Southern California Melee Tournament Organizers Step Down After Controversy Sparked By Transphobic Comments

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A few days ago, the Super Smash Bros. Melee community was dealt its second controversy in as many weeks, thanks to a salvo of transphobic comments made by the tournament organizer of a prominent weekly event.

On July 18, Alex Wallace, a prominent tournament organizer and co-founder of streaming/tournament organizing group The Balcony, posted the screenshot below in the SoCal Melee Community Facebook page.

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Wallace was taken aback at the apparent transphobia displayed by Kenny Harisis, who was one of the organizers running a large SoCal weekly, known as Training Mode Tuesdays at the time. To ensure that she didn’t misinterpret his intentions, Wallace contacted Harisis, but he simply doubled down on his statement, prompting her to post his message in the SoCal group and demand a boycott of the weekly until Harisis stepped down from his leadership position.

The controversy expanded when the tournament’s head organizer, Cary “Vro” Zhang, seemingly ignored his colleague’s actions, allowing him to continue to run the Training Mode Tuesday event in the week following the revelation of his transphobic comments. As a result, he was lambasted by his local community, prompting him to tweet out a public apology and temporarily step down from his leadership position after forcing Harisis to do the same.

At the moment, the future of Training Mode Tuesdays and its organizers is unclear—but there’s no doubt that this is a victory for those who want to make the Smash community a safer space for women, LGBTQ community members, and other marginalized groups. Thanks to public pressure, one of California’s largest locals is once again open to all.