Zacian Meta Analysis


Trainers, Generation 8 Pokémon are now appearing in Pokémon GO! The final part of this year’s Ultra Unlock features the Pokémon GO debuts of two Legendary Pokémon originally discovered in the Galar region: Zacian and Zamazenta. According to the official announcement by Niantic, they will be appearing in raids in their Hero of Many Battles forms.

But how viable are they in the current meta? This article will hopefully answer all your questions! This will be the first part of a 2-article series analysing the metagame performance of the Generation 8 legendary Pokémon Zacian & Zamazenta. Stay tuned for the 2nd part!

Zacian lore in the main series games

For those who are not familiar with the Zacian lore in the main series games, Zacian is the legendary Pokémon of Pokémon Sword.

Zacian has two forms: the Hero of Many Battles form and the Crowned Sword one. It transforms into the Crowned Sword form by giving the Rusted Sword item to its original form.

Zacian forms

As you can probably guess, its stats (and typing!) change:

Zacian (Hero) Fairy
ATK 254 DEF 236 STA 192
Best PvE Moveset
Snarl Dark Play Rough Fairy
Zacian (Crowned Sword) FairySteel
ATK 332 DEF 240 STA 192
Best PvE Moveset
Metal Claw Steel Iron Head (*) Steel

Play Rough Fairy

(*) In the main series games, if Zacian knows Iron Head while entering battle in its Crowned Sword form, Iron Head will become Behemoth Blade for the duration of the battle

Believe it or not, those are the nerfed stats of Zacian. With the same base stat total (BST) as Arceus in the main series games but a more attack-weighted stat spread, Zacian-Crowned looks very promising. Unfortunately, we’ll have to wait as Zacian-Crowned cannot be obtained in Pokémon GO as of now.

Zacian as a raid attacker (PvE)

Zacian has great potential as a raid attacker in Pokémon GO. This section will feature plenty of different sub-analyses to cover most (if not all) of the potential scenarios where Zacian could be a viable attacker.

Zacian Hero of Many Battles

Let’s start with its base form, Hero of Many Battles.

Zacian Hero of Many Battles form

Zacian’s moveset is quite diverse, as it learns:

  • Metal Claw, Quick Attack, Snarl and Fire Fang as Fast Moves
  • Play Rough, Wild Charge, Iron Head and Close Combat as Charge Moves

A TM black hole, no less!

Fairy type attacker

Unfortunately, despite being a pure Fairy type Pokémon in its Hero of Many Battles form, Zacian-Hero does not get a full-STAB moveset to use in raids. And it never will, as the only fairy type moves Zacian learns in the main series games are Moonblast and Play Rough (both of them being charge moves in Pokémon GO). However, Zacian-Hero is still the “#1” non-mega/shadow fairy type attacker in raids.

Fairy type attacks are super effective vs. Dragon, Dark and Fighting. Although Snarl is technically the best fast move Zacian can learn, Snarl deals resisted damage to 2/3 of the types listed above. Thus, Zacian-Hero needs to consider using another fast move vs. dark & fighting type Pokémon. But even then, there are far better options vs. dark & fighting type Pokémon (such as shadow Machamp or shadow Mewtwo, respectively).

Thus, Zacian-Hero is in an awkward spot, trying to find its niche in the raid meta. Like the other fairy type attackers, their niche use is usually against dragons with dragon type charge moves (i.e. DT/DM Palkia). And even then, they usually need the weather boost to really shine.

Zacian in Pokémon Sword

Is Zacian-Hero a good fairy type attacker? Technically yes, but it’s not the meta-shaking Pokémon you were probably expecting. Is it really worth powering up? Not really, unless you want some variety in your attacking lineup. For raid purposes, there are other attackers who can do the job better.

Let’s consider a couple of potential scenarios. If you’re up against a DT/DM Palkia, Zacian-Hero is your best bet excluding megas & shadow Pokémon (S Gardevoir, S Salamence & S Granbull), even without the weather boost. In Cloudy weather, Togekiss, Gardevoir and the other fairies take advantage of the full-STAB moveset and take Zacian-Hero’s spot.

If Palkia uses Aqua Tail instead of Draco Meteor, fairy types are significantly outperformed by dragon type attackers. Zacian-Hero performs slightly worse than DB/DP Hydreigon, in fact. Considering that Dragon Pulse is a really bad charge move in Pokémon GO, you can imagine that Zacian-H’s performance in this scenario is not that impressive. Even in Cloudy weather, Zacian-H still ranks below the unboosted DT/OR Dragonite and the other top-tier fairies. Hence the quotation marks in “#1”.

And believe it or not, that was the best-case scenario! If you’re up against a dark type raid boss, fighting types (Shadow Machamp, shadow Hariyama, Lucario, Conkeldurr, …) are miles ahead of Zacian-H in terms of performance. And if you’re up against a fighting type raid boss, Shadow Mewtwo just blows Zacian-H and the other counters out of the water.

Steel type attacker

How about using it as a steel type attacker? Just forget about it. Metal Claw and Iron Head are mediocre moves, and Zacian-Hero does not even get STAB when using them. It’s significantly worse than (shadow) Meteor Mash Metagross, and there’s no potential scenario where it could even come close to its performance. Save your resources.

Zacian Crowned Sword

Here’s where things get interesting. Zacian-Crowned has an amazing stat spread. With a whooping 332 ATK stat (don’t forget the 9% nerf is already applied!), only Deoxys-A, Deoxys-N and some attack-weighted Megas outscore that number. If that wasn’t enough, its bulk is no joke either! All in all, Zacian-Crowned has one of the best stat spreads in the entire game.

Zacian-Crowned’s moveset is identical to Zacian-Hero’s in the GAME_MASTER file, at least for now. Keep in mind that this is always subject to change before release.

Behemoth Blade in the main series games

We can’t begin with the analysis without mentioning its signature move first: the Steel type move Behemoth Blade. In the main series games, if Zacian knows Iron Head while entering battle in its Crowned Sword form, Iron Head will become Behemoth Blade for the duration of the battle. As you can imagine, Behemoth Blade’s stats are pretty good in the main series games.

It’s not difficult to outperform Iron Head’s stats in Pokémon GO, so it’s pretty safe to assume that BB will be a strict upgrade over Iron Head. Although Metal Claw is a bad fast move in Pokémon GO, if Behemoth Blade ends up being a decent charge move, Zacian-Crowned’s insane attack stat will probably make Zacian-C top the DPS charts.

Fairy type attacker

As you can imagine, if Zacian-Hero is already the “best” fairy type attacker in the game, Zacian-Crowned is even better. Much, much better.

Yet again, Shadow Mewtwo is too powerful to be surpassed as a fighting type counter. Thus, the analysis will focus on countering dark & especially dragon type raid bosses.

Despite not having access to a decent fast move, Metal Claw now gets STAB as Zacian-C is also a Steel type. As a dark type counter, Zacian-C does not top the DPS charts but its overall performance would make it the #1 dark type counter in the game as of now, excluding megas.

As a dragon type counter, Zacian-C performs very well but it needs to go against a full dragon type moveset to really shine and top the charts. Otherwise it gets surpassed by the dragon type attackers with better moves. And since plenty of dragon type raid bosses are usually flying types too, ice type attackers are always going to be better picks. As you can see, it’s all about finding its niche use.

All in all, a very solid fairy type attacker! But that’s not its main strength…

Steel type attacker

If you made it this far, congratulations. Here is where things REALLY start to get interesting.

You are probably wondering how on earth an attacker with such stat spread does not shine as it should. Well, the answer to that is that it desperately needs a good moveset. And that’s where Behemoth Blade comes into play.

Zacian using Behemoth Blade

Keep in mind that Behemoth Blade’s stats are still unknown. One possibility is to assume it will be a Meteor Mash clone, but that might be too optimistic considering Zacian-C’s stat spread. Several potential scenarios will be considered in order to give you an idea of Zacian-C’s potential as a steel type attacker in Pokémon GO.

(Shadow) Meteor Mash Metagross is the undisputed steel type king as of now. Well, Zacian-Crowned has the potential to outperform it in the future.

  • With Metal Claw & Iron Head, Zacian-C would outperform regular Meteor Mash Metagross as a steel type attacker, but would still rank below Shadow MM Metagross and Mega MM Metagross
  • With Metal Claw & Behemoth Blade being a Shadow Ball clone, Zacian-C would already outperform Shadow & Mega MM Metagross, becoming the new undisputed #1 steel type attacker
  • With Metal Claw & Behemoth Blade being a Meteor Mash clone, Zacian-C could be ~25% & ~60% better than Mega MM Metagross and Shadow MM Metagross, respectively. That’s just insane
GO Hub DB results

Happy with the results? Zacian-C seems to have great potential as a steel type attacker in Pokémon GO. Unfortunately, we’ll have to wait a bit longer until we get the chance to catch it and power it up.

Zacian in PvP

Don’t worry battlers, we’ve also got your back! Let’s see how well our beloved Galar doggo performs in PvP:

Zacian Hero of Many Battles

Zacian-H’s best fit is the Master League. With such a diverse movepool, Zacian-H has pretty decent potential as a closer, or even as a safe swap!

Zacian (Hero) Fairy
ATK 254 DEF 236 STA 192
Best PvP Moveset
Snarl Dark Play Rough Fairy and Close Combat Fighting or Wild Charge Electric

Here’s Zacian-H’s scorecard vs. the Master League meta (in the 1-shield scenario) according to PvPoke (as always, FULL credit to PvPoke for the simulation results):

Zacian-H’s performance vs. the Master League meta (credit to PvPoke)
  • Zacian-H’s main wins include: Zekrom, Dragonite, Yveltal, Garchomp, Palkia, Melmetal, DT Groudon, Excadrill, Mewtwo, Giratina and Dialga (debuff-dependent)
  • Zacian-H’s main losses include: Ho-Oh, MS Groudon, Kyogre, Togekiss, Metagross, Landorus and Heatran

Although it can have a hard time taking down Giratina and especially Dialga, Zacian-H’s performance looks quite promising in the ML meta. Its versatility, spamminess and diverse movepool makes it a decent safe swap and a great closer thanks to heavy-hitting moves such as Close Combat or Wild Charge.

Which move you decide to pair up with Play Rough is up to you. Close Combat is probably the safest option given Dialga’s dominance in the Master League but Wild Charge can be quite helpful vs. some of the meta threats such as Kyogre, Lugia and Ho-Oh. Ever wanted to use a spammy fairy type in the Master League? Zacian-Hero is your best bet! Just make sure you master the debuff game properly.

Zacian Crowned Sword

It’s yet unclear how Zacian-C will perform in the PvP meta. However, given the fact that it has better stats than the Hero of Many Battles form, you can expect it to be a strict upgrade provided it gets decent moves for PvP. As long as it gets Snarl or Psycho Cut as a high-energy-generation fast move, it will probably be a pretty good pick in the Master League meta, unless it gets the shaft with terrible charge moves.

Parting Words

And that’s it, trainers! Here’s the tl;dr of the article:

  • Zacian has two forms with different stats and typings: the Hero of Many Battles form and the Crowned Sword one. We’re just getting its base form, for now
  • Zacian-Hero is a great “fairy” type attacker, but it’s hard to find a niche use that justifies spending the resources to power it up. Don’t even consider using it as a steel type attacker in its Hero of Many Battles form
  • Zacian-Crowned is an even better “fairy” type attacker, but yet again it needs to find a niche use to really shine
  • Zacian-C’s main role in Pokémon GO will probably be as a steel type attacker. It has the potential to outperform the undisputed steel type king, shadow/Mega MM Metagross, provided Behemoth Blade ends up being at least a decent move
  • In PvP, Zacian-H seems to be a very decent safe swap and/or closer. With heavy-hitting moves such as Close Combat or Wild Charge to pair up with Snarl and Play Rough, Zacian-H joins the Master League meta with a very unique role

Author & tags

Pokémon fan since 2000. Played every single game without exception. I'm an engineer, a tech lover and also a big sports fan. Science is my religion :)

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