Dratini has definitely found its place in the Little Cup metagame. Dratini will always have competition from Bagon thanks to its higher Attack, but Dratini often overshadows Bagon because of ExtremeSpeed. Gible, the other little Dragon, has a nice STAB Earthquake, but the lack of Dragon Dance, a respectable Special Attack, and priority means Dratini is often seen as the better choice.
Thanks to it's great movepool and all round passable stats Dratini is one of the more versatile Pokemon in Little Cup, and is capable of running a large number of quite different sets effectively. Because of this, Dratini is very difficult to predict, and in Little Cup, one wrong move could mean the end of the battle. With Dratini's powerful offensive options, impressive movepool, decent defensive stats, and excellent typing, Dratini is definitely worth considering for your team, and always something to prepare for.
Dragon Dance Dratini is one of the most dangerous Pokemon in Little Cup thanks to its excellent movepool, solid Attack, and good Speed after a boost. After a Dragon Dance, Dratini reaches a whopping 25 Attack and 21 Speed, making it faster than every Pokemon in the metagame not carrying a Choice Scarf. With 25 Attack, STAB Outrage is terrifying for all but the most physically bulky Pokemon, and those with a resistance to Dragon. Basically, the only Pokemon who can avoid being 2HKOed by Outrage are Bronzor, Shieldon, and Aron (to demonstrate Outrage's raw power, other than Steel types, only max HP / Def Onix with a nature boost and Oran Berry has any chance of surviving two +1 Life Orb boosted Outrages. And Onix won't last against Water attacks.). Waterfall is used to OHKO Aron and Shieldon after a Dragon Dance, and it also hits Bronzor for a solid 3HKO with Oran Berry factored in; however, Waterfall can 2HKO if it has a low damage roll followed by a high one since this avoids Oran Berry being activated. Without Life Orb, Dratini can't OHKO Aron with Waterfall. This means that if you opt for Oran Berry, Aqua Tail is the preferred option since it is able to OHKO Aron most of the time, and it's a guaranteed OHKO if Aron has switched into Stealth Rock once before.
Dratini's true strength lies in its fourth move: ExtremeSpeed. ExtremeSpeed on a Pokemon with Dragon Dance is extremely difficult to stop, as the normal methods of revenge killing with priority or fast Choice Scarf users aren't as effective. Many of the most popular hard-hitting Choice Scarf users in Little Cup are vulnerable to being OHKOed by ExtremeSpeed after Stealth Rock. Also, priority is not an option to revenge kill Dratini since it's faster than every other common priority user, will hit first with ExtremeSpeed, and can OHKO some of the main priority users, such as Croagunk, Diglett, and Houndour, after Stealth Rock.Team Options & Additional Comments >>>
This set focuses on Dratini's excellent coverage and utility with ExtremeSpeed. Due to Substitute, this set is much more versatile than the other sets that Dratini can use. For example, similar to the Dragon Dance set, it can take advantage of the opponent's switches. It also can lure in and destroy Pokemon like Bronzor in the same way as the mixed set. It also works as a decent revenge killer with ExtremeSpeed.
The EVs given allow Dratini to outpace many of the Pokemon who don't invest in Speed due to being bulky or having priority while also retaining enough power to deal with Bronzor. Outrage takes out Pokemon such as Munchlax, and will most likely OHKO whatever comes in, unless they outpace Dratini. Draco Meteor is a decent alternative, however, because it doesn't lock Dratini into one move and avoids confusion.Team Options & Additional Comments >>>
With three coverage moves and a powerful priority attack, Dratini can make an excellent mixed priority attacker. The basic strategy of the set is to pick off Steel-types and bulky Rock-types with Fire Blast and Surf, while hurting any Choice Scarfer that comes in. If you hit something relatively frail with Fire Blast or Surf, Dratini can usually finish them off with ExtremeSpeed. Once these Pokemon are out of the way, and your opponent has nothing that can take a powerful Dragon-type attack, use Outrage and watch your opponent's team crumble.
The mixed priority sweeper uses purely offensive EVs, as it needs to do as much damage as possible. First, it maximizes Attack to do as much damage as possible with its two main attacks, Outrage and ExtremeSpeed. 116 Special Attack EVs guarantee that Fire Blast 2HKOes Bronzor, and as a bonus, Surf followed by Fire Blast (but not vice versa) always KOes as well, as it avoids activating Oran Berry.Team Options & Additional Comments >>>
This set aims to bypass Dratini's usual counters and sweep late-game with its boosted ExtremeSpeed or Outrage. Outrage from Dratini's impressive Attack stat will OHKO almost anything that doesn't resist it, but it must be used with caution unless Steel-types and faster Pokemon are gone so that Dratini doesn't get trapped and revenge killed. Waterfall (or Aqua Tail if you prefer power to accuracy) will OHKO almost every Rock-type in the game, while Fire Blast hits Bronzor and Magnemite hard.Team Options & Additional Comments >>>
Dratini has the rare ability to 2HKO almost every Pokemon with a STAB move followed by a priority attack. Against the top leads, all Dratini needs to do is Protect versus Fake Out leads like Chimchar and Meowth, then use Draco Meteor followed by ExtremeSpeed. Against Meowth specifically, Dratini has an advantage due to Shed Skin, giving it the ability to occasionally bypass the already unreliable Hypnosis. Surf 2HKOes Phanpy, meaning it needs to pick whether to set up Stealth Rock or KO Dratini with Ice Shard. Leads such as Kabuto and Gligar also find themselves in a similar situation with Aqua Jet and Quick Attack respectively. Hippopotas has a chance to OHKO Dratini with Earthquake and sandstorm damage, but Dratini 2HKOes with Surf meaning it will not be able to set up Stealth Rock if it attacks. Fire Blast hurts Bronzor and easily OHKOes lead Snover, but hail and its Blizzard will KO Dratini at the end of the turn.Team Options & Additional Comments >>>
Dratini packs an excellent special movepool, but only has a mediocre base 50 Special Attack stat to work with. However, Dratini still has enough power to OHKO many Pokemon with either a super effective attack or STAB Draco Meteor, allowing it to be an effective revenge killer. Draco Meteor severely damages almost anything that doesn't resist Dragon-type attacks, even from only 15 Special Attack, while Fire Blast will stop Bronzor and Magnemite from being comfortable switching in. Ice Beam takes care of Swords Dance Gligar in case it manages to set up, while Outrage fits into the last slot to hit specially bulky Pokemon hard. Surf can be used over Ice Beam if you want to always OHKO Aron; however, you miss the guaranteed OHKO on Gligar.
This set uses a specially oriented EV spread, as the main attacks are special. After Special Attack and Speed are maximized with 196 EVs each, 84 EVs are put into Attack to give Outrage a little extra kick. The remaining EVs are put into HP to give Dratini better overall defenses.Team Options & Additional Comments >>>
Dratini has quite a diverse movepool, and some decent options have not been listed above. First off, Dratini can run a pretty threatening Agility set. With Agility, Outrage, Aqua Tail, and Fire Blast, Dratini can pose a major threat to Pokemon like Gastly who switch in, expecting a slower Dragon Dance Dratini, only to be met with an OHKO. While Agility is viable, it does have problems competing with physical Dragon Dance because ExtremeSpeed makes the extra Speed boost less important, and without the Attack boost from Dragon Dance, Dratini's damage output can be disappointing.
Dratini can just about pull off a decent Choice Specs set, if only to lure and KO Bronzor. However, Dratini's Special Attack is too low to be an effective user of Choice Specs. A physical Choice Scarf set could be also be used, but Bagon pulls that set off better thanks to its higher Attack. It's also worth nothing that Light Screen is illegal with ExtremeSpeed which reduces Dratini's usefulness significantly.
Dratini has decent defenses, some good support moves, and great typing, so it can use a general support set. With Light Screen and Thunder Wave, Dratini could cause some annoyance to your opponent. However, Dratini is almost always better off attacking because of its vast offensive movepool and solid Attack and Special Attack.
On the Dragon Dance set, a bulkier EV spread can be used. A simple spread of 28 HP / 164 Atk / 156 Def / 116 SpD / 36 Spe will go a long way, especially with Reflect and Light Screen support. This may allow Dratini to set up more than one Dragon Dance, increasing Dratini's chance of sweeping. The main setback is that Dratini essentially needs more than one Dragon Dance to sweep and it loses a bit of immediate power. The Speed is helpful for revenge killing Pokemon such as Croagunk who only reach 13 Speed most of the time.
Checks and Counters
Dratini is one of those rare Pokemon who has very few safe switch-ins, if any. Bronzor is probably your best bet, resisting Dratini's STAB Dragon-type attacks and ExtremeSpeed, while not taking much from Dratini's Water-type attacks, though Bronzor does need to avoid Fire Blast. Against the special attacking Dratini, Munchlax does a great job of walling it.
After Dratini has a Dragon Dance under its belt, it is one of the hardest Pokemon to stop in Little Cup. ExtremeSpeed eliminates most of the options that rely on priority or use a Choice Scarf. The only possible revenge killers are really Choice Scarf Ghosts, Choice Scarf Magnemite, Choice Scarf Gligar, and certain Choice Scarf Rock-types. Every other Pokemon will probably be OHKOed by ExtremeSpeed or outpaced and destroyed by Outrage or Waterfall.
The best way to reliably beat Dratini is to not let it set up. If you need to sacrifice a Pokemon to keep Dratini from setting up, you should probably do it. After that you can send something in that's faster than 14 Speed and bulky enough to take an ExtremeSpeed to take care of Dratini before it can set up.