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Pokemon Go Team Go RocketSource: Niantic

Team GO Rocket has invaded Pokémon Go and whether you're working on a monthly Special Research or just trying to defend the Pokémon Go world, Trainers can challenge Team GO Rocket Grunts, Executives, and even the head honcho himself, Giovanni!

What are Team GO Rocket Invasions?

Pokemon Go Pokeball PlusSource: iMore/ Lory Gil

Team GO Rocket Invasion is a feature in Pokémon GO that allows you to battle an NPC trainer in-game to rescue a Shadow Pokémon and receive a reward. These battles range from simple to downright challenging and are part of a bigger storyline that has several Special Research quests so far. You can read more about those Special Research quests in our guides for A Troubling Situation, Looming in the Shadows, A Challenging Development, The Take-Over Continues, The Shadowy Threat Grows, A Professor's Work is Never Done, and An Inter-egg-sting Development.

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How do I encounter a Team GO Rocket Invasion?

Pokemon Go Team Go Rocket stop 1Pokemon Go Team Go Rocket stop 2Pokemon Go Team Go Rocket stop 3Source: iMore

Team GO Rocket uses normal Pokéstops but changes them to be easily identifiable. They have a unique blue cube floating above it, and as you get nearer the Pokéstop, it turns in to a dark gray version with a red R hovering above it. One of the members of Team Rocket will appear, and tapping on them will initiate the battle!

The Pokéstop disc isn't just discolored either. It also behaves erratically — spinning quickly and changing direction often — which gives you additional clues.

How does a Team GO Rocket Invasion work?

Pokemon Go Team Go Rocket GruntsSource: Niantic

When you spin an Invaded PokéStop, you be challenged to a battle like the ones you are used to seeing against friends and Team Leaders. These battles normally have three different Pokémon of the same type, so make sure you have a selection of battle parties with different types to counteract this.

The Pokémon that you fight have been corrupted by Team GO Rocket. These Shadow Pokémon appear with a dark cloud of energy and red, glowing eyes! Once you defeat them in combat, you will get a chance to catch one of these Shadow Pokémon which have dramatically different stats from normal Pokémon. They're much more aggressive, with higher attack power in exchange for lower defensive capabilities. They make for the ideal glass cannon and are some of the best counters in certain Raid Battles.

You get Premier Pokéballs based on your performance, as well as how many Shadow Pokémon you've rescued and purified, so you can catch the Shadow Pokémon, and if you are lucky enough to capture it, you can either keep it as a Shadow Pokémon or purify it. Purified Pokémon have their stats leveled, their CP boosted and cost less to power up. Both Shadow Pokémon and Purified Pokémon have special moves that can only be changed with Elite TMs or during special events.

Team GO Rocket aerial attacks

Team Go Rocket Balloon SierraSource: iMore

As of July 7, 2020, Team GO Rocket has taken to the skies. Now, Team GO Rocket hot air balloons will spawn randomly on the map, just like Pokémon. These encounters work almost identically to Team GO Rocket PokéStop Invasions.

  • Without a Rocket Radar, you will encounter Grunts.
  • 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 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 the Team GO Rocket leader.

What Shadow Pokémon will I be fighting?

While there is some chance to the Shadow Pokémon a Team Go Rocket Grunt will challenge you with, they provide players with hints just before you challenge them. These hints include:

Phrase Type(s) Pokémon Counters
Coiled and ready to strike! Poison Nidoran, Nidorino, Nidorina, Golbat, Grimer, Muk Psychic, Ground
Normal doesn't mean weak Normal Teddiursa, Zubat, Rattata, Raticate, Porygon2, Porygon-Z, Snorlax Fighting
ROAR!... how does that sound? Dragon Dratini, Dragonair, Dragonite, Flygon, Gyarados Dragon, Ice, Fairy
These waters are treacherous Water Shellder, Psyduck, Golduck, Poliwhirl, Poliwrath, Politoed Electric, Grass
Don't tangle with us Grass Hoppip, Bulbasaur, Ivysaur, Gloom, Vileplume, Weepinbel, Victreebel, Shiftry Fire, Bug, Ice, Flying, Poison
Battle against my Flying-type Pokémon Flying Dragonite, Gyrados, Zubat, Golbat, Crobat, Scyther, Skarmory Rock, Electric, Ice
Do you know how hot Pokémon fire breath can get? Fire Vulpix, Charmeleon, Houndour, Houndoom, Ninetales Water, Rock, Ground
Go, my super bug Pokémon! Bug Weedle, Kakuna, Beedrill, Shuckle, Venonat, Venomoth, Scyther, Scizor Fire, Rock, Flying
You'll be defeated into the ground! Ground Gligar, Gliscor, Pupitar, Vibrava, Flygon, Marowak Water, Grass, Ice
Are you scared of psychics that use unseen power? Psychic Slowpoke, Drowzee, Hypno, Abra, Kadabra, Wobuffet, Ralts, Kirlia Ghost, Dark, Bug
Let's rock and roll! Rock Larvitar, Pupitar, Tyranitar, Aerodactyl Fighting, Water, Grass, Ground, Steel
Ke… ke… ke… ke… ke… ke… Ghost Sableye, Shuppet, Banette, Duskull, Dusclops, Dusknoir Dark, Ghost
This buff physique isn't just for show! Fighting Machop, Machoke, Hitmonlee Psychic, Flying, Fairy
Get ready to be shocked! Electric Magnemite, Magneton, Electabuzz, Mareep, Flaaffy, Ampharos Ground
You're gonna be frozen in your tracks Ice Snover, Abomasnow, Cloyster, Lapras Fire, Steel, Rock, Fighting
Wherever there is light, there is also shadow Dark Stunky, Skuntank, Sableye, Shiftry Fighting, Bug, Fairy
Don't bother, I've already won/Get ready to be defeated!/Winning is for winners Mixed Snorlax, Poliwrath, Gardevoir, Gyarados, Dragonite, Aerodactyl Check line-up*

The final three dialogues are the most challenging because they're not focused on a single type. It helps to check the line-up first and then build a team for the line-up you've encountered. There is no difference between these three lines, but all of them are heavy hitters with high HP.

What is "Purifying?" Pokémon?

Pokemon Go purify shadow pokemonSource: iMore

Purifying your Pokémon changes them from their Shadow state and teaches them a new attack called Return. It also increases their IV scores and level quite a bit. While Purifying every Shadow Pokémon you rescue is not necessary (and if you're limited on Stardust and/or Candy, it can be an outright waste,) there are achievements and Research tasks that rely on Purifying Pokémon. If you purify enough, you will also get additional Premier Balls to capture more Shadow Pokémon.

Keep in mind, the costs for Purifying Shadow Pokémon varies based on the species. Some of the more common species, such as Rattata and Zubat, only cost 1,000 Stardust, while the legendary Pokémon can cost up to 20,000 Stardust. If you need to complete a Research task that requires several purifications, you might want to hold off until you have several of the cheap ones. On the other hand, if you're not trying to complete any achievements or Research, you may want to focus on purifying only the rarer Shadow Pokémon with good IVs.

That having been said, the last rebalance to Shadow Pokémon boosted their base attack and lowered their defense. This makes them some of the best glass cannons in the game. Certain Shadow Pokémon, like Salamence, Dragonite, Gardevoir, and Metagross happen to be top counters in certain Raids. While it is extremely expensive in Stardust and Candies to power them up, it can make a huge difference in some battles.

Strange Eggs?

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.

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The Leaders of Team GO Rocket

After fighting six Team Go Rocket Grunts, players can now also build a special item called a Rocket Radar, which will allow them to track down Team Go Rocket Hideouts, where they can challenge the Leaders of Team Go Rocket. While these Leaders present more challenging battles, including using their Shields, the rewards for defeating them are much better. Likewise, by beating the Executives and completing Special Research, players can challenge the Boss of Team Go Rocket, Giovanni, once per calendar month.

Cliff

Team Go Rocket CliffSource: 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 is Omanyte*. A Rock and Water type, Omanyte can deal Water, Rock, and Ground type damage. It takes double damage from Fighting, Electric, and Ground types, and quad damage from Grass types, so you'll want to focus on a Grass type here. Mega Venusaur, Shadow Venusaur, or Venusaur are excellent in this spot, but Tropius, Meganium, or Leafeon all perform very well. Omanyte is pretty weak though, so you're unlikely to struggle against it.

  • 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. The best counters include Mewtwo or Shadow Mewtwo, Lugia, or Moltres, but Giratina also performs very well because it takes quarter damage from Machamp's Fighting type attacks..

  • If he goes with Onix, you'll want to exploit its quad weakness to Water or Grass types. Ferrothorn, Swampert, or Empoleon all perform very well, but a a Rhyperior with Surf outperforms them all because it resists Onix's attacks.
  • 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 Garchomp, Groudon, or Landorus.

  • For the third slot, Cliff may bring Tyranitar, in which case, your Fighting-types like Hariyama, Machamp, Conkeldurr, or Heracross will perform best.

  • Swampert could be in Cliff's third slot, in which case any Venusaur - normal, Mega, or Shadow - is your best bet, but Meganium, Tangrowth, or Sceptile will also perform well.
  • Torterra can also be Cliff's third Pokémon. A Grass and Ground type with an interesting movepool, your best counters here are Fire types, such as either Mega Charizard or Moltres, or an Ice type like Regice or Articuno.

Sierra

Team Go Rocket SierraSource: 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.

  • Currently, Sierra's first Pokémon is Drowzee*. A Psychic type, Drowzee is weak against Ghost, Dark, and Bug types, making your best counters Giratina, Tyranitar, or Mega Houndoom, but you could also bring in Metagross and use its resistance to Psychic types to build up its charged attack.

  • 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, Shadow Scizor, or Mega Houndoom, but Hydreigon, Genesect, or Heatran also work really well.

  • Shadow Lapras is especially tough to beat because it can have Ice, Water, or Steel type attacks. However, the Pokémon that perform best here are Palkia, Dialga, Shadow Machamp, Magnezone, Shadow Raikou, or Mega Venusaur.
  • 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 Virizion, Poliwrath, Melmetal, Mega Venusaur, or Leafeon.

  • If Houndoom is her third choice, Shadow Machamp, Shadow Swampert, or Mega Blastoise are the best counters. However, if you don't have these expensive Pokémon, Hariyama, Kyogre, or Tyranitar all work very well.

  • Shiftry could be in Sierra's third slot, in which case you want to take advantage of its quad weakness to Bug types, like Genesect, Scizor, Mega Beedrill, or Pinsir.
  • If Sierra sends out Alakazam, you'll want a strong Dark type, like Mega or Shadow Houndoom, Darkrai, Honchkrow, Shadow Weavile, or Absol, but a powerful Pokémon with Ghost type moves, like Giratina or a Shadow Ball Mewtwo also perform well.

Arlo

Pokemon Go Team Rocket ArloSource: 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 is Growlithe*. A powerful Water type will make quick work of Growlithe, such as Mega, Shadow, or normal Blastoise works best, but Swampert, Feraligatr, or Gyarados are good picks too.

  • In the second slot, Arlo could go with Charizard, which has a double weakness against Rock, but Water and Electric perform well too. Regirock, Omastar, Shadow Raikou, Rhyperior, and Golem are the best counters.

  • If Arlo goes with Blastoise, Grass types are best, especially if you have a Mega Venusaur. Virizion also performs well, as does Hydreigon, Leafeon, or Roserade.
  • If Steelix is Arlo's second choice, his move pool is hard to counter. Shadow Swampert, Reshiram, Mega Charizard X, Groudon, Heatran, and Excadrill are the top counters.

  • For his third Pokémon, if Arlo goes with Scizor, you should counter with Fire-type Pokémon. Heatran, any type of Charizard, Reshiram, or Moltres would make a great choice here.

  • Shadow Dragonite hits very, very hard, even without advantage. The best counters include, Alolan Sandshrew, Dialga, Mega Charizard Y, Alolan Ninetales, Regirock, and Togekiss.
  • 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, Terrakion, Mega Charizard Y, Reshiram, Suicune, and Regirock.

Giovanni

Pokemon Go Team Go Rocket GiovanniSource: 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 Tyranitar, Machamp, Conkeldurr, Lucario, and Hariyama.

  • For his second Pokémon, Giovanni could bring Kangaskhan. Fighting is its only weakness, leaving Heracross, Machamp, and Conkeldurr as the obvious top choices, but the stat boost that Mega Charizard Y gets from Mega Evolution, also puts it high up on the list of counters.

  • If he brings Nidoking, Water types like Empoleon, Kyogre, and any form of Blastoise perform best, but a Doom Desire Jirachi makes for a surprisingly strong counter as well.
  • Garchomp could be his second Pokémon. Its moveset can make it difficult to counter, but Togekiss, Gardevoir, Granbull, and Articuno are the top choices here.

  • Giovanni's third Pokémon is currently the very best Pokémon in all of Go: Shadow Mewtwo. A class unto itself, Shadow Mewtwo took the already incredible Mewtwo and gives it an insane attack boost. With a wide variety of moves, including Psychic, Fighting, Fire, Electric, and Ice types, you may have to challenge your particular Shadow Mewtwo twice just so you know which moves to prepare for. That having been said, the top counters include Shadow Mewtwo with Shadow Ball, Mega Houndoom, Shadow Ball Giratina, Shadow Tyranitar, Darkrai, and Chandelure. Ghost and Dark type attacks are going to serve you best, especially Shadow Ball, but you can also take advantage of Mewtwo's weakness to Bug types, so long as it doesn't have Flamethrower.

Pokemon Go Team Go Rocket BalloonSource: Niantic

Jesse! James! Meowth! Have blasted off again!

Pokemon Go Team Go Rocket Jessie JamesSource: Niantic

From July 9, 2020 through September 30, 2020, the iconic duo who have been the face of Team Rocket joined the Team GO Rocket agents in the skies! Jesse and James were available in Pokémon Go, flying in on their Meowth hot air balloon to bring double trouble! While there is no word yet on if Jesse and James will return, these were their line ups before.

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.

Questions?

Got any questions about taking on Team GO Rocket? Any tips for your fellow Trainers? Let us know in the comments below, and be sure to check out our Best Battery Packs guide to keep your phone charged while trying to catch 'em all!

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