EVO – the long-standing video game tournament dedicated to fighting game series like Street Fighter and Tekken – was shaken by departures on Thursday after surprising allegations were made against its co-founder.
Shortly afterwards, the man in question, Joey Cuellar, apparently recognized these allegations of sexual assault against minors in a short, open post on social media. It soon followed that EVO Cuellar left the organization and immediately canceled the EVO 2020 online tournaments.
Departures came after accusations
Capcom announced on Thursday evening its decision to withdraw from EVO 2020, a few minutes after NetherRealm Studios, developers of the Mortal Kombat and Injustice series, did the same. This means that the Tentpole games Street Fighter V and Mortal Kombat 11 are no longer played. The latter game played an important role in switching EVO to a pure online event due to its reputation as a superior netcode. Mane6, the developer of the new EVO participant Them & # 39; s Fightin & # 39; Herds, followed shortly afterwards.
(Update 9 p.m. ET: Minutes after the publication of this article, Bandai Namco joined the growing choir of retiring game publishers.)
In explaining his decision, Capcom made direct reference to allegations against Cuellar, the co-founder and president of the tournament, while NetherRealm made a vague statement that was probably the same allegation: "We are in solidarity with those who have spoken out against abuse." NetherRealms Statement said.
This followed other participants who announced their EVO 2020 departures, including commentators James Chen, Maximilian Christiansen (Maximilian_Dood) and Stephen Lyon (Sajam), and frequent EVO player Dominique McLean (SonicFox). Many of these frequent EVO participants stated that they would not participate due to the tournament's decision not to remove Cuellar from the process. At press time, EVO's official social media channels acknowledge the minor sexual assault allegations made by Mikey Pham (Crackpr0n) on TwitLonger on Wednesday evening, although the organization has decided to only up to a third the president of the tournament to send on administrative leave -party investigation. "
"Evo is managed by a team, not a single person," James Chen wrote on Twitter shortly after EVO's announcement. "But a single person can stain the entire event. I can't attend until Joey & # 39; MrWizard & # 39; Cuellar is removed from Evo."
Shortly after various game studios and attendees distanced themselves from EVO 2020, Cuellar posted a short statement on Twitter that seems to recognize Pham's Wednesday allegations:
I'm so sorry. I never wanted to hurt anyone. I was young and inconsiderate and did things I'm not proud of. I've grown and matured in the past 20 years, but that doesn't excuse me. I was just trying to be a better person. I'm really sorry again.
(Update 2, 9:25 p.m. ET: Cuellar's statement could have been the straw that broke the back of the EVO. The tournament's official social media channel has now confirmed that Cuellar is going down, and has told fans: "From now on, Joey Cuellar will no longer be involved in EVO." The organization has appointed a new CEO and has gone so far as to finally cancel EVO 2020. "We will work to provide refunds to all players who have chosen to purchase a badge," the statement said.
The allegations against Cuellar and his recognition followed a wave of stories and allegations that had surfaced in the final days of sexual abuse in the world of fighting game tournaments. At least one allegation led a pro player from Smash Bros., Anti, to claim he was "innocent" for sexually assaulting a minor, only to admit that he had committed sexual activity with a minor. This confession was deleted hours after it went into operation.