Very bad news for fighting game fans all across the world.
Dark tidings have arrived in the international fighting game circuit. The online version of annual major fighting game tournament EVO is cancelled due to the many allegations made against EVO president Joey “MrWizard” Cuellar concerning his sexual misconduct involving children. The fact that companies like Capcom, Bandai Namco, and NetherRealm, as well as prolific players like SonicFox, have pulled out of EVO Online probably led to the eventual demise of this year’s tournament.
Breaking: following Capcom (Street Fighter), Nether Realm (Mortal Kombat), Bandai Namco (Tekken, DBFZ) and several dozen high profile FGC players/casters pulling out of EVO, EVO Online has now been canceled and MrWizard will be removed from the company entirely pic.twitter.com/4j1eG7pvu0— Rod Breslau (@Slasher) July 3, 2020
How Did This Happen?
In the middle of this week, a Twitter user accused MrWizard of inappropriate behaviour toward him and other boys during the 90s and 2000s.
MrWizard then posted the following on Twitter.
“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.”
Following the Twitter posts, EVO has placed him on administrative leave.
“We are aware of the accusations made against Joey Cuellar. The behaviour in these accusations runs directly counter to EVO’s mission of building a safe, welcoming environment for all of our players and attendees. We take this responsibility seriously. Accordingly, Joey has been placed on administrative leave pending a third-party investigation.”
A message to all players, attendees, and fans pic.twitter.com/TJfNxVPiXC— EVO (@EVO) July 2, 2020
This also led to many, many people and video game companies pulling out of EVO. These include Sajam, Tasty Steve, James Chen, SonicFox, Nakkiel, Capcom, NetherRealm Studios, and Bandai Namco, among a few.
Also I won’t be participating any longer in Evo online.— SonicFox 1312 (@SonicFox) 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
This was followed by the eventual cancellation of EVO Online and firing of MrWizard, along with a message stating that the organization will do better. Co-Founder Tom Cannon is now the CEO of EVO.
It is unfortunate that all the hard work to make an online fighting game tournament with an international standing is undone because of a founding member’s past sexual misdeed. I’m pretty bummed out too, but whatever that happens after this, please do not harass and do the whole “guilty by association” thing to the fine folks who have made EVO what it is, as well as the event as a whole.
These includes the offline juggernaut hype moments-filled fights to the speculation on how an online fighting game tournament featuring Skullgirls and Killer Instinct will pan out. Now we’ll never know about the latter.
I stand behind the players, commentators & teams in their solidarity against the event/organization I'm a part of, @EVO.— Mark Julio (マークマン) (@MarkMan23) July 3, 2020
To all of our partners and to our community, I cannot even begin to understand the pain/contempt you must feel. We have to show change. We have to be better. https://t.co/QqxvSHzxYp
I haven't been able to put my thoughts of sadness, disgust, and frustration together in the past week and especially in the last 24 hours. We've been working incredibly hard to bring a great show for everyone, and while its unfortunate it won't be seen its the right call.— Chris Ceg (@chrisceg) July 3, 2020