Editor's Note: Due to the global pandemic and amount of travel required to complete Team GO Rocket battles at PokéStops, Team GO Rocket monthly Special Research has been far more limited. 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. Please follow your local health department's recommendations, and don't risk getting sick over a game.
Team GO Rocket has invaded Pokémon Go. Executives Sierra, Cliff, and Arlo are here and you'll have to fight your way through them to get to the head honcho himself, Giovanni. These fights are tough and it's gonna take more than a handful of recommended Pokémon. But, if you can beat Giovanni, you'll get the chance to catch your very own Legendary Shadow Pokémon! Right now, that Shadow Pokémon is none other than Shadow Mewtwo, the most powerful, game-breaking Pokémon in all of Pokémon Go!
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! And make sure to check out our best Pokémon Go accessories, so you an be fully equipped on your Pokémon Journey!
What is Team GO Rocket?
Team GO Rocket is the current incarnation of the 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 mysterious technique that leaves them in constant pain, forced to assist in Team GO Rocket's criminal endeavors.
How do I challenge the leaders of Team GO Rocket?
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 to challenge Team GO Rocket?
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 and other events have rewarded Rocket Radars as well. You will still need to track down the right 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.
Rescuing Strange Eggs from Team GO Rocket?
New as of October 12, 2020, Trainers can now earn Strange Eggs by defeating the Leaders of Team GO Rocket. These special eggs only carry a select few Poison and Dark type Pokémon, as well as Pokémon that evolve into Poison or Dark types, and they require a whopping 12 KM to hatch. Currently, the following Pokémon can be hatched from Strange Eggs:
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. Under normal circumstances, Trainers can expect:
- Without a Rocket Radar, you will encounter Grunts.
- Jesse and James in their Meowth hot air balloon are no longer appearing, but should they return, they give 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.
How to beat Team GO Rocket executive Cliff
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 Seedot*. This Grass type Pokémon should be an easy win. If you want the type advantage, it's weak to Fire, Flying, Ice, Bug, and Poison; Pokémon like Reshiram, either Mega Charizard, Heatran, Articuno, or Mega Pidgeot would make a great choice. However, you could also use this time to build up your charged attack or burn through Cliff's shield.
In his second slot, Cliff could send out Kingler. This Water type is weak to Electric and Grass type moves. Good choices for countering include Raikou, Electivire, Mega Ampharos, Magnezone, or Mega Venusaur.
- Cliff could also send out the Fighting type Pokémon, Hariyama. Fairy, Flying, and Psychic type moves are super effective against Hariyama, so consider bringing along Lugia, Mewtwo, Ho-Oh, Cresselia, Moltres, Zapdos, or Togetic.
Or Cliff could pick Poiliwrath for his second Pokémon. A Fighting and Water type, you'll do added damage with Electric, Fairy, Flying, Grass, or Psychic type attacks. The best counters include Lugia, Mewtwo, Celebi, Ho-Oh, Zekrom, or Mega Venusaur.
For the third slot, Cliff may bring Tyranitar. This Rock and Dark type pseudo-Legendary has access to Dark, Rock, Steel, and Fire type moves, and is takes super effective damage from Fighting, while also being weak to Ground, Bug, Steel, Water, Grass, and Fairy. A tough fight, Fighting type counters or Pokémon with access to Fighting type moves, such as Hariyama, Machamp, Conkeldurr, Heracross, Cobalion, or Sirfetch'd, are going to be your best bet, but a relative newcomer to Pokémon Go, Pangoro performs really well here too.
- Torterra could be Cliff's final Pokémon. This Grass and Ground type takes extra damage from Bug, Fire, and Flying type attacks, but it has a quad weakness to Ice, so unless you're bringing a Mega Charizard to this fight, you'll want a strong Ice type like Articuno, Regice, or Mega Abomasnow.
- Cliff's last Pokémon could also be Sharpedo. A Water and Dark type with Water, Dark, and Poison type moves, Sharpedo is weak to Bug, Electric, Fairy, Grass, and Fighting type damage. The top counters here are Virizion, Mega Venusaur, Chesnaught, Mega Gyarados, Mega Abomasnow, and Sylveon.
How to beat Team GO Rocket executive Sierra
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 Sneasel*. Sneasel is an Ice and Dark type, meaning its weak to Bug, Fairy, Rock, Fire, and Steel type attacks, and it has a quad weakness to Fighting. Your best options for counters include Fighting types like Cobalion, Poliwrath, Machamp, or Lucario, or Pokémon capable of learning Fighting type moves with advantageous typing, such as Melmetal, Obstagoon, or Magmortar.
For her second slot, she could go with Granbull. As a Fairy type, Granbull takes increased damage from Poison and Steel type moves. Mega Beedrill or Mega Gengar are great counters, but far more accessible is Metagross. If you happen to have a Shadow Metagross already powered up, it's likely your best option here. Other good counters include Roserade, Aggron, Dialga, and Megnezone.
- Gliscor could be Sierra's second Pokémon. This Ground and Flying type takes double damage from Water and quad damage from Ice. Your best options for countering it are Regice, Articuno, Mamoswine, Mega Blastoise, or Lapras.
If Sierra's second Pokémon is Ampharos, its only weakness is Ground. Fortunately, the majority of its movepool is Electric type attacks, leaving most counters taking reduced damage. Garchomp, Groudon, Excadrill, Landorus, Golem, Mamoswine, or Flygon would be a great choice here.
If Houndoom is her third choice, this Dark and Fire type is weak to Fighting, Ground, Rock, and Water type attacks. Mega Gyarados or Mega Blastoise would work best, but more accessible options include Landorus, Hariyama, Kyogre, and Rhyperior.
- Kingdra could be Sierra's final Pokémon. As a Water and Dragon type, Kingdra is weak to Fairy and Dragon type attacks. Mega Gyarados, Mega Altaria, and Mega Abomasnow all work really well here. Other options include Dialga, Togekiss, Zekrom, and Giratina.
- Sierra's last Pokémon could also be Drapion. This Poison and Dark type's only weakness is Ground. Groudon, Excadrill, Garchomp, or Excadrill all work really well here; however, Drapion has a very wide variety of potential moves. You may be better off figuring out what moves it has and then picking a Pokémon that can resist those types.
How to beat Team GO Rocket executive Arlo
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 Venonat*. This Bug and Poison type takes increased damage from Fire, Flying, Psychic, and Rock type attacks; however, it's also incredibly weak. You may be better off using this time to build up your charged attack or burning through Arlo's shields.
In the second slot, Arlo could go with Manectric. A pure Electric type, Manectric's only weakness is Ground so your ideal counter would be Garchomp, Excadrill, Flygon, Landorus, or Rhyperior.
- Crobat could be Arlo's final Pokémon. This Poison and Flying type is weak to Electric, Ice, Psychic, and Rock type attacks, leaving plenty of great options for counters. You could go with a powerful Electric type like Zekrom, Mega Ampharos, Raikou, or Magnezone. A strong Rock type like Tyranitar or Golem would work well or an Ice type like Weavile or Mamoswine would be a good choice.
Arlo's second Pokémon could be the pure Normal type, Ursaring. Its only weakness is Fighting type attacks, so Lucario, Conkeldurr, Breloom, or Machamp will serve you well here.
For his third Pokémon, Arlo may go with Scizor. As a Steel and Bug type, Scizor's only weakness is to Fire but, fortunately, its Steel, Bug, and Dark type moves shouldn't be a problem for your counters. Ho-Oh, Heatran, Mega Charizard Y, Blaziken, Moltres, Reshiram, or Entei would make a great choice here.
- Magnezone could be in Arlo's roster. Fighting and Fire type attacks will do double damage to Megnezone, but Ground is a quad weakness, so the same Pokémon you plan for Manectric will work here.
- If Arlo goes with Vileplume, this Grass and Poison type takes super effective damage from Fire, Flying, Ice, and Psychic type attacks. The top scoring counter isn't any of those types though. Burn Drive Genesect will resist all of Vileplume's attacks and has access to the Fire type charged move Techno Blast. Other great counters include Heatran, Metagross, Ho-Oh, Dialga, and Jirachi.
How to beat Team GO Rocket leader Giovanni
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 Shadow Zapdos.
Giovanni's first Pokémon is Persian. The best Pokémon to counter Persian are Tyranitar, Machamp, Conkeldurr, Lucario, and Hariyama. However, you can also use this time to build up a charged attack for his second Pokémon.
For his second Pokémon, Giovanni could bring Golem. As a Ground and Rock type, Grass and Water are the best bets, but it's also weak to Fighting, Ground, Ice, and Steel. Some of the top counters include Torterra, Mega Gyarados, Swampert, Mega Venusaur, Kyogre, and Leafeon.
- If he brings Cloyster, this Water and Ice type takes increased damage from Electric, Fighting, Grass, and Rock type moves. Some of the top counters include Melmetal, Shadow Magmortar, Omastar, Arcanine, Regirock, and Lucario.
Machamp could be his second Pokémon. Fairy, Flying, and Psychic types deal super effective damage to this pure Fighting type. Your best options for countering are Lugia, Mewtwo, Zapdos, Shadow Zapdos, Cresselia or Shadow Mewtwo.
Giovanni's third Pokémon is currently Shadow Ho-Oh. The Legendary Bird is a Flying and Fire type Pokémon so it is weak to Electric and Water, and has a quad weakness to Rock. Top counters include Mega Ampharos, Politoad, Mew, Swampert, Mega Gyarados, Shadow Raikou, and Mega Blastoise.
Jesse, James, and Meowth have blasted off again!
Jesse and James are no longer available to challenge, but they are sure to return at some point in the future. Their previous line ups weren't particularly difficult to beat, especially since neither used their shields.
Previously, Jesse's lineup included:
- 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. Aggron, Rampardos, Rhyperior, Golem, Terrakion, or Tyranitar all work really well here.
- Ekans: a Poison type, Ekans is weak against Ground and Psychic types. However, Ekans is pretty weak. Mewtwo, Alakazm, or Gardevoir could all work well here. Alternatively, you could put in Metagross or whatever Pokémon you plan to use against Stantler, in order to build up their charged attack.
- Stantler: as a Normal type, Stantler's only weakness is Fighting types. However, because of its potential moveset, Steel and Rock types are your best bet here. Metagross, Regirock, Jirachi, or Cobalion are all great choices here.
After beating Jesse, James' lineup included:
- Pinsir*: a Bug type, James' first Pokémon is Pinsir. Weak to Flying, Rock, and Fire types, great counters include Ho-Oh, Moltres, Chandelure, or Lugia.
- Koffing: a Poison type, Koffing is weak against Ground and Psychic types. However, Koffing is also really weak. Golurk, Excadrill, Jirachi, Lugia, or Landorus all work well here.
- Grimer: another fairly weak Poison type, the Pokémon you use against Koffing will work well here and likely have its charged attack ready.
Upon beating Jesse, you could catch a Shadow Scyther with the potential to be Shiny, and upon beating James, you could catch a Shadow Pinsir with the potential to be Shiny.
Note: Jesse and James fulfill the requirements for beating two Team GO Rocket Grunts in Research tasks.
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 Best Portable Battery Packs for iPhone in 2020, so your phone never dies while you're battling Team GO Rocket!