Cheating? In my VGC?

Pokémon has always been one of those games where players have access to cheat codes and devices, going all the way back to the first two generations. The Game Shark and Action Replay were staples and made you the cool kid of any school playground. After all, what kid wasn’t amused by the idea of a Sunkern with 999 stats and moves like Flamethrower? 

But there’s the other side of it. People don’t exactly like it when you beat them up with hacked Pokémon, and that can be a fair enough viewpoint. Throw in a recent event in this year’s Pokémon VGCs (Video Game Competition) in America, and you get an interesting topic of discussion. Here we look at both sides of the debate on how ‘right’ it may be to use the newest of the external devices – the Power Save – to help you prepare for a Pokémon competition, and let you weigh up both sides of the debate. Warning – a few battling terms exist in this article.

The Issue

So what is the issue mentioned in the introduction?

In early July, an official VGC event was held in the U.S. in Indianapolis, Indiana. A stream of the event was hosted, so people could watch battles over the internet. During this stream, a battle started involving a player named Ray Rizzo. Besides being an arguably snazzy name (that alliteration!), the name is actually rather large in the VGC and Pokémon scene. After all, he’s won the Pokémon 
World Video Game Competition three times within the last five years. That’s no small achievement.

Now, officials at these events do at times check the legality of Pokémon used – that is, whether they are hacked, particularly to have impossible stats or moves that would give a player an unfair advantage. But they missed this event, which occurred the moment Ray Rizzo sent out his Pokémon, an Aegislash.

Why can’t enchanted ghost swords have a pink aura, huh?

While it had the right stats and all the moves it had were legal, the issue that wasn’t picked up by officials, but was by a lot of the watching fans, was that the Poké Ball the Aegislash was in is a Dream Ball. Any casual Pokémon fan would know there are different types of Poké Balls – Poke, Great, Ultra, Master being the main ones. A Dream Ball is a 5th generation Ball that was only assigned to Pokémon found in the Dream World feature in BW/B2W2. You can tell the difference between it and any other ball from the animation that plays when you send out a Pokémon. The obvious problem is that Aegislash is a 6th generation Pokémon. While you can pass down the Poké Ball a Pokémon has via breeding in 6th Gen, Kalos Pokémon like Honedge cannot get the Dream Ball. It’s only passed down via the mother only, and Ditto cannot pass them down.

In short – the Aegislash was obtained with an impossible Poké Ball. This meant that this Pokémon was either hacked, or bred from a hacked Pokémon. Ergo, he had broken the rules of the tournament. Take this version of the rules for Australian VGC for example:


The use of external devices to modify or create items or Pokémon in a player’s party is expressly forbidden. Players found to have Pokémon or items that have been tampered with will be disqualified from competition, regardless of whether the Pokémon or items belong to that player or were traded for.

What’s the big deal with this?

Naturally, something like this draws different opinions. If Ray used a hacked Pokémon that had better stats than possible or the such, then it would be clear cut – he cheated to gain an unfair advantage, end of story. However, the only thing that sets this Aegislash aside from any other is that it has a differently coloured Poké Ball, hardly something that will decide the outcome of a battle in itself.

He may also have just bred his Pokémon from a parent hacked Aegislash, so in a sense people may say this one is ‘legit’. (And in fact, Ray later claimed he got a Dream Ball Aegislash from a trade, and hadn’t realised until it was too late, and would have stopped using the Pokémon as well). And let’s not beat around the bush – a lot of people this Gen still breed Pokémon from hacked, perfect, 6IV Ditto that beat PokeBank’s problematic hack checks. The only benefit they have in doing that is saving time spent in getting a good Pokémon.

So how does one hack?

There’s a few ways, ignoring sending over a hacked Pokémon from a previous gen into X&Y that isn’t caught by the Poke Bank filter. But this gen, the most known method involves the Power Save.

Gotta hack them all!

Basically, it works like a Action Replay, and allows you to alter your game’s save file. By inserting the game cart into the Power Save and then connecting online, you can edit Pokémon on your cart – their gender, whether they are shiny, and also what Poké Ball they have. You can also clone Pokémon, obtain as many items as you like, and back up your save file (but not extract it). There are restrictions, such as the inability to trade event Pokémon that aren’t officially released yet, and the need for a physical copy of the game (downloaded titles cannot be used). You also can only use specific codes within the device – you cannot create your own.

That’s pretty nifty. That said, the rules of the official competition are pretty clear cut. You aren’t allowed to use external devices to help create a Pokémon or hold item, and the rules do not make exceptions to having fancy Poké Balls. It flat out states not to use external devices even if you get a hacked Pokémon from a trade, and that’s the only way Ray could have gotten such an Aegislash in the end.

But many people don’t mind what he had done, and that would be the end of the matter, if it hadn’t been for some other online events.

You mean there’s more?

Yep. Someone revealed the following chatlogs on an IRC (Internet Relay Chatroom).

‘f pokemon!!!’ – Three Times Pokémon World VGC Champion

The general gist is that this is not the only time Ray Rizzo used external devices with his games. This is a direct admission that he used the likes of Pokecheck to gain items. And while chatlogs can always be faked, a number of people followed up by visiting this IRC channel to confirm. 
For instance, this is another chatlog confirming that.

The IRC channel in question belongs to Nugget Bridge, a large fansite dedicated to Pokémon VGC. While Smogon is more known to the average Pokémon fan, they focus on Single Format. When it comes to Doubles and VGC style battling, Nugget Bridge is bigger. And a quote that was found from the site admin:

“There’s a big difference between an impossible spread, actual illegal stats, and dumb crap like an impossible ball. People can decide where they want to put their own neurotic line of what shouldn’t be allowed, but it seems pretty clear on TPCI’s end that line is illegal stats or the Pokémon itself has shown obvious enough signs of being modified. Really sick of other fansites full of players who have basically zero knowledge of VGC stirring crap in these events about stuff like this. If it was a problem that needed to be solved, it would be.”

Essentially, staff there have admitted to using such things – if not to hack Pokémon, then at least to hack in Pokémon for breeding, and items to ease the training time taken. 

So… can it be ‘okay’ to hack Pokémon?

That question gets a different answer depending on who you talk to. If you want to go fully by the official rules, then the answer is ‘no’. If you feel otherwise, and only want to use external devices to save time in making your Pokémon and training them, you’d say otherwise. And if you don’t care about entering competitions and don’t trade hacks to kids or people who may care about it, then you can also argue that as long as what you do on your game stays there, it’s perfectly fine as it doesn’t affect anybody else. So the general case comes down to whether you feel that, official rules aside, it’s okay to hack only to save yourself time.

My AR brings all the boys to the yard.

One can argue that this isn’t a particularly strong argument these days though. In Generation three, when things about EVs (Effort Values) were not well documented, and there was only one real ‘way’ to EV train that involved beating up specific Pokémon a number of times for the exact stats you wanted, it was a bother. But nowadays we have the likes of Horde battles to speed up that method, coupled with Power Items (like the Power Brace which give more EVs per battle) and a more common PokeRus (a Pokémon in-game disease that doubles EVs gained) thanks to the like of the GTS.

And there’s now Super Training, an acknowledgement by Game Freak of the competitive community by implementing a whole minigame to allow for easier EV training. Pokémiles can be used to buy Rare Candies, and a minimum level of 50 is far easier to reach than level 100 too. Breeding meanwhile has become far more manageable this generation. Nowadays, legitimate 5IV and even 6IV Pokémon are far easier to get thanks to the numerous breeding mechanics introduced every generation.

But people in general are lazy, and saving time is always a temptation.

As for Ray Rizzo, the beef some people have with the whole issue has to do with him being a world champion of the official competitions, three times no less. Sure, his Pokémon only had a differently coloured Poké Ball, and as far as we know his other Pokémon had legal stats – they were just made and trained quickly via external devices. But that’s not a very good example for a champion to make, especially in the face of such rules. It is also admittedly a bit of a silly mistake by him to not notice the different Poké Ball – he could have used a hacked Aegislash parent that didn’t have a Dream Ball, and nobody would have talked about this in the first place.

An important point too is that there is a case where a Pokémon in a hacked Poké Ball could have an influence in the battle. If you sent a Pokemon in an Apricorn Ball (back from 4th Gen) that had a Hidden Ability (a combination that is impossible), then the opponent could assume the Pokémon doesn’t have that ability and act accordingly. While this isn’t the case here, it does show that even the smallest details can be used in such competitions.

Meanwhile, Nugget Bridge deleted any discussion on the incident. A key point is that here we have people from the most influential and well known VGC community, admitting and even condoning the use of such items. No wonder people feel a bit ticked off, and I personally feel that mere discussion about a rather polarising event for the fandom isn’t something that should be prevented.

So where do you stand? Are you fine with people hacking Pokémon and using them in competitions, as long as they have legal stats and moves? Or are you completely against it, no matter what?

Written by bobandbill
Edited by Hoenn, Musty and Slayr231
Sunkern images by Magic

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2 Responses to “Cheating? In my VGC?”

  1. Tyler Says:

    I’m perfectly fine with powersaving, so long as the pokemon doesn’t have illegal stats or an illegal moveset.
    Even with the newly implemented training and breeding kickbacks, it’s still tedious and therefore not fun.
    They should just remove it altogether and make competitive Pokemon more easily accessible to players of all experience levels.

  2. Taser Says:

    I honestly don’t give a flying fuck whether or not it is hacked, so long as it is legal and properly coded. If Bank kicks it out, no go. If Bank excepts it, fine. I especially think it is stupid when people get up in arms about cosmetics hacks such as shiny status and the Pokéball something is in (although an in-game feature to change the ball something is in for themes would be cool). Does it affect the outcome of a fight? No? BACK OFF THEN. I personally don’t hack, but I am no elitist either.

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