We have covered the MeToo movement’s recent pass through the competitive Smash community extensively recently. Allegations have been levied against players at nearly every level, including ZeRo, who rose to prominence in the mid-2010s as a Smash 4 champion. However, ZeRo now has virtually no online platforms following a ban from Twitch.
ZeRo, whose real name is Gonzalo Barrios, had a fairly successful story in competitive Smash. Born in Chile, ZeRo routinely competed in tournaments in Latin America as well as the U.S. He was eventually picked up by Team Solo Mid for his championship performances at multiple Smash 4 major tournaments. After a break from competitive Smash, ZeRo returned to play Ultimate and as a content creator on Twitch and YouTube. During this time ZeRo signed on with the Tempo Storm eSports team and announced that he had signed an exclusive streaming rights deal with Facebook.
ZeRo’s ban from Twitch comes after similar treatment from Facebook and Tempo Storm. The eSports team severed all ties with ZeRo this past July 4, while Facebook did the same the following day. On July 3, ZeRo announced via Twitter that he would no longer be attending any Smash tournaments and would be dropping all sponsorships he had. Regarding his ban from Twitch, Tempo Storm commented the following:
We wish everyone involved a healthy recovery, and hope we can see any and all competitive esports communities do much better in the future, the awful Smash situation was unprecedented. Thank you for the brave victims who spoke out.
— Tempo (@Tempo_Storm) July 22, 2020
For many in the Smash community, the past month has been something painful but necessary. Many of the players accused of misconduct were well-respected, with massive followings and die-hard fans. ZeRo’s case is a special one, there are few players with a story as inspiring as his. Now, that story has been tainted by ZeRo’s actions. However, it’s right that these players aren’t revered any longer, and it’s right that they have been, in many cases, de-platformed. The Smash community at large now has an opportunity and responsibility to curate a space that is not only inclusive to but also safe for minors. As much as we adults love Smash, the game is made for kids, and they will want to play. In light of recent allegations, we now have to make sure that stories like ZeRo’s never happen again.
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