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! We here at iMore have everything you need to know about Team GO Rocket, and be sure to check out our best Pokémon Go accessories so you're fully equipped to face off against them!
What are Team GO Rocket Invasions?
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 The Higher They Fly...,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.
How do I encounter a Team GO Rocket Invasion?
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 into 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?
When you spin an Invaded PokéStop, you are 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
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:
|Coiled and ready to strike!||Poison||Skorupi*, Nidoran♂*, Nidoran♀*, Nidorino, Nidorina, Muk, Weezing||Psychic, Ground|
|Normal doesn't mean weak||Normal||Teddiursa*, Raticate, Porygon2, Porygon-Z, Snorlax||Fighting|
|ROAR!... how does that sound?||Dragon||Dratini*, Dragonair, Dragonite, Flygon||Dragon, Ice, Fairy|
|These waters are treacherous||Water||Magikarp*, Gyarados||Electric, Grass|
|Don't tangle with us||Grass||Hoppip*, Oddish*, Tangela*, Gloom*, Skiploom*, Victreebel, Shiftry, Vileplume||Fire, Bug, Ice, Flying, Poison|
|Battle against my Flying-type Pokémon||Flying||Starly*, Zubat*, Golbat, Staravia, Crobat, Gyarados, Dragonite||Rock, Electric, Ice|
|Do you know how hot Pokémon fire breath can get?||Fire||Vulpix*, Houndour*, Houndoom*, Ninetales*, Magmar*, Charmeleon, Arcanine||Water, Rock, Ground|
|Go, my super bug Pokémon!||Bug||Skorupi*, Anorith*, Shuckle*, Pinsir, Venomoth, Scizor, Scyther, Beedrill||Fire, Rock, Flying|
|You'll be defeated into the ground!||Ground||Diglett*, Swinub*, Pupitar, Vibrava, Marowak, Flygon, Gliscor||Water, Grass, Ice|
|Are you scared of psychics that use unseen power?||Psychic||Slowpoke*, Exeggcute*, Wobuffet*, Drowzee, Kadabra, Kirlia, Exeggutor, Hypno||Ghost, Dark, Bug|
|Let's rock and roll!||Rock||Aron*, Nosepass*, Larvitar*, Pupitar*, Lairon*, Tyranitar||Fighting, Water, Grass, Ground, Steel|
|Ke… ke… ke… ke… ke… ke…||Ghost||Misdreavous*, Shuppet*, Duskull*, Dusclops, Banette, Dusknoir, Sableye||Dark, Ghost|
|This buff physique isn't just for show!||Fighting||Machop*, Makuhita*, Machoke, Hitmonchan, Hitmonlee, Hariyama||Psychic, Flying, Fairy|
|Get ready to be shocked!||Electric||Eletrike*, Electabuzz*, Mareep*, Flaaffy, Ampharos||Ground|
|You're gonna be frozen in your tracks||Ice||Snover*, Spheal*, Cloyster*, Swinub*, Sealeo*, Abomasnow, Lapras||Fire, Steel, Rock, Fighting|
|Wherever there is light, there is also shadow||Dark||Murkrow* Poochyena*, Mightyena, Sableye*, Cacturne, 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||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.
Note: Pokémon marked with an asterisk are potential encounters for beating this Grunt.
What is "Purifying?" Pokémon?
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.
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.
Pokémon with the potential to be Shiny are indicated with an asterisk.
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.
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 Ho-Oh.
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! Meowth! Team Rocket has 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.
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!
Updated August 2021: Updated for newest updates in Pokémon GO