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Pokémon Go Giovanni counters, current line-up and rewards explained

Giovanni, the leader of Team Go Rocket, has arrived in Pokémon Go.

Giovanni, the boss of Team Go Rocket, can be fought in Pokémon Go.

If you’re powerful enough to defeat him, you’ll receive some great rewards, including the opportunity to capture a legendary Shadow Pokémon, such as Shadow Mewtwo or Shadow Regice.

Along with Leaders Arlo, Cliff and Sierra, you’ll be facing him as part of the latest Special Research quest, Showdown in the Shadows. This will become available once you finish the previous Giovanni quest, Shadowy Skirmishes.

However, Giovanni’s line-up, including his final Pokémon – which you can catch if you beat him – changed in October 2023, so now’s a good time to brush up on your best Giovanni counters.

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

How to find Giovanni in Pokémon Go

If you want to battle Giovanni in Pokémon Go, then you need to use a Super Rocket Radar. The only way to get one is as a result of the latest Go Team Rocket quest, which has you complete the following stages:

  1. First, you must complete the Special Research story-line, A Troubling Situation to unlock the latest Giovanni Special Research quest. A Challenging Development, for example, was the Giovanni Special Research quest for December 2019, but Giovanni has been showing his face in the game a couple of times per year since!
  2. Next, reach and complete the fourth step of your current Giovanni Special Research task, which will ask you to defeat each Team Go Rocket Leader Arlo, Cliff and Sierra once.
  3. Completing the fourth step will reward you with the Super Rocket Radar.

Now that you have the Super Rocket Radar, you can use it to hunt down the leader of Team Go Rocket himself: Giovanni.

The Super Rocket Radar works in a very similar fashion to the Rocket Radars you create by collecting Mysterious Components.

Access your Bag via the main menu and then scroll down till you find the Super Rocket Radar in your inventory. Here you can equip and unequip the Super Rocket Radar whenever you like.

The Super Rocket Radar, however, doesn’t just display the location of Giovanni’s hideout – it only shows potential encounters with him. Several Decoy Grunts disguised as Giovanni will also appear on the radar, all hoping to prevent you from finding their boss.

These Decoy grunts are no joke, packing a combination of Bellsprout (always in the first slot), and either Raticate, Weepinbell or Snorlax. Shadow Snorlax in particular can be a nightmare for the uninitiated. Still, you don’t need to fight them, so unless you want a Shadow Bellsprout, feel free to just move on.

You’ll have keep checking PokéStops until you find the one Giovanni is hiding out in – that is unless you’re feeling lazy; if you wait for your next Rocket Balloon after equipping your Super Rocket Radar, Giovanni is a guaranteed encounter!

Giovanni counters in Pokémon Go

Once you find Giovanni, prepare yourself for a fight. His Pokémon are a lot stronger than the previous Team Go Rocket Leaders you’ve fought, so make sure your team is just as powerful. Don’t be deterred if it takes two, or even three attempts to take him down!

Giovanni’s choice of legendary Shadow Pokémon and second party member rotate every few months, meaning you will often find yourself battling different Pokémon.

In October 2023, Giovanni was updated with the following line-up:

First PokémonSecond PokémonThird Pokémon


Persian will always come up first and is weak against Fighting, so having a Mega Blaziken with Counter and Focus Blast, or Terrakion with Double Kick and Sacred Sword are your best bets here. Failing that, Machamp and Lucario are cheaper, more attainable counters.

However, the secret tech is to put this fighter in the second slot, meaning the very first thing you do in battle is swap to them.

Your first Pokémon will probably take a hit or two from Persian, so simply put your tankiest Pokémon there.

The reason for this switching tactic is simple. Giovanni receives a two-second delay every time you use a Charged move or switch Pokémon. This will give you two sweet, sweet seconds to lay into Persian as much as you can before it gets the claws back out. Giovanni also always blocks a Charged move if he has any shields remaining; if possible, you want to force him to use both of his shields with this first match-up.

Flex slot

Since Giovanni’s second choice can be one of several Pokémon, you may need to scout ahead to ensure your team can defeat it.

The three possible options are Nidoking, Kingler and Garchomp. Nidoking is weak to Ground, Ice, Psychic and Water. Kingler is weak to Electric and Grass. Garchomp, meanwhile, is weak to Ice, Dragon and Fairy.

This means that you’re best starting with your strongest Ice-type Pokémon, Baxcalibur, if you have one, is your best non-Mega, non-Shadow option, followed by Galarian Darmanitan and Mamoswine. If, after fighting Giovani, you find you need to swap your Ice-type for anti-Kingler tech, simply pick your strongest Electric-type — Xurkitree or Zekrom will make short work of this match.

The prize


Finally, the reason we’re here: Regigigas.

Fortunately, as a mono-Normal type, we want the same counters as the ones we recommended against Persian. Be aware, however, that it is 50% likely to have Zen Headbutt as its fast move, which could cause you some troubles. If that happens, simply swap your Mega slot for Mega Rayquaza. You won’t be dealing Super Effective damage, but you won’t be taking it either, and with the raw damage it pumps out, you’ll do just fine.

So, our recommendations are as follows:

  • Slot 1: Baxcalibur (or your strongest Ice-type)
  • Slot 2: Mega Blaziken (Counter, Focus Blast)
  • Slot 3: Terrakion (Double Kick, Sacred Sword)

Start by immediately swapping to Mega Blaziken to take down Persian. Pray Giovanni doesn’t have Kingler, and press on until you can swap into Baxcalibur. When you get to Regigigas, swap to whichever Fighting-type you have left. If you come across Kingler, swap Baxcalibur for Xurkitree, and if you still struggle, you can always swap your Mega Blaziken for Mega Rayquaza.

Remember, if you go against Giovanni and find that your team isn’t optimal, or you don’t have the best counters from this page, you can try again – you don’t lose the Super Rocket Radar if you lose to Giovanni, just when you beat him! Check out our Best Pokémon page if you need help picking your strongest Pokémon of a given type.

Be prepared for his powerful Pokémon.

That should cover you for this encounter. In terms of best practices, as with the Leaders Arlo, Cliff and Sierra, when it comes to building a team to fight Giovanni, try to use a Pokémon that will have an advantage over two Pokémon in his team. This will allow you to the use the same Pokémon twice, keeping your choice for the Legendary Shadow Pokémon safe from harm until it’s needed.

It’s also important to remember that, like the previous Team Go Rocket Leaders, Giovanni has two Protect Shields at his disposal – this means a debut Pokémon that has two quick Charged moves and will withstand some damage will set you up nicely for the remaining encounters.

How often can you fight Giovanni in Pokémon Go?

As long as you have a Super Rocket Radar, you’ll be able to fight Giovanni.

However, these are mostly locked beyond Team Go Rocket quest rewards, which only roll out every few months, alongside a refresh for Giovanni, his Shadow Legendary and each Team Leader’s line-up.

Super Rocket Radars also drop occasionally in other quests and events, so they might be worth saving until a month where the Shadow Pokémon reward available is one you want to stock up on, such as Shadow Mewtwo.

The Season of Timeless Travels has arrived in Pokémon Go! During it, take the time to try out Routes and Party Play while you're hunting down rare Pokémon, fighting in the Go Battle League or competing in PokéStop Showcases.

Rewards for defeating Giovanni in Pokémon Go

You will receive a variety of rewards for defeating Giovanni. This includes 5000 Stardust and a variety of healing items, such as Max Potions and Max Revives. There’s also a chance that you’ll receive a Unova Stone.

Best of all, however, you’ll be given the opportunity to catch a Legendary Shadow Pokémon.

Every month brings a new Shadow Legendary Pokémon. This means that, if there’s a particular Shadow Legendary Pokémon you want to add to your collection, then you must complete the Team Go Rocket Special Research quest for that month.

Completing The Take-Over Continues in January 2020, for example, would reward you with Shadow Moltres, but, if you completed the same story-line in another month, you’ll find yourself facing a different Shadow Legendary Pokémon.

Here are the Shadow Legendary Pokémon Giovanni has had in his team:

Giovanni Shadow Legendary Pokémon so far:

  • Shadow Articuno – November 2019 and March 2021
  • Shadow Zapdos – December 2019, April and June 2021
  • Shadow Moltres- January 2020 and May 2021
  • Shadow Raikou – February 2020
  • Shadow Entei – March to July 2020
  • Shadow Suicune – July 2020 (as part of the Go Fest Battle celebrations) and from July to October 2020
  • Shadow Mewtwo – October 2020
  • Shadow Ho-Oh – June 2021
  • Shadow Lugia – November 2021
  • Shadow Latias – April 2022
  • Shadow Latios – July 2022
  • Shadow Mewtwo – November 2022
  • Shadow Registeel – February 2023
  • Shadow Regice – March 2023
  • Shadow Regirock – June 2023
  • Shadow Regigigas – October 2023

Defeating Giovanni will also help you level up the Ultra Hero medal, which records how many times you’ve defeated the boss of Team Go Rocket.

Thanks to Chrales from Twitter, we know what this clothing looks like:

As you level up the Ultra Hero medal, you’ll unlock a variety of Giovanni themed clothing for your avatar to wear.

Here are the clothing items and medal ranks each piece unlocks at:

  • Shoes – Silver Badge Level (Defeat Giovanni 5 times)
  • Pants – Silver Badge Level (Defeat Giovanni 5 times)
  • Shirt – Gold Badge Level (Defeat Giovanni 20 times)
  • Gloves – Gold Badge Level (Defeat Giovanni 20 times)

Good luck defeating Giovanni in Pokémon Go!

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Lottie Lynn

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Lottie Lynn is Eurogamer's Guides Editor. She likes exploring new games and still has nightmares about the moon from Majora's Mask.