Tips to Defeat Team GO Rocket’s Sierra, Cliff, and Arlo in Pokémon GO: Spring 2023

April 19, 2023

Tips to Defeat Team GO Rocket’s Sierra, Cliff, and Arlo in Pokémon GO: Spring 2023

Learn which Pokémon the Team GO Rocket Leaders may use in battle and how best to counter them.

Battling a Team GO Rocket Leader is a lot more challenging than taking on a Team GO Rocket Grunt. But with some key knowledge and shrewd strategy, you can send Sierra, Cliff, and Arlo packing. When you do, you’ll be able to catch Sierra’s Shadow Murkrow, Cliff’s Shadow Larvitar, or Arlo’s Shadow Teddiursa.

Before diving into strategies for each individual Team GO Rocket Leader, here are a few general tips that can help you across the board. One important difference between Trainer Battles and battling Team GO Rocket Leaders is their use of Protect Shields. Unlike Grunts, Team GO Rocket Leaders will generally use their Protect Shields against your first two Charged Attacks. Because of this, it’s best to begin the battle with a Pokémon that has a Charged Attack that powers up quickly so you can fire off Charged Attacks as soon as possible. When using your subsequent Charged Attacks, be thoughtful about timing and use them when they will be most effective.

It’s also worth noting that the Team GO Rocket Leaders’ Pokémon can have any Fast Attack or Charged Attack currently available to that Pokémon. You won’t know which Fast Attack or Charged Attack their Pokémon will have until you’re battling them, so try to familiarize yourself with each Pokémon’s available attacks and pick your own team accordingly.

When battling the Team GO Rocket Leaders, it’s best to bring Pokémon with two Charged Attacks because that will give you more opportunities to exploit type weaknesses. By teaching a Pokémon two Charged Attacks of different types, you can maximize its effectiveness in battle.

Team GO Rocket Leader Sierra

Sierra’s Potential Pokémon

  • First Pokémon

    • Murkrow (Dark/Flying)

  • Second Pokémon

    • Steelix (Steel/Ground)

    • Swampert (Water/Ground)

    • Staraptor (Normal/Flying)

  • Third Pokémon

    • Charizard (Fire/Flying)

    • Dragonite (Dragon/Flying)

    • Houndoom (Dark/Fire)

Recommended Pokémon to Defeat Sierra

  • Rock-type Pokémon to use against Sierra’s Murkrow, Staraptor, Charizard, Dragonite, and Houndoom

    • Aggron

    • Rampardos

    • Rhyperior

  • Water-type Pokémon to use against Sierra’s Steelix, Charizard, and Houndoom

    • Feraligatr

    • Swampert

    • Kyogre

  • Grass-type Pokémon to use against Sierra’s Swampert

    • Torterra

    • Abomasnow

    • Chesnaught

How to Defeat Sierra

The key to defeating Sierra is to choose Pokémon that can serve multiple roles in your battle lineup. While we’ve identified three key Pokémon types—Rock, Water, and Grass—you can get the most out of each Pokémon by teaching them a second Charged Attack of a different type. Ideally, each Pokémon will start with a Fast Attack and a Charged Attack that matches its type—and, in the case of your first Pokémon, powers up quickly—but adding that second Charged Attack will make a difference in your battle with Sierra. It’s especially important to choose a Rock-type Pokémon with some bulk because that Pokémon will be putting in a lot of work—it will be effective against five of the Pokémon in Sierra’s potential lineup.

Leading with your Rock-type Pokémon is a great way to start. Because your goal here is to get through Sierra’s two Protect Shields as quickly as possible, it’s worth looking at the Charged Attack that costs the least energy to use. Rhyperior’s Rock Wrecker, for example, is extremely energy efficient, but it requires an Elite Charged TM to learn. Because your Rock type has a lot of work to do later, try to preserve its health as much as possible while challenging Murkrow.

There are a couple different options when it comes to Sierra’s second round of Pokémon. If she chooses Steelix, you’ll want to use your Water-type Pokémon. If she brings out Swampert, use your Grass-type Pokémon. And if she uses Staraptor, you have a few choices. You could continue to use your Rock-type Pokémon, which has already put in some work and will be effective against any of Sierra’s third round Pokémon. Or you can take advantage of your multifunctional Pokémon lineup. For example, if you chose Abomasnow as your Grass type and equipped Abomasnow with an Ice-type Charged Attack in addition to its Grass-type Charged Attack, unleash those Ice-type attacks on Staraptor. If you chose Kyogre as your Water-type Pokémon, its Ice-type Charged Attack Blizzard will also be effective against Sierra’s flying menace.

As for Sierra's third Pokémon, remember, your Rock-type will be effective against any of the possibilities. If you have a Rock-type Charged Attack powered up, this is the perfect time to unleash it. Your Water-type Pokémon is also an excellent choice against Charizard and Houndoom. And if you chose either Abomasnow or another Pokémon with an Ice-type attack, it will be doubly effective against Dragonite. Chesnaught can learn the Fighting-type Charged Attack Superpower, which is a super choice against Houndoom. Of course, Chesnaught will be vulnerable to Houndoom’s Fire-type attacks, but if you find yourself at the end of a long battle and Chesnaught happens to have some energy stored, it’s not a bad option.

Remember to power up your Pokémon as much as possible prior to challenging Sierra. As a Team GO Rocket Leader, all of her Pokémon will have substantial CP, so you shouldn’t assume that a type advantage will be all it takes to defeat her. But if you go into battle with your strongest Pokémon armed with Fast Attacks and Charged Attacks of the correct types, you should be able to defeat Sierra.

Team GO Rocket Leader Cliff

Cliff’s Potential Pokémon

  • First Pokémon

    • Larvitar (Rock/Ground)

  • Second Pokémon

    • Skarmory (Steel/Fighting)

    • Kingdra (Water/Dragon)

    • Sceptile (Grass)

  • Third Pokémon

    • Gyarados (Water/Flying)

    • Tyranitar (Rock/Dark)

    • Swampert (Water/Ground)

Recommended Pokémon to Defeat Cliff

  • Grass-type Pokémon to use against Cliff’s Larvitar, Sceptile, Tyranitar, and Swampert

    • Venusaur

    • Roserade

    • Tangrowth

    • Tapu Bulu

  • Electric-type Pokémon to use against Cliff’s Skarmory and Gyarados

    • Zapdos

    • Luxray

    • Zekrom

    • Tapu Koko

  • Fairy-type Pokémon to use against Cliff’s Kingdra and Tyranitar

    • Granbull

    • Gardevoir

    • Sylveon

    • Tapu Fini

How to Defeat Cliff

The best strategy for defeating Cliff is to choose strong Pokémon with a high max CP and the correct attack types. Ideally, your Pokémon will have a second Charged Attack with a different type than the first. In fact, the strategy detailed below calls for a Grass-type Pokémon with both a Grass-type Charged Attack and a Poison-type Charged Attack. Most of the Grass-type Pokémon recommended above can learn Charged Attacks of both of those types, so it won’t be difficult to identify which Pokémon to use, but it is important to note that investing in a second Charged Attack does require Stardust and Candy. While Tapu Bulu can’t learn a Poison-type Charged Attack, it can take on Grass types with its Bug-type Charged Attack Megahorn.

 Start with your Grass-type Pokémon against Cliff’s Larvitar. When choosing your Grass type, you’re going to want to choose attacks that both have the correct types and make the best use of energy. This will get Cliff to use his two Protect Shields as quickly as possible. For example, Venusaur’s Razor Leaf Fast Attack might deal slightly more damage than Vine Whip, but Vine Whip generates more energy. This might make Vine Whip a better choice. The Charged Attack Frenzy Plant costs the least energy of the three Grass-type Charged Attacks Venusaur can learn, but you will need an Elite Charged TM to teach this attack to Venusaur unless your Pokémon learned it during a special event.

If Cliff chooses Kingdra as his second Pokémon, switch to your Fairy type. If he chooses Sceptile, keep your Grass-type Pokémon out but use your Poison- or Bug-type Charged Attack. And if he chooses Skarmory, use your Electric-type Pokémon. You can get more flexibility from your Electric- and Fairy-type Pokémon if they know a second Charged Attack. With up to four Pokémon your Grass type can counter, it’s being asked to put in a lot of work—your other Pokémon can definitely lend a hand. For example, Zekrom can learn a Steel-type Charged Attack, which is effective against Larvitar and Tyranitar. Zapdos has a Flying-type Charged Attack that’s effective against Sceptile. Ensuring that each Pokémon on your team has a second Charged Attack is especially useful if one of your other Pokémon faints.

For Cliff’s third Pokémon, use your Electric type against Gyarados, your Grass type against Swampert, and either your Grass or Fairy type against Tyranitar.

If you’re a big fan of Alola’s guardian deities, you could have some fun challenging Cliff with Tapu Bulu as your Grass type, Tapu Koko as your Electric type, and Tapu Fini as your Fairy type. While none of the three can learn a Fairy-type Fast Attack, they have both the requisite Charged Attacks and some excellent options for a second Charged Attack. Sweeping the ferocious Team GO Rocket Leader with a colorful array of Fairy-type Pokémon is certainly a whimsical approach, and there’s no reason not to give it a try!

Catching Shadow Larvitar is well worth the challenge of defeating Cliff. Shadow Tyranitar is an exceptionally useful Pokémon in raids and is considered a decent choice in the GO Battle League’s Master League. If you do catch Shadow Larvitar, keep an eye out for an opportunity to use a Charged TM to help it forget Frustration and teach it a different Charged Attack.

Team GO Rocket Leader Arlo

Arlo’s Potential Pokémon

  • First Pokémon

    • Teddiursa (Normal)

  • Second Pokémon

    • Hypno (Psychic)

    • Blaziken (Fire/Flying)

    • Golurk (Ground/Ghost)

  • Third Pokémon

    • Scizor (Bug/Steel)

    • Banette (Ghost)

    • Luxray (Electric)

Recommended Pokémon to Defeat Arlo

  • Ghost-type Pokémon to use against Arlo’s Hypno, Golurk, and Banette

    • Giratina

    • Chandelure

    • Golurk

  • Dark-type Pokémon to use against Arlo’s Hypno, Golurk, and Banette

    • Houndoom

    • Hydreigon

    • Yveltal

  • Ground-type Pokémon to use against Arlo’s Blaziken and Luxray

    • Groudon

    • Garchomp

    • Ursaluna

  • Fighting-type Pokémon to use against Arlo’s Teddiursa

    • Machamp

    • Blaziken

    • Terrakion

How to Defeat Arlo

Defeating Arlo isn’t going to be straightforward, but that doesn’t mean it has to be difficult. His available Pokémon don’t have a lot of overlapping weaknesses, so you’ll need to get creative with dual typing or choose Pokémon with multiple Charged Attacks. Your team could consist of one Ghost or Dark type, one Ground type, and one Fighting type—but make sure one of these Pokémon is also a Fire type or knows a Fire-type Charged Attack. For example, Houndoom is a Dark- and Fire-type Pokémon, Blaziken is a Fighting- and Fire-type Pokémon, and  Chandelure is a Ghost- and Fire-type Pokémon.

If you have multiple Pokémon that fit these types, choose one with a high CP. Arlo’s Shadow Pokémon hit hard, even with a type disadvantage, and you need your team to battle as long as possible to send off their Charged Attacks. It’s also important that each Pokémon knows a Fast Attack and a Charged Attack that matches its type. This is because attacks with the same type as the Pokémon deal additional damage, and, when challenging a Team GO Rocket Leader, you want to dish out damage as quickly as possible. While knowing a Charged Attack that matches its type gives your Pokémon that bonus, knowing a second Charged Attack of a different type broadens its utility.

Regardless of which approach you take, you should lead with your Fighting-type Pokémon. Try to choose a Pokémon that has a Charged Attack that powers up quickly, and remember to use those Charged Attacks as soon as possible to force Arlo to use Protect Shields against the first two Charged Attacks. This means that the type of your first two Charged Attacks doesn’t matter—only how quickly you can send them off.

For Arlo’s second round, if the Team GO Rocket Leader brings out Blaziken, pivot to your Ground-type Pokémon. If it’s Hypno or Golurk, switch to your Ghost- or Dark-type Pokémon. For Arlo’s final pick, your Ghost or Dark type is also the best bet against Banette. If he brings out Scizor, choose whichever Pokémon you brought that knows a Fire-type Charged Attack. And if he chooses Luxray, your Ground-type Pokémon is best.

Wondering what to do with your newly-acquired Pokémon? Learn more about Shadow Pokémon in this article. The Team GO Rocket Leaders change their Pokémon every few months, so check back regularly for new recommendations and strategies.

Good luck battling, Trainers!

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