In response to recent allegations of domestic violence, South Korean fighting game competitor Seon-woo "Infiltration" Lee has been dropped by Panda Global, the professional esports organisation that signed him in March, and will not participate in official Street Fighter V events for at least a year.
In September, an anonymous Reddit user posted documentation that alleged Infiltration had beaten and choked his ex-wife while they were still married. The user provided case numbers and transcripts of audio recordings taken during the supposed incident. In response, Panda Global pulled Infiltration from competition and launched an internal investigation into these matters, the findings of which were released yesterday.
The provided document includes a timeline of events as well as a point-by-point breakdown of the allegations.
Panda Global stated that it was unable to release official case records due to South Korean regulations prohibiting their dissemination, but claimed to have received copies of the audio recordings and case files in question and to have corroborated their veracity with Infiltration.
According to this document, which details Panda Global's findings, the altercation between Infiltration and his former spouse (referred to as Ms. X) occurred on October 22, 2017 after a discussion regarding ending the relationship. The audio transcripts indicate that both parties threatened to call the authorities and report the other for assault. When police arrived, Infiltration was arrested and Ms. X took out a temporary restraining order against him.
A week later, Ms. X obtained a medical note describing a hospital visit she had undergone the day after the supposed incident. This note stated that Ms. X had received "bruising and an injury to the wrist."
On November 2, 2017, the day before the restraining order ended, Infiltration contacted Ms. X to inform her that he would be returning the next day to the residence they had once shared to collect his belongings with his mother. According to the document, which cites "text message records," Ms. X refused to allow him in the residence unless he agreed to "continue their relationship and move back into the home."
Infiltration was said to arrive on November 4, 2017 and discover that the locks had been changed. He purportedly gained access via locksmith, after both informing Ms. X and getting permission from the local authorities.
On November 9, 2017, Infiltration filed a property claim lawsuit against Ms. X to acquire the $US100,000 ($137,421) down payment he put on the residence, supposedly because he would no longer be living there. On November 13, 2017, Ms. X filed criminal charges against Infiltration for the October altercation. On November 30, 2017, Infiltration was charged with "violence" and ordered to pay ₩700,000 KRW (around $860).
Infiltration won his property dispute on February 19, 2018, but Ms. X appealed the decision. She then sued for "property damage over the broken lock" on their residence, for which Infiltration was ordered to pay another $US300 ($412). Infiltration's property lawsuit was still ongoing as of September 20, 2018.
"Panda Global does not condone violence in any form, however, we had a duty to perform a thorough investigation and not to just move forward on partial, unverified information," Panda Global's official statement reads.
"While the findings of Panda Global's investigation directly contradict the majority of the claims of this anonymous group, there was a discovery made that required action to be taken. As a result of [the violence charge], Panda Global has terminated our contract with Infiltration."
After placing third in Street Fighter IV at Evo 2010, Infiltration had gone on to find great success within the fighting game community. He was Evo's first Street Fighter V champion and also won the tournament's first Japanese event last January.
These accomplishments have provided Infiltration with numerous opportunities for sponsorship with major corporations, including Mad Catz, Razer, Grapht, and Monster Energy, the last of which is still prominently featured on his Twitter page. Kotaku has reached out to Monster about the status of their relationship with Infiltration but has yet to hear back.
Infiltration hasn't competed at a major fighting game event since Evo 2018 in August, but he is currently qualified for Capcom Cup, an end-of-year finale to the Street Fighter V pro tour scheduled to begin on December 12.
Capcom conducted their own investigation into Infiltration's conduct alongside Panda Global, and its statement yesterday echoes many of the same sentiments: "We have ascertained that although some of the current allegations circulating are inaccurate, there is veracity to one indictment resulting from a domestic dispute on October 22, 2017, which involved a physical altercation between 'Infiltration' and his then wife... While this incident did not happen during a Capcom Pro Tour event, we do not condone any acts of violence or harassment."
As a result, the parties involved have come to the agreement that Infiltration will not compete at Capcom Cup, nor will he seek qualification during next year's Capcom Pro Tour, effectively keeping him from any developer-backed tournaments for at least a year. A second offence, Capcom's statement noted, will result in a lifetime ban from all future Capcom Pro Tour event.
"I want to explain that I did not assault my wife and I am innocent, but that I made this decision myself because I could not do any more damage to my team and the fighting game community," Infiltration said via Panda Global. "This is why I decided to withdraw myself for the designated period of the Capcom Pro Tour 2018 and 2019 seasons. After Panda has released this, I will explain everything later."
Kotaku has also contacted Infiltration and will update this story should further details emerge.
Ian Walker loves fighting games and writing about them. You can find him on Twitter at @iantothemax.