Evo 2020 canceled after sexual misconduct allegations against co-founder

Gail Fisher for ESPN

The Evolution Championship Series fighting game tournament was canceled Thursday after multiple game developers, esports organizations, competitors and hosts pulled out of the event amid sexual misconduct allegations against Evo co-founder and organizer Joey "MrWizard" Cuellar.

"Over the past 24 hours, in response to serious allegations made public on Twitter, we have made the first of a series of important decisions regarding the future of our company," Evo said in a statement. "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 of his responsibilities."

Tony Cannon, a fellow co-founder of Evo, will take over the role of CEO from Cuellar, the organization announced.

Evo, the largest fighting game event in the world, was to be held online this year due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Play was slated to begin Saturday and continue every weekend up until Aug. 2. However, on Thursday, Cuellar was placed on administrative leave by the tournament due to alleged sexual misconduct toward a community member.

More: SonicFox not competing at Evo amid allegations against tournament co-founder | Game devs pull Mortal Kombat, Tekken, Street Fighter and Dragon Ball FighterZ from Evo lineup | Sexual abuse allegations surface throughout fighting game community

Shortly after the allegations were made public, competitors such as five-time Evo champion Dominique "SonicFox" McLean and fighting game casters such as James Chen, Stephen "Sajam" Lyon and Steve "Tasty Steve" Scott announced they would not take part in Evo.

"I can not in good conscience participate in an event with the allegations of one the primary hosts of said event," SonicFox told ESPN. "It just doesn't sit right with me."

Cuellar issued a statement late Thursday amid several game developers announcing the refusal to allow Evo to use their games.

Capcom, the makers of Street Fighter V: Champion Edition; Bandai Namaco, the creators of Dragon Ball FighterZ and TEKKEN 7; and NeatherRealm Studios, which produced Mortal Kombat 11, all announced they were pulling their titles from Evo as Cuellar apologized for his actions on Twitter.

"I'm sorry. I never meant to hurt anyone. I was young and reckless and did things I'm not proud of," Cuellar said in a statement. "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."

Players who purchased a badge for Evo will be refunded, the company announced in its statement.

"Progress doesn't happen overnight, or without the bravery of those who speak up against misconduct and justice," the statement read. "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."