According to an in-depth Kotaku report, this past week the Super Smash Brothers pro scene, a largely grass-roots and unregulated community thanks to Nintendo’s refusal to escalate the series into a proper esport, was gutted by over 50 reports of sexual harassment, misconduct, and abuse against some of their biggest starts.
The accusations have been insane – well-known players have been accused of things like rape, sexual assault, praying on minors, and grooming. And what’s more, many of these accusations also have receipts, proof that not only these attacks happened, but also that the community itself has proven incapable of policing itself for the past decade or so.
A few of the accused: we have Cinnamon “Cinnpie” Dunson, a famous Smash caster who’s even done work for Nintendo, who was accused of having a sexual relationship with a 14-year-old when he was 24. Jason “ANTi” Bates, considered the best Super Smash Brothers for Wii U player in the world, was accused by an anonymous source of grooming at 15-year-old girl, and telling her to lie about her age. Several other women then came forward with their own stories of Bates.
And then we have Gonzalo “ZeRo”, Barrios, one of the biggest names in the scene thanks to his unprecedented 56-tournament win streak, who was accused by two women of being a sexual predator and extremely inappropriate.
The fallout from these accusations has left the Super Smash Brothers community in shambles. Sponsors have been leaving the scene en mass, tournament organizers have been issuing bans left and right, and even Nintendo itself, despite trying to distance itself from the Smash community, was forced to comment:
“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.”
One thing is clear: something has to change in the Smash community. But as long as Nintendo is unwilling to step up and form a league that could properly police these things, it’s up to the community itself to do the policing… a task it does not seem equal to.