As you progress through the “Looming in the Shadows” Special Research quest, you’re eventually tasked with defeating all three Team GO Rocket Leaders. One of these leaders is Cliff. Here’s how to find and beat him.
How to Find Cliff
According to a new blog post from Niantic, Team GO Rocket Grunts may now drop Mysterious Components when defeated. Assemble six of those to make Rocket Radars that can be used to sniff out the Team GO Rocket Leaders and battle them. Once you craft one, you can equip or unequip it from your bag. Tap the Rocket Radar button below the compass to activate the Rocket Radar. Using the Rocket Radar reveals all the Leader Hideouts in range, according to Niantic’s support website. They resemble regular PokeStops until you get within range of them, at which point the Team GO Rocket Leader will appear next to the PokeStop. Be careful as Leaders are more powerful than the average Grunt. If you lose a battle against the Leader, you can challenge them again until the Leader Hideout disappears from the map. Once you defeat them, the Rocket Radar breaks.
Even though players with Rocket Radars are the only ones able to detect hideouts for the leaders, they can still collaborate since hideouts appear to players in the same places, according to the blog post. After you create your first Rocket Radar, the items will then be available to purchase from the in-game shop with PokeCoins, according to Niantic’s support website. Only players level eight and above can get Mysterious Components and take on the Leaders, according to the website.
According to Pokemon Go Hub, bosses are only available from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Update (July 7, 2020): The Team GO Rocket Leaders can now appear in Team GO Rocket Balloons that appear occasionally in the overworld. You have to have a Rocket Radar equipped for that to happen, though.
Best Counters for Fighting Cliff (Update: October 12, 2020)
Omanyte – Venusaur, Sceptile, Tangrowth, Machamp
Machamp (Fighting) – Togekiss, Mewtwo, Mew, Gardevoir Electivire (Electric) – Groudon, Garchomp, Swampert, Rhyperior Omastar (Water/Rock) – Virizion, Celebi, Tangrowth, Venusaur, Torterra, Meganium, Machamp, Conkeldurr, Raikou, Zapdos, Electrivire, Swampert, Garchomp
Tyranitar – Machamp, Conkeldurr, Cobalion, Heracross, Virizion, Togekiss, Gardevoir, Groudon, Garchomp, Scizor, Melmetal, Dialga, Kyogre, Swampert, Tangrowth Torterra – Mamoswine, Glaceon, Mewtwo (w/ Ice Beam), Regice, Articuno, Reshiram, Scizor Swampert – Virizion, Celebi, Tangrowth, Venusaur, Torterra, Meganium
Below is the team composition we recommend for the initial fight. If you get defeated, you can retry with a new team that will be more optimized since you know what Pokemon Sierra is actually using and so know what counters to use.
Mewtwo – Psycho Cut & Psystrike
Virizion, Celebi, Tangrowth, Venusaur, Torterra, or Meganium
Machamp – Counter & Cross Chop/Rock Slide
Use Mewtwo to blast through Grimer and Machamp, but bring a Machamp of your own (or Conkeldurr, Cobalion and Heracross) to deal with Tyranitar if Cliff has one. Make sure to have at least one strong grass-type to deal with Omastar and Swampert, as those two Pokemon are double weak to their attacks. You might also want to bring a Mamoswine (or Glaceon) instead of Machamp or have Mewtwo use Ice Beam if Cliff has Torterra on his team.
Tips for Defeating Cliff
Unlike standard Team GO Rocket Grunts, Leaders can use Shields. Leaders will use up one of their shields every time you use a Charge Move, so it’s good to have a Pokemon with a Charge Move that has a low energy requirement – such as Machamp with Cross Chop – so you can burn through their shields quickly and hit their later Pokemon hard with a stronger Charge Move with a higher energy requirement.
According to a set of tips from user Paraprosdokian7 and LanAkou, the Pokemon used by Team GO Rocket Leaders have souped up attack stats. That means that it’s not only important to use Pokemon that can deal super effective damage but ones that can resist their attacks. You can bait the leaders into using up all their shields quickly if you use fast charging Charge Moves constantly in the beginning. That way your more powerful Charge Moves can hit the opponent without a hitch. If you can kill a Pokemon easily with Fast Moves, save up your Charge Moves for the next Pokemon they send out especially if that Pokemon isn’t weak to your Fast Moves. Click on the links on each user for more info.
Rewards include 1,000 Stardust and two of the following rewards: one Unova Stone, one Sinnoh Stone, one Max Revive, three Revives, one Max Potion or three Max Potions according to The Silph Road Subreddit. You’ll also get to capture one of the Shadow Pokemon used by the leader with a chance of them being shiny, according to Pokemon GO Hub.
Best Counters for Fighting Cliff (Pokemon GO Fest 2020)
Pinsir (Bug) – Reshiram, Heatran, Moltres, Altaria, Rhyperior, Terrakion
Tyranitar (Rock/Dark) – Machamp, Conkeldurr, Terrakion, Groudon, Garchomp, Pinsir, Dialga, Metagross, Kyogre, Swampert, Venusaur, Togekiss
Shadow Articuno – Rhyperior, Tyranitar, Terrakion, Rampardos, Raikou, Electrivire, Reshiram, Heatran, Metagross, Dialga
Below is the team composition we recommend for the initial fight.
Reshiram – Dragon Breath & Overheat
Machamp – Dynamic Punch & Cross Chop + Rock Slide
Rhyperior – Smack Down & Rock Wrecker
Cliff has two Pokemon with debilitating double weaknesses to fighting and rock during GO Fest 2020, so be sure to have at least one Pokemon of each type on your team.
Best Counters for Fighting Cliff (Original: November 7, 2019)
Here are all the Pokemon Cliff is known to use according to reports along with the best counters to use against them:
Meowth – Machamp, Breloom, Hariyama, Lucario
Snorlax – Machamp, Breloom, Hariyama, Lucario
Sandslash – Mamoswine, Mewtwo (w/ Ice Beam), Kyogre, Kingler (w/ Crabhammer), Roserade
Flygon – Mamoswine, Mewtwo (w/ Ice Beam), Regice, Rayquaza, Dragonite, Gardevoir
Tyranitar – Machamp, Breloom, Hariyama, Kyogre, Kingler (w/ Crabhammer)
Infernape – Groudon, Kyogre, Mewtwo (w/ Psychic or Psystrike), Moltres (w/ Sky Attack)
Torterra – Mamoswine, Mewtwo (w/ Ice Beam), Regice, Chandelure, Moltres, Pinsir
To take on Cliff, you’ll need at least one really good fighting-type and at least one really good ice-type. Having a water-type on hand is a great idea as well.
Here’s the team composition we recommend: Machamp, Mamoswine/Mewtwo (w/ Psycho Cut & Ice Beam), Kyogre/Kingler (w/ Crabhammer). You’re welcome to make your own team, of course.