Pokemon

Pokemon Go: Trainers react to Team Rocket's hot air balloon invasion

by Paul Cot

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Team Rocket's return to Pokemon Go has been not so subtly teased over the past week. The villainous team is now causing trouble once again in the mobile game and this time it is via hot air balloons.

Now, this will hardly come as a great shock to Pokemon Go trainers. Scraps of paper found by Professor Willow clearly showed a Team GO Rocket Grunt getting out of a hot air balloon.

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Therefore, you didn't need to be Detective Pikachu to figure out what was coming. The only question was would there be widespread changes or new features when interacting with Team Rocket.

Well, at this stage the answers appear to be no. The hot air balloons simply act as a new way to encounter Team Rocket.

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Much like finding them at PokeStops, you will encounter a Grunt by default and a Team GO Rocket leader when you have a Super Radar equipped. Unlike PokeStops though, there have even been reports of encounters with Grunts after 10pm in your local time zone.

Trainers are also able to encounter the Team Rocket boss himself, Giovanni. You will need a Super Radar to do so but it isn't clear whether you need to defeat each of the Team GO Rocket leaders first.

Regardless, and this applies to the leaders as well, you'll need to make sure you have space in your Pokemon Storage, otherwise you'll miss out on the resulting encounter. Giovanni is currently rewarding a Shadow Entei. Whether this will change soon remains to be seen - Suicune is expected next.

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Join Team Rocket?

There has, of course, been a lot of speculation as to what the latest Team Rocket return would entail. As it turns out though, it seems to simply be another way to battle Team GO Rocket.

One trainer had an epic idea that would have changed the complexion of Pokemon Go dramatically. "You could have added in Team Go Rocket as the 4th team that you can join. Giovanni shows up in the balloon and asks if you want to join Team Go Rocket," Mitch shared on Twitter.

This isn't the way Pokemon do things, however. It would have been an awesome change of pace but would have required a lot of additional changes to the game. Who knows, maybe Niantic have something similar lined up in the future.

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Jesse and James hint

Trainers seem to be enjoying the new feature but there are always eagle-eyed, more pedantic players who notice mistakes. One of those has been the yet to be updated dialogue which shows Grunts talking as if they are still at PokeStops.

This is a little strange considering new dialogue has been pushed to the Game Master. This is also a Jesse and James hint but we wouldn't read too much into this. It looks to be nothing more than a subtle acknowledgment of them.

A new way to defeat Team Rocket

A lot of you may have noticed that no matter how many Grunts you defeat they keep coming back. It's almost like there's infinite amounts of them!

Maybe defeating them isn't enough. Fortunately, this trainer may have inadvertently found a solution.

Simply send out Zekrom and leave it next to Team Rocket's hot air balloon. We're still figuring out how to do this, don't hold your breath!


Despite the simple nature of the Team Rocket update, trainers, for the most part, are enjoying it. A Team Rocket themed Timed Research and wave of attacks are expected as part of the second week in the lead up to Pokemon Go Fest 2020.

We'll have to wait and see whether Niantic have any more ideas such as fighting for Team Rocket or an appearance from Jesse and James in the future.