Future of Evo in Doubt After Mr Wizard Sexual Misconduct Allegations
Update 5:17 pm – NetherRealm has now announced that they will be pulling Mortal Kombat 11 from participation in Evo Online 2020 in solidarity with those speaking out about abuse. Capcom has also announced they will be pulling Street Fighter from Evo Online.
Update 5:27 pm – Mr Wizard has now released an apology.
Update 5:38 pm – Mane6, the developers of Them’s Fighting Herds, have announced that they are withdrawing their game from Evo Online.
Update 6:30 pm – Evo Online 2020 has now been cancelled and Joey “Mr Wizard” Cuellar is no longer with the company.
The Evolution Championship Series has long been the mecca and Super Bowl of fighting game esports, but that future could be in doubt today. Allegations of an incident long ago from Evo founder Joey “Mr Wizard” Cuellar have surfaced of him paying a young boy to expose himself to him at an arcade called Southern Hills Golfland in exchange for $20.
The Details Behind the Allegations
This is in addition to many other “dares” that he put young people up to in exchange for tokens, including making young boys jump into a water hazard in their underwear and more. While some may consider the latter an “innocent prank” there are clear sexual undertones there, and a power dynamic that was not healthy for these boys to be exposed to.
“It wasn’t hazing, but 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,” Crackpron said in a twitlonger. “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. 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.”
He went on to say that while the situation wasn’t scarring, Crackpron felt it important to speak out about the situation given the current climate.
“I’m not looking for anything on my end. I just really want to state that, similar is happening right now to both men and women,” he said. “Many of them are sharing their stories and I hope you take the time to read them, even if some of them get really difficult to read. Recognize these people and their pain and understand this is happening in our community. Believe them. Not only believe them, do something to help the situation and prevent things like this from happening in our community again. I also don’t want people to only care about sexual abuse. Racism, transphobia, homophobia, and so many other issues are still blatantly in the community. Keep your friends in check, and if they don’t, maybe you need to reconsider them as friends. There’s a ton of you on twitter screaming for change, BLM, how we need to help disabled, and transfolk… when it’s your good friend that is the subject matter of causing discrimination.”
EVO Responds to Allegations
Evo is taking the situation seriously, with Cuellar being placed on immediate administrative leave. Given how many young men participate in Evo and travel to Las Vegas to do so every year, this is probably only the first step.
“We are aware of the accusations that have been made against Joey Cuellar,” Evo said in a statement posted to their Twitter. “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. We take this responsibility seriously. Accordingly, Joey has been placed on administrative leave pending a third-party investigation.”
They closed their statement by directing concerned parties to reach out to an inquiry line. Of course, this could lead to several developers pulling out of Evo, on the eve of Evo Online which was set to kick off this weekend.
These allegations were public in 2018
Of course, this would all be bad enough on its own, but it seems that Evo could have had the chance to act on all of this two years ago. These allegations against Evo founder Mr Wizard were made public in a Halls of Hype episode where SuperDojo’s Mike Wattson broke down some past stories about the FGC. The story he describes in the video shown here (skip to 39:28) matches up precisely with the story circulated in Crackpron’s twitlonger.
If Evo had been notified of this and circulated a little more widely, it’s possible that the tournament series might have had to act much sooner. But, as with most things in the FGC that are now coming to light, it was swept far underneath the rug at the time.
Given that Evo has had a history of sexual assault allegations and spiked drinks occurring at the venue and after-parties, perhaps it’s for the best if the tournament series was retired and hung out to dry, or at the very least relaunched with brand new leadership.
And it seems that pros are already thinking along those lines.
Pros speak out against participating in Evo
Perhaps the highest-profile example of someone pulling out of Evo entirely is Dominique “SonicFox” McClean, a multi-game and multi-time Evo champion.
“I won’t be participating any longer in Evo online,” Sonicfox said in a tweet, and followed up with.”It has to get worse before it gets better. Commending the bravery of everyone in the community right now. You have my support.“
They have been joined by hundreds of pros and organizations who have spoken out against Evo following the Mr Wizard allegations, including Equinox Gaming, who have pulled their support for the event pending Cuellar’s removal.
And other support from other pros continues to pour in, as they pull out from Evo as well. This has extended to other games like Mortal Kombat and DBFZ as well.
“I was asked to commentate a DBFZ Exhibition for Online EVO and will no longer be doing so unless the community gets justice,” cosplayer and commentator Amanda “Romanova” Rose said on Twitter. “#FireMrWiz – get this trending. We cannot let predators stay in our community.”
Clearly a day of reckoning long coming for Evo is at hand. It’s up to the community whether they will accept the tournament series after ejecting Mr. Wizard, if that’s what they decide to do, or not.