfe Glicke was able to win the World Championships with Mega Rayquaza as an integral part of his team. In a format dominated by the Primal Pokemon it was fitting that the Master of the Weather Trio would come out on top.

After that Rayquaza would not come back until 2018-2019 but it quickly returned to top tables. Alex Gomez would finished sixth at the World Championships in 2019 before taking three top 8 slots at the 2019 Latin American International Championship.

The fact that this powerful Dragon type could find so much success when Xerneas was such a fixture is telling in terms of just how Legendary the Sky High Pokemon is. With rumors of Legendary Pokemon returning in the Frozen Tundra Expansion time will tell if it will be able to compete without its Mega Form intact.