VGC 2018 Pokemon Spotlight #1 – Zapdos

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With the start of the VGC 2018 season, its time to look at Pokemon that have been seeing usage throughout the season to look at what is giving them this opportunity. The first Pokemon is Zapdos, who due to key changes to the metagame and certain Pokemon undergoing massive changes, has seen a massive increase in usage. The goal of this article is to give you the tips and tricks to both use, defeat, and understand Zapdos throughout the VGC 2018 season. Hope you enjoy and let's begin!

Base Stats & Typing


Looking at its base stats, Zapdos has some pretty strong stats. Decent defenses and a good typing only giving it 2 weaknesses to Rock and Ice type moves allows Zapdos to stay around for long amounts of times to perform its job better. Its base 125 Sp. Attack stat is great as it means Zapdos doesn't have to heavily invest into that stat to still stay a threat in the damage department. Finally, its base 100 speed stat puts Zapdos with the same speed stat as Pokemon like Mega Kangaskhan and Mega Charizard Y which means that Zapdos has the potential to out-speed a majority of Pokemon in the format which can be very helpful combined with its strong Sp. Attack stat. 

As touched on earlier, its Electric and Flying typing gives it weaknesses to only 2 types in Rock and Ice type Pokemon and moves, which since Ice types moves are commonly seen on Water types, Zapdos will most likely not have to deal with actual Ice types. Rock type moves even not seen on Rock type moves can still be an issue as Rock type moves from Pokemon like Landorus-Therian can still do a large amount of damage.

Notable Moves

  • Thunderbolt
  • Tailwind
  • Heat Wave
  • Protect
  • Roar
  • Volt Switch
  • Hidden Power [Ice]
  • Roost
  • Detect
  • Discharge
  • Thunder
  • Sky Drop
For its moves, Zapdos gets a nice variety of moves. Strong and consistent electric type moves in Thunderbolt and Volt Switch can help as Zapdos can use Volt Switch to switch out into the right Pokemon in the middle of the turn. Zapdos also is commonly seen with Tailwind to increase the speed of its teammates as well as Roost to increase its health. Its final main move in Heat Wave can be used for the steel types that Thunderbolt and Hidden Power Ice won't crack. Protect and Detect can be used for blocking attacks. While Protect is the most consistent, Detect has been used as the some Pokemon like Muk and Bronzong who can use Imprison to block Protect, but Detect can be helpful to still have the move option. Discharge can be helpful if Lightning Rod users become much more of a prominent issue for Zapdos. Thunder is helpful to have a strong electric move in Rain but could work well in general with the Electrium Z item to have a stronger STAB move. Sky Drop could be a decent support move option if Zapdos can find room for it to potentially allow it to remove a Pokemon off the field in the middle of the turn.

Notable Items

  • Electrium Z
  • Psychic Seed
  • Iapapa Berry
  • Wiki Berry
  • Sitrus Berry
  • Misty Seed
  • Grassy Seed
  • Aguav Berry
  • Mago Berry
For its items, Zapdos gets a nice variety of items. Electrium Z is the strongest item for taking advantage of its offensive stats. The terrain seeds can work well to turn Zapdos into a bulkier Pokemon. The Misty and Psychic seeds gives Zapdos +1 to its Sp. Defense stats when Zapdos is exposed to the Misty Terrain and Psychic Terrain respectively. Grassy Seed on the other hand would give Zapdos a +1 Defense stat when its exposed to the Grassy Terrain which can be very helpful for allowing Zapdos to take big hits that without these seeds, Zapdos might not survive. Finally, these 5 healing berries can help in general situations to allow Zapdos to have another option to gain health and due to how these items aren't the most popular on Zapdos, can still be helpful if your team doesn't have a Tapu Pokemon on it, but still want to give Zapdos a consistent item.

Now let's look into sample sets for Zapdos that I recommend.

Sample Set #1: Support with Seeds

Zapdos @ Misty Seed or Psychic Seed
Ability: Pressure
EVs: 252 HP / 104 Def / 52 SpA / 4 SpD / 96 Spe
Calm Nature
IVs: 0 Atk
- Thunderbolt / Volt Switch
- Hidden Power [Ice] / Heat Wave
- Tailwind
- Roost / Protect

The idea of this first set is to take advantage of Zapdos' bulk by using either the Misty Seed or Psychic Seed to increase its Sp. Defense further. This explains why Zapdos isn't as invested into its Sp. Defenses stat because its item is covering the lack of investment. The EV Spread allows Zapdos to survive Ludicolo's Z-Hydro Pump in the rain thanks to the Misty Seed which without the item, Zapdos fails to survive. It also allows Zapdos to survive Mega Kangaskhan's Double-Edge as well as taking a turn of residual damage from Hail and Sand. The moveset is pretty simple. Your choice of electric move in either Thunderbolt or Volt Switch is personal preference. While they are both consistent forms of damage but with the popularity of Shadow Tag users in Mega Gengar and Gothitelle, Volt Switch on Zapdos may become much more popular. The second option in either Hidden Power [Ice] or Heat Wave depends on what you need from Zapdos. Hidden Power [Ice] is very helpful for opposing Landorus while Heat Wave can be good for opposing Ferrothorn. My advice would evaluate what your team needs more and go with that move. Tailwind is a must for Zapdos in general because of how helpful it is since of how strong speed control is in VGC. The final slot in Roost or Protect is again dependent on what you need from Zapdos. Since Zapdos is decently bulky, Roost is helpful to increase its longevity. Protect is an amazing move in VGC is seen on a vast majority of Pokemon and Zapdos wouldn't be an exception to this.

Sample Set #2: Offensive Electrium Z

Zapdos @ Electrium Z
Ability: Pressure
EVs: 236 HP / 100 Def / 36 SpA / 20 SpD / 116 Spe
Modest Nature
- Thunderbolt / Thunder
- Hidden Power [Ice] / Heat Wave 
- Tailwind
- Protect / Roost

Very similar to the first set, what this Zapdos set wants to do is to take advantage of its high Sp. Attack stat to become more of an offensive threat. Since Zapdos holds the Electrium Z, it uses its choice in Electric move in either Thunderbolt for consistent damage outside of its Z-Crystal but has the option in Thunder for a stronger Z-Move option which can KO Pokemon that might train to survive Z-Thunderbolt, which can be helpful. The EV Spread for this Zapdos makes it much frailer than the first set which means to effectively use this Zapdos, it needs to be supported much more through methods like Intimidate, Snarl, and other ways that will be covered more in depth later in this article. Once again, Tailwind is a must on Zapdos due to how 9 times out of 10, Zapdos should be able to set Tailwind for its team. The final slot is again personal preference. I prefer to Protect due to the offensive nature of this Zapdos since it won't be around long so Protect made sense to me to be the correct choice, but Roost can be helpful since Zapdos is a decently bulky Pokemon.

Potential Partners for Zapdos

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Rain teams usually enjoy having a strong Electric type and Zapdos fits the bill since the threat of Mega Charizard Y exists, so Zapdos threatens strong Electric moves to heavily threaten it.

As said earlier on how powerful the respective seeds for there terrain are, These 3 Tapus work well with Zapdos. Tapu Fini activates the Misty Seed and is the most common Tapu to pair along Zapdos because its water moves and typing threaten the rock and ice types Zapdos don't enjoy dealing with. Tapu Lele can be a strong offensive partner to pair with Zapdos. Tapu Bulu and the Grassy Seed giving it a defense boost which can be helpful if your team doesn't have Intimidate.

These 3 Pokemon are very easy to work with Zapdos because of their consistency. Zapdos can help Landorus by giving it a Pokemon to Earthquake alongside it. Heatran's fire/steel typing is a natural partner for Zapdos since it can switch in on rock and ice type moves while Zapdos can switch in on water, ground, and fighting moves for Heatran. Kangaskhan provides Fake Out pressure for Zapdos to set Tailwind to help out its team.

Threatening Pokemon to Zapdos

1 - Lightning Rod Users

These 3 Pokemon all share the Lightning Rod ability which can be very annoying for Zapdos that choose not to run Discharge. While only Marowak can directly threaten it in damage, the reason they're annoying for Zapdos is that these 3 are commonly paired with threatening set-up Pokemon that can threaten teams. The popularity in these Pokemon might force Zapdos to use Discharge in the future.

2 - Rock Type Pokemon

5 of the most prevalent Rock-type Pokemon in the format, these Pokemon can do the strongest job of being able to switch in on whatever Zapdos throws at them in its attacks and threaten a strong Rock-type move either being Power Gem or Rock Slide. Nihilego and Terrakion can out-speed Zapdos with Nihilego threatening it on the special side while Terrakion threatening on the physical side. Tyranitar can set-up through Dragon Dance to potentially OHKO with Rock Slide or Z-Stone Edge. Gigalith and Stakataka are the most annoying as they thrive under Trick Room and could OHKO it with Z-Stone Edge from Gigalith with Stakataka threatening with both Rock Slide and Gyro Ball due to its very slow speed stat.

3 - Ice Type Pokemon

3 of the most prevalent Ice types in the format, these Pokemon can hit Zapdos for super effective damage due to their strong offensive stats, all being able to 2HKO bulky variant of Zapdos. Weavile and Ninetales are fast in nature and can out-speed Zapdos to attack it first. Weavile in particular hits on the physical side and also provides Fake Out pressure to stop Zapdos from moving first and is one of the faster Fake Out users in the game. Ninetales can set the hail thanks to its ability which can allow it to use Aurora Veil to increase its team's bulk, which means it can limit Zapdos' offensive potential. Abomasnow is more of a threat due to its slow speed and good bulk. While Zapdos only threatens with Heat Wave, if your opponent can get Abomasnow under Trick Room, Abomasnow can easily use Blizzard to chunk Zapdos and even threaten a KO.

4 - Defensive Grass Types

While not threatening super effective damage, these 3 are defensive grass types that can slowly stall out Zapdos. Mega Venusaur is a nightmare for Zapdos since it can easily use Leech Seed and stall out Zapdos with Giga Drain and Sludge Bomb doing decent damage to it. Amoonguss can use Spore to put Zapdos to sleep and Giga Drain it to regain any lost health while Zapdos is asleep. Ferrothorn is only a threat if Zapdos doesn't carry Heat Wave. Should it not have Heat Wave, Ferrothorn can wall Zapdos out and like Venusaur, use Leech Seed to slowly wear it down.

Alternative Options for Zapdos

1 - Offensive Electric Types

Because Zapdos has a strong Sp. Attack stat, it could be substituted by another offensive electric type in either Tapu Koko, Xurkitree, or Thundurus-Therian. Tapu Koko and its Electric Terrain can help in the new terrain wars between the Tapus and in its terrain, it can dish out some of the strongest Electric moves in the game. Xurkitree can be seen with the offensive stats of Tapu Koko's electric move in Electric Terrain and the speed of Zapdos, but whose reliably able to set up using Tail Glow. Thundurus-Therian is nice as it can switch into Electric-type moves thanks to its Volt Absorb ability.

2 - Defensive Electric Types

Despite getting heavily nerfed due the presence of Tapu Lele's Psychic Terrain nullifying the Prankster ability, Confusion due to Swagger only having a 30% chance for Pokemon to hit itself, and Thunder Wave only nerfing a Pokemon's speed by 50% instead of 75%, Thundurus could find use as a bulky Electric-type if the team can have very effective ways to help out Thundurus move past its issues. The Rotom forms still do the things that made them strong in the first place, but due to their typing and Levitate ability, can take multiple hits, Will-O-Wisp to burn a threat, and use Thunderbolt in their electric coverage, and Hydro Pump or Overheat depending on the form to hit strong Pokemon for decent damage.


Overall, Zapdos is going to be a very threatening Pokemon and a Pokemon you should expect to see a lot in your matches. I hoped you enjoyed this article. Check back to the Nimbasa City Post for more articles on the VGC 2018 format and updates on the VGC format as the season progresses. See you soon!


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