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Pokemon Unite’s Zapdos Conundrum: Nerf or Nah?

In Pokemon Unite, it should go without saying that the most important among the titular monsters are those you play as in the franchise’s first-ever foray into MOBA. After them, the second most important is the second legendary bird, Zapdos. The bird, however, is important to the metagame as it is controversial, and many players have called for its nerf.

From Zero to 500

In MOBA terms, Zapdos is the most powerful neutral creep in Pokemon Unite. Much like Roshan in DoTA 2 and Baron Nashor in League of Legends, beating it mostly requires a team effort and rewards the team with a particular advantage. But compared to the two legendary neutral creeps from the more established MOBAs, what Zapdos grants give a bigger edge to the team that defeats it: twenty seconds of the enemy’s goals rendered defenseless. This means that the usual loading time proportional to the points being scored is reduced to zero. It’s not exactly impossible to stop someone from shooting on a defenseless goal, but it is very hard.

On paper, it may not seem much. But in a MOBA, twenty seconds is forever. It also doesn’t help that Zapdos only appears in the late game, when there are two minutes left, to be exact. In this particular portion of the game, each player can hold up to 50 points, and every goal made is worth double. If you do the math, that means a team that has beaten Zapdos can score up to 500 points, provided that they play their cards right.

Loser, Winner, Zapdos Dinner

Here’s another math that you can do: is it fair for a team to score 500 points in 20 seconds while the opposing team has worked hard for the last eight minutes for fewer points? If you say yes, then you’re likely to be in the “nerf Zapdos camp”. On the other hand, if you seem to do fine at the game or don’t care either way, then you shouldn’t write out the criticism just yet.

Because while some just whine about Zapdos when they can’t win and love it when it helps them snag the victory, some have been objective in their complaints.

One Twitter user first complained about how an enemy team was losing, making no goals for the majority of the game but managed to turn around after Zapdos. After that, he tried to not do much in another game but pulled off the same Zapdos-led victory. This goes to show how easily getting Zapdos can turn the tables.

It also doesn’t help that even if an entire team whittles down Zapdos, it doesn’t matter. The only thing that counts is which team does the last hit, so a straggler enemy Pokemon from a losing team can land that last hit and make a huge upset.

No Changes Needed

There are, of course, also those that disagree with the proposed nerf. The most common argument against it would be the fact that teams that already have a lead, especially if it’s a huge one, should have no business letting the enemy team have Zapdos. If they did, then it’s on them. Also, according to them, it’s a common mistake to try to get Zapdos when your team already has the lead. Trying to get Zapdos opens the risk of it being kill-stolen, so those in the lead are better off guarding the big bird instead of taking it for themselves.

Another is that like what’s been previously said, it’s hard but not impossible to defend against the enemy team even if they got Zapdos. The best way to do this is to take them out way before they get close to the goal.

The last counterpoint against the Zapdos nerf would be the fact that the game needs a way for losing players to turn things around, or at least even the scale. Snowballing, a phenomenon in MOBA where one team continues to gain momentum while the other struggles is something Pokemon Unite is trying to avoid, and for that there is Zapdos.

Hate it or love it, the truth is that Pokemon Unite is a more casual alternative to DoTA 2 and League of Legends. That, of course, is not a bad thing. Arceus knows we can use a more chill MOBA with a time limit per session instead of a strictly objective-based one where a game can last up to 50 minutes. Zapdos’s place in that, however, is causing much debate. Hopefully, the devs manage to find a compromise and keep the bird and the fun and fairness of the game.  So, what do you think? Nerf Zapdos or keep it as it is? Or perhaps other things have to be fixed instead? Let us know.

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