Pokemon Go Team Rocket: Team Rocket Pokestops, invasions, grunt battles and rewards

By Alex Donaldson
9 August 2019 12:30 GMT

Prepare for trouble – Team Rocket has landed in Pokemon Go. That means new Rocket Stops replacing Pokestops, plus shadow Pokemon that can become purified Pokemon thanks to and all-new combat encounters versus Rocket Grunts.

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This isn’t actually the Team Rocket you might be familiar with if you’ve played other Pokemon games – in fact this is a slightly different group, Team GO Rocket, exclusive to Pokemon Go. But let’s be fair: this is absolutely just Team Rocket. Their appearance has been teased in-game for a while now, and now they’re finally here, gradually rolling out to players worldwide.

You can just wait until a natural encounter happens with them, of course, but if you’re a powerful trainer you probably want to seek out some members of this villainous organization to dish out some punishment. On this page, we’ll help you to find Team Rocket… and then explain everything new that you can do once you do.

Pokemon Go Team Rocket Pokestops Stops: how to find the team rocket invasion rocket stops

The center of the Pokemon Go world is of course Pokestops, and so it’s no surprise that the Team Rocket Invasion of the game begins with them rebranding some of them into Team Rocket Pokestops, or Rocket Stops for short.

You’ll be able to spot a Rocket Stop from a distance – invaded Pokestops feature a glitching icon above them, the cube that sits above the stop twitching and changing from the regular blue color to a darker shade. When you get closer, it becomes clearer that it’s a Team Rocket Pokestop – it turns black and has a gigantic R logo above it, for Team Rocket, and a Rocket Grunt will appear near it.

Team Rocket members only appear at and invade Pokestops for thirty minutes at a time, and they’ll therefore move about from Pokestop to Pokestop. Essentially, each invasion is a random, limited time event. Each Rocket Stop is universal, however: so it’ll appear as a Rocket Stop for all players for the duration of its invasion.

The actual Rocket Stop functionality isn’t anything to worry about – instead, the thing you should be concerned with is the Team Rocket Grunt. Like a Pokemon encounter, you’ll be able to tap the grunt in order to interact with them – except against a Grunt it’ll engage you in a trainer battle, which functionally works just as it does with player-versus-player battles. You can fight an unlimited number of grunts per day, but only once at any given Pokestop.

Battling Team Rocket Grunts and their Shadow Pokemon for rewards

Once you tap on the Team Rocket grunt that’s camping out at an invaded Rocket Stop Pokestop, you’ll be thrown into a trainer battle. The Team Rocket Grunt will use Shadow Pokemon – Pokemon possessed with negativity that have an evil red glow about their eyes as a result.

This works a bit like a combination of a raid boss battle and a player-versus-player battle. The fight works as it does in PVP, but then once the Rocket Grunt is defeated, you’ll have the chance to catch one of the Rocket Grunt’s Shadow Pokemon with a mechanic very similar to what happens after raids.

You’ll be able to tell what Pokemon type you’re about to encounter and then have a chance to catch from the way the Rocket Grunt talks: if they warn you that you’re approaching treacherous waters, it’ll be a water-type, while if they tell you not to “tangle” with them it’ll be grass, and so on. This can be useful for planning ahead to hit the weaknesses as outlined in the Pokemon Go Type strength and weakness chart.

For dual-type Pokemon, the hint will always be based on the Pokemon’s first, primary type – so for Bulbasaur, a grass/poison-type Pokemon, the quote will be the grass quote. Here’s a full list of the verbal ticks, which were partially data-mined by Pokemon Go Hub:

Team Rocket Grunt Encounter Type Dialogue Hints

Here's how to tell what type of Pokemon you'll be doing battle against when you fight a Team Rocket Grunt by how they talk before the battle, listed by type.
Rocket Grunt DialoguePokemon TypeWeakness
"Go, my super bug Pokemon!"
BugFire, Flying, Rock
"Wherever is a light, there is also shadow..."DarkFighting, Bug, Fairy
"ROAR! … How’d that sound?"DragonDragon, Ice, Fairy
"Get ready to be shocked!"ElectricGround
"Check out my cute Pokemon!"FairyPoison, Steel
"This buff physique isn’t just for show!"FightingFlying, Psychic, Fairy
"Do you know how hot Pokemon fire breath can get?"FireWater, Ground, Rock
"My bird Pokemon wants to battle with you!"FlyingElectric, Ice, Rock
"Ke… ke… ke… ke… ke… ke!"GhostGhost, Dark
"Don’t tangle with us!"GrassFire, Flying, Bug, Ice, Poison
"You’ll be defeated into the ground!"GroundWater, Grass, Ice
"You’re gonna be frozen in your tracks."IceFire, Fighting, Steel, Rock
"Normal doesn’t mean weak."NormalFighting
"Coiled and ready to strike!"PoisonGround, Psychic
"Are you scared of physics that use unseen power?"PsychicBug, Ghost, Dark
"Let’s rock and roll!"RockWater, Grass, Fighting, Ground, Steel
"You’re no match for my iron will!"SteelFire, Fighting, Ground
"These waters are treacherous!"WaterElectric, Grass
"Winning is for winners."
"Don’t bother, I’ve already won."
"Get ready to be defeated."
Shadow Snorlax encounter

How many Premier Balls you have for the encounter with the Shadow Pokemon is determined by things like your Defeat Team Rocket and Purify Pokemon medal rankings (which are raised simply by beating Rocket Grunts and Purifying Pokemon), plus how you performed in the prior battle. Once a Shadow Pokemon has been caught, you’ll have it as your own – but in order to truly make it one of your own, you’ll need to undertake the task of Purifying that Shadow Pokemon.

As well as the reward of catching the Shadow Pokemon, each battle will net you 500 Stardust and a Mysterious Component, which is a piece of the Rocket Radar – an item that, when constructed from multiple parts, will let you challenge a Team Rocket Leader.

Team Go Rocket Leader Battles & Rewards

Once you’ve defeated six Team Go Rocket Grunts, you’ll have collected enough Mysterious Components to create a Rocket Radar – that’s six in total. What the Rocket Radar basically does is let you track where there’s a Team Rocket invasion – and the next time you encounter a Rocket-infected Pokestop, you’ll be able to challenge one of the Team Rocket leaders. This includes Rocket encounters via Balloon, for the record.

There are three core Team Rocket Leaders, and you’ll encounter them one by one: Arlo, Cliff and Sierra. All will have their own unique Pokemon load-out, though the Rocket Leader Pokemon load-out varies from week-to-week in-game. It’s constantly changing, and so we’re not listing specific Pokemon and counters here – because they quickly become outdated. However, you do have an advantage.

Once you encounter a Rocket Leader, your Rocket Radar will remain active and valid until you’ve defeated that leader. Once a leader is defeated, you’re then back to fighting grunts – until you’ve fought six, at which point you can challenge the next leader in line.

What this means is that you can challenge a Team Rocket Leader, see what Pokemon they’re using, lose, and then back out, heal up your Pokemon and then pick the most appropriate Pokemon party to beat them, taking advantage of the strengths and weaknesses outlined in our Pokemon Go Type Chart.

None of the leaders are that difficult this way, and all have decent Pokemon – meaning you’ll have an exciting Shadow Pokemon to catch at the end of the encounter. You’ll also get 1000 Stardust and a chance at getting an Unova Stone or Sinnoh Stone evolutionary item, as well as some healing items.

Once you’ve beaten Arlo, Cliff and Sierra, you’ll be back to fighting grunts again – but the next time you collect six Mysterious Components and encounter a Team Go Rocket Pokestop, you’ll then have to fight Team Rocket leader Giovanni. This encounter works like the other leader battles, but ultimately culminates in the chance for you to catch a Legendary Shadow Pokemon – that’s a super rare one!

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