Team GO Rocket Leader Guide: General Tips and Defeating Giovanni

Submit Feedback or Error

General Strategy

  • They will always shield the first two Charged Moves you use, so make sure they’re cheap! That energy’s getting wasted anyway.
  • Resisting is much more important than dealing Super Effective damage, but you should try to do both! Like in normal PvP, having high bulk is generally more helpful than being a glass cannon. It’s hard to race down the leaders, so Pokémon like Lugia and Giratina-Altered are super helpful!

  • Make full use of Stun Time after passive actions! You get 4 turns after Charged Moves (from you or them), switches, or a Pokémon fainting, which is equivalent to 2 Counters, 4 Lock-Ons, 1 (and ⅓) Dragon Tails, etc. They hit hard, so any time they’re not smacking you is super valuable! If you can pull it off, Charged Move->4 turns of Fast Moves->Charged Move->4 turns of Fast Moves->Repeat until they’re fainted is a super effective way of taking them down!

  • As a followup to this, consider not leading with your actual first-mon counter! If you want to use Machamp vs Cliff’s lead Meowth, put that Machamp second. Get 4 turns of free damage (and energy) off with whatever you lead with, then switch to that Machamp 

  • They hit hard. Unbelievably hard. Resisting is barely enough, and that means you will want to shield their Charged Moves, basically every single time, if you want your Pokémon to survive.

The most important thing is this, though: don’t be afraid to fail a few times on your way to success! Not giving life lessons here, just for the rocket bosses for now. Because resisting is so important, getting to see what Pokémon they have (and what moves they’re running) can allow you to pick better counters for next time! The Rocket Leaders are, hands down, the most difficult piece of solo endgame content in the game, so definitely don’t feel bad if it takes a few tries.

An Explanation of Stun Time

You may notice that after

  • You use a charged move

  • They use a charged move

  • A Pokémon switches in (be it manually or after fainting)

The AI (Rocket grunts, team leaders, and Rocket leaders) have a short period in which they don't take any actions. We'll be referring to this as Stun Time, and it lasts exactly 4 turns.

Turns are the 0.5-second-long intervals into which PvP is broken.

On the 5th turn, the opponent will start their next action (be it a fast move or a charged move). However, if you fire off a charged move on that 5th turn, Stun Time resets, and you don’t take any fast move damage.

You can test this yourself against the team leaders, who perform mechanically identically (especially at Master League, where they also shield your first two moves).

Defeating Giovanni - First Pokemon

Giovanni always leads with Persian

(Feint Attack/Scratch) + (Foul Play/Play Rough/Power Gem)

  • Tyranitar: Smack Down* + Crunch
  • Machamp: Counter + Cross Chop* OR Dynamic Punch
  • Lucario: Counter + Power-Up Punch

Lucario’s the best here if you’ve got one. If not, Tyranitar does a fantastic job at resisting all the fast move damage Persian can put out. Somewhat struggles at breaking shields, though.

Second Pokemon


(Metal Claw / Bubble) + (Vise Grip/Water Pulse/X-Scissor/Crabhammer)

  • Ludicolo: Razor Leaf + Any
  • Venusaur: Vine Whip + Frenzy Plant
  • Meganium: Vine Whip + Razor Leaf
  • Poliwrath: Mud Shot + Dynamic Punch
  • Magnezone: Spark + Wild Charge
  • Swampert: Mud Shot + Earthquake
  • Dialga: Dragon Breath + Thunder

What resists both Water and Steel? Water-types. However, because most Waters primarily deal Water damage, you're stuck with using waters that carry secondary coverage if that's what you want to run for safe resistances. Grasses are also a fantastic choice, especially those starters with access to Frenzy Plant! The Swampert here certainly isn't the optimal choice, but do note that its general strength against Steelix and Rhyperior make it a solid safe generalist option. However, it prefers Earthquake here and Hydro Cannon against them, so consider 3moving your best Swampert. It's pretty good in Ultra and Master League too!


(Iron Tail/Thunder Fang/Dragon Tail) + (Earthquake/Heavy Slam/Crunch)

  • Excadrill: Mud Slap + Earthquake
  • Garchomp: Mud Shot + Earthquake
  • Groudon: Mud Shot + Earthquake
  • Swampert: Mud Shot + Hydro Cannon
  • Kyogre: Waterfall + Surf
  • Charizard: Fire Spin + Blast Burn

Excadrill is the only Pokémon currently in GO that can resist all 3 fast moves, hit back for super effective damage, and be useful (sorry, Alolan Dugtrio). Some of the others listed here are riskier picks based on Steelix’s fast move, so make sure to be careful about using Pokémon like Kyogre and Charizard against Thunder Fang sets.


(Smack Down/Mud Slap) + (Stone Edge/Earthquake/Superpower/Surf/Skull Bash)

  • Kyogre: Waterfall + Surf
  • Swampert: Mud Shot + Hydro Cannon 
  • Vaporeon: Water Gun + Aqua Tail
  • Feraligatr: Waterfall + Hydro Cannon
  • Venusaur: Vine Whip + Frenzy Plant
  • Leafeon: Razor Leaf + Leaf Blade
  • Torterra: Razor Leaf + Frenzy Plant

Double weak to Grass, double weak to Water. This means pretty much any high level Grass- or Water-type is a solid option! Note that non-Poison Grasses also resist Mud Slap, making them an exceptionally good pick!

Third Pokemon

Giovanni ends with Entei

(Fire Spin/Fire Fang) + (Flamethrower/Fire Blast/Overheat/Iron Head)

  • Kyogre: Waterfall + Surf
  • Swampert: Mud Shot + Hydro Cannon
  • Rhyperior: Smack Down/Mud Slap + Surf/Rock Wrecker
  • Vaporeon: Water Gun + Aqua Tail
  • Feraligatr: Waterfall + Hydro Cannon
  • Terrakion: Smack Down + Rock Slide
  • Garchomp: Mud Shot + Earthquake
  • Groudon: Mud Shot + Earthquake

Entei is weak to 4 things: Water, Ground, Rock, and being told "bad dog". You can only really use 3 of those here, but they're very powerful options. Waters, Dragons, Rocks, and fellow Fires all resist Fire Spin/Fire Fang, making them great if you have shields up (though your Rock-types won't enjoy taking Iron Heads). You should have some high level Rhyperior from community day, making those a great budget option. Smack Down is slightly better than Mud Slap, but it shouldn't make too much of a difference.

Enjoyed the article?
Consider supporting GamePress and the author of this article by joining GamePress Boost!

About the Author(s)

Tyler is a contributing writer for GamePress, primarily focusing on Trainer Battle content. Fan of dogs and fighting games.