Is Hisuian Zoroark a Competitive Pokemon?

Typically, when we set to asking if a Pokemon is good, there are often various things holding it back in one area or another. But, in the case of Hisuian Zorua and Zoroark, we don’t have to ask if these regional variant forms are good, simply based on their unique Normal/Ghost typing. The reason that this brand new typing is good is players have long wondered if this type combination would actually happen, being that not only is it immune to normal, fighting, and ghost-type moves, it has only one weakness, Dark-type moves. While it seems quite ironic that a former Dark-type pair of Pokemon would now have this as a weakness, it’s such an easily overcome drawback that its strengths make it perhaps the best defensively typed Pokemon in the entire game.

So, today we are asking, is Hisuian Zoroark a competitive Pokemon? Never mind that it’s good; we know Zoroark is a pretty good Pokemon to begin with. In its debut generation, it used its Illusion ability to completely baffle opponents, then using its good base Speed (105), strong Attack (105), and Special Attack (120) to hit unsuspecting opponents that have no idea which actual moves may be coming, thanks to looking like one of the opponent’s own Pokemon. The problem with Zoroark was that being a Dark-type made it weak to both Fighting and Bug type moves, and its 60 base HP, Defense, and Special Defense stats meant it couldn’t take a hit. In X and Y, the Fairy-type was introduced, making it even harder to play Zoroark effectively.

That’s really too bad, though, because Zoroark learned decent enough moves, such as Night Slash and Knock Off for STAB (Same-Type Attack Bonus) Dark moves that both see lots of competitive play. Foul Play and its signature Night Daze were also useful Dark-type moves. It could also use U-Turn to switch out in unfavorable match-ups while also potentially dealing super-effective damage with a Bug-type move. Zoroark also learned both Hone Claws and Nasty Plot, either raising its Attack or Special Attack. Typically, you’d want to use Nasty Plot to boost Special Attack, but Zoroark could be a decent mixed attacker. Again, though, it really only learned Dark-type moves by level-up, besides a few mediocre Normal-type moves and U-Turn, making it even more of a gimmick Pokemon.

By TM, though, Zoroark learns all kinds of good things, including the ghost-type Shadow Claw, ground-type Dig, flying-type Bounce, and the normal-type Giga Impact for physical moves. In terms of special moves, it could learn the Ghost-type Hex and Shadow Ball, Dark-type Snarl, and Normal-type Round. Zoroark sometimes could serve as a revenge killer with Retaliate, which increases dramatically in power to 140 if an ally fainted on the previous turn. If it managed to take a hit, it could also use Payback or Revenge to hit back hard. The problem is, Zoroark usually didn’t survive very many hits.

Hisuian Zoroark will completely change the narrative here, though, thanks to its extremely strong-typing. It’s very likely that we’ll see a huge revamp of the Zorua and Zoroark move pools, but knowing that you’ll have at least Shadow Claw and some strong Normal-type moves as Same-Type attack bonus options is a good start. Using U-turn to keep Zoroark in reserve to switch in to one of its three immunities could be a lot of fun, too. It’s unlikely that Zoroark will see a stat buff, but it’s not impossible. Even then, the new dual-typing will give Zoroark a much wider arsenal, especially making its Shadow Ball, previously only a move it could learn by TM, hit much harder.

The big question is if Hisuian Zoroark will retain the Illusion ability, and from the lore that was revealed around Halloween 2021, it does indeed still use the power of illusion to terrify those that come in contact with it. While it will still take some skill to use Hisuian Zoroark competitively, it’s going to be a nightmare for many opposing Pokemon in a Pokemon Arceus Legends playthroughs, thanks to having three immunities. While the Illusion Fox Pokemon becomes the baneful Fox Pokemon, it’s right in the lore that its “long, writhing fur projects terrifying illusions – and it can also inflict physical harm upon foes, damaging their bodies both inside and out.” Yes, this was intentionally written to be extra scary for the Halloween season, but it doesn’t change the fact that Zoroark was always hard hitting and this regional variant should be no different.

Zoroark has long needed some sort of way to overcome its gimmick, hilariously gaining a new gimmick in the process. It seems very ironic that Zorua and Zoroark are now weak to their original type, but perhaps this is exactly what these really cool Pokemon needed in order to compete. Not only do they provide some great flavor to what should be a very eventful Pokemon Legends adventure, but Hisuian Zorua and later Zoroark, should prove extremely valuable allies for any competitive Pokemon trainer going forward.

Photo credit: The Pokemon Company

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