Nintendo apparently ordered the Smash World Tour tournament series’ organizers to cancel the event just a few days before its finals, igniting a new controversy that has since developed into a backlash against the company.
Fans and players were disappointed to learn today that the Smash World Tour Championships 2022 have been officially canceled. The announcement was made today by the event’s planners, who wrote a lengthy blog post informing fans that the championship tournament, which was scheduled to take place in San Antonio, Texas, has officially been canceled along with all other events scheduled for 2023.
The upcoming Smash World Tour Championships and the entirety of the 2023 Smash World Tour must be cancelled.
— Smash World Tour 2022 (@SmashWorldTour) November 29, 2022
The Smash World Tour team claims that Nintendo handed a notice to VG Boot Camp, the company in charge of organizing the tournament, effectively notifying them they can no longer hold their event. Nintendo ordered the team that they could not organize any event without an official license and that they would not be granted a license for this year’s Smash World Tour Finals and for the duration of 2023. For the people managing the tournament circuit, this came as a complete surprise and contradicted what Nintendo had previously informed them. This has left SWT in a terrible financial situation because so many reservations and arrangements for the events had already been made, which will be disappointing to the team’s management, supporters, and players.
The drama explained
The Smash World Tour made a comeback to the professional scene in March 2022 following a two-year absence. Players were told they could accumulate points from community events by taking part in Platinum, Gold, and Silver tournaments. Those who accumulated the most points would be flown out to the Smash World Tour Championships, which was expected to have a prize pool of over $250,000 USD.
Sadly, things have drastically changed and the event has been canceled. The SWT team has revealed that Nintendo contacted them and told them the event could not proceed as planned. Everything might have changed when Nintendo granted the Panda Cup a license in late 2021, making the competition completely sanctioned and licensed. Conversely, SWT does not have a Nintendo license. Since the Panda Cup arrangement was not exclusive, Nintendo was initially open to the circuit. According to the post published by SWT, Nintendo even initiated discussions about working with SWT to get it officially licensed.
However, things began to unravel as a result of a series of communication hiccups with the developers and claims that Panda Cup was involved in unethical activities. Despite the delay in Nintendo’s notification, the SWT team continued with their preparations for the finals. According to the open letter, the team contacted a Nintendo representative on November 23 who disclosed that the circuit is only anticipated to run with a commercial license, which would not be provided to them for the December 2022 Championship event or any other event scheduled in 2023.
Beyond the Summit support the claims
The initial SWT team announcement made it clear that there might have been illicit activity going on with these circuits as well. The CEO and co-founder of Panda, Dr. Alan Bunney, is allegedly bullying event directors who aren’t part of the Panda Cup tournament circuit into signing contracts with them.
Alan spent several months basically running a protection racket telling TOs 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. https://t.co/8NyqobpHkT
— LD (@LDeeep) November 29, 2022
According to the statement by SWT, this included Panda apparently pressuring established event organizers like Beyond the Summit to grant broadcast rights for their events and even threatening to engage Nintendo if they didn’t. Beyond the Summit denied the offer because it did not want to just transfer the rights for free.
As a result, Bunney issued a series of threats, including talking to Nintendo about shutting off all of Beyond the Summit’s operations in Smash esports for 2023. David “LD” Gorman, a co-founder of Beyond the Summit, has backed VGBC’s statements regarding Panda CEO Alan Bunney’s intimidating recruiting tactics. He claimed that Bunney was essentially running a racket to get tournament organizers to partner with Panda Cup.
Community backlash against Nintendo and Panda Cup
The revelation devastated the Smash community and many popular players expressed their outrage over Nintendo’s treatment of the Smash pro scene. FaZe Clan’s Smash Ultimate player Edgar “Sparg0” Valdez said he will completely boycott the event if the claim are true. Ludwig Anders Ahgren, a Smash commentator and popular content creator, also addressed the topic in detail. Ludwig believes that the discontinuation of the Smash World Tour may be the last blow for the Smash competitive scene.
Idk about y’all but if everything said about panda is true then I’m done w supporting them in any form. Unbelievable how hundreds of people will be affected by this. Most likely skipping Panda Cup
— FaZe Sparg0 (@Sparg0ssb) November 29, 2022
I will never attend a publicly licensed Nintendo or Panda Circuit event ever again. I will continue to support grassroots locals and majors, unaffiliated with Nintendo, that have been the lifeblood of our scene for 20+ years. pic.twitter.com/62cp4HHXiY
— Aiden (@aidencalvin) November 29, 2022
Nintendo responds to the claims
In response to SWT’s blog post, Nintendo said in a statement to Kotaku that it was unable to reach a deal with SWT for a full circuit in 2023. Nintendo further clarified that it did not ask for the 2022 Championship or other 2022 events to be canceled or modified in any way. SWT disputed Nintendo’s claim by asserting that they have a written notice that was sent to them by Nintendo. The SWT team went on to say that they are not clear why Nintendo is taking this stance given that it has already accepted the implications.
Header: Smash World Tour