Less than 24 hours before kick-off, fighting game community tournament Evolution Championship Series was canceled following allegations of sexual harassment against now-former Evo CEO Joey “MrWizard” Cuellar. Player Mikey “Crackpr0n” Pham shared a disturbing story on his Facebook page about a sexual harassment incident. Allegedly, Cuellar was involved to a large degree.
Evo Online Canceled
As a result of the allegations, Cuellar has been placed on leave and Evo announced that he will be removed from the organization altogether. The entire tournament was canceled over allegations of sexual harassment against the company’s president. These claims stated that Joey Cuellar exchanged arcade tokens to young boys who jumped into pools in their underwear. Cuellar also bet Mikey $20 in order to prove his penis was above the average size.
“Effective immediately, Joey Cuellar will no longer be involved with Evo in any capacity,” stated Evo. “We are currently working towards his complete separation from the company and have relieved him from all his responsibilities.”
These issues keep escalating within the whole esports industry. Esports is finally going through its MeToo movement, a mass of statements from power and sexual abuse victims throughout the gaming/streaming/esports industry. This is more prevalent in the fighting game community. Dozens of new allegations of inappropriate sexual conduct with minors have been made against famous FGC players.
Early in the morning, Evo Online announced that Cuellar had been placed on leave for a third-party investigation following a series of misconduct allegations against him involving a minor. After the allegations came to light, several of the company’s players and performers announced that they would not be attending this year’s event, leading to the cancellation of all events for FGC event Evo 2020.
Later that day, almost simultaneously, Cuellar’s Twitter account released a statement declaring that he would no longer participate in or cooperate with EVO Online.
Future of Evo
EVO began in 1996 and is the longest-running fighting game tournament in the world with more than 1,000 participants and over 1 million spectators. It was originally staged as a Street Fighter tournament and attracted players from all over the world. As its popularity grew, Evo began to organize events for other fighting games, like Super Smash Bros. But Evolution Championship Series 2020 was no exception to the gaming industry’s share of controversy.
Many players made a name for themselves through huge win streaks or outstanding games. Several companies sponsored fighting game events even before the allegations came to light, prompting some to withdraw their support. It’s not just companies that draw support too. FGC personality and pro Dominique “SonicFox” McLean announced that he will no longer attend events.
It’s been a devastating blow to the FGC to lose their largest event. Evo largely represented the FGC, including Smash esports. Fans hope that the FGC can make a return as victims’ claims continue to pop up.
Tony Cannon, the event’s co-founder, replaces Joey Cuellar as CEO of EVO. Evo organizers plan to refund all tickets and donate the rest of the event earnings to Project HOPE.
Fans can listen to the Esportz Network Podcast where we feature FGC writer Danny Howard talks about the allegations, EVO’s cancellation and the safety of FGC events for minors.
Written by Michael Washington