Parallel Evolution — A Different Look at Expanded Rayquaza

Hello, PokeBeach readers. I’ve composed several rants on social media about my belief that a big problem with the Expanded format was that there were too few events, making it impossible to metagame. The format is almost nonexistent outside of North America, and even in some parts of the U.S., from my understanding. With few League Cups played in this format, there was very little data to use to establish the metagame. This means that every Expanded Regional would feature a clash of old and new ideas. Some people would play tried-and-true decks, some would play archetypes introduced in the newest set, some would bring back an old concept, some would adapt a Standard deck to Expanded, and most of the matchups between these various decks would not have been tested. As a spectator, as entertaining as I found it to see so many different decks, I always got the feeling that it was a bit random which decks would do well at any event.

Zoroark-GX put an end to that. Decks based around it became so dominant in the 2017 – 2018 season that it defined the metagame by itself. At this point, we knew which decks would be played — decks based on Zoroark-GX — but the issue was figuring out how to counter them. Even decks specifically made to counter Zoroark-GX, such as Glaceon-GX, could not do so reliably enough, and had issues against other powerful decks. In the end, Hex Maniac, Ghetsis and Puzzle of Time had to be banned to curb Zoroark-GX’s power.

In my opinion, Expanded is in a much better state right now than it was last season. Sure, Zoroark-GX still does well, but I don’t think it is as oppressive as it used to be. Time will tell whether more bans are necessary (possibly Zoroark-GX itself) or if other decks will prove strong enough to deal with it, but it feels much more fair.

More to the point, I believe that the Expanded metagame is much more clearly established than it was two years ago. I think the fact that the U.S. gets two consecutive Expanded Regionals helps people focus more on the format. Players at Expanded League Cups testing for next weekend’s Dallas Regionals can get inspiration from, or just copy, decks that did well at last month’s Anaheim Regionals, and the results from these League Cups shape our understanding of the metagame for Dallas. The people who post the results from League Cups on social media, week after week, have done a lot to help the format, in that regard.

In this article, I’m going to talk about the state of Expanded now that the metagame has settled somewhat. In particular, I believe that Rayquaza-GX isn’t being played to the best of its potential, so I’ll present a different version of the deck and explain its advantages over the one that has gained popularity recently.

The State of Expanded

Expanded has finally arrived at a point where there is a variety of playable decks, but the metagame is still reasonably predictable. This is what I expect to face at Dallas Regionals:

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