Controversial game mechanic banned ahead of ALGS playoffs, according to leaked chats

Leaked Discord transcripts revealed yesterday that the controversial game exploit known as punch-boosting has been banned by the ALGS administration.

The technique, which has become more common recently, involves using a melee attack to gain extra speed. Punch-boosting is particularly effective on a slope, enabling players sliding down inclines to accelerate to extreme speeds. Over the last few weeks, popular Apex Legends streamers and pros began to use inclined punch-boosts on a regular basis to evade gunfire and make quick rotations.

But ALGS tournament administrators, faced with the increased popularity of the technique, have decided that inclined punch-boosting won’t be allowed in competitive play. The leaked chats from the ALGS Discord show that this punch-boosting scenario was specifically targeted in new guidance on the competitive ruleset. “Make sure you fully understand the issues being described, as these rulings will be enforced for all playoffs matches,” the message reads. “Players may not repeatedly melee sloped terrain to in order to achieve a higher than normal boost in velocity.”

Cloud9’s Zach Mazer has a way with words.

Later that day, a player engagement manager for the ALGS warned players about the consequences of leaking screengrabs from the private ALGS Discord, seemingly confirming that the information is genuine.

While the guidance may be clear to some, other Apex pros and fans almost immediately fell into a debate about the meaning of “repeatedly,” which seems to suggest that a single punch-boost may be allowed.

Dot Esports talked with Raven, a former coach and ALGS competitor, through Twitter DMs to get an expert’s perspective on the issue. He immediately brought up the lack of clarity in the guidance as well and confirmed that it would be difficult to enforce: “How long do you have to wait if you punch boost once to do it again? It’s not really clear.”

Raven didn’t see punch-boosting as a significant problem: “Leave punch-boosting as is,” he wrote. But he also pointed out that it gave players an ability that wasn’t intended and could be a problematic technique on certain areas of the map.

The ban on inclined, repeated punch-boosting is just one part of a larger conversation about advanced movement techniques and other unintended mechanics in Apex. While Apex developers signaled they would remove the unintended mechanic of tap-strafing from the game at the end of August, that change hasn’t been yet implemented. Jitter aiming, a technique that allows players to all but eliminate recoil from their weapons, is another case of a potentially problematic move that hasn’t been addressed.

While the line may be clear to game developers with detailed knowledge of how these systems work, the difference between game exploits and clever innovations is more muddled for average players. And the pro community seems to be similarly divided between those who believe new techniques push the competitive meta forward and those who see them as tantamount to cheating.

But in the ALGS, at least, the debate over inclined punch-boosting is effectively over.

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Ethan Davison