clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Pokémon Go leader counters for Sierra, Arlo, and Cliff in September 2023

How to take down the three Team Go Rocket leaders this month

Artwork from Pokemon Go showing the new Team Rocket admins, Giovanni, and a group of shadow Pokemon Image: Niantic/The Pokémon Company

Pokémon Go has its own version of the notorious Team Rocket, called Team Go Rocket. In this Pokémon Go guide, we’ll break down how to find leaders Sierra, Cliff, and Arlo and take them down.

Below, we list their parties and strategies as it stands in September 2023, with the most recent changes following the the Team Go Rocket Takeover event that activated as part of the “Solstice Horizons” event and “A Shadowy Disturbance” quest in late June.

How to find Sierra, Cliff, and Arlo in Pokémon Go

Team Go Rocket members can be found in hot air balloons flying above you or from glitchy, black PokéStops. Each time you defeat one, you’ll get a Mysterious Component. After you get 6 Mysterious Components, they’ll combine into a Rocket Radar, which allows you to find a random leader. The three leaders are Sierra, Arlo, and Cliff.

Some Timed Research and Team Go Rocket Special Research tasks require you to beat all three leaders. Completing the Team Go Rocket Special Research will reward you with a Super Rocket Radar, allowing you to find the boss, Giovanni. Beating Giovanni will net you a Legendary Shadow Pokémon.

Team Go Rocket leader Sierra counters

A woman in a white uniform with the Team Rocket Logo stands in the middle of a data screen Image: Niantic

Sierra’s team can be the following:

  • Geodude (rock/ground)
  • Gardevoir (psychic/fairy)
    Steelix (steel/ground)
    Sableye (dark/ghost)
  • Houndoom (dark/fire)
    Gyarados (water/flying)
    Victreebel (grass/poison)

Though coming in to scope out her team first is recommended, if you come equipped with water- and fighting-types, that will help a ton. Her party is pretty diverse, so you may also want to sprinkle in electric-, steel-, and ice-type moves as well, depending on what she’s running. Notably, Sableye is only weak against fairy-type moves, so you’ll want to either bring a Pokémon that knows fairy moves or you’ll want to brute force it.

We recommend using the following:

  • Raikou with Thunder Shock and Wild Charge
  • Magnezone with Spark and Wild Charge
  • Lucario with Counter and Aura Sphere
  • Machamp with Counter and Dynamic Punch
  • Kyogre with Waterfall and Origin Pulse
  • Swampert with Water Gun and Hydro Cannon
  • Glaceon with Ice Shard and Avalanche
  • Avalugg with Ice Fang and Avalanche
  • Metagross with Bullet Punch and Meteor Mash
  • Dialga with Metal Claw and Iron Head

Team Go Rocket leader Arlo counters

Team Rocket leader Arlo stands in purple fog, readying to battle Image: Niantic

Arlo’s team can be the following:

  • Aipom (normal)
  • Sharpedo (water/dark)
    Alakazam (psychic)
    Scizor (bug/steel)
  • Magnezone (electric/steel)
    Mismagius (ghost)
    Snorlax (normal)

If you come with ghost-, fighting-, and fire-type moves, you’ll take down almost every possible encounter in Arlo’s party.

We recommend using any of the following:

  • Giratina with Shadow Claw and Shadow Force
  • Gengar with Shadow Claw and Shadow Ball
  • Lucario with Counter and Aura Sphere
  • Machamp with Counter and Dynamic Punch
  • Reshiram with Fire Fang and Fusion Flare
  • Volcarona with Fire Spin and Overheat

Team Go Rocket leader Cliff counters

Cliff from Team Rocket stands in purple smog, ready to throw a Poké Ball Image: Niantic

Cliff’s team can be the following:

  • Aerodactyl (rock/flying)
  • Gallade (psychic/fighting)
    Cradily (rock/grass)
    Mamoswine (ice/ground)
  • Dusknoir (ghost)
    Slowking (water/psychic)
    Tyranitar (rock/dark)

Cliff’s potential parties are diverse in typing, so you should match up against him just to see what he has and then plan accordingly. Water-type moves will help you take out Aerodactyl, Mamoswine, and Tyranitar. Ghost-type moves also have some good coverage here. Steel- and flying-type moves will also help you a good amount.

We recommend using a mix of the following:

  • Kyogre with Waterfall and Origin Pulse
  • Swampert with Water Gun and Hydro Cannon
  • Origin Forme Giratina with Shadow Claw and Shadow Force
  • Chandelure with Hex and Shadow Ball
  • Metagross with Bullet Punch and Meteor Mash
  • Dialga with Metal Claw and Iron Head
  • Moltres with Wing Attack and Sky Attack
  • Honchkrow with Peck and Sky Attack

Team Go Rocket leader tips

If you’re struggling against the leaders, here’s a few tips to keep in mind:

  • They will use their shields on the first two Charge Attacks you use. Using a Pokémon that can charge and use Charge Attacks quickly will help you get rid of their shields, allowing you to freely damage them.
  • You should be prepared for the first Pokémon you use to get knocked out. If you use a Pokémon that gets through shields easily, that’s fine, but your other Pokémon will need to have decent type advantages to defeat any remaining Pokémon.
  • Remember, you can attempt the battle many times using one Rocket Radar, so you can queue up your strongest Pokémon just to see what the leader is carrying. If you defeat them on the first try, great! If not, you can swap your party around for some type-effective counters.
  • The team leaders have high CP Pokémon, so you should definitely be using the highest CP Pokémon you have if you’re struggling.
  • Facing Leaders is an efficient way of earning Shadow Shards for Purified Gems, with each battle rewarding three Shards.

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for Patch Notes

A weekly roundup of the best things from Polygon