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Top 10 Gang Leaders in Pokémon

In between "Pokémon" journeys, Jeremy enjoys working as a pharmaceutical chemist and campus manager.

Rival Teams in Pokémon

Beginning with Team Rocket, nearly all Pokémon adventures involve thwarting the schemes of a nefarious criminal organization, who often try to use a region's legendary Pokémon for their twisted goals.

Most grunts throughout the gangs are easily beaten, but players must also defeat the team's boss, often a much larger threat—which reign supreme? These are the ten strongest team leaders in Pokémon! Spoilers ahead.

Cyrus

Cyrus

10. Cyrus

Team: Galactic
Specialty: Dark

Cyrus seeks to use Palkia and Dialga to destroy the world, letting him rule over a new age. While a bit tougher than previous bosses and smart enough to use a few held items, he noticeably favors Dark and Flying Pokémon, giving some weaknesses to exploit.

Gym Leader Piers

Gym Leader Piers

9. Piers

Team: Yell
Specialty: Dark

Unlike today's other scoundrels, Piers isn't really evil—his gang intends to cheer on Piers's sister Marnie, but (against his wishes) sometimes goes too far and harasses her opponents.

Piers himself wields several Dark Pokémon, but he helps negate their weaknesses to Bug and Fighting by utilizing secondary types like Poison and Psychic. Piers is also one of few gang bosses to serve as a gym leader, though he eventually passes the title.

Guzma in the anime

Guzma in the anime

8. Guzma

Team: Skull
Specialty: Bug

Guzma specializes in Bug-types, an easily type-trumped element, but he makes up for it with versatile secondary and attack types. More than that, his team is simply high-level, all above level 60 in your final battle with him. Not the toughest boss, but far from a pushover.

Lysandre in the anime

Lysandre in the anime

7. Lysandre

Team: Flare
Specialty: Flying

Despite his team's fire-related name and his signature Pyroar, Lysandre actually favors Flying and Dark, mega evolving Gyarados into Mega Gyarados in your last bout.

Still, his team is overall pretty versatile and high-level, although it does have some weaknesses; Lysandre never uses more than four Pokémon, doesn't equip held items, and has only three attacks on some Pokémon.

Giovanni in Pokémon GO

Giovanni in Pokémon GO

6. Giovanni

Team: Rocket
Specialty: Ground

The original gang boss and surprise gym leader of Viridian City, Giovanni is a mixed bag when it comes to battles. Throughout his original appearances, he's surprisingly easy to defeat—Ground's not a great defensive element, easily toppled by Water, Grass, or Ice attacks.

However, Giovanni's teams are far stronger and more diverse in his sequel appearances, where he often wields legendaries, like the Kanto birds in Pokémon GO or Mewtwo in Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon.

Gonzap in Pokémon Colosseum

Gonzap in Pokémon Colosseum

5. Gonzap

Team: Snagem
Specialty: N/A

While most of today's trainers stem from the core games, Gonzap hails from the Gamecube's unique Pokémon Colosseum adventure. His team isn't really your main adversary—that's Team Cipher, but Wes runs into Snagem goons every so often.

They're not so tough, but when you finally face Gonzap, he proves his skills with a diverse bunch of five Pokémon, including a unique Shadow Skarmory. And unlike core games, Colosseum limits what units you'll have available to fight Gonzap, making him even harder.

Ghetsis in the anime

Ghetsis in the anime

4. Ghetsis

Team: Plasma
Specialty: N/A

Plasma's head in Black 2 and White 2, Ghetsis wields a balanced team that's hard to type-trump. He's also the only villain in a core game to effectively battle you with seven units, first with Black or White Kyreum, then his actual team.

Ghetsis's squad are all at least level 50, use some held items (Leftover and a Life Orb), and are skilled at both direct aggression and damage-over-time via poison, making him a tricky boss to the unprepared.

N in the anime

N in the anime

3. N

Team: Plasma
Specialty: N/A

N is short for Natural, a clue that N wishes Pokémon to lead their natural lives, free of being captured and made to battle by trainers. N battles you throughout the game, proving his worth by ultimately defeating champion Alder.

You face N five times throughout Black and White, and he only gets better with time, eventually wielding a full time of six that includes either the legendary Reshiram or Zekrom. His seasonal battles in B2/W2 also feature varying squads with held items and levels as high as 77.

Evice in Pokémon Colosseum

Evice in Pokémon Colosseum

2. Evice

Team: Cipher
Specialty: N/A

In Pokémon Colosseum, under the guise of Mayor Es Cade, Evice at first seems little more than a bumbling but harmless senior. But he's eventually revealed as the mastermind behind Team Cipher and their shadow Pokémon-creating schemes, having used his power as Mayor to ensure few oppose his gang's activities.

And he's no slouch in battle, serving as the game's final boss and wielding a very well-balanced team with high levels, good moves, and a unique shadow Tyranitar. Even if you beat him, it's revealed in the sequel that Evice answers to...

Greevil in Pokémon XD: Gale of Darkness

Greevil in Pokémon XD: Gale of Darkness

1. Greevil

Team: Cipher
Specialty: N/A

Pokémon XD: Gale of Darkness reveals that Greevil is the true Cipher leader. And he's a menacing threat, not only wielding a balanced team with three legendaries (the three Kanto birds), but of all shadow Pokémon. Even worse, unlike Colosseum where shadow moves deal neutral damage to all types, in GoD, they're super-effective against all non-shadows! Making matters worse, shadow Pokémon have a 50% speed boost, so they'll probably get to attack first.

If that's not bad enough, you also have to face Shadow Lugia right before battling Greevil, though clever players can use this to their advantage by capturing it with a master ball and wielding it in the upcoming fight. With Greevil's unfair team, we definitely needed its help.

By the way, am I the only one who thinks that Evice and Greevil resemble Palpatine and Yoda from Star Wars? Tell me I'm not alone here.

Team Bosses in Spin-Off Pokémon Games

Today's list mostly featured core villains, but other teams from non-traditional games deserve mention, like Team Great Rocket from the Japan-only Pokémon Card GB2 and Team Dim Sun in Pokémon Ranger: Shadows of Almia.

Villainous bosses range from surprisingly easy to final boss-difficult, but with enough leveling and type-trumping, players can conquer them. But for now, vote for your favorite outlaw and I'll see you at our next Pokémon countdown!

© 2020 Jeremy Gill