Rocket Grunts Guide: Counters & Lineups for all Grunts in Pokémon GO

A guide on how to counter Team GO Rocket Grunts in Pokemon GO. Includes Pokémon lineups for all Grunt fights. Updated for December 2020. Team GO Rocket Grunts can be quite difficult without proper counters, especially if you’re using a mono typed team and get countered.

We recommend reading through each encounter in details and understanding how the game assembles Team Rocket Pokemon teams. Pay attention to the hardest encounter that features various permutations featuring Aerodactyl that can easily catch you off guard.

Coiled and ready to strike!

Possible encounters feature Poison type Pokemon.

Best counters: Smack Down Rhyperior / Tyranitar / Raikou / Groudon 

Grunts that taunt Coiled prefer to use Poison types, especially the Nidoran and Grimer family line. You will commonly fight Nidoran, Golbat, Grimer, and Nidorina/o. This is among the more common group of encounters, comprising roughly 7% of all TR invasions. Our recommended team for this Grunt encounter is Rhyperior for Nidoran/ Grimer or Muk/ Nidorina/o + Tyranitar in case their second Pokemon is Golbat, while still resisting poison and dark type moves.

However, this Grunt team potentially requires you to actively switch your Pokémon as Golbat will resist ground type attacks, but if your Rhyperior has rock wrecker, then you could charge up on Nidoran and have it ready just in case.

In this case, Rhyperior is the best counter, with Mud-Slap, Rock Wrecker, and Surf/Earthquake. Groudon and Raikou are also good alternatives, but Rhyperior and Tyranitar should be all you need.

Normal doesn’t mean weak.

Possible encounters feature Normal type Pokemon.

Best counters: Machamp, Breloom, and Lucario

Grunts that use this taunt line will primarily use Normal type Pokemon: Teddiursa, Raticate, Porygon2, Porygon-Z and Snorlax. These encounters comprise roughly 7% of all TR invasions.

Recommended Pokemon for this encounter is Machamp (or you strongest counter user), with Lucario and Breloom being great options. All of these Pokemon take super-effective damage from Fighting moves, so you will only need your best fighting types here.

ROAR! … How’d that sound?

Possible encounters feature Dragon type Pokemon.

Best counter: Mamoswine, Glaceon, Weavile, Magnezone and Raikou for Gyarados

Grunts using this taunt will have Dragon type Pokemon. Currently, they will most likely use a Dratini, Dragonair and Dragonite in this fight. As this fight is a mono-type encounter, we recommend using 2 Ice Pokemon: Mamoswine, Glaceon, Weavile or even an Ice Beam Mewtwo. The exact move set is not that important, just make sure it’s a double Ice move set. These encounters are quite rare, only comprising 0.5% of all recorded TR invasions.

Unfortunately, you can’t use your Ice types to counter Gyarados, so we recommend packing one Electric type like Magnezone to deal with it. Raikou is also a great option, but Magnezone will resist dragon type attacks.

These waters are treacherous

Possible encounters feature Water type Pokemon.

Best counter: Alolan Exeggutor, Sceptile, Leafeon, Tangrowth, Raikou, Magnezone

Grunts using this taunt will use Shellder, Magikarp, Poliwhirl, and Psyduck evolution line. We suggest using Grass or Electric type counters like Alolan Exeggutor, Sceptile, Leafeon, Tangrowth, Raikou, Magnizon, Electivire, Jolteon, or Zapdos. There is potential for counter moves from Go Rocket Pokémon with access to ground and ice type attacks. Venusaur and Roserade are good options against Poliwrath’s Fighting moves.

In case you encounter a Gyarados, bring out your Electric Pokemon.

Don’t tangle with us!

Possible encounters feature Grass type Pokemon.

Best counter: Moltres, Charizard, Entei

Grunts that boast this taunt use Grass-type Pokemon, often from the Bellsprout family line, combined with the occasional Bulbasaur, Seedot and Oddish family. The standout feature of this encounter is the third Pokémon, which forces you to have optimal counters.

This encounter is easily defeated if you have Moltres, Charizard, Entei or even a Heatran. Players have reported defeating the fight with Mewtwo and Gengar teams as well. On average, this encounter appears in 8% of all recorded TR invasions.

Battle against my Flying-type Pokémon!

Possible encounters feature Flying type Pokemon.

Best counter: Smack Down Tyranitar + 1 Ice type if you encounter Dragonite, 1 Electric type in case of Gyarados or Skarmory

Grunts using this taunt use a difficult combination of Flying type Pokemon: Zubat, Golbat, Crobat, Scyther, Gyarados, Dragonite, and now Skarmory. Regardless, we recommend using a team of Smack Down Tyranitar, one Ice type for Dragonite, and one Electric type for Skarmory and Gyarados. Or you can go with a full on SD Tyranitar team, but be careful of Skarmory Flash Cannon. Roughly 8% of Invasions are using this taunt.

Do you know how hot Pokemon fire breath can get?

Possible encounters feature Fire type Pokemon.

Best counter: Smack Down Tyranitar / Kyogre / Vaporeon

Grunts using this taunt will use Fire type Pokemon. Houndour and Vulpix families are almost in every fight, with the last Pokemon sometimes being another Charmeleon, Houndoom or an Arcanine.

Regardless of which Pokemon you face at the end, Water types like Kyogre and Rock types like Smack Down Tyranitar are your best pick in these fights because they resist fire type attacks. Your best Ground types will also work. Roughly 8% of Invasions are using this taunt.

Go, my super bug Pokémon!

Possible encounters feature Bug type Pokemon.

Best counter: Fire types

Charizard / Moltres with Fire type moves resists most moves from all Pokemon and deal 2x  Super Effective Damage to Scizor. Grunts using this taunt use Bug type Pokemon, mostly from the Venonat, Scyther and Weedle evolution lines. Bug types are easily defeated by Fire types, which is key to defeating Scizor.

You’ll be defeated into the ground!

Possible encounters feature Ground type Pokemon.

Grunts using this taunt use Ground type Pokemon. Ground types are traditionally weak to Water and Grass, but with the addition of the Gligar family line, we would suggest Ice in this case. There are two Pokemon that perform incredibly well against them:

  • Gyarados – double resist Ground and resists Fighting moves, has Water attacks
  • Mamoswine  – 2x effectiveness against Vibrava/Flygon and Gligar/Gliscor.

Are you scared of psychics that use unseen power?

Possible encounters feature Psychic type Pokemon.

Counters: Tyranitar, Weavile, Houndoom

Grunts using this taunt will use Psychic type Pokemon from the Drowzee, Abra, and Ralts evolution lines, all of which are easily defeat by your average Dark type Pokemon. You can use the same team you would usually use for Mewtwo or Deoxys raids. Ralts and Kirlia are Fairy types and have the potential to do damage to your dark types, but they are so incredibly squishy that it shouldn’t matter too much. Tyranitar is perfectly good enough for these encounters and you likely have some powered up.

Let’s rock and roll!

Possible encounters feature Rock type Pokemon.

Counters: Machamp 

Grunts using this taunt will use Rock type Pokemon from the Larvitar family line, all of which are easily defeated by Machamp. However, now there is also a small chance that you will encounter Aerodactly in which case Machamp should still come out victorious.

Ke… ke… ke… ke… ke… ke…

Possible encounters feature Ghost type Pokemon.

Counters: Darkraki, Weavile, Gengar, Tyranitar

Grunts using this taunt will use Ghost type Pokemon. Easily defeated by using Dark and Ghost types like Darkrai, Weavile, Gengar and Tyranitar.

This buff physique isn’t just for show!

Possible encounters feature Fighting type Pokemon.

Counters: Alakazam, Gardevoir, Mewtwo, Sky Attack Moltres, Drill Peck Zapdos

Grunts using this taunt will use Fighting type Pokemon. Easily defeated by using Psychic, Fairy and Flying type Pokemon.

You’re gonna be frozen in your tracks.

Possible encounters feature Ice type Pokemon.

Counters: Machamp, Tyranitar, Arcanine, Charizard, Moltres

Grunts using this taunt will use [Ice] type Pokemon. Easily defeated by using [Fighting] or Rock type attacks. Cloyster and Lapras are possible encounters which can be trickier for your rock types. You can bring an Electric type in the back just in case. Also, Fire types are extremely good against the Snover family line and Arcanine features Wild Charge which could prove useful against Lapras or Cloyster.

Wherever there is light, there is also shadow.

Possible encounters feature Dark type Pokemon.

Counters: Rhyperior, Gardevoir, Lucario

Grunts using this taunt will use Dark type Pokemon. Most likely encounter is Stunky and two Skuntanks. Easily defeated by using Ground type attacks, Rhyperior being an excellent choice. Sableye and Shiftry could prove difficult for Rhyperior, so having a Fairy type or Lucario in the back is helpful. If you are extra worried about Shiftry, you can bring your best Bug type as it is 2x weak to bug attacks. You should be able to take down most, if not all, of the team with Rhyperior alone.

Get ready to be shocked!

Possible encounters feature Electric type Pokemon.

Counters: Groudon and other ground types.

Grunts using this taunt will use Electric type Pokemon. Easily defeated by using Ground type Pokemon.

Don’t bother – I’ve already won. / Get ready to be defeated! / Winning is for winners.

This encounter can be particularly difficult, depending on the line up you get. Snorlax is always tough and there is a chance you could be countered by different line ups. There is a good chance you will encounter a Snorlax so you will likely want a fighter on your team, either Machamp or Lucario. We also recommend Raikou or another strong Electric type in the lead to deal with Aerodactyl and then have shadow ball ready in case Gardevoir is in the second slot. Then you could bring an Ice type or maybe Tyranitar to deal with the 3rd Pokemon encounter.

  • Lead with Electric type (Raikou can deal withe Gardevoir if you have Shadow Ball)
  • Switch to Fighting type if Snorlax is the second Pokemon
  • Have Ice type or Tyrantiar in back.
  • Metagross with Meteor Mash and Dialga are also good back up options
  • Ursaring with Fighting moves (against Lick especially) is surprisingly strong in this match up
  • Dragonite with any Dragon-type move set as it has bulk and great neutral damage output (beware of Gardevoir)
  • Lucario with double Fighting is also good, as it’s second type is Steel and that helps him a lot in this fight

Credits for the counters go to Silph Road and PokéBattler (via reddit).

Author Tips and Go Rocket Take Down Lineup

3kkology here, updating this guide for everyone to use to take down Go Rocket invasions. I wanted to provide my dedicated Go Rocket team that I use for efficiency when taking down large invasion of Go Rocket grunts.

It can be annoying to look at this guide for every grunt and remember what Pokémon is best for each encounter. This is the team that I use for every Go Rocket encounter and it has yet to fail me. Feel free to copy and try for yourself.

The lead is Rhyperior. Lucario Power-up Punch is very powerful because of the delay in attacking by grunt Pokémon after using charge moves. Charizard is great for similar reason because of Dragon Claw and the fire type attacks over good coverage. You can really limit the amount of fast moves the Go Rocket grunt can get off. This team is very well rounded for all grunt encounters. Gyarados is the only one that gives you a hard time, but a well planned Rock Wrecker or a powered up Shadow Ball will do the trick.

Grunt mechanics

Grunts will randomly select one 1 Pokemon from each of the 3 columns (#1 – 3) to build a team. Before starting the Team Rocket Battle encounter in Pokemon GO, the Grunt will taunt you. We use this taunt line to figure out which type of Pokemon he / she will use in the fight.

Team Rocket Grunts do not use shields, which gives you an additional edge in these battles. You should shield against every Charge move they use (the charged attack the Shadow Pokémon use in battle is not Frustration, but a regular move from their move pool).

Every Pokémon that faints on your team reduces the number of Premier Balls you will get for the Shadow Pokémon catch encounter. It’s in your best interest to switch low HP Pokémon before they faint. There is a slight delay in Rocket Grunts attacking after charge moves are used or Pokémon are switched, which you can take advantage of to make your victory that much easier.

Your Pokémon are not automatically healed after the battle. If you lose, you can re-match and the Grunt will have the same Pokémon again. There’s no penalty for rejoining.

You can walk away from the Poke Stop once the encounter starts. There’s no distance limit on how far you can move (or at least we never reached it). We tested this up to almost 500 meters (0.31 miles).

These taunts indicate the strongest Pokémon you will face, not the one you can catch. The Team Rocket grunt gives hints on the type of their third Pokémon. You will always be catching either the first or the second Pokémon that they used

Credits and thank you

We wish to say thank you to everyone that contributed their data to our Team Rocket Battles research project. You’ve recorded more than 1300 TR Battles and this guide is made possible solely on the merit of the data you provided! Thank you! If you want to join our Discord server, please do so, we are planning to hold more research projects in near future. 

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