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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. And as of February 2023, there’s a brand new, long awaited Steel-type Team Go Rocket Grunt to mix things up a bit!

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 Shadowy Skirmishes quest.

Defeating each of these leaders will give you the chance to encounter a rare Shadow Pokémon – and as of Febraury 2023, 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, if you take them down as part of the Team GO Rocket quest.

On this page:

Getting and hatching a Strange Red Egg in Pokémon Go

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 February 2023, the latest quest is Shadowy Skirmishes 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!

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 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 Radar

Arlo counters and line-up in Pokémon Go

Below you’ll find the current line up for Arlo in Pokémon Go, as of March 2023.

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
Teddiursa Hypno Scizor
Golurk Banette
Blaziken Luxray

Arlo's lineup means your battle can go two ways - you'll either need to create a diverse team, which can tackle multiple weaknesses, or you'll have one Fighting-type followed by your strongest Dark or Ghost-type Pokémon.

Since Teddiursa's only weaknesses is Fighting-type Pokémon, we recommend starting the battle with a powerful Terrakion, Machamp or Lucario. You'll then want to completely forget about this Figthing-type, because it won't be very useful against Arlo's other Pokémon.

Arlo chooses either Hypno or Golurk for his second Pokémon, then you'll need either a strong Dark or Ghost-type counter. For Dark-types, we recommend Hydreigon, Yveltal or Guzzklord. While, for Ghost-types, Origin Forme Giratina and Chandelure are both good choices. If Alro chooses Banette as his third Pokémon, then you can stick to the Dark or Ghost-type choices since Banette is only weak to Ghost and Dark-type Pokémon.

If you find yourself facing Alro's Blaziken, then you'll need to pick either a strong Flying, Ground or Water-type Pokémon. A Ground-type will come in handy if Luxray is Arlo's chosen third Pokémon, but a strong Water-type, like Kyogre or, even better, Swampert, will make quick work of Blaziken.

While Blaziken is also weak to Psychic-type Pokémon, we recommend avoiding this type as both Scizor and Banette have an advantahe over this type.

Finally, aside from Banette, Arlo can choose between Scizor or Luxray and, since both of these Pokémon have one main weaknesses, they're counters are quite easy to pick. Scizor is especially weak to Fire-type Pokémon, so Reshiram, Entei or Moltres. Meanwhile, Luxray is weak to Ground-type Pokémon like Garchomp, Rhyperior or Therian Landorus.

Cliff counters and line-up in Pokémon Go

Below you’ll find the current line up for Cliff in Pokémon Go, as of March 2023.

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
Larvitar Sceptile Swampert
Kingdra Gyarados
Skarmory Tyranitar

While we do recommend scouting ahead so you know Cliff's full team lineup, he currently has the easiest team to tackle out of the Leaders, because every Pokémon has a weaknesses which overlaps with a least one other member of his team.

Cliff's line-up is a little trickier this time, and will require a little more planning than Arlo’s, thanks to him bringing a more varied roster to the table.

Larvitar and Swampert are both especially weak to Grass-type Pokémon, with Tyranitar also being weak to Grass-types. For this reason, we recommend beginning this battle with a strong Grass-type Pokémon - such as Zarude, Kartana or Chesnaught - and then either switching this Pokémon out or having another powerful Grass-type Pokémon for Cliff's third choice.

When it comes to Cliff's second choice, you'll want to have a strong Fire-type if you're facing Sceptile or Skarmory, like Reshiram, Entei or Moltres. Though, if you find yourself facing Skarmory and then Gyarados, we recommend choosing an Electric-type since both Pokémon are weak to this type - Zekrom, Xurkitree or Therian Thunderus, for example. Meanwhile, Fairy-types are perfect for Kingdra and, if Cliff's third choice is Tyranitar, then this Fairy-type will also be incredibly useful.

Especially if Cliff's choice lineup in your favour, your choice of counter for his second Pokémon can overlap into third, giving you an edge in those final moments of battle. This means your third slot can roll up and finish the battle nice and quickly.

Sierra counters and line-up in Pokémon Go

Below you’ll find the current line up for Sierra in Pokémon Go, as of March 2023.

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
Murkrow Steelix Houndoom
Swampert Dragonite
Staraptor Charizard

Sierra continues her tradition of being a tough Team Go Rocket leader to defeat. (Or maybe I just have really bad luck with her team lineups...) This time round you'll really want to scout ahead for her third Pokémon, because her choices don't share many weaknesses. Unless you get really lucky and can simply pack your team with Ground and Electric-type Pokémon.

Since both Murkrow and Staraptor are weak to Rock, Electric and Ice-types, we recommend choosing a Pokémon from one of these types as your first choice. This means, if Sierra has Staraptor as her second choice, you'll be able to deal some good damage before you choose or need to switch Pokémon.

If Swampert is her second choice instead, then your only choice is Grass-type Pokémon since that's all Swampert is weak too - Chesnaught or Kartana are both good choices.. For Steelix, we recommend choosing a strong Fighting or Ground-type Pokémon due to how Houndoom, one of her third options, is also weak to these types.

For Sierra's third Pokémon, we highly recommend you scout ahead and choose a Pokémon which can take advantage of her choice's greatest weakness. Charizard is especially weak to Rock-type Pokémon, Rhyperior is an excellent choice. Meanwhile, Dragonite is especially weak to Ice-types, so we recommend Mamoswine or Galarian Darmanitan. Finally, Houndoom is weak to Fighting, Ground, Rock and Water-type Pokémon, Swampert is a perfect choice.

Thanks to Reddit user redwineandbeer for their work in collating these Team GO Rocket Leader teams!

The Season of Rising Heroes is here! Currently, the A Mystic Hero event is running and you can complete the A Mystic Hero special research quest. A new Team Go Rocket quest - From The Shadows - has been released, along with a shake up of the Giovanni and Team Go Rocket Leaders lineups. As you continue your Pokémon Go adventure, make sure to battle in the new Go Battle League season. Don't forget to take a look at the Remote Raid Passes changes or, if you purchased it, work on the Masterwork Research: Wish Granted quest. Elsewhere, be sure to use Daily Adventure Incense for the chance of encountering Galarian Articuno, Galarian Zapdos and Galarian Moltres. This incense may also give you encounters with other rare Pokémon in Pokémon Go.

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. For Arlo this will be his Shadow Nidoran Male, for Cliff a Shadow Magnemite and Sierra’s Shadow Beldum.

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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About the Author
Matthew Reynolds avatar

Matthew Reynolds


Matthew Reynolds edited guides and other helpful things at Eurogamer from 2010 - 2023. When he wasn't doing that, he was out and about playing Pokémon Go or continuing to amass his amiibo collection.

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