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Pokemon of the Week DP: Zapdos

by Ninjomewtwo

Zapdos

Sets

Baton Passer

Item Held
Leftovers
Nature
Modest (+Special Attack, -Attack)
Effort Points
252 HP – 100 Defense – 100 Special Attack – 58 Speed

Zapdos is one of the best Agility Baton Passers in the game. Simply switch in on something that can’t touch the mighty bird (like a Choice Bander locked in Earthquake), Agility as they switch, then Baton Pass to a sweeper that needs the Speed boost, like Marowak or Rhyperior. Thunderbolt is your standard attack for when you feel that Zapdos can take something down. Discharge is an alternative that makes Zapdos more of a team player by spreading paralysis to your opponent’s team.

About the last moveslot, Hidden Power Ice or Hidden Power Grass cover those Ground-type Pokémon, immune to Thunderbolt, that come in to destroy Zapdos with Stone Edge. Roost is listed though due to the increased difficulty of getting a good Hidden Power on a Baton Passer Zapdos. Baton Pass is a move available only through Pokémon XD, so getting a useful Hidden Power seems impossible. Of course, Roost isn’t that bad as it can help you Baton Pass Agility boosts more times.

The EP spread suggested is the standard one, that makes Zapdos quite bulky, letting it survive some hits while it pulls off its Agility. If an IV of 31 in Speed is not the case, some EPs can be taken from Defense or Special Attack for hitting 250 Speed, enough to outrun a Jolly, Choice Scarf using Garchomp after an Agility. With Garchomp now moving to ubers, you can adjust the Speed to your liking. Of course, the 252 HP EPs are standard and should always be there.

Bulky Zapdos

Item Held
Leftovers
Nature
Bold (+Defense, -Attack)
Effort Points
252 HP – 220 Defense – 38 Speed

Zapdos needed one certain thing in Advance, and D/P brought it. A recovery move, not named Rest. With Roost being available now, Zapdos can continue its defensive job. Thunderbolt is its basic attack again, with Hidden Power providing type coverage. If a good Hidden Power is a hard task, Heat Wave can be used for covering the Grass-types at the cost of being walled by most Ground-types. Light Screen is used for making Zapdos even more bulky on the Special side, as well as for pseudo-passing Special Defense to the team.

Lead Zapdos

Item Held
Choice Scarf
Nature
Timid (+Speed, -Attack)
Effort Points
252 Special Attack – 252 Speed – 6 HP

Choice Scarf lead Zapdos is a terror. It outruns many common leads (actually anything but Choice Scarf Gengar) and has the power to take them down. Thunderbolt messes with Gyarados and is Zapdos’ main move for a late game sweep should you need it. Platinum’s gift to Zapdos, Heat Wave, takes down Weavile and Bronzong leads. Hidden Power Ice beats the dragons and those bulky Ground-type Pokémon that tend to lead in order to set Stealth Rock early (Gliscor, Hippowdon, etc.). U-Turn is here in case the opposing lead isn’t something that Zapdos can hit really hard. If getting Hidden Power Ice is hard, you can go for Thunder Wave, paralyzing a dangerous leading Pokémon that you can’t knock out, like Tyranitar.

Toxi-Staller

Item Held
Leftovers
Nature
Timid (+Speed, -Attack)
Effort Points
252 HP – 176 Speed – 82 Special Defense

There are not many Pokémon out there that can do the job of Toxi-stalling better than Zapdos. Lay your Toxic Spikes down, and watch your Zapdos stall them till the poison knocks them out or till they are out of PP, abusing its Ability, Pressure. The combination of Toxic Spikes, Substitute, Roost and Leftovers will nearly never let your opponent attack while inflicting damage and recovering the Substitute’s 1/4 of HP cost. If some Flying-types try to be clever and switch in, avoiding your Toxic Spikes, Thunderbolt will send them to the Underworld, with Hidden Power Ice being here for more specific threats like Salamence and Gliscor. Toxic is an alternative, if you plan on using Zapdos in a team without a Toxic Spikes user.

The recommended EPs give Zapdos a Speed stat of 308 (with a Speed IV of 31), allowing it to outrun Pokémon like Timid/Jolly Lucario, Modest/Adamant Salamence and neutral natured, base 100 Speed Pokémon generally. Of course, its Defenses are a bit neglected but after all this Zapdos is supposed to avoid hits with Substitute, not get them.

If you are going to use that Zapdos with Hidden Power Ice on a battle simulator, where you have the ability to set its IVs, be sure to go with 31/30/30/31/31/31 for Hidden Power Ice. The reason is that the standard 31/31/31/31/31/30 makes you lose a Speed point that drops your Speed to 306, letting Timid/Jolly Lucario outrun you 50% of the time.

Rest-Talk

Item Held
Leftovers
Nature
Bold (+Defense, -Attack) / Calm (+Special Defense, -Attack)
Effort Points
252 HP – 220 Defense – 38 Speed OR 252 HP – 220 Special Defense – 38 Speed

What was the standard set in Advance, is here for D/P, with the addition of Discharge being the only new thing. Since Zapdos is a defensive minded Pokémon, the 30% paralysis chance of Discharge makes it a great move for supporting its slow team-mates. However, after the arrival or Roost in Zapdos’ movepool, the only reason to use this set is for absorbing Sleep inducing moves like a Hypnosis from a Bronzong or Milotic.

Other Possible Options

Zapdos faces the same problem that most Electric-type Pokémon do. Although it has great stats and quite good typing, its movepool is much more shallow than those of most OverUsed Pokémon. Most of its noteable moves were mentioned in the sets, leaving few other suggestions. Platinum came to kind of fix this, giving Zapdos some new moves through its move tutors, namely Signal Beam, Ominus Wind and Air Cutter. Especially the latter, which gets boosted by STAB and has a high critical hit ratio. Roar could be used for ruining the job of other Baton Passers. It can be also combined with Toxic or Thunder Wave for a Toxi-Shuffler or Para-Shuffler set. Alternative Hidden Power types are viable, mainly for hitting specific Pokémon like Hidden Power Ground for Heatran or Water for Camerupt. Rain Dance + Thunder is always an option, though never the best one. The rest of its sweeping moves are just Extrasensory and Ancientpower, none of which helps much. Well, if you feel lucky, you can aim for Ancientpower’s side effect and Baton Pass those boosts to another Pokémon but the 10% of he effect’s activation is too low. Another move that could possibly help Zapdos with its sweeping is Metal Sound which drops the foe’s Special Defense by two stages.

Zapdos could possibly go for a Choice Band set, using Drill Peck, U-Turn and possibly Steel Wing, but as far as Physical sweeping goes, there are many Pokémon that do it better than the Electric bird.

Counters

Blocking Zadpos’ sweeping attempts is as easy as with most Electric-type Pokémon. Any Special Wall like Blissey and Snorlax can receive its attacks and recover, either with Softboiled or Rest. Regice is another Pokémon able to stop Zapdos with its sky-high Special Defense and the ability to destroy it with Ice Beam.

Of course, instead of receiving hits, you can always use them to your advantage. Electivire and Lanturn will raise their Speed and HP respectively after switching in a Thunderbolt and are both capable of hitting Zapdos with Ice Punch or Ice Beam. Jolteon works in the same way but it doesn’t have a really strong hit for Zapdos. Raikou can start using Calm Mind, hoping to sweep, but it has to look out for Toxic and Roar.

Ground-type Pokémon stop Zapdos once its Hidden Power is revealed. If Hidden Power Grass is absent, Swampert and Rhyperior are great counters and can hit Zapdos with Ice Beam/Avalanche or Stone Edge. With Hidden Power Ice missing, Gliscor and, to a lesser extent, Salamence can switch in easily.

As far as stalling Zapdos variants go, anything that can beat the stall war against Zapdos can counter it and force it to switch out. Venusaur (which is immune to Toxic) is just an example. It can break Zapdos’ Substitute with Sludge Bomb, predict Roost and hit with either Sleep Powder or Leech Seed.

Opinion & Notes

The legendary bird of thunder was always considered to be the best one of the trio and there are some reasons for it. With Moltres being able to just sweep and Articuno to support, its ability to do both makes it shine. Plus, unlike them, it takes 25% damage every time it switches in Stealth Rock instead of 50%. The bad thing about Zapdos is that getting a “good” one is a real pain. And now that it got Heat Wave after Platinum came out, Zapdos is going to be used a lot more in standard battles. All in all, some more than a generation jump will be needed to make this Pokémon move out of the OU tier. And, by the way, I think Zapdos should have gotten Air Slash in D/P/Pt!

Note that Baton Pass, Metal Sound and Extrasensory are available to Zapdos only through Pokémon XD.

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