In the wake of allegations of sexual misconduct against Evo co-founder and president Joey "MrWizard" Cuellar, the fighting game tournament's next event has been cancelled, and Cuellar has been removed from his position.
The allegations about Cuellar were made this morning in a post shared by long-time fighting game player Mikey "Crackpr0n" Pham (opens in new tab), who made both general and specific claims, including one that took place when he was a minor. Pham is the only source of the allegations so far, although 2011 Evo champ Jay "Viscant" Snyder said in a now-deleted tweet that Pham had related the same story to him at some point in the past.
Evo moved quickly to address the allegations, saying in a tweet that Cuellar had been placed on "administrative leave pending a third-party investigation." Despite that, several hours after the allegations were made, multi-time EVO champion SonicFox announced that they were dropping out of the tournament.
Also I won’t be participating any longer in Evo online.July 2, 2020
"Several dozen" other players and casters followed SonicFox's lead by pulling out of the tournament, esports commentator Rod Breslau said on Twitter (opens in new tab). Capcom, NetherRealm, and Bandai Namco all confirmed separately that they were withdrawing as well.
pic.twitter.com/x3coSxs3ULJuly 2, 2020
We stand in solidarity with those who have spoken out against abuse. We will be pulling MK11 from EVO Online.July 2, 2020
pic.twitter.com/1QNQkvykEvJuly 3, 2020
Faced with collapsing support, organizers pulled the plug on the entire tournament, which was to be held over a month-long series of online events beginning on July 4. It also announced that it was cutting ties with Cuellar entirely.
"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," the organization said in a statement (opens in new tab). "Going forward, Tony Cannon will act as CEO; in this position, he will take a leadership role in prioritizing great 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 (opens in new tab)."
pic.twitter.com/eUl8rF9TkCJuly 3, 2020
Following the cancellation of the tournament, Cuellar issued an apology for his actions on Twitter (opens in new tab).
"I'm sorry. I never meant to hurt anyone. I was young and reckless and did things I'm not proud of," he wrote. "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."