EVO 2020 (short for Evolution), a video fighting game tournament that was founded nearly a decade ago, has been cancelled following allegations made against its co-founder, Joey ‘MrWizard’ Cuellar. The event was scheduled to take place July 31st – August 2nd, 2020 at the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada.
This move comes after being confirmed that the tournament would continue despite COVID-19 and subject to its re-opening. Cuellar faces accusations of sexual assault against a minor and he went on to confirm said accusations on social media which ultimately, lead to EVO letting him go outright and cancelling the tournament. Cuellar’s statement on Twitter reads:
I'm sorry. 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.– Joey ‘MrWizard’ Cuellar
These accusations paired with Cuellar’s statement lead multiple departures to begin unfolding including Capcom withdrawing all participation alongside the developers of Mortal Kombat and Injustice, NetherRealm. Shortly thereafter, Mane6, the developers behind Them’s Fightin’ Herds, a new EVO participant followed suit.
NetherRealm released a statement saying “we stand in solidarity with those who have spoken out about abuse” in regards to explaining their decision.
A large amount of EVO participants also announced their departures including James Chen, Maximillian Christiansen (Maximillian_Dood) and Stephen Lyon (Sajam), all commentators. James Chen released a Twitter statement following EVO’s announcement:
Evo is run by a team and not a single individual, but a single individual can stain the entire event. Until Joey ‘MrWizard’ Cuellar is removed from EVO, I can no longer participate.– James Chen
Frequent player, Dominique McLean (SonicFox) and multiple attendees also announced their decision to not participate in the event due to the tournament’s initial choice to not remove Cuellar.
The tournament’s president, Mikey Pham (Crackpr0n) also faces accusations of underage sexual assault which have been acknowledged by Evo, however, at this time, he is on “administrative leave pending a third-party investigation”.
The tournament’s official social media channel has since confirmed that Cuellar has been fired, releasing a statement saying:
Effective immediately, Joey Cuellar will no longer be involved with EVO in any capacity. We will work to issue refunds for all players who chose to purchase a badge.-EVO
The organization has gone on to outright cancel EVO 2020 and has reportedly hired a new CEO. This all follows a wave of breaking stories and allegations over the past few days regarding sexual abuse within the gaming world and community.