In early June, Korean Pokémon players made headlines after coordinating a protest against the very league they were playing in. Rather than submitting competitively viable teams, as they normally would, they gave each monster on their roster a strange skill called “Metronome,” which makes a Pokémon launch a totally random move. While the original notice for their suspension from the tournament stated that the players were being reprimanded for the whole Metronome thing, now the Korean Pokémon league has issued a new statement alleging that the participants submitted hacked, “illegal” monsters.
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The tensions began, in part, over frustrations in how the wider league was run. Players cited issues with tournament formats, including a reliance on online tournaments which often had connectivity issues, unsatisfactory communication from the league, and poorly run events. Events came to a head when a player was allegedly banned last weekend without being told why. In response, four Korean players decided to make a splash by entering teams that were kind of a middle finger to the league itself. After all, the randomness of Metronome isn’t exactly suited for the tactical spirit of competitive play. At the time, players like NashVGC said that they were willingly throwing in the towel in the hopes that The Pokémon Company would treat its players with more “respect.”
One of the big things in contention throughout all of this, however, was the provenance of the monsters themselves. It’s possible to raise monsters in-game somewhat quickly, and players also have the option of “renting” teams that other fans have put together. But there was also a chance that the protesting players created their “Metronome” teams by using common hacking tools, thereby bypassing the need to sink time in at all. While there are always rumblings of hacked monsters in competitive play, it’s technically not allowed in any context. The idea is that people should be competing with monsters that they grew themselves, not creatures they can create within seconds.
Hacked Competitive Pokémon?
And according to The Pokémon Company in Korea, that’s what transpired at the recent tournament. “All players’ battle teams included illegally modified Pokémon,” a new notice reads. “All players agreed in advance and were able to manipulate the contents of the tournament.”
As a result, the league says, the four players who participated in the protest aren’t just being disqualified from that particular tournament. They’re being banned from official Korean competitive play “ indefinitely.” For competitive players, it appears to be a harsh edict.
The Pokémon Company declined to comment.
“It was at best ‘banned for this generation,’” Nash, one of the banned players, said in a Twitter thread in regards to the types of punishments they’ve witnessed in the past. “This just clearly shows that it is a penalty for the protest and for making a fuss. It also sets a precedent, discouraging players in the future to stand up.”
In a message to Kotaku, Nash added that they see the entire incident as a “ lack of respect” from TPC to its “most devoted fans.” Nash also calls the accusations of hacking “groundless.”
“We were clearly kicked out and withdrawn of our Worlds invite along with some fees that were to come along because we tried to protest them,” Nash claims.
“It’s very sad they chose to do this than to actually talk with us and solve the issue on the table,” Nash said on Twitter.