Nintendo strikes again

Organizers of the Smash World Tour were forced to shut down future events after a legal notice from Nintendo that stemmed from actions by Panda.


Eli Ballesteros

Panda’s plans to get Nintendo to shut down other grassroots tournaments is only speculation, but it has a lot of evidence to back it up. They’ve obviously received a lot of backlash from the community. If this is true I think it’s pretty messed up. The idea of one company trying to take control of everything and restrict everyone else from doing anything is sleazy.

The competitive Super Smash Bros community is riled up with rage and confusion after Nintendo forced the Smash World Tour event organizers to shut down the Dec. 11 event date and the 2023 tour cycle. Although Nintendo was the driving force behind this decision, as they’ve been known to shut down tournaments before, the culprit that brought this to fruition was the esports organization, Panda Global.

The Smash World Tour is a massive esport tournament circuit that was held annually since 2020. It brings in contestants from all over the world and boasts the largest prize pool of all Smash tournaments at $250,000. The esports scene includes players from all over the world playing video games competitively for usually a cash prize.

In early 2022, the Smash World Tour was going great. Over 6,400 events were held all over the world to a live audience with 325,000 in-person entrants. Nintendo even gave them approval to co-exist, although they weren’t officially endorsed or licensed. Plans were made, flights and hotels were booked, and players prepared.

But on Nov. 23, tragedy struck. Smash World Tour’s event organizers got struck with a cease-and-desist from Nintendo, which meant that Nintendo legally enforced an order that required the organizers to cancel the tour. This isn’t all too out of character for Nintendo. They’re notorious for shutting down grassroots tournaments, but this one, in particular, stung more. Competitive Smash players and fans from all over the world felt a piercing pain in their hearts. The internet was filled with mass amounts of outcry from fans. Twitter posts, Reddit threads, and Youtube videos were all made on the subject, and we soon learned that there was a third party involved in this fiasco.

Last year, Nintendo partnered with Panda Global, a professional esports organization, to create the Panda Cup, the world’s first officially licensed Super Smash Bros tournament circuit. This pleasantly surprised competitive fans and hype for it spread quickly. However, the CEO of Panda, Alan Bunney, has been recently accused by the Smash World Tour organizers of going after grassroots tournaments and intentionally trying to get them to shut down. Multiple event organizers were told by Bunney that if they wanted to be in the Panda Cup, they couldn’t be in any other circuit, including the Smash World Tour. Events that were partnered with Beyond the Summit, an esports broadcasting company, were told by Bunney to break their contracts with them so Panda could have control of the broadcasting rights as part of the deal. After event organizers refused, Bunney threatened to shut down Beyond the Summit by getting Nintendo involved if they didn’t give up the broadcasting rights and join Panda Cup.

This begs the question, will Panda and Nintendo continue shutting down grassroots tournaments? It’s a quite real possibility. 

Panda and Nintendo’s actions were pretty messed up. If you were a game company, wouldn’t you want your fans to enjoy your game in whatever way they want? The Super Smash Bros community is super passionate about Nintendo and all their games, it’s so sad to see all the obstacles they have to go through to enjoy their games when enjoying them should be a cakewalk. 

When game companies support competitive tournaments, it really makes the players feel appreciated, which they should because if they didn’t buy and play their games, the game companies would make no profit. Endorsing and sponsoring tournaments makes the players feel a personal connection with the company itself, not just the game. Also, it’s a great way for the company to make money.

I interviewed V Sucevich, sophomore and gamer.

“I think that it’s good for companies to sponsor or endorse the tournaments because that would allow more people to find interest and involve themselves in that community and in that space,” Sucevich said.

Shutting down tournaments isn’t good for anyone. It’s a disappointment to the fans, players, and organizers and a missed opportunity for the game companies.

“I think it’s not a good idea because it could deter players from wanting to participate in that community even further, which could also push players away from the game,” Sucevich said.

Although Nintendo’s decision was not surprising and was possibly influenced by a third party, it was still an awful one.

“I think Nintendo’s decision was not a good one. They have had a lot of issues with their public image and what they allow online, and I feel that their behavior towards that kind of stuff is detrimental to the company,” Sucevich said.

Panda’s plans to get Nintendo to shut down other grassroots tournaments is only speculation, but it has a lot of evidence to back it up. They’ve obviously received a lot of backlash from the community. If this is true I think it’s pretty messed up. The idea of one company trying to take control of everything and restrict everyone else from doing anything is sleazy.   

“I think that’s pretty selfish on Panda’s part. It could be because they know that they’re endorsed by Nintendo, so it allows more leniency with the tournaments and the stuff that they hold. But at the same time, I think trying to monopolize the Smash esports scene isn’t a good idea,” Sucevich explained.

Since Nintendo is on their side, Panda has a lot of power, so shutting down more tournaments should be easy to get away with. 

“If they’re allowed to get away with what they’re doing right now, I feel like they could continue to shut down other tournaments. But if they face more backlash they might understand that what they’re doing is wrong,” Sucevich said.

I think that the combination of Nintendo’s hatred for grassroots tournaments and Panda’s lust for power contributed to the shutdown of the Smash World Tour. I think Panda is more responsible because if they didn’t tell Nintendo to shut down the Smash World Tour, then Nintendo may have never done it.

“I think both of them contributed to this because Panda has a disinterest in allowing other tournaments to happen and Nintendo has a reputation for shutting down tournaments. It’s probably more Nintendo’s fault because they’re against competitive Smash, but Panda was definitely involved in some way,” Sucevich stated.

If I was a competitor, I would be very disappointed and crushed if I received news that the Smash World Tour was canceled, especially if it was because of Nintendo. If I booked a hotel and spent money on plane tickets, it would have all been for nothing. A huge waste of money.

“I’d be very upset. If I spent money on a flight, which was expensive, and was looking forward to being at the tournament and it was canceled, that would be very annoying,” Sucevich said. “And the lack of an actual response from the companies that shut it down would also just make me even angrier.”

If this continues, I believe that the Super Smash Bros esports scene will die, at least the big-budget ones. Local grassroots that are reserved to only being known amongst a small audience in a small town will still exist, but Super Smash Bros’ place in large competitive circuits will be nonexistent.

“I think that if they continue to shut down every local and even non-local tournament, it will continue to push watchers, enjoyers, and actual players of the Smash community away from participating which could slowly cut off the community,” Sucevich stated.

Overall I think this behavior from Nintendo and Panda needs to stop and their handling of this situation has shown to be unprofessional.