Leaping From Shadows

With the introduction of Team GO Rocket Invasions and Shadow Pokémon rewards, a new type of Pokémon encounter found its way into the world of Pokémon GO. Before July 23rd, encounters could be classified as “Normal”, “Incensed”, “Lured”, “Raid”, or “Quest”. Armed with the knowledge that Pokémon attacking and dodging behavior differs between these five encounter types, the Silph team set out to explore how Shadow Pokémon fit into the puzzle. Let’s take a look at what we’ve discovered!


There are specific, predictable moments during an encounter in which a Pokémon can take action. We call these moments DECISION POINTS. At every DECISION POINT, a Pokémon will randomly select one of three options: ATTACKDODGE, or IDLE.

The time between two successive DECISION POINTS can be described by the formula

 Animation Delay + N * Recurring Delay where N=1,2,3,...

The Animation Delay depends on whether the Pokémon is executing an ATTACK or DODGE, and which species it is. The Recurring Delay depends on the type of encounter. For example:

Animation Type Animation Delay
Attack 2 sec
Dodge Species-dependent

Encounter Type Recurring Delay
Normal 1.6 sec
Raid 0.6 sec
Quest1 0.77 sec

You can find a comprehensive discussion of this mechanism in our previous article on the topic.

Shadow Pokémon Encounters

The primary questions we set out to answer about Shadow Pokémon encounters are as follows:

  1. Does the DECISION POINT formula still apply to Shadow encounters?
  2. Do Animation Delays match those of the normal Pokémon counterpart?
  3. What Recurring Delay is used for Shadow encounters?

To answer these questions, researchers were asked to record a video of a Shadow Pokémon encounter for several minutes without throwing a Poké Ball. Using these video recordings, we can identify DECISION POINTS and deduce the Animation Delays and Recurring Delays.

This analysis showed that the answer to questions 1 and 2 are a resounding “Yes”, as expected. The overall mechanics of DECISION POINTS remains intact, and all Animation Delays matched those found in the GAME MASTER for normal Pokémon.

Now let’s take a look at the Recurring Delays we observed:

Recurring Delay
# Species Seconds
1 Bulbasaur 0.97
2 Charmander 1.17
3 Bulbasaur 1.18
4 Charmander 1
5 Squirtle 1.38
6 Bulbasaur 1.11
7 Bulbasaur 1.17
8 Snorlax 1
9 Squirtle 1.37
10 Squirtle 1.47
11*** Charmander 1.28
12*** Squirtle 1.43
13*** Squirtle 1.29
14*** Charmander 0.99
15*** Squirtle 1.64
16*** Bulbasaur 1.12

*** Analysis from after the re-introduction of Invasions on 07/252

Immediately we see that Shadow Pokémon do not share the same Recurring Delay. It can vary somewhere between the values for normal encounters and quests, i.e.

Recurring Delay ≈ 1.0 – 1.6 seconds,

making Shadow Pokémon moderately “hyperactive”. This randomness is actually not a new feature, as it can be observed with Lured and Incensed Pokémon as well.

Lastly, the probabilities for a Pokémon to Attack or Dodge at a DECISION POINT can be found in the GAME MASTER file. For the Gen 1 starters, these chances are 70% for an Attack and 20% for a Dodge2,3, which is significantly higher than their normal counterpart. A Pearson’s chi-squared test did not show that any of the analyzed monsters’ behavior significantly differed from this pattern (p>0.05).

Parting Words

For ball throwing tactics, this means that there is approximately a one second window after a monster attacks in which it will not attack again. Use this to your advantage! After an animation is complete, every second afterwards the Pokémon will have a chance of taking an action again. It can be difficult to time these Decision Points after the first cycle is complete, so we recommend throwing immediately after an attack!

We hope this information sheds some light on Shadow Pokémon mechanics and aids you in your fight against Team GO Rocket!

Until next time, stay safe out there, travelers.

– Scientist PiFlavour

Thanks to everyone who provided footage of their encounters:

  • Scientist gluglumaster
  • Lead Researcher Superion
  • Lead Researcher PhoenixCrystal7
  • Senior Researcher abcasada
  • Senior Researcher planmedc
  • Senior Researcher Belle8110
  • Researcher GoBrooksGO!
  • Researcher Sigafoos
  • Researcher sheridan
  • Researcher taco
  • Traveler RocketChris91

1 Quest reward encounter mechanisms were given a closer look on Reddit
2 Between the two release waves, the GAME MASTER data got updated, prompting a second round of analysis to make sure nothing changed. For further details, see Reddit post
3 Before the re-release, the chances were 10% for attacks and 15% for jumps just like for the non-shadow versions