Evo Online canceled after misconduct allegations against event co-founder

Yolanda Curtis
July 5, 2020

Fighting game tournament EVO Online has been cancelled following allegations of sexual misconduct and paedophilia against CEO Joey Cuellar.

"In light of the recent accusations of misconduct made against Evo organiser Joey Cuellar, Capcom will no longer be participating in Evo 2020", the developer wrote.

"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", a spokesperson for Evo told Kotaku via email.

"We are now working toward his complete separation from the company and have relieved him of all his responsibilities", the statement said.

Alongside the cancellation of EVO online, Cuellar has been removed from his position as CEO while co-founder Tony Cannon will step in as CEO. "We will donate the equivalent of the proceeds as promised to Project HOPE".

Five-time Evo champion Dominique "SonicFox" McLean was also among the registered stars who declared they would no longer play in the online-only tournament following the news surrounding Cuellar.

The news was followed by a number of high-profile game devs, including Capcom, Bandai Namco, and NetherRealm, announcing their intentions to withdraw from the event to "stand in solidarity with those who have spoken out against abuse".

The allegations against Cuellar come in the midst of a wave of community members speaking out about the harassment they faced and predatory individuals in the gaming community.

In a statement by Evo, the company announced that "The behavior in these accusations runs directly counter to Evo's mission of building a safe, welcoming environment for all of our players and attendees". I was young and reckless and did things I'm not proud of.

I'm sorry. I never meant to hurt anyone. The Wrestlemania of fighting game tournaments, this year's EVO may have ditched its usual Las Vegas haunt for online lobbies but it still looked set to be a righteous celebration of fisticuffs. EVO Online was a solid attempt at shifting the competition to a digital format, but as change happens in the industry and victims come forth to share stories, EVO could not find itself outside the wake of accusations.

He then specifically talked about how, when he was 17 years old, Cuellar paid him $20 to see his exposed genitals. "Once again, I'm truly sorry".

It's been, now, weeks of extremely unpleasant revelations in esports - across nearly every series and event and game.

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