Smash World Tour Drama Explained
[3rd December] Update: Panda Global Reacts to Smash World Tour Drama
Panda Global has finally addressed the Smash World Tour and Nintendo controversy. Early on 3rd December, Panda Global posted a long statement on Twitter and talked about the situation. Firstly, the organization recognized the efforts of those working diligently behind the Panda Cup.
It wrote, “We were all as surprised as the public to see the announcement of the Smash World Tour Championship's cancellation as well as the accompanying statement which attacked the hard work and ethics of those behind the Panda Cup. The team was not informed of any intention to cancel the Smash World Tour Championship 2022, nor has the team ever engaged in conversations that sought those ends.”
The organization noted that it was excited to witness a fruitful year of competition come to an end with both December circuit events, and the Smash World Tour's decision to cancel was disappointing.
It further recalled Nintendo’s stand and said that VG Boot Camp was under no obligation to scrap the tournament and added that “any implication that the Panda Cup team had any influence in that regard is false.”
While Panda Global stated that Alan, its CEO, has been one of the more vocal supporters of the broader community and the Smash World Tour organizers in internal conversations, it said that it acknowledges and regrets an interaction between Alan and Beyond the Summit. The organization said “he [Alan] spoke in a manner that did not reflect either guidance from Nintendo or our own standards. Panda took efforts to rectify the situation immediately and in the second half of the year a dedicated team made up of multiple staff members was assembled to manage Panda Cup activities and serve as the primary point of contact for event runners, removing the possibility of future miscommunications from occurring.”
Panda Global concluded its statement by stating that it looks forward to continuing to build a promising future for Smash.
[2nd December] Update: Nintendo Issues Statement After Smash World Tour Cancellation
Days after responding to a detailing the cancellation of the Smash World Tour (SWT), Nintendo has reportedly issued a new . In an article, IGN revealed that Nintendo offered a lengthy statement over its decision to not offer SWT a license to host Smash Bros. tournaments.
In its statement, Nintendo made it clear that the decision was solely based on its assessment of the proposals submitted by the SWT and its evaluation of SWT’s unlicensed activities. “This decision was not influenced by any external parties such as Panda Global. Any partner that we grant a license to has to meet the high standards we require when it comes to the health and safety of our fans,” it noted.
Nintendo added that it let SWT know verbally that it need not cancel the 2022 finals owing to the impact it will have on players. “Thus, the decision to cancel the SWT 2022 was, and still is, their own choice,” it further said.
Nintendo said that it was open to partnering with other organizations and that it will continue to offer licenses for major tournaments outside of the Panda Cup. “Nintendo cares about Super Smash Bros. fans and its community very much, and we hope to continue to hear their passionate feedback,” the statement read.
[The original article continues below]
In March 2022, the Smash World Tour (SWT) announced its return to the competitive scene after a two-year hiatus. It was announced that players could earn points from community events by participating in Platinum, Gold, and Silver tournaments and SWT stated that those with the most points would be flown out for the Smash World Tour Championships that featured more than a $250,000 USD prize pool. Notably, the finals of the Smash World Tour was scheduled to kick off on 9th December in San Antonio, Texas. Unfortunately, things have taken a drastic turn for the worse, with the SWT circuit (run by VG Bootcamp) revealing that Nintendo reached out to them and informed them that the event could not go on as per schedule.
“Without any warning, we received notice the night before Thanksgiving from Nintendo that we could no longer operate,” stated Smash World Tour . It added, “It is with an unbelievably heavy heart that we must announce that both the upcoming Smash World Tour Championships, as well as the 2023 Smash World Tour must be canceled.”
Smash World Tour also expressed its disappointment after its seemingly positive talks with Nintendo, only to be told that it could "no longer operate" future events without an official license. It added that it will lose "hundreds and thousands of dollars due to Nintendo's actions."
Nintendo’s partnership with Panda Global & how Smash World Tour got caught in the crossfire
Smash World Tour stated that it initially thought it would get canceled after Nintendo tied up with Panda Global in 2021 to bring the first officially licensed circuit for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate and Super Smash Bros. Melee to North America.
However, Nintendo had allegedly reassured Smash World Tour that the Panda deal was not exclusive. Following this, SWT stated that its aim was to get its circuit licensed before the announcement of the 2022 Tour. However, in the meantime, SWT started to finalize details of the Tour with various tournament organizers and quickly learned that they were concerned about teaming up in 2022.
SWT wrote, “They told us that they had been told by Alan, the CEO, and co-founder of Panda, that we were going to get shut down and were not coming back in 2022,” adding that it was the opposite of what was promised by Nintendo.
As SWT approached Nintendo directly with the issue, it felt relieved since Nintendo was sympathetic to the situation and offered reassurance on multiple counts. Smash World Tour was reportedly shocked to find out that Panda’s CEO continued to tell organizers it would not be coming back in 2022 and also told them that their individual events would also be at risk if they were on the Smash World Tour.
SWT revealed that Nintendo’s response to its license application came slowly and it eventually announced the tour, without any confirmation. “We discussed other approaches and ideas, and eventually Nintendo recommended at this stage to apply for a single event license for our December championships, which would also help get the ball rolling to start working on 2023, with a much longer lead time,” it said.
Following this, VG Bootcamp claimed that Panda pushed for broadcast rights from existing organizers like Beyond The Summit (BTS) for their events, threatening BTS with the possibility of shutting down its Smash operations, with the help of Nintendo.
The SWT team then moved forward with the plans for the finals despite delayed communication from the side of Nintendo. The open letter stated that on 23rd November, the team spoke to a Nintendo representative who revealed that the circuit is expected to only “operate with a commercial license” and that said license would not be granted for the 2022 Championship event in December or any activities in 2023. Notably, the VG Boot Camp was not given any specifics about the decision.
Smash World Tour asked if it could continue running the Championships and the Tour next year without a license and shift its focus to 2024. “We were told directly that those times were now over. This was the final nail in the coffin given our very particular relationship with Nintendo,” the letter noted.
Nintendo responds to Kotaku
Nintendo responded to SWT’s open letter in a statement to . Nintendo noted that it was unable to come to an agreement with SWT for a full circuit in 2023 and revealed that it did not request any changes to the events or order the cancellation of remaining events in 2022, including the 2022 Championship event.
In response to this, SWT and noted that it was unsure why Nintendo was taking this angle given that it acknowledged the repercussions previously.
Community reacts to the SWT statement
Content creator and Smash commentator Ludwig Anders Ahgren opined that the cancellation of the Smash World Tour could be the final nail in the coffin for the competitive scene of Smash. Ludwig said, “Panda is run by Dr. Allen. This is going to be important because he’s done some things that I find to be a bit nefarious.” He then explained how the Panda Cup was not canceled since it was officially licensed.
David "LD" Gorman, co-founder of Beyond The Summit (BTS) alleged that Alan was running a protection racket. “Alan spent several months basically running a protection racket telling TOs [tournament organizers] including BTS "it'd be a shame if your event got shutdown for being unlicensed" in an effort to scare them into signing onto the Cup. BTS will absolutely never participate in a circuit led by Alan,” .
Sharing the same sentiment, FaZe Clan’s Smash Ultimate player Edgar “Sparg0” Valdez stated that if everything said about Panda is true, he’s done supporting them. He , “Unbelievable how hundreds of people will be affected by this. Most likely skipping Panda Cup.”
Actor Asa Butterfield also noted that he was sad to learn about the Smash World Tour. He , “This is unbelievably sad. Really hope @NintendoAmerica change their stance on this, I was soooo excited to see international talent competing together.”
The players in the Smash community have been gutted by the news and shared their frustrations about Nintendo’s treatment of the Smash pro scene.