Zygarde, The Order Pokémon. When the Kalos region's ecosystem falls into disarray, it appears and reveals its secret power. It's hypothesized that it's monitoring those who destroy the ecosystem from deep in the cave where it lives.
Zygarde is a very interesting Pokémon, and yet at the same time it's a very disappointing one. While its Complete Forme holds promise, Zygarde in its current 50% Forme is average at best, even by standards of normal Pokémon. Despite impressive bulk, acceptable Speed and great moves for a physical attacker, Zygarde suffers immensely from barely usable Base 100 Attack, making it difficult for Zygarde to actually KO foes that haven't already been weakened. Despite its very impressive Dragon/Ground typing, it competes with Garchomp which boasts the same typing and much better stats for a physical wallbreaker, while offering much more utility than Zygarde does. Unfortunately for Zygarde, it has a difficult time justifying its use over stronger sweepers or wallbreakers that can accomplish most of what Zygarde can do and more. That's not to say that Zygarde isn't capable of threatening foes; while its 50% Forme is disappointingly weak by legendary standards, Zygarde has access to Dragon Dance and Coil with great bulk to make effective use of them, giving it an easier time setting up. Access to powerful STAB moves and Extreme Speed allows Zygarde to function as a surprisingly effective sweeper, though it needs significant support in order to accomplish much due to its low Attack. While Zygarde is hopelessly outclassed by other legendaries, it's still capable of breaking through unprepared teams in formats with the common Pokémon. Just don't try bringing Zygarde to a fight with the likes of Mega Rayquaza and Primal Groudon since that's just asking to get destroyed; if you want Zygarde to win fights with the best, you're better off waiting for its Complete Forme in Sun/Moon and let it wait around in its 50% Forme for just a few months longer.
Aura Break: The effects of Aura Abilities are reversed. This is a very good ability in theory, given that both Xerneas and Yveltal are very dangerous legendaries thanks to their abilities. Unfortunately Zygarde is too weak to make realistic use of this and outright loses to Xerneas anyway.
Zygarde can function as a surprisingly durable late-game sweeper thanks to its bulk and high-powered STAB moves. Outrage is Zygarde's strongest STAB move, functioning as an effective cleaning option late-game once Steel-types and Fairy-types have been removed. Earthquake is Zygarde's safer STAB move, boasting great neutral coverage and strong consistent damage while also not being locked into a move. Dragon Dance is necessary in order to set up and boosts Zygarde's average offenses so that it can actually KO foes. Extreme Speed is a powerful priority move that prevents Zygarde from being revenge killed by the likes of Talonflame and other priority users, making it more difficult to stop Zygarde late-game. However, Stone Edge can be used to hit other Flying-types that can take an Outrage, mostly notably preventing Togekiss from walling Zygarde. However, Togekiss can usually still take a Stone Edge unless it's taken prior damage or if Zygarde manages to get multiple Dragon Dance boosts in. Stone Edge can also be used over Outrage if the ability to hit Flying-types is desired without giving up the useful priority.
Maximum Attack and Speed investment makes the most of Zygarde's otherwise middling Attack and average Speed, while the leftover EVs are placed in HP. Bulkier EV spreads are viable as well as running a Jolly nature in order to outspeed faster threat after a boost, such as Mega Alakazam. However, Zygarde really wants as much Attack and Speed as possible so an Adamant nature is highly preferred. Aura Break is Zygarde's currently only ability so there's unfortunately no choice in the matter, while Lum Berry gives it a useful buffer against foes attempting to burn it. This can give Zygarde an extra turn to set up against more passive opponent thinking it has a free chance to cripple Zygarde.
This set takes advantage of Zygarde's bulk more actively in order to function as an unorthodox win condition on teams relying on hazard stacking. Earthquake is Zygarde's strongest STAB move for general damage and offers great neutral coverage. Coil makes Zygarde more physically bulky while still boosting its Attack and an added bonus of increased accuracy that actually comes into play in this set. Substitute provides a buffer from status and damage that can be difficult to break due to Zygarde's increased bulk, especially once it starts setting up Coil. Dragon Tail allows Zygarde to shuffle out foes to rack up damage from hazards and no longer risks missing after Coil's accuracy boost, making it a reliable move once Fairy-types are out of the way. However, the negative priority means that Earthquake is generally a safer move than Dragon Tail against a foe that can deal serious damage to Zygarde.
The EV spread maximizes special bulk while making sure that Zygarde can outspeed neutral natured base 70 Pokémon such as Bisharp which can threaten to Knock Off its item. Careful nature with maximum Special Defense investment is ideal since Coil will boost Defense anyway. Leftovers is the preferred item since this Zygarde set is very bulky and can find multiple opportunities to set up a Substitute, while also giving Zygarde its only form of consistent recovery. As previously noted, Aura Break is the only ability option in this generation which is unfortunately useless.
- Life Orb can be used on the Dragon Dance set to boost Zygarde's damage output further, but this compromises the bulk that Zygarde usually wants to take advantage of so Lum Berry is usually better.
VGC, Double, & Triple Battle Options
Zygarde is actually an underrated support option in VGC 2016, but its primary problem is that it counts as one of your two "restricted" legendaries. It's just not in the same class as many of the offensive "ubers" in this year's format. While you have to be pretty brave to choose Zygarde as one of your two restricteds over just about any other option, it actually has some interesting niche roles that are fun to use. .
This isn't even my final form!!!
Aura Break is Zygarde's only ability, but it severely hinders both Xerneas and Yveltal. The EVs and nature make Zygarde extremely bulky, allowing it to survive many common strong moves, including: Adamant Mega Kangaskhan's Double Edge, Draco Meteor from non-Life Orb Jolly Mega Rayquaza, and even a +2 Moonblast from Timid Xerneas. This spread, combined with the Sitrus Berry, makes it so Zygarde can take as many attacks as possible to support the team.
Glare is the main selling point of Zygarde, as it can even paralyze ground types like Primal Groudon and Landorus-T. Land's Wrath is its signature move, and does spread damage to both opponents. Earthquake does have slightly higher base power than Land's Wrath, but it also hits Zygarde's teammate, which may not be appealing if there aren't multiple Flying-types or Levitators on the team. Haze is mainly for Geomancy Xerneas, but also can be useful for Swords Dance Primal Groudon or if an opposing Smeargle starts getting some crazy Moody boosts. Zygarde can use it as Xerneas sets up, or the turn after if it paralyzes it, as Haze even goes through Protect. Rock Slide allows Zygarde to hit Pokemon that are immune to ground moves, and also pairs well with Glare for para-flinches. Protect is still the best move in doubles for absorbing double targets or stalling out turns of speed control.
-Yache Berry helps Zygarde to survive an Ice Beam from Primal Kyogre or White Kyurem, which are some of the few common moves than can OHKO it. Lum Berry can help with the extremely annoying Smeargle-Xerneas lead.
When Zygarde gains access to its Complete Forme it might be trickier to deal with, but for now its much more tame stats stop it from being an overwhelming force to handle. Fairy-types in general stop Zygarde if it can't set up, with Togekiss completely walling it if it lacks Stone Edge, while Unaware Clefable doesn't mind Zygarde even if it does set up. Mega Gardevoir and Sylveon can also threaten Substitute sets thanks to Pixilate Hyper Voice, while Azumarill can take a hit and retaliate with Play Rough. Similarly to Clefable, Unaware Quagsire can stop Zygarde from doing much after setting up, though unlike Clefable it can be shuffled out with Dragon Tail. While Zygarde usually runs Lum Berry or Substitute to prevent status, if it does get hit by status it has a difficult time. Common status users such as Rotom-W, Gliscor, and Mega Sableye can all safely come in against Zygarde and cripple it with status, though relying on status can be risky since it's immune to Thunder Wave and does usually have counter-measures against status. Since Zygarde's only reliable STAB move is Earthquake, Ground-immune foes can force Zygarde to use less desirable moves like Outrage early. The aforementioned Rotom-W and Gliscor, as well as Landorus-T, Skarmory and other floating foes such as Latios, Latias and Gengar can bait Zygarde into using its less reliable moves, which can be abused especially since Stone Edge and Extreme Speed have very limited PP. Simply using something faster than Zygarde can put pressure on it as well since it's very reliant on setting up, and base 95 is relatively average Speed if it doesn't get a chance to set up. Zygarde's biggest issue is that it needs support to set up effectively, so if you can prevent Zygarde from getting any chance to set up, you can usually stop it without too much trouble. However, if you don't keep things under control and prevent this, you can easily find yourself overwhelmed by Zygarde a generation before the protector of the ecosystem can even show off its true power.
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