It has not been a good month for the Esports community.
Back in May, EVO made the decision to take its international fighting game tournaments online due to the coronavirus pandemic. In a stunning move, the highly-anticipated event has been canceled following sexual abuse allegations levied against now-former EVO president Joey Cuellar.
Allegations against Cuellar were brought to light and hit Twitter following a wave of accusations levied against other Esports pros, and members of the gaming community surfaced. We reported last week that multiple Super Smash Bros. pros were called out for engaging in sexual activity with minors and issued apologies on social media for their behavior.
On Thursday (Jul.2), Celluar apologized for his actions in a statement:
“I’m sorry. I never meant to hurt anyone. I was young and reckless and did things I’m not proud of. I have been growing and maturing over the past 20 years, but that doesn’t excuse anything. All I have been trying to do is become a better person. Once again, I’m truly sorry.”
EVO has issued its own statement on the matter:
“Over the past 24 hours, in response to serious allegations recently made public on Twitter, we have made the first of a series of important decisions regarding the future of our company. Effective immediately, Joey Cuellar will no longer be involved with Evo in any capacity. We are currently working towards his complete separation from the company and have relieved him of all his responsibilities.
Going forward, Tony Cannon will act as CEO; in this position, he will take a leadership role in prioritizing greater accountability across Evo, both internally and at our events.
Progress doesn’t happen overnight, or without the bravery of those who speak up against misconduct and injustice. We are shocked and saddened by these events, but we are listening and committed to making every change that will be necessary in making Evo a better model for the stronger, safer culture we all seek. As a result, we will be canceling Evo Online and will work to issue refunds for all players who chose to purchase a badge. We will donate the equivalent of the proceeds as promised to Project HOPE.”
Following the allegations against Cuellar, game studios NetherRealm, Capcom, Bandai Namco, and Nintendo all pulled out of the online competition.
In a tweet NetherRealm Studios who gave us one of the years best fight games, Mortal Kombat 11 announced its game will not be a part of EVO Online.
“We stand in solidarity with those who have spoken out against abuse. We will be pulling MK11 from EVO Online.”
“Out of respect to those who have been affected and to the current investigation, we felt this was the appropriate course of action. We apologize to the players and fans who were looking forward to these tournaments.”
Bandai Namco’s read in part:
“We stand in solidarity with the individuals who have spoken out against abuse within the fighting game community and stand in solidarity with our fans for their continued support.”
Salute to the gaming studios for standing on the side of the victims.
Photo: WB Games / NetherRealm Studios