EVO Online Cancelled After Sexual Abuse Allegations Against CEO
Evo has officially cancelled the EVO Online 2020 event after allegations surfaced against CEO Joey “Mr. Wizard” Cuellar, accusing him of sexual harassment and acts of paedophilia. Evo has since fired Cuellar and filled the CEO position with Evo co-founder Tony “Ponnder” Cannon, but not before severe damage was done to the event.
— EVO (@EVO) July 3, 2020
The company said in the statement:
“Over the past 24 hours, in response to serious allegations recently made public on Twitter, we have made the first in a series of important decisions regarding the future of our company,”
“Progress doesn’t happen overnight, or without bravery of those who speak up against misconduct and injustice. We are 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.”
The allegations were made public Thursday, July 2, by FGC veteran Mikey “Crackpr0n” Pham, who published a massive TwitLonger, detailing Cuellar’s acts of sexual harassment.
“He would pay people hundreds of tokens to do things like take off their clothes and jump in the water hazard pools”
“A lot of the old boys club would often have us do stupid shit just for a laugh, and they’d give us tokens or buy food for us if we’d be willing to do whatever stupid thing it was,”
“Most of it was genuinely harmless. Scream something dumb really loud, shit along those lines.”
“Wizard was especially into this. He would pay people hundreds of tokens to do things like take off their clothes and jump in the water hazard pools for certain amounts of times. 99% of the time, it was young boys.”
Cuellar has since apologized via social media:
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.
— Joey Cuellar (@MrWiz) July 3, 2020
Accusations against Cuellar come amid a torrent of similar stories, which call out abuse, harassment, and racism in video gaming, tabletop gaming, and comics. The repercussions from these scandals could have a lasting impact on these industries in the years to come.
In light of the recent accusations of misconduct made against Evo organizer Joey Cuellar, Capcom and many others will no longer be participating in Evo 2020. 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.
— Capcom Fighters (@CapcomFighters) July 2, 2020
We stand in solidarity with those who have spoken out against abuse. We will be pulling MK11 from EVO Online.
— NetherRealm (@NetherRealm) July 2, 2020
— Mane6 Dev Team (@ManeSix) July 3, 2020
— BANDAI NAMCO ESPORTS (@BNEesports) July 3, 2020
The events are a major hit to the FGC community. Evo has long been the unofficial world championship for the fighting games, far and away the most prestigious event of the year. Having none this year should come as disappointing to FGC fans, especially given the underlying reasons.
Evo 2020 was supposed to begin today, July 4 and run until August 2, played entirely online due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Organizers planned it as a marathon of FGC tournaments spanning five weekends and 11 games.
Evo said it will be issuing refunds to anyone who purchased a badge for Evo Online, and that it will be making a donation to Project Hope equivalent to the proceeds from the event.