announced yesterday that Noel Brown, a well-known competitive Street Fighter and Marvel vs. Capcom player, is banned from competing in the rest of the 2016 Pro Tour for sexually harassing a woman at Combo Breaker, a Pro Tour qualifying event in Chicago, Ill. this past weekend.
Brown non-consensually groped the woman, who Capcom and Combo Breaker organizers report wishes to remain anonymous. This “unwanted and unwarranted contact” was caught on camera in the pre-match live stream.
As this is Brown’s first offense, Capcom has banned him from competing in any other Pro Tour events for the rest of 2016. “A second offense will result in a lifetime ban from participating in all future Capcom Pro Tour events,” Capcom said in a statement. “We will use this as a baseline penalty if similar incidents occur in the future.”
“We do not condone any acts of harassment and we want all of our players and fans to know we will continue our work to ensure that all Capcom Pro Tour events provide safe, inviting environments where the focus is on healthy competition and exciting rivalries,” Capcom said.
The organizers of Combo Breaker announced that Brown is banned from competing in any of Combo Breaker’s 2017 events. They will re-evaluate Brown in 2018 to determine if he will then be allowed to attend their events.
In a correspondence with Shoryuken, Evo stated that Brown is banned from competing in Evo 2016, the biggest fighting game tournament of the year.
It is good to see some of the biggest companies and organizers in the fighting game community taking swift action regarding sexual harassment, and Capcom’s statement about wanting to provide “safe and inviting environments” suggests their intentions are in the right place. However, banning Brown is a just the one step forward towards reducing the rampant sexism in e-sports.
Part of Capcom’s statement (“We will use this as a baseline penalty if similar incidents occur in the future”) implies they did not have a policy beforehand, which is telling of how far the fighting game community and e-sports still have to go in preventing sexual harassment and making the community more open for non-male players. Female and non-binary competitors and fans in every corner of e-sports are regularly subjected to sexist attacks, from viewers regularly using gendered insults in the chat for e-sports match streams, to specific instances like when a team named themselves “Gonna Rape Hafu At Regionals,” Hafu being an opposing female competitor. Banning Brown will hopefully send a signal that this kind of hateful behavior will not be tolerated.