Panda Global has not made a good name for itself after the esports organization was embroiled in a scandal that led to the demise of the Smash World Tour. This in turn left the community very angry and disappointed.
While many people have been quick to distance themselves from Panda Global, some remained with the organization, including 30-year-old American Eric “ESAM” Lew. But it seems the player is no longer with the organization either. After more than seven years of working together, ESAM has announced that he has left Panda Global on Sunday, January 15th.
ESAM is now a free agent. To the surprise of the community, he stated in his announcement that it “was not his decision”. He also said he would make a statement on what happened at a later date.
Today is the end of my 7.5 years at @PandaGlobal. This was not my decision, but I am now a free agent looking for new esports and content teams.
I’ll give an explanation what’s happening later because right now I’m focusing on Genesis.
— ESAM (@imESAM) January 15, 2023
Panda Global and the Smash scandal aftermath
Panda Global got into a scandal late last year when the org announced it was teaming up with Nintendo to host an official Smash event. However, the event never came through and the Smash World Tour was canceled again due to a lack of license. Consequently, the CEO of Panda Global Alan Bunney was blamed for the situation.
While the Smash community was condemning Panda Global and its CEO for the alleged sabotage of the Smash World Tour as well as his alleged shady and aggressive behavior towards the promoters, Panda Global mostly kept a low profile and remained silent on the situation. At the beginning of December, Panda announced that the CEO had stepped down from his position, but by then it felt too late and the community was still disappointed.
More drama followed when Bunney issued a statement of his own, taking no responsibility for the situation and then blaming the Smash World Tour for its own collapse.
ESAM is one of the last to leave the organization
After the scandal and massive backlash, Panda Global had no choice but to postpone the Panda Cup finals indefinitely as most of the community and players had started officially boycotting Panda. Panda’s own players resigned and the esports community had largely turned its back on the organization. Eventually, Panda was down to two players, but with ESAM leaving, there’s only Tyler “Marss” Martin left.
ESAM has been part of Panda since the beginning. With his departure, Panda Global could now be struggling to survive and many fans are wondering if the org will soon have to shut down its operations altogether. After all, Smash has always been Panda Global’s priority. It is also unclear how the player will continue.