Team GO Rocket Leader Guide: General Tips and Defeating Giovanni

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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)

  • Machamp: Counter + Cross Chop OR Dynamic Punch
  • Lucario: Counter + Power-Up Punch
  • Melmetal: Thunder Shock + Rock Slide and Superpower

Lucario’s the best here if you’ve got one. Machamp gets shredded by Scratch, but can effectively break shields and take out Feint Attack variants. Melmetal's much better against Scratch variants, though it may need Superpower to close out the fight.

Second Pokemon


(Mud Slap/Low Kick) + (Crunch/Earthquake/Outrage/Power-Up Punch)

  • Togekiss: Charm + (Any)
  • Lugia: (Any) + Sky Attack
  • Machamp: Counter + Cross Chop or Dynamic Punch
  • Conkeldurr: Counter + Dynamic Punch
  • Dragonite: Dragon Breath + Dragon Claw

Kangaskhan is only weak to Fighting-type attacks. However, both of its fast moves are resisted by Flying-types, so they're a pretty safe neutral option!


(Iron Tail/Poison Jab) + (Earthquake/Earth Power/Megahorn/Sludge Wave)

  • Swampert: Mud Shot + Hydro Cannon*
  • Kyogre: Waterfall + Surf
  • Mewtwo: Psycho Cut + Psystrike
  • Empoleon: Waterfal + Hydro Cannon*
  • Groudon: Mud Shot + Earthquake
  • Metagross: Bullet Punch + Meteor Mash*

Steel-types vs a Ground-type might seem weird, but resisting Iron Tail and double resisting Poison Jab is really nice! Mewtwo is also a strong option, though its relatively low bulk means you may need some earlier chip damage to help you out.


(Mud Shot/Dragon Tail) + (Earthquake/Sand Tomb/Outrage/Fire Blast)

  • Dialga: Dragon Breath + Iron Head OR Draco Meteor
  • Palkia: Dragon Breath + Aqua Tail
  • Dragonite: Dragon Breath + Dragon Claw
  • Mamoswine: Powder Snow + Avalanche
  • Togekiss: Charm + (Any)
  • Gardevoir: Charm + (Any)
  • Articuno: Ice Shard + Icy Wind

Don't use Dragons vs Dragon Tail, it hits really hard! Togekiss double resists both Fast Moves (and most Charged Moves), making it a fantastic all-around choice. Garchomp is really hard to beat, though, so if you can't, don't feel bad about trying a different, Dugtrio-ier Giovanni!

Third Pokemon

Giovanni ends with Mewtwo

(Psycho Cut/Confusion) + (Psychic/Flamethrower/Ice Beam/Thunderbolt/Focus Blast)

  • Weavile: Snarl + Foul Play
  • Metagross: Bullet Punch + Meteor Mash*
  • Tyranitar: Bite + Crunch
  • Darkrai: Snarl + Dark Pulse
  • Honchkrow: Snarl + Dark Pulse
  • Scizor: Fury Cutter + X-Scissor
  • Houndoom: Snarl + Crunch

You'll notice a bit of a trend here: Dark-types. Mewtwo's already titanic attack stat, boosted by being Giovanni's Shadow, leaves it dealing incredible amounts of damage to everything. As such, your best bet is to go with a double resist that can also swing back for super effective damage. Steel-types can also perform well, often having good bulk (and Metagross's Psychic-typing lets it double resist just like a Dark-type!)

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