The online version of the Evolution Championship Series (better known as Evo) was canceled Thursday following accusations of sexual abuse made against its organizer and CEO, Joey Cuellar. Evo said in a statement on Twitter that it has relieved Cuellar from his responsibilities and is working to completely separate him from the company.
“Over the past 24 hours, in response to serious allegations recently made public on Twitter, we have made the first in a series of important decisions regarding the future of our company,” the company said in the statement. “Progress doesn’t happen overnight, or without bravery of those who speak up against misconduct and injustice. We are 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.”
Allegations against Cuellar first surfaced on Twitter Wednesday via Mikey “CrackPr0n” Pham, who said the abuse occurred when he was just nine years old. That led to many organizations pulling out of the event, including Capcom, NetherRealm, and Bandai Namco, as well as several popular competitors.
Cuellar has has since apologized.
“I’m sorry. I never meant to hurt anyone,” Cuellar said in a statement, also made on Twitter. “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.”
Accusations against Cuellar come amid a torrent of similar stories, which call out abuse, harassment, and racism in video gaming, tabletop gaming, and comics. The repercussions from these scandals could have a lasting impact on these industries in the years to come.
Evo 2020 was originally set to take place this year in Las Vegas, but was canceled due to the ongoing pandemic. The online event was intended to take its place. According to the official website, the tournament will return in 2021.