A Quick PvP Analysis on Zoroark

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Howdy folks! Well, ZORUA and ZOROARK have arrived in GO!

…oh wait, no they haven’t. False alarm, didn’t work, never mind.

No, hang on… they’re back again!

…and… gone again?

Ah, THERE we go. Now Zorua is in the wild (sort of) and staying there. Just uh… hope you weren’t planning to use your Pokémon GO+ or Poke Ball Plus or other such Bluetooth devices for a while. 😕

But anyway, I’m just here to analyze. No need to kick Niantic (and their lack of proper vetting of new features) while they’re down, right?

So, on to the analysis… and some speculation on future Hisuian versions while we’re at it.

B.L.U.F.

  • Zoroark and even Zorua did pretty well in the moveset department. There are a couple of better moves they could have landed, but their current selection is just fine.
  • What they DON’T have is any bulk to speak of. Zoroark actually manages to have LESS bulk than things like Gengar and Alakazam. THAT is what ultimately holds these two back in PvP… and to some degree, even in PvE.
  • The eventual Hisuian versions come with a typing that could be rather amazing and are probably more worth looking forward to.

Alright, gonna keep this one really short and sweet, as there’s not a ton to discuss and I have Willpower Cup analysis to get back to. Let’s do this thing.

ZOROARK IN PvP

Zoroark Dark

Zoroark, a pure Dark type, ended up with a pretty good moveset in PvP, all things considered. Shadow Claw (Ghost, 3.0 Damage Per Turn, 4.0 Energy Per Turn) and Snarl (Dark, 1.67 DPT, 4.33 EPT) make for excellent fast moves. Its charge moves consist of Foul Play (Dark, 70 damage, plus STAB, for 45 energy), Sludge Bomb (80 damage, 50 energy), and Flamethrower (Fire, 90 damage, 55 energy). Foul Play is basically a must to maintain Zoroark’s ability to counter Psychics and opposing Ghosts. Neither Sludge Bomb nor Flamethrower can truly be called coverage moves (though Sludge Bomb has at least theoretically good coverage against opposing Fairies), though they’re fine moves in their own right.

However, it is completely betrayed by its lack of bulk. As noted in the BLUF, Zoroark actually has less bulk than Gengar and Alakazam, and just barely more than Haunter in Great League. It loses to just seven Counters from things like Machamp and Sirfetch’d in Great League, dying before it has a chance to even reach any charge move other than a resisted Foul Play. And of course, Charmers completely shred it before it can answer back with an effective charge move. Snarl can help with this, of course, but the end results are still the same.

Of course, other mono-Darks and/or glass cannons work fine in PvP, so why not Zoroark? More specifically, why do things like Haunter and Gengar excel in PvP but not Zoroark? Put simply: it’s a difference of moves.

Yes, Zoroark did pretty well in this department overall. But it lacks the critical component that makes Haunter and usually Gengar work: a low-cost move. Foul Play is the cheapest Zoroark has, and it costs 45 energy. The OG Ghosts have Shadow Punch, which isn’t a good move on paper (35 energy for only 40 damage), but it works well on them not just because of baiting, but because with their freakishly high Attack stat, even a 40-damage (on paper) move can still hurt. Zoroark has that same high Attack, but no move like Shadow Punch to take advantage of. And thus, it flounders, and likely always WILL flounder until and unless it gets something like, say, Night Slash, a move so synonymous with Zoroark in MSG that it can learn it all the way down at Level 1 OR by evolving (as opposed to Flamethrower and Sludge Bomb, which are both TM moves).

That said… even with Night Slash, Zoroark is still less than impressive. While I still content that my theory is very much true, there’s more to the story here. Gengar and Haunter are Ghost/Poison types, which combine for a number of VERY handy resistances (Fairy, Grass, and then 2x to Poison, Normal, and Bug, and 3x to Fighting), which can help them feel “bulkier” than they actually are. Mono-Darks like Zoroark, by contrast, resist only Dark, Ghost, and Psychic damage… and are weak to common Fairy and Fighting (and Bug) damage. Zoroark feels even flimsier than the famously glassy OG Ghosts!

So unfortunately, even with its best from MSG… I don’t see much of a future for Zoroark in PvP, even if they give us the dream and also throw Counter on it like it can learn in MSG (via breeding). And no, Zorua is no no better. Not even close.

HISUIAN ZOROARK?

At SOME point down the road, we’ll get the Hisuian version, which at least has a major typing advantage as the game’s first Normal/Ghost type, a combination that leaves it with just a single weakness (to Dark) and five resistances (Bug, Poison, Ghost, Fighting, and 2x to Normal). So in something like, say, Halloween Cup, it could be pretty amazing!

…depending on moves, of course. It can’t learn Foul Play in MSG, but it does learn all the other moves normal Zoroark knows in GO, as well as stuff like Shadow Ball, Dark Pulse, Ominous Wind and some others. There’s real potential here… moreso than it would seem there is with regular Zoroark. So all hope is not quite lost!

ZOROARK IN PvE

I won’t pretend to be a PvE expert… but my buddy and colleague u/Teban54 is, and my brief PvE analysis reached the same conclusion he did… that Zoroark isn’t that bad of a PvE attacker, but it’s already outclassed by other things folks have likely invested in, including Darkrai and Hydreigon, and a slew of Shadows (Tyranitar, Houndoom, Absol, Weavile and others) and current and future Megas as well. Oh, and that’s not to even mention Ghosts that it trails behind in anti-Psychic/Ghost raids. It’s not that Zoroark is useless, it’s just not particularly useful compared to other existing and future options. If you like a team of six unique raid attackers, then sure, it can round that sort of composition out. Otherwise… nah.

Alright, that’s all I got for today. Yes, really! Even I don’t need to write a ridiculously long analysis ALL the time!

Until next time, you can always find me on Twitter with near-daily PvP analysis nuggets or Patreon, if you’re feeling extra generous.

Thanks for reading, and catch you next time, Pokéfriends!

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