A guide on how to counter Team GO Rocket Grunts in Pokemon GO. Includes Pokémon lineups for all Grunt fights. Updated for February 2021. Team GO Rocket Grunts can be quite difficult without proper counters, especially if you’re using a mono typed team and get countered.

We recommend reading through each encounter in details and understanding how the game assembles Team Rocket Pokemon teams. Pay attention to the hardest encounter that features various permutations featuring the potential for 3 Snorlax that can easily catch you off guard.

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Coiled and ready to strike!

Possible encounters feature Poison type Pokemon.

Pokemon #1 Pokemon #2 Pokemon #3
Nidoran (M) Muk Muk
Nidoran (F) Grimer Nidorina
Zubat Weezing

Best counters: Mud-Slap Rhyperior / Mamoswine / Golem / Groudon 

Grunts that taunt Coiled prefer to use Poison types, especially the Nidoran and Grimer family line. You will commonly fight Nidoran, Grimer, Muk and Nidorina. This is among the more common group of encounters, comprising roughly 7% of all TR invasions. Our recommended team for this Grunt encounter is ground types for Nidoran/ Grimer or Muk/ Nidorina/Weezing. Zubat will not be much of a threat despite resisting ground type attacks.

If you don’t have the ground types listed above, just go in with your best ground type Pokemon or Pokemon with ground type attacks and you should win pretty easily.


Normal doesn’t mean weak.

Possible encounters feature Normal type Pokemon.

Pokemon #1 Pokemon #2 Pokemon #3
Teddiursa Raticate Porygon-Z
Porygon2 Snorlax

Best counters: Machamp, Breloom, and Lucario

Grunts that use this taunt line will primarily use Normal type Pokemon: Teddiursa, Raticate, Porygon2, Porygon-Z and Snorlax. These encounters comprise roughly 7% of all TR invasions.

Recommended Pokemon for this encounter is Machamp (or you strongest counter user), with Lucario and Breloom being great options. All of these Pokemon take super-effective damage from Fighting moves, so you will only need your best fighting types here.


ROAR! … How’d that sound?

Possible encounters feature Dragon type Pokemon.

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Pokemon #1 Pokemon #2 Pokemon #3
Dratini Dragonair Dragonite
Flygon Gyarados

 

Best counter: Mamoswine, Glaceon, Weavile, Magnezone and Raikou for Gyarados

Grunts using this taunt will have Dragon type Pokemon. Currently, they will most likely use a Dratini, Dragonair and Dragonite in this fight. As this fight is a mono-type encounter, we recommend using 2 Ice Pokemon: Mamoswine, Glaceon, Weavile or even an Ice Beam Mewtwo. The exact move set is not that important, just make sure it’s a double Ice move set. These encounters are quite rare, only comprising 0.5% of all recorded TR invasions.

Unfortunately, you can’t use your Ice types to counter Gyarados, so we recommend packing one Electric type like Magnezone to deal with it. Raikou is also a great option, but Magnezone will resist dragon type attacks.


These waters are treacherous

Possible encounters feature Water type Pokemon.

Pokemon #1 Pokemon #2 Pokemon #3
Poliwag Poliwhirl Poliwrath
Shellder Golduck Politoed
Wooper Marshtomp Magikarp
Magikarp Magikarp Gyarados

Best counter: Alolan Exeggutor, Sceptile, Leafeon, Tangrowth, Raikou, Magnezone

Grunts using this taunt will use Shellder, Magikarp, Poliwhirl, and Psyduck evolution line. We suggest using Grass or Electric type counters like Alolan Exeggutor, Sceptile, Leafeon, Tangrowth, Raikou, Magnizon, Electivire, Jolteon, or Zapdos. There is potential for counter moves from Go Rocket Pokémon with access to ground and ice type attacks. Venusaur and Roserade are good options against Poliwrath’s Fighting moves.

In case you encounter a Gyarados, bring out your Electric Pokemon. Grass types are the best due to the presence of water/ground types, but you will want an electric type just in case.


Don’t tangle with us!

Possible encounters feature Grass type Pokemon.

Pokemon #1 Pokemon #2 Pokemon #3
Hoppip Weepinbell Victreebel
Oddish Ivysaur Shiftry
Lileep Gloom Vileplume

Best counter: Moltres, Charizard, Entei

Grunts that boast this taunt use Grass-type Pokemon, often from the Bellsprout family line, combined with the occasional Hoppip, Seedot and Oddish family. The standout feature of this encounter is the third Pokémon, which forces you to have optimal counters.

This encounter is easily defeated if you have Moltres, Charizard, Entei or even a Heatran. Players have reported defeating the fight with Mewtwo and Gengar teams as well. Fire types are the best option, with the fire/flying being the best. On average, this encounter appears in 8% of all recorded TR invasions.


Battle against my Flying-type Pokémon!

Possible encounters feature Flying type Pokemon.

Pokemon #1 Pokemon #2 Pokemon #3
Gligar Scyther Gyarados
Golbat Crobat Crobat
Skarmory Golbat Dragonite

Best counter: Smack Down Tyranitar + 1 Ice type if you encounter Dragonite or Gligar, 1 Electric type in case of Gyarados or Skarmory

Grunts using this taunt use a difficult combination of Flying type Pokemon: Gligar, Golbat, Crobat, Scyther, Gyarados, Dragonite, and now Skarmory. Regardless, we recommend using a team of Smack Down Tyranitar, one Ice type for Dragonite, and one Electric type for Skarmory and Gyarados. Or you can go with a full SD Tyranitar team, but be careful of Skarmory Flash Cannon. Roughly 8% of Invasions are using this taunt.


Do you know how hot Pokemon fire breath can get?

Possible encounters feature Fire type Pokemon.

Pokemon #1 Pokemon #2 Pokemon #3
Vulpix Ninetales Ninetales
Houndour Houndoom Charmeleon
Magmar Arcanine

Best counter: Smack Down Tyranitar / Kyogre / Vaporeon

Grunts using this taunt will use Fire type Pokemon. Houndour and Vulpix families are almost in every fight, with the last Pokemon sometimes being another Charmeleon, Houndoom or an Arcanine.

Regardless of which Pokemon you face at the end, Water types like Kyogre and Rock types like Smack Down Tyranitar are your best pick in these fights because they resist fire type attacks. Your best Ground types will also work. Roughly 8% of Invasions are using this taunt.


Go, my super bug Pokémon!

Possible encounters feature Bug type Pokemon.

Pokemon #1 Pokemon #2 Pokemon #3
Venonat Pinsir Beedrill
Anorith Venomoth Scyther
Shuckle Scizor Scizor

Best counter: Fire types

Charizard / Moltres with Fire type moves resists most moves from all Pokemon and deal 2x  Super Effective Damage to Scizor. Grunts using this taunt use Bug type Pokemon, mostly from the Venonat, Scyther and Weedle evolution lines. Bug types are easily defeated by Fire types, which is key to defeating Scizor.


You’ll be defeated into the ground!

Possible encounters feature Ground type Pokemon.

Pokemon #1 Pokemon #2 Pokemon #3
Diglett Marowak Gliscor
Swinub Pupitar Flygon
Vibrava

Grunts using this taunt use Ground type Pokemon. Ground types are traditionally weak to Water and Grass, but with the addition of the Gligar family line, we would suggest Ice in this case. There are two Pokemon that perform incredibly well against them:

  • Gyarados – double resist Ground and resists Fighting moves, has Water attacks
  • Mamoswine  – 2x effectiveness against Vibrava/Flygon and Gligar/Gliscor.

Are you scared of psychics that use unseen power?

Possible encounters feature Psychic type Pokemon.

Pokemon #1 Pokemon #2 Pokemon #3
Wobbuffet Drowzee Exeggutor
Slowpoke Kirlia Kirlia
Exeggcute Kadabra Hypno

Counters: Tyranitar, Weavile, Houndoom

Grunts using this taunt will use Psychic type Pokemon from the Drowzee, Abra, and Ralts evolution lines, all of which are easily defeat by your average Dark type Pokemon. You can use the same team you would usually use for Mewtwo or Deoxys raids. Ralts and Kirlia are Fairy types and have the potential to do damage to your dark types, but they are so incredibly squishy that it shouldn’t matter too much. Tyranitar is perfectly good enough for these encounters and you likely have some powered up.

With the addition of Exeggcute line, your best bug types will be very useful as they are double weak to bug type attacks.


Let’s rock and roll!

Possible encounters feature Rock type Pokemon.

Pokemon #1 Pokemon #2 Pokemon #3
Aron Pupitar Pupitar
Nosepass Larvitar Tyranitar
Lairon

Counters: Machamp 

Grunts using this taunt will use Rock type Pokemon from the Larvitar and Aron family line, all of which are easily defeated by Machamp.


Ke… ke… ke… ke… ke… ke…

Possible encounters feature Ghost type Pokemon.

Pokemon #1 Pokemon #2 Pokemon #3
Duskull Dusclops Sableye
Shuppet Banette Dusknoir
Misdreavus Banette

Counters: Darkraki, Weavile, Gengar, Tyranitar

Grunts using this taunt will use Ghost type Pokemon. Easily defeated by using Dark and Ghost types like Darkrai, Weavile, Gengar and Tyranitar.


This buff physique isn’t just for show!

Possible encounters feature Fighting type Pokemon.

Pokemon #1 Pokemon #2 Pokemon #3
Machop Machoke Machoke
Hitmonlee Hitmonlee
Hitmonchan

Counters: Alakazam, Gardevoir, Mewtwo, Sky Attack Moltres, Drill Peck Zapdos

Grunts using this taunt will use Fighting type Pokemon. Easily defeated by using Psychic, Fairy and Flying type Pokemon.


You’re gonna be frozen in your tracks.

Possible encounters feature Ice type Pokemon.

Pokemon #1 Pokemon #2 Pokemon #3
Snover Sealeo Lapras
Spheal Swinub Abomasnow
Cloyster Cloyster

Counters: Machamp, Tyranitar, Arcanine, Charizard, Moltres

Grunts using this taunt will use [Ice] type Pokemon. Easily defeated by using [Fighting] or Rock type attacks. Cloyster and Lapras are possible encounters which can be trickier for your rock types. You can bring an Electric type in the back just in case. Also, Fire types are extremely good against the Snover family line and Arcanine features Wild Charge which could prove useful against Lapras or Cloyster.

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Wherever there is light, there is also shadow.

Possible encounters feature Dark type Pokemon.

Pokemon #1 Pokemon #2 Pokemon #3
Stunky Skuntank Cacturne
Sableye Nuzleaf Shiftry

Counters: Rhyperior, Gardevoir, Lucario

Grunts using this taunt will use Dark type Pokemon. The Stunky line is only weak to ground types, but there are grass types for the last encounter. To deal with these, have a strong fire, bug, fairy or fighting type to deal with the final Pokemon. Rhyperior being an excellent choice. Again, Cacturne and Shiftry could prove difficult for Rhyperior, so having a Fairy type, Bug, or Lucario in the back is helpful. You are guaranteed to encounter a dark/grass type, so you can bring your best Bug type as it is 2x weak to bug attacks.


Get ready to be shocked!

Possible encounters feature Electric type Pokemon.

Pokemon #1 Pokemon #2 Pokemon #3
Magnemite Flaaffy Electabuzz
Electabuzz Magneton Ampharos
Mareep Electabuzz

Counters: Groudon and other ground types.

Grunts using this taunt will use Electric type Pokemon. Easily defeated by using Ground type Pokemon.


Don’t bother – I’ve already won. / Get ready to be defeated! / Winning is for winners.

Pokemon #1 Pokemon #2 Pokemon #3
Snorlax Poliwrath Snorlax
Snorlax Dragonite
Gardevoir Gyarados

This encounter can be particularly difficult, depending on the line up you get. Snorlax is always tough and there is a chance you could encounter three of them. There is a good chance you will encounter a Snorlax so you will likely want a fighter on your team, either Machamp or Lucario. We also recommend Raikou or another strong Electric type in the lead to deal with Gyarados and then have shadow ball ready in case Gardevoir is in the second slot. Then you could bring an Ice type or maybe Tyranitar to deal with the 3rd Pokemon encounter.

  • Lead with Fighting type (Lucario is great and has shadow ball for Gardevoir)
  • Have Ice and Electric types in back.
  • Metagross with Meteor Mash and Dialga are also good back up options
  • Ursaring with Fighting moves (against Lick especially) is surprisingly strong in this match up
  • Dragonite with any Dragon-type move set as it has bulk and great neutral damage output (beware of Gardevoir)
  • Lucario with double Fighting is also good, as it’s second type is Steel and that helps him a lot in this fight

Credits for the counters go to Silph Road and PokéBattler (via reddit).


Author Tips and Go Rocket Take Down Lineup

3kkology here, updating this guide for everyone to use to take down Go Rocket invasions. I wanted to provide my dedicated Go Rocket team that I use for efficiency when taking down large invasion of Go Rocket grunts.

It can be annoying to look at this guide for every grunt and remember what Pokémon is best for each encounter. This is the team that I use for every Go Rocket encounter and it has yet to fail me. Feel free to copy and try for yourself.

Pokémon Fast Move Charge Moves
Rhyperior
  • Mud-slap
  • Rock Wrecker
  • Surf
Charizard
  • Fire Spin
  • Blast Burn
  • Dragon Claw
Lucario
  • Counter
  • Shadow Ball
  • Power-up Punch

The lead is Rhyperior. Lucario Power-up Punch is very powerful because of the delay in attacking by grunt Pokémon after using charge moves. Charizard is great for similar reason because of Dragon Claw and the fire type attacks over good coverage. You can really limit the amount of fast moves the Go Rocket grunt can get off. This team is very well rounded for all grunt encounters. Gyarados is the only one that gives you a hard time, but a well planned Rock Wrecker or a powered up Shadow Ball will do the trick.


Grunt mechanics

Grunts will randomly select one 1 Pokemon from each of the 3 columns (#1 – 3) to build a team. Before starting the Team Rocket Battle encounter in Pokemon GO, the Grunt will taunt you. We use this taunt line to figure out which type of Pokemon he / she will use in the fight.

Team Rocket Grunts do not use shields, which gives you an additional edge in these battles. You should shield against every Charge move they use (the charged attack the Shadow Pokémon use in battle is not Frustration, but a regular move from their move pool).

Every Pokémon that faints on your team reduces the number of Premier Balls you will get for the Shadow Pokémon catch encounter. It’s in your best interest to switch low HP Pokémon before they faint. There is a slight delay in Rocket Grunts attacking after charge moves are used or Pokémon are switched, which you can take advantage of to make your victory that much easier.

Your Pokémon are not automatically healed after the battle. If you lose, you can re-match and the Grunt will have the same Pokémon again. There’s no penalty for rejoining.

You can walk away from the Poke Stop once the encounter starts. There’s no distance limit on how far you can move (or at least we never reached it). We tested this up to almost 500 meters (0.31 miles).

These taunts indicate the strongest Pokémon you will face, not the one you can catch. The Team Rocket grunt gives hints on the type of their third Pokémon. You will always be catching either the first or the second Pokémon that they used

Credits and thank you

We wish to say thank you to everyone that contributed their data to our Team Rocket Battles research project. You’ve recorded more than 1300 TR Battles and this guide is made possible solely on the merit of the data you provided! Thank you! If you want to join our Discord server, please do so, we are planning to hold more research projects in near future. 

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I am an environmental scientist from Sacramento, CA. I was given my first Charmander Pokemon card by a friend in the 4th grade in 1999 and was hooked ever since. I was ranked Ace trainer in season 1 of Silph League's world rankings for PvP.