Evo has announced that its online event, which was scheduled to take place in lieu of the cancelled physical event, will no longer go ahead after co-founder and CEO Joey Cuellar was accused of pedophilia and sexual misconduct.
Cuellar issued a vague apology as soon as the allegations surfaced, claiming that he was “young and reckless and did things I’m not proud of.” Cuellar added that he didn’t intend to hurt anyone and has been “growing and maturing over the past 20 years.”
Members of the esports community reported that Cuellar bribed underage members of an arcade with tokens to perform acts like jumping into a swimming pool in only underwear. In addition to the this, several Super Smash Bros. competitors came forward with allegations of abuse against fellow community members. Following this, Bandai Namco, NetherRealm, and Capcom distanced themselves from the event. Nintendo released a separate statement condemning violence, harassment, and exploitation.
Effective immediately, Evo will be led by acting CEO Tony Cannon. A statement from the organizer reads:
Over the past 24 hours, in response to serious allegations recently made public on Twitter, we have made the first of a series of important decisions regarding the future of our company. Effective immediately, Joey Cuellar will no longer be involved with Evo in any capacity. We are currently working towards his complete separation from the company and have relieved him of all his responsibilities.
Progress doesn’t happen overnight, or without the bravery of those who speak up against misconduct and injustice. We are shocked and saddened by these events, but we are listening and committed to making every change that will be necessary in making Evo a better model for the stronger, safer culture we all seek. As a result, we will be canceling Evo Online and will work to issue refunds for all players who chose to purchase a badge. We will donate the equivalent of the proceeds as promised to Project HOPE.
Evo also promised greater accountability going forward.