Zapdos's unique defensive typing and ability in Static let it check and punish common offensive threats like Rillaboom, Kartana, and Tornadus-T as well as common U-turn users like Urshifu-R and Landorus-T. It also makes use of rain with its STAB moves in Thunder and Hurricane, which become 100% accurate in rain, as well as Weather Ball, which lets it hit Ground-types and Heatran much harder. This set faces competition from other rain users like Thundurus-T and Tornadus-T, which are faster and can break defensive teams more easily because of their access to Nasty Plot. However, Zapdos can check Rillaboom and Kartana better with its solid defenses and reliable recovery, which rain teams often struggle with. Unfortunately , Zapdos is incredibly prone to having its item removed by Knock Off from Pokemon it's supposed to check, like Rillaboom and Kartana, making it a much less reliable check after being chipped by Stealth Rock. Because Knock Off hampers its ability to check these Pokemon long-term, it often relies on Static to cripple offensive threats. Zapdos is also rather weak to Toxic, which is why some Pokemon like Excadrill and Melmetal opt to run it. Zapdos also faces competition from other defensive walls like Corviknight and Skarmory, which have a better defensive typing. Their neutrality to Stealth Rock also allows them to absorb Knock Off more easily.
move 1: Discharge / Volt Switch
move 2: Roost
move 3: Hurricane / Heat Wave
move 4: Defog / Toxic
item: Heavy-Duty Boots
evs: 248 HP / 220 Def / 40 Spe
Discharge spreads paralysis, making it hard for common specially defensive switch-ins like Heatran, Clefable, and Galarian Slowking to switch in safely. Volt Switch can be used over Discharge, as it lets Zapdos pivot out against the aforementioned checks and Blissey. It should be used alongside Hurricane to punish Ground-types harder as they attempt to block Volt Switch. Heat Wave can be used over Hurricane, targeting Steel-types like Ferrothorn, Scizor, Excadrill, and Magnezone at the cost of much less damage against Ground-types. Defog adds to Zapdos's utility by letting it remove entry hazards, although it's often forced to do so on free turns like forced switches, as it loses to a lot of common Stealth Rock users like Landorus-T, Hippowdon, and Clefable that are able to cripple Zapdos with either Knock Off or Toxic. Some Stealth Rock users like Garchomp, Landorus-T, and Tyranitar can also carry Rock-type coverage to pressure Zapdos. Toxic can also be a good alternative for Zapdos to punish defensive Ground-types like Garchomp, Hippowdon, and specially defensive Landorus-T that otherwise don't take much from its attacks, as well as crippling other situational switch-ins like Tapu Koko, Zeraora, and Kyurem. However, it should only be used if the team has another form of entry hazard control. Static can punish U-turn users like Landorus-T, Urshifu-R, and Dragapult. 40 Speed EVs let Zapdos outspeed Rillaboom and the rest are invested into HP and Defense to maximize Zapdos's physical bulk.
Scizor makes a great defensive partner, as it can take pressure off of Zapdos to check Rillaboom and check Ice-types like Kyurem and Weavile. Zapdos can also pivot on some of Scizor's checks, like Galarian Slowking and Blissey, to bring it in to threaten them with Knock Off or continue the VoltTurn cycle. Landorus-T also makes a good partner, as it can help out Zapdos by checking opposing Landorus-T, Swords Dance Garchomp, and Zeraora, while Zapdos is able to switch into offensive Grass-types that trouble Landorus-T, like Rillaboom and Kartana. Dragapult can make use of Zapdos's ability to force out some of its checks, like Mandibuzz and Corviknight, while Zapdos benefits from Dragapult's ability to force out Kyurem and offensive Ground-types like Garchomp and Landorus-T. Rillaboom pressures Ground-types like Hippowdon and Garchomp, which can wall Zapdos. Rillaboom also benefits from Zapdos's ability to force out common Flying-types like Tornadus-T and Corviknight and do huge damage to Ferrothorn, letting Rillaboom spam its Grass-type STAB moves much more freely. Melmetal also makes a great partner, as Zapdos can use Volt Switch to bring it in safely against Pokemon like Clefable and Galarian Slowking. Melmetal also benefits from Zapdos's ability to switch into Fighting-types and Pokemon with Fighting-type coverage, like Urshifu-R and Kartana.
name: Offensive Rain Sweeper
move 1: Thunder
move 2: Hurricane
move 3: Weather Ball
move 4: Roost
item: Heavy-Duty Boots
evs: 4 Def / 252 SpA / 252 Spe
Zapdos's STAB Thunder and Hurricane become 100% accurate in rain, letting it spam them with no drawbacks and assume a wallbreaking role while providing needed defensive utility against Rillaboom, Kartana, and Tornadus-T that rain teams lack otherwise. Weather Ball makes it an even better user of rain, OHKOing both Heatran and Landorus-T that would otherwise be able to land a crippling Toxic or Knock Off. This unresisted coverage lets Zapdos become a potent offensive threat, especially against offensive teams lacking solid specially defensive walls like Tyranitar, Hippowdon, and Blissey. Static greatly benefits its slower teammates like Urshifu-R, as it can paralyze Pokemon like Kartana, making them much easier to deal with. A Timid nature is preferred, as it allows Zapdos to outspeed threats like Kyurem, Tapu Lele, Urshifu-R, and Swords Dance Landorus-T.
Other Pokemon that can make use of rain, like Barraskewda and Urshifu-R make good partners. They can pivot on their checks like Tangrowth and Rillaboom to bring out Zapdos for a wallbreaking opportunity. In addition to setting rain and pivoting, Pelipper can also use Defog to remove entry hazards, which can greatly benefit the team by freeing up a moveslot for Zapdos. Ferrothorn is also a valuable teammate, since it can switch into opposing Electric-types like Tapu Koko and provide Spikes support to help Zapdos and its teammates break through teams more easily. These two can also check offensive Grass-types like Kartana and Rillaboom together. Garchomp makes a good partner for its Electric immunity and access to Stealth Rock, and in return Zapdos checks the offensive Grass-types it struggles with.
A set with Substitute and Pressure can be used to overwhelm common defensive cores and PP stall common checks like Heatran and Blissey. However, this set is outclassed by Pressure Kyurem and Moltres. An offensive variant with Heat Wave, Thunderbolt, and Hurricane can be a good choice, as it fits on archetypes other than rain and brings good defensive utility to a team by soft checking Pokemon like Hawlucha, Rillaboom, and Kartana, which not many other offensive Pokemon are able to do. This coverage also allows Zapdos to annoy and hit a plethora of Pokemon. However, this set faces competition from Pokemon like Tornadus-T, which also offers utility like Knock Off and has Nasty Plot.
Checks and Counters
**Knock Off**: Due to the abundance of Knock Off users in the tier and Zapdos's reliance on its Heavy-Duty Boots, it is an easy target for Knock Off users like Rillaboom, Kartana, and Tornadus-T, making it much easier to overwhelm offensively.
**Ice-types and Ice-type coverage**: Ice-types like Weavile and Kyurem can easily threaten out Zapdos with their strong STAB attacks. However, Weavile cannot switch in very easily, as it lacks reliable recovery and runs the risk of getting paralyzed by a stray Discharge or KOed by Heat Wave. Melmetal can also choose to run Ice Punch to deter Zapdos from switching in frequently or Protective Pads to ignore Static.
**Rock-types and Rock-type coverage**: Tyranitar is a very good check to Zapdos, as it takes minimal damage from its moves and threatens it out with Rock Blast or Stone Edge. Pokemon like Landorus-T and Hawlucha can also easily run Stone Edge to deal with Zapdos, as they would be walled by it otherwise.
**Galarian Slowking**: Galarian Slowking's great bulk with Assault Vest makes it a solid Zapdos check and allows it to take multiple hits from it with ease while pressuring its Substitute set with Future Sight and repeated attacks. Zapdos is also unable to use Roost against it, since it risks the chance of being poisoned by Sludge Bomb.
**Toxic**: Excadrill and Melmetal can use Toxic to heavily cripple Zapdos, leaving it unable to check them and other threats consistently.
- Written by: [[Abhisdn417, 526987]]
- Quality checked by: [[Katy, 415305], [airfare, 513717]]
- Grammar checked by: [[Bandkrook, 301217], [deetah, 297659]]