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How to beat Cliff in Pokémon Go: Best counters

How to beat Cliff in Pokémon Go
(Image credit: Niantic)

Figuring out how to beat Cliff in Pokémon Go is definitely one of the most challenging parts of the game, seeing as he's one of the three Team GO Rocket Leaders that you'll have to encounter. 

By defeating him, along with his colleagues Arlo and Sierra, you can finally get the chance to challenge Giovanni, the big bad wolf himself. So whether you’re here because you’re facing Cliff for the first time, or if you're searching for tips for a rematch, no need to worry - we've got you sorted. 

Below, we've prepared a guide on all the best Pokémon counters against Cliff’s line-up, including specific Pokémon suggestions, types, moves and more. However, make sure that you're prepared for a challenge as Cliff is not your average Team Go Rocket Grunt. 

Beating Cliff is well worth it since you will receive a Strange 12km Pokémon Egg as well as 1000XP by doing so. It's worth noting that only Trainers of Level 8 or above can face Team Go Rocket Leaders, including Cliff.

WARNING: Please take extreme caution when playing Pokémon Go and be aware of your surroundings, especially if you're using the app next to open roads, bicycle paths and steep drops.

Other Pokémon Go guides:

How to beat Cliff in Pokémon Go: Best counters quick guide

Cliff's possible Pokémon line-upRecommended Pokémon line-up
SeedotFire-type: Charizard/Moltres; Flying: Pidgeot/Staraptor
HariyamaPsychic: Mewtwo/Alakazam; Fairy: Togekiss/Granbull
PoliwrathPsychic: Mewtwo/Alakazam; Fairy: Togekiss/Granbull
KinglerGrass-type: Venasaur/Sceptile; Electric-type: Zapdos/Magnezone
TyranitarFighting-type: Lucario/Machamp/Hitmonchan/Hitmonlee
TorterraIce-type: Mamoswine/Abomasnow/Glaceon/Articuno
SharpedoGrass-type: Venasaur/Sceptile; Electric-type: Zapdos/Magnezone

How to beat Cliff in Pokémon Go

Locating Team GO Rocket Leaders

Every once in a while in Pokémon Go, you'll have the chance to battle Team Go Rocket Grunts, and whenever you defeat one, they will drop an item called the Mysterious Component. If you manage to collect six of these, you'll be able to combine them and craft a Rocket Radar. 

This handy item reveals the location of any Leader Hideouts that are in close proximity to you. Once you've equipped your Rocket Radar, tap the Rocket Radar button (located below the compass on the Map View) to view the Leader Hideout locations.

As shown in one of the screenshots below, the Leader Hideouts resemble regular Pokéstops on the map. And once you're nearby, one of the Team Go Rocket Leaders will be standing right by the Leader Hideout.

Before you fight, keep in mind that Leaders like Cliff are a lot tougher to beat than regular Team Go Rocket Grunts, so make sure that you line up your best Pokémon and that they're at full health before the fight. 

Once you've defeated a Cliff, your Rocket Radar will disappear, so you will need to either purchase a new one from the Shop or locate and combine six more Mysterious Components in order to battle more Leaders. 

How to beat Cliff - locating Team Go Rocket Leaders

(Image credit: Niantic)

Locating Cliff

Once you have your newly crafted Rocket Radar, Cliff has a chance to appear on your map, as will the other two Team Rocket Go Leaders, Sierra and Arlo. The good news is that beating Cliff won't be the most challenging part of the game, especially when you compare him to the infamous Giovanni. 

Defeating Cliff is one of the main steps toward completing the "Looming in the Shadows" quest, which will eventually lead you to Giovanni. Beating him should grant you 1000 XP.

To take a look at the Special Research tasks, first, tap the binoculars icon, select the "Special" tab and find the "Looming in the Shadows" research task.

Ready? Alright, now let's talk strategy. 

How to beat Cliff in Pokémon Go

(Image credit: Niantic)

How to beat Cliff in Pokémon Go: Best counters complete guide

Best Cliff counters

Now that you've located Cliff, prepare for trouble, because this battle is one of the most challenging ones in the game. Beating him won't be the easiest task, as not only will he put up a strong Pokémon line-up, but, like other trainers, he can also use protect shields to absorb two of your precious charged attacks.

One thing to note, however, is that the game is regularly updated and Cliff's Pokémon line-up may change fairly frequently, but we've prepared a complete guide according to the latest info available. 

Similar to other Pokemon trainers, Cliff will use three Pokémon in his battle against you. His possible line-up includes up to seven different Shadow Pokémon, and only his first choice is the one that you can always accurately predict. However, by being aware of the remaining six Pokémon, you won't be taken by surprise. 

As of August 2021, Cliff's first choice for the fight will always be his Seedot, followed by one of these three Pokémon: Hariyama, Poliwrath or Kingler.

Cliff's third and final Pokémon will be either a Tyranitar, Torterra or Sharpedo.

Below, you'll find advice on all the best counters for all of Cliff's Pokémon as well as suggestions on moves and attacks. 

Best Seedot counters

How to beat Cliff in Pokémon Go - Best Seedot counters

(Image credit: Niantic)

Seedot will always be the first one up in Cliff's Trainer battle line-up. Since Seedot is a Grass-type, you can take him on relatively easily by using either Flying-types like Pidgeot and Staraptor or Fire-type Pokémon like Charizard or Moltres (both of whom are conveniently dual Fire- and Flying-types). 

Careful though — this Pokémon may be small, but Seedot can pack a mean little punch with its Bullet Seed and Grass Knot attacks.

Best Pokémon choiceTypeMoveset
CharizardFire/FlyingFire Spin/Blast Burn
MoltresFire/FlyingFire Spin/Sky Attack
PidgeotFlyingWing Attack/Brave Bird
StaraptorFlyingQuick Attack/Brave Bird

Best Hariyama & Poliwrath counters

How to beat Cliff in Pokémon Go - Best Hariyama & Poliwrath counters

(Image credit: Niantic)

Hariyama and Poliwrath are both one of the three Pokémon that Cliff may send out as his second choice. Both Pokémon will be looking to do some serious damage to your team with their Dynamic Punch charged attack, coupled with Hariyama's Counter and Poliwrath's Bubble. 

The good news is that both options are weak against Psychic- and Fairy-type moves, so we recommend bringing Mewtwo, Alakazam, Togekiss or Granbull. Alternatively, you can always use the same Flying-type Pokémon that you used against Cliff's Seedot, provided it survived the previous battle.

Best Pokémon choiceTypeMoveset
MewtwoPsychicConfusion/Psystrike
AlakazamPsychicPsycho Cut/Psychic
TogekissFairy/FlyingCharm/Dazzling Gleam
GranbullFairy/FlyingCharm/Dazzling Gleam

Best Kingler & Sharpedo counters

How to beat Cliff in Pokémon Go - Best Kingler & Sharpedo counters

(Image credit: Niantic)

Kingler is a Water-type Pokémon and the final of the three Pokémon that Cliff may select as his second choice for the battle. Its best attacks are Metal Claw and Crabhammer, so be wary of this giant crab's mighty arm. 

Similarly, Sharpedo is a dual Water- and Dark-type and one of the three possibilities that you'll have to face as Cliff's final Pokémon. Its best moves are Bite and Hydro Pump. 

Conveniently, both Kingler and Sharpedo can be countered by strong Electric and Grass-type Pokémon. In this case, we recommend bringing the likes of Venasaur, Sceptile, Zapdos or Magnezone to blow Cliff's Pokémon straight out of the water. 

Best Pokémon choiceTypeMoveset
VenasaurGrass/PoisonVine Whip/Frenzy Plant
SceptileGrassFury Cutter/Frenzy Plant
ZapdosElectric/FlyingThunder Shock/Thunderbolt
MagnezoneElectric/SteelSpark/Wild Charge

Best Tyranitar counters

How to beat Cliff in Pokémon Go - Best Tyranitar counters

(Image credit: Niantic)

Tyranitar is a dual Rock/Dark-type Pokémon that Cliff may call upon as his third choice for the battle. This mountain of a Pokémon brings with it a terrifying offensive moveset of Bite and Stone Edge. 

However, both of Tyranitar's types make it incredibly weak to a good old Fighting-type punch, so by tagging in one of Lucario, Machamp, Hitmonchan or Hitmonlee, you can knock it out in no time.

Best Pokémon choiceTypeMoveset
LucarioFighting/SteelCounter/Aura Sphere
MachampFightingCounter/Dynamic Punch
HitmonchanFightingCounter/Power-Up Punch
HitmonleeFightingLow Kick/Brick Break

Best Torterra counters

How to beat Cliff in Pokémon Go - Best Torterra counters

(Image credit: Niantic)

The last of Cliff's three final Pokémon is Torterra, a dual Grass and Ground-type Pokémon that is incredibly weak against Ice-type moves. Therefore, for this battle, we're advising that you bring one of Mamoswine, Abomasnow, Glaceon or Articuno. 

No worries if you don't have those specific Pokémon; feel free to pick the strongest Ice-type Pokémon from your available options.

Best Pokémon choiceTypeMoveset
MamoswineIce/GroundMud-Slap/Avalanche
AbomasnowIce/GrassRazer Leaf/Weather Ball
GlaceonIceFrost Breath/Avalanche
ArticunoIce/FlyingFrost Breath/Ice Beam
Denise Primbet

Denise is a news writer at Tom’s Guide covering all things tech, gaming software/hardware, streaming, and more. She regularly produces short-form news articles as well as long-form content, including reviews, buying guides, how-tos, and features. When she's not live-streaming horror games on Twitch, she can be found exploring East London while playing Pokemon Go. She’s also a part-time piano enthusiast and regularly experiments in the kitchen. You can reach her at denise.primbet@futurenet.com.