Pokémon Go: A Challenging Development

The Leaders of Team Go Rocket

Part of the Looming Shadows update has added a new feature to Pokémon Go: Team Go Rocket Hideouts. By assembling Rocket Radars, players can track down Team Go Rocket Hideouts, where they can challenge the Leaders of Team Go Rocket. In addition to completing Special Research, defeating Team Go Rocket Leaders come with plenty of potential rewards, including:

  • Max Revive
  • Revive
  • Max Potion
  • Unova Stone
  • Sinnoh Stone
  • Encounter with Shadow Pokémon that have the potential to be shiny (Meowth, Sneasal, and possibly more)

While a Rocket Radar is necessary to find the Team Go Rocket Hideouts, once a player has completed their first, additional Rocket Radars will be able to be crafted or purchased for Pokécoins from the Pokémon Shop. Once equipped, the Hideouts will be visible on the map and can be challenged in the same way that players challenge the Team Go Rocket Grunts, but the Leaders are much stronger and use their shields. Don't worry if you don't beat the Team Go Rocket Leader the first time. You can heal your Pokémon, power them up, and try again until you can defeat them. For a more in-depth dive into the possible counters for the Leaders of Team Go Rocket, see our guide.

Jesse! James! Meowth, that's right!

Source: Niantic (Image credit: Source: Niantic)

Beginning July 9, 2020, the iconic duo who have been the face of Team Rocket are now Team GO Rocket agents! Jesse and James have been sighted in Pokémon Go, flying in on their Meowth hot air balloon to bring double trouble! For a limited time only, Trainers can challenge both Jesse and James in Pokémon Go and we have their line up, along with the best counters.

First up is Jesse with:

  • Ekans: a Poison type, Ekans is weak against Ground and Psychic types, Ekans is pretty weak. It's best to use this time to build up your charged attack or use up Jesse's shields.
  • Scyther: a Bug and Flying type, Scyther has several weaknesses, including Fire, Flying, Electric, and Ice, but it's quad weakness to Rock is the one you'll want to exploit. Rampardos, Rhyperior, Terrakion, or Tyranitar all work really well here.
  • Bagon: a Dragon type, Bagon is weak against Ice, Dragon, and Fairy. Just keep in mind, your Dragon types will also be weak to Bagon if it knows a Dragon type move. This shouldn't be too much of an issue, however, with Bagon being the start of its evolutionary line.

While all three of these Pokémon have appeared as Shadow Pokémon previously, Bagon has the potential to be evolved into a Shadow Salamence which is one of the best glass cannons in the game. Shadow Salamence is an excellent counter for Dragon type Raids.

After beating Jesse, James is up with:

  • Koffing: a Poison type, Koffing is weak against Ground and Psychic types, Ekans is pretty weak. It's best to use this time to build up your charged attack or use up James' shields.
  • Sneasel: an Ice and Dark type, Sneasel is weak against Rock, Bug, Steel, Fire, and Fairy, but its quad weakness to Fighting is the one you'll want to exploit. Lucario or Machamp work well here, but you can also go with a Melmetal or Obstagoon that know Fighting type moves.
  • Beldum: a Steel and Psychic type, Beldum is weak against Ground, Ghost, Fire, and Dark type attacks. Either form of Giratina work well, as do Tyranitar or Gengar.

While all of these Pokémon have appeared as Shadow Pokémon previously, Beldum has the potential to be evolved into a Shadow Metagross which is one of the best glass cannons in the game. Shadow Metagross is the number one recommended counter for the current Legendary Raid: Kyurem.

Additionally, Jesse and James fulfil the requirements for beating two Team GO Rocket Grunts in Research tasks.


Team Go Rocket Cliff (Image credit: Niantic)

Cliff is the first of the Team Go Rocket Executives and their counterpart to Team Mystic's Leader Blanche. Cliff brings in a team of three Pokémon with the second and third being chosen from a pool of different strong Shadow Pokémon. Fortunately, you can battle an Executive as many times as it takes to beat them. So, if you lose the first time, take note of which Pokémon fill those second and third slots and plan your next attack accordingly.

  • Cliff's first Pokémon for Invaded PokéStops is currently Pinsir. Fire, Flying, and Rock type moves do double damage, while Flying and Ghost type resist Pinsir's fast moves. The best counters include Moltres, Zapdos, Charizard, Entei, Dragonite, or Giratina in either forme will also work well.
  • Cliff's first Pokémon for Aerial Attacks is Grimer. A Poison type, Grimer is weak to Ground and Psychic types. Good counters include Groudon, Mewtwo, Mamoswine, or Excadrill.
  • In his second slot, Ciff could send out Marowak. Marowak uses Ground and Fighting type moves and is weak against Water, Grass, and Ice. Gyarados is the best counter thanks to its resistances, but Lugia, Dragonite, Swampert, Kyogre, Venusaur, or Leafeon will all work well.
  • If he goes with Omastar, you'll want to exploit its double weakness against Grass types. Torterra, Venusaur, or Leafeon are good common counters, but Abomasnow, Roserade, or Ludicolo also work well.
  • If Electivire is in Cliff's second slot, its only weakness is against Ground, and its movepool includes a lot of potential for super effective damage to its counters. Good counters include Swampert, Garchomp, Rhyperior, Groudon, Gliscor, or Giratina Origin Forme.
  • For the third slot, Cliff may bring Tyranitar, in which case, your Fighting-types like Machamp, Lucario, or Poliwrath will serve you well. Swampert with Hydro Cannon can also work well here.
  • Swampert could be in Cliff's third slot, in which case Venusaur, Meganium, or Leafeon will do well, but you could also rely on a Torterra or Shiftry.
  • Torterra can also be Cliff's third Pokémon. A Grass and Ground type with an interesting movepool, your best counters here are Heatran, Blaziken, Togekiss, or Dialga.


Team Go Rocket Sierra (Image credit: Niantic)

Much like her counterparts, Sierra's team choices make all the difference in what you should bring to fight her, and her Shadow Pokémon have ridiculous CP. Be prepared to fight her more than once.

  • If you're challenging her at an invaded PokéStop, Sierra's first Pokémon, Beldum is incredibly weak, regardless of the counter. If you bring in a Ghost type like Gengar or Giratina, you can burn through both Sierra's shields while resisting Beldum's attacks. You might also use this time to store up energy for charged attacks.
  • If you're challenging her in an Aerial Attack, Sierra's first Pokémon is Lapras. Some good counters include Dialga, Giratina, Magnezone, Melmetal, Poliwrath, and Machamp.
  • For her second slot, she could go with Exeggutor which has a double weakness against Bug. It is also weak against Dark, Fire, Ghost, Ice, Flying, and Poison. Great counters here include: Giratina, Tyranitar, Darkrai, Weavile, Metagross, Typhlosion, Charizard, or Scizor.
  • If she goes with Lapras, some good counters include Dialga, Giratina, Magnezone, Melmetal, Poliwrath, and Machamp.
  • Sharpedo has several weaknesses, including Bug, Electric, Fairy, Fighting, and Grass. Good counters here include Poliwrath, Venusaur, Shiftry, Togekiss, Ludicolo, or Machamp.
  • If Houndoom is her third choice, Tyranitar is your best counter, but Swampert, Kyogre, Darkrai, or Machamp all do very well.
  • Shiftry could be in Sierra's third slot, in which case you want to take advantage of its double weakness to Bug types, like Scizor or Pinsir. However Togekiss, Charizard, Blaziken, Heatran, or Machamp will also do well while not being super vulnerable to Houndoom with Fire Fang.
  • If Sierra sends out Alakazam, Tyranitar, Weaville, or Darkrai all do really well in resisting Alakazam's attacks while taking advantage of its Ghost and Dark weaknesses.


Pokemon Go Team Rocket Arlo (Image credit: Niantic)

Another challenging Executive, Arlo can bring out a wide variety of Shadow Pokémon with crazy high CP. Expect to fight a second or third time before you get the right combination to defeat him.

  • Currently, Arlo's first Pokémon at Invaded PokéStops is always Mawile. Your best bets here are Fire types, but which Fire type will depend on Mawile's moveset. You might have to back out and restart with a different lead. Some good counters here include Chandelure, Heatran, Houndoom, Flareon, Magmortar, and Entei.
  • For Aerial Attacks, Arlo's first Pokémon is Pineco. Pineco is weak to Fire, Rock, and Flying types. Moltres, Ho-Oh, work well, as do the Fire types recommended for Mawile.
  • In the second slot, Arlo could go with Charizard, which has a double weakness against Rock. Rhyperior, Tyranitar, Aggron, or Altered Forme Giratina have Rock type moves that take advantage of that. You could also bring in a Water type like Swampert or Kyogre.
  • If Arlo goes with Blastoise, Grass types are best. Shiftry resists all of its moves, but You can also counter with Venusaur, or Meganium. Poliwrath can also serve well here.
  • If Steelix is Arlo's second choice, his move pool is hard to counter. Excadrill is the only Pokémon that resists all of its possible moves well. Other possible counters include Garchomp, Swampert, Groudon, Charizard, and Kyogre.
  • For his third Pokémon, if Arlo goes with Scizor, you should counter with Fire-type Pokémon, like Moltres, Heatran, Charizard, or Blaziken.
  • For Dragonite or Salamence, you want to counter with an Ice type like Regice, Mamoswine, or a Mewtwo with Ice Beam, taking advantage of their double weakness. Another Dragon type, like Dialga or Dragonite could also work too, but will be taking super effective damage in the process.
  • If Arlo goes with Salamence, you're in for a tough fight. A Shadow Salamence often requires two Pokémon to beat. Good counters include Tyranitar, Regice, Suicune, Togekiss, or Altered Forme Giratina.


Pokemon Go Team Go Rocket Giovanni (Image credit: Niantic)

The Founder of Team Go Rocket, Giovanni is the only one bringing in Legendary Shadow Pokémon. For the time being, however, his team is more limited than his Executives. His first Pokémon is always Persian and his last is currently Entei or Suicune depending on how you challenge him.

  • Giovanni's first Pokémon is Persian. The best Pokémon to counter Persian are Machamp, Lucario, Tyranitar.

Until the swtich takes over:

  • For his second Pokémon, Giovanni could bring in Kingler. Ludicolo, Venusaur, Meganium, Poliwrath, Magnezone, Swampert, or Dialga are the best counters here.
  • If his second Pokémon is Rhyperior, you'll want to counter with a solid Water or Grass type, such as Kyogre, Vaporeon, Torterra, Venusaur, Swampert, Feraligatr, Leafeon or Roserade.
  • If Steelix is Giovanni's second choice, his move pool is hard to counter. Excadrill is the only Pokémon in the game who resists all of its movepool well. Garchomp, Groudon, Charizard, Swampert, or Kyogre also perform well.

In Aerial Attacks and once his lineup switches entirely, his second Pokémon can be one of the following:

  • Dugtrio, in which case you will want to counter with Gyarados, Articuno, Torterra, or Venusaur.
  • Nidoking, in which case you'll want to counter with Empoleon, Kyogre, Excadrill, or Jirachi.
  • Garchomp, in which case you'll want to counter with Articuno, Togekiss, Gardevoir, or Granbull. You could also bring one of the many Dragon type counters, like Rayquaza or Dragonite, but if Garchomp happens to have Dragon type moves as opposed to Ground type, your Dragon is going to take super effective damage as well.
  • Giovanni's third Pokémon is Shadow Entei, but beginning Friday, July 10, 2020, Shadow Suicune will make its debut. The best Pokémon to counter are Kyogre, Swampert, Rhyperior, Vaporeon, Feraligatr, Terrakion, Garchomp, or Groudon.
  • For Shadow Suicune, you'll want to counter with Electric types. While it's also weak to Grass types, it can know Ice type moves that are super effective against Grass types. Raikou, Electivire, or Magnezone work well. Because Suicune can also know Psychic type moves, you might also consider using Mew or Mewtwo with their Electric type moves.

Pokemon Go Team Go Rocket Balloon (Image credit: Niantic)

Any questions about A Challenging Development?

Do you have any questions about the Special Research, A Challenging Development or taking on the Leaders of Team Go Rocket? Drop us a comment below, and be sure to check out our other Pokémon Guides!

Casian Holly

Casian Holly has been writing about gaming at iMore since 2019, but their real passion is Pokémon. From the games to the anime, cards and toys, they eat, sleep, and breathe all things Pokémon. You can check out their many Pokémon Go and Pokémon Sword and Shield guides and coverage here on iMore.