"A Little Help?!" - A Guide to the Intricacies of LC

Table of Contents

Introduction and Background

Little Cup was introduced in Pokémon Stadium 2 as one of the "Stadium Cups," or particular modes in which the player had stipulations on his or her team. The stipulation for Little Cup was that only Pokémon hatched from eggs could participate, which included only Pokémon that could evolve but had just been hatched at, in accordance with ADV mechanics, level 5.

Though players slowly began to pick up this odd tier due to its uniqueness in star Pokémon and viable strategies, it was not until DPP that Little Cup (LC) finally had a chance as a competitive metagame at Smogon under the direction of vader, who brought it over from Stadium 2 with the earliest medium for LC communication, the Little Cup Forum. A few mechanics had changed with breeding, and the logistics of the tier had changed as well; for example, eggs now hatched at level 1, but LC was still played at level 5, which allowed easy application of EV spreads.

DPP LC brought forth a small, tightly knit community and strategies that predominantly revolved around hyper offense. By BW, LC began to progress both as a metagame and as a community. The introduction of Eviolite allowed more balanced strategies to prosper, and the community thrived. Now that XY LC has arrived, the metagame is entirely fresh, the playerbase is growing quickly, and playing LC has never been more fun. Hopefully, this guide will provide you with all of the tools you need to join the fun!


Pokémon Eligibility

In order to be used in LC, a Pokémon must comply with the following criteria:


Little Cup, like other metagames, uses clauses to ensure the most competitive environment. These are:

Banned Moves and Abilities

Banned Pokémon



Scyther's base stats, which are actually the same in total as its evolution, Scizor, are simply too good to allow Scyther to battle with the rest of LC. Scyther has access to everything it needs to abuse these high stats, including boosting moves (Swords Dance and Agility) and strong STAB (Technician-boosted Aerial Ace and Bug Bite). It even has priority, again boosted by Technician, in Quick Attack. Scyther has never been unbanned and likely never will be.



While not as extreme as Scyther in stats, Sneasel still has excellent offensive STAB moves and a simply brilliant stat spread for its role. Sneasel was actually temporarily allowed in early XY LC, but it was banned due to its extremely strong Knock Off (which also was buffed in the transition to XY), which by itself, or in conjunction with Ice Punch and Brick Break, was able to wear down Sneasel's common switch-ins. Furthermore, Sneasel was difficult to revenge kill due to its access to a priority move, Ice Shard.



Tangela was of the first Pokémon banned by the LC Council in XY. Tangela was originally allowed into the metagame, but it was found to be simply too strong and bulky, especially when running its signature set of Sleep Powder, Solarbeam, and Ancient Power with support from Drought Vulpix. Even outside of the sun, Tangela could run a devastatingly resilient defensive set or an extremely strong and durable Life Orb set that used Leaf Storm and Regenerator. Tangela was banned by a unanimous vote from the LC council.



Yanma was the second Pokémon banned by the LC Council in XY. Yanma had two destructive sets that were simply too strong for the Little Cup metagame: a Speed Boost set, which easily sweep opponents late-game when priority users had been eliminated, and a Compound Eyes set that utilized Hypnosis and Yanma's 20 Speed to cripple all potential counters and either set up with Substitute or get out with STAB U-turn. Ultimately, the proliferation of the second set, one that was simply too fast, strong, and unstoppable for LC, was what pushed Yanma over the edge and led to a unanimous vote.



Gligar's unique typing and great offensive and defensive stats were what led to its inevitable ban from XY LC. It could run a variety of sets, from a support hazard setter to a Swords Dance sweeper. After the ban of Yanma and Tangela, Gligar became the most over-centralizing Pokémon in the tier, proved by an astounding 47% usage rate. Little Cup became a metagame filled with Choice Scarf Hidden Power Ice Pokémon with the intent of taking on Gligar, and the "Fly Scorpion"'s versatility was deemed to much for the tier.


Aw, look at how cute and innocent Swirlix looks. Wrong! This new Fairy-type sweeper was one of, if not, the most terrifying Pokémon in Little Cup. Capable of running a variety of sets, Swirlix began to dominate the tier with its fantastic combination of Belly Drum, Cotton Guard, Calm Mind, and Unburden, being even further bolstered by a diverse movepool. There was no way to know if your "Swirlix counter" would actually counter the opposing Swirlix, and this versatility was just too much for Little Cup to handle.



Murkrow's fantastic offensive stats, coupled with access to solid STAB moves in Brave Bird and Dark Pulse, made it a huge threat in Little Cup. It could effectively sweep with an extremely threatening Life Orb set, an annoying Substitute + Thief set, or even a Prankster + Haze utility set. Its offensive capabilities, useful support movepool, and ability to disrupt an opponent's entire plan led to its ban from the tier.



At first glance, Meditite's stats seem underwhelming, but it was blessed with Pure Power, an amazing ability that doubled its Attack to a toppling 28. This, in conjunction with a solid movepool and decent bulk, made Meditite the most devastating wallbreaker in Little Cup. A Choice Scarf would patch up Meditite's average Speed stat, and an Eviolite would mend its rather mediocre bulk, increasing Meditite's viability as a threat.



Misdreavus's ban was rather controversial, as many users were unsure of their feelings towards the Ghost-type. The omnipresent Knock Off and emergence of Choice Scarf Pawniard seemed to keep Misdreavus in check, and the variety of bulky Normal- and Dark-types proved to be a challenge for Misdreavus to switch into and perform its role effectively. However, its 19 Speed, 18 Special Attack, and access to a variety of great support and offensive moves led to its ban from the tier.

EV Spreads and Stats

One of the biggest differences between LC and other metagames is the effect of EVs on stats. The maximum number of EVs a Pokémon can have is still 510, and the maximum in any one stat of a Pokémon is also still 252, but a few other things change. Base stats are less decisive in determining the final stat of a Pokémon; the range of stats at level 5 is not nearly as wide as it is at level 100. For example, Wingull has base 85 Speed and Abra has base 90 Speed. For Abra, achieving 19 speed takes a Speed-boosting nature and 196 EVs; for Wingull, it takes a Speed-boosting nature and 236 EVs.

At level 100, it takes 4 EVs to boost a stat by one point, but in LC, it takes a whopping 80 EVs. As with every rule, this too has an exception: the number of EVs necessary for the first stat point increase depends on the Pokémon's base stat. Going back to the previous example, Wingull's base Speed stat ends in a 5, so it takes 76 EVs to raise the stat by one point, 156 EVs to raise it by another, and 236 EVs to reach its maximum. Abra's base Speed stat ends in a 0, so it takes 36 EVs to raise it by one point, 116 to raise it by another, and 196 EVs to max it out. Below are the number of EVs a Pokémon must invest to increase its stats based on the number that its base stats end in:

Base stat ending / EVs required for stat gain
xx0 / 36 /116 / 196 EVs
xx1 / 28 / 108 / 188 EVs
xx2 / 20 / 100 / 180 EVs
xx3 / 12 / 92 / 172 / 252 EVs
xx4 / 4 / 84 / 164 / 244 EVs
xx5 / 76 / 156 / 236 EVs
xx6 / 68 / 148 / 228 EVs
xx7 / 60 / 140 / 220 EVs
xx8 / 52 / 132 / 212 EVs
xx9 / 44 / 124 / 204 EVs

Pokémon with base stats ending in 3 or 4 can increase their stats four times with their EVs. For example, Magby's base Speed is 83; with a Speed-boosting nature and 0 EVs, it has a Speed stat of 15. With just 12 EVs, it can reach 16, and with 252 EVs, it can reach the 19 Speed. If Magby had a base Speed stat of 82, it would still start at a Speed stat of 15, but it would only be able to reach a maximum Speed stat of 18 through investing 180 EVs.

IVs can also slightly alter stats in LC; everything previously mentioned applies in most cases, where IVs are presumed to be 31. For every IV point missing, your Pokémon needs 4 more EVs to increase the stat point. For example, 30 IVs in Magby's Speed would not allow it to hit 19 Speed, as it would need 256 EVs to max out, but the maximum number of EVs for a single stat is 252.


What You Should Use

Berry Juice

Aside from being simply delicious, Berry Juice restores 20 HP when the holder's HP drops below 50%. This allows most Pokémon in Little Cup to completely or almost completely restore their HP after taking a hit or two. This is exceptional on most setup sweepers that are comfortable taking a hit, as it allows them to potentially sweep while being at full health. Some Pokémon that synergize particularly well with Berry Juice include Drifloon, Archen, Tirtouga, and Dwebble. Drifloon uses Berry Juice and Unburden to begin sweeping after accruing a few boosts; Archen heals with Berry Juice and then attacks with a boosted Acrobatics; and both Tirtouga and Dwebble have the combination of Sturdy and Shell Smash, which allows them to set up a Shell Smash and still have the potential to take another hit with Sturdy after regaining full HP with Berry Juice.

Choice Scarf

Choice Scarf boosts the holder's Speed by 1.5x but forces it to only select one of its moves each time it switches in. This makes Choice Scarf perfect for letting a Pokémon revenge kill specific threats, and it is frequently seen on Pokémon that have wide coverage, have some sort of method of maintaining momentum, reach at least 14 Speed (21 with a Choice Scarf, which is enough to outspeed all unboosted LC Pokémon), or have any combination of the above. Magnemite is a prime example of such a Pokémon, as it hits 14 Speed, can revenge kill many of the large threats in the metagame (such as Fletchling), can 2HKO many switch-ins before they get a chance to strike, and has the added bonus of a Steel typing, which can aid its longevity. Chinchou is also a common Choice Scarf user, as it has good coverage and Volt Switch. Inkay is almost never seen without a Choice Scarf. This allows it to spam Superpower and gain boosts from it via Contrary. Bunnelby is also a frequent user, as its middling Speed is repaired through Choice Scarf, and it likes to spam Huge Power-boosted Returns anyway.


Eviolite gives any unevolved Pokémon a 1.5x boost to both its Defense and Special Defense stats. In Little Cup, every single Pokémon can take advantage of this boost. The most notable users are walls and defensive pivots with some form of recovery (e.g. Vullaby and Mienfoo) or Pokémon with a boosting move who appreciate the added bulk while trying to set up (e.g. Scraggy and Honedge). Eviolite is a big reason why Little Cup has slowed down since DPP, which featured mostly heavily offensive teams. Eviolite was suspected at the beginning of BW LC, but it was not banned and is now firmly accepted as a staple of the Little Cup metagame.

Life Orb

Life Orb gives a 1.3x boost to the holder's attacks at the cost of 10% of its HP per attack. In Little Cup, this is typically paired with Pokémon that simply have excellent attacking stats or coverage. A good example is Abra, which can 2HKO most of the tier with 1.3x boosted Psychic, Shadow Ball, or Energy Ball while taking no recoil due to its ability, Magic Guard. Due to the fact that most calculations in Pokémon round down, any Pokémon with an HP stat of 19 will take 1.9 damage from Life Orb recoil, which rounds down to only 1 damage, allowing a 19 HP Life Orb user to survive 19 rounds of Life Orb recoil instead of 10. Elekid and Houndour are two Pokémon that appreciate the power boost from Life Orb but also minimize the effects of recoil.

What You Should Not Use

Assault Vest

Assault Vest gives the holder a 1.5x boost to its Special Defense stat, but the holder can only use attacking moves. This is inferior to Eviolite, which provides a 1.5x boost to both the holder's Defense and Special Defense stats with no downsides.


Leftovers restores 1/16 of the holder's HP at the end of each turn. This is almost never enough HP to be useful in LC, as the holder would require a whopping 32 HP to restore just 2 HP per turn. Instead, Berry Juice should be used if one wants some form of recovery, and Eviolite should be used to provide greater longevity in general.

Oran Berry

Oran Berry restores 10 HP to the holder when its HP drops below 50%, which is objectively inferior to Berry Juice. Berry Juice also is unaffected by Incinerate, Pluck, and Bug Bite, giving it further advantages. You should only use Oran Berry if you have a Pokémon with the ability Harvest, which is only notably used by Phantump.

Sitrus Berry

Sitrus Berry restores 25% HP to the holder when its HP drops below 50%, which is objectively inferior to both Oran Berry and Berry Juice for all LC Pokémon (no LC Pokémon can reach an HP stat of 40, meaning Sitrus Berry can never restore 10 HP or more).


Choice Band / Choice Specs

Choice Band and Choice Specs have the same adverse effect as Choice Scarf, but Choice Band gives a 1.5x boost to the holder's Attack and Choice Specs gives a 1.5x boost to the holder's Special Attack. Most of the time, LC Pokémons' stats are so low that the ability to switch moves is preferred over the difference between Life Orb (1.3x) and Choice Band or Choice Specs. The only exceptions occur when Pokémon are prone to priority and therefore do not want to whittle down their HP, and when they are likely to only use a single attack anyways. Choice Band Bunnelby is a good example.

Damp Rock

LC has plenty of rain sweepers, but no Pokémon with Drizzle. Damp Rock can be used on any of the tier's bulkier Pokémon with Rain Dance, such as Bronzor or Mienfoo, to allow these Pokémon to shine when the sun does not.

Deep Sea Tooth

Deep Sea Tooth doubles Clamperl's Special Attack, putting it at around 36 before any boosts. This allows Clamperl to fire off exceedingly strong Surfs and Ice Beams. Deep Sea Tooth can also be used alongside Shell Smash to simply devastate teams without strong priority attacks or Water-type immunities.

Focus Sash

Focus Sash allows the holder to survive any attack when at full HP. It is commonly used by Abra, which can ensure that it will live any attack except those that hit more than once through its ability Magic Guard, which negates all effects that indirectly damage the user, such as burn, Stealth Rock and Spikes.

Heat Rock

Heat Rock extends the number of turns with intense sunlight from five to eight. It is commonly used by Vulpix, which uses Drought to instantly change the weather to sunlight.

Normal Gem

Normal Gem boosts the power of the first Normal-type move used by the holder. It is the only gem that is currently available in XY. It is commonly used by Meowth, which can use it up with Fake Out and then steal an opponent's item with Covet or Thief.

Move / Ability Legality at Level 5

Little Cup is played at level 5, which makes for some interesting situations regarding move legality. This section will briefly cover the main sources for why something that might be legal at level 100 is not legal at level 5. Also, know that it is impossible for simulators to detect all of these sources for legality that is different at level 5 than level 100.

One nice thing to note is that XY has fortunately changed the way egg moves work, so now either parent may pass on egg moves to their offspring. This has removed virtually all previously impossible egg move combinations, including Budew with Spikes and Sleep Powder, Shelmet with Spikes and Encore, and Tentacool with Rapid Spin and Mirror Coat.

New Abilities / Moves and Old TMs / Move Tutors

This is probably the largest source of move illegality for Little Cup Pokémon and Pokémon in general. At its simplest level, this means that new moves or abilities are incompatible with old moves that can't be bred onto a child.

ADV: The Pomeg Glitch

In ADV, the Pomeg Berry, which removed 10 HP EVs upon use, could be used to faint one's party Pokémon in the overworld and then enter battle with only an Egg. In battle, this Egg could gain experience points and learn level-up moves, but when it was hatched, it would still be at level 5. Most Pokémon do not have any problem with level-up moves bred onto them, as the only prerequisite is that both parents know the move. The exceptions are genderless and male-only Pokémon, which must breed with Ditto. As Ditto cannot learn any of said Pokémon's level-up moves, this would cause their level-up moves to be illegal; however, the Pomeg Glitch could be used to remedy this situation. Some notable benefits of the Pomeg Glitch include Tri Attack and Recover on Porygon, and Rapid Spin, Recover, and Hydro Pump on Staryu.

Genderless / Single Gender Pokémon and Level-Up Moves After ADV

After ADV, the Pomeg Glitch was removed from the game, and genderless and single-gender Pokémon could no longer learn moves while in Egg form. As female-only Pokémon can breed with male fathers, they have the least problems; virtually all competitive egg moves are available to the female-only Pokémon of DPP, BW, and XY. Male-only Pokémon have many more problems, as they can only breed with Ditto; the only casualty of this post-ADV change is Rufflet, who unfortunately misses out on Brave Bird in LC. Genderless Pokémon have an equal number of problems, with Bronzor missing out mostly on irrelevant level-up moves, Klink losing Shift Gear and Gear Grind, and Golett tragically losing access to Shadow Punch and Focus Punch.

Ability Capsule

Many people theorized that the introduction of Ability Capsule, an item that allows you to change your Pokémon's ability, would solve many of Little Cup's legality issues with hidden abilities. Unfortunately, Ability Capsule only allows a Pokémon to switch between its two main abilities and not among all three. For this reason, it does not solve any legality problems regarding past generation move tutors and hidden ability introduction, although many of these were solved by BW2 move tutors or can be expected to be resolved with future move tutors. It is notable that via Ability Capsule, Pokémon that did not originally have two abilities but had an ability added in DPP have access to old moves; for example, Ability Capsule can be used on a Pomeg Glitch Tri Attack Porygon (which would have Trace from ADV) to get a Porygon with Tri Attack and Download.

Sample Teams

Now that you're finally beginning to understand the world of Little Cup, it's time to have a go at the tier. Maybe you're not quite ready to build a team for yourself just yet, but do not fear! We have graciously provided you with a standard team for offense that will help you learn the metagame from a hands-on perspective.

drifloon drilbur magnemite vullaby porygon croagunk

This is a hyper offense team. It combines a threatening Flying spam core, several wallbreakers with good defensive utility, and a VoltTurn core to wear down the opposing team while withstanding their assaults.


Drifloon is one of the few Pokémon in LC capable of effectively stalling thanks to its unique traits. After activating Berry Juice, Drifloon can outspeed the opponent thanks to Unburden and burn them, rendering it very difficult to break. It can then alternate between Substitute and Recycle until the opponent is KOed. Make sure to consider that you can only maintain Unburden while Recycling when Drifloon is under half health. Also, try not to get hit with Knock Off while Berry Juice is still intact or it will do a lot of damage, and you won't be able to Recycle it. Drifloon can beat most Pawniard and Vullaby variants by using Substitute three times to activate Berry Juice, burning them while tanking the weakened Knock Off, and then alternating between Substitute and Recycle appropriately, but watch out for Choice Scarf variants or special Vullaby!


Drilbur finds a place on this team as a dedicated support Pokémon, Rapid Spinning away troublesome hazards for Vullaby while setting up Stealth Rock to better take advantage of switches this team is able to force. Drilbur is also a decent offensive Pokémon in its own right thanks to its powerful STAB Earthquake. Berry Juice coupled with the given EVs let it switch into Choice Scarf Magnemite safely at least once and bypass Sturdy with Mold Breaker. Drilbur is even able to get past a common check in defensive Staryu, provided Scald doesn't burn, by hitting it with Rock Tomb on the switch and whittling it down with Earthquake while surviving a Scald to recover back to full health with Berry Juice; just be careful for more offensive variants.


Thanks to its numerous resistances and powerful Volt Switch, Magnemite makes for a fantastic offensive pivot. It finds numerous opportunities to come in and immediately threaten the opposing team offensively while simultaneously gaining momentum; dealing with it can be difficult due to Analytic activating on switches. On this team, its resistances to Flying- and Fairy-type attacks are particularly appreciated, but prediction is key when using Scarf Magnemite as its low HP and Special Defense means that common coverage moves, such as Overheat on Fletchling and Hidden Power Fighting on Abra, can heavily damage or even KO it. Flash Cannon and Thunderbolt are good sweeping tools late game and provide decent coverage with each other, while Hidden Power Ground nails a weakened Chinchou. Be wary of just activating a healthy Chinchou's Berry Juice, though.


Vullaby is another useful pivot with its numerous switch-in opportunities and offensive presence. Although its base Attack is only decent, Vullaby is actually quite an effective wall-breaker due to its powerful STAB moves, which can both cripple and heavily damage enemies; its Brave Bird even has a 75% chance to OHKO the standard 24 HP / 14 Def Eviolite Timburr. The few Pokémon that can withstand its attacks are chipped away by U-turn. Vullaby also has a great deal of defensive utility thanks to its good defensive typing, statistical bulk, and access to Roost to stick around throughout the match. It can further take advantage of its bulk with its slow U-turn, which lets it tank an attack to get a teammate in safely.


Porygon is frequently listed among the best Pokémon in the LC metagame because of its combination of bulk, power, and versatility. On this team, Porygon has the role of a powerful wall-breaker, firing off possibly Download-boosted attacks to 2HKO or OHKO a large portion of the metagame. Hidden Power Fire hits Steel-type switch-ins hard, while Psychic lets it OHKO standard 12 SpD Eviolite Mienfoo, although 14 SpD Eviolite Mienfoo is only 2HKOed. Between Tri Attack's raw power and these coverage moves, Download-boosted Porygon is one of the most difficult Pokémon in the metagame to safely switch into, although even without a Download boost, it can hit quite hard. Porygon also has exceptional statistical bulk and access to Recover to make up for its lack of resistances, which lets it almost entirely wall many of the weaker Pokémon in LC, making it a great tank.


Croagunk is here to serve as a glue Pokémon of sorts by patching up some holes in the team's defensive structure. Offensive Water-types are extremely threatening in LC, and Croagunk is able to check many of them thanks to Dry Skin, although some of them may run Psychic-type coverage moves to get around Croagunk. It can also check Fighting-types like Timburr and Scraggy. Of course, Croagunk has plenty of other uses; Knock Off lets it cripple enemies so that its teammates can break through them more easily, and extra priority in Sucker Punch and Vacuum Wave is always nice to have. Keep in mind that Croagunk is quite weak to common trappers like Diglett and Gothita, as it needs prior damage to OHKO Gothita with Sucker Punch, so don't switch into potential U-turns or Volt Switches into these trappers too recklessly.