Pokémon Go Legendary Pokémon had been hotly anticipated for some time, and finally arrived one year after the game released.

Fans of the classic games will remember them fondly - from the flying trio Articuno, Zapdos, Moltres to the elusive Mewtwo and Mew in Red, Blue and Yellow to Gen 2's Gold, Silver and Crystal, Legendary beasts Raikou, Entei, Suicune and beyond.

These are amongst the game's rarest creatures, and can be caught from multiple sources - from Raids to Field Research rewards - depending on the month in question.

On this page:

Cresselia counters, other Legendary Pokémon currently available

Legendaries are primarily caught in Raid battles, and much challenging than standard encounters, so will require as many players as possible to take them down.

Living in major cities with gyms at popular landmarks will naturally attract players without organising before hand - just look out for the blue and white Egg, and get there for the countdown, and provided you are in a popular spot, other players should be there waiting for it to begin.

pokemon_go_legendary_cresselia

Otherwise, joining Facebook or Discord groups for your town or area is a popular way to organise groups. In battle, you essentially want to field powerful Pokémon with strong opposing Types.

You can also get Legendaries by completing a week's worth of Research quests. Like Legendaries in Raids, these rotate regularly, and focus on previously released Legendaries for those who missed them. Both types are listed below.

Currently active Legendary Pokémon

Legendary PokémonTypeCountersTipsAvailibility
Cresselia (Gen 4) Psychic Tyranitar, Gengar, Houndoom Dark attacks are your best bet against the pure Psychic-type Cresselia. Ghost attacks are also particularly useful, so if you have a Mewtwo with Shadow Ball, then that'll also be worth using. Until Tuesday, December 18th at 9pm UK / 1pm PST (Level 5 Raids)
Articuno (Gen 1) Ice, Flying N/A Remember to use Pinap Berry when catching to receive more Candy Possible 7 day December Field Research reward
Moltres (Gen 1) Fire, Flying N/A Remember to use Pinap Berry when catching to receive more Candy Possible 7 day December Field Research reward
Zapdos (Gen 1) Electric, Flying N/A Remember to use Pinap Berry when catching to receive more Candy Possible 7 day December Field Research reward
Raikou (Gen 2) Electric N/A Remember to use Pinap Berry when catching to receive more Candy Possible 7 day December Field Research reward
Entei (Gen 2) Fire N/A Remember to use Pinap Berry when catching to receive more Candy Possible 7 day December Field Research reward
Suicune (Gen 2) Ice N/A Remember to use Pinap Berry when catching to receive more Candy Possible 7 day December Field Research reward

Previously available Legendary Pokémon

If interested, here are the Legendary Pokémon previously made available. Note that some are making a comeback as Research rewards, with the currently active one listed in the section above.

Legendary PokémonTypeCountersTipsAvailibility
Articuno (Gen 1) Ice, Flying Omastar (Rock moves)
Golem
Tyranitar
Flareon
Arcanine
Prioritise Rock-type attacks to be double-effective. When catching, wait for it to drop to the lowest of its two heights, where it's in easier range, then use the attack-animation technique mentioned below. Summer 2017
Moltres (Gen 1) Fire, Flying Omastar (Rock moves)
Golem
Tyranitar
Vaporeon
Kabutops
About the same difficulty as a Tyranitar Raid, due to low defenses. Prioritise Rock-type attacks to be double-effective. When catching, it doesn't move between two heights like Articuno, but has a smaller circle, so focus on using the attack-animation technique mentioned below. Summer 2017
Zapdos (Gen 1) Electric, Flying Golem
Piloswine (double Ice moves)
Tyranitar
Dragonite
Jynx
Weak against Ice and Rock, so once again Golem is great to bring with you. During the catch phase, Zapdos is closer but moves around a lot, but will return to the centre, which is the best time to throw - so hold steady and wait until then. Summer 2017
Mewtwo (Gen 1) Psychic Tyranitar
Mewtwo
Lugia
Houndoom
Gengar
Prioritise Dark attacks if you have them, as well as powerful Psychics. Until Tuesday, October 23rd at 9pm UK / 1pm PST (Level 5 Raids)
Raikou (Gen 2) Electric Rhydon, Golem, Dophan Weak against Ground, Grass creatures. Autumn 2017
Entei (Gen 2) Fire Golem, Vaporeon, Omastar Weak against Ground, Rock, Water creatures. Autumn 2017
Suicune (Gen 2) Ice Zapdos, Venusaur, Jolteon Weak against Electic, Grass creatures. Autumn 2017
Lugia (Gen 2) Psychic, Flying Articuno
Tyranitar
Gengar
Omastar
Houndoom
Prioritise Dark, Rock, Ice and Electric-type attacks, but beware its water-type Hydro Pump! The toughest to beat, but a large circle for catching and minimal movement. Use attack-animation technique mentioned below. Summer 2017
April 2018
Ho-oh (Gen 2) Fire, Flying Golem, Raikou, Tyranitar, Vaporeon Weak against Rock, Electric and Water. Autumn 2017
Groudon (Gen 3) Ground Gyarados, Dragonite, Venusaur, Exeggutor Weak against Ice, Grass, Water. Is very far away during capture, with rapid attacks, so straight throws might be easier. January 15, 9pm UK / 1pm PST
Kyogre (Gen 3) Water Jolteon, Raikou, Venusaur, Exeggutor Weak against Electric, Grass. Like Groudon it is far away, and moves side-to-side regularly; as such, play without AR and throw only when it's about to return to the centre (the 'end' of it's movement) to increase your chances. February 14, 9pm UK / 1pm PST
Rayquaza (Gen 3) Flying, Dragon Articuno, Lapras, Dragonite, Piloswine, Golem, Tyranitar Double weakness against Ice makes Articuno and Lapras top-tier picks. Windy weather bonus will help Rock-types like Golem and Tyranitar burst it down, too. March 16, 9pm UK / 1pm PST
Latias (Gen 3) Psychic, Dragon Rayquaza
Dragonite
Salamence
Tyranitar
Gengar
Mewtwo
Latios/Latias
Prioritise Dragon, Ghost, Dark, Bug and Fairy attacks that are all super effective. Dragon-types have the best DPS, but will go down faster, too. May 8th to June 5th in North America, South America and Africa
Latios (Gen 3) Psychic, Dragon Rayquaza
Dragonite
Salamence
Tyranitar
Gengar
Mewtwo
Latios/Latias
Prioritise Dragon, Ghost, Dark, Bug and Fairy attacks that are all super effective. Dragon-types have the best DPS, but will go down faster, too. May 8th to June 5th in Europe and Asia
Regice (Gen 3) Ice Moltres
Entei
Flareon
Machamp
Weak against Fire and Fighting In Level 5 Raids until July 19th
Registeel (Gen 3) Steel Moltres
Entei
Flareon
Rhydon
Donphan
Weak against Fire, Fighting and Ground In Level 5 Raids until August 16th
Regirock (Gen 3) Rock Machamp
Kyogre
Groudon
Gyarados
Breloom
Weak against Ground, Water, Fighting, Grass In Level 5 Raids until September 20th
Giratina (Gen 4) Ghost / Dragon Rayquaza
Dragonite
Latios
Salamence
Gengar
Prioritise double Dragon attacks if you have them, as well as powerful Ghosts like Gengar, which can be useful but is also very fragile against the wrong moves and won't last long. Alternatively use Ice-type attackers if you're struggling for options. Until Tuesday, November 20th at 9pm UK / 1pm PST (Level 5 Raids)

How to catch Legendaries and how to unlock Legendary Raids in Pokémon Go

Ninatic finally unlocked Legendary Pokémon in Pokémon Go following Pokémon Go Fest. Summer 2017 saw Legendary birds Moltres, Articuno and Moltres come and go, with Legendary beasts Raikou, Entei, Suicune here for Autumn - and the start of a Gen 3 Legendary rollout over the winter, starting with Groudon.

Though they are similar to standard Raid Battles in many ways, there are several differences in both their appearance and capture:

  • Legendaries are only be available via Legendary Raids, the highest difficulty of Raid Battle - although they're now beginning to reappear as Research Breakthrough Rewards for completing Field Research Quests, too.
  • While regular Raids appear at random, Legendary Raids appear for set periods of time. For example, in Autumn 2017, the Legendary beasts Raikou, Entei and Suicune rotated between regions each month. Before that, Legendary Birds debuted for one week at a time over summer 2017. You can read the current active Legendaries later in the article.
  • EX Raid Battles see certain elusive Legendaries, such as Mewtwo, require an EX Raid Pass invite before you can participate. To get an invite, you must beat a Raid Boss at that Gym before the EX Raid appears, as well as several other requirements discussed in our Raids article.
mewtwo
  • Legendary Raid Pokémon have the highest CP of any Raid creature. For example, Articuno was at 37,603, Moltres at 41,953, Zapdos at 42,691, Lugia at 42,753 and MewTwo at a staggering 49,430.
  • Once the battle is over, the Legendary still must be captured like any other Raid, though the capture rate is lower.
  • Once you have captured the Legendary, you cannot use it to defend Gyms - but they can of course attack with them in subsequent Raids.
  • The Buddy Distance for Legendaries is 20km per one Candy - so we'd recommend using Rare Candy rewards from Raid battles as a way to easily power them up.

How to capture Legendary Pokémon

Like other Raid encounters, once a Legendary's defeated you have to then catch it. This is difficult seeing as, according to research available from Pokémon Go community The Silph Road, your chances are pretty slim.

  • The base catch rate for Legendary Pokémon, aside from Mewtwo, is currently 3% - meaning with no modifiers of any kind, throwing the ball straight, not using any berries and not even getting a "Nice" throw, you have a 1 in 33 chance of catching the Pokémon - not great odds.
  • There are several ways of increasing your chances - Golden Razz Berries and Curveballs (when you spin the PokéBall before releasing your throw) drastically increase your chances, whilst Nice, Great, and Excellent throws increase those chances further respectively, and there's also a small bonus for having a Bronze, Silver, or Gold Medal (see more in our guide to Pokémon Go Catch Bonuses).
  • A Golden Razz Berry, Curveball, and Excellent throw, with a Gold medal for that Legendary's Type, give you a 24% chance of catching the Legendary - meaning one in roughly four throws like this will catch it, which is much better considering the roughly 5-13 balls that will be available!
  • Mewtwo's base catch rate is currently a 6% chance - meaning it's considerably easier to catch than the other legendaries, and actually easier than some Tier 4 Raid bosses, too!

If that's not clear enough, here's a handy image, created by reddit user and Silph Road member Epimetheos:

Legendary_Catch_Rates
Epimetheos' visual is an excellent way to represent your chances. Note that the X axis along the bottom, although unmarked, represents the different levels of throw you get - Normal, Nice, Great, Excellent - separated by each vertical line into sections.

With the above in mind, what can you do to increase your chances of catching Legendary Pokémon? It's recommended you:

  • Attempt Curved and Nice, Great or Excellent throws (landing the ball in the centre of the circle - the smaller the better)
  • Using a Golden Razz Berry between every catch attempt
  • Level up as many relevant Catch Bonus medals as possible to Gold by catching wild creatures of the same Type
  • As well as increasing the chances of individual throws, you want to have as many attempts as possible by earning more Premier Balls for the catch phase. One way is to target a Gym controlled by your team (which can be somewhat out of your control), and another is dealing a high amount of damage. It's worth noting your contribution is wiped out when your team faints, so you want to keep them alive for the entire fight, and one way of doing that is bring high defense tank creatures (Snorlax and Blissey) so you can absorb a lot of damage.
  • Finally, you want to land as many Premier Balls you can. Legendaries and other high level Raid creatures attack very regularly, and since they are immune during these attacks, you can waste a lot of opportunities simply trying to land a single ball. While these attacks are random, there is a way to avoid them; by observing these attacks, and throwing the ball before the animation ends, the ball will land in the vulnerable window between attacks. This Silph Road thread discusses the practice in detail, as well as the following video from Mesa:

The history of Legendaries in Pokémon Go

Before we even heard their presence was confirmed in the big Gym rework, we already knew the various Legendaries were in the game.

That's thanks to some good old-fashioned datamining. NesstendoYT on YouTube was one major player, who dug through the game's files to discover that the above first generation Legendary Pokémon are indeed listed in the game:

Their absence in the game led to plenty of speculation, particularly with one of the strongest and most famous Legendary Pokémon - Mewtwo - being the focus of one of the game's first trailers, showing crowds of people teaming up to fight it, whittling down its health as a timer ticks down before capturing the Pokémon in a packed Times Square, suggesting that Mewtwo and other Legendaries could be unlocked through public events rather than random encounters.

That's since been confirmed of course - but it's interesting Mewtwo pops up again at the end of the trailer... maybe that's the Legendary Raid that needs to be tackled in Chicago?

As for Gen 2's Raikou, Entei, Suicune, Lugia, Ho-oh and Celebi, they've appeared in datamining efforts, too, with their stats showing up alongside the likes of the birds, Mew and Mewtwo.

These stats reveal them to be among the best Pokémon in our Pokémon Go tier list, with Mewtwo and Ho-Oh having some of the highest base attacks in the game, more so than existing creatures Alakazam and Dragonite.

The datamine also revealed that these creatures have no capture rate at all, so perhaps that lends itself to the theory that Legendaries will automatically be caught after defeating them in a Legendary Raid?


Pokémon Go Battles have arrived! Now's a good time to refresh yourself with our Best Pokémon lists and pick up some Sinnoh Stones. Elsewhere this month, the big Pokémon Go Holiday event for Christmas 2018 is here, and we've seen the usual new December Field Research and additional Shinies. Meanwhile, new Pokémon Go Gen 4 Pokémon continue to be slowly released, such as the addition of Legendary Cresselia, and there's been an update to the Type Chart and type effectiveness multipliers, too.


We knew for some time that Legendaries were coming, but what's the story, and how did we get to this point?

When did we think Legendaries were coming? The Legendary teases:

In an interview with Wired Germany (via Den of Geek, Niantic CEO John Hanke said "with certainty that we will see [legendaries] more this year" - so that at least narrowed it down to 2017!

The biggest suggestion to date came from a five word acceptance speech from Niantic during the 21st Annual Webby Awards: "This summer will be legendary", a heavy hint we were set to see something soon:

That seemed to have been corroborated by the latest trickle of information, where Niantic suggested that "Legendary Pokémon and battles between players" were set to arrive some time this summer.

Whether this was going to happen at the same time as the implementation of the new Raids feature or a little while after was unknown, although things certainly did at least appear to be tying together quite nicely at that point.

The first Legendary Pokémon spotted in Pokémon Go - but how did it appear?

art

Back in early August of 2016, before any of this official news was even close to being announced, a player topped a Gym in Ohio with an Articuno, which is said to be the first Legendary appearance in the game. Multiple players verified the sighting, but how the player got the creature is in question. Amazingly, the owner claimed she received the Pokémon as part of an apology from developer Niantic after contacting them via email about an issue.

Other possibilities could be an exploit that has edited the creature's data to appear in the game, an error that has seen one spawn accidentally, or a glitch turn another Pokemon into the famed Legendary, similar to a case reported by a user who had their wild Caterpie transform into a Charizard once in their possession.

What else we know about Legendary Pokémon in Pokémon Go

1

Finally, it's also worth pointing out - for history's sake, at the very least - that all this time there's been a hunt of Legendary Pokémon in plain sight, with users who have progressed to level 5 and interacted with a gym find themselves invited to one of three teams - Team Instinct, Team Mystic, or Team Valor - which are shown to be tied to Zapdos, Articuno and Moltres respectively. Could participating in teams play a part in how you unlock these particular Pokémon? It could still be the case that those Legendary Birds are tied to special Team-specific Raids at some point down the line.

The addition of Pokémon Go's Buddy system also paves the way for players to earn Candy and power up rare creatures without the need to catch any more - perfect for ultra rare Pokémon such as Legendaries. Meanwhile, the eventual arrival of Ditto - which was just as elusive as the Legendaries for sometime - is at least a sign that Niantic have been slowly working their way towards introducing all of the game's missing Pokémon.

In the meantime, an upcoming update will introduce Pokémon trading to help flesh out the gaps in your Pokédex, and our Pokémon Go guide, tips and tricks page to pick up a few pointers you might not know.

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About the author

Matthew Reynolds

Matthew Reynolds

Guides Editor

Matthew edits guides and other helpful things at Eurogamer.net. When not doing that, he's out and about playing Pokémon Go or continuing to amass his amiibo collection.

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