XY Little Cup: The Dawn of a New Era

By Goddess Briyella and The Unlucky One. Art by paintseagull.
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Each new generation of Pokémon brings with it a handful of new toys that have a lasting effect on many levels of competitive play, which in turn give birth to new strategies and can even make pre-existing contenders more or less viable as changes are presented and the new metagames take form. Little Cup is no exception, and there are definitely some interesting contenders entering the arena this time around. But before we go into those, let's have a look at some important mechanics changes that this generation brought, and how these changes might affect Little Cup.

First of all, we all know how annoying critical hits can be; a timely crit can change the entire outcome of a battle. You'll probably be pleased to know that critical hits now boost the damage output by only 1.5x this generation, instead of having it double like in the past. Electric-types are now completely immune to paralysis, so their typically high Speed won't be taken from them so easily this generation. Grass-types are no longer affected by Spore or powder-based attacks, meaning Foongus cannot be hit with its own status moves by the likes of Magic Bounce Natu and Copycat Riolu, or from the status of other Grass-types. Popular moves in Little Cup such as Hydro Pump and Ice Beam have had their Base Power decreased a bit, while other moves like Energy Ball got a boost.

Knock Off got a very significant buff, as it was already used for the utility of removing items from targets, but now it also has 65 Base Power with a 1.5x boost if the target is holding an item (even if Sticky Hold prevents its removal), and can actually be used as Dark coverage. As the distribution of Knock Off is pretty widespread, we might expect the metagame this generation to lean toward encouragement of more one-time use items, as it can be expected to be a much more popular move. A new entry hazard called Sticky Web has found its way into the metagame, which lowers Speed by one stage when a grounded foe enters battle. This provides your whole team with a Speed advantage and can give you a huge edge in battle, but it should be noted that the move Defog has been buffed this generation to remove entry hazards from both sides instead of just your opponent's. Unlike Rapid Spin, Defog has more distribution, cannot be blocked by Ghost-types, and cannot be stopped by Magic Bounce. This may push toward a more entry hazard-less metagame, as this change means that entry hazards are now much easier to remove for both players in a match. Sound-based moves such as Bug Buzz hit through Substitutes now, and this can be a great way to nullify your opponent's attempts to shield itself from damage. Steel no longer resists Dark and Ghost, which will certainly make a difference; in fact, Steel will be drastically different this generation, as it also resists and is super effective on the newly introduced Fairy-type, whose only other weakness is Poison. The Fairy-type is immune to Dragon and resists Dark, Fighting, and Bug, so the introduction of Fairy Pokémon has a good chance of shaking things up! Without any further ado, here are some of the promising new Pokémon that Generation VI brought...



Type: Normal
Abilities: Pickup, Cheek Pouch, Huge Power
Base stats: 38 HP / 36 Atk / 38 Def / 32 SpA / 36 SpD / 57 Spe

Behold, the generic Route 2 Normal-type of this generation. Typically, Pokémon that fall into this category don't shine very much competitively, and the same can be said about their evolutions. No serious player in their right mind is going to use Rattata, Sentret, Zigzagoon, Bidoof, or Patrat in Little Cup and expect to climb to the top with them. Some of them have rather gimmicky sets that might appear viable at first to some (such as Belly Drum + Extreme Speed in Zigzagoon's case) but are easily exploited and beaten without much trouble. So, if Bunnelby appears to classify as one of these hopelessly nonviable creatures, why does it deserve a mention here over so many others? What makes it matter and what does it have going for it?

Well, first of all, its base Attack looks horrendous at first, even by Little Cup standards... that is, until you factor in Huge Power. This incredible ability allows Bunnelby to run a neutral Attack nature and still wield a whopping 26 Attack stat, and in Little Cup where Pokémon are used at level 5, physical attackers are lucky if they even hit an Attack stat of 18 or 19. A 102 Base Power Return with STAB coming off 26 Attack, while super effective on nothing, will deal considerable damage on anything it hits neutrally. Something else Bunnelby has over its Normal-type friends is access to the powerful Earthquake attack, enabling it to get around the Rock- and Steel-types that wall its STAB, and it also provides amazing coverage in general. It has access to Stone Edge on top of that, allowing it to score a hard super effective hit on a wide variety of Rock-weak targets. The one thing that really rounds out its movepool, however, is U-turn. Yeah, get ready for Choice Scarf Bunnelby. Its ability to have the option of either physically overwhelming opponents or U-turning out to an appropriate check is amazing in combination with Huge Power and its aforementioned attacks. Bunnelby also gets Spikes to help its entire team out offensively, if you want to try that. The moral here is: Don't judge a Pokémon by its subtle appearance or its place in the Pokédex. Bunnelby proves that a Pokémon does not need the Mold Breaker ability to break the mold.




Type: Rock / Dragon
Abilities: Strong Jaw, Sturdy
Base stats: 58 HP / 89 Atk / 77 Def / 45 SpA / 45 SpD / 48 Spe

Tyrunt is weak to Ground, Fighting, Steel, Ice, Dragon, and Fairy, making it a shaky defensive option on a team. But, alas, Tyrunt is not designed to take hits; it's designed to mow down the opposition with absolutely no mercy at all. Base 89 Attack in Little Cup is phenomenal, and its physical bulk is nothing to scoff at either. Its ability, Strong Jaw, is a new one introduced this generation and provides a 1.5x power boost (practically STAB) on all bite-based attacks, including Crunch and the elemental fangs in addition to Poison Fang. Its STAB Stone Edge is freakishly strong and it also has access to Earthquake to hit the Steel-types that resist it (Fire Fang may also work for this purpose). Its STAB Dragon Claw is also painful but may be forgone in favor of moves with better coverage, especially as it might as well have STAB on its bite-based moves anyway. While Tyrunt's sub-par special bulk may appear unappealing in combination with its six weaknesses, its raw offensive power more than compensates for this.

Now you're probably thinking something like... "What about its Speed? With Speed that low, and that many weaknesses, it will never be able to accomplish much." You might even be thinking of something along the lines of "Lol it's like Cranidos but with less boring typing... Big deal..." Well, that should all stop once you find out that this pissed off dinosaur stepchild has access to Dragon Dance. Yes, this is where the true terror of Tyrunt in Little Cup comes into view. After one successful Dragon Dance, you have the equivalent of a Choice Band and a Choice Scarf being attached while still having the freedom to switch moves, effectively patching up Tyrunt's disappointing Speed and driving its Attack power through the ceiling. Worried about taking special hits? Run it with sand; Rock-types get a 1.5x boost to Special Defense under the effects of it. The Dragon typing also nullifies Tyrunt's weaknesses to Water and Grass—an advantage that a lot of Rock-types would die for. Having resistances to Flying and Electric is also pretty nice. Something that's quite interesting to note is that Tyrunt is the only new XY Little Cup Pokémon to get Stealth Rock. Fighting-types may give Tyrunt a hard time, and it might even have trouble trying to fit everything it wants to run on a set as it's limited to four moves, but at the end of the day, it can't be denied that this thing tells Murkrow to go screw itself.



Type: Fairy
Abilities: Sweet Veil, Unburden
Base stats: 62 HP / 48 Atk / 66 Def / 59 SpA / 57 SpD / 49 Spe

Beneath Swirlix's guise of fluffy cuteness is a demon that will murder your whole family competitive nightmare. Being one of the new Fairy-types introduced in XY, it has quite a unique set of weaknesses and resistances, and even an immunity to Dragon. Fighting-, Dark-, and Bug-type attacks pretty much bounce right off, and the only way to deal super effective damage to this thing is to hit it with Steel and Poison attacks, two types that typically were not very conventional to use as coverage in previous generations. For these reasons, Swirlix—along with other Fairy-types—can reasonably be expected to force a shift in the metagame so that it can be responded to and dealt with.

You might be looking at its decidedly mediocre stats and wondering to yourself if Swirlix is being overhyped here. But let's take a look at its capabilities. First off, it gets the ability Unburden, which doubles its Speed if its held item is consumed or removed (the resisted Knock Off will trigger it) and allows it to outspeed everything in the entire tier without even running a Speed boosting nature. Combine this with the ability to boost its special stats with Calm Mind, and also consider its rather expansive special movepool, and you've got yourself a complete monster. Its STAB Dazzling Gleam is already powerful enough, but Swirlix also has access to Flamethrower and Surf to destroy Steel- and Fire-types that wall its Fairy STAB. It has Psychic for the pesky Poison-types that might attempt to threaten it, and it even gets Thunderbolt. The amazing coverage this Pokémon has more than makes up for its lack of initial power, and after its Speed is doubled upon item loss, Swirlix will be making heads roll... and it will not be easy to stop. As if it weren't a huge enough threat on the special end, it is no slouch physically either. It has access to Belly Drum, which it can use to activate its own healing item while triggering Unburden in the process, effectively not only doubling its Speed but also restoring its lost health and reaching an obscene +6 Attack all in one turn. All Swirlix has to do is force something out to achieve this, then proceed to slam the opponent's team with its STAB Play Rough. The once domineering group of Fighting-types in Little Cup hardly stands a chance against Swirlix, and the fearsome Scraggy even acquired a painful 4x weakness to Fairy this generation. Cotton candy has never been harder to swallow.



Type: Steel / Ghost
Ability: No Guard
Base stats: 45 HP / 80 Atk / 100 Def / 35 SpA / 37 SpD / 28 Spe

The introduction of this unique Steel- and Ghost-type Pokémon created a lot of excitement in the Smogon community during the wave of XY leaks, even before the games were released... And now, it has entered the Little Cup arena to wreak havoc. While Steel did lose its resistances to Dark and Ghost in this generation, you'll notice that Honedge's typing still has quite a few advantages when you look at the bigger picture: In the past, Fighting-types (probably the most popular type to use in Little Cup last generation) typically ran a Dark coverage move like Payback so that they weren't stopped cold by Ghost-types. The influx of the new Fairy-type, which resists Fighting / Dark coverage, will force Fighting-types to run Steel and Poison attacks so that they won't be walled. With the previously popular Fighting-types in LC pressured for what coverage moves to run, Honedge benefits, as it is immune to Fighting and Poison and takes a small amount of damage from Steel-type attacks. Apart from that, Honedge also has a ton of other resistances, including an important resistance to Fairy. Its base 100 Defense also helps it greatly in taking hits; for instance, it can take a physical Dark attack if it has to.

These defensive traits are indeed nice, but what makes Honedge really threatening is the combination of all the things it can do offensively. Base 80 Attack is impressive enough in Little Cup, but its access to Swords Dance bolsters this power to unbelievable heights, and it certainly has the resistances, immunities, and physical defense to pull the boosts off. The Ghost / Fighting coverage Honedge has is totally unresisted, meaning it will always have the chance to deal at least neutral damage on anything. Its STAB Iron Head is powerful and knocks the pixie dust out of any Fairy-type it connects with. After Swords Dance boosts, it can ignore its own pitiful Speed and nail targets with a painful priority Shadow Sneak. Foes that try to hit Honedge with their own priority attacks in an attempt to outspeed this technique often won't be doing much, as its typing makes it immune or resistant to most priority moves. Aqua Jet won't be doing a whole lot due to Honedge's high Defense. Sucker Punch may be super effective against it, but this attack can be switched out of without the incoming teammate taking any damage. It is not without some faults though as it carries weaknesses to Fire, Ground, Dark, and Ghost, and its Special Defense is appallingly low. However, if you play Honedge to its strengths, it will definitely kick major ass.



Type: Poison / Water
Abilities: Poison Point, Poison Touch, Adaptability
Base stats: 50 HP / 60 Atk / 60 Def / 60 SpA / 60 SpD / 30 Spe

Despite its resistances to Bug and Fighting, its immunity to Poison status, and its ability to erase Toxic Spikes (providing the Pokémon is grounded) upon entering battle, Poison was never really credited as a good type over the generations. This was largely due to the fact that Poison was super effective to only Grass, while Grass's other four weaknesses made for much better types of coverage to carry, as they also had offensive advantages against other types; this also made Poison STAB less desirable, and in turn also made Poison-type Pokémon rather unappreciated in general. But in this new generation of Little Cup, the hatred of Poison STAB comes to a stop, and Skrelp is one of the newcomers from XY that will ensure that remains the case. The newly introduced Fairy-type takes double damage from Poison-type attacks, a trait that all other types bar Steel do not possess, and Poison can therefore be expected to see more offensive use to deal with these inevitable new Fairy threats.

Initial reactions to Skrelp might entail how none of Skrelp's stats really stand out and that it has horrible Speed. While this is true, what really allows it to shine is Adaptability, which makes its STAB attacks have a x2 boost instead of the usual x1.5 boost. Sludge Bomb and Scald from Skrelp are going to seriously hurt things, especially if they land super effective hits. Ground-types can't even switch in freely on this thing to attempt to threaten it with their super effective Earthquake, because they have to consider the fatal risk of taking an Adaptability-boosted STAB Water attack to the face. The natural beauty of Grass-types and the innocence of Fairy-types are both irreversibly corroded by Skrelp's Adaptability STAB Sludge Bomb. And, as if Scald isn't made strong enough by this ability in addition to its handy 30% burn rate, Skrelp also gets the mighty Hydro Pump, with which it can leave huge dents in even neutral targets. Skrelp is not just one-dimensional either; it gets Toxic Spikes to help soften up opposing teams and Thunder Wave to cripple its enemies. Apart from its offensive advantage against Fairy-types, it also has resistances to Fairy, Fighting, Fire, Ice, Bug, Water, Poison, and Steel. With its incredible typing and ability, it is practically assured a spot among the threats of XY Little Cup.



Type: Electric / Normal
Abilities: Dry Skin, Sand Veil, Solar Power
Base stats: 44 HP / 38 Atk / 33 Def / 61 SpA / 43 SpD / 70 Spe

It's a shame that Helioptile wasn't introduced until auto-weather inducing abilities were nerfed to last only 5 turns (8 turns with the corresponding weather rock), because this thing is definitely the most weather-versatile Pokémon that Little Cup has ever seen. All three of its abilities can be used to allow it to function in different weather conditions. Dry Skin provides healing in rain and also an immunity to Water, while additionally restoring health when hit by a Water-type move. Sand Veil, which has never been banned in Little Cup as it has been in other tiers, can be used with sand teams to troll the opposition and get free Substitutes or free attacks in when the luck factor comes into play (this was a big part of the reason Garchomp was banned to Ubers in DPP, for perspective). Lastly, it can opt to run Solar Power to turn it into a potent sun sweeper for a Drought team. The sheer versatility this Pokémon possesses in terms of all the different weathers it can function well with makes Helioptile unquestionably one of the most unique Pokémon to be introduced in XY.

But, it doesn't stop there. With Electric-types being entirely immune to the paralysis status this generation, its respectable base 70 Speed is not going anywhere. In addition to the Water immunity provided by Dry Skin if Helioptile runs it, its Normal typing also grants it an immunity to Ghost, a defensive trait that no Electric Pokémon in any generation of Little Cup has ever possessed. To add insult to injury, Helioptile has access to Dark Pulse to hit the Ghosts that are unable to even touch it with their STAB Ghost-type attacks. Like many typical Electric types, this one has high Speed, good Special Attack, mediocre defenses, and a painstaking weakness to Ground. But, something Helioptile has that they don't possess is... Surf. Yes, you read that correctly. Helioptile can use Surf. Would-be Ground-type counters get washed up like old men, and switching in is generally too big of a risk for them if they want to block the Electric STAB moves. Parabolic Charge is a new move this generation, and it is the signature move of Helioptile and its evolution. It serves as a health-draining move, and this can be useful to assist in survivability, but the 50 Base Power it has is a little underwhelming. To be fair, with STAB factored in, Parabolic Charge is as powerful as a non-STAB Giga Drain, and it recovers the same amount of health. Thunderbolt and Volt Switch will probably prove to be better choices of attacks instead, as the power and utility of those are much more reliable, but the healing could very well come in handy at clutch moments in a battle. As Steel can be expected to see more offensive usage this generation, Helioptile's resistance to it is a nice touch, as well as its resistance to Flying. This wild card of a Pokémon has a mixed bag of good things going for it, and should certainly be fun to use in the metagame.


Little Cup Pokémon Freed From Captivity

In addition to the batch of brand new Pokémon that have been introduced, all the Pokémon that were banned last generation in Little Cup bar Scyther (same base stat total as its evolution Scizor) have been released from banishment and have returned for XY Little Cup with a vengeance. Meditite is back and ready to punch holes in the opposition with Pure Power raising its Attack power to terrifying levels. Carvanha's remarkable offensive prowess combined with Speed Boost is back to rage mercilessly through the tier. Gligar makes its return as a reliable user of Defog, in addition to being the colossal threat it once was with its STAB Earthquake and Acrobatics antics. Sneasel reenters the Little Cup scene as an avid user of the newly buffed Knock Off, which it gets STAB from, to remove items left and right while also leaving bitter destruction in its wake with its impressive power and blistering Speed, outrunning even most Choice Scarf carriers (it actually may be banned again in the near future). Yanma is back with its super-accurate Hypnosis thanks to Compound Eyes, as well as its powerful offensive sets with Speed Boost; it now has a reverberating STAB Bug Buzz that ignores Substitutes. The juggernaut Tangela rejoins the arena with its amazing physical bulk, its base 100 Special Attack, and a slew of status moves to corrupt its victims with. Last but not least, Vulpix brings its scorching Drought ability back to Little Cup to turn up the heat, benefiting both Fire-types and Chlorophyll carriers alike, and adding a new auto-weather element to the tier. These seven previously banned Pokémon from last generation have pent-up rage and mean serious business. Players will have to be careful when dealing with these, as they weren't considered LC Ubers and banned in the past for nothing. It's such irony that the creatures that have been freed from being in captivity for so long are taking no prisoners now. Also returning to Little Cup is the item Berry Juice, which restores 20 HP after the holder's health drops below half of its maximum, allowing any Pokémon the chance to shrug off a hit like it's nothing, but only once!


Rather than Little Cup being below NU, it is a tier that is completely standalone. Pokémon battles at level 5 are completely different from battles at level 100, from the way stat spreads work to the way damage is calculated. Included in this tier are many Pokémon that never see any use in any other tiers and this is your chance to use them where they are viable in a totally new environment. If you need a break from the metagame(s) you're used to playing, Little Cup is sure to be a breath of fresh air that might actually have you addicted over time. And with all these new additions from XY, combined with new battle mechanics and Pokémon from last generation's banlist on the loose, it's sure to be a fun-fest that has something for everyone. The best part of this is that it's just getting started! The metagame has barely begun, and new strategies and ideas have yet to even surface. Be sure to check out the unraveling of XY Little Cup, and feel free to get involved with its development. It's sure to be full of action! Come and witness the dawn of a new era of Little Cup in the Smogon community now!

"Wanna take a break from battling big, scary, fully-evolved monsters? Try Little Cup, where cutemons roam!" - Chieliee

"In LC, you can use cutemons and get mad respect for doing so. What else can I say?" - comatthew6

"It's fucking adorable." - prem

"LC is fast-paced... Fast-paced is fun... Fun is good." - macle

"I play LC because it's very unique. You don't get your standard level 100 play; you don't even get your standard level 100 Pokémon. It's something totally different. I also play LC because the uniqueness lends itself to develop new strategies that you wouldn't see elsewhere in competitive Pokémon. Much like Doubles creates a totally new metagame environment by adding two more Pokémon on the field at a time, LC creates a new environment with different mechanics due to the fact that every Pokémon is level 5. This allows for cool strategies that you wouldn't see anywhere else and is much of the reason why I play and love LC." - Electrolyte

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