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Drilbur—one of the most powerful and feared Pokémon in the Little Cup metagame. No one had recognized its true potential early on in the BW metagame, as there was a much more popular Ground-type running amok: Gligar. However, the scorpion was banned in the fourth round of suspect testing and Drilbur finally received its chance to dominate. And boy did it dominate. With nothing in the current metagame to stop its rampage, one Swords Dance was all Drilbur needed to sweep a team.
However, things began to sort themselves out over time. People caught onto Drilbur's rather shallow movepool and were able to prevent Drilbur's onslaught. Bronzor, often forgotten due to the popularity of Scraggy at the time, came into the limelight thanks to its amazing typing and ability in Levitate. Its high defenses allowed it to shrug off Drilbur's Rock Slides as well. Snover, another underused Pokémon due to Scraggy, became relevant again as it could end sand with hail and resist Earthquake. The re-introduction of Misdreavus into the metagame also hindered its usage, because it was immune to Earthquake, could stave off a boosted Rock Slide (barring a critical hit or flinch), and could retaliate with Will-O-Wisp, rendering Drilbur useless for the rest of the match.
Then, Drilbur's Dream World ability was released. It now had Mold Breaker, one of the best abilities in the game. No longer did Drilbur have to rely on Hippopotas for it to function properly, and Drilbur also received Stealth Rock in BW2. Along with Rapid Spin, Drilbur now could function as a supporter as opposed to a sweeper. However, the Swords Dance set remained as the more popular set as Staryu was still the better spinner.
Still, Drilbur is often regarded as the most feared threat in Little Cup. Scraggy, Clamperl, and Shellder had their chances—now it's Drilbur's time to terrorize the metagame.
The first thing to note about Drilbur is its huge Attack stat. Reaching a whopping 19 with an Adamant nature is no joke, and its Speed stat is nothing to be scoffed at, either. With the ability to outpace the entire metagame at +1 when sand is in play, the only thing Drilbur will lose to speed-wise is priority. In addition, Drilbur isn't exactly "frail" when it comes to defenses, either. With an Eviolite equipped, Drilbur can stave off many attacks and set up a Swords Dance. Unlike Shell Smash, there is no downside to using Swords Dance, and Drilbur gets doubled Speed in sandstorm thanks to Sand Rush.
Its typing is also rather nice, as getting STAB on Earthquake is never a bad thing. In addition, Rock Slide is almost a perfect complement to Earthquake, as the combination is resisted only by the bane of Drilbur's existence, Bronzor, and the less-common Baltoy. The rest of Drilbur's movepool is rather shallow, however, but it has just enough to get it through. Swords Dance is self-explanatory, and Protect and Substitute give Drilbur the ability to stop Mienfoo's Fake Out and scout enemy switch-ins. In terms of other attacks, Drilbur is pretty limited. It has Shadow Claw for Misdreavus and X-Scissor is its strongest attack against Bronzor and most Grass-types. However, Drilbur much rather prefers Protect or Substitute, as the loss of coverage does not hinder it too much.
For support options, Drilbur does have Rapid Spin and Stealth Rock. This allows it to be a competent spinner, and with a Jolly nature and maximum investment, it does hit a decent 17 Speed.
Drilbur is nothing short of an offensive powerhouse. The most common and effective way to use Drilbur is to slap it on a sandstorm team with Hippopotas, set up a Swords Dance when the opponent is forced to switch out, and sweep; Eviolite is important, so Drilbur has the defenses to do so. However, this can be hard to attempt in the current metagame, as the face of sandstorm has changed. The common tactic these days is to use Drilbur in tandem with Sandshrew, another Pokémon with Sand Rush, and use both of them to inflict massive damage. Although this limits the team's remaining slots and opens up a huge vulnerability to Snover and Water-types, it is an incredibly powerful tactic that, if played correctly, can devastate any given team.
If you favor more immediate power on Drilbur, you can always use a Life Orb and run four attacks. Although Drilbur does not have much else in its arsenal, Shadow Claw allows Drilbur to net super effective coverage on Misdreavus, allowing it to 2HKO on a predicted switch-in. However, without any boosting attacks to augment this, Drilbur will fail to attain many OHKOs. Life Orb with Swords Dance is a bit trickier though, as this is Drilbur's most powerful loadout. The problem that presents itself when using this set is that Drilbur will be hard-pressed to find an opportune time to use Swords Dance, as many powerful or super effective (or both) attacks will easily OHKO Drilbur without any defensive investment.
If you want a hard-and-fast counter, then look no further than Bronzor. It is immune to Earthquake and resists Rock Slide, and it can 3HKO with Hidden Power Ice. Its naturally high Defense also prevents it from taking too much damage from the less common X-Scissors and Shadow Claws. Snover cannot directly switch into Drilbur, but can come in after Drilbur gets a KO, erase sandstorm with hail, and smack Drilbur or anything that switches in for massive damage with Blizzard. Choice Scarf Porygon with Trace also works well, as it will outspeed Drilbur after copying its ability, and can easily KO with Ice Beam. Lileep will be taking a lot of damage from a boosted Earthquake, but will survive unless Drilbur carries a Life Orb. Lileep can then retaliate with Giga Drain and recover most of its lost health.
Staryu cannot take a boosted Earthquake, but if it can switch in on a Rock Slide it can KO Drilbur with its STAB. Mienfoo can beat variants that do not utilize Protect by using Fake Out and Drain Punch to weaken Drilbur and then switching off to something else before it takes too much damage. Ferroseed does not take super effective damage from Earthquake and can break through a Substitute with Bullet Seed. Shroomish only fears the uncommon X-Scissor, and it can put Drilbur to sleep with Spore and then recover any lost health with Giga Drain.
Should Drilbur run a support moveset, it shouldn't need much support because it's going to be the one giving the support. The team should include Pokémon that dislike Stealth Rock, such as Murkrow and Larvesta. However, Drilbur does like Staryu gone, so Lileep, Ferroseed, and Chinchou are solid teammates. On offense, however, Hippopotas is an absolute necessity for Drilbur to sweep, and having Sandshrew never hurts. However, Pokémon that can beat Snover are great for Drilbur to have. Although numbers will be limited due to the fact that Hippopotas and Sandshrew will take up half the team with Drilbur, Pokémon such as Bronzor, Pawniard, and Houndour all work wonders against Snover. The former two also have the nice bonus of resisting Stealth Rock and not taking damage from sandstorm.
If you like sandstorm, offense, and winning, you have to include Drilbur on your team. A perfect blend of typing, moves, and stats, Drilbur can be a destructive force if played correctly.
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