Zoroark

Zoroark, The Illusion Pokémon. This Pokémon cares deeply about others of its kind, and it will conjure terrifying illusions to keep its den and pack safe. Seeking to ease the burden of their solitude, lonely Trainers tell Zoroark to show illusions to them..

Overview

Zoroark has always been a very interesting Pokemon, but it always ends up in that awkward in-between of being potentially really good and disappointingly underwhelming. Illusion has always been a unique ability that gives Zoroark a niche that nothing else has, and it boasts decent offensive stats on both sides, but its ultimately held back by very poor bulk and its Speed not being quite high enough to make up for it. That being said, Zoroark is still unlike any other fast frail mixed attacker thanks to Illusion giving your team a bit of a mindgame element. The influence of this ability may not be as powerful as you'd expect especially with the presence of team preview, but regardless Zoroark has never been an outright bad Pokemon even if it's often outclassed.
Positives
Zoroark boasts an impressive 105/120 offenses, allowing it to utilize some of the useful Dark-type physical Attacks to great effect alongside its stronger Special Attack
Zoroark is also pretty fast with a solid base 105 Speed, making it dangerous against slower teams if it manages to get a boost via Nasty Plot.
While not the most incredible movepool, Zoroark has plenty of coverage to work with including Sludge Bomb, Flamethrower, Extrasensory, and Focus Blast.
Illusion is a very unique ability to Zoroark, providing mindgames that the foe must respect at team preview if they don't want to end up hit by a surprise Zoroark.

Negatives
We're talking about 60/60/60 bulk, it's no exaggeration to say Zoroark is very frail. This makes it hard to set up sometimes and often makes it reliant on Illusion and forced switches to find setup opportunities.
While Zoroark is reasonably strong, it doesn't have a lot of high powered moves to work with so it's often reliant on boosting to sweep through a team which is problematic on something so frail.
Despite a solid Attack stat, 105 base is not quite enough to run a full physical set in most cases, which relegates its Attack stat more so to a utility role via Sucker Punch or Knock Off.

Movesets

Nasty Plot

- Dark Pulse / Night Daze
- Flamethrower
- Sludge Bomb / Focus Blast
- Nasty Plot
Item Attached: Life Orb
Ability: Illusion
EVs and Nature:
252 SpA / 4 SpDef / 252 Spe
Timid Nature

Zoroark's Special movepool is strong enough to utilize with Nasty Plot and its solid Speed, turning it into a solid wallbreaker and late-game sweeper. Dark Pulse is the safest Dark-type STAB option though Night Daze is slightly stronger and trades a little bit of accuracy for a nasty 40% accuracy drop. Flamethrower gives Zoroark strong coverage against Steel-types which notably lets it deal with the likes of Ferrothorn and Scizor better. Sludge Bomb is a huge boon to Zoroark as it allows it to actually threaten Fairy-types that otherwise resist Dark Pulse and generally have good Special Defense. However, Focus Blast is another solid coverage option that hits Blissey harder than any of its other moves, though it overlaps slightly with Flamethrower as coverage against Steel-types.

DYNAMAX
Zoroark is often too frail to consider Dynamaxing at risk of wasting the Dynamax entirely, though if it gets into a favorable position it can help faciliate a sweep. Focus Blast becomes a poor choice for Zoroark here since the Max Knuckle Attack boost is pointless, whereas Sludge Bomb provides Max Ooze which can potentially provide further Special Attack boosts. However, Max Darkness already provides plenty of offensive pressure for Zoroark via Special Defense drops, which is probably the greatest appeal for Dynamaxing Zoroark in the first place.

EV and Items
Zoroark's bulk is beyond redeemable so the full offense route with a Life Orb is the only way to think about using Zoroark here. A Timid nature is preferred over Modest since it really can't afford to lose out on Speed benchmarks if it can help it, otherwise it risks getting OHKOed without accomplishing anything.

Partners

Steel-types: Zoroark really doesn't want to deal with Fairy-types if it doesn't need to, so Steel-type teammates that can back it up are appreciated. Ferrothorn, Aegislash, Scizor, Magnezone, and Excadrill are several options to consider for this role, depending on your team's needs.
Fairy-types: Ironically enough, Zoroark appreciates Fairy-type teammates such as Mimikyu, Togekiss, Primarina and the like because they can handle the Fighting-types that threaten Zoroark. Mach Punch is enough to OHKO Zoroark so having Fighting-type checks is extremely important for it.
Psychic Terrain: At the moment this refers specifically to Indeedee, though Tapu Lele will become another option with the release of Crown Tundra. Zoroark is extremely weak to priority so Psychic Terrain support can be helpful for it to avoid being sniped so easily.

Sash Counter

- Dark Pulse / Night Daze
- Counter
- Sucker Punch
- Flamethrower / Knock Off
Item Attached: Focus Sash
Ability: Illusion
EVs and Nature:
4 HP / 252 SpA / 252 Spe
Hasty Nature

The biggest appeal to Zoroark in a Dynamax metagame is the utility of Counter with a Focus Sash, combined with a strong priority option. With the prominence of Cinderace, Sash Counter sets become popular as a way to punish it and other physical Dynamax sweepers without using a Dynamax of your own. Sucker Punch becomes useful here as a STAB priority move that can help it pick off a foe that might have enough HP to survive the counter, or otherwise get one last hit in on the next Pokemon before going down. Dark Pulse or Night Daze are the primary STAB options in other scenarios where the Counter utility doesn't come up, and both have their advantages between consistency and an annoying accuracy drop chance. Flamethrower provides useful coverage against the numerous Steel-types around, though Knock Off can provide utility in removing items which is somewhat uncommon in Battle Stadium due to it being transfer-exclusive for most other Pokemon.

DYNAMAX
This set never wants to Dynamax, as the whole utility is to punish opposing Dynamaxers without using up your own and you can't utilize Counter when Dynamaxed. The only situation in which it's fine to Dynamax this set is in a late-game scenario where Zoroark is the only thing that can win you the game, though this is very unlikely.

EV and Items
While it may seem pointless, there is utility in investing more HP into Zoroark on this set so that it has more HP to Counter foes with since Dynamax HP is high enough that one Counter won't always KO. However, Sucker Punch utility lessens the need for this so if you want to shift EVs anywhere else it should be into Attack, since you can often safely Sucker Punch a weakened Dynamaxer due to them lacking priority while Dynamaxed. Otherwise, Focus Sash and full offensive investment is very straightforward.

Partners

Zoroark mainly aims to support the rest of the team with its Counter utility, so it's more about what Zoroark can support than the reverse.
Dynamax Sweepers: The main role for Zoroark is to try and checkmate an opposing Dynamax sweeper with Counter so that your own teammate can Dynamax later unopposed, so what better choice is there than Cinderace? Other sweepers such as Dragapult, Togekiss, and Rillaboom are also valid choices here, but you really can't talk about Dynamax sweepers without emphasizing that Cinderace is strong.
Fairy-type checks: This set has absolutely nothing for Fairy-types since most of them are Special Attackers and don't fear Counter. Teammates such as Magnezone, Ferrothorn, Excadrill, and Dragalge stand out as good answers to most common Fairy-types, such as Mimikyu, Primarina, Togekiss, and Azumarill.

Other Options

Zoroark has an acceptable physical movepool with access to Swords Dance, though it lacks coverage to back it up. Knock Off and Sucker Punch are both strong tools that it can utilize with its physical attack though.
Extrasensory is a coverage option worth considering for hitting Toxapex or Fighting-types harder, though it's hard to give up a moveslot to fit this in.
Memento is a good support move on the Sash set that Zoroark can utilize to set up a sweep for a teammate once its job is done.

Countering Zoroark

Zoroark may have access to Sludge Bomb, but Fairy-types are generally a good way to shut down Zoroark since it doesn't always have room for this. Many Fairy-types such as Primarina, Togekiss, and Sylveon have high enough Special Defense that they don't drop to a single Sludge Bomb anyway, and all it takes is surviving one hit to take Zoroark down afterwards.

Priority is another huge issue for Zoroark, its extremely frail overall so any reasonably strong priority is a huge threat to Zoroark, even Sucker Punch which it resists. Fighting-types are the biggest issue since Mach Punch can easily OHKO Zoroark with little effort, and even past that Zoroark has little to threaten most Fighting-types such as Urshifu, Conkeldurr, or Terrakion.

If you fail to have any of the above, the next best solution to Zoroark is simply being bulky enough to avoid being OHKOed by its attacks. Zoroark is so frail that anything that it can't OHKO is likely to OHKO it back unless they extremely passive foes like Toxapex or Chansey, but even those two are usually too much for Zoroark to break through in the first place. Alternatively, being faster than Zoroark is a good way to threaten it unless it's something like Dragapult which fears Sucker Punch. However, physical attackers still must be mindful of Focus Sash Counter in metas where that's a factor.

Locations in Games

Red/Blue/Yellow:
Not in game

Gold/Silver/Crystal:
Not in game

Ruby/Sapphire/Emerald:
Not in game

FireRed/LeafGreen:
Not in game

Colosseum/XD:
Not in game

Diamond/Pearl/Platinum:
Not in game

HeartGold/SoulSilver:
Not in game

Black/White:
Lostlorn Forest

Black 2/White 2:
Evolve Zorua

X/Y:
Route 20, Pokémon Village

Omega Ruby/Alpha Sapphire:
Evolve Zorua

Sun/Moon:
Trade from Ultra Sun/Ultra Moon

Ultra Sun/Ultra Moon:
Poni Grove

Let's Go, Pikachu!/Let's Go, Eevee!:
Not in game

Sword/Shield:
Loop Lagoon, Insular Sea Max Raid Battles: Soothing Wetlands, Challenge Road, Workout Sea, Honeycalm Sea

Anime Appearences

Zoroark has made a few appearances in the anime. Most notably, Gladion found his father's old Zoroark and used it in his Alola League Campaign

# -English Episode Name- -Jap. Episode Name- Pics
M13 Zoroark - Master of Illusions Phantom Champion Zoroark Pics
788 The Island of Illusions! Illusion Island! Zoroark in the Fog! Pics
1059 The Secret Princess! Lillie and the Secret Ingenuity Princess! Pics
1070 Chasing Memories, Creating Dreams! Gladion & Lillie! Chasing a Father's Phantom!! Pics
1080 The Wisdom Not to Run! Guzma the Undefeated! Pics
1081 Final Rivals! The Finals! The Ultimate Rival Showdown!! Pics
1082 Enter the Champion! He's Born! The Alolan League Winner! Pics
1083 Z-Move Showdown! Guzzlord Attacks! Decisive Z-Move Battle!! Pics
1088 Dreaming of the Sun and Moon! The Sun, the Moon and Everyone's Dreams! Pics
1089 Thank You, Alola! The Journey Continues! Thank You, Alola! Respective Departures!! Pics
1126 TBC I Am Back! Nice to See You, Alola! Pics