Viability Doesn't Always Run in The Family - Part 2

By MattL and Goddess Briyella. Art by Bummer and elcheeso.
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There are several instances in competitive Pokémon in which one member of an evolutionary family struggles to stand out while another member of that same family is a top-tier threat. Some Pokémon, such as Ferrothorn and Conkeldurr, have all members of their evolutionary line worth using in competitive battling. However, there are others who are good in their own rights, but have less fortunate family members when it comes to the battlefield. This second installment of "Viability Doesn't Always Run In The Family" will cover a few more specific examples of this. First-stage evolutions play in the Little Cup tier, which is where their viability will be analyzed. In addition, their fully evolved counterparts will be evaluated on their performance in the most played tier: Overused.


Dwebble is pretty close to the definition of all-purpose. Like Tirtouga, its Shell Smash set from BW has been vastly improved with the addition of Berry Juice to the XY Little Cup metagame. With both Sturdy and Berry Juice, it is nearly guaranteed to take at least three hits to knock Dwebble out with only a few specific exceptions; additionally, giving Dwebble zero HP investment gives it exactly 21 HP, which allows the maximum possible health recovery from Berry Juice after being taken down to Sturdy by a powerful hit, and after its health is fully replenished, Sturdy will be restored and will guarantee that Dwebble survives yet another attack, no matter how strong. Rock Blast allows it to break Substitutes and bypass any target's Sturdy ability or Focus Sash after it boosts.

In addition to its potent setup sweeper approach, Dwebble is also one of the best entry hazard layers in the metagame, with access to both Stealth Rock and Spikes, as well as Rock-type STAB to threaten the Flying-types that often run Defog to remove its hazards. Its combination of Berry Juice and Sturdy is also incredibly useful for helping it set these hazards up in order to help out its team offensively, and will typically guarantee at least 3 layers of hazards, something a Spikes-stacker in any metagame would usually find difficult to pull off. The fact that Dwebble functions well with both of these sets makes it hard to prepare for, as the opponent often won't know which set to expect at first, which is a great advantage. It doesn't have many resistances, but regardless of how Dwebble is used, it is great at what it does and sure to hold its weight on any offensive Little Cup team.


Unfortunately, the same can't be said for Dwebble's evolution. In a word, Crustle is underwhelming in OU. It has good physical bulk and access to both Stealth Rock and Spikes, but those are just about its only redeeming qualities. It doesn't have good special bulk, and its average Attack stat isn't impressive when coupled with its horrendous base 45 Speed. As a hazard layer, Crustle is overshadowed by Deoxys-D, Deoxys-S, and Ferrothorn, all of which have far better utility movepools. Deoxys-S can lay hazards very quickly and use a fast Taunt in addition to having amazing coverage attacks, and Deoxys-D has reliable recovery as well as Magic Coat and Taunt. Ferrothorn has a superior defensive typing and bulk as well as useful utility moves in Leech Seed and Thunder Wave. Crustle's typing actually leaves it with only two resistances, Normal and Poison, both of which are very uncommon, and overall there's really no reason to use it to stack hazards when it pales in comparison to the competition.

The other niche Crustle has is access to the coveted Shell Smash. However, Crustle isn't horribly threatening after using it. Base 95 Attack is not spectacular by OU standards. Even with Stealth Rock up, after a Shell Smash, Jolly Crustle fails to OHKO Azumarill over half the time with Stone Edge. On the other hand, Adamant Crustle has a pitiful 189 Speed, which means that after a Shell Smash, it is still outsped by every common Choice Scarf user except Tyranitar, which beats Crustle anyway. OU is also filled with priority that doesn't care about Crustle's Shell Smash, and Crustle is weak to both Bullet Punch and Aqua Jet. Especially compared to boosters such as Mega Pinsir and Manaphy who are very threatening after just one turn of setting up, Crustle is more manageable and shouldn't be used to sweep in OU.


Behold what is by far Little Cup's overall bulkiest Pokémon. With impressive 90/75/75 bulk, literally nothing in the tier is better at reliably tanking hits from both the physical and special sides of offense. Munchlax has superior special bulk, and Onix and Rhyhorn have superior physical bulk, but they are somewhat lacking in their other respective defensive stat, whereas Lickitung is designed to tank hits from both ends without a sweat. Its pure Normal typing gives it only a single weakness as well, and the granted immunity to Ghost-type moves keeps Misdreavus from steamrolling over it after it sets up, which is very significant for a bulky wall in Little Cup. Where Lickitung really shines is when it comes to Wish support, as its huge HP stat lets it pass massive Wishes to its teammates as well as keep its own health intact; Lickitung faces huge competition in this role from Spritzee, which has better utility and important resistances, but less bulk all around.

In addition to Wish, Lickitung can also reliably use Heal Bell to rid its team of status afflictions, and this makes for a very reliable support Pokémon when coupled with its bulk. But Lickitung's capabilities as a wall don't stop there. It can run Toxic stall with Wish and Protect to slowly kill off its enemies, and it even gets Earthquake to hit both types (Poison and Steel) that are immune to the poison status. It has access to Curse to make it become a self-sustaining physical tank that's difficult to bring down, and it even has Swords Dance for raw physical offense. Dragon Tail can work for phazing setup sweepers and racking up hazard damage against opposing teams, and it gets Knock Off for Dark-type coverage and to deprive foes of their precious items. Its special movepool is massive, including Ice Beam, Thunderbolt, Fire Blast, Shadow Ball, as well as a ton of other moves. It's disappointing that Pokémon movesets are limited to just four moves, and this is one of Lickitung's biggest problems due to its vast number of options, but this also makes it unpredictable on the battlefield as well as customizable to be able to deal with almost anything that a player wants to be able to overcome. Lickitung can easily fit onto almost any Little Cup team and functions beautifully with cores that use balance and stall.


Lickitung doesn't gain that much of an improvement upon evolving to Lickilicky. Similar to Lickitung, Lickilicky's best role is as a cleric. It has respectable 110 / 95 / 95 bulk, and while it only has one weakness, Fighting is a pretty common attacking type, and Lickilicky has no useful resistances given that it can't do much to any of the tier's Ghost-types. Granted, it has an incredible offensive movepool, but the problem is that base 85 Attack and 80 Special Attack aren't very impressive, and although Lickilicky is bulky, it's too slow and not strong enough to be a good tank.

In terms of being a cleric, Lickilicky faces competition from Pokémon such as Sylveon, which has comparable overall bulk, a superior defensive typing, and a far higher damage output. In lower tiers, Lickilicky's bulk makes it more unbreakable, but OU has too many Pokémon that are extremely powerful, especially with all of the insanely strong Mega Evolutions that can break through it. Even though Lickilicky has Dragon Tail, it's still setup fodder for Fairy-types, such as Mega Mawile and Calm Mind Clefable. Overall, Lickilicky has several attributes that make it worth using in lower tiers, but in the OU environment, Lickilicky is simply too mediocre to be effective.


This Pokémon is literally trash, but on the battlefield, it's quite a different story. In XY Little Cup, its Sticky Hold ability that was previously considered unimportant now allows it to make use of the newly released Berry Juice and Recycle to continuously heal itself of all damage, without fear of it being removed via Knock Off. This more or less makes Trubbish the hardest Pokémon in the metagame to take down without managing an OHKO, and its resistances to common attacking types such as Fighting, Bug, and Fairy only give it more opportunities to wall the opposition while Recycling Berry Juice over and over. In the meantime, it can dish out decent damage with its STAB Gunk Shot and Drain Punch. Its 17 Speed stat is also very impressive for a wall like Trubbish, and it allows it to outspeed the majority of the metagame, as well as important threats such as Pawniard and Meditite.

While STAB Gunk Shot and Drain Punch for coverage might sound really powerful, the damage Trubbish can deal is kind of disappointing outside of hitting a weakness. While its offensive capabilities are lacking, it more than makes up for this by stacking Spikes. Trubbish's ability to wall a handful of important metagame threats and easily heal off damage often gives it plenty of turns to use Spikes, which limits the opponent's switching throughout the battle and greatly assists its more offensively inclined comrades with every layer that goes down. This makes Trubbish perfect for fitting on offensive teams, and its crucial resistances make it ideal for partnering with many Pokémon that are weak to Fighting-, Bug-, or Fairy-types, as it can cover their defensive liabilities. Finally, an often overlooked advantage that Trubbish has thanks to Sticky Hold is that it can safely switch in on Trick or Switcheroo at any time and nothing will happen; the move will fail. For foes that are using this trying to get rid of a Choice item, they will be locked into Trick or Switcheroo and will be forced to give Trubbish a free turn to use Recycle or Spikes as they switch out. With the huge amount of advantages Trubbish has this generation, it's safe to say that it is one of Little Cup's most well-rounded, versatile, and hard-to-kill creatures, and it is certain to maintain high usage due to its niche and trash-bag-full of other redeeming qualities.


Trubbish somewhat becomes trash in more than just a literal sense upon evolution. Garbodor is another case of a Pokémon that has niches, but is too mediocre for the OU environment. Aside from its base 95 Attack stat, which is not all that impressive, it has no base stat over 82. Garbodor actually has a pretty neat movepool in both offensive and supportive respects, but has neither the power nor bulk to use them effectively. Although Gunk Shot is a great STAB move and Poison got a buff offensively, it's still not a great offensive type. Garbodor has access to good coverage in Rock Blast and Drain Punch, but the fact remains that Garbodor simply isn't quite strong enough to be an offensive threat in OU, and its base 75 Speed isn't doing it any favors either.

Although Garbodor can learn Spikes, Toxic Spikes, and Pain Split, 80 / 82 / 82 bulk doesn't cut it when faced up against the dozens of offensive behemoths roaming in OU, including most of the Mega Pokémon. Similar to Crustle, Garbodor is flat-out inferior at hazard laying compared to Pokémon like Deoxys-D and Deoxys-S, and Toxic Spikes are even less relevant than they were last generation due to Defog's buff. The fact that Garbodor has recovery is nice, but it doesn't have the bulk to use Pain Split as effectively as it would like. Garbodor has a nice movepool but it is just too mediocre to succeed in OU.


The introduction of the new Fairy type in Little Cup was very detrimental to the baby dragons as a whole, and despite being one of the more respected Dragon-types in the tier, Dratini is no exception to this fact. On the bright side, its Shed Skin ability allows it to set up with Dragon Dance without fearing status too much, and its access to Extreme Speed gives it a weapon that it can use to outspeed all other priority attacks bar Fake Out (it also causes Sucker Punch to fail entirely), which can make it difficult to stop Dratini from sweeping once it gets going. It's worth noting that Dratini also has by far the most expansive movepool of all the Dragons in XY Little Cup, though most of these moves are generally not worth using due to being specially based when Dratini is designed as more of a physical sweeper.

With this handful of positive traits, it might appear that Dratini can make use of them to be a potent force in the Little Cup metagame. However, there are a few significant drawbacks that often keep it from seeing its full potential in battle. First of all, Dratini's STAB is only super effective on other Dragon-types, which are rarely ever seen; in addition, the popularity of Steel-types such as Ferroseed and Pawniard forces Dratini to run Fire Blast and use a nature that lowers one of its defenses, as to not take power away from this move or any of its physical attacks. Second, the prevalence of Fairy-types such as Spritzee and Snubbull keep Dratini at a huge disadvantage both offensively and defensively without even trying. Finally, Dratini's reliance on Life Orb to deal considerable damage and its rather disappointing stats mean that it isn't the greatest at taking hits, and its lack of recovery only worsens this problem. Due to the combination of these things, Dratini often finds it difficult to pull off a sweep even if it manages to get a free setup turn with Dragon Dance, and as such, it is usually not a good addition to teams...that is, at least until it achieves it final form.


Despite being introduced in Generation 1 and the arrival of Fairy-types, Dragonite continues to be one of OU's better Pokémon. It has a fantastic movepool, awesome overall stats, and Multiscale, an amazing ability for a Pokémon as bulky as Dragonite. With a huge base 134 Attack stat and Dragon Dance, Dragonite is often seen as a physical sweeper. Outrage is still ridiculously powerful; Dragonite just needs to make sure it doesn't spam Outrage while there are opposing Fairies still around. It has great coverage options in Earthquake, Fire Punch, and Thunder Punch to hit those who can handle its Dragon STAB, as well as amazing priority in Extreme Speed. Extreme Speed alone increases Dragonite's viability as a revenge killer and can also be used very effectively on Choice Band sets in which Dragonite can wallbreak or revenge kill. Additionally, Dragonite is perhaps the best carrier of the new item Weakness Policy because Dragonite has several common weaknesses, but Multiscale prevents it from taking too much damage from them if it's at full health.

These attributes are already great, but Dragonite is a very versatile Pokémon. With Roost, it can continually reactivate Multiscale and become much more difficult to take down, and 91 / 95 / 100 bulk isn't bad at all. Dragonite can even run a mixed set well with its usable base 100 Special Attack and nice movepool. For example, it can use Thunder and STAB Hurricane to function as a rain wallbreaker. In terms of offense, its base 80 Speed is fairly underwhelming, but Dragon Dance and Extreme Speed help mitigate that. Even though entry hazards are now more easily removed due to Defog, which allows Dragonite to retain its Multiscale much more easily, Fairy-types and its 4x weakness to Ice don't do it any favors. However, Dragonite is still one of the premier Pokémon in the tier due to its combination of bulk, power, and coverage, and has the ability to tear through teams.


Eevee is an interesting case in XY Little Cup. With Adaptability to make its STAB attacks deal double damage instead of the usual 1.5x damage, and with Eevee's access to Double-Edge and Last Resort, it is honestly capable of dealing the highest Normal-type damage out of anything in the tier. Apart from when facing the obvious Ghost-, Rock-, and Steel-types that wall its STAB attacks, Eevee's power is absolutely murderous and unsuspecting players are in for a huge surprise if they aren't prepared for it, and it even has Bite for crunching down on Ghost-types. STAB Quick Attack helps Eevee reasonably well with finishing off enemies.

However, it's ironic that Eevee has the potential to evolve into one of many types of Pokémon, because Eevee itself is incredibly one-dimensional. Normal-type offense is the only thing Eevee can do well, and the limitations of this are often enough to prevent it from being very successful in battle; Normal-type attacks are super effective on nothing, and Ghost- and Steel-types are relatively common. Its dependence on a Choice Band or Silk Scarf to make its attacks really sting means that it can't use Eviolite or Berry Juice to help it with taking damage, and Wish recovery can only do so much for it. What is probably Eevee's biggest problem, though, is the fact that bulky Fighting-types with Drain Punch are incredibly popular in Little Cup and can easily one-shot Eevee while restoring the health that may have been lost to its high-powered attacks. Eevee is certainly strong under the right conditions, but the great liabilities that come with its rather shallow approach are usually enough to keep it from achieving greatness.


Unlike the other examples, Eevee doesn't have one amazing evolution in OU; rather, it has multiple evolutions, some of which have notable niches in OU. While Sylveon isn't fantastic, it certainly isn't a bad choice in OU. It has a great Fairy typing, respectable overall bulk if it's made to be fully physically defensive, and access to Wish and Heal Bell, which make it a fine cleric. One way Sylveon differentiates itself from other Fairy-type clerics is how much immediate power it has. With Pixilate, Sylveon can essentially use a Life Orb Moonblast while holding Leftovers, which hits fairly hard off of base 110 Special Attack. This helps prevent Sylveon from being set-up fodder, as some clerics tend to be. Hyper Voice has the additional benefit of hitting through Substitutes and can be used effectively on a Choice Specs set. Sylveon is probably the overall best Eeveelution and is worth considering, despite it not being one of OU's best Pokémon.

Despite the fact that Espeon is stronger and faster than Keldeo in terms of base stats, its niche in OU doesn't stem from it being a potent special attacker. Instead, it has a unique and powerful ability in Magic Bounce and is the most important Pokémon on full Baton Pass teams for this reason. Unless it's up against an opponent with Mold Breaker or Teravolt, Espeon is not only immune to, but bounces back, moves such as Taunt, Encore, Whirlwind, and Roar, which would normally cripple Baton Pass teams. Additionally, it's possibly the most potent sweeper on Baton Pass teams due to its STAB Stored Power, as well as Dazzling Gleam to hit Dark-types. In the grand scheme of things, Espeon isn't that useful and is generally outclassed, but it is a very influential Pokémon in that it makes an entire powerful playstyle viable.


Charmander may appear great at first glance, as it has all the right tools to work as a potent sweeper, but it finds it hard to actually use most of the attributes that would allow it sweep. Its mediocre Attack and middling Speed can be easily remedied by virtue of Dragon Dance, and from there it can deal crazy damage with its STAB Flare Blitz. Its Fire typing and Solar Power ability give it stacks of boosts that it can use in sunlight to burn holes in its enemies. It can run Belly Drum with Berry Juice to maximize its physical offensive power and restore its health afterward, making it able to relentlessly tear through the competition. With all these boosting options, it appears that it can be incredible, right?

Well, Charmander has real problems both offensively and defensively, and despite its numerous options, these problems kind of put a stopper in anything Charmander tries to accomplish. The biggest problem Charmander has offensively is a lack of coverage; the only decent physical moves it gets to hit things that resist its STAB for super effective damage are Thunder Punch for Water-types and Rock Slide for opposing Fire-types, moves that are largely underwhelming for Charmander the majority of the time (75 Base Power is not that great without STAB). Charmander's Solar Power approach either requires it to have Vulpix as a partner or to run Sunny Day itself, and it doesn't even get Solar Beam to use with this strategy. The Belly Drum set Charmander can run is outclassed by Magby, which also gets Thunder Punch, has an awesome 19 Speed, and can use Mach Punch for priority. Defensively, Charmander does not have the bulk to put up with damage and it also has no recovery, and the fact that Charmander requires setup turns of some kind to be a powerful Pokémon means that it usually is not worth it, especially considering the aforementioned lack of coverage that holds it back after having set up successfully.


Charizard went from being NU to one of OU's most influential Pokémon in the generation shift. Unfortunately, regular Charizard is still not that good, but it has two amazing Mega Evolutions that are both pretty different. Mega Charizard-Y is a powerful special wallbreaker with a great ability in Drought. A huge base 159 Special Attack is enough to do the job, but Mega Charizard-Y also has several extremely powerful attacks. With its sun-boosted STAB Fire Blast, one-turn Solar Beams for Water-types, and Focus Blast, Mega Charizard-Y has terrifying coverage and power. It can also use Dragon Pulse to hit many of the Pokémon that can otherwise switch into it, or Roost to help with its nasty 4x Stealth Rock weakness. Mega Charizard-Y has acceptable, albeit not fantastic, bulk and Speed, but it still does a great job at opening up holes in teams, as very few Pokémon can switch into it.

Mega Charizard-X goes in a completely different direction, and it's this unpredictability that helps make Charizard so potent. Base 130 Attack isn't that amazing for a Mega Evolution, but the 33% boost from Tough Claws makes it a powerhouse. Mega Charizard-X is one of the best, if not the best, Dragon Dance users in OU, due to its ability to often end games after just one turn of setup. It has powerful STAB attacks that are boosted by Tough Claws and have great coverage together, as well as Earthquake for hitting Heatran. It can even use bulky Dragon Dance or Will-O-Wisp sets with Roost, as these are great answers to Pokémon such as Thundurus. Mega Charizard-X also loses its 4x Stealth Rock weakness, allowing it to switch in a little more freely. With two very powerful and different Mega Evolutions, Charizard is definitely one of the best Pokémon in OU.

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