On Friday, Pokémon GO developer Niantic suspended the new season of the Pokémon GO Battle League indefinitely, after a player reportedly used an in-game exploit to reach the top of the league. Not only that, but the player did so in arguably a third of the usual number of games required.
Niantic published an official statement about the problem shortly after the suspension. In it, the developer outlined its “zero tolerance” approach. The “contract of trust” needed to ensure competitive integrity in the battle league was also highlighted as an explanation for its actions.
No official account of the exploit or the players involved was posted. However, many social media users have put up screenshots and anecdotal evidence of their experiences. One particular player, going by JesusG1310, was singled out several times as the main perpetrator.
Ok so I just battled the guy that now 3 different people claim got extra energy on his Melmetal. Here’s my video. By my count he got 12 Razor Leafs on his Leafeon (48 energy) and somehow got two LB’s. Even if I missed 1-2, he was nowhere near the 18 RL necessary. https://t.co/SBEDhqWUw0 pic.twitter.com/DWHPJxsrKd
— Toshi9227 (@ShutupToshi9227) June 12, 2020
In this particular case, JesusG1310’s Leafeon in Pokémon GO was observed using more attack charges than should be mathematically possible in that time frame. They received 18 attacks’ worth of energy for only 12 visible moves. Eagle-eyed players pointed out that it appears JesusG’s Leafeon can somehow hit with extra quick attacks. It seems these occur during its charged up attack animation.
Other players posted videos and screen captures of the same player performing a similar exploit while using Melmetal as well. Not only does this mean his Pokémon have more damage output, but they also build up their energy quicker for future moves.
JesusG rocketed to the top of the Pokémon GO Battle League leaderboards with such underhanded tricks up his sleeve. He reached the number one spot in just 274 games, compared with the 800 of the second place player, shibu258.
JesusG also had far fewer wins than anyone in the top 10. His nearest rival was third place Emouts with 498 wins.
These kind of bugs and exploits are bad news for any game attempting to establish itself as a true competitive esport. For that reason, Niantic was probably right in suspending the league in this case. When exactly the Pokémon GO Battle League will return is unknown. However, hopefully it won’t be out for too long.
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