EVO Online was to have been the virtual replacement for the annual game tournament that takes place each year in Las Vegas, Nevada. Now as of Thursday of this week, this online-only event has been entirely canceled in response to allegations made by the fighting game community that co-founder Joey “MrWizard” Cuellar had been engaged in paedophilia and sexual misconduct.
EVO has issued a statement saying that Cuellar has been relieved of his duties and they are now working to completely separate him from the company.
Mikey~CrackPr0n, a fighting game competitor, shared his account of repeated incidents with EVO organiser Joey “Mr. Wizard” Cuellar. In a Twitlonger story, Mikey detailed some of his time at the Southern Hills Golfland arcade in the late 90’s.
A teenager at the time, Mikey would hang out with a group of older players who frequented the arcade, Cuellar among them. This “old boys club” as he called it, would dare them to do “stupid shit just for a laugh” and reward them with free food or arcade game tokens.
“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,” said Mikey.
“99% of the time, it was young boys. There is only a singular instance I know of where it wasn’t a young boy, and that singular instance, she was allowed to do it in the future, in whatever clothes she liked and only for a few seconds. But for all the boys (out of recollection 12-16) it was like 10-15 minutes, we HAD to be in our underwear (under the reasoning that it would be colder) and they were always challenges at the time so we couldn’t prepare change of clothes, towel, or anything like that.”
Since Mikey’s story came to light, EVO issued a statement saying that Cuellar has been placed on administrative leave while a third-party investigates these allegations.
When the allegations became public, publishers and developers whose games were part of the event’s lineup responded by pulling out of the tournament event, issuing statements in support of the victims. The list of developers includes Capcom, NetherRealm, Bandai Namco, and Mane6. A number of prominent competitors and commentators also said they weren’t comfortable participating, including SonicFox.
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 allegations aren’t based on a singled incident, but stretch back at least 20 years. Allegations against Cuellar first surfaced on Twitter Wednesday via Mikey “CrackPr0n” Pham, who said the abuse occurred when he was under 18.
Cuellar has has since apologized.
“I’m sorry. I never meant to hurt anyone,” Cuellar said in a statement, also made on Twitter. “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.”
“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,” the company said in the statement. “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 Evolution Championship Series (Evo for short) represents the largest and longest-running fighting game tournament in the world. With sponsorships from the giants of the gaming industry, it takes place each year in Las Vegas, Nevada. EVO plans to return to Las Vegas in 2021.