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).

General mechanics

  • 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.
  • If you lose, you can re-match and the Grunt will have the same Pokemon again. There’s no penalty for rejoining.
  • 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 and you can’t heal them in the Pokemon selection screen.
  • 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).
  • Not all Team GO Rocket invasion types have been released. This guide only contains counters for the types that have been released.
  • 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

Pokemon GO ZubatZubat Pokemon GO GolbatGolbat Pokemon GO CrobatCrobat
Pokemon GO BulbasaurBulbasaur Pokemon GO IvysaurIvysaur Pokemon GO GrimerGrimer
Pokemon GO MukMuk

Best counter: Smack Down Tyranitar / Mewtwo / even Raikou

Grunts that taunt Coiled prefer to use Poison types, especially the Zubat and Bulbasaur family line. You will commonly fight Zubat, Golbat, Crobat, Bulbasaur and Ivysaur. 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 + Mewtwo for Bulbasaur / Ivysaur, but not for Muk. However, this team requires you to actively switch your Pokemon which many do not preffer. 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.

Note on Rhyperior: We’ve seen a lot of players trying to use a Rhyperior in this fight – don’t. Rhyperior is double weak to Grass and easily defeated by Bulbasaur / Ivysaur. Compared to Tyranitar, you’re introducing risk while not gaining much.

Normal doesn’t mean weak.

Possible encounters:

Pokemon GO RattataRattata Pokemon GO RaticateRaticate Pokemon GO SnorlaxSnorlax
Pokemon GO CharizardCharizard Pokemon GO DragoniteDragonite

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, Charizard and Dragonite. 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 / Charizard / Dragonite. All of these Pokemon take reduced damage from Fighting moves, but increased from Rock moves.

Please be aware that your strategy needs to be adjusted if you encounter the fabled (and dreaded) Shadow Snorlax fight.

Shadow 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).

ROAR! … How’d that sound?

Possible encounters:

Pokemon GO DratiniDratini Pokemon GO DragonairDragonair Pokemon GO DragoniteDragonite
Pokemon GO MagikarpMagikarp Pokemon GO GyaradosGyarados

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:

Pokemon GO SquirtleSquirtle Pokemon GO WartortleWartortle Pokemon GO BlastoiseBlastoise
Pokemon GO MudkipMudkip Pokemon GO MarshtompMarshtomp Pokemon GO SwampertSwampert
Pokemon GO PoliwagPoliwag Pokemon GO PoliwhirlPoliwhirl Pokemon GO PoliwrathPoliwrath
Pokemon GO PolitoedPolitoed

Best counter: Alolan Exeggutor, Sceptile, Leafeon, Tangrowth

Grunts using this taunt will use Water types like Squirtle, Wartortle, Blastoise, Mudkip, Marshtomp, Swampert, the entire Poliwag evolution line and occasionally Zubat and Rattata. It may be tempting to use Electric types, BUT YOU SHOULDN’T DO THIS, as they will get destroyed by Marshtomp and Swampert (dual Water/Ground) types.

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.

Don’t tangle with us!

Possible encounters:

Pokemon GO BulbasaurBulbasaur Pokemon GO IvysaurIvysaur Pokemon GO VenusaurVenusaur

Best counter: Moltres, Charizard, Entei

Grunts that boast this taunt use Grass-type Pokemon, often from the Bulbasaur family line, combined with the occasional Zubat and Rattata. The standout feature of this encounter is the Venusaur fight, 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:

Pokemon GO DragoniteDragonite Pokemon GO CharizardCharizard Pokemon GO GyaradosGyarados
Pokemon GO ZubatZubat Pokemon GO GolbatGolbat Pokemon GO CrobatCrobat
Pokemon GO ScytherScyther

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 and Charizard. In a sense, 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 Tyranitars 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:

Pokemon GO CharmanderCharmander Pokemon GO CharmeleonCharmeleon Pokemon GO CharizardCharizard
Pokemon GO HoundourHoundour Pokemon GO HoundoomHoundoom

Best counter: Smack Down Tyranitar / Kyogre / Vaporeon

Grunts using this taunt will use Fire type Pokemon. Charmander and Charmeleon are in every fight, with the last Pokemon sometimes being another Charmeleon and sometimes a Charizard. 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:

Pokemon GO ScytherScyther Pokemon GO ScizorScizor

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. Here’s our recommendation:

  • 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

You’ll be defeated into the ground!

Possible encounters:

Pokemon GO CuboneCubone Pokemon GO MarowakMarowak

Grunts using this taunt use Ground type Pokemon, mostly from the Cubone 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:

Pokemon GO DrowzeeDrowzee Pokemon GO HypnoHypno Pokemon GO RaltsRalts

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!

Don’t bother, I’ve already won

Best counter: Varied

Also known as “You’re already defeated, don’t bother”, this Team Rocket fight is confirmed to reward a Shadow Snorlax, so you probably want to maximize the number the number of Premier Balls you get for defeating the Grunt. The Grunt will commonly use Snorlax > Dragonite > Snorlax, or a combination of Snorlax, Dragonite and second and third Gen 1 starter evolutions. The whole encounter is very unpredictable, but your team should be fairly similar to the one used in the Shadow Snorlax fight above.

What makes this encounter difficult is the fact that there are various variations of it, featuring wildly different Pokemon (data by Teban54). There are three possible taunts:

  • “Winning is for winners.”
  • “Don’t bother, I’ve already won.”
  • “Get ready to be defeated”

And there are multiple permutations of the encounter:

  • Bulbasaur, Ivysaur, Venusaur (get ready)
  • Squirtle, Ivysaur, Venusaur (don’t bother)
  • Squirtle, Charmeleon, Venusaur (get ready)
  • Bulbasaur, Wartortle, Charizard (get ready)
  • Charmander, Carmeleon, Charizard (winning)
  • Charmander, Wartortle, Charizard (don’t bother)
  • Squirtle, Charmeleon, Charizard (get ready)
  • Bulbasaur, Wartortle, Blastoise (get ready)
  • Bulbasaur, Charmeleon, Blastoise (winning)
  • Charmander, Wartortle, Blastoise (don’t bother)
  • Squirtle, Ivysaur, Blastoise (winning)
  • Squirtle, Charmeleon, Blastoise (don’t bother)
  • Snorlax, Charizard, Snorlax (don’t bother, winning)
  • Snorlax, Dragonite, Snorlax (don’t bother)
  • Snorlax, Dragonite, Dragonite (winning)

We recommend using your strongest Pokemon after checking which Pokemon the Grunt has. Machamp, SD Tyranitar, MM Metagross, Ice types, Moltres, whatever you need to defeat it.

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.

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