After Pokemon GO Fest in Chicago last year, Niantic surprised us with the first release of Legendary Raids, with Lugia and Articuno being the first two Legendary Pokemon released in the game, and Moltres and Zapdos following after. That was almost half a year ago. Many Legendary Pokemon have been released after. How does Articuno, Zapdos, and Moltres fare in the current meta? How will they fare in the future? Let’s take a quick overview on each Legendary Bird, starting with Articuno.
During the release of the Legendary Birds, Articuno took the second-most people to defeat, thanks to its high Defense. This makes Articuno one of the most reliable Ice type attacker in the game, despite not being the strongest DPS wise, which is not really that bad. It’s not the best among the three birds but it is a good Pokemon on its own right, given the lack of reliable Ice types.
Articuno will still see use in the near future, being a good counter to Latias and Latios. The release of Mamoswine during Gen IV will definitely see Articuno’s use be lowered, with Mamoswine having higher Attack and a good enough bulk to be considered a true Ice type threat. After that, Kyurem-Black and Kyurem-White will take Mamoswine’s place and will probably stay as a premier Ice type attacker for a long time.
Since there is a lack of great Ice types in the current meta and considering how Ice types are good Dragon counters, powering up Articuno is still plausible even though more powerful Pokemon will be released. Powering up beyond breakpoints, however, is not suggested, especially when you consider that you need more Rare Candy the higher you power it up, unless you have excess in Rare Candy.
Zapdos’ time in the spotlight was short-lived. Because of the lack of powerful Electric type attackers at that time, Zapdos was predicted to be the best Electric type in the game for a long time because it has higher Attack than Raikou, the next best Electric type. That all changed when Zapdos got Charge Beam instead. That made Raikou, who has access to Thunder Shock and Wild Charge, the best Electric attacker just because of its moveset. It doesn’t mean Zapdos is unusable. It’s a great second option compared to Pokemon like Jolteon and Ampharos.
Zapdos will not be affeceted by much after the release of future Generations. The only Pokemon to rival Zapdos and Raikou as the premier Electric type attacker are Zekrom, Thundurus, Tapu Koko, and Zeraora, all of which will be released far in the future. Gen IV does release Electivire, but it won’t come close to Zapdos, and can only go past Jolteon at best.
Zapdos is arguably the best among the three birds when you consider how great Electric types are on the current meta, being the better Water counter compared to Grass types and rivals Rock types as the best counter. Zapdos may not have the sole Ground weakness anymore but it does have more weaknesses now, which is the only down side for Zapdos’ typing.
When Moltres was released, it was the easiest among the Legendary birds to defeat due to its easily exploitable Rock weakness (especially considering its best counter Golem has double resistance to Fire moves), Water type attackers like Vaporeon being common, and being the frailest among the Legendary Birds. That doesn’t mean Moltres is the weakest. Unlike Zapdos, Moltres is on par with its Legendary Beast counterpart, Entei. Entei might be bulkier, and may have access to Flamethrower so it can have more flexibility in dodging, Moltres is way more powerful, and has double resistance to Bug and Grass types, the Pokemon types you would most likely use Moltres against. Both have their own perks so choosing between the two is more of a personal choice.
As of the time of writing, Metagross is not a common defender on gyms, but over time, people would have caught/hatched enough Beldum to evolve one. With Metagross having good synergy with common Normal type defenders, it will definitely be a common defender in the future. With Metagross having access to Earthquake, Moltres is a safer counter against Metagross, since some of Metagross’ counters like Entei, Houndoom, Tyranitar, Rhydon and Golem are weak aganst Ground types, and the latter three are even weak to Metagross’ Steel STAB.
The only Pokemon that will possibly outshine Moltres is Reshiram, which will be released far in the future. The only current Fire fast move it can learn is Fire Fang so unless they add new moves, Fire Fang and Overheat is the best Fire STAB combo Reshiram can learn. Depending on how they will nerf Reshiram (which is almost certain since they did it on Kyogre, a Pokemon with lower Base Stat Total in the main series games), Moltres may still be a good option, and when they forgo Reshiram’s Fire Fang, there is a chance it’ll still be one of the best Fire attacker along with Entei. Primal Groudon may have the best stats among all Fire Pokemon, but its base forme is still Groudon and will more likely stay as a Ground attacker, plus there is still uncertainty with Primal Reversion so its hard to speculate how they’ll implement it.
Articuno may not be the offensive powerhouse you expected, but much like Team Mytic’s ideals, Articuno plays it smart by preferring bulk and survivability over power. Zapdos will definitely be the light and spark Team Instincts ideals, and the team doesn’t care that it’s not the best attacker. With Moltres firepower, its no wonder Team Valor chose the bird that closely resembles their passion for winning. Each team chose their Legendary Birds well. The three birds are great in their own right in the current meta, and will not really go away in the future.