Little Leads, Big Impact

By macle, Dracoyoshi8, and Vader. Art by #Az.
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In the Little Cup metagame, leads make a giant impact on the game. Leads can swing the game's momentum your way at the start of the game by activating weather on the field, setting up entry hazards, or just screwing over the opponent's plans. Pokémon featured in this article are examples of leads who do those jobs perfectly.

Weather Leads

These leads try to get weather up to break Focus Sashes or increase teammates' Speed with sun or rain.

Snover @ Oran Berry
EVs: 116 HP / 180 Atk / 180 SpA
Rash nature
- Protect
- Blizzard
- Ice Shard
- Energy Ball

Snover is one of the best leads in the game. It is able to stop Fake Out users with Protect and then break their Focus Sash with the hail it summons. Blizzard hurts any Pokemon not named Munchlax. Snover's power can crush through teams easily; Ice Shard is useful to pick off Pokemon with low HP from switching into Blizzards or stalling their HP down from the hail through Protect.

Hippopotas @ Oran Berry / Leftovers
EVs: 212 HP / 36 Atk / 212 Def / 36 SpD
Impish nature
- Stealth Rock
- Earthquake
- Crunch / Rock Slide
- Slack Off / Roar

Hippopotas is the only Pokemon in Little Cup with Sand Stream, making it mandatory on sandstorm-based teams. Aside from providing sandstorm, Hippopotas also has several other features that make it a great lead. Stealth Rock is a great move for any Pokemon to have, but Hippopotas is one of the best users of it. With sandstorm adding to the residual damage Stealth Rock provides, Life Orb and status Orb users will be worn down very quickly. The sand hippo also has fantastic bulk, being able to tank even a super effective Waterfall from Kabuto, and Slack Off just adds to this fantastic survivability. To round everything off, Hippopotas is no slouch on the attacking side. STAB Earthquake puts a dent in anything who isn't immune or resistant to it. Crunch and Rock Slide help cover anything Earthquake won't hit. All of this together is the making of one hell of a lead that any team should be prepared to face.

Voltorb @ Damp Rock
EVs: 36 HP / 36 Def / 236 SpA / 196 Spe
Timid nature
- Rain Dance
- Taunt
- Thunder
- Hidden Power Ice / Explosion

Voltorb has the tools to be one of the best leads in Little Cup. It ties for the highest Speed in the tier with Diglett, which allows it to set up rain fast and stop Trick Room and Sunny Day from being played with Taunt. You can opt to move the Defense EVs to Attack, and switch to a Hasty nature so you can use Explosion, blowing up on your enemies as a last resort.

Fake Out Leads

Fake Out leads' main purpose is to break Focus Sashes and attempt to KO the opponent's lead the next turn so they can't set up.

Meowth @ Silk Scarf
Ability: Technician
EVs: 236 Atk / 76 Def / 196 Spe
Jolly nature
- Bite
- U-turn
- Return
- Fake Out

Meowth can help counter the other team's lead. Fake Out can break Focus Sash while Return and Bite provide coverage to eliminate the opponent. It also has access to Hypnosis to allow you to induce sleep onto the opponent's lead. Lastly, Meowth may carry Rain Dance to set up rain, Sunny Day to set up sun, and Taunt to stop Stealth Rocks and weather conditions to be played.

Chimchar @ Focus Sash
Hasty nature
EVs: 4 HP / 56 Atk / 4 Def / 216 SpA / 4 SpD / 188 Spe
- Fake Out
- Overheat
- Hidden Power Grass
- Stealth Rock

Chimchar is the only Pokemon in the Little Cup tier who have access to both Fake Out and Stealth Rock. It can guarantee to get Stealth Rock down on most leads except for ones with Taunt but those leads can be taken out by Overheat or Hidden Power Grass.

Aipom @ Life Orb / Silk Scarf
Ability: Pick Up
EVs: 36 HP / 236 Atk / 196 Spe
Jolly nature
- Fake Out
- U-turn
- Return / Shadow Claw
- Taunt / Seed Bomb / Brick Break

Aipom is a great alternative to Meowth and is superior in a number of ways. Aipom has much higher Attack than Meowth, making its Return and Seed Bomb stronger. Aipom's Fake Out and Return are able to KO Machop together, while Taunt allows it to stop SR leads like Kabuto, Phanpy, and Onix reliably. Seed Bomb is an alternative to allow it to hit SR set-up Pokemon and OHKO them instead, but it in turn fails to deal with Bronzor. Shadow Claw gives Aipom a reliable way to hit Ghosts, while Brick Break lets Aipom break Bronzor's Screens and hit Aron for an OHKO. Aipom is also very useful midgame and can stop defensive teams in their tracks because of Taunt and U-turn.

Bulky Leads

These leads use their great defenses to power through frail leads and / or set up entry hazards.

Bronzor @ Oran Berry
Ability: Levitate
EVs: 220 HP / 4 Atk / 148 Def / 4 SpA / 68 SpD
Sassy nature
- Earthquake / Psychic
- Stealth Rock
- Rain Dance / Trick Room
- Gyro Ball

Bronzor is capable of doing a lot of different things from the lead spot. It can set up Rain Dance, Sunny Day (not the best of ideas, though), and Trick Room. Also, it is capable of setting up Reflect, Light Screen, and / or Stealth Rock. Bronzor's bulk is what makes it a great lead to have.

Tentacool @ Oran Berry
Ability: Liquid Ooze
Calm Nature
EVs: 196 HP / 196 SpD / 116 Spe
- Toxic Spikes
- Protect
- Hydro Pump
- Ice Beam / Sludge Bomb

Made "famous" by Eo Ut Mortus, Tentacool is easily the most reliable (and probably the only) Toxic Spikes lead in Little Cup. Tentacool is best suited for a Little Cup stall team. Stall is very hard to use in Little Cup, but when used correctly it is very hard to beat. Toxic Spikes are almost always a poor option because the Poison / Fighting-type Croagunk is so common and makes them seem useless. This is why it is crucial to keep Tentacool alive until you are certain Croagunk is KOed or the opponent isn't using it.

Protect is used for both scouting and to help rack up poison and / or weather damage. Hydro Pump allows Tentacool to inflict heavy damage on leads such as Phanpy, Hippopotas, and Kabuto and is capable OHKOing the former two. Ice Beam is useful against Gligar and Croagunk, while Sludge Bomb scores an OHKO on Snover. Furthermore, if you are using Tentacool, it is highly recommended you use it alongside Levitate Bronzor, as they cover each other's weaknesses very well.

Phanpy @ Oran Berry
Impish nature
EVs: 116 HP / 196 Atk / 116 Def / 36 SpD / 36 Spe
- Stealth Rock
- Earthquake
- Head Smash
- Ice Shard

Phanpy used to be one of the most common leads in Little Cup. Snover's immense rise as lead over the past few months may keep the little elephant away from the top five for good. Phanpy should not be ignored though, as it is commonly known as one of the best Stealth Rock leads in the tier. It can take physical attacks very well, capable of surviving even super effective attacks, such as Kabuto's Waterfall. Similarly to Hippopotas, Phanpy is no slouch on the attacking side either. STAB Earthquake puts a dent in Kabuto and Hippopotas and Head Smash OHKOes Snover. Ice Shard is probably Phanpy's main selling point as a lead, allowing it to OHKO Rock Polish and Swords Dance Gligar after Stealth Rock damage.

Other Leads

These leads use unconventional methods of getting momentum flowing in their player's way. Use of abilities, moves, and typing affect how these Pokemon work.

Diglett @ Focus Sash
Ability: Arena Trap
Jolly nature
EVs: 36 HP / 236 Atk / 236 Spe
- Stealth Rock
- Earthquake
- Sucker Punch / Shadow Claw
- Protect

Diglett reaches 20 Speed which ties for the fastest Speed in the game. Protect helps it against Fake Out users while it can still set up Stealth Rock. Its ability is what makes Diglett a great lead; it eliminates the opponent's lead from the start of the game, which destroys their strategy. Also with access to Sucker Punch, most leads have a hard time finishing off Diglett since it always goes first.

Anorith @ Oran Berry
Jolly Nature
EVs: 236 Atk / 36 Def / 236 Spe
- Stealth Rock
- Rapid Spin
- X-Scissor
- Rock Slide / Brick Break

Anorith's goal as a lead is to set up Stealth Rock and keep the opponent's Stealth Rock down. With Rapid Spin and 18 Speed, Anorith outspeeds all common Stealth Rock leads and can use Rapid Spin the next turn after they set up Stealth Rock. X-Scissor coming off of Anorith's impressive 19 Attack stat hurts any lead who doesn't resist it and OHKOes common leads like Snover and Meowth. Rock Slide gets great coverage with X-Scissor and hits Gastly and Gligar who resist Bug-type moves. With Brick Break you lose coverage on Gligar and Gastly, but you OHKO Kabuto and you gain the ability to eliminate Light Screen and Reflect.

Kabuto @ Focus Sash
Jolly or Naive nature
EVs: 200 Atk / 40 Def / 200 Spe
- Stealth Rock
- Waterfall
- Aqua Jet
- Rock Slide / Earth Power

Currently #4 in the lead rankings, Kabuto provides a solid start for any team. Not only does it lay down the vital Stealth Rock, but it can also handily beat other top leads with its good type coverage and great Attack. Waterfall hits Phanpy, and is Kabuto's main STAB attack. Earth Power hits other Kabuto and Croagunk and priority in Aqua Jet is always useful for opposing leads with Focus Sash and later on in the battle. Rock Slide can be used to hit Snover.

As you can see, many different Pokemon can act great as a lead in many different ways. So go on the Create-A-Pokemon Server and test these leads or try a lead of your own!

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