Editor's Note: Niantic announced that it would not be adding new Team Go Rocket research before September, 2020 due to the global pandemic and amount of travel required to complete Team GO Rocket battles at PokéStops. September has arrived but still no word on new Team GO Rocket Research. However, as of July 7, 2020, Team GO Rocket hot air balloons can now spawn on the map, allowing players to once again challenge Team GO Rocket in a safe way while social distancing. Additionally, Jesse and James in their Meowth hot air balloon can be encountered through the end of September. Please follow your local health department's recommendations, and don't risk getting sick over a game.
Now that Team Go Rocket is sending in more than just Grunts to stand in your way, defeating the villains of Pokémon Go takes more than a handful of recommended Pokémon. Every month, you have a chance to battle your way through the three top ranked executives of Team Go Rocket, leading you to a battle with Giovanni himself, and a Legendary Shadow Pokémon! Even well-seasoned players, like myself, have struggled against the leaders of Team Go Rocket. Fortunately, we here at iMore know exactly what you need to take on each of these big bads!
What is Team Go Rocket?
Team Go Rocket is the current incarnation of the first criminal organization from the original Pokémon games and shows. Led by Giovanni, Team Rocket has always been lurking in the shadows of the Pokémon world, stealing any Pokémon they can get their hands on, along with all the Poké Balls and Pokémon related technology possible. They're the bad guys. Worse even, as Team Go Rocket, they've invaded the world of Pokémon Go along with Shadow Pokémon, formerly good Pokémon who have been corrupted through a crazy technique that leaves them in constant pain and forced to assist in Team Go Rocket's criminal endeavors.
How do I challenge the leaders?
While Team Go Rocket Grunts have been taking over PokéStops since July 2019, beginning in November 2019, their leaders have joined the fight. By fighting six Grunts, you can collect Mysterious components, which can, in turn, be used to create a Rocket Radar. Once in possession of a Rocket Radar, you can track down Team Go Rocket Hideouts, and challenge one of three Team Go Rocket Executives.
These Executives are much stronger than the Grunts and actually know how to use their Shields, so prepare for a tough battle and prioritize burning through their shields early. Along with Special Research, if you defeat all three Team Go Rocket Executives, you can be rewarded with a Super Rocket Radar that will lead you to the Boss of Team Go Rocket: Giovanni! For more details on how to get to the Team Go Rocket Executives and Giovanni, check out our Looming Shadows guide.
Earning or purchasing Rocket Radars
After you've constructed your first Rocket Radar, additional Rocket Radar can be purchased in the PokéShop for 200 PokéCoins each. While $2 worth of PokéCoins (or less if you're able to earn them,) might seem like a small amount to pay for a Rocket Radar, previous Community Days have featured paid special research that included a Rocket Radar among the generous rewards for only $1. You will still need to track down the Executives to battle, but if you don't have to fight your way through several grunts each time, this could make completing the Team Go Rocket Special Research a little more doable.
Team GO Rocket Aerial Attacks?!
As of July 7, 2020, Team GO Rocket has now taken to the skies. Four times a day, a Team GO Rocket balloon can appear on the map. These encounters work almost identically to Team GO Rocket PokéStop Invasions.
- Without a Rocket Radar, you will encounter Grunts.
- Through the end of September, 2020, you will also have the chance of encountering Jesse and James in their Meowth hot air Balloon, giving you the chance to earn two Mysterious Components for the one balloon.
- With a normal Rocket Radar equipped, you will encounter one of the Team GO Rocket Executives.
- With a Super Rocket Radar equipped, you will have the chance to encounter Giovanni, himself.
- The first balloon will show up between midnight and 6 AM local time.
- The second balloon will show up between 6 AM and noon local time.
- The third balloon will show up between noon and 6 PM local time.
- The final balloon will show up between 6 PM and midnight local time.
The line ups for Shadow Pokémon are the same as if you encountered Team GO Rocket at a PokéStop. If you don't beat the Executive or Giovanni, your Radar will remain intact until you are able to defeat a Team GO Rocket leader.
Jesse! James! Meowth, that's right!
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. When September, 2020 ends, Jesse and James will blast off again so make sure to challenge them while you still can.
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.
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.
Note: Jesse and James fulfill the requirements for beating two Team GO Rocket Grunts in Research tasks.
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 is Grimer. A Poison type, Grimer is weak to Ground and Psychic types and its movepool consists of Poison and Ground type attacks. Good counters include Rhyperior, Mewtwo, Dragonite, Excadrill, Mamoswine, or Garchomp.
In his second slot, Cliff could send out Machamp. A Fighting type, Machamp is weak to Psychic, Flying, and Fairy, and it can deal Fighting, Steel, and Rock type damage. When it has Steel type attacks, you'll want to avoid Fairy counters. The best counters include Lugia, Mewtwo, Latias, Celebi, Victini, Gardevoir, or Togekiss.
- 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, Ludicolo or Shiftry 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, Golurk, or Giratina.
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.
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.
Currently, Sierra's first Pokémon is Lapras, an Ice and Water type. Counters vary pretty dramatically based on which moves Lapras has. If it has Ice type moves, Dragon and Grass types won't last, but they perform well against Lapras's Water type moves. Possible counters include Dialga, Giratina, Magnezone, Melmetal, Poliwrath, Lucario, 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, while it deals Grass and Psychic type damage. Great counters here include: Giratina, Tyranitar), Darkrai, Weavile, Metagross, Typhlosion, Charizard, Scizor, Excavalier, Hydreigon or Heatran.
- If she goes with Lapras, the same Pokémon you brought for her first Lapras will work here.
She can also bring Sharpedo, a Water and Dark type for her second Pokémon. Capable of dealing Water, Dark, and Poison type damage, great counters include Poliwrath, Shiftry, Machamp, Venusaur, Leafeon, and Hydreigon.
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.
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 is Pineco. Pineco is weak to Fire, Rock, and Flying types, while Steel types resist all of its possible moves. Moltres, Ho-Oh, Scizor, Reshiram, Terrakion, Regirock, or Rhyperior work well here.
In the second slot, Arlo could go with Charizard, which has a double weakness against Rock. Rhyperior, Tyranitar, Aggron, or 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, 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 has the same weaknesses as Dragonite, but is considerably stronger, often requires two Pokémon to beat. Good counters include Tyranitar, Regice, Suicune, Togekiss, or Giratina.
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.
- If he brings Nidoking, you'll want to counter with Empoleon, Kyogre, Excadrill, or Jirachi.
Garchomp could be his second Pokémon, 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 currently Shadow Suicune, a Water type capable of dealing Water, Ice, Dark, and Psychic type damage. You'll want to counter with Electric types. While Suicune is also weak to Grass types, its Ice type moves are super effective against Grass types. Raikou, Electivire, Magnezone, or Melmetal work best. Because Suicune can also know Psychic type moves, you might also consider using Mew or Mewtwo with their Electric type moves.
Team Go Rocket questions?
There you have it. Follow our guide, and you'll send Team Go Rocket blasting off again! Have any questions about fighting Team Go Rocket, Cliff, Sierra, Arlo, or Giovanni? Want to share your winning team? Drop us a comment below and check out our other Pokémon Go guides!
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