Substitute: The Best Move in Little Cup

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Throughout Little Cup’s history, trends have come and gone. However, one thing has remained indisputably constant: Substitute is the best move in the game. While it has been said to be the best in OU as well, the fact of the matter is that in a metagame as offensive as Little Cup’s it is worlds better than in the bulky offensive/semi-stall environment that OU has become. I believe that Substitute was responsible for the Murkrow ban, moreso than any other move – including Sucker Punch and Heat Wave. I also fully believe that Substitute is the move that is responsible for Misdreavus’s “brokenness,” as well as a few less-reputable claims of Carvanha’s brokenness. I am not here to discuss whether or not Substitute is a broken move, nor am I here to try and refute bans or argue for new ones. I’m here to talk about what I think is the best move, and some sets to go along with it.



name: SubKrow
move 1: Substitute
move 2: Sucker Punch
move 3: Drill Peck
move 4: Heat Wave / Hidden Power Fighting / Dark Pulse
item: Life Orb
ability: Insomnia
nature: Hasty / Naïve
evs: 156 Atk / 156 SpA / 192 Spe

This is the old SubKrow set. At the height of its popularity, it was considered the bar-none best set in the game. Once it was behind a Sub, nothing could come in and threaten it. It discouraged all Choiced Pokemon, most notably Scarf Gligar whose Earthquake could not hit it. Specs Abra also went extinct around the time this set showed up, probably because giving Murkrow a free Substitute is akin to suicide. Only Elekid had a chance of revenge-killing this beast thanks to Sub. This set allowed Murkrow to run rampant for a very simple reason: If you didn’t run from Krow, you lost a mon. If you did run from Krow, you lost the game.





name: SubSneak Miss
move 1: Substitute
move 2: Shadow Ball
move 3: Shadow Sneak
move 4: Hidden Power Fighting
item: Life Orb
ability: Levitate
nature: Hasty
evs: 240 SpA / 240 Spe

SubSneak Misdreavus proudly follows the tradition started by SubKrow, and unlike its predecessor is still perfectly legal, perhaps for good reason. This Misdreavus set works on the same premise as Krow: Force a switch, throw up a sub, and win. However, Misdreavus is different from Krow in a number of ways. Perhaps the most significant of these ways is that Misdreavus has 3 immunities to common types, rather than 1 immunity to a common type and an immunity to a type used by literally two Pokemon. Misdreavus is also a great deal bulkier than the paper-weak Murkrow and has less common weaknesses as well as perfect neutral coverage in only two moves. However, Misdreavus misses out on Murkrow’s astounding base 85 Attack and STAB Sucker Punch, instead using the significantly weaker Shadow Sneak. Make no mistake though – Misdreavus behind a Sub can take down an entire team relatively easily.





name: SubVahna
move 1: Substitute
move 2: Aqua Jet
move 3: Crunch
move 4: Zen Headbutt
item: Life Orb
ability: Rough Skin
nature: Adamant / Jolly
evs: 236 Atk / 36 Def / 36 SpD / 196 Spe

I made this set myself. Noticing a pattern here? Carvahna can do something neither Misdreavus nor Murkrow can do, however: 2HKO anything in the game. While Murkrow and Misdreavus find difficulties with Bronzor and Munchlax respectively, Carvahna has no such trouble once behind a Substitute. However, unlike Murkrow and Misdreavus, it has a definite counter in the form of Croagunk, which is the sole reason Vanha carries Zen Headbutt. Once behind a Sub, Vanha wreaks havoc and kills all common walls in two hits or less. Aqua Jet 2HKOs Gligar that don’t carry Oran, Crunch 2HKOs Bronzor even if it sets up Reflect after the first Crunch and Crunch 2HKOs Munchlax that don’t invest very heavily in Physical Defense. However, Carvahna’s defenses are the worst in the game bar none and despite its grand Offensive prowess this makes it somewhat difficult to use properly without practice. Additionally, it does not reach the magical 19 speed that Krow and Miss and so many other powerful sweepers reach, which severely hinders it against its faster kin.





name: SubLax
move 1: Substitute
move 2: Return
move 3: Focus Punch / Earthquake
move 4: Pursuit / Seed Bomb
item: Leftovers
ability: Thick Fat
nature: Adamant / Relaxed / Sassy
evs: 156 HP / 156 Atk / 196 Def

Munchlax is renown for its ability to wall Special attacks in Little Cup, allegedly the only Pokemon to do so. With 85 Base Attack, Munchlax also happens to sport the most powerful Return in the game. Focus Punch allows it to dispatch other Munchlax, Porygon and the like with ease. Pursuit allows it to take stupid ghosts out. Munchlax’s near-imperviousness attributes heavily to its ability to operate behind a Sub. Factor in that it gets back 2 HP/turn from Leftovers and you have yourself one strong Sub abuser.





name: SubGunk
move 1: Substitute
move 2: Focus Punch
move 3: Ice Punch
move 4: Payback / ThunderPunch / Sucker Punch
item: Leftovers
ability: Dry Skin
nature: Jolly / Adamant
evs: 52 HP / 188 Atk / 36 Def / 36 SpD / 196 Spe

I also made this set. Croagunk has a tendency to force Pokemon to switch out, simply because it is so versatile. Many Pokemon fear Vacuum Wave or any of Croagunk’s many options, allowing it to safely Sub up. Once safely behind a Sub, it can proceed to Focus Punch virtually any threat that may present itself. Ice Punch deals with pesky Gligar, while Payback crushes the ever-annoying Ghosts. ThunderPunch lets it deal with Mantyke, if you feel that’s necessary.





name: SubKid
move1: Substitute
move2: ThunderPunch
move3: Ice Punch
move4: Focus Punch
item: Liechi Berry / Oran Berry
ability: Static
nature: Jolly
evs: 252 Atk / 236 Spe

And here we come to the final set I’m going to present to you today: SubKid. Substitute Elekid takes advantage of a few things: Elekid’s speed, Elekid’s type coverage and Elekid’s high Attack. Focus Punch beasts through Munchlax, Ice Punch crushes Gligar and Thunderpunch is just strong thanks to STAB. Elekid can 2HKO the majority of Pokemon used with this set, making it a fearsome foe indeed. If one does not pack a lot of Priority or Scarfers, SubKid can destroy an entire opposing team.


While these are some of the most common Sub-abusing sets, many others exist and I’d like to see some of them. This thread was approved by Gen. Empoleon.
 

iss

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name: SubDude
move1: Substitute
move2: Earthquake
move3: Stone Edge
move4: Sucker Punch
item: Life Orb
ability: Rock Head
nature: Adamant
evs: 196 Atk/196 Spd/116 Def
ivs: 0 HP

This thing breaks the now somewhat-common stall teams. If you can eliminate Gligar and Aqua Jetters, it sweeps. STAB EQ and Stone Edge hit like a truck and destroy common walls, doing ~90% to Munchlax and 2HKOing Lickitung. It's pretty good once everything has been weakened.
 

Heysup

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Alright, well I think a lot of Pokemon have potential with Substitute, here are some of my favorites that weren't mentioned:


Geodude (M) @ Life Orb
Ability: Rock Head
EVs: 196 Atk/116 Def/196 Spd/
Adamant nature (+Atk, -SAtk)
- Earthquake / Stone Edge
- Sucker Punch
- Substitute
- Fire Punch / Stone Edge
---

This set is an unbelievable set since Geodude hits incredibly hard, and most of the Pokemon who it switches into can't do anything to it (Meowth, Glameow, Munchlax, etc), allowing it to set up a Substitute. If you think Carvanha hits hard, you haven't tried Geodude. With two 150 Base Power STABs, and an 80 Base Power priority attack, Geodude will not leave anything standing after two Attacks, usually just Earthquake or Stone Edge followed by a Sucker Punch.


Dratini (M) @ Life Orb
Ability: Shed Skin
EVs: 244 Atk/116 Spd/116 SAtk
Lonely nature (+Atk, -Def) / Hasty Nature (+Spd, -Def)
- Extremespeed
- Outrage
- Substitute
- Fire Blast / Aqua Tail (with a slightly more defensive EV spread)
---

Dratini also hits ridiculously hard, and also carries a 80 Base Power priority attack. What sets Dratini apart from other Pokemon is the fact that it is Dragon-type, and its unresisted two-move coverage. Dratini is able to set up a Substitute on many Pokemon because of this. Dratini's biggest problem is the fact that it is essentially forced to use Outrage, however Fire Blast hits plenty hard, as a main attack.


Houndour (M) @ Life Orb
Ability: Early Bird
EVs: 196 Atk/76 Spd/196 SAtk/36 SDef
Lonely nature (+Atk, -Def)
- Substitute
- Sucker Punch
- Fire Blast
- Crunch / Dark Pulse / Reversal / Hidden Power Fighting
---

Houndour is one of those few Pokemon who actually 2HKO almost the entire metagame with just a combo of two moves. What sets Houndour apart from the other Substitute users is the fact that it has a 120 Base Power STAB priority attack, backed by a 180 Base Power main attack. To put it simply; it hits harder than the average Substitute user. This means it OHKOes Pokemon that other Pokemon don't, for example Carvanha fails to OHKO Pokemon such as Gligar.
 

askaninjask

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Vader, how have you forgotten Sub SD Gligar, another set which, if I recall correctly, you made as well?


Gligar @ Oran Berry / Life Orb
EVs: 236 Atk / 236 Spe
Substitute
Swords Dance
Earthquake
Aqua Tail / Stone Edge / Night Slash / Aerial Ace

You thought SD Gligar was dangerous? How about this thing. Sub SD Gligar wrecks unprepared teams. It is just too easy to get to +6 Attack with this thing. Gligar can come in on loads of physical pokemon including but not limited to Aron, Stunky, Munchlax, Diglett, Bronzor, and Meowth, from there Gligar can either set up a Substitute or SD straight off. If Gligar gets a sub up, you're going to be killing at least one of your opponent's pokemon. However, Gligar cannot get perfect coverage with its 2 attacking moves, making you choose between either not being able to touch Mantyke or not being able to do much to opposing Gligar.
 

ΩDonut

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Just saying, if anyone is getting tired of Substitute in Little Cup, maybe they should try out Poliwag. Which gets Encore. And outspeeds the majority of Substitute users (it's tied with Abra, which also gets Encore but is weak to Shadow Sneak).
 

v

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First off, I'd like to say that I am also a huge fan of Poliwag. I wrote a thread on the subject but can't figure out how to paste on this damn itouch so you'll have to find it yourself. Back on topic, I am rather skeptical about that geodude set. While I'm certain it's worked for you, I feel that geodude's lackluster speed combined with weaknesses to common types would hinder it too severely. However, that Dratini set is rather intriguing to me. It's no great secret that Dratini has become good recently -- but I haven't seen this set before and, frankly, it seems like it has the potential to dominate.

On the topics of subdour and gligar, I hope you'll forgive me for feeling a bit foolish at their exclusion from the OP. Subdour is one of the most terrifying sets to face these days, thanks to its great offenses on both ends. It reminds
me somewhat of murkrow, albeit slower. But, to be fair, murkrow never had a 120 BP STAB move! The only issue I see with your set is the lack of mention of Pursuit, which is IMO better than Crunch on the sub set. However, I feel that Reversal is the best option there due to it's ability to dispatch with pesky Munchlax. As for gligar, I did indeed create subsd gligar. It can also run Quick Attack in that last slot to hit priority abusers first. You need far more team support, however.


Ps typing all that on an iTouch was a pain lol
 

Deck Knight

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I'm not getting SubKid. I see no reason to use Focus Punch over Cross Chop in these instances, bar 20% accuracy weighted against the necessity of having a Sub up. While you probably *can* just throw Substitute on any pokemon and have it work, I don't think that particular set is emblematic of Substitute's strength.

I don't think you can mention Substitute without bringing up various hail abusers.



Snover (M) @ Leftovers
Ability: Snow Warning
EVs: 180 Atk/196 Spd/100 SAtk
Hasty nature (+Spd, -Def)
- Substitute
- Leech Seed
- Ice Shard
- Energy Ball

Not much is more annoying than this thing, able to hide behind Subs and Leech off health, then use priority to finish an opponent off before they can break another Sub. Combined with the Hail damage implicit in Snover use, the residual damage adds up quickly.

There's another pokemon that becomes extremely threatening with Sub thanks to its multitude of resistances.



Magnemite @ Oran Berry
Ability: Magnet Pull
EVs: 240 Spd/240 SAtk
Timid nature (+Spd, -Atk) / Modest Nature (+SpA, -Atk)
- Substitute
- Thunderbolt
- Hidden Power [Ice / Ground]
- Flash Cannon / Explosion

Magnemite can deal immense damage in a short amount of time utilizing the near-unresisted "BoltBeam" combo, or instead hit other Electric-types and Aron harder. It can also use its second STAB or surprise with Explosion. Either way, behind a Sub Magnemite has several powerful options at its disposal and its resistances to Bullet Punch(4x), Ice Shard, Shadow Sneak, Sucker Punch, Quick Attack and Extremespeed come in handy.
 

Heysup

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Deck reminded me of an old threat:


Elekid (M) @ Petaya / Salac Berry
Ability: Static
EVs: 236 Spd/236 SAtk
Timid nature (+Spd, -Atk)
- Substitute
- Charge Beam
- Thunderbolt / Signal Beam
- Hidden Power Ice
---

Awesome late-game finisher. It just sets up a Substitute and proceeds to own shit with Charge Beam. Once it hits its Pinch Berry, it can sweep quite easily with a couple boosts under its belt. A similar set works for Voltorb.
 
Sub is a great move on fast pokemon. Don't really see the point of Sub Lax tbh. I'm a big fan of Sub-Hypnosis Gastly which is Hypnosis isn't gay will really toy with a team's defensive core.
 
I agree that Substitute is perhaps one of the most game-breaking moves in Little Cup; however, I believe that Substitute is pretty much only good with slow and bulky Pokemon or Pokemon that can threaten the opponent instantly. Substitute is so simple to break in Little Cup due to everything being 3HKOed, 2HKOed, or OHKOed (which is so ironic), so it can't just be used on any random Pokemon and hope for it to work. I have an entire team centered around Substitute, and Pokemon that are slow and bulky or can threaten the opponent usually give me the most success.

I'm not saying that Substitute is worthless on Pokemon that don't have the qualities I said above, but it's usually handled and abused better by those that do.

Once I get home, I'll contribute more to this thread with some Substituters that I think are good.
 
where's the love for drifloon?



Drifloon (M) @ Oran Berry / Petaya Berry
Ability: Unburden
EVs: 36 HP/4 Def/196 SpA/4 SpD/236 Spe
Nature: Timid
- Shadow Ball
- Calm Mind / Charge Beam
- Thunderbolt / HP Fighting / Will-o-Wisp
- Substitute

This set allows Drifloon to switch in on it's three immunities with impunity. If the pokemon using them is scarfed (it should be anyways) you use sub and start to calm mind. If Sub + Oran were to work correctly in shoddy battle this set would be even more deadly, but Drifloon has to take a hit to activate it's oran until Shoddy Battle 2. While this suffers from some of the problems SubVahna does, which would be it's middling speed until unburden activates and the fact that it is priority bait, if such things are handled properly, you can set up with impunity. Will-o-Wisp, while cutting into coverage, allows Drifloon to make a fool of Stunky (Munchlax is immune to shadow ball, otherwise it would be fodder too) that come in to revenge it or when it first sets up it's sub. All of this with minimal prediction, much unlike the once-feared SubKrow.
 

tennisace

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name: SubChop
move 1: Substitute
move 2: Dynamicpunch
move 3: Payback
move 4: Ice Punch / Stone Edge
item: Oran Berry
ability: No Guard
nature: Adamant
EVs: 196 HP/196 Atk/36 Def/76 SDef

I dare you to find a "safe" switch-in. The only things that can remotely switch into this are Croagunk, and Mantyke to an extent. Too bad neither of them are particularly known for being physical tanks! The thing that really sets Machop apart is the confusion from Dynamicpunch. It's a hellish situation when your "check" is suddenly hitting itself in its confusion and being attacked at the same time! Payback always OHKO's Standard Misdreavus (100% - 127.3%) and Gastly (157.9% - 189.5%). It also 2HKO's Agility Mantyke (50% - 63.6%), though you're OHKO'd with SR most of the time and always 2hko'd with Oran. Ice Punch crushes Gligar and the rest of the Flying-types and is the best attack against Croagunk. On the other hand, Stone Edge hits Mantyke and the Flying-types, and still hits Gligar neutral.
 

Brambane

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name: SubSwarm
move 1: Substitute
move 2: Agility
move 3: Bug Buzz
move 4: Baton Pass / Hidden Power Ground
item: Petaya Berry
ability: Swarm
nature: Modest
EVs: 36 Def / 196 SpA / 36 SpD / 236 Spe

While this set may seem like nothing more than a fun little gimmick, one this baby sets up, it is like a swarm of locust, leaving nothing but destruction behind it. Even Gligar is 2KOed by Swarm-boosted Bug Buzz, and it resists it! Ledyba has fairly impressive defenses, allowing it to take some priority moves, including a 4x resistance to Vacuum Wave and Mach Punch. Baton Pass is the cream of the crop, though. When something threatening, like Munclax, comes in, pass the boosts to a teammate, as nothing hates +2 Speed.
 

iss

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name: SubChop
move 1: Substitute
move 2: Dynamicpunch
move 3: Payback
move 4: Ice Punch / Stone Edge
item: Oran Berry
ability: No Guard
nature: Adamant
EVs: 196 HP/196 Atk/36 Def/76 SDef
I really like this set. However, I don't think Stone Edge should even be slashed in when Gligar is a bigger threat to this set than mantyke could ever be.
 
I agree that Substitute is perhaps one of the most game-breaking moves in Little Cup; however, I believe that Substitute is pretty much only good with slow and bulky Pokemon or Pokemon that can threaten the opponent instantly. Substitute is so simple to break in Little Cup due to everything being 3HKOed, 2HKOed, or OHKOed (which is so ironic), so it can't just be used on any random Pokemon and hope for it to work. I have an entire team centered around Substitute, and Pokemon that are slow and bulky or can threaten the opponent usually give me the most success.

I'm not saying that Substitute is worthless on Pokemon that don't have the qualities I said above, but it's usually handled and abused better by those that do.

Once I get home, I'll contribute more to this thread with some Substituters that I think are good.
With fast and frail attackers I still think sub is more useful as you don't have to predict whether or not your opponent will sacrifice their pokemon or which to a sturdier counter, and if you're slower than your opponent you have a chance of losing a great deal of life before you sub if you mispredict whereas with a faster user you only can lose a maximum of 25% health if they predict and break your sub.
 
Substitute is useful on fast and frail attackers, but is it more useful than another coverage move? You also can't discount the chance of your sweeper losing 25% of its health for no gain. With the probable Life Orb recoil, Stealth Rock, and the less common/non-existent spikes and damaging weather, using Substitute could put the user into a critical health range to be picked off by priority.

On the flip side, Substitute increases the mind games and pressure on your opponent, so it is usually a good choice on fast and frail sweepers. Especially in LC, which is a whole different metagame to the others.
 

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