Some of the world’s very best Pokemon players gathered at the EU Internationals event earlier this month, and while some found success, others were inexplicably punished.
A lot of Pokemon fans don’t realize that the game they connect so closely with feelings of childhood nostalgia or relaxation during a long trip also hosts one of the most fierce competitive scenes in the video game community. While Pokemon Sun and Pokemon Moon‘s incredible sales success has certainly hoisted the spotlight back onto these battles, however, the competitive Pokemon scene is so resilient that even during the series’ worst iterations the tournaments have remained sizeable.
Case in point: the most recent showcase of competitive Pokemon battling, the EU Internationals, was a star-studded affair that featured some of the series’ most recognizable names. Yet, when it came time to decide who would walk away as the winner in that event, several former world champions were left on the outside looking in after tournament organizers gave them harsh penalties for inaccurately filed “team sheets”, the documents that detail the teams that competitors will be bringing to each battle.
Jonathon Evans, who finished second at last year’s World Championships, was forced to leave a Pokemon off his team and begin each match with a game loss (matches are played as best-of series) because he filled out the wrong held item for his Tapu Bulu. The kicker, of course, was that the item Evans wrote down and the one Tapu Bulu was actually holding do exactly the same thing – 1.2x strength to Grass-type moves – and merely had different names.
Kotaku, who broke the story on strange punishments, interviewed Evans and discovered that these punishments are the first such instances of such harsh penalizations in Pokemon VGC history. While there have been punishments before, usually inaccurately filling out a team sheet resulted in warnings prior to any further action being taken. According to many involved in the Pokemon competitive scene, apparently a new Pokemon hack that is exclusive to Pokemon Sun and Moon is to blame – the hack allows players to alter their Pokemon’s stats, held items, and nature at any time, which is especially problematic if exploited in between the rounds of a tournament.
Most of the players affected by the sudden penalizations weren’t overly upset, as they felt that the tournament organizers were trying to maintain the integrity of the game and prevent cheating, but they almost unanimously lamented the lack of any warnings prior to the event. The EU Internationals was the only such large event scheduled this year for the European region, and the winner receives a huge boost to their chances of making the Pokemon World Championships. Now, a number of top-tier competitors have been disadvantaged in the race for the top spots in their region, and many fans are left to wonder when the new hack will be addressed to prevent further tragedy in the competitive scene.
Pokemon Sun and Pokemon Moon are available now on Nintendo 3DS and 2DS handheld devices.