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UPDATE 6/12: To the surprise of the Pokemon community, Play! Pokemon has issued an official statement on the concerning antisemitic incident surrounding the champion of the Hartford Regionals.

Pokemon officials concluded that the young champion didn't play an active role and that his friends were completely responsible. It was even stated that other Pokemon players may have presented the video in a way that "intended to inflict damage" upon Stavenow. 

"Currently our findings do not support taking any disciplinary action against the accused player," Play! Pokemon stated. "Should more information come to light, we reserve the right to update our decision accordingly. Following an additional investigation, those who created the content used against the accused player may face long-term disciplinary consequences in the Play! Program."

Response from the Pokemon community has been mixed. Some have called it a "W statement" for not condemning Stavenow while others were frustrated with the lack of details regarding the incident and the vague nature of the statement.

UPDATE 5/23: In a tweet, Rowan Stavenow has responded to the incident in question. In his tweet, he states that he was drunk and had been planning on shaving his head. While getting it done, he told his friends they could do whatever they wanted as long as they clean shaved it afterwards. According to him, he felt disgusted when he saw the picture of what they'd done, and it horrified him that that picture was then posted.

He has issued an apology and condemned the events of the holocaust and what the swastika symbol is tied to. 

Original Story: The Hartford Pokemon Regional ended on a sour note when it was revealed that Masters TCG winner Rowan Stavenow and his friends had shared a highly inappropriate and harmful joke on social media before the event.

In a since-deleted tweet from Stavenow’s friend, the young TCG competitor could be seen getting a swastika shaved into the side of his head. According to his friend, Stavenow had shared the video on social media himself, most likely Snapchat. The intention was for Stavenow to go to the regional with the swastika shaved into his hair.

Winner at Pokemon regional with Swastika in hair

Pokemon TCG Winner before the event

The “joke” was not met with laughter from the Pokemon community. Instead, a wide variety of players came forward to condemn Stavenow and his friends. Some even called on The Pokemon Company to punish him for breaking the Play! Pokemon rules on harassment and bullying.

Others simply seemed stunned about Stavenow’s behavior, tweeting that they were saddened to see this type of behavior in the Pokemon community. It put a damper on the weekend, no matter the intention behind the action.

Said one TCG player: “Also, in case anyone needs this spelled out. Fuck Rowan, fuck the person who was filming, fuck the person shaving Rowan's head, and fuck everyone else in the room at the time.”

Not everyone was offended by Stavenow’s swastika haircut, however. Some Pokemon players vouched for the young competitor, stating that he’s not a neo-Nazi and was possibly just young and drunk.

While it’s possible that Stavenow wasn’t fully aware what harmful symbol was being shaved into his head, he shared it on social media himself after. This left the Pokemon community struggling to give him excuses, explaining that he may not be a neo-Nazi but was still willing to share a video of himself with a swastika to be “cool and funny.”

Stavenow himself has not made any statement as the controversy has continued to grow on Twitter. It’s also unclear if Pokemon itself will do anything. Many in the community have felt that The Pokemon Company has been largely dismissive of past cheating and toxicity. But with so many players feeling unsafe and concerned about the possible hate within the community, it’s possible that Pokemon may finally speak up.

For now, the community is continuing to spread awareness of the situation but it’s unclear if Stavenow will be forgiven.