Level 100 Statistics (see level 5, 50, 100)
At first glance, Zubat seems to be pretty terrible due to its poor stats across the board, limited coverage, and weakness to Stealth Rock. However, it does have some moves that most other Flying-type Pokemon would kill for, namely Hypnosis, which allows Zubat to cripple counters, and Nasty Plot, which can boost Zubat's Special Attack to decent levels. In addition, Zubat's Poison / Flying typing offers it useful quad resistances to Bug, Fighting, and Grass. Overall, while Zubat may be inferior to many of the other Flying-type Pokemon in LC, it does have some unique qualities to that prevent it from being completely outclassed.
With 16 Speed, Zubat can effectively utilize a Choice Scarf set in order to scout and revenge kill the opponent. Brave Bird is Zubat's most powerful STAB attack, though the recoil damage may hurt. Pluck is a good alternative to Brave Bird since it allows Zubat to heal itself when attacking a Pokemon holding Oran Berry, though the power drop is significant. U-turn is a very useful attack, allowing Zubat to scout for counters that may want to switch in. Return provides good neutral coverage, and is its strongest attack without recoil. Finally, Pursuit allows Zubat to checkmate weakened Pokemon, while Hypnosis allows it to cripple Pokemon that are hard to deal with. However, being locked into Hypnosis is usually a very dangerous undertaking and should only be considered if you really need the surprise factor of a fast sleep.
Team Options & Additional Comments >>>
Zubat has many defining qualities that allow it to become a viable lead. Taunt, coupled with 16 Speed, allow it to stop slow leads such as Hippopotas from setting up Stealth Rock. Pluck and Brave Bird are both viable options in the next slot, gaining STAB, and being able to OHKO Oran Berry Machop, a common lead in today's metagame. Hypnosis allows Zubat to incapacitate an opponent for a few turns, which enables Zubat to hurt it with Pluck or switch to a teammate that can take advantage of the sleeping opponent. Roost is also a viable option, healing off the recoil damage dealt from Brave Bird, while also allowing Zubat to deal more damage. U-turn allows Zubat to scout for counters, and allows the team to gain momentum.
Team Options & Additional Comments >>>
Surprisingly, Zubat has a couple of interesting other options to note. Quick Attack can be used to revenge kill easier, though it does poor damage overall without STAB. Super Fang can be used to slice the health of healthy walls such as Gligar and Aron in half, though it will only be effective early in the game when most Pokemon are at full health and the opponent's team hasn't been revealed. Fly is a viable STAB move, having more power than Pluck (unless it attacks a Pokemon holding Oran Berry), while not having recoil damage unlike Brave Bird. However, Pokemon that resist Fly can easily be easily switched in, making Fly a poor option. Zen Headbutt is an interesting option to strike Poison- and Fighting-type Pokemon without taking Brave Bird's recoil, but doesn't provide much use outside of that. Tailwind can allow Zubat to outspeed every Pokemon in the tier, while also doubling the Speed of its teammates. Unfortunately, Zubat is frail and better off dealing damage right off the bat; additionally, Tailwind only lasts for a mere three turns. Zubat has access to Nasty Plot as well as Heat Wave, Sludge Bomb, and Air Slash, but with a meager 30 base that would make even Bidoof laugh, Zubat won't be finding much use for it, even after a boost. Speaking of special attacks, Hidden Power Ground or Fighting can be used to deal with Rock-type Pokemon, which would otherwise easily counter Zubat. If a Hidden Power is used, Zubat should be using a Hasty nature. Finally, Zubat can run a weather support set, due to its access to Rain Dance, Sunny Day, and U-turn, which allows it to bring in a sweeper immediately.
Checks and Counters
Zubat has a handful of counters, but most of them can be easily alluded by Hypnosis. Nonetheless, the single best counters are Rock-type Pokemon, since they completely wall Zubat and can retaliate with super effective STAB attacks. Aron is the best example of this, being able to Rock Polish without fear of being KOed by any of Zubat's moves and OHKO Zubat with Head Smash while continuing to wreak havoc. Likewise, Bronzor can take on a majority of Zubat's moves and OHKO back with Psychic. Electric-type Pokemon that outspeed Zubat are great counters; Elekid is a good example, as it can outspeed Zubat and take it out with ThunderPunch. Since Zubat is frail, priority moves greatly harm it, especially Ice Shard. Pokemon such as Snover and Swinub can check Zubat with Ice Shard without worrying about getting hit in return. Finally, Gligar is a great counter to Zubat due to its impressive physical bulk and access to Stone Edge.