NRG Drops Smash Ultimate Pro Nairo Following CaptainZack Sexual Scandal
Nairoby “Nairo” Quezada has been let go from his contract with NRG Esports on July 2 over revelations made by fellow pro Zack “CaptainZack” Lauth of a sexual relationship when Nairo was 20 and he was 15. The allegation made by CaptainZack was quickly confirmed this morning by Nairo, who issued an apology to his fans and NRG for the sexual scandal.
The tale of what exactly happened between the pair, and what happened as a result of their relationship, is a sordid tale – one not for the faint of heart. This comes in the wake of several other accusations against top players, talent, and tournament organizers, including Evo’s Joey “Mr Wizard” Cuellar, Smash commentators D1 and Cinnemin, among others. It’s part of an ongoing wave of accusations from many in the FGC and Smash scenes in particular, but also a part of a larger movement to come clean in esports and stop excusing abusers, manipulators, sexual assault, and more. Something of a #MeToo moment in esports, if you will.
What Happened Between CaptainZack and Nairo?
According to Lauth’s statement, Nairo and CaptainZack had a sexual encounter when he was just 15 years old at CEO Dreamland 2017, which continued for a few events. He shared an imgur containing conversations, proof of his accusations and actions, and more. It contained conversations with others describing the actions taken at CEO Dreamland, which, while some instigated by CaptainZack, were continued by Nairo.
Most damningly, however, was the implication that Nairo had paid hush money to CaptainZack in order for him not to talk about the situation at large. He was also asked to delete facebook messages between the two so as to leave less evidence. Of course, this is without even mentioning that Nairo had CaptainZack make statements defending Nairo.
“I’m tired of living a life of lies,” CaptainZack said in his statement. “ I’m tired of covering up for someone else’s mistakes. I would like to say, however, that I never once threatened Nairo with coming public about my relations with him. The only reason I am saying my truth now is because I can’t take it anymore. The stress of having this experience weighing on me for three years of my life is too much for me to bear. I would like to deeply apologize for lying to you all with my past tweets today, and I just ask for your forgiveness. I do not want to “cancel” Nairo, nor do I wish him ill in the slightest. I just want to live the truth.”
Nairo and NRG Respond to the Allegations
Of course, it goes without saying that neither Nairo nor his team NRG Esports was just going to let an allegation this big go by without comment. NRG acted swiftly and rightfully dropped Nairo from his contract with immediate effect, especially given that Nairo admitted to the allegations of the sexual scandal immediately.
“This morning we were made aware of disturbing information involving Nairo,” NRG said in a statement. “We take these situations incredibly seriously. NRG has severed all ties with Nairo.”
For his own right, Nairo seemed suitably shamed of his actions, as he well should be. Paying hush money for something not to come out is just one short step away from actions like match fixing and others.
“I’m not making excuses,” Nairo said. “My behavior was wrong. I was wrong. I messed up tremendously. To Zack, I apologize for making you feel like you had to carry a burden all these years. That is not fair to you. I am truly sorry.”
Nairo committed to getting himself help in his statement, and is taking a break from social media for awhile (probably for the best as he’s getting ratio’d hard on his statement.) The irony in all of this is that Nairo has been a proponent of better player behavior and professionalism on his twitter feed and streams – but like seemingly a lot of others in the FGC, it seems this was done with a guilty conscience and skeletons in his closet.
“I betrayed the people who trusted and depend upon me–the NRG Esports staff who helped me professionally, and more importantly, the community who has supported and looked up to me all these years. I failed you all. I’m sorry.”
Where Does the FGC Go From Here?
Unfortunately, Nairo’s sexual scandal is just one of the situations in the FGC happening right now. Among other things, a behavioral code should be established so that everyone in the FGC understands the consequences of their actions, developers also need to step up to the plate and assist with further consequences, reporting mechanisms, and vetting of tournament organizers. This is especially true in Smash as Nintendo’s hands off approach seems to have left the community to its own devices, and as such, has allowed behavior like this to fester.
It will be up to the community to root out bad actors, believe victims, and most importantly, take action. As a famous man once said, “All it takes for evil to succeed is for good people to do nothing.” And we have to do something if we want the FGC to continue to thrive, once COVID-19 has finished having its say.