May 27, 2022

EVO 2020 CANCELLED Following Allegations Of Sexual Misconduct

The games industry has seen numerous allegations of misconduct against high profiling figures and the Evolution Championship Series (EVO) 2020 was no exception.

EVO is the largest and longest-running fighting game tournament and it attracts players from all over the world. EVO started in 1996 and originally hosted Street Fighter tournaments however as its popularity grew it began to host tournaments for games such as Mortal Kombat and Super Smash Bros and Tekken, drawing in globally thousands of participants and viewers.

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic the original EVO format was changed and moved online. It was set to run for five weekends but this will now not be happening as developers have withdrawn their support. Why? This appears to be attributed to allegations of sexual misconduct against Evo co-founder and president Joey “MrWizard” Cuellar, he has been removed from his position.

The allegations about Cuellar were made in a post by fighting game player Mikey “Crackpr0n” Pham, who made both general and specific claims, including one that occurred when he was a minor.

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 this speedy response, multi-time EVO champion SonicFox announced that they were dropping out of the tournament.

Many other players followed SonicFox’s stance by withdrawing too; Capcom, NetherRealm, and Bandai Namco all confirmed separately that they were not going to participate in the tournament either.

With support collapsing organizers pulled the plug on the entire tournament, and they also announced that they were cutting ties with Cuellar entirely, there statement reads as follows:

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 cancelling 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 cancellation of the tournament, Cuellar issued an apology for his actions on Twitter.

“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.”


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