Pokemon GO Cliff counters & lineup (December 2023)

Pokemon GO Cliff counters & lineup (December 2023)
Images via Niantic | The Pokemon Company

Written by 

Ben Williams

Last updated 

1st Dec 2023 13:55


Amongst the toughest bosses in Pokemon GO, the Team Rocket leaders regularly receive new lineups, so you'll need to know the best counters for Cliff if you want to defeat this difficult enemy.

As part of the Team GO Rocket Takeover event that launched in October, Leader Cliff is as challenging a foe as ever, just like his colleagues Arlo, Giovanni, and Sierra. Below, you'll find a full rundown of everything you need to know to make defeating him in the game a much smoother process overall.

Cliff's current lineup in Pokemon GO

Before you can beat Rocket Leader Cliff and figure out which counters to use, you'll need to know that whenever facing him, he will always send out Dratini first.

This means that you can get ahead of the game and plan your approach a little more efficiently.

Team GO Rocket Leader Cliff in Pokemon GO
Click to enlarge

However, like his previous lineups, battling Cliff comes with an extra level of challenge because his second and third Pokemon could be one of three different options.

To kick things off, here are all of the Shadow Pokemon Cliff can use in his current lineup: 

Pokemon #1 Pokemon #2 Pokemon #3
Dratini Slowking Tyranitar
  Cradily Mamoswine
  Gallade Dusknoir

Cliff's lineup was last changed on October 26, 2023, and remains unchanged so far in December. If his team gets shaken up again in the future, we’ll keep this page updated.

Best counters to beat Cliff's Dratini

Being a pure Dragon-type, the best counters for Cliff's Dratini include Ice, Dragon, and Fairy-type moves.

Dratini, one of Arlo's Pokemon in GO
Click to enlarge

Although the Dratini Cliff sends out here will have a low enough CP to be beaten by most strong 'mon, there are some effective Ice and Fairy-type counters that have the added bonus of crossing over to some of his later team members as well.

Counter Fast Move Charge Move
Darmanitan (Galarian) Ice Fang Avalance
Glaceon Ice Shard Ice Beam
Kyurem Dragon Breath Blizzard
Gardevoir Charm Dazzling Gleam
Hatterene Charm Dazzling Gleam
Togekiss Charm Dazzling Gleam

Best counters for Cliff's second Pokemon

Slowking, Cradily, and Gallade in Rocket Leader Cliff's lineup you'll need Pokemon GO counters for
Click to enlarge

With varied type weaknesses that Slowking, Cradily, and Gallade have in common, there's thankfully a decent range of Cliff counters available for lots of coverage against the leader's second potential Pokemon.

Slowking counters

Slowking's Psychic/Water typing makes it weak against Electric, Grass, Bug, Ghost, and Dark-type attacks, which means there's an endless amount of counters for the Slowpoke evolution.

Counter Fast Move Charge Move
Pheromosa Bug Bite Bug Buzz
Xurkitree Thunder Shock Discharge
Chandelure Hex  Shadow Ball
Zacian (Crowned Sword) Snarl Wild Charge
Kartana Razor Leaf Leaf Blade
Vikavolt Bug Bite Discharge

Cradily counters

The Grass/Rock-type Cradily also has a handful of weaknesses - Ice, Fighting, Bug, and Steel-types - so there's no shortage of counters you can use for the Lileep evolution in Rocket Leader Cliff's lineup.

Counter Fast Move Charge Move
Pheromosa Bug Bite Bug Buzz
Terrakion Double Kick Scared Sword
Metagross Bullet Punch Meteor Mash
Darmanitan (Galarian) Ice Fang Avalanche
Heracross Counter Megahorn
Zacian (Crowned Sword) Metal Claw Iron Head

Gallade counters

As for Cliff's Gallade, the Blade Pokemon has a few weaknesses you can utilise: Flying, Ghost, and Fairy-type attacks. This gives you some crossover with Slowking via Ghost-type attacks.

Counter Fast Move Charge Move
Chandelure Hex  Shadow Ball
Staraptor Gust Brave Bird
Gardevoir Charm Dazzling Gleam
Gengar Lick Shadow Ball
Rayquaza Air Slash Hurricane
Hatterene Charm Dazzling Gleam

Best counters for Cliff's third Pokemon

Tyranitar, Mamoswine, and Dusknoir in Rocket Leader Cliff's lineup
Click to enlarge

Compared to his lineups from the past, Cliff's third-phase Pokemon not only have shared counters with each other, but also some of the other Pokemon in his lineup as well.

Tyranitar counters

Despite its high Attack stat, I think Cliff's Dark-and-Rock-type Tyranitar is one of the easiest to pick counters for with seven weaknesses: Fighting, Ground, Bug, Steel, Water, Grass, and Fairy-type attacks.

Although Fighting-type moves would be the best choice with 256% super-effective damage, utilising crossover with weaknesses shared by Cliff's other Pokemon is a good idea.

Counter Fast Move Charge Move
Terrakion Double Kick Sacred Sword
Zacian (Crowned Sword) Metal Claw Play Rough
Landorous (Therian) Mud Shot Focus Blast
Kartana Razor Leaf  Leaf Blade
Haxorus Counter  Surf
Pheromosa Bug Bite Focus Blast

Mamoswine counters

Although not as many as Tyranitar, Mamoswine's dual Ice/Ground typing gives it a handful of weaknesses to exploit: Fighting, Steel, Fire, Water, and Grass-type attacks. This gives it plenty of counter crossover with the rest of Cliff's party. 

Counter Fast Move Charge Move
Kartana Razor Leaf Leaf Blade
Reshiram Fire Fang Fusion Flare
Zacian (Crowned Sword) Metal Claw Iron Head
Terrakion Double Kick Scared Sword
Kingler Bubble Crabhammer
Lucario Bullet Punch Aura Sphere

Dusknoir counters

The final party member you'll need counters for in Cliff's lineup is the Ghost-type Dusknoir. It's only weak to Ghost and Dark-type attacks, and it has a high Defense stat which makes it the most formidable creature amongst Rocket Leader Cliff's lineup.

Still, there's a bunch of counters you can use, some of which are shared with others in Cliff's team. 

Counter Fast Move Charge Move
Chandelure Hex Shadow Ball
Gengar Lick Shadow Ball
Darkrai Snarl Shadow Ball
Hydreigon Bite Brutal Swing
Zoroark Snarl Foul Play
Hoopa (Unbound) Astonish Dark Pulse

What is the best team to defeat Cliff in Pokemon GO?

The best team of Pokemon GO Cliff counters: Zacian (Crowned Sword), Heracross, and Darkrai
Click to enlarge

You'll need to use a balanced team of counters to defeat Cliff in Pokemon GO, which you'll be able to do with ease when running the following 'mon and movesets: 

Counter Fast Move Charge Move
Zacian (Crowned Hero) Metal Claw Play Rough
Heracross Counter  Megahorn
Darkrai Snarl Shadow Ball

With this balanced-yet-powerful team, you'll have full type coverage against the Leader's lineup no matter what he uses for his second and third Pokemon.

For example, after using Zacian to quickly defeat Dratini, you can keep it out if Cliff's next Pokemon is Cradily or Gallade, using Metal Claw or Play Rough respectively. If Cliff sends out Slowbro, you can switch out Zacian for Darkai or even Heracross instead. 

However, Heracross is best saved for a potential Tyranitar or Mamoswine, both easily beatable with Counter. Alternatively, you can still keep Zacian out to battle either of the two with Metal Claw, and Play Rough being super-effective against Tyranitar as well.

In the instance where Cliff uses Dusknoir, you can switch out for Darkrai instead.

That's everything you need to know about the best counters to beat Rocket Leade Cliff's lineup this month in December 2023.

Whilst you're here, check out the latest counters for the Rocket Grunts, news on Raid Bosses and the upcoming Spotlight Hours, or visit our Pokemon GO homepage to get even more essentials right here at GGRecon. 

Ben is a Senior Guides Writer at GGRecon. Alongside his BA (Hons) in Business Management is a wealth of gaming and entertainment writing experience, having previously occupied roles as a Copywriter in e-commerce at Overclockers and Guides & SEO Writer at GameByte and FragHero. When not whipping up guides and reviews, Ben’ll be off playing the latest Pokemon games, Overwatch 2, Spider-Man, The Witcher, and Final Fantasy - all before reading manga and listening to Ice Nine Kills.

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