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 Pokémon

Persian: Feint Attack/Scratch + Foul Play/Play Rough/Power Gem/Payback

Persian's mono-Normal, which means it's exclusively weak to Fighting. Dark-types resist Feint Attack already, but will get hit pretty hard by Scratch. Lucario's a nice intersection of resisting both, but if you just throw a Machamp at it you'll do fine. Cross Chop is the best option, but if you have Dynamic Punch for raids, that's perfectly acceptable.

Second Pokémon

Rhyperior: Mud Slap/Smack Down + Surf/Earthquake/Skull Bash/Superpower

Ignore Rhyperior's other weaknesses. It's double weak to Grass, and double weak to Water. While Fighting, Ground, Ice, and Steel are fine picks, you'll be happier with Razor Leaf and Waterfall.

Honchkrow: Peck/Snarl + Brave Bird/Psychic/Dark Pulse/Sky Attack

Honchkrow is one glassy bird. Weak to Electric, Fairy, Ice, and Rock. Just try to not get hit by a charged move.

Nidoking: Iron Tail/Poison Jab + Earthquake/Megahorn/Sludge Wave/Earth Power/Sand Tomb

Nidoking's got a lot of charged moves, but most of them are slow, so it shouldn't make you spend too many shields. He's weak to Ground, Ice, Psychic, and Water. Ice is gonna take a lot from Iron Tail, but the rest of the options are pretty safe.

Third Pokémon

Latias: Dragon Breath/Zen Headbutt/Charm + Psychic/Thunder/Outrage

Latias has a multitude of weaknesses. Just keep in mind that Steel's your most consistent way to resist its fast moves. Use Bug, Dark, Dragon, Fairy, Ghost, and Ice.

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