More than a year after Zack “CaptainZack” Lauth was banned for fixing match results, the Super Smash Bros. community has seen a resurgence of support for the professional Wii U and Ultimate player.
This revitalized conversation prompted a response from the Super Smash Bros. Conduct Panel, a group within the community supported by most of the Major event tournament organizers.
Zack admitted to match-fixing at 2GG: Prime Saga and MomoCon, asking another top player at the time, Elliot “Ally” Carroza-Oyarce, to throw games in the latter portions of the bracket. This all tied into the pair’s history where Ally was dating Zack while Zack was still a minor and under “emotional turmoil.”
As a result, the Conduct Panel handed Ally a lifetime ban from any affiliated tournaments, while Zack was given a five-year ban for his match-fixing at two large events. Although, this entire situation took place after Ally announced his retirement following admittance to dating the then 16-year-old Zack. The Conduct Panel refuses to show evidence of Zack’s ban due to privacy concerns and claims doing so would be “highly unethical.”
The hashtag “UnbanCaptainZack” has been trending on Twitter in the United States for hours, with people within the community demanding that the panel overturn the previous five-year ban Zack was given.
The main reason for the conversation being stoked again is the recent allegations of sexual harassment and abuse being brought up in the esports and gaming scene. While Ally claims he “didn’t do him any [wrong]” while the pair were dating, a five-year ban seems excessive to a lot of people when taking into account all of the external factors playing into those match-fixing situations.
In response, the Conduct Panel issued what amount to a non-statement, claiming that the “case is incredibly complex” and will not actively be working to review the situation.
“We want to get this one right too, and we’re just as passionate about it as you are,” the Conduct Panel said. “We recognize that we can make mistakes and that this decision may be worth revisiting. We invite the involved parties to participate in the appeals process if they believe the ban length to be inappropriate.”
The panel also stated that re-entry interviews or interviews that are used to gauge if a previously banned individual has demonstrated growth while serving a ban can only be taken up after initial bans are served. This means, unless Zack is willing to deal with the Conduct Panel’s somewhat vague appeal system and its requirements, even with the help of the community, he can’t bring this back up to the panel until 2024.
Zack also responded to the outpouring of support from a portion of the community, thanking them for their effort, but he would be respecting the ban if TOs uphold it.
“I’m honestly grateful for what happened,” CaptainZack said. “One year didn’t feel like much time at all and neither would five, I believe. If TOs believe my ban should be shorter than five, so be it. I said it when I was issued the ban and I’ll say it again. I accept my ban fully.”
While the Conduct Panel doesn’t hold any official power, many of the panelists are respected in the community and tournament organizers use it as a way to advise them about certain players who might be dangerous to the community if they are allowed into events.
Because of that, it is unlikely that CaptainZack will be allowed to compete at major tournaments if he is unwilling to appeal his ban. But that doesn’t mean the conversation will end there, as many prominent players also agree that the younger player should be allowed back in.
For a full list of the Smash Community Code of Conduct that the Conduct Panel’ and its supporters put together, you can find it in a public Google Doc that is updated with any changed.