Multiple sexual misconduct allegations rock Smash Bros. esports to its core

Throughout the past several days, there have been multiple allegations of sexual misconduct, some against top names in the Smash Bros. esports world and some involving minors, in what will go down as a black eye for the community.

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It's 3:30AM PT as I sit to write this. Everything is a haze. You know the expression "It feels like only yesterday" in reference to something a long time ago? This feels like it's been months, but it was literally only yesterday. For those who haven't followed the news, the Super Smash Bros. esports world is in total tatters in the wake of multiple accusations of sexual misconduct, several of them involving minors. A lot of those accusations were levied after the midnight hour. And when added up, all of this can only be described as a complete cataclysm of a competitive scene.

It's hard to remember what exactly got this shameful ball rolling, but one of the most publicized incidents involved Cinnamon "Cinnpie" Dunson, a prominent Smash caster. Troy "Puppeh" Wells released a TwitLonger statement on Wednesday alleging that Dunson had sexually abused him while he was only 14 years of age. Wells went into heavy detail regarding inappropriate advances that later led to an unwanted sexual relationship. Dunson has not responded to the allegations, but clips began to surface from on-stream tournaments where she could be seen touching Wells in an inappropriate manner.

As bad as this looked (and it looked bad), little did anybody know that this would only be the beginning. Here's what ensued since late Wednesday evening after midnight on the east coast:

  • Zack "CaptainZack" Lauth issued a TwitLonger statement in which he alleged that top player and NRG pro Nairoby "Nairo" Quezada had sexually abused him during CEO Dreamland 2017 while he was 15 years old. Lauth posted a screenshot of a graphic Discord conversation, while adding that Quezada and his brother had paid him $2,000 via Paypal to remain silent. Quezada almost immediately deleted his Twitter account and has not been heard from since these allegations were levied outside of a concerning message to Ezra "Samsora" Morris.
  • A young girl named Sandy testified on Twitter that Richard "Keitaro" King Jr. had given her alcohol and sexually abused her when she was 16 years old, keeping the Snapchat exchange as evidence. Hours later, King posted a TwitLonger statement in which he admitted to giving her alcohol and having sex with her. Sandy had also indicated that Corey "False" Shin and Sky Williams knew about the incident, but later added that she had spoken with Williams and stated that she now believes Williams was not involved.
  • Kaitlyn "KTDominate" Redeker issued a TwitLonger statement in which she accused D'Ron "D1" Maingrette of raping her after Smash the Record 2016 on her 18th birthday. She alleges that Maingrette had taken her to his hotel room after she became intoxicated where he proceeded to rape her. Carrington "Wrath" Osborne corroborates the story and claims that Maingrette had paid to have incriminating photos deleted.

Those are the biggest names, but they're far from the only incidents. Multiple accusations have poured in throughout the week from across different corners of the country alleging sexual abuse against different pro Smash Bros. players, some accusing Tournament Organizers of knowing what was happening and choosing to look the other way. There's been case after case after case after case after case, on and on and on. Every one of these cases is heinous in their own way and all point to a competitive Smash Bros. scene that looks to have become rotten to its core.

There are a few takeaways from the dozens of reports of sexual misconduct that have come down over the past week. The first one, above all else, is to move beyond the total betrayal from these people, many of whom were considered role models and looked up to by younger members of the community, and stand by the victims of these horrific incidents. Sexual misconduct is horrible by itself, but there's an extra level of atrociousness to these crimes against minors. And regardless of whether there was "consent" or not, that's exactly what these are. These are crimes! If minors are involved, those are crimes! Believe victims, listen to their stories, stand with them. Sometimes, new information can arise that changes the situation. That's normal. But until such a thing happens, stand with the victims, because lord knows they've been through enough and there are few things worse than being the victim of something vile and having nobody believe your story.

The next takeaway? Good lord above, where the hell does anybody in the competitive Super Smash Bros. scene go from here?

The answer certainly sounds simple. Keep this up. Keep outing predators. If you are the victim of something this atrocious, keep coming forward. You will inevitably get people who dismiss or mock your pain. However, the Smash community has had enough of this. The world beyond Smash too if the wave of accusations throughout the gaming and streaming industry are any indication. Everybody is tired of this depravity, this evil, this wickedness. This scene came together in the first place out of a love for a video game. It's time to work towards going back to that.

But while the answer sounds simple, it's going to take real work on the part of the remaining community members. There is no getting around this. This is going to be one of the biggest black eyes in esports history. And it goes beyond the role model element. This could have adverse effects on Smash esports for years to come. PG Stats' own Luis "Suar" Suarez came forward and noted that the international Smash community now fears sending minors to future events. Who can blame them?

One suggestion that is gaining traction is for minors to no longer be allowed at events without being accompanied by a parent or guardian. That's certainly a good start. Another suggestion is for the remaining community to be much more mindful of the actions of their peers, as well as their own. Again, these sound like simple fixes, but they don't work unless there is actual effort put in. And with OS New York City among those who will be taking a long, hard look at how to make Smash a safer place, there's at least some comfort in knowing that the process is starting.

And it has to start. William "Leffen" Hjelte alludes to it, but if there is no fix to this, then Smash Bros. doesn't deserve an esports scene.

Super Smash Bros. has been one of my favorite games to watch from a competitive standpoint. But there's no sugarcoating this. This has been the worst week in its history and it stands a chance to get even worse, because there may still yet be more shocking allegations down the road. But if we have to strap in for another nuclear blast to ensure people can take part in this community safely, then that's just what it takes. Hopefully, if the threats are truly removed, the healing process can begin.

Senior Editor

Ozzie has been playing video games since picking up his first NES controller at age 5. He has been into games ever since, only briefly stepping away during his college years. But he was pulled back in after spending years in QA circles for both THQ and Activision, mostly spending time helping to push forward the Guitar Hero series at its peak. Ozzie has become a big fan of platformers, puzzle games, shooters, and RPGs, just to name a few genres, but he’s also a huge sucker for anything with a good, compelling narrative behind it. Because what are video games if you can't enjoy a good story with a fresh Cherry Coke?

From The Chatty
    • reply
      July 2, 2020 6:45 AM

      I clicked on that second link, the one that alleges impropriety with Puppeh, not expecting much. My reactions:

      😐 Eh, okay. Wow, that little boy is small. 14 years old, huh?

      😐 Oh, that must be Cinn. Rubbing his shoulders? 🤔 Yeah I mean... that's a little strange. *I* can't think of a time/age when I would've done that to a 14 year old. But eh... I dunno...

      🤨Wait, there's more? What... 🧐 what is going on there??

      😲😳 What... what in the actual??

      That was bad. She should probably go to jail.

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        July 2, 2020 7:11 AM

        Fuuuuk puppeh looks practically 10 yrs old in those videos. Also was Mr. Sleepy playing Smash in one of the videos??

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      July 2, 2020 8:34 AM

      This is awful.

      I do know that mixing groups of young adults doing adult things like drinking with groups of minors (who naturally want to join in) rarely works out in the long run.

      Organizers should either ensure an all-ages experience or limit to just one demographic. And they should come down hard on abusers, past or future.

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        July 2, 2020 8:42 AM

        This wasn't an organizer thing. This is a parenting thing. Puppeh's parents should never have let him travel unsupervised and room and board with other kids and supervision doesn't mean "supervised by college kids" either. Fuck I never let my kids do any of that shit.

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          July 2, 2020 8:51 AM

          I disagree that it’s not an organizer thing at all. It absolutely is. Parents do not carry the sole responsibility here.

          Fleabug’s post below hits a lot of the same thoughts I’m having, and it’s way more thought out than this, so let’s move to that sub thread if you want to continue this debate

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            July 2, 2020 9:48 AM

            No. They might carry 90% of the responsibility but that's still 90% that they fucked up. This was not a chaperoned school trip, this was a 14 yr old kid left to his own devices with a bunch of older teenagers and college age adults. My parents, when I was 14, let me go to alot of places on my own but road trips with other kids was a gigantic No. An organizer can only control, as best they can, what happens on tournament grounds. Most of what happened to Puppeh happened off the grounds.

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              July 2, 2020 11:25 AM

              I think I understand where you are coming from, but invoking parental responsibility seems to me to stand in the shadow of victim blaming. I'm not a parent, but if something like this had happened to my step-brother at a pokemon card game event or nephew at an artist residency, I absolutely would not start by questioning my mother or brother as to why they were allowed to go to these things unchaperoned.

              I was extremely fortunate that I was able to go to my mother and speak to her about it when something like this happened to me at an A-Kon I attended by myself when I was 15. Ultimately, nothing happened. We dealt with it, moved on, and I learned an extremely important lesson about communication and trust. Of course his parents should have been more involved in what he was doing, but I'm not prepared to shift the blame to them for not knowing that their child was being groomed and sexually abused. A common thread in many abuse stories is that close family and friends are made wholly unaware, that's how abusers and groomers work.

              Weather or not it happened in the venue, attached hotel, or on a ride share between the two is completely irrelevant.

              My comment below speaks to us as a community about how we need to be better equipped to handle this from the top down. It starts with individual responsibility, but we have seen exactly how far that takes us as a nation and society when it also ends there. If you hold an event and something like this happens, you need to be able to explain what policies you had in place that allowed it. This wasn't a spontaneous gathering of gamers that pooled their money together to play videogames together for a weekend in a hotel ballroom. This was an organized event, with sponsors, vendors, media relations, and paid staff, and the people in charge of that have an obligation to the safety and well-being of each of those groups of people.

              Here's a tweet unrelated to this specific event, that also directly calls out how busted and broken this community has allowed itself to become.
              https://twitter.com/panicsw1tched/status/1278739100758151171

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                July 2, 2020 11:51 AM

                I'm a parent, things are different when you become one. I know that feels like a copout and I guess it can best be compared to being a commanding officer or CEO. If it happened on your watch it's your responsibility no matter how indirect. You feel this weight even when things happen that are outside your control like could you have done it better? Could you have seen this coming? At least if you're a good parent you do. I'm not the best but I feel it. As a parent you are the top and it goes down from there.

                If you think that's victim blaming or even comes close to it, no you really don't get it. You can blame the organizers and maybe putting an age limit on the tourney would have helped to stop some of this stuff but most of the stuff that happened was off tourney grounds. This was a dangerous situation for a 14 yr old kid and it's not one I would have willingly let my kids go to. Anyway I can't really explain to you anything else without seeming like I'm talking down to you and I don't want to do that because you'll just shut down.

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                  July 2, 2020 12:16 PM

                  I appreciate your perspective and I don't see it as you talking down.

                  I can only frame things from my experience as someone on the ground at events like these as a gamer, and former volunteer and organizer. I fully believe we are not doing enough at that level, so we never even had a chance to prevent this from happening.

                  Victim blaming is a harsh term, and maybe not what I should have used here.

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                  July 2, 2020 12:47 PM

                  You wouldn't blame the parents if this happened on a scouts trip or soccer trip. If the organisers are inviting minors it's 100% their responsibility that they're providing a safe environment for those minors.

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      July 2, 2020 8:45 AM

      This fucking breaks my heart.

      I was puppeh's age when I went to my first big gaming LAN by myself.
      I went on to organize and volunteer for several large events in the early days of esports here in Dallas.

      I think my biggest frustration with these stories is that the community managers and event organizers have completely dropped the ball since the beginning of time. Thinking back to the CPL and early Quakecon days, there was never a mechanism in place for accountability. I just have to assume that this kind of stuff was happening at every single event I have ever attended, and there were people in positions of power that allowed it to happen, explicitly or implicitly.

      I'm glad we can't have events of this kind right now, because clearly we weren't able to conduct them in a proper manner. What's next? Is there a way to form an independent board of event organizers to somehow combat this behavior at the organizer level? Most of the time the casters are the defacto face of the event, and it seems like we lean very heavily on them to know everything that his happening at an event, but that's a lot like asking Mark Followell to take preventative measures to stop sexual misconduct allegations inside the Dallas Mavericks org.

      We need to hear from production and direction level folks what they are doing to help prevent things like this from happening over and over.

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        July 2, 2020 12:50 PM

        It's gross these events could easily be a fantastic environment for kids that don't fit in with some of their school friends and the typical sports crowd. The idea that some of the grown ups there that went through some of the same things that these kids are doing of trying to find a group ... and they choose to use it instead as a predatory opportunity.

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          July 7, 2020 6:53 AM

          it's not even remotely a fantastic environment for kids at all. what events where children/underage teenagers are co-mingling with their adult peers unsupervised by any responsible adults somewhere a kid should be? where parties and drinking and all these extracurriculars are the norm? i'm not excusing the perpetrator's actions at all but I can't help but wonder what were the parents thinking sending their kids to one of these overnight events on their own? do they just give them their credit to book a hotel room and say good luck my little 14 year old! are the hotels not checking who the hotel keys are going to and a minor isn't present with a guardian? who is legally responsible if something happens with this unattended minor?

          for them to be a fantastic environment the whole thing needs to be overhauled. if the kids and adults are to remain competing against each other they should be there with a legal guardian or they don't compete, period. very easy to implement. everyone wears a lanyard on the competition floor that they get on arrival. registration requires ID. Can't be on the floor without your lanyard, maybe can't even be on the floor without your guardian. or I don't know, have an underage bracket? it's like the event staff and the parents of these kids never took any consideration to the responsibility or the logistics of minors attending the event.

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      July 2, 2020 8:50 AM

      "I wasn't sure what she was doing until I felt me inside of her. I yelled "what are you doing!!??" sounds like the plot to a porno. And not especially believable

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        July 2, 2020 9:52 AM

        Yeah this might be in response to jealousy of her bf but still there's witnesses.

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        July 2, 2020 1:08 PM

        Ah the old slipped and “she fell on my dick while floating in the pool story”. If I had a nickel for every time... wait what?

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          July 2, 2020 1:10 PM

          there's a pool version of the story? I've heard the "we were just sleeping in the same bed and i accidentally rolled over on top of her"

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            July 2, 2020 1:12 PM

            Oh, probably reading fail in my part. It sounded like they were in a pool from his account, where the quote came from.

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              July 2, 2020 1:25 PM

              oh i thought you meant generically. i've heard or read versions of the bed thing, not related to anything in this article, before

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      July 2, 2020 10:08 AM

      i presume keitaro is kicked from the shack smash panel discussions. is shack planning on vetting other regular guests?

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        July 2, 2020 10:21 AM

        and how do you actually vet that?

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        July 2, 2020 11:12 AM

        Especially since he didn’t disclose in his “apology” that he was TWENTY NINE when this girl was 16-17 and he had multiple chances to shut it all down and failed to do so. From the very first admission of inviting her to a party where drinking was taking place and every “step” that escalated further. In fact, his “apology” is more damning than anything as it reads like he’s trying to shift a lot of the blame on the girl drinking (which he should have never let happen in the first place!)

        Whenever you have high school age kids partying with adults that are in college or have just graduated high school without any responsible supervision, bad things are probably going to happen. This is a gigantic oversight on behalf of the players, parents, and organizers. But hearing stories of people that are TWICE the age of the victims, that is borderline predatory and very disturbing.

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          July 2, 2020 1:00 PM

          Yeah his story is pretty fucking disgusting. When I read it I assumed he was like 19 (no idea who any of these people are) but then I learned he was nearly 30. Wtf. Not that being 19 would have made this okay but it would be way less sketchy.

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            July 2, 2020 1:18 PM

            It’s the difference between making a bad choice (being 19 and sleeping with a 17 year old) and being a sexual predator (being 29 and sleeping with a 17 year old). The first is forgivable, the second is reprehensible. There’s literally no excuse for him not stopping things from getting out of control, his entire TwitLonger is just “well I asked if she was ok doing these things and then she just did them and then I was like oh ok.” YOU ARE ALMOST THIRTY, YOU ARE A GROWN ASS MAN AND THIS GIRL IS 16-17?!?!? YOU COULD HAVE A CHILD NEARING HER AGE AND IT WOULD BE NORMAL, NOT TRYING TO FUCK THEM AT A PARTY.

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        July 2, 2020 1:29 PM

        Also D1 this sucks, so disappointing....

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      July 2, 2020 1:04 PM

      Smash Bros sounds like a creepy porn channel to begin with.

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      July 2, 2020 1:28 PM

      Damn. I thought the rest of the FGC had problems; but that was mostly just homophobia and Noel Brown touching girls or fighting.

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