The competitive Super Smash Bros. world is reeling after a slew of sexual misconduct allegations against some of the game’s biggest names flooded social media late Wednesday and early Thursday. Those allegations continued through the weekend as the game’s biggest stars grappled with allegations of harassment and misconduct.
The list of allegations includes rape and pedophilia, with one accuser saying they had been assaulted beginning at the age of 14. The list of allegations against top players and commentators is extensive, and has other prominent players and members of the community shocked.
Nintendo, in a statement to Digital Trends, said “we are deeply disturbed by the allegations raised against certain members of the competitive gaming community. They are absolutely impermissible. We want to make it clear that we condemn all acts of violence, harassment, and exploitation against anyone and that we stand with the victims.”
Prominent Super Smash Bros. player Troy “Puppeh” Wells has accused Smash caster Cinnamon “Cinnpie” Dunson of a series of sexual assaults that began when he was 14 and she was 24.
The two had exchanged sexual conversations on Snapchat, he says, but the physical relationship began as they were traveling to events in the summer of 2016.
“We would usually sleep together most nights after the first incident happened and we would kiss a lot and cuddle during those nights,” he said in a TwitLonger post. “Our sexual relationship escalated as far as oral sex, but never as far as sexual intercourse.”
I really wish I never got into the smash community
— Puppeh (@PuppehSSB) July 2, 2020
Dunson has not responded to the allegations so far.
One year ago, when rumors about a relationship between the two began to circulate (which both denied at the time), she issued a statement on Twitter.
“I wake up to disgusting rumors about me and people actually questioning them,” she wrote. “No, it’s not true. That’s all the energy I will allow to this. Please try not to give attention to rumors that are based on ‘I heard it’. This hurts.”
In another TwitLonger statement, Smash Bros. player Zack “CaptainZack” Lauth alleged he had been sexually abused at the age of 15 by NRG pro gamer Nairoby “Nairo” Quezada — who was 20 at the time — during CEO Dreamland 2017.
Lauth backed up his allegations with a series of screenshots of a graphic Discord conversation where he discussed the acts with another person, whose name was blocked out.
Lauth says Quezada — who is ranked as the fourth-best player in Smash Ultimate, according to Panda Global — sent him $2,000 via Paypal to stay quiet about the encounters.
When rumors of the encounter began to spread on Wednesday, Lauth initially denied the rumors on Twitter. Quezada also claimed in a tweet that the rumors were false and said he was “extremely furious” with Lauth for fabricating the story.
But Lauth later deleted his denial and apologized, saying Quezada had called him and demanded he deny the rumors.
“I’m tired of living a life of lies,” Lauth wrote. “I’m tired of covering up for someone else’s mistakes. I would like to say, however, that I never once threatened Nairo with coming public about my relations with him. The only reason I am saying my truth now is because I can’t take it anymore. The stress of having this experience weighing on me for three years of my life is too much for me to bear.”
Quezada later deleted his denial.
Hours later in a response posted on Twitter on Thursday, Quezada apologized for the encounter and acknowledged his behavior was “wrong.”
“I betrayed the people who trusted and depended on me,” he wrote.
Quezada also apologized to Lauth for “making you feel like you had to carry a burden all these years. That is not fair to you. I am truly sorry.”
The e-sports star announced he would leaving social media while “taking some time for self-reflection” and was “committed to getting help.”
“I failed you all,” he wrote. “I am sorry.”
By Thursday afternoon, Nintendo had removed videos profiling Quezada and his esports team, NRG, announced it would no longer work with him.
“This morning we were made aware of disturbing information involving Nairo,” the team wrote on Twitter. “We take these situations incredibly seriously. NRG has severed all ties with Nairo.”
Famed commentator and competitor D’Ron “D1” Maingrette was accused by Kaitlyn “KTDominate” Redeker of raping her in 2016 on her 18th birthday at the Smash the Record 2016 event.
At an after-event gathering, she says, she got drunk and danced with Maingrette, who then allegedly led her to a hotel room where the assault occurred. Maingrette, she claims, later bragged to others that the two had had sex at the tournament.
Her story was corroborated by others in the community, including Eric “ESAM” Lu.
D1, in a statement of his own, said he has no recollection of the event, but does not dispute the two had sex. He denies spreading rumors.
“As a figurehead in the community, I understand that there is no excuse for my behaviors, and I understand that they were wrong,” he wrote. “I should have never gotten so drunk that I couldn’t remember these events in the first place. I am so sorry to KTDominate for the pain I caused her as a result of this situation. I spent so much time feeling powerless over the situation and having anxiety because of it, but only now do I realize that the pain you must have been suffering the entire time was far greater.”
After a vague sexual assault allegation surfaced on Twitter, Richard “Keitaro” King Jr. posted a TwitLonger statement confirming he had given alcohol to a minor and had sex with the female player. The incident took place in 2018, when she was 16 years old.
“With everything happening in the community, I hope for it to become a better/safer place, even if that means I have to withdraw myself from it,” said King. “I am tremendously sorry for all of this.”
Gonzalo “ZeRo” Barrios, one of the top Smash 4 players of all-time and an active content creator for Smash Ultimate, was forced to apologize after women came forward accusing him of harassment and sending sexually suggestive messages to minors.
The initial allegations were brought by artist Jackie “Jisu” Choe, who lived with Barrios in a house with other Smash players and content creators in 2014 and 2015. Choe claimed that Zero showed her explicit images and animated pornography when she was 15.
Barrios said he did not remember those incidents and denied he would have shown pornography to strangers, which was immediately disputed by another former pro player, William “Leffen” Hjelte, who described witnessing a similar situation.
Another anonymous accuser, Katie, later shared screenshots purportedly showing Barrios — then 19 — sending intimate messages to her, despite her stating she was underage. Barrios wrote in a statement that he suffered abuse as a child.
Following more pressure, Barrios ultimately apologized for the messages and also admitted he had also sent suggestive messages to another fan who he claimed he didn’t know was also underage.
“I’m not a good person, and it doesn’t matter how terrible my life was, I did terrible things and that’s the end of it,” Barrios wrote. “I don’t deserve for people to defend me.”
Barrios also announced he would be taking a social media haitus. His esports team, Tempo Storm, later cut ties with Barrios and said it wouldn’t work with him in the future.
Tempo Storm said it would provide professional support for Barrios’ victims, as well as rehabilitation resources for Barrios himself “to ensure this behavior does not happen again in the future.”
Fans of Barrios have harassed both Katie and Choe following their accusations, initially claiming the screenshots were faked. Choe said she had received death threats.
The community’s response
While the most serious accusations involve sexual assault, there are several other allegations that have come out against less prominent players and members of the e-sports scene. And the list continues to grow.
Players and fans of competitive Smash tournaments reacted in horror at the accusations — and while some of the accusers said in their statements they were not trying to ‘cancel’ the people they accused of the crimes, fellow competitors are urging consequences and vowing to rebuild the community to be supportive of minors and women.
There needs to be actual repercussions for this stuff. Getting banned isn't even a slap on the wrist when a lot of these people just deserve to be locked up.
— ⚡ Marss ⚡ (@Marss_NE) July 1, 2020
I feel like we’re living through a crazy nightmare rn
— Leon ???????? (@DLeon420) July 2, 2020
Its important to remind yourself and others that people speaking up is a positive – this stuff was always happening, even if you didn't know.
Proud of everyone who has spoken up, and I hope people see how huge of a problem this is within our community.
— LEFFEN#0 (@TSM_Leffen) July 1, 2020
Tournament organizers are also responding to the allegations, with at least one postponing a tournament that was scheduled to begin tomorrow and instead hosting a community panel talk.
“In an effort to stand in solidarity with those who have come forward recently regarding their experiences in the Smash community, we have decided to postpone Smash Ultimate Invitational Pt. V,” the organizers said. “We do not wish to distract from the conversation currently happening.”
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