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

Thanks to its unique typing, good overall stats, and interesting movepool, Zapdos manages to hold a definite niche in OU. It has Roost to take repeated assaults, and can take on threatening special sweepers such as Volcarona (provided it is raining) and Tornadus. Furthermore, the combination of Zapdos's Electric typing, good coverage, Roost, and useful resistances allow it to threaten the ubiquitous rain offense teams and put big pressure on them. However, Zapdos has many flaws that prevent it from being a prevalent threat in OU. Offensively, Zapdos is mostly outclassed by Thundurus-T, which has slightly higher Speed, higher Special Attack, a better ability, and access to Nasty Plot. Zapdos is an appropriate offensive choice only if you take advantage of its better bulk and access to Heat Wave and Roost. Defensively, Zapdos's biggest flaw is its Stealth Rock weakness, which hampers its overall performance and makes it very team-reliant. Finally, even though Zapdos has great all-around stats, its special bulk is somewhat lacking in comparison to OU's premier special walls, such as Celebi, Jirachi, and Heatran.

Name Item Nature

Specially Defensive

Leftovers Calm
Moveset EVs
~ Thunderbolt / Volt Switch
~ Roost
~ Heat Wave
~ Hidden Power Ice / Toxic
248 HP / 240 SpD / 20 Spe

Zapdos is a decent special wall that deals with a few key threats that many teams struggle against such as Tornadus. Thanks to its wide coverage and favorable match-up against most Pokemon found on rain teams, Zapdos is also a good anti-rain Pokemon. A STAB move is essential on Zapdos, taking advantage of Electric's great neutral coverage and super effective hits against the plethora of Water-type Pokemon found in OU, and there are two options. Thunderbolt is strong and reliable, while Volt Switch enables Zapdos to control the pace of the game and makes it a better pivot. Roost keeps Zapdos healthy throughout the game, helps alleviate its Stealth Rock weakness, and lets Zapdos PP stall some dangerous moves when combined with Pressure. Heat Wave lets Zapdos dent or OHKO the various Steel-types that it checks, such as Scizor, Ferrothorn, and Magnezone. Heat Wave also OHKOes Breloom, a Pokemon that Zapdos checks very well. Hidden Power Ice deals with Landorus-T and Dragon-types and gives Zapdos great neutral coverage when combined with its Electric STAB. On the other hand, Toxic cripples many common switch-ins to Zapdos, namely Hippowdon, Tyranitar, Latias, Kyurem-B, Gastrodon, and Mamoswine.

Team Options & Additional Comments >>>
Name Item Nature

Offensive

Leftovers / Expert Belt Modest
Moveset EVs
~ Thunderbolt
~ Hidden Power Ice
~ Heat Wave
~ Roost
80 HP / 252 SpA / 176 Spe

Using its good bulk and access to Roost and Heat Wave, Zapdos can pull off an offensive set in OU, despite the major competition from Thundurus-T. By virtue of the above, Zapdos can check many dangerous offensive Pokemon that Thundurus-T can't, such as Scizor, Breloom, and Tornadus, all the while being very hard to switch into thanks to its good power and coverage. Thunderbolt is the STAB move of the set and deals with Water- and Flying-types, such as Keldeo, Gyarados, and Tornadus. Hidden Power Ice covers the Grass-, Dragon-, and Ground-types that resist or are immune to Thunderbolt, and Heat Wave takes care of the few Grass-types that don't mind Hidden Power Ice, namely Ferrothorn and Celebi, and some other Pokemon that Zapdos checks, such as Lucario and Scizor. Roost allows Zapdos to stick around long enough to check the threats it is supposed to check, counteracts any Stealth Rock damage that Zapdos may incur, and is the main trait that differentiates Zapdos from Thundurus-T.

Team Options & Additional Comments >>>

Other Options

Zapdos can use a SubRoost set with Thunderbolt and Toxic, which when coupled with the PP stalling that Pressure speeds up can have modest success. While it has the potential to be effective, especially with Toxic Spikes support, it loses much of the appeal of Zapdos in OU in the first place such as great coverage and the ability to threaten rain teams. Damp Rock coupled with Rain Dance and Volt Switch allow Zapdos to become an effective supporter for manual Rain Dance teams. While Agility sets are largely outclassed by Thundurus-T, Zapdos has access to Baton Pass and Roost, meaning it can become a blend of sweeper and tank with an Agility + Roost set, and a blend of sweeper and supporter with an Agility + Baton Pass set. Substitute and Charge Beam can fit in this set, too, if Zapdos runs Baton Pass. Hidden Power Grass can be used on any team that struggles against Gastrodon and Mamoswine, two Pokemon that normally give Zapdos problems, but has no use otherwise. Finally, Tailwind can be used on any offensive set, imitating Agility but helping the whole team, something that Thundurus-T can't do. However, Tailwind is not reliable enough to be worth it most of the time.

Checks and Counters

Chansey and Blissey are the best counters to any Zapdos set. Hippowdon, Gastrodon, and Mamoswine counter Zapdos, too, as they wall its attacking moves, and have the added benefit of blocking Volt Switch. Tyranitar, Latias, Kyurem-B, specially defensive Jirachi, and any variant of Celebi and Jirachi in rain all wall Zapdos as well, and can either set up on it or OHKO it, with the exception of specially defensive Celebi, which can only use Perish Song to force it out. However, except for Chansey, Blissey, and Jirachi, all these Pokemon are crippled by Toxic.

As for checks, anything that either resists Electric-types moves or is specially bulky and neutral to them can check Zapdos well, provided it isn't very susceptible to Zapdos's coverage moves and can hurt Zapdos back. This includes Pokemon such as Latios, specially defensive Heatran, and Terrakion in sand. In addition, if Zapdos lacks either Hidden Power Ice or Heat Wave, Dragon- and Ground-types (examples include Garchomp, Gliscor, and Landorus-T) and Steel- and Grass-types (examples include Ferrothorn, Celebi, and Jirachi) respectively become good checks.

Unreleased

Zapdos is set to receive Lightningrod from the Dream World, an amazing ability to have. With it, Zapdos will be able to switch into any Electric-type attack from the opponent and receive a boost to its Special Attack, allowing it to boast a Special Attack stat as if it were equipped with Choice Specs.