Sexual abuse allegations surface in fighting game community

NRG has severed ties with Nairoby "Nairo" Quezada. ESPN Esports

NRG Esports released top Super Smash Bros. player Nairoby "Nairo" Quezada on Thursday following allegations that he engaged in a sexual relationship in April 2017 with fellow pro Zack "CaptainZack" Lauth, who was then a minor.

"This morning we were made aware of disturbing information involving Nairo," NRG said in a statement released on Twitter. "We take these situations incredibly seriously. NRG has severed all ties with Nairo."

Allegations against Quezada, then 20, were published by Lauth on Thursday morning. Lauth outlined multiple sexual encounters that he said occurred during CEO Dreamland in Orlando, Florida.

In that post, Lauth also alleged that Quezada and his brother and manager, Kelvin "ksizzle" Quezada, paid him money to stay silent about the encounter and asked him to lie about it when another community member first made allegations earlier in the week. Following Lauth's post Thursday, Nairoby Quezada deleted his Twitter account after releasing a statement in which he said, "I'm not making excuses. My behavior was wrong." Kelvin Quezada made a post in his brother's Discord server, thanking Nairo's fans and stating "it's over" and "Nairo is done."

Lauth's post comes amid a wave of allegations of sexual abuse, discrimination and pedophilia in the gaming and esports communities over the past three weeks, with more than 200 allegations surfacing against some of the most powerful people in those industries. In the past day, other allegations against top Super Smash Bros. and fighting game community figures have surfaced.

Community member Kaitlyn "KTDominate" Redeker alleged that top commentator and former Twitch employee D'Ron "D1" Maingrette raped her while both were inebriated after Smash the Record, a charity event in Orlando in November 2016. In a statement released Thursday, Maingrette said he did not remember the encounter because of alcohol intoxication.

Evolution Championship Series placed director Joey "Mr. Wizard" Cuellar on administrative leave Thursday after allegations surfaced that he sexually harassed a community member, who spoke out about the experience on Wednesday.

"The behavior in these accusations runs directly counter to Evo's mission of building a safe, welcoming environment for all of our players and attendees," a statement released on the EVO Twitter account said. "We take this responsibility seriously. Accordingly Joey has been placed on administrative leave pending a third party investigation."

Late Thursday, Cuellar posted a statement on Twitter in which he apologized for his actions. The statement read: "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."

On Wednesday, pro Smash player Troy "Puppeh" Wells said that he had a sexual relationship with commentator Cinnamon "Cinnpie" Dunson in the summer of 2016, when he was 14 and she was 24. Dunson has not responded to the allegations.

Lauth was banned from many Super Smash Bros. tournaments in August after he said he asked fellow pro Elliot "Ally" Bastien Carroza-Oyarce to throw two different matches against Sota "Zackray" Okada and Nairo at 2GG: Prime Saga and MomoCon in the spring of 2019. In July 2019, Carroza-Oyarce, 29, was also barred from tournaments after he admitted to having a relationship with Lauth, who was 16 at the time.

On Thursday, T1 released Smash player Jason "Anti" Bates over "serious allegations of misconduct," which he disputed on Twitter.