In the wake of various victims of sexual and toxic abuse and harassment coming forth to speak on their experiences, a bombshell hit today. An accuser came forth with allegations against EVO CEO Joey “Mr Wizard” Cuellar. EVO Onlline has since been canceled, and the EVO organizaiton has announced they will be parting ways with Cuellar as Tony Cannon takes his place as acting EVO CEO.
The matter began when late on July 1, 2020, FGC competitor Mikey “Crackpr0n” Pham posted a detailed account of a 2001 situation in which Joey Cuellar allegedly goaded Pham into showing him his penis, for which Cuellar apparently gave Pham $20. Pham was also reportedly 17 years old at the time of the incident. In the wake of the allegations on July 2, 2020, the EVO organization released a statement announcing that Cuellar had been placed on administrative leave as a third-party investigation was carried out. That was not enough for some. It wasn’t far after that both NetherRealm Studios and Capcom announced they would pulling Street Fighter 5 and Mortal Kombat 11 respectively from EVO Online events.
Cuellar finally spoke to the allegations late on July 2, 2020 as well. He did not deny what he was accused of and instead offered an apology to the fighting game community at large.
“I'm sorry,” Cuellar wrote. “I never meant to hurt anyone. 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. Once again, I'm truly sorry.”
Nonetheless, following the accusations and Cuellar's statement, the EVO organization saw fit to officially begin cutting ties with Mr. Wizard. As Cuellar exits the company, EVO co-founder Tony Cannon will take his place in ongoing operations. EVO Online has also been cancelled and refunds for any purchases made on the event will be processed in the upcoming days.
Accusations against Cuellar come alongside a wave of victims coming out against sexual and toxic abusers across the gaming industry. The Smash Bros competitive scene in particular saw a number of high profile players accused of sexual misconduct, with Nairoby "Nairo" Quezada, Richard "Keitaro" King Jr., D'Ron "D1" Maingrette, and Jason "ANTi" Bates among the names with credible accusations against them. Nairo was dropped from NRG Esports and ANTi has been dropped from T1 following the allegations against them.
EVO finds itself in a sorry state this year. 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. Nonetheless, as Tony Cannon steps in where Cuellar left off, hopefully the marquee fighting game organization and event can become a better, safer place for the community it serves.