Team GO Rocket Battle Guide

Best counters for every Team Rocket battle encounter.

Team GO Rocket Logo

This guide lists the best counters for every Team Rocket battle encounter in Pokemon GO. Team GO Rocket battles are 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 encounters that feature various permutations (Snorlax, Flying and other encounters).

Team GO Rocket Encounters for October
Team GO Rocket Encounters for October

General 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 Pokemon that faints on your team reduces the number of Premier Balls you will get for the Shadow Pokemon catch encounter. It’s in your best interest to switch low HP Pokemon before they faint. Your Pokemon are not automatically healed after the battle. If you lose, you can re-match and the Grunt will have the same Pokemon 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

Coiled and ready to strike!

Possible encounters feature Poison type Pokemon.

Pokemon #1 Pokemon #2 Pokemon #3
Pokemon GO ZubatZubat Pokemon GO GolbatGolbat Pokemon GO GolbatGolbat
Pokemon GO VenonatVenonat Pokemon GO GrimerGrimer Pokemon GO VenomothVenomoth
Pokemon GO GrimerGrimer Pokemon GO GrimerGrimer Pokemon GO MukMuk

Best counters: Smack Down Tyranitar / Groudon/ Raikou / Rhyperior

Grunts that taunt Coiled prefer to use Poison types, especially the Zubat and Grimerfamily line. You will commonly fight Zubat, Golbat, Grimer. This is one of the more frequent encounters, comprising roughly 14% of all TR invasions. Our recommended team for this Grunt encounter is Raikou for Zubat / Golbat / Crobat + Tyranitar for Bulbasaur / Ivysaur, but not for Muk. However, this team requires you to actively switch your Pokemon which many do not prefer. In that case, use a Smack Down Tyranitar with any charge move. Recently, these encounters also include Grimer and Muk, which means Groudon is also a great option.

Normal doesn’t mean weak.

Possible encounters feature Normal type Pokemon.

Pokemon #1 Pokemon #2 Pokemon #3
Pokemon GO RattataRattata Pokemon GO RattataRattata Pokemon GO RaticateRaticate
Pokemon GO ZubatZubat Pokemon GO RaticateRaticate Pokemon GO SnorlaxSnorlax

Best counters: Machamp, Breloom + 1 Tyranitar for Zubat / Charizard + 1 Ice type for Dragonite

Grunts that use this taunt line will primarily use Normal type Pokemon: Rattata, Raticate, Snorlax and, rarely, Zubat. These encounters comprise roughly 18.5% of all TR invasions we recorded. Recommended Pokemon for this encounter is Machamp (or Hariyama / Breloom), however you may want to add 1 Tyranitar in case you are matched against Zubat. All of these Pokemon take reduced damage from Fighting moves, but increased from Rock moves.

ROAR! … How’d that sound?

Possible encounters feature Dragon type Pokemon.

Pokemon #1 Pokemon #2 Pokemon #3
Pokemon GO DratiniDratini Pokemon GO DragonairDragonair Pokemon GO GyaradosGyarados
Pokemon GO DragonairDragonair Pokemon GO DragonairDragonair
Pokemon GO FlygonFlygon Pokemon GO DragoniteDragonite

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

Grunts using this taunt will have Dragon type Pokemon. Currently, they always (or almost always) use a Dratini, Dragonair and Dragonite in this fight. As this fight is a mono-type encounter, we recommend going for a pure Ice team: Mamoswine, Glaceon, Weavile and even a Ice Beam Mewtwo. The exact move set is not that important, just make sure it’s a double Ice move set. These encounters comprise roughly 11.5% of all recorded TR invasions.

Unfortunately, you can’t use your Ice types to counter Gyarados, so we recommend packing one Electric type like Raikou or Rock type like Smack Down Tyranitar to deal with it. Magnezone is also a great option.

These waters are treacherous

Possible encounters feature Water type Pokemon.

Pokemon #1 Pokemon #2 Pokemon #3
Pokemon GO PsyduckPsyduck Pokemon GO GolduckGolduck Pokemon GO PoliwrathPoliwrath
Pokemon GO PoliwagPoliwag Pokemon GO PoliwrathPoliwrath Pokemon GO PolitoedPolitoed
Pokemon GO MagikarpMagikarp Pokemon GO MagikarpMagikarp Pokemon GO MagikarpMagikarp
Pokemon GO GyaradosGyarados

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

Grunts using this taunt will use the entire Poliwag, Magiarkp and Psyduck evolution line. We suggest using pure Grass type counters like Alolan Exeggutor,  Sceptile, Leafeon and Tangrowth in this fight which resist both Water and Ground fast moves that Pokemon in this fight can carry. Venusaur and Roserade are good options against Poliwrath’s Fighting moves. All of the counters have to be prepared to shield against Politoed’s Ice moves.

In case you encounter a Gyarados, bring out your Electric Pokemon.

Don’t tangle with us!

Possible encounters feature Grass type Pokemon.

Pokemon #1 Pokemon #2 Pokemon #3
Pokemon GO TurtwigTurtwig Pokemon GO GloomGloom Pokemon GO CacturneCacturne
Pokemon GO CacneaCacnea Pokemon GO IvysaurIvysaur Pokemon GO ShiftryShiftry
Pokemon GO SeedotSeedot Pokemon GO BulbasaurBulbasaur Pokemon GO VileplumeVileplume

Best counter: Moltres, Charizard, Entei

Grunts that boast this taunt use Grass-type Pokemon, often from the Bulbasaur family line, combined with the occasional Cacnea and Oddish family. The standout feature of this encounter is the third Pokemon, 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. On average, this encounter appears in 8.5% of all recorded TR invasions.

My bird Pokemon wants to battle with you!

Possible encounters feature Flying type Pokemon.

Pokemon #1 Pokemon #2 Pokemon #3
Pokemon GO ZubatZubat Pokemon GO GolbatGolbat Pokemon GO GyaradosGyarados
Pokemon GO GolbatGolbat Pokemon GO ScytherScyther Pokemon GO DragoniteDragonite
Pokemon GO CrobatCrobat Pokemon GO CrobatCrobat

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

Grunts using this taunt use a difficult combination of Flying type Pokemon: Zubat, Golbat, Crobat, Scyther, Gyarados, Dragonite. This fight is similar to “Coiled and ready to strike!” as they both feature Zubat’s family, but the addition of Dragonite is quite scary. Regardless, we recommend using a team of Smack Down Tyranitar and stuffing 1 Ice type as backup in case Dragonite has Steel Wing. Or you can go with a full on SD Tyranitar team. SD Crunch Tyranitar + Dialga is also a viable team. Roughly 8.2% 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
Pokemon GO CharmanderCharmander Pokemon GO CharmeleonCharmeleon Pokemon GO CharmeleonCharmeleon
Pokemon GO HoundourHoundour Pokemon GO HoundoomHoundoom Pokemon GO ArcanineArcanine
Pokemon GO MagmarMagmar Pokemon GO HoundoomHoundoom

Best counter: Smack Down Tyranitar / Kyogre / Vaporeon

Grunts using this taunt will use Fire type Pokemon. Charmeleon and Houndoom 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. Roughly 10% of Invasions are using this taunt.

Go, my super bug Pokémon!

Possible encounters feature Bug type Pokemon.

Pokemon #1 Pokemon #2 Pokemon #3
Pokemon GO WeedleWeedle Pokemon GO KakunaKakuna Pokemon GO BedrillBedrill
Pokemon GO VenonatVenonat Pokemon GO VenomothVenomoth Pokemon GO ScytherScyther
Pokemon GO ScytherScyther Pokemon GO ScizorScizor Pokemon GO ScizorScizor

Best counter: Fire types

Charizard / Moltres with Fire type moves resists most moves from both Pokemon and deal 1x (Scyther) and 2x (Scizor) Super Effective Damage against both of these Pokemon. Grunts using this taunt use Bug type Pokemon, mostly from the Scyther evolution line. 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
Pokemon GO CuboneCubone Pokemon GO CuboneCubone Pokemon GO MarowakMarowak
Pokemon GO LarvitarLarvitar Pokemon GO MarowakMarowak Pokemon GO FlygonFlygon
Pokemon GO TrapinchTrapinch Pokemon GO VibravaVibrava

Grunts using this taunt use Ground type Pokemon, mostly from the Cubone and Trapinch evolution line. Ground types are traditionally weak to Water and Grass, making the counter choice relatively easy. There are two Pokemon that perform incredibly well against them:

  • Gyarados – double resist Ground and resists Fighting moves, has Water attacks
  • Exeggutor (Normal) – resists Ground and Fighting moves, has Grass attacks

Are you scared of psychics that use unseen power?

Possible encounters feature Psychic type Pokemon.

Pokemon #1 Pokemon #2 Pokemon #3
Pokemon GO AbraAbra Pokemon GO DrowzeeDrowzee Pokemon GO AlakazamAlakazam
Pokemon GO DrowzeeDrowzee Pokemon GO HypnoHypno Pokemon GO HypnoHypno
Pokemon GO RaltsRalts Pokemon GO RaltsRalts Pokemon GO KirliaKirlia

Counters: Tyranitar, Weavile, Houndoom

Grunts using this taunt will use Psychic type Pokemon from the Drowzee evolution line, 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. This battle can yield a Shadow Ralts encounter!

Let’s rock and roll!

Possible encounters feature Rock type Pokemon.

Pokemon #1 Pokemon #2 Pokemon #3
Pokemon GO LarvitarLarvitar Pokemon GO LarvitarLarvitar Pokemon GO PupitarPupitar
Pokemon GO PupitarPupitar Pokemon GO TyranitarTyranitar

Counters: Machamp

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

Ke… ke… ke… ke… ke… ke…

Possible encounters feature Ghost type Pokemon.

Pokemon #1 Pokemon #2 Pokemon #3
Pokemon GO SableyeSableye Pokemon GO SableyeSableye Pokemon GO SableyeSableye
Pokemon GO ShuppetShuppet Pokemon GO BanetteBanette Pokemon GO BanetteBanette
Pokemon GO DuskullDuskull Pokemon GO DusclopsDusclops Pokemon GO DusknoirDusknoir

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
Pokemon GO HitmonchanHitmonchan Pokemon GO HitmonchanHitmonchan Pokemon GO HitmonchanHitmonchan

Counters: Alakazam, Mewtwo, Sky Attack Moltres

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

Get ready to be shocked!

Possible encounters feature Electric type Pokemon.

Pokemon #1 Pokemon #2 Pokemon #3
Pokemon GO ElectabuzzElectabuzz Pokemon GO ElectabuzzElectabuzz Pokemon GO ElectabuzzElectabuzz
Pokemon GO MareepMareep Pokemon GO FlaaffyFlaaffy Pokemon GO AmpharosAmpharos

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.

These quotes lead to the same pool of Pokemon, regardless of which one is used. There are two different encounter tables for these taunts.

The first table features Generation 1 starter families:

Pokemon #1 Pokemon #2 Pokemon #3
Pokemon GO BulbasaurBulbasaur Pokemon GO IvysaurIvysaur Pokemon GO VenusaurVenusaur
Pokemon GO CharmanderCharmander Pokemon GO CharmeleonCharmeleon Pokemon GO CharizardCharizard
Pokemon GO SquirtleSquirtle Pokemon GO WartortleWartortle Pokemon GO BlastoiseBlastoise

The second table features rare Pokemon, best of the best from previous encounters. This is the most difficult Team Rocket fight you can encounter:

Pokemon #1 Pokemon #2 Pokemon #3
Pokemon GO LaprasLapras Pokemon GO PoliwrathPoliwrath Pokemon GO GyaradosGyarados
Pokemon GO SnorlaxSnorlax Pokemon GO SnorlaxSnorlax Pokemon GO SnorlaxSnorlax
Pokemon GO GardevoirGardevoir Pokemon GO DragoniteDragonite

Tri-Snorlax encounter

Although super rare, there is a special version of this encounter that features 3 Snorlax fights in a row. In this version, you will need to use different Pokemon to defeat the grunt. The recommended counters versus Tri-Snorlax are as follows:

  • Tyranitar with Smack Down / Crunch or Stone Edge has a ton of damage and takes reduced damage from almost every move Snorlax has
  • Dialga with Dragon Breath / Draco Meteor has a ton of bulk and crazy resistances
  • Metagross with Meteor Mash (against Zen Headbutt) is a budget version of Dialga
  • 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
  • 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 PokéBattler (via reddit).

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. We also used mybham’s countering guide heavily. Updated on October 10th with new encounters and line ups, based on skewtr’s reddit thread.

Antonio started the Hub in July 2016 and hasn't had much sleep since. Software developer. Discord username: Zeroghan. 28 years old.