Zapdos

Pressure
Enemy attacks lose one extra PP. Increases wild encounter rate.
Lightningrod
When hit with an Electric-type move, Special Attack is boosted by one stage. All Electric-type attacks are drawn to this Pokemon.
Type Tier
Electric / Flying UU
Level 100 Statistics (see level 5, 50, 100)
Min- Min Max Max+
HP
90
- 321 384 -
Atk
90
194 216 279 306
Def
85
185 206 269 295
SpA
125
257 286 349 383
SpD
90
194 216 279 306
Spe
100
212 236 299 328

Overview

Zapdos is one of the strongest special attackers in the UU tier, and one glance at its stats should tell you why. An enormous base 125 Special Attack makes Zapdos hit like a truck, and base 100 Speed allows it to outspeed many of the common attackers in the UU tier such as Darmanitan, Heracross, and Nidoking. Furthermore, Zapdos has outstanding versatility, being able to run solid offensive, defensive, and Choice sets. Very few Pokemon are safe from Zapdos's wrath since the electric fury can attack with nearly perfect coverage in just Thunderbolt, Heat Wave, and a Hidden Power of choice.

Unfortunately, Zapdos has its limitations. For starters, the dedicated special walls of UU, such as Umbreon and Snorlax, have no problem shrugging off even Zapdos's most powerful attacks and recovering away the damage. Also, even with Hidden Power, Zapdos will still be walled by certain Ground-type Pokemon. UU's other Electric-type powerhouse, Raikou, defeats Zapdos one-on-one and often uses Zapdos as a set-up opportunity. Finally, Zapdos loses 25% of its health just by switching into Stealth Rock, but at least has the benefit of being immune to Spikes and Toxic Spikes. Despite its shortcomings, Zapdos is a very powerful special attacker in the UU tier and a threat that every team needs to prepare for.

Name Item Nature

Offensive

Life Orb Timid
Moveset EVs
~ Thunderbolt
~ Heat Wave
~ Hidden Power Grass / Hidden Power Ice
~ Roost
4 HP / 252 SpA / 252 Spe

Offensive Zapdos is a textbook Life Orb attacker. The purpose of this set is to use powerful STAB, decent coverage moves, and the power boost granted by Life Orb to cause as much damage to the opponent as possible. Thunderbolt is Zapdos's most reliable Electric attack and hits hard off of Zapdos's great Special Attack. Heat Wave is a great complement to Thunderbolt since it destroys the Grass-types that would normally want to switch into Thunderbolt. Heat Wave also gives Zapdos an extra punch against Steel-type Pokemon, such as Bronzong and Registeel, and also gets an unconditional OHKO against Weavile. Hidden Power rounds out the set, and the type you choose determines which Pokemon Zapdos beats and which ones it falls short against. If Hidden Power Ice is used, then Zapdos can fell Flygon and Gligar in a single hit. However, beware that Hidden Power Ice fails to OHKO Rhyperior and leaves you helpless against Swampert. On the flip side, Hidden Power Grass defeats all but the most specially defensive Rhyperior and Swampert in a single blow but leaves Zapdos walled by Gligar and requires three hits to defeat Flygon. Roost is what separates Zapdos from other Life Orb attackers by giving Zapdos a way to recover damage from attacks and Life Orb recoil.

Team Options & Additional Comments >>>
Name Item Nature

SubRoost

Leftovers Timid
Moveset EVs
~ Substitute
~ Roost
~ Thunderbolt
~ Hidden Power Ice / Hidden Power Flying
248 HP / 84 Def / 176 Spe

With this set, Zapdos can both take a lot of hits and immediately pressure your opponent offensively. It can avoid a 2HKO from a majority of attackers and threaten them with high-powered attacks, forcing many switches, and leaving you opportunities to get free Substitutes, which are great for easing prediction and facilitating Pressure stalls. These things in conjunction with Roost make Zapdos an absolute terror to remove the game once it has hit the battlefield. The most common answers to Zapdos are Ice- and Rock-type attacks, however but with Pressure and its good bulk, Zapdos can easily outlast the PP of common moves like Ice Beam and Stone Edge, leaving your opponent few options to break it. Substitute also provides a dual purpose in that it staves off the one thing this Zapdos hates more than anything: status. Because of these attributes, SubRoost Zapdos makes a great candidate for use on balanced and stall teams as a defensive pivot.

Thunderbolt is a staple on any Zapdos set, hitting everything but Ground-types for respectable damage, even without any Special Attack investment. Hidden Power Ice is an excellent coverage move alongside Thunderbolt, nailing many common Ground-type switch-ins, like such as Flygon and Nidoqueen, for super effective damage. On the other hand, Hidden Power Flying allows Zapdos to easily dispatch Swords Dance Heracross and 2HKO offensive Shaymin and Roserade, both things that Hidden Power Ice fails to do (though you'll need 252 SpA EVs in order to 2HKO specially defensive Roserade with Hidden Power Flying with Stealth Rock). Additionally, it hits all Ground-type Pokemon (outside of Rhyperior) in the UU tier for neutral damage and is only marginally weaker than a super effective Hidden Power Ice. Lastly, if Swampert or Rhyperior are exceptionally large threats to your team, Hidden Power Grass can be used to good effect. However, Electric and Grass do not have great type synergy, so this is an extremely niche option.

Team Options & Additional Comments >>>
Name Item Nature

Physically Defensive

Leftovers Bold
Moveset EVs
~ Discharge / Thunderbolt
~ Roost
~ Hidden Power Grass / Hidden Power Flying
~ Heat Wave / Toxic
248 HP / 236 Def / 24 Spe

A cursory glance at Zapdos's stats wouldn't suggest "physical wall" at all, but one glance at Zapdos's great defensive typing and ability shows why this set works. Zapdos possesses just two weaknesses, only one of which (Rock) is a common physical type in UU. However, Rock-type attacks (read: Stone Edge) do not give Zapdos much trouble because of a great ability in Pressure. Pressure doubles the opponent's PP usage, giving Stone Edge a pitiful four uses against Zapdos. Furthermore, using Roost on an anticipated Stone Edge reduces the attack from super effective to merely neutral. However, be warned that Roost removes Zapdos's Ground immunity and replaces it with a weakness, so a savvy opponent using both Stone Edge and Earthquake will more often than not beat this set. Regardless, Zapdos can still utilize its decent physical bulk, wonderful Special Attack, and Fighting-type resistance to wall many of UU's physical attackers.

Discharge and Thunderbolt are both great moves, and the choice between the two comes down to whether or not Discharge's 30% paralysis rate benefits your team more than Thunderbolt's added power does. If Zapdos is on a team that uses burn- and poison-inducing moves such as Toxic, Toxic Spikes, Will-O-Wisp, and Scald, then Thunderbolt is the better choice. Otherwise, Discharge is normally preferable. Roost is a very obvious choice since it nullifies Zapdos's weakness to Stone Edge and provides instant recovery in conjunction with Leftovers. The Hidden Power choice comes down to Grass vs Flying. Ice isn't a recommended option since Zapdos walls Flygon anyway, but it deserves a mention because Gligar's Immunity prevents Zapdos from wearing it down with Toxic. Grass shreds Swampert and Rhyperior, while Flying defeats Fighting-types such as Mienshao, Scrafty, and Machamp. The final slot comes down to Heat Wave versus Toxic. Heat Wave is preferable for its ability to hit Bronzong and Registeel harder, but Toxic is great for bulky Pokemon that can't be defeated with Hidden Power. If Zapdos is using Hidden Power Flying, then Toxic is your best bet for Swampert and Rhyperior.

Team Options & Additional Comments >>>
Name Item Nature

Choice Specs

Choice Specs Timid
Moveset IVs
~ Thunderbolt
~ Hidden Power Flying
~ Heat Wave
~ Volt Switch
30 HP / 30 Atk / 30 Def / 30 SpA / 30 SpD
EVs
4 HP / 252 SpA / 252 Spe

So, Zapdos isn't hitting hard enough for you? Well, this set is the answer. Choice Specs Zapdos hits harder than the Life Orb set and maintains the same Speed that makes Zapdos great. Thunderbolt is for obvious reasons; it's Zapdos's strongest reliable attack. However, the real focal point of this set is Hidden Power Flying which, thanks to Choice Specs, finally has the power to 2HKO almost every Ground-type, making Ice and Grass obsolete. After Ground-types are eliminated, Zapdos is free to fire off Thunderbolts without much fear of being walled, though Grass-types can still sponge Thunderbolts if they have enough Special Defense investment. Grass-type Pokemon and bulky Steel-type Pokemon cannot stand up to Heat Wave though, so even Grass-types can be defeated with proper prediction. The final move on Zapdos is Volt Switch, which allows Zapdos to build momentum, especially in a VoltTurn core. A Choice Specs Volt Switch will damage special walls greatly and allow Zapdos to switch to a teammate better equipped to defeat special walls. The EVs and nature are a no-brainer, Zapdos needs to maximize Speed and Special Attack.

Team Options & Additional Comments >>>
Name Item Nature

Specially Defensive

Leftovers Calm
Moveset EVs
~ Discharge / Thunderbolt
~ Roost
~ Heat Wave / Toxic
~ Hidden Power Grass / Roar / Hidden Power Ice
248 HP / 236 SpD / 24 Spe

Zapdos can run a specially defensive set thanks to its fantastic defensive typing. Even though its defensive stats might be a little lackluster, it has the bulk to take just about any reasonably powered special attack in the game when invested. This set's effectiveness hinges on whether or not Zapdos resists many of the opponent's attacks. If Zapdos can switch in on resisted special attacks or weak neutral hits, it can fire off a powerful Thunderbolt, recover its health with Roost, or spread the ever-annoying Toxic upon its foes. Roost is the cornerstone of this set for obvious reasons: it preserves Zapdos's health. Thunderbolt is a generic attacking option, but Discharge is usually better because it can spread paralysis and facilitate a sweep by a partner. Heat Wave and Toxic are great moves on Zapdos, but only one of them should be used since Zapdos absolutely needs Hidden Power (either Ice or Grass, whichever fits Zapdos's team better) or it risks being walled by Swampert, Rhyperior, Flygon, and Gligar. Roar is a fantastic choice for a move since it deals with Calm Mind users, such as Suicune, who laugh at Zapdos's uninvested Thunderbolts.

Team Options & Additional Comments >>>
Name Item Nature

Agility

Life Orb Modest
Moveset EVs
~ Thunderbolt
~ Hidden Power Ice / Hidden Power Flying
~ Agility
~ Roost
180 HP / 252 SpA / 76 Spe

This is a unique set which is quite effective against the popular Fire / Water / Grass cores, using Thunderbolt and Hidden Power Ice to form a pseudo-BoltBeam combination. Save for Swampert, this set usually comes out on top against most Pokemon commonly found in such cores. Thunderbolt is this set's generic STAB move, and Hidden Power Ice is usually the best coverage move to use alongside it. However, Hidden Power Flying is also a good option because it receives STAB and retains good neutral coverage; for example, Spikes Roserade is always 2HKOed by Hidden Power Flying. This set can be used in two different ways: a bulkier variant with access to Roost and decent coverage, or a purely offensive variant that sacrifices recovery for even better coverage in the form of Heat Wave; Roost is superior most of the time, though.

This set must be played in different ways throughout the match. Early-game, Zapdos should use its great 383 Special Attack in tandem with Life Orb to wear down the opponent and wreak havoc on unprepared teams. Roost must then be used to increase Zapdos's longevity. Finally, late-game, Zapdos can use Agility to avoid being revenge killed by a Choice Scarf users such as Flygon or Darmanitan, easily OHKOing them with Hidden Power Ice and Thunderbolt, respectively.

Team Options & Additional Comments >>>

Other Options

Zapdos has very few viable options that are not listed in the above sets. Zapdos's above average (by special sweeper standards) base 90 Attack may look appealing, but in reality any attempt at a mixed attacking set leaves Zapdos too weak to break any walls that the special sweeper set can't break. The only way Zapdos can boost its Special Attack is through the move Charge Beam, which is technically viable. However, Raikou is a better boosting sweeper and Charge Beam consumes a moveslot that can be used on a coverage move or Roost. Choice Scarf with Thunderbolt, Heat Wave, a Hidden Power of your choosing, and Volt Switch can be used, but that really stretches the limits of viability.

Checks and Counters

Zapdos has many checks but few counters, as with Zapdos's power and versatility (not to mention its durability!), the electric bird can be tough to take down. Swampert and Rhyperior defeat any set that doesn't include Hidden Power Grass, and Gligar and Flygon beat any Zapdos without Hidden Power Ice. Zapdos's partner in crime, Raikou, can switch in on just about any attack and begin setting up Calm Mind, but a weakened Raikou will not enjoy Heat Wave or Hidden Power. The three special walls of UU, Snorlax, Umbreon, and Porygon2, all take on standard Zapdos very well but have trouble with Choice Specs-boosted Thunderbolts. Stealth Rock and status conditions make Zapdos sad as it wants to preserve its health in order to stave off Life Orb recoil and any status problem severely hinders its effectiveness. Rotom-H resists Thunderbolt, Heat Wave, and any Hidden Power Zapdos uses, but it's weak to Stealth Rock and has questionable bulk. Nidoqueen and Nidoking don't take any damage from Thunderbolt and can shoot Zapdos out of the sky with a Sheer Force-boosted Ice Beam. Zapdos, since it's not blindingly fast and doesn't commonly boost its Speed, can be revenge killed rather easily by Choice Scarf users, such as Chandelure, Heracross, and Darmanitan, as well.

Unreleased

Zapdos receives the ability Lightningrod from the Dream World. This is a fantastic addition to Zapdos's repertoire, as it gives it an immunity to Electric-type moves, and hence more switch in opportunities.