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Pokémon Go Leader counters: Arlo, Cliff, Sierra counters and strategies in Pokémon Go

How to defeat the three Team Go Rocket Leaders during the Rocket takeover event.

The Team GO Rocket takeover event is back, which means the Team Go Rocket Leaders Arlo, Cliff and Sierra are invading PokéStops in Pokémon Go with a whole new line-up of Shadow Pokémon.

It's up to you to hunt down Arlo, Cliff and Sierra by collecting Mysterious Components and a Rocket Radar in Pokémon Go, which will also help as part of the October 2023 Showdown in the Shadows quest.

Defeating each of these leaders will give you the chance to encounter a rare Shadow Pokémon! As of October 2023, Sierra has Sableye, Arlo has Bellsprout and Cliff has Dratini. All three of these can be shiny, meaning you can get your hands on an ultra-rare shiny Shadow Pokémon!

Facing all three is also the route to a battle against the formidable Giovanni himself -- and his even more formidable Shadow Regigigas - if you take them down as part of the Team GO Rocket quest.

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Watch us battle Guzzlord - one of the Ultra Beasts in Pokémon GoWatch on YouTube

Team Go Rocket Leaders and strategies explained in Pokémon Go

With each Team GO Rocket takeover event comes a quest that gives you a chance to take down Giovanni and catch a legendary Shadow Pokémon. As of January 2024, the latest quest is included within the Timeless Travels special research quest, which earns you a Super Rocket Radar, which is effectively your ticket to take on the head of Team GO Rocket, Giovanni. But, to do that, you first need to defeat his three Team GO Rocket leaders, as part of the aforementioned quest.

This requires you collect six Mysterious Components from Grunts, which you combine into a Rocket Radar that reveals the location of a Team GO Rocket Leader. The choice given to you is random, so if you are after a specific Leader, keep checking until the one you need appears.

These will be tough battles, so a brute force strategy will not always work. Instead, consider the following strategies:

  • Since you need to lean on countering with types, it's best to go in with a prepared team with strong counters.
  • A Leader's line-up will be somewhat unique for that encounter - it's made of a small selection of creatures, so you can't exactly be sure which Pokémon you'll be facing. You might have to face them once to learn their line-up, then change yours to counter it.
  • Leaders will always use their two shields for your first two Charged moves, which will be followed by a two-second delay before they can attack. This same delay occurs when you switch Pokémon. Ideally, this means your lead Pokémon must be strong enough to survive long enough to deliver two Charged moves, and do so as fast as possible, so you can then dealing out damage properly. For example, Melmetal is a good candidate for this.
  • You can face a Leader as many times as you like, so don't worry if you lose the first time!
The three current Team GO Rocket Leader Pokémon you can catch are Bagon, Zubat and Tentacool.

Ultimately, victory depends on your ability to create a team that takes advantage of as many of the Team GO Rocket Leader's team's weaknesses as possible, so having a wide roster of Pokémon available will help you form flexible teams.

Below the video, you'll find the current possible lineups for each Team Go Rocket Leader during the Team GO Rocket takeover event.

Pokémon Go Mysterious Components Gameplay - How to create a Rocket RadarWatch on YouTube

Arlo counters and line-up in Pokémon Go

Below you'll find the current line up for Arlo in Pokémon Go, as of January 2024.

Remember - the first Pokémon is always the same, and is the one you'll be given the chance to catch if you win. The rest are randomly selected from a pool of three:

First Pokémon Second Pokémon Third Pokémon
Bagon Charizard Scizor
Hypno Dragonite
Golurk Salamence

If you're lucky with Arlo's lineup, you can defeat him using a team comsisting of Ice, Fairy and either Rock, Dark or Ghost-type Pokémon as these are the major type overlaps throughout his options. You should still scout ahead - especially if he chooses Scizor for his final Pokémon where only a Fire-type will do - but, if you focus on three of these five types, then there's a good chane you'll be able to defeat him.

Bagon is weak to Dragon, Fairy and Ice-type Pokémon. Though you'll want to avoid Dragon-types as they'll also be weak to Bagon, along with the other two Dragon-types Arlo could possibly have in his team. We recommend choosing an Ice-type counter for Bagon, such as Mamoswine, Kyurem or Baxcalibur, as this Pokémon will come in handy if Golurk is Arlo's second choice.

Hypno is weak to Bug, Dark and Ghost-type Pokémon.

When it comes to Arlo's second Pokémon, we recommend having either a Ghost or Dark-type Pokémon on hand, because both Golurk and Hypno are weak to these types. For Dark-types we recommend Tyranitar, Hydreigon or Umbreon. When it comes to Ghost-types, Gengar, Chandelure or Origin Giratina are all suitable counters.

If, however, you find yourself facing Charizard, then you'll want to include either a Water, Rock or Electric-type Pokémon. We recommend selecting a Rock-type for battling Charizard, because both Salamence and Dragonite - two of Arlo's third options - are also weak to these attacks due to being part Flying-type. This will grant you a small advantage and allow you to get some extra hits in before switching to your third Pokémon.

There's a good chance you'll find yourself facing a Dragon-type for Alro's third Pokémon as both Salamence and Dragonite are options. If you find yourself facing one of these dragons, we recommend using either an Ice or Fairy-type Pokémon. If you don't have a strong Pokémon for either of these types, then a Rock-type Pokémon would also work well. When it comes to Fairy-types, we recommend choosing either Gardevoir or Sylveon, with Togekiss being an alternative if you don't have either of these two Pokémon.

Finally, if you find yourself facing Scizor for Arlo's final choice, it's important to recommend that Scizor's only weaknesses is Fire-type Pokémon. So grab you're strongest Fire-type Pokémon, such as Reshiram, Heatran or Volcarona.

Alro's team is time round is an interesting one, because there's a solid chance you might be able to defeat him in one attempt if you get lucky with the type matchups. Yet, Charizard and Scizor can easily stonewall you if he goes with them.

Cliff counters and line-up in Pokémon Go

Below you'll find the current line up for Cliff in Pokémon Go, as of January 2024.

Remember - the first Pokémon is always the same, and is the one you'll be given the chance to catch if you win. The rest are randomly selected from a pool of three:

First Pokémon Second Pokémon Third Pokémon
Zubat Gallade Tyranitar
Aerodactyl Crobat
Kingdra Cradily

While Cliff's current lineup keeps some of the Pokémon from his previous one, this doesn't mean that you can use the same counters. Instead, we suggest creating a team containing a mixture of Ice, Rock, Fairy, Fighting and Steel-types as these are the most common weaknesses overlaps. You can also want to consider including a strong Electric-type Pokémon such as Zekrom, Xurkitree or Therian Forme Thunderus.

For Zubat, we recommend choosing either a Rock or Ice-type Pokémon, because if Cliff chooses Aerodactyl as his second Pokémon, it will share these weaknesses. When it comes to Rock-types, you'll want to consider using either Rhyperior, Rampardos or Terrakion, while powerful Ice-type counters include Kyurem, Baxcaliburor Mamoswine.

Crobat is weak to Electric, Ice, Psychic and Rock-types.

If you're scounting ahead or don't have to battle Aerodactyl, we recommend using a Fairy-type counter for Cliff's second Pokémon. This is because both Gallade and Kingdra are weak to Fairy-type Pokémon. Ideally, you should choose either Gardevoir or Sylveon due to their stronger Fairy attacks, but Togekiss can still come in quite handy.

Remember - despite its appearance, Kingdra is not weak to Electric-type attacks.

When it comes to Cliff's third Pokémon you will most likely have to scout ahead, because Crobat doesn't share any weaknesses with Tyranitar. We do, however, recommend selecting Lucario as your scouting Pokémon as it's Fighting and Steel-typing means it has a strong advantage against both Tyranitar and Cradily.

If you don't have a Lucario, then another Ice-type Pokémon will work well against Crobat and Cradily. Meanwhile, a different Fighting or Steel-type Pokémon will be able to target both Tyrantiar and Cradily's weaknesses. Again, we do recommend using Lucario if you're facing either Tyranitar or Cradily, but good Fighting-type alternatives include Terrakion or Keldeo. For Steel-types, you should consider using Metagross, Dialga or Zacian.

Don't forget that Zacian is also part Fairy-type, which gives it another advantage over Tyranitar.

Sierra counters and line-up in Pokémon Go

Below you'll find the current line up for Sierra in Pokémon Go, as of January 2024.

Remember - the first Pokémon is always the same, and is the one you'll be given the chance to catch if you win. The rest are randomly selected from a pool of three:

First Pokémon Second Pokémon Third Pokémon
Tentacool Milotic Houndoom
Sableye Victreebel
Honchkrow Alakazam

Sierra is, once again, the hardest Team Go Rocket Leader to defeat as her third Pokémon choices have no weakness overlaps between them, so, pick your counter correctly, you have to scout ahead. (This is when I find out there's a hidden difficulty ranking for the Team Leaders, isn't it?) Still, it's worth including both an Electric and Fairy-type Pokémon in your team as they can be quite useful against her first Pokémon and the choices she has for the second.

Sierra will always begin the battle with Tentacool, which is weak to Electric, Ground and Psychic-type Pokémon. We recommend choosing a strong Electric-type for this fight, especially when you're scouting ahead, as Honchkrow, one of her second options is also weak to this typing. It's worth considering Zekrom, Xurkitree or Therian Forme Thunderus.

Sableye is only weak to Fairy-type Pokémon.

Though, if you find yourself having to battle her multiple times and depending on what the rest of her team includes, you may want to consider using a Mewtwo against Tentacool.

When it comes to scouting ahead for Sierra's second Pokémon, you'll want to use either an Electric or Fairy-type Pokémon. This is because both Milotic and Honchkrow are weak to Electric-type Pokémon, while Sableye is only weak to Fairy-type attacks. When it comes to which Fairy-type you should use, we recommend either Gardevoir, Sylveon, Togekiss or Granbull. Once you know which Pokémon you're facing, you'll be able to refine your team to focus on the correct type so you can move onto her final Pokémon.

Now Sierra's third Pokémon is where the trouble with deciding upon your counters truely begins, because, as mentioned previously, they don't share any weakness overlaps between them. The only one which does share any weaknesses with her past Pokémon is Victreebel who is weak to both Ice and Psychic-type Pokémon.

To help you decide upon which counter you should choose, we've listed the weaknesses for each of her final Pokémon below and have included the counter we highly recommend using:

  • Houndoom weaknesses - Fighting, Ground, Rock and Water-types
    • Ideal Houndoom counter - Terrakion (Rock and Fighting)
  • Victreebel weaknesses - Fire, Flying, Ice and Psychic-types
    • Ideal Victreebel counter - Mewtwo (Psychic)
  • Alakazam weaknesses - Bug, Ghost and Dark-types
    • Ideal Alakazam counter - Hydreigon (Dark and Dragon)

If you like to take a look at other Pokémon you could use against then final three, check out our best Pokémon in Pokémon Go guide.


The Shared Skies Season is here! The Better Together event is currently running, bringing both Tandemaus and Maushold to Pokémon Go. Go Fest 2024 may have been and gone, but you can still play around with the Fusion mechanic. Meanwhile, ticket holders can finish Go Fest 2024: A Shadowy Caper and The Dusk Settles. Don't forget to try out Routes, Gift Exchange and Party Play while you're hunting down rare Pokémon, fighting in the Go Battle League or competing in PokéStop Showcases.


Team Go Rocket Leader rewards in Pokémon Go

Defeating a Team Go Rocket Leader will grant you 1,000 Stardust, a red 'strange' 12km egg (if you have an open space in your Egg inventory) and one of the following items:

Thank you to skewtr from reddit with the help with this information.

Sierra - one of the Team GO Rocket Leaders.

You will also have the opportunity to catch one of the Team GO Rocket Leader's Shadow Pokémon. Beat Sierra to catch Sableye, Arlo for Bellsprout and Cliff for Dratini.

Best of all, there's a chance that these Shadow Pokémon could be shiny!

To catch these Shadow Pokémon, you'll receive a base number of 5 Premier Balls. Bonus Pokéballs will be rewarded depending on several factors, including:

  • How many of your Pokémon survive the Trainer Battle
  • Your Purify Pokémon (Purifier) medal rank
  • Your Defeat Team Rocket (Hero) medal rank

Good luck hunting down those evil Team GO Rocket leaders!

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