Zapdos - Moveset & Best Build for Ranked Battle | Pokemon Sword and Shield

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Pokemon - Zapdos Movesets and Counters.png
This is a strategy guide for using Zapdos in competitive play for the games Pokemon Sword and Shield. Read on for tips on the best Nature, EV spreads, Movesets, and Held Items to use with Zapdos, as well as its strengths and weak points.

Basic Information for Zapdos

Types and Abilities

Pokemon Type 1 Type 2
Pokemon Sword and Shield - Electric Type Pokemon Sword and Shield - Flying Type
Abilities
Pressure The Pokemon raises the foe's PP usage.
Static (Hidden) Contact with the Pokemon may cause paralysis.

Zapdos Weaknesses and Resistances

Type
Takes 4x damage
-
Takes 2x damage
Pokemon Ice Image Pokemon Rock Image
Takes 0.5x damage
Pokemon Grass Image Pokemon Fighting Image Pokemon Flying Image Pokemon Bug Image Pokemon Steel Image
Takes 1/4x damage
-
Takes 0x damage
Pokemon Ground Image

What is Type Effectiveness?

Base Stats

HP Attack Defense Sp. Atk Sp. Def Speed
90 90 85 125 90 100

Best Nature for Zapdos

Best Natures
Timid
(+Spd, -Atk)
Bold
(+Def, -Atk)
Calm
(+Sp.Def, -Atk)

What are Natures?

Singles Movesets for Zapdos

Dynamax Sweeper Moveset & Best Build

Dynamax Sweeper Zapdos.png

Nature Timid (+Spd, -Atk)
EV Spread Sp.Atk 252 / Sp.Def 4 / Spd 252
Final Stat Values HP 165 / Def. 105 / Sp.Atk 177 / Sp.Def 111 / Spd 167
Ability Static
Held Item Life Orb
Moveset Thunderbolt
Hurricane
Heat Wave
Roost

As Zapdos can get STAB on both Electric and Flying moves, and possesses Fire moves as well, it's difficult to wall it effectively, making Zapdos effective even when compared to other Dynamax sweepers.

About Zapdos's Moves

Thunderbolt and Hurricane serve as Zapdos' main STAB moves. The former has the bonus of causing paralysis, while the latter has the bonus of causing confusion, both of which can be annoying to enemy sweepers. Hurricane has the added benefit of giving Zapdos access to Max Airstream to increase its speed.

Heat Wave works as a good coverage move for Zapdos who might have trouble against Steel-types.

Finally, Roost helps with Zapdos' survivability in the match, while also giving Zapdos access to Max Guard when Dynamaxed.

About Zapdos's EV Spread

This build utilizes a standard specially offensive spread to maximize Zapdos' damage. The remaining EVs can be put into Special Defense.

About Zapdos's Ability

Static gives Zapdos a better chance of spreading paralysis against enemy sweepers. When hit by a contact move, there is a 30% chance to paralyze the opponent.

About Zapdos's Held Item

Life Orb works well as a way to boost Zapdos' damage output. Thanks to the recovery from Roost, Zapdos doesn't have to worry so much about the residual damage.

Other Viable Moves

Discharge Has a higher chance of inflicting paralysis.
Volt Switch Allows Zapdos to switch into more favorable match-ups.
Rising Voltage Has good synergy with with Electric Terrain.
Ancient Power A Rock-type coverage move that can be useful against opposing Zapdos and the occassional Heat Rotom.

Physically Defensive Moveset & Best Build

Physically Defensive Zapdos.png

Nature Bold (+Def, -Atk)
EV Spread HP 252 / Def 252 / Sp.Def 4
Final Stat Values HP 197 / Def 150 / Sp.Atk 145 / Sp.Def 111 / Spd 120
Ability Static
Held Item Leftovers
Moveset Volt Switch
Hurricane
Substitute
Roost

Zapdos' flagship defensive set makes a return in Sword & Shield. A combination of good dual typing granting only 2 weaknesses in Ice and Rock, excellent support moves, and great abilities make it an excellent check to Fighting-type Pokemon and physical sweepers in general.

About Zapdos's Moves

Hurricane serves as Zapdos' main STAB move. It has the bonus of causing confusion, which when partnered with paralysis from Static can be annoying to enemy sweepers. It also has the added benefit of giving Zapdos access to Max Airstream to increase it's speed.

Volt Switch allows Zapdos to switch into more favorable match-ups.

Substitute makes sure Zapdos can be safe from crippling status moves such as Toxic while Roost can be a reliable recovery move to help Zapdos last longer in battle.

About Zapdos's EV Spread

This build utilizes a standard physically defensive spread to maximize Zapdos' physical bulk. The remaining EVs can be put into Special Defense.

About Zapdos's Ability

Its powerful ability Static allows it to switch into moves like Rapid-Strike Urshifu's Surging Strikes and Landorus-Therian's U-Turn and inflict Paralysis on the user.

About Zapdos's Held Item

We're using Leftovers to provide Zapdos some much-needed passive recovery.

Other Viable Moves

Heat Wave For hitting the likes of Ferrothorn and Scizor.

Kee Berry Moveset & Best Build

Kee Berry Zapdos.png

Nature Bold (+Def, -Atk)
EV Spread HP 252 / Def 196 / Sp.Def 60
Final Stat Values HP 197 / Def 143 / Sp.Atk 145 / Sp.Def 110 / Spd 128
Ability Static
Held Item Kee Berry
Moveset Discharge
Hurricane
Roost
Eerie Impulse

This Zapdos aims to counter opposing lead Dynamax users, with Kee Berry providing the Legendary Bird a +1 Defense boost when it's hit by a physical attack. Partnered with Eerie Impulse to reduce the opponent's Special Attack, this build aims to be tanky for both sides of the spectrum.

About Zapdos's Moves

Eerie Impulse is its most important support move, lowering the opposing Pokemon's Special Attack stat by two stages. This combination allows Zapdos to counter Physical attackers with its natural bulk, as well as check and phaze special attackers with its stat-reducing move.

Hurricane serves as Zapdos' main STAB move. It has the bonus of causing confusion, which when partnered with paralysis from Static can be annoying to enemy sweepers. It also has the added benefit of giving Zapdos access to Max Airstream to increase it's speed.

Roost allows Zapdos to stay healthy throughout the match while Discharge is a great utility move that has a 30% chance to paralyze the target

About Zapdos's EV Spread

Since this build aims to handle damage from both physical and special attackers, we're going for a more balanced distribution here that still focuses on bulk.

About Zapdos's Ability

Static gives Zapdos a better chance of spreading paralysis against enemy sweepers. When hit by a contact move, there is a 30% chance to paralyze the opponent.

About Zapdos's Held Item

Kee Berry provides a +1 Defense boost when it's hit by a physical attack.

Other Viable Moves

Charge Doubles the power of Zapdos' next Electric-type attack, while also boosting its Special Defense by 1 stage.
Heat Wave For hitting the likes of Ferrothorn and Scizor.

Choice Attacker Moveset & Best Build

Choice Attacker Zapdos.png

Nature Timid (+Spd, -Atk)
EV Spread Sp.Atk 252 / Sp.Def 4 / Spd 252
Final Stat Values HP 165 / Def 105 / Sp.Atk 177 / Sp.Def 111 / Spd 167
Ability Static
Held Item Choice Scarf
Choice Specs
Moveset Thunderbolt
Hurricane
Heat Wave
Volt Switch

Although better known as a paralysis-spreading defensive Pokemon, Zapdos' excellent base 125 Special Attack and great base 100 Speed make it an effective special attacker.

About Zapdos's Moves

Thunderbolt, Hurricane, and Heat Wave are all the moves it needs to hit majority of the metagame for super effective damage, while Volt Switch allows it to quickly pivot into a teammate if it encounters a check or counter.

About Zapdos's EV Spread

This build utilizes a standard specially offensive spread to maximize Zapdos' damage. The remaining EVs can be put into Special Defense.

About Zapdos's Ability

Static gives Zapdos a better chance of spreading paralysis against enemy sweepers. When hit by a contact move, there is a 30% chance to paralyze the opponent.

About Zapdos's Held Item

Zapdos has two options for held items: Choice Scarf and Choice Specs, which doubles its Speed and Special Attack stat respectively.

Choice Scarf allows the Legendary Bird to outrun faster threats, such as Cinderace or Dracovish, and hit them hard with its STAB moves.

Choice Specs, on the other hand, boosts Zapdos' already formidable Special Attack stat, allowing it to win out against Defensive Water-type Pokemon and make it more difficult to switch into.

Other Viable Moves

Ancient Power Allows Zapdos to hit Fire-types like Heat Rotom and also has a 10% chance to increase all of its stats by 1 stage.

Doubles Moveset for Zapdos

Sun Counter Moveset & Best Build

Nature Timid (+Spe, -Atk)
EV Spread HP 252 / 4 Def / Spe 252
Final Stat Values HP 197 / Def 106 / Sp. Atk 145 / Sp. Def 110 / Spe 167
Ability Static
Held Item Safety Goggles
Moveset Thunderbolt
Hurricane
Weather Ball
Roost

Zapdos matches up favorably against Sun teams, mainly against Charizard and Venusaur. It can threaten both of these Pokemon with its STAB moves.

About Zapdos's Moves

Thunderbolt is Zapdos' main STAB move which it can use to damage most foes in any weather. Hurricane is its secondary STAB move, but is not so reliable in the sun. Both of these moves turn into powerful Max moves upon Dynamaxing Zapdos, Max Lightning and Max Airstream respectively.

Weather Ball gives Zapdos additional coverage under Sun, allowing it to take on Venusaur and Zacian directly. Finally, Roost gives some much needed recovery and is best used on passive turns or when anticipating a switching opponent.

About Zapdos's EV Spread

This EV spread maximizes Zapdos' HP and Speed. It is important to keep Zapdos as bulky as possible, and with its Timid nature, being as quick as possible. Its decent Special Attack stat allows it to still threaten Pokemon that it can hit for super-effective, however it should not be treated as a Sweeper because it is not EV'd as such.

About Zapdos's Ability

Zapdos' Static Ability lets it paralyze opponents upon contact. While not always consistent, the occasional paralysis is helpful and optimal compared to its other Ability, Pressure. Static is especially good against multi-hitting contact moves such as Rapid Strike Urshifu's Surging Strikes.

About Zapdos's Held Item

Safety Goggles protects Zapdos from being put to sleep by Sleep Powder and from Rage Powder's redirection. It can also protect Zapdos from the incremental damage from Sandstorm and Hail.

Other Viable Moves

Protect Protect is a valuable move in battle and is useful for scouting moves or stalling out Dynamax turns.
Eerie Impulse Eerie Impulse can severely drop a Special Attacker's offensive capabilities
Heat Wave Heat Wave is a Fire-type move that doesn't change depending on weather like Weather Ball does. Consider running Heat Wave if you need Zapdos to have Fire-type coverage.

How to Use Zapdos Effectively

Placing Zapdos next to an Intimidate user or a Pokemon with access to Dual Screens (Light Screen and Reflect.) will help further improve its bulk and survivability. It is important to switch Zapdos out and preserve it if it is in danger of taking a powerful Rock-type move.

How to Build a Team with Zapdos

Anti-Sun Dynamax Attacker

Support Special Attacking Sweeper Prankster Support
Pokemon SWSH - Incineroar ImageIncineroar Pokemon SWSH - Zapdos ImageZapdos Pokemon SWSH - Grimmsnarl ImageGrimmsnarl

Incineroar is valuable support for Zapdos as it is able to reduce an opposing Groudon's Attack stat with its Intimidate, effectively turning a OHKO from a Max Rockfall into a 2HKO. It is also able to use Fake Out into much faster Pokemon.

Grimmsnarl can set up screens for Zapdos, further boosting its bulk and allowing it to survive multiple attacks. It is also able to reduce an opposing Pokemon's Special Attack stat with Spirit Break.

Counters for Zapdos

Zapdos
Weakness Pokemon Ice Image Pokemon Rock Image

Counter Zapdos with Rock-Type Moves

Although reasonably bulky, Zapdos will not be able to withstand super-effective Rock-type moves.

Best Pokemon to Use

Pokemon Description
Pokemon SWSH - Groudon ImageGroudon Ranking: ★★★★★
・Can tank hits from Zapdos and can knock it out with a Max Rockfall.
Groudon - Moveset & Best Build for Ranked Battle
Pokemon SWSH - Nihilego ImageNihilego Ranking: ★★★★★
・Outspeeds and can knock out Zapdos with a boosted Meteor Beam.
Nihilego - Moveset & Best Build for Ranked Battle

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