Level 50 Statistics (see level 5, 50, 100)
At first glance, there appears to be no reason to run Sandshrew in LC, as Drilbur has superior stats in every area bar Defense. However, Sandshrew's excellent Attack and Defense make it a good Sand Rush user in its own right. Sandshrew is especially effective as a partner to Drilbur; both can weaken each other's checks and counters while threatening to sweep the opponent's team. This ability to support Drilbur in overwhelming the other team's counters to sand teams is Sandshrew's niche in Little Cup.
Sandshrew can use its excellent Defense, high Attack, and access to Sand Rush to easily nab a Swords Dance boost and wreak havoc upon the opposing team. After a Swords Dance, Adamant and Jolly Sandshrew reach a monstrous 36 and 34 Attack, respectively. +2 Sandshrew can OHKO Scraggy and Misdreavus and, with minimal residual damage, Mienfoo, as well as 2HKO Hippopotas, Ferroseed, and Lileep. Adamant Sandshrew can also OHKO Timburr with a boosted Earthquake after Stealth Rock, so even a slightly weakened team will be hard pressed to withstand Sandshrew's onslaught. This power means that it Sandshrew can forgo Life Orb for Eviolite to increase its bulk and obtain more opportunities to set up. With its high Defense, Sandshrew can set up easily on all but the strongest physical attackers; Sandshrew can actually come in on +1 Scraggy, use Swords Dance as it survives everything short of a rare +1 Life Orb Hi Jump Kick, and OHKO with Earthquake. Earthquake serves as Sandshrew's strong and reliable STAB, hitting most Pokemon in LC for solid damage and allowing Sandshrew to be extremely threatening after a Swords Dance. Rock Slide complements Earthquake's coverage by hitting the Flying-types that are immune to Ground-type attacks and the Bug-types that resist Earthquake hard; it OHKOes Murkrow and Shelmet after Stealth Rock. Night Slash completes Sandshrew's coverage, OHKOing Misdreavus and Exeggcute and dealing neutral damage to Bronzor to help wear it down for Drilbur.
Team Options & Additional Comments >>>
Sandshrew can forgo Swords Dance's potential to sweep teams in order to use its bulk, power, and Speed to assist its team with Rapid Spin and revenge killing, freeing up Drilbur to run a more offensive set. With this EV spread, Sandshrew hits 24 Speed in sand, outspeeding all unboosted Pokemon in Little Cup as well as many Choice Scarf wielders. Sandshrew still outspeeds +1 Scraggy—and can still successfully revenge kill it—but it is outsped by +2 Clamperl and can only tie with 16 Speed Pokemon wielding Choice Scarfs. Even without Swords Dance, Sandshrew remains powerful, 2HKOing Misdreavus on the switch with Night Slash to prevent it from blocking Rapid Spin. Earthquake is Sandshrew's main STAB attack. Rock Slide and Night Slash allow Sandshrew to threaten Flying- and Ghost-types, respectively. Stealth Rock can be run over either coverage move to free up a moveslot for teammates such as Hippopotas and Lileep, but this compromises Sandshrew's revenge killing and spinning abilities.
Team Options & Additional Comments >>>
The sets listed above are Sandshrew's most viable options in Little Cup. An all-out Life Orb attacking set might seem effective, but it is better done by Drilbur; Eviolite takes better advantage of Sandshrew's nice Defense stat. In nearly all cases, Sandshrew should not be run without sand, and should not be run without Drilbur; Sandshrew's main niche in LC is its place on teams with Hippopotas and Drilbur. Sand Veil sets, perhaps even utilizing Bulldoze, have some potential due to Sandshrew's bulk and power, but are not as effective as ones running Sand Rush. Sandshrew also has other support options such as Knock Off and Super Fang, but it has difficulty finding moveslots with which to use them.
Checks and Counters
Scarf Snover checks all Sandshrew, removing the sand it relies on and OHKOing with Blizzard. Lileep can take a hit from boosted Sandshrew and Giga Drain to take advantage of Sandshrew's weaker Special Defense stat. Hippopotas can also withstand Sandshrew's attacks and Roar to reset its boosts. Bronzor is immune to Earthquake, resists Rock Slide, and is only 3HKOed by +2 Night Slash. However, Bronzor's unimpressive base 24 Special Attack prevents it from doing substantial damage to Sandshrew, rendering Bronzor unable to consistently defeat Swords Dance variants. Priority such as Murkrow's Sucker Punch and Totodile's Aqua Jet can help to take down Sandshrew, but it needs to be weakened substantially first. Drilbur, a faster Sand Rush user, can also KO Sandshrew after it has taken some prior damage. Scarf Porygon Traces Sand Rush, outspeeds, and OHKOes with Ice Beam. Scarf Misdreavus Speed ties with Jolly Sandshrew but cannot OHKO Sandshrew cleanly and is KOed by even an unboosted Night Slash. Tirtouga can easily set up a Shell Smash against sand teams and OHKO Sandshrew with +2 Aqua Jet. Bulky Grass-types, such as Shroomish, Foonguss, Chikorita, and Turtwig, are hard stops for Sandshrew. Cottonee can Encore Sandshrew's Swords Dance or Rapid Spin to allow another Pokemon to set up. Frillish stops Sandshrew from spinning away entry hazards and threatens to deal heavy damage with Scald. Finally, Focus Sash Abra checks Sandshrew, but can only KO after Sandshrew has been weakened.