Capcom bans fighting game pro Noel Brown over sexual harassment incident

Michael Martin

Capcom has taken a stand against sexual harassment and banned a player from competing in Capcom Pro Tour events for the duration of 2016, the company announced on Thursday.

Veteran Street Fighter IV and Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 player Noel Brown received the punishment after making “unwarranted and unwanted” contact with a female attendee at Combo Breaker 2016.

The incident was caught on camera during Street Fighter V’s top 8 live stream on May 29. Brown very clearly gropes an attendee’s backside as the crowd disperses after a group photo. Combo Breaker tournament organizer Rick “The Hadou” Thiher addressed the incident on Twitter the following week, calling it “maddening” and a “stain” on his event. However, he did not name Brown at that time.

Footage from the event surfaced later, confirming Brown as the offender. According to Thiher and Capcom, the victim confirmed the act was inappropriate and not consensual. She also wished to remain anonymous.

The ban is strictly for Capcom Pro Tour events, meaning Brown is not barred from attending an event and competing in different games.

“Brown is banned from all Street Fighter V tournaments associated with the Capcom Pro Tour 2016 events,” Capcom told Yahoo Esports. “It is up to each tournament organizer to determine his participation in other game tournaments.”

However, Brown will not be allowed to attend Combo Breaker in 2017, the event announced on its site on Wednesday. Combo Breaker will re-evaluate his eligibility to attend Combo Breaker 2018 at a later time.

“We support Combo Breaker’s decision to ban Noel Brown and support any tournament organizer who decides to ban anyone from their event who they feel is creating a hostile environment for other attendees,” Capcom said in a statement.

In addition to Combo Breaker, Evo co-founder Joey “Mr. Wizard” Cuellar banned Brown from Evo 2016, according to Shoryuken.

“Evo stands behind Capcom’s decision to ban any player responsible for acts of harassment. We have a zero tolerance policy for behavior that creates an unsafe environment for our attendees. He will not be allowed to attend Evo 2016,” Cuellar said.

This isn’t the first time Brown has been involved in controversy at FGC events. In 2013, Kotaku reported Brown was arrested for domestic violence after he allegedly struck an ex-girlfriend and another competitor at CEO 2013. Two years prior, Brown was involved in a fight at a New Jersey event in which he attacked another player. The melee was also caught on a live stream.

Brown made a name for himself as a top Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 player, placing as high as fifth at Evo 2011. Until recently, he was sponsored by Ultra Arcade, owned by Killer Instinct World Cup event organizer Brandon “Xbox Viking” Alexander.

Late Thursday, Ultra Arcade responded to the situation involving Brown by releasing him from the Ultra Arcade team and banning him from all Ultra Arcade and KI Cup events through 2017.

“After reviewing the details from all parties we have come to a decision to release Noel Brown from the Ultra Arcade team, and ban Noel from competing in ALL Ultra Arcade Events, & ALL Killer Instinct World Cup Qualifiers (Including the Cup itself) for the duration of the KIWC 2017 Season,” Ultra Arcade said in a Facebook post.

Brown told Yahoo Esports he had not been contacted by Capcom directly and that he only received communication from Thiher regarding Combo Breaker’s decision to ban him. He called the punishment “him being made an example of” and the incident was made into a bigger deal by “stream viewers” rather than the individuals involved.

“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.

Recently, Capcom has gone through a series of revisions to the CPT ruleset, including an updated Code of Conduct section addressing improper behavior at Capcom Pro Tour events. The rules are undergoing another revision and are not currently posted on the CPT site.

Michael Martin covers all things related to Street Fighter V and the Capcom Pro Tour. Follow him on Twitter @Bizarro_Mike.

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