Games

Evo President on Administrative Leave Following Misconduct Allegations

The event is asking a third party to investigate the reports, while numerous players announce they will no longer participate.
July 2, 2020, 8:05pm
The logo for the large fighting game tournament EVO.
Artwork courtesy of EVO

The president of the influential gaming tournament Evo, Joey Cuellar, has been placed on administrative leave, following accusations of misconduct involving underage boys.

In a statement released on Twitter, the event said Cuellar would remain on administrative leave “pending a third party investigation.” Evo did not respond to a request for additional comment, as of this writing.

Update: Capcom (Street Fighter), Netherrealm (Mortal Kombat), and Mane6 (Them Fightin' Herds) have all announced they will no longer participate in Evo, and Cuellar has responded to the accusations:

Update 2: Evo has announced the event is cancelled, Cuellar "will no longer be involved in Evo in any capacity," and they are "currently working towards his complete separation from the company and have relieved him of all his responsibilities."

This latest accusation comes on the heels of many other accusations of varying degrees of misconduct that have been sweeping through the games industry in recent weeks.

The various allegations against Cuellar were made overnight by Twitter user Pyronlkari. Pyronlkari did not respond to an additional request for comment through a Twitter DM, as of this writing.

Pyronlkari alleged they and Cuellar, who has long gone by the pseudonym Mr. Wizard, was part of a group that regularly hung out at the Southern Hills Golfland arcade, one of the foundational locations for what would later become known as the Fighting Game Community (FGC), in the 90s. Pyronlkari alleged that Cuellar would pay “hundreds of tokens” for he and his friends, who were underage, to jump in the pool in their underwear.

“We were teenagers with no money and 100-200 tokens (20-40$ worth of tokens) was a lot," said Pyronlkari. "So almost all of us did it without a second thought. ‘Jump in a pool for 10 minutes for 40$? Hell yeah!’. We never really thought of it in a predatory way.”

In a separate instance years later, when Pyronlkari was 17 years old, they alleged he was paid $20 by Cuellar to show off his erect penis in the arcade’s bathroom, as part of a bet that Pyronlkari was “above average.”

Cuellar has not responded to the allegations through Evo or his personal Twitter account, and VICE Games has been unable to independently verify the story.

Update: Cuellar has since addressed the accusations on Twitter, calling himself "young and reckless."

Do you have a story you want to share about the allegations going around the gaming industry? Using a non-work phone or computer, you can contact Patrick Klepek securely on Signal on 224-707-1561, or email patrick.klepek@vice.com.

Evo, which usually brings hundreds of fighting game fans together in Las Vegas, has been scheduled to hold an online-only version of the event, due to coronavirus, starting on July 4. But the allegations are already having an impact and come as the Smash Bros. community is experiencing its own reckoning, including allegations a high-profile player had a sexual relationship with another player, who was a minor at the time.

Dominique “SonicFox” McLean, one of the fighting game community’s most visible and outspoken players, has already announced they will no longer be participating in EVO this year. SonicFox has already been joined by others who have made the same decision.

“It has to get worse before it gets better,” said SonicFox on Twitter. “Commending the bravery of everyone in the community right now. You have my support.”

Follow Patrick on Twitter. His email is patrick.klepek@vice.com, and available privately on Signal (224-707-1561).