Pokemon TCG Champion sparks backlash after shaving racist symbol into hair

Dylan Horetski
hartford regionals

Hartford Regionals Pokemon TCG Champion Rowan Stavenow sparked backlash after a video went viral, showing him getting a racist symbol shaved into the side of his head following the event.

Competitive Pokemon’s Championship Season is well underway, with Regional and International Championships taking place at least once a month.

From May 20 to May 21, players competed against each other in the Hartford Regional Championships, with Rowan Stavenow bringing home the dub.

However, what happened to Rowan after the event sparked backlash throughout the game’s community.

Pokemon TCG champion sparks backlash with racist symbol

Shortly after the event concluded, a video of Rowan with a racist symbol shaved into the side of his head began making its way around social media after a friend posted it to Snapchat.

It wasn’t received very well by members of the community, who called on The Pokemon Company to punish Stavenow for breaking the Play! Pokemon rules on harassment & bullying.

“Regardless of intent, a resounding statement is made by this symbol. Wearing this symbol is unacceptable in our community,” said YouTuber Celio’s Network.

“I hope you see how this could be hurtful and predatory to community members, and potentially scare people away from the game that we all love. Make better decisions in the future please.”

Hundreds of others shared Celio’s sentiment in the replies to his tweet, with many waiting on Rowan’s response to the backlash.

On May 22, 2023, the day after he brought home the Hartford Regionals Championship trophy, Rowan issued an apology on his Twitter account.

“To all the members of the Pokemon community who have been hurt by the video of me that has been circulating, I am sorry. I understand why you are hurt,” he said.

He also revealed that he didn’t know it was being shaved into his head, and definitely didn’t know someone was posting it online.

“In the video, I was drunk and decided it was time to shave my head. I told my friends they could make me look as stupid as they want before giving me a clean shave,” Rowan explained.

“You can hear me say, ‘I can’t see the side, somebody take a picture.’ I truly did not know that was going to be saved into my head and would never have allowed it if I knew.”

Stavenow made it clear that he was “truly disgusted” with being associated with the symbol, and felt gutted after learning one of his friends posted a video of it online.

The reaction to his apology seems to be pretty split, with many hoping that he cut ties with his friends.

This wasn’t the only bit of controversy over the weekend, as a Pokemon TCG player at the Malmo Regional Championships has been accused of cheating.