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


(Frost Breath/Ice Shard) + (Aurora Beam/Hydro Pump/Avalanche/Icy Wind)

  • Poliwrath: Mud Shot + Dynamic Punch
  • Magnezone: Spark + Wild Charge
  • Heatran: Fire Spin + Stone Edge
  • Lucario: Counter + Power-Up Punch AND/OR Aura Sphere
  • Machamp: Counter+ Cross Chop OR Dynamic Punch

Because Cloyster only has Ice-type fast moves, it’s not too hard to find a counter with good resistances. While Heatran’s technically king with its high bulk, fantastic double resist, and super effective Stone Edge, it’s probably not worth maxing one for this. Lucario and Poliwrath are strong as well, with spammy super effective moves.


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

  • Machamp: Counter + Cross Chop OR Dynamic Punch
  • Lugia: Dragon Tail OR Extrasensory + Sky Attack
  • Poliwrath: Mud Shot + Dynamic Punch
  • Dragonite: Dragon Breath + Dragon Claw
  • Togekiss: Charm + Ancient Power

A Normal-type where you don’t want to bring Lucario. How weird. Listed are the safest picks, though Lugia doesn’t really want to tank a Crunch, and Dragonite can’t handle Outrage. Togekiss double resists both fast moves, though it doesn’t really have much shield pressure.


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

  • Togekiss: Charm + Ancient Power
  • Poliwrath: Mud Shot + Ice Punch
  • Gyarados: Dragon Breath + Outrage
  • Mamoswine: Powder Snow + Avalanche
  • Weavile: Ice Shard OR Snarl + Avalanche

Ice is nice! With the ability to tear through the Ground/Dragon-type Garchomp, Ice is your best choice offensively here, though the resistances are certainly somewhat lacking. Togekiss is fantastic with its ability to double resist both fast moves, and two out of the three charged moves, and it can deal good damage to Moltres with Ancient Power in the back.

Worth Noting: Poliwrath shows up in all 3 of these for a reason! With Mud Shot + Ice Punch and Dynamic Punch, it's a safe option against the entire second slot! If you're going in blind, consider going in with a Poliwrath!

Third Pokemon

Giovanni ends with Moltres

(Wing Attack/Fire Spin) + (Fire Blast/Overheat/Heat Wave/Ancient Power)

  • Tyranitar: Smack Down + Stone Edge

  • Rhyperior: Smack Down + Stone Edge

  • Golem (Alolan or Kantonian): Rock Throw + Stone Edge

  • Aggron: Smack Down + Stone Edge 

There are some very clear right choices here. Tyranitar and Rhyperior, being Rock-types, resist both of Moltres's fast moves, and swing back with double super effective damage. Golem and Aggron can work if you're on a budget. Do not invest dust into Aggron for this.

About the Author(s)

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