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Henrieta Hyrliková | 27. May 2022

First officially licensed NA Super Smash Bros. circuit Panda Cup revealed

North American esports organization Panda Global has revealed Panda Cup, the first officially licensed circuit for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate and Melee in North America supported by Nintendo. The series is set to kick off in late June, with the $100,000 finale taking place from December 16-18 in Los Angeles, California. 

Panda Cup will run various Super Smash Bros. events and online competitions for both Melee and Ultimate in the North American region, with the featured community events taking place in the United States, Mexico and Canada. 

The first event in the series titled Community Effort Orlando (CEO) is set to take place from June 24 – 26 in Daytona, Florida and will offer three direct spots in the circuit finals for both games. 

Panda Cup circuit structure 

From July through October, Panda plans to host a total of 40 online qualifiers for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, as well as eight online regional championships and eight featured community live events for both games taking place in various locations. 

Each of the regional championships and community events will offer direct seeds in the Panda Cup Finale scheduled for December 16-18. The season-concluding event will see 32 finalists for each game fighting for their share of the $100,000 prize pool. 

Furthermore, multiple direct invites will be decided by an expert community panel before the Last Chance Qualifier is held on December 15. 

Panda Cup Schedule

Created with Nintendo

While the NA’s first Smash pro circuit was reportedly created in collaboration with Nintendo of America, Panda Global stated that Nintendo is not a sponsor, co-sponsor or administrator of the competition. With Panda Global being the official tournament operator of Panda Cup, according to the circuit’s official Twitter account, Nintendo’s involvement in the creation of Panda Cup remains unclear. 

The recent reveal of Panda Cup marks the first time the companies shared any details regarding the circuit since the partnership was announced back in November 2021. 

Based on the statement by Bill Trinen, Senior Director of product marketing at Nintendo of America, the partnership with Panda Global marks “the next step in Nintendo’s efforts to create a more consistent, fun and welcoming competitive environment for our players and fans”.

Nintendo and the Super Smash Bros. community haven’t been on the best of terms in the past as the company tried to control the grassroots Smash scene on multiple occasions. That said, having Panda Global operate North America’s first Smash pro circuit could be a sign that Nintendo is ready to collaborate more with the community.

Image credit: Panda Global