Previous 1 of 3

Pokemon Go Team Go RocketSource: Niantic

With trainer battles, trading, and other features, Pokémon GO is starting to resemble the outlines of the mainline Pokémon games more and more every day. The addition of Team Rocket has added to the feeling of Pokémon GO being a full-fledged title like never before.

In this incarnation, Team Rocket is called Team GO Rocket, and instead of stealing Pokémon, they're taking over PokéStops and forcing corrupted Shadow Pokémon to fight for them!

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 three 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, and The Take-Over Continues.

Get an iPhone SE with Mint Mobile service for $30/mo

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/ Rene Ritchie and iMore/Rene Ritchie

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!

I was having trouble identifying them at first, but the Pokéstop disc isn't just discolored. It also behaves erratically — spinning quickly and changing direction often — which gives you additional clues.

How does an invasion work?

Pokemon Go Team Go Rocket GruntsSource: Niantic

When you tap on the member of Team GO Rocket, you enter a trainer 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.

You also get to use the new special attack system where you try to collect the tokens as they fall through the frame. This powers up your attack, making it more potent. The Pokémon that you fight have been corrupted by Team GO Rocket and appear with a dark cloud around it and scary glowing eyes! Once you defeat them in combat, you will get a chance to catch one.

You get Raid Pokéballs based on your performance so you can catch the Shadow Pokémon, and if you are lucky enough to capture it, you get to keep it in your Pokédex as a unique Pokémon. So if you are a collector like me, you will need to keep at least one of each of these new Pokémon instead of evolving them up or purifying them out.

They aren't easy to catch with the few Pokéballs you get, so make sure you have a store of berries to help you. These are aggressive Pokémon and can be tough to beat!

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! (Zubat, Golbat, Venonat, Venomoth, Grimer, and Muk) Best Counters Tyranitar, Groudon, Raikou, and Rhyperior
  • Normal doesn't mean weak (Porygon, Porygon2, Porygon-Z, and Snorlax) Best Counters Machamp, Breloom, Hariyama, and Tyranitar
  • ROAR!... how does that sound? (Dratini, Dragonair, Dragonite, Flygon, and Gyrados) Best Counters Mamoswine, Glaceon, Weavile, Magnezone, and Raikou
  • These waters are treacherous (Magikarp, Gyarados, Mudkip, Psyduck, Golduck, Poliwag, Poliwhirl, Poliwrath, and Politoed) Best Counters Alolan Exeggutor, Sceptile, Leafeon, Tangrowth, Raikou, and Magnezone
  • Don't tangle with us (Bulbasaur, Ivysaur, Oddish, Gloom, Vileplume, Bellsprout, Weepinbel, Victreebel, and Shiftry) Best Counters Moltres, Charizard, and Entei
  • Battle against my Flying-type Pokémon (Dragonite, Gyrados, Zubat, Golbat, Crobat, and Scyther) Best Counters Tyranitar, Mamoswine, Raikou, and Magnezone
  • Do you know how hot Pokémon fire breath can get? (Growlithe, Charmeleon, Houndour, Houndoom, Magmar, and Arcanine) Best Counters Tyranitar, Kyogre, and Vaporeon
  • Go, my super bug Pokémon! (Weedle, Kakuna, Beedrill, Venonat, Venomoth, Scyther, and Scizor) Best Counters Charizard, Moltres, and Chandelure
  • You'll be defeated into the ground! (Sandshrew, Marowak, Pupitar, Trapinch, Vibrava, Flygon, and Larvitar) Best Counters Gyarados and Exeggcutor
  • Are you scared of psychics that use unseen power? (Drowzee, Hypno, Abra, Kadabra, Wobuffet, Ralts, and Kirlia) Best Counters Tyranitar, Weaville, and Houndoom
  • Let's rock and roll! (Larvitar, Pupitar, and Tyranitar) Best Counters Machamp, Hariyama, Breloom, Blaziken, Toxicroak, and Emboar
  • Ke… ke… ke… ke… ke… ke… (Sableye, Shuppet, Banette, Duskull, Dusclops, and Dusknoir)
    Best Counters Darkraki, Weavile, Gengar, and Tyranitar
  • This buff physique isn't just for show! (Hitmonchan and Hitmonlee)
    Alakazam, Mewtwo, and Moltres
  • Get ready to be shocked! (Magnemite, Magneton, Electabuzz, Mareep, Flaaffy, and Ampharos)
    Best Counters Groudon, Rhyperior, and Excadrill
  • Don't bother, I've already won / Get ready to be defeated! / Winning is for winners (Charmander, Charmeleon, Charizard, Squirtle, Wartortle, Blastoise, Bulbasaur, Ivysaur, Venasaur) or (Lapras, Snorlax, Gyarados, Poliwrath, Dragonite, and Gardevoir)
    Best Counters The hardest to counter, be prepared to potentially have to fight this one a second or even third time
    In the rare case of a triple Snorlax: Tyranitar, Dialga, Metagross, Dragonite, Lucario, and Ursaring

What is "Purifying?" Pokémon?

Pokemon Go purify shadow pokemonSource: iMore/ Rene Ritchie

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.

Previous 1 of 3
2 of 3

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.


Team Go Rocket CliffSource: Niantic

The first of the Team Go Rocket Executives, Cliff can bring the following Shadow Pokémon into battle:

  • Stantler
  • Marowak
  • Onix
  • Swampert
  • Tyranitar
  • Torterra

The best counters for going up against Cliff are Machamp, Venusaur, and Dialga.


Team Go Rocket SierraSource: Niantic

The second of the Team Go Rocket Executives, Sierra can bring the following Shadow Pokémon into battle:

  • Absol
  • Alakazam
  • Lapras
  • Caturne
  • Shiftry
  • Houndoom
  • Gallade

The best counters for going up against Sierra are Machamp, Tyranitar, and Lugia.


Pokemon Go Team Rocket ArloSource: Niantic

The third of the Team Go Rocket Executives and former friend of Team Valor's Candela, Arlo can bring the following Shadow Pokémon into battle:

  • Bagon
  • Charizard
  • Blastoise
  • Steelix
  • Scizor
  • Dragonite
  • Salamence

The best counters for going up against Arlo are Tyranitar, Kyogre, and either Moltres, or Mamoswine.


Pokemon Go Team Go Rocket GiovanniSource: Niantic

The Boss of Team Go Rocket himself, Giovanni can bring Legendary Shadow Pokémon into battle. Currently, Articuno is in his third slot, but promotional videos and images suggest that he will eventually have all three of the Gen 1 Legendary birds. Given that he can be challenged once per calendar month, it seems like his Legendary Shadow Pokémon may rotate much like Research Breakthrough encounters. His current lineup includes:

  • Persian
  • Rhydon
  • Hippowdon
  • Dugtrio
  • Moltres

The best Pokémon to counter Giovanni are Machamp, a Mamoswine, and a Tyranitar.

2 of 3
3 of 3 Next

What's new with Team Go Rocket?

Update January 1, 2020: The Take-Over Continues

For the month of January, a new Special Research has become available for players who've completed previous Team Go Rocket Special Research. For players who have not, they can still complete the previous Special Research to challenge Giovanni this month, but instead of Shadow Zapdos, they will face and have a chance to capture Shadow Moltres.

Update December 1, 2019: A Challenging Development

For the month of December, a new Special Research was available for players who had completed Looming in the Shadows. For players who had not, they could still complete Looming in the Shadows to challenge Giovanni this month, but instead of Shadow Articuno, they faced and had the chance to capture a Shadow Zapdos.

Update November 7, 2019: Looming in the Shadows

Pokémon Go released a massive update with new items and Special Research that allows players to challenge Team Go Rocket Leaders and Giovanni himself. This will be an ongoing new feature instead of a limited event. Still, to celebrate the release, Meowth, Ekans, and Koffing are spawning more frequently, while several Pokémon important to Team Rocket will appear more regularly in Raids.

Update July 25, 2019: Team GO Rocket has blasted off... Again!

Ok the Team GO Rocket event is live again, for realsies this time. I've been out myself and fought a Grunt, who almost beat me because the Pokémon the game chose for me were the wrong type, and had half health! If I were you, I would make sure to choose my battle team wisely.

Now that the Event is fully live, it's time to find your Shadow Pokémon and free them!

Updated July 23, 2019: Team Rocket on pause

As of right now, the Team GO Rocket is on hold. It seems that it introduced a bug that made the Rocket Pokéstops only appear at each Pokéstop once. So if you were unlucky enough to be 5 minutes behind a person playing, you wouldn't be able to ever see them spawn. Not ideal at all.

No timespan on this current outage, but hopefully, it won't take them long to put everything back up. When you introduce a big change to a living game, bad things can happen. I'm sure Niantic is working hard to fix this as soon as possible.

When can I find Team GO Rocket Invasions in Pokémon GO?

The Team GO Rocket invasion is live now, and you should start seeing the funny colored Pokéstops in the local area soon!

Pokemon Go


Pokemon Go Banner Source: Niantic

We may earn a commission for purchases using our links. Learn more.

3 of 3 Next