February 2021 Team Rocket Takeover: Which Rockets to Prioritize

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Article by Brian Tien

We're getting ready for another Team Rocket Takeover, one of the most useful events in the game due to the pervasive power of Shadow Pokemon. Along with the ability to TM Frustration away, we're also going to have a huge increase in Rocket Stops and balloons. So naturally, this begs the question: "which Rockets should I be looking for?" Well, the last time that Gamepress did this, Niantic trolled us by giving Wooper to all rockets....

...but this time, we have no reason to believe that we'll have a similar situation. So here are the Shadow Pokemon that each of the Rocket grunts have to offer.

Rocket Takeover: February 28, 2021
Event Start Event End
11:00 a.m. Local Time 2:00 p.m. Local Time

Current Rockets

Poison Grunt: Female

"Coiled and ready to strike!"

Shadow Golbat has some utility in PvP, and Shadow Zubat is nice to have because it's a 1k dust purify, but that's about it. This is a Rocket that's generally best to skip. 

Flying Grunt: Female

"Battle against my Flying-type Pokemon!"

Flying has largely been a "skip" grunt for some time, but currently she does have at least one solid option. Shadow Skarmory is a potentially relevant Pokemon in the Great/Ultra Leagues, making this grunt worth the effort to take down if you encounter it.

Dark Grunt: Female

"Wherever there is light, there is also shadow."

The Dark Type grunt has all-around PvP utility to offer. Sableye is a solid Pokemon in the great league if purified as it really wants Return, and it can also be purified in preparation for Mega Sableye... though the fact that Mega Evolutions can't be used in the Go Battle League doesn't help much on that front. Shadow Stunky is a top pick for the Little Cup whenever it comes back, so it's worth considering.

Fighting Grunt: Female

"This buff physique isn't just for show"'

Shadow Machamp, enough said. The top Fighting Type attacker that's also genuinely great in the Great and Ultra Leagues is an outstanding reason to target this grunt.

Ghost Grunt: Male


Ghost grunts are largely skippable. Shadow Banette has huge DPS, but it's paper thin. Purified Dusclops is okay in PvP thanks to Return, but not really worth using to any great degree. And finally, Shadow Misdreavus is basically on a par with the top non-shadows, making the cost to raise largely outpace the advantage.

Bug Grunt: Male

"Go, my super bug Pokemon!"

Shadow Shuckle is hilarious, as you're boosting its miniscule attack stat for the sake of a gigantic defense drop. That aside, bugs are largely skippale.

Electric Grunt: Female

"Get ready to be shocked!"

Two of the top Electric Type raiders plus a Shadow that has PvP use and can be purified into Mega Ampharos? Electric is definitely worth hunting for!

Ice Grunt: Female

"You're gonna be frozen in your tracks."

Ice has a few great choices, but the odds of encountering them are fairly low. Shadow Snover is great, as Shadow Abomasnow is good in the Great League and outstanding in the Ultra League, and can potentially be purified into a Mega Abomasnow. Shadow Swinub gives us Shadow Mamoswine, which is one of the overall best raid attackers in the game. Beyond this, Shadow Sealeo is at least worth looking at for its reat League performance. All-in-all, it's worth checking Ice rockets, but they're not a huge priority.

Ground Grunt: Male

"You'll be defeated into the ground!"

Please remember: if you're looking for Shadow Swinub, then Ground is your go-to grunt! Ground has higher odds of having Shadow Swinub available, so they should generally always be checked. If the grunt opens with Shadow Swinub, then that's what you'll be catching post-battle!

Grass Grunt: Male

"Don't tangle with us!"

Grass is a mixed bag, though the majority of what's in that bag is garbage. While Shadow Jumpluff has utility in the Great League, it's not outstanding, and leaves the entire front line basically worthless. The second line has a 10% chance of being catchable, and this line has Shadow Weepinbell and Shadow Ivysaur. Shadow Victreebel is an oppressive force in the Great League, while Shadow Venusaur is great on its own merit, and can even be purified into Mega Venusaur if need be. Really, it's probably best to only tackle Grass rockets if you really want one of these two.

Fire Grunt: Female

"Do you know how hot Pokemon fire breath can get?"

Shadow Ninetales is a solid pick in the Great League thanks to Weather Ball Fire, as is Shadow Vulpix in the Little Cup. Shadow Houndoom is an... alright attacker, and can be purified into Mega Houndoom. Honestly, Fire grunts don't offer much, so it's probably best to skip them unless you're dead-set on one of the aforementioned Pokemon.

Psychic Grunt: Male

"Are you scared of psychics that use unseen power?"

Shadow Wobbuffet and Shadow Slowpoke are both hard-skips, but the Psychic grunt actually has a hidden gem; Shadow Exeggutor is actually a great Grass Type attacker and an okay Psychic Type attacker, so taking a peek at the grunt's lineup to see if it's packing eggs may not be a bad idea. Worth noting is the fact that if you do want a Wobbuffet for the Great League, then the goal should be a 100% Lv.50 best friend Purified, though it's not extremely effective.

Rock Grunt: Male

"Let's rock and roll!"

Amazingly, Shadow Aggron isn't a bad Pokemon! It gains just enough DPS to be worth considering as a raid anchor, so a solid one may be worth raising. Shadow Tyranitar is also another solid Pokemon, though it's better as a Rock Type attacker, which may necessitate a wait for Smack Down's return or an Elite TM use. That said, it could also be purified for Shadow Tyranitar, as it's best to have two of them.

Normal Grunt: Male

"Normal does not mean weak."

Normal does mean weak in this case.

Water Grunt: Female

"These waters are treacherous!"

Shadow Poliwrath has some PvP utility, and Shadow Slowpoke can be purified for a future Mega Slowbro, though its future utility seems a bit dubious. It's fine to skip the female Water grunt.

Water Grunt: Male

"These waters are treacherous!"

Shadow Gyarados has solid Water Type DPS and is very useful against Ground Types. it can also be purified into Mega Gyarados. The male Water grunt is fine, overall.

Dragon Grunt: Female

"ROAR!'d that sound?"

That sounds great to me!!

The Dragon grunt should not be skipped. Shadow Dragonite is brutally strong in both PvP and PvE, so snap this grunt up if you see her!

Elite Grunt: Female

"Don't bother - I've already won!"

"Get ready to be defeated!"

"Winning is for winners!"

Shadow Snorlax is basically worthless in raids, but it's an enviable Pokemon in the Master League and a great Pokemon in the Ultra League due to its ability to counter both Giratina forms extremely well, so it's probably a good idea to take the time to make this grunt eat her words!

All-in-all, this is one of our rare chances to obtain and use a few very rare and powerful Pokemon. Best of luck for the event, and we hope that this short list will help with focusing your time during this event!

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About the Author(s)

Gamepress writer with a focus on theorycrafting and gameplay optimization with a background in business management and freelance writing.  A bit of a hermit, but also an outdoors enthusiast who loves cycling and hiking. Long-time Gamepress fan who is very proud to be a part of the team.