Today we bid farewell to Zapdos, the big zappy bird that has been the bane of every Pokemon Unite player’s existence for the last 12 months. With the start of Season 10, Remoat Stadium has been replaced by a brand new map, Theia Sky Ruins. Thus the reign of Zapdos has ended – at least for now. Sleep well, you majestic creature, or, alternatively, go to hell where you belong.
Zapdos was a complicated figure in Pokemon Unite. Every match, Zapdos would spawn in the middle of the map at exactly 2:00, signaling the final stretch of the game and the start of the final team battle. The reward for killing Zapdos was a total deactivation of the enemy’s goal, so fighting over this objective was the top priority in every game. Whichever team gets the last hit on Zapdos almost always goes on to win the game, no matter how far behind they may have been before the fight. For this reason, Zapdos is largely reviled by the community.
All over Twitter, Unite players have been paying their respects/celebrating the demise of Zapdos this week. “Rest in peace Zapdos,” wrote one Twitter user. “Gone, but never forgiven.” The fan account @PokeUniteES tweeted a picture of the Zapdos ascending the stairway to heaven with the rest of the Remoat Stadium wild Pokemon, and the replies have not been kind. “I will miss all of you except the electric bird,” wrote one player. “Goodbye damn Zapdos, I hope you don’t come back!” wrote another. Many are relieving themselves of 12 months built-up resentment, like @MosaMosaEX_ who wrote “So long Zapdos, you will never be missed. Good fuckin riddance!”
I asked players to share their final thoughts on Zapdos and some of the replies were a lot more empathetic than you might expect. Unite YouTuber and WCS caster Spragels says “I will miss that I can blame my losses on you my yellow feathered friend,” a sentiment I can personally relate to, as I’ve blamed Zapdos for every L I’ve ever received. Our own features editor Ben Sledge has more sentimental feelings about Zap:
“Zapdos is fucking great, I love that zappy boi with all my heart and wish them a happy and healthy life on the great electric Moomoo Farm in the sky (insert ‘Do Zapdos Dream Of Electric Moomoo’ joke here). Yeah it was overpowered, but it’s a Legendary!! They’re supposed to be able to destroy entire regions, so turning the tide of a Unite match is a piece of Old Gateau. Maybe I’ll return to Unite if it has a more balanced and competitive Legend in play, but I’ll miss Zapdos all the same. It did Legendaries, and Electric-types, proud.”
I’ve come around on Zapdos this year. At first, I thought the mechanic was a disaster. After all, the team that plays the best, scores the most points, and gets the KOs throughout the match deserves to win, and it feels terrible every time an enemy Decidueye or Venusaur snipes the last hit and steals the game from you. But overtime I came to appreciate its comeback potential and the way it rewards teams that come together when it really matters. The reality is that the better team should be able to secure Zapdos, and though last second steals always felt unfair, even the most fervent Zapdos hater would have to admit that they kept the game exciting.
Unite streamer Breadbox may have summed it up perfectly in her farewell tweet. “Can’t help but wonder how many people will be disappointed when it turns out Zapdos wasn’t the actual reason why they were losing their games.” The truth can hurt, and not just when you’re getting blasted by 116 lbs of electric terror.
Whether you loved it or hated it, Zapdos defined the first year of Pokemon Unite. Will we ever see it again? It’s hard to imagine that Remoat Stadium is gone forever, but it’s possible this version of Zapdos is. Time away may give the developers the opportunity to give Zap some much-needed tweaks. And you know what they say, absence makes the heart grow fonder.
So long for now my feathered friend. You cost me twice as many games as I would have liked, and gave me half as many wins as I probably deserved. May Arceus have mercy on your soul.