Cliff Counters: Defeating Team GO Rocket Leaders In Pokémon GO

Currently, the only way to obtain Shiny Shadow Pokémon in Pokémon GO is to defeat one of the three Team GO Rocket Leaders: Sierra, Arlo, and Cliff. These three leaders, unlike Team GO Rocket Grunts, employ their shields, making them more difficult to defeat.  In this comprehensive Cliff Counters Guide, Bleeding Cool is here to help trainers take on this villainous leader with the best counters… and potentially catch a Shiny Shadow Grimer.

Cliff from Team GO Rocket and his Shadow Tyranitar. Credit: Niantic.
Cliff from Team GO Rocket and his Shadow Tyranitar. Credit: Niantic.

Currently, Cliff has three slots of Pokémon, with the following possibilities:

  • SLOT ONE: Grimer
  • SLOT TWO: Machamp, Omastar, Electivire
  • SLOT THREE: Tyranitar, Swampert, Torterra

These Pokémon have some abundance of shared weaknesses, but some of the counters to Grimer are weak to Cliff's other Pokémon. Because of this, we will break these counters down individually, creating teams for each situation.

Slot #1: Grimer

Ground-type and Psychic-type Pokémon will take down Grimer due to its Poison-typing, but the Pokémon you intend to use against Grimer should not be in your first slot. You want to start off by switching Pokémon immediately (*see below for why), so instead, your Slot #1 should have a Pokémon which will become useful against Cliff's Slot #3 Pokémon. To defeat Grimer, your team should be:

  • SLOT ONE: This depends on what Pokémon is in Cliff's #3 slot
  • SLOT TWO: Mewtwo (Psycho Cut, Psystrike)
  • SLOT THREE: This depends on what Pokémon is in Cliff's #2 slot

Slot #2: Machamp, Omastar, Electivire

Cliff's second slot will determine your third. Here are what your teams should look like if Cliff has…

Machamp:

  • SLOT ONE: This depends on what Pokémon is in Cliff's #3 slot
  • SLOT TWO: Mewtwo (Psycho Cut, Psystrike)
  • SLOT THREE: Mewtwo (Psycho Cut, Psystrike)

In this situation, the Mewtwo that took down Cliff's shields and knocked out Grimer should still be, if it's maxed out, viable against Machamp. It will be able to take down Machamp with a single Charged attack. Because of this, double Mewtwos are recommended as a back-up.

Omastar:

  • SLOT ONE: This depends on what Pokémon is in Cliff's #3 slot
  • SLOT TWO: Mewtwo (Psycho Cut, Psystrike)
  • SLOT THREE: Riolu (Counter, Power-up Punch)

Omastar is double-weak to Grass-type moves, but we have chosen Riolu, which will exploit its weakness to Fighting-types because a powered-up Riolu will be more useful against the third-slot.

Electivire:

  • SLOT ONE: This depends on what Pokémon is in Cliff's #3 slot
  • SLOT TWO: Mewtwo (Psycho Cut, Psystrike)
  • SLOT THREE: Garchomp (Mudshot, Sand Tomb) or Rhyperior (Mud Slap, Stone Edge)
Cliff from Team GO Rocket. Credit: Niantic.
Cliff from Team GO Rocket. Credit: Niantic.

Scenario #3: Tyranitar, Swampert, Torterra

These Pokémon share some weaknesses, but they also share moves that will exploit their counters. Because of this, they must be understood invidually:

Tyranitar:

  • SLOT ONE: Conkeldurr (Counter, Dynamic Punch)
  • SLOT TWO: Mewtwo (Psycho Cut, Psystrike)
  • SLOT THREE: This depends on what Pokémon is in Cliff's #2 slot

Swampert:

  • SLOT ONE: This depends on what Pokémon is in Cliff's #3 slot
  • SLOT TWO: Mewtwo (Psycho Cut, Psystrike)
  • SLOT THREE: Roselia (Razor Leaf, Grass Knot)

Torterra:

  • SLOT ONE: This depends on what Pokémon is in Cliff's #3 slot
  • SLOT TWO: Mewtwo (Psycho Cut, Psystrike)
  • SLOT THREE: Heatran (Fire Spin, Fire Blast) or any Fire-type with double Fire moves

Shadow Pokémon help

Use Team GO Rocket's own Pokémon against them. The Shadow boost, as we covered here, makes a huge difference. A Shadow Mewtwo which has been treated with an Elite Fast TM and a Charged TM to have the above moveset seen on the Mewtwo used to counter Grimer will be able to cut through Team GO Rocket Leader Pokémon with far more effectivity than non-Shadows.

Switch as soon as the battle begins

The reason that switching as soon as the battle begins is recommended is that this method freezes up Team GO Rocket Grunts, Leaders, and the Boss for a very valuable beat. This allows a brief moment where you can deal damage and power up Charged attacks without taking any damage. This is essential to defeating these Leaders, who have incredibly powerful Shadow Pokémon that will be able to defeat a glass cannon Pokémon like Lucario without even using a Charged attack. Employ this method as soon as you begin the battle and then, if enough time elapses, again later in the battle.

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NEXT: The boss… Giovanni.

About Theo Dwyer

Theo Dwyer writes about comics, film, and games.