South Korean combating recreation participant Seon-woo “Infiltration” Lee revealed final night time that he’s been barred from attending a number of main group occasions, together with this yr’s Evolution Championship Sequence (Evo). Whereas the information got here as a shock, lots of these conversant in the extremely achieved competitor’s controversial previous take into account it a very long time coming.
Evo and Combo Breaker (arguably the second most necessary grassroots match within the combating recreation group) contacted Lee by way of e-mail to tell him he is not going to be allowed to compete at their occasions, in response to screenshots Lee posted to Twitter. Each emails cited unspecified violations of every occasion’s code of conduct insurance policies and provided refunds for Lee’s registration charges.
Talking with Kotaku, Evo common supervisor Rick Thiher defined that the occasion is “dedicated to fostering a protected setting for our gamers and followers” and that the organizers require opponents and attendees to “work along with Evo to construct a supportive group that treats each other with respect and dignity.” This expectation, he continued, is shared by different occasions like Combo Breaker, Group Effort Orlando, East Coast Throwdown, and the Intercontinental Battle Membership, all of which have additionally banned Lee.
“Evo is not going to be discussing particular person enforcement choices publicly, however shall be taking mandatory motion to uphold our code of conduct and create a welcoming setting at Evo competitions,” Thiher added. “These efforts are important for the way forward for Evo, and the expertise we try to create for our group.”
Kotaku contacted Lee as properly, however didn’t hear again earlier than publication.
“I rightfully consider that it may be sorted with a correct dialog,” Lee wrote in a Twitlonger message. “I hope the organizers communicate up and clarify precisely what the reason for motion is that has denied my entry. Additionally from these organizers, I demand a correct apology that has precipitated monetary and psychological stress of my planning of assorted abroad journeys to get to those occasions and reverse their choice of denying my entry.”
Lee’s assertion additionally detailed a number of earlier incidents of not being allowed to compete in high-profile combating recreation tournaments. What he didn’t do, unsurprisingly, is get into the potential causes for tournaments not wanting him in attendance, of which there are numerous.
Whereas beforehand unknown, Lee shortly grew to become a family identify within the combating recreation group because of his third-place end in Road Fighter IV: Arcade Version at Evo 2010. He spent the subsequent a number of years incomes much more Evo medals and performing properly in varied combating video games, together with Road Fighter x Tekken, Road Fighter V, Samurai Shodown, and Responsible Gear Attempt. Lee’s match wins have been naturally adopted by sponsorship offers with companies like Mad Catz, Razer, and Monster Vitality.
However again in 2018, Lee made headlines for various causes when he was accused of home violence towards his now ex-wife. A follow-up investigation by his sponsor on the time, esports org Panda World, discovered these allegations to be credible and dropped Lee from its roster. Lee additionally voluntarily stepped away from Capcom’s official Road Fighter tournaments for a yr, all of the whereas disputing the abuse claims for which he was arrested, discovered responsible by a South Korean court docket, and fined.
Lee’s unapologetic return to competitors after a yr away garnered appreciable backlash, particularly when Evo itself congratulated him on his “triumphant return” after he received Samurai Shodown in 2019. On the time, Evo was nonetheless a grassroots operation, however the match was lately bought by Sony following the departure of co-founder and CEO Joey “Mr. Wizard” Cuellar over sexual misconduct allegations.
Relatively than preserve his nostril clear, nonetheless, Lee continued to create issues. Final yr, for example, Lee was reportedly caught coordinating with pals to defraud a newbie Road Fighter V match he organized with Korean streaming website AfreecaTV, his largest sponsor on the time.
Discord screenshots present Lee encouraging the one who received that occasion, a master-level participant in different combating video games, to not increase his Road Fighter V rank too excessive for concern of elevating suspicion. After these particulars have been leaked, Lee angrily addressed his accusers by way of Twitch by calling them “motherfuckers” and “rubbish” who have been solely involved in tearing him down.
Lee ultimately apologized, however not earlier than AfreecaTV dropped him as a sponsored streamer.
As for the way Lee is taking these bans, he spent his first stream on Twitch after studying the information arguing that it was alright for him to use the n-word when talking to Black combating recreation gamers. The racist feedback, he defined later, earned him a seven-day suspension from the streaming platform, however Lee nonetheless doesn’t consider he did something flawed. As a substitute, he opted to color the entire thing as some form of insidious conspiracy towards an harmless man.
“I did a stream that defined what occurred to me due to Combo Breaker and Evo after which I bought banned,” Lee advised sympathetic viewers throughout a YouTube livestream early this morning. “Is it only a coincidence? It’s not hate speech. Should you guys watch my final stream, it wasn’t hate speech. It wasn’t racism. However individuals who hate Infiltration, they clip solely that second, and perhaps ship it to Twitch world.”