Along with many other sections of the gaming world, the fighting game community has been rocked by a wave of sexual misconduct and abuse allegations over the past few weeks, and the latest involves the CEO of fighting game tournament Evo. After the allegations were made, several companies, players and casters announced they would not participate in this year’s event: resulting in the firing of the CEO, and the cancellation of this year’s Evo Online.
Former president and Evo co-founder Joey “MrWizard” Cuellar was accused of sexual misconduct and predatory behaviour towards several teenage boys, an account later backed up by another community member with evidence of inappropriate comments sent by Cuellar over Twitter. Following the allegations, NetherRealm, Capcom and Bandai Namco announced they would end their participation in this year’s Evo Online, while several players and casters including SonicFox and Stephen “Sajam” Lyon announced they would not participate in the event.
We stand in solidarity with those who have spoken out against abuse. We will be pulling MK11 from EVO Online.
— NetherRealm (@NetherRealm) July 2, 2020
— Capcom Fighters (@CapcomFighters) July 2, 2020
— BANDAI NAMCO ESPORTS (@BNEesports) July 3, 2020
In response to the allegations, Evo last night announced that Evo Online 2020 would be cancelled, and Cuellar would no longer be involved in Evo “effective immediately”.
“We are currently working towards his complete separation from the company and have relieved him of all his responsibilities”, the statement said. “Going forward, Tony Cannon will act as CEO; in his position, he will take a leadership role in prioritising greater accountability across Evo, both internally and at our events”.
The statement added that Evo had been “shocked and saddened” by the allegations, but the organisation is “committed to making every change that will be necessary in making Evo a better model for the stronger, safer culture we all seek”. Those who bought badges for Evo Online will receive a refund, and it will be making a donation to healthcare charity Project HOPE.
— EVO (@EVO) July 3, 2020
Elsewhere in the fighting game community, several well-known Super Smash Bros. players have been accused of sexual misconduct, rape and paedophilia. Named community members include Nairoby “Nairo” Quezada, Richard “Keitaro” King and Cinnamon “Cinnpie” Dunson, who have all been accused of statutory rape, while D’Ron “D1” Maingrette has been accused of rape. King and Quezada both issued apology statements, while D1 also issued an apology but claimed he could not recall the events. Last year Dunson denied rumours about a relationship with her accuser, but is yet to issue a statement on the new allegation.
Nintendo issued a statement to IGN on the wave of allegations within the fighting game and Smash communities.
“At Nintendo, we are deeply disturbed by the allegations raised against certain members of the competitive gaming community. They are absolutely impermissible. We want to make it clear that we condemn all acts of violence, harassment, and exploitation against anyone and that we stand with the victims.”