LC Viability Shift from BW to XY

By Kingler12345 and Goddess Briyella. Art by Bummer.
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With each new generation of Pokémon, changes can always be expected, and the ever-evolving Little Cup metagame received plenty with XY. As shown by the transitions of previous generations, changes to types, moves, and abilities are not uncommon, and these will, in combination with all of the totally new additions to the game, add to or take away from the relevance of pre-existing strategies and advantages, forcing players to think of new approaches to the newer eras of competitive battling in order to keep their skills sharp. This piece will specifically cover the transition of Little Cup from BW and BW2 to XY, and will touch on the increased usefulness of some Pokémon from BW, as well as some BW hard-hitters that have been taken down a notch or two, and how they all contributed to Little Cup's most recent viability shift.

Major XY Additions

Fairy-types were a huge addition to Pokémon, and their introduction has affected Little Cup in numerous ways. They brought with them handy resistances to Dark, Fighting, and Bug, and this fact alone was enough to make them stand out in competitive play, but it did not stop there. Two highly unappreciated offensive types, Poison and Steel, happened to be the only two types that could hit Fairy-types for super effective damage, which not only added viability to attacks of these types, but also to Pokémon of these types, which could now benefit more from using their STAB moves. Fairy-types also came equipped with an enormously significant immunity to Dragon-type moves. Another major change regarding type interaction is that Steel-types lost their resistances to Dark- and Ghost-type attacks, meaning that their walling capabilities took a hit, and this actually made some Steel-types, such as Bronzor, now weak to these types if their secondary typing happened to be weak to them.

In the moves department, there were a handful of changes and additions that have shaken up Little Cup quite a bit. Knock Off received a buff to 65 base power as well as a 1.5x damage bonus if its target is holding an item when it is used. This gave many Dark-types in the tier a viable new attacking option that was not only highly potent, but also crippled its targets permanently by depriving them of their item, which many Pokémon depend on to function well. Steel-types no longer resist Dark, so this makes Knock Off very tough to deal with. Defog was also improved, and is now to get rid of entry hazards from both sides of the battlefield; while this had a larger distribution than Rapid Spin and was more reliable by far, it also meant that the team using it wouldn't be able to reliably use hazards either. A new entry hazard called Sticky Web was also introduced, and it is one that causes all grounded foes to have their Speed decreased by one stage upon entering battle; this can be used to secure Speed advantages against opposing teams and to also take the fright out of facing faster Pokémon such as Abra. Lastly, sound-based moves became capable of hitting targets through Substitutes, as if the Pokémon wasn't even protected by them.

Things That Have Increased in Viability


Pawniard is a bit like its big brother Bisharp in that it failed to be anything spectacular in its respective tier last generation. However, XY blessed it with a handful of new advantages that gave it the opportunity to shine. As far as the newly buffed Knock Off goes, Pawniard is by far its most frightening user. Steel's loss of its resistance to Dark also makes dealing with Pawniard's Knock Off an even bigger problem. Also, with Defog being so common in the metagame, Pawniard gains a lot of opportunities to switch into its premier users, such as Vullaby, and gain a +2 Attack boost via its Defiant ability. Base 85 Attack is nothing to laugh at, especially after a boost, and it allows Pawniard to easily clear through entire teams if opposing players are not careful. It also gets near-perfect coverage with its STAB attacks, as Dark + Steel is only resisted by other Pawniard, Houndour, and Carvanha (and the latter two have poor bulk, so are 2HKOed anyway). Access to Sucker Punch lets Pawniard bypass its mediocre Speed in order to nail faster enemies if necessary, and the number of switches it forces gives it many opportunities to set up with Swords Dance or lay down Stealth Rock. Pawniard also has nice natural bulk, meaning that almost nothing can OHKO it without a super effective hit, making it a reliable means of wreaking havoc on the opposition. Pawniard is hurt by the popularity of Fighting-types such as Mienfoo and Timburr, as well as naturally bulky checks like Larvesta and Porygon, but it is easily one of the best Pokémon in the current metagame, and one that every team should be prepared for.


Vullaby, like Pawniard, failed to really stand out in last generation's metagame, but it has now cemented its title as one of the premier users of Defog in XY Little Cup. Indeed, this generation brought a bunch of mechanics changes that vastly benefited Vullaby, including the boost to Knock Off's power, Steel being hit neutrally by Dark, and the Defog buff. While Defog only removed hazards on the opponent's side of the field in BW, it now does so on both sides in XY. Vullaby has great natural bulk and access to Overcoat, which lets it counter Chlorophyll sweepers thanks to its newfound immunity to Sleep Powder. The fact that Vullaby is a defensive self-sustaining supporter is complemented by the fact that it is a Dark-type not weak to Fighting, and this goes a long way, especially considering the increased popularity of running Knock Off on Fighting-types. It also has a wide support movepool, consisting of the newly buffed Defog alongside Roost, Whirlwind, and Taunt, as well as access to Brave Bird as a strong STAB attack and Knock Off for crippling enemies, allowing for the more offensive members on its team to clean up afterward. The introduction of the Fairy-type gave Vullaby another weakness and Pokémon like Misdreavus a weapon against it in the form of Dazzling Gleam, but despite this setback, Vullaby is hands-down one of the most prominent support Pokémon in the tier and the best user of Defog there is, making it quite a bit more valuable this generation.


Normal/Flying-types were generally underwhelming in BW Little Cup, largely because stronger and more reliable users of Normal STAB exist and Flying-type offense was usually left to Murkrow. The best Taillow could manage in BW LC was a Guts + Toxic Orb set with Facade and Brave Bird, which was very strong, but it lacked the coverage needed to get around Rock- and Steel-types, and it was worn down rather quickly by Toxic poison damage and Brave Bird recoil. However, XY has blessed Taillow with a super-powerful exclusive move that no other Pokémon in Little Cup can lay claim to: Boomburst. This 140 Base Power STAB Normal-type attack that hits through Substitutes, with literally no drawback, easily covers the fact that Taillow's Special Attack is a pitiful base 30, and with a Choice Specs equipped, it handily 2HKOes most of the Pokémon in the metagame.

Taillow's access to the Scrappy ability also means that Ghost-types can't switch in for free against Boomburst, making it a lot more easily spammable. Its amazing 19 Speed also allows it to outspeed the clear majority of the tier and even tie with a few major threats, and this is a great attribute as well. Air Slash with Choice Specs makes for a better Flying-type STAB option than Brave Bird, and the lack of recoil and 30% flinch chance that come with it are incredible. U-turn can be used to capitalize on switches and maintain momentum, while Hidden Power Fighting rounds out the set nicely, hitting the Rock- and Steel-types that wall Taillow's STAB moves for hard super effective damage. Mid-game, it requires good prediction to exert its highest potential, particularly due to the fact that its frailty does it no favors when it comes to taking hits, but late-game, it becomes a merciless cleaner that easily blows everything away with consistent blasts from its Choice Specs-boosted STAB Boomburst, while suffering no residual damage whatsoever. No matter what stage of a battle it is used in, it's safe to say that almost nothing can safely switch in and expect to survive the next turn. Taillow still has its faults, being the glass cannon that it is, but offensively speaking, a well-played Boomburst Taillow is definitely something to be feared in XY Little Cup.

Fairy Retypings

Along with the great Fairy-type newcomers that XY brought, such as Spritzee, a handful of pre-existing Pokémon were revamped to have this new typing, which gave most of them an entirely new way to play and made dealing with them a very different endeavor. Snubbull's type changed from pure Normal to pure Fairy, and it honestly could not be better off. The Fighting-types that once used Snubbull as their punching bag are now running in fear from its STAB Play Rough and its newfound resistances to Fighting- and Dark-type attacks. Its access to Earthquake allows it to hit all 3 Fairy-resistant types (Poison, Steel, and Fire) for hard super effective damage, backed up by its impressive base 80 Attack stat, and it also has access to other powerful coverage options such as Crunch and Close Combat for putting some serious hurt on other enemies. It also gets Thunder Wave to cripple switch-ins that come in as a fleeing foe escapes, which grants Snubbull and its teammates a welcome Speed advantage.

Cottonee's newfound resistances as a Grass/Fairy-type allow it many more opportunities to make use of its disruptive options and its support moves, and it is also overjoyed to no longer have a weakness to U-turn. It picked up a nasty 4x weakness to Poison though, but to be brutally honest, Cottonee wasn't good at taking those kinds of attacks in the first place. Dark- and Fighting-types have lost security both offensively and defensively when facing Cottonee now, and must be wary of its STAB Dazzling Gleam in addition to its Prankster status-wielding antics.

Mime Jr.'s retyping to Psychic/Fairy made it into something other Psychic-types only dream of: A Pokémon with a 4x resistance to Fighting and a neutrality to Dark and Bug. In addition, it still has the Filter ability to lessen its weakness to Ghost and its newly picked up weaknesses to Poison and Steel, although these are not as immensely popular as the others are in Little Cup. Mime Jr.'s new typing allows it opportunities to serve as a potent special tank, a setup sweeper, and also as a link in a Baton Pass chain (these began seeing more viability this Generation since Torchic can now have Speed Boost and Baton Pass on the same set) that not only deals with most Fighting- and Poison-types, but also can reliably pass special stat boosts and Substitutes to its comrades.


Poison-types have long been overlooked for the most part despite their natural resistances to important attacking types such as Fighting and Bug, and have gone even more unappreciated in the offense department, as the only type that Poison could hit for super effective damage was Grass (Fire, Ice, Flying, and Bug did the same job and had other advantages as well, making them much more practical). However, as touched on previously, Poison-types now have an additional advantage against the new Fairy-type, both offensively and defensively, giving them more credibility as a force on the battlefield.

Tentacool, a classic example of a Pokémon whose Poison typing was often deemed an Achilles' heel that only served to make it weak to Psychic- and Ground-type attacks in the past, can now actually be used to reliably wall Fairy-type moves in addition to its already impressive set of resistances, and this helps it immensely in supporting its team when combined with its impressive special bulk. Opportunities to use its utility options such as Rapid Spin and Knock Off have never been more open for Tentacool, and it stands out now more than it ever did.

Bulbasaur, along with its other Poison-type Chlorophyll-carrying friends, has seen a nice viability increase for several significant reasons. In addition to its advantage against the new Fairy-type, Vulpix's release back into Little Cup this Generation has made sun offense quite potent under the right conditions. STAB Solar Beam (without requiring a charge), Sleep Powder, and doubled Speed combine with Bulbasaur's Poison-type STAB to make it a force to be reckoned with, and often one that is not easy to bring down. Bellsprout can function in a very similar fashion and, while it is notably less capable of taking hits, it does have access to Weather Ball, which is a lot stronger than Hidden Power Fire in sunlight (Bulbasaur has access to Weather Ball as well but it is incompatible with Chlorophyll); Oddish can work as well, as it has respectable bulk and access to Dazzling Gleam for having a hard hit to throw against Fighting- and Dark-type enemies.

You might be wondering why Trubbish is getting a mention here, as last generation it was absolute garbage, both figuratively and literally. Well, its array of important resistances combined with its Sticky Hold ability allow it to comfortably wall Fighting-types that use Knock Off as coverage without fear of losing its item. Additionally, the release of the previously banned Berry Juice item combined with Trubbish's access to Recycle means that it can fully recover its health repeatedly and at any time. Trubbish is also deceptively fast, hitting an impressive 17 Speed at maximum, and its tenacity allows it ample opportunities to stack Spikes to help its team out offensively. To top it all off, something very important for Poison-types in the current Little Cup metagame is that Ground-type and Psychic-type attackers have become notably less popular due to the 5-turn weather nerf and Knock Off's improved power, respectively, and this in turn lessens the likelihood that the opponent the ability to hit Poison-types with super effective STAB attacks.

Things That Have Decreased in Viability


Bronzor's unique Steel / Psychic typing and immunity to Ground made it an interesting defensive Pokémon in BW Little Cup. Its great bulk and ample number of resistances made it a tough nut to crack, and its access to Stealth Rock, Reflect, and Light Screen made it a great team supporter. What really made it shine, however, was its access to Recycle and Calm Mind, which allowed it to boost up its special stats while recovering off damage by repeatedly Recycling an Oran Berry. This time around, it got an even better item to Recycle in Berry Juice, giving it a self-recovery role similar to that of the aforementioned Trubbish. However, the rise of the improved Knock Off blew this strategy way out of the water in Bronzor's case, as not only does the increased popularity of Knock Off endanger its Berry Juice and prevent it from being Recycled back, but the Steel-type's loss of its Dark resistance this generation actually makes Bronzor take super effective damage from Knock Off, typically resulting in an easy 2HKO at least. It maintains a decent defensive niche as being one of the very few Pokémon in Little Cup to wall the nearly perfect Fairy + Ground coverage, but it's safe to say that, with the wave of changes that came with XY, Bronzor was definitely shafted and its viability took a huge plummet. As a result, it is hard to justify using Bronzor on a Little Cup team these days.


Clamperl was without a doubt the scariest Shell Smash sweeper of BW Little Cup; with a Timid nature, it maxed out at 17 Special Attack... that is, until its DeepSeaTooth item was factored in, which doubled its Special Attack stat to a monstrous 34, and was further skyrocketed to 68 after a Shell Smash. This obscenely powerful threat had its limitations, however, as its defensive stats were also lowered by Shell Smash, and holding DeepSeaTooth meant that it couldn't hold Eviolite to help it with taking hits, so it usually required a good bit of support to achieve its full potential in battle. This generation, the increased popularity of Knock Off makes it even more of a liability for a Pokémon's viability to be largely dependent on its item, and Clamperl is unfortunately among the handful of Pokémon that fall into this category. Not only does item removal mean that Clamperl's attacking prowess is essentially cut in half, but it will also take a fatal chunk of damage from Knock Off after a Shell Smash, since the attack will get the boost from its target holding an item, and Clamperl will also have had its Defense lowered by its own boosting move. Even if Clamperl has tremendous team support, its offensive and defensive capabilities are too threatened by the prevalence of Knock Off, which can now be expected on every Little Cup team. And even as intimidating as Clamperl can be if it manages to set up under the right conditions, it is usually unable to shine in the XY Little Cup metagame and is often forgone in favor of other, more reliable Shell Smash sweepers like Tirtouga or Dwebble.

Sand & Anti-Sand

Sand offense was a large part of BW Little Cup, and given how dominating it was, it was important that players were able to deal with it. Standard sand teams had Hippopotas as a Stealth Rock lead and also as the enabler for Sand Rush Drilbur to outspeed the entire tier as part of its sweeping shenanigans. The fact that auto-weather was permanent last generation usually made beating sand offense incredibly difficult for players who did not bring weather of their own. Snover was the perfect counter to sand, as it resisted Ground, changed the weather to hail and therefore canceled Sand Rush's Speed increase, and could easily OHKO both Hippopotas and Drilbur with its 100% accurate STAB Blizzard. The winner of this weather war was often decided by whichever player could knock out the opponent's weather summoner first, and this clash was made interesting by a myriad of factors. Snover's huge number of weaknesses, as well as its crippling weakness to Stealth Rock, made it very delicate and meant that it had to be played with utmost care to reliably combat sand throughout battles. On the flip side, Hippopotas and Drilbur were weak to both of Snover's STAB moves and its Giga Drain additionally restored any health lost due to attacks, hazard damage, or residual damage from sand, and Drilbur had no means of recovery. It is widely accepted that, aside from what were commonly referred to as "the 3 Ms" (Mienfoo, Murkrow, and Misdreavus), the tug-of-war between sand and anti-sand in BW LC somewhat defined the tier.

However, the auto-weather nerf has caused all of this to lose its significance in XY Little Cup. Sand Stream now only lasts for 5 turns (8 turns with Smooth Rock), which only gives Drilbur a maximum of four turns in which to do anything; first you must set up sand with Hippopotas, switch to Drilbur, set up, AND attack, which of course assumes that the player wastes no time and is able to directly switch from Hippopotas to Drilbur... not to mention that the opponent can just switch in a check and waste the player's effort. Drilbur now resides in the more humble B rank in XY LC, where it serves as a reliable user of Mold Breaker STAB Earthquake that still works as a Stealth Rock layer and Rapid Spinner. Snover is still a potent BlizzSpammer and a powerful Pokémon that can check most Water-types, but its main niche—that of keeping sand in check almost single-handedly—is sadly gone, which caused the need for its use to fade away.


Dragon-types were decent contenders in BW Little Cup. One Dragon Dance often secured victories mid- to late-game after important checks or users of priority were removed. Axew's high Attack and access to Superpower made it quite a formidable Dragon-type setup sweeper that could also mow down Steel-types, and Bagon's access to Wish and Fire Blast made it unique as a more defensively inclined Dragon-type. Dratini made for a formidable late-game setup sweeper with Extreme Speed, which allowed it to wreak havoc against opposing teams while overriding any attempts to outspeed Dratini with +1 priority attacks. Even with Scraggy becoming a more popular Dragon Dance sweeper with its better STAB types and its ability to recover health with Drain Punch, it's safe to say that Axew, Bagon, and Dratini were a potent force last generation if played correctly or left unchecked.

But oh, how the mighty have fallen. The transition to XY Little Cup was not very kind to Dragon-types; in this new metagame, these mythical beasts fare poorly in general. The introduction of the new Fairy-type has severely dented the viability of Dragons, as not only are they weak to Fairy-type attacks, but Fairy-type Pokémon are actually immune to Dragon-type moves entirely. This forces Dragons to run moves with horrible overall coverage to hit them for super effective damage, and really warps the effectiveness of their movesets in the metagame at large. Even if Axew does run, say, Poison Jab, Spritzee can easily take one at +1 and hit back hard for a OHKO with Moonblast. Also, even if a Dragon-type happens to knock out a Pokémon with Outrage, the opponent can bring in a Fairy-type and threaten it with a super effective STAB attack while it's locked into it. As long as the opponent has a Fairy-type in good health, a Dragon-type on an XY Little Cup team is always a liability and is not worth running in most cases despite the handy resistances it has to Water, Grass, Electric, and Fire.


Changes can always be expected as the generations pass, and these changes may increase or decrease the viability of certain Pokémon depending on how the additions, improvements, nerfs, and mechanics changes affect the surrounding metagame. These are just some of the most relevant groundbreaking shifts in viability that BW Little Cup Pokémon underwent during the transition to XY, but there are many more, and perhaps many that have yet to be discovered, as Generation VI is still fairly new. One thing is certain though, and that's that anything is subject to change when new generations are introduced in Pokémon!

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