If you’re a fan of Smash, I apologize in advance for ruining your day. And perhaps your 2023 too. The Smash World Tour 2022 and 2023 Tours aren’t happening.
Nintendo is like the Sosuke Aizen of video games. On the surface, you see the Soul Society Arc Aizen, who’s all smiles and cheers. But that’s just a facade that masks the Fake Karakura Arc Aizen, which is the true identity of Nintendo.
Nintendo: The Secret Final Villain of Gaming
No one fits the bill of never meet your heroes more than Nintendo. Over the years, Nintendo has engaged in countless consumer-unfriendly actions. They excessively send cease-and-desist orders towards fan projects that don’t hurt them or their bottom line. At all.
Nintendo has thrown their final boss legal team at hundreds of fan projects. These people have the utmost passion for Nintendo products, and Nintendo thanks them by telling them to stick to their day jobs. Hands off our stuff. I wouldn’t be surprised if Nintendo ended their cease-and-desist orders with omae wa mou shindeiru.
ROMs are a touchy subject in the gaming community, with many opposed to them as a form of piracy. But when it comes to the very valid argument of game preservation, ROMs have a place. With much of Nintendo’s historic backlog 20-30 years old, that presents a problem for Nintendo fans. Unless you understand Japanese (Due to Japanese versions of Nintendo titles being significantly cheaper, generally speaking), you basically need to be rich if you want to take a trip down Nintendo’s history lane.
And yes, while the memes and satirical articles about Nintendo doing things like suing children for dressing up as Mario as indeed satire, it does fit the profile. I can’t think of a company in the gaming industry that seemingly actively hates its own fan base more than Nintendo. But in the immortal words of Michael De Santa, I hear Stockholm Syndrome is nice this time of year.
And by the time of year, I mean for all eternity because Nintendo fans push on despite the harsh treatment.
Competitive Super Smash: A Tale Of Perseverance and Unappreciation
Few Esports communities show more passion and perseverance than the Super Smash Brothers community. Over the past 20 years, with little official support and a generally antagonistic relationship with Nintendo, fans and competitive players on the ground helped competitive Smash spread like wildfire and became one of, if not the best, Esports’ grassroots success stories.
For years, Nintendo has roadblocked the grassroots Smash scene, sweating harder than Kendrick Perkins in the 4th quarter to shut down community events. For what reason, we still don’t know. And despite everything, the Smash community pushed on. But yesterday, the Smash community suffered a major blow.
Smash World Tour Cancelled
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
On November 29, Smash World Tour announced the cancellation of Smash World Tour 2022 and Smash World Tour 2023.
Smash World Tour released an official statement detailing this tragic blow to Smash Esports. Nintendo abruptly denied SWT’s requests for an official license after a yearlong negotiation period. Additionally, Nintendo informed SWT that they must shut down operations immediately.
Confirmed. Ready your A-game, Super #SmashBros competitors. We’ve partnered with @PandaGlobal to launch the first officially licensed Super Smash Bros. championship circuit in North America, coming 2022! #SmashBrosUltimate #SmashBrosMelee https://t.co/3WKbEYrMH2
— Nintendo of America (@NintendoAmerica) November 18, 2021
Despite officially partnering with PandaGlobal for Super Smash events moving forward, Nintendo assured SWT that their partnership with PandaGlobal was not exclusive. After this recent turn of events, the Smash community is pressing x for doubt on that.
In an official statement made to Kotaku, Nintendo claimed, “they did not request any changes to or cancelation of remaining events in 2022“.This public statement contradicts Nintendo’s actual actions made behind closed doors.
In a follow-up statement, SWT detailed how Nintendo sent them a rejection notice for Smash World Tour 2023 and 2023 in writing. In this statement, Nintendo tells SWT that licenses for future advanced need approval well in advance. With that being impossible, SWT has no choice but to cancel SWT 2023.
But it gets worse.
The following is an excerpt from SWT’s follow-up statement on the situation:
“After further review, we’ve found that the Smash World Tour has not met these expectations around health & safety guidelines and has not adhered to our internal partner guidelines. Nintendo will not be able to grant a license for the Smash World Tour Championship 2022 or any Smash World Tour activity in 2023.“
In the next paragraph, SWT points out that they didn’t even apply for a license for SWT 2023 yet. Why did Nintendo reject them in advance? SWT attempted to clear up that confusion in a call with Nintendo, where Nintendo informed them that operating without a license is a thing of the past.
And just like that, Nintendo has successfully demonized itself. But in this instance, they seemingly had a partner-in-crime: Panda Global. Like Raiden says in the Deadly Alliance intro, this time, the threat of evil has two faces.
Panda Global: When You Live Long Enough To Become The Villain
Reception towards Nintendo’s partnership announcement with Panda Global was mixed. While (At the time), few people had anything against Pandal Global. Alan Bunney heads up Panda Global and has been a member of the Smash community since 2007. Securing this partnership should’ve been a huge victory for the Smash community as much as his own.
But, with what we know now, it looks like Dr. Alan may have forgotten where he came from.
According to information in both of SWT’s statements, Panda Global has apparently been busy engaging in some rather contemptible behavior since partnering with Nintendo. SWT had significant trouble convincing organizers to come on board for Smash World Tour 2022. What were their reasons for concern? Panda Global, and Dr. Alan specifically, telling organizers that Smash World Tour would be shut down and wouldn’t be coming back in 2022.
Some might say that this is a situation of SWT’s word against Panda Global’s. But it’s not. It’s the word of many organizers against Panda Global. And that makes it hard to believe Panda Global wasn’t playing dirty.
But it gets worse.
Smash World Tour attempted to discuss this concern with Nintendo discreetly. Nintendo assured SWT that Panda Global’s actions do not represent Nintendo and that Nintendo was not seeking to gatekeep Smash events.
But even after this conversation, Panda Global allegedly continued these dirty tactics. Not only did organizers inform SWT of Panda Global, telling them that SWT was no longer happening, but that by association, their own individual events may be at risk.
Around the time of the Panda Cup’s official announcement, Panda Global went about recruiting events for the official circuit. Despite Nintendo’s assurances that their partnership with Panda Global wasn’t exclusive, Panda Global told potential events that they couldn’t be on the Panda Cup and the Smash World Tour. Contradictions after contradictions.
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
Panda Global even had a run-in with BTS. Not the boyband, but Beyond the Summit, the Esports broadcasting network. Panda Global was hard at work attempting to secure broadcasting rights for the events that joined the Panda Cup. After most events declined, Panda Global attempted to make something happen with Beyond the Summit.
And after Beyond the Summit declined, Panda Global, according to Smash World Tour, threatened to shut down BTS’s Smash 2023 operation if they didn’t play ball. Beyond the Summit still did not budge, but if this is true, then Panda Global will officially become the first panda to ever be hated by the Internet.
Smash World Tour Isn’t The Only Victim
The cancellation of Smash World Tour 2022 and 2033 will cost organizers thousands upon thousands of dollars. For Smash World Tour, that’s on top of the significant financial losses from the first 18 months of operation. Smash World Tour will provide full refunds, but fans and competitors will have to eat travel plan costs. I somehow doubt Nintendo will open up its checkbook to cover these losses.
Uncertainty Regarding VGBootCamp’s Future:
— VGBC (@VGBootCamp) November 29, 2022
VGBootCamp is another victim of the latest turn of events. Shortly after Smash World Tour’s cancellation announcement, VGBC announced they were canceling two upcoming major events: Glitch: Duel of Fates and Double Down 2023. While VGBC didn’t outright state that all future Smash events were dead, they are very uncertain about their future.
Brace Yourselves: The Backlash Is Coming
Winter isn’t the only thing coming this December. Unsurprisingly, Nintendo and Panda Global are facing massive community backlash.
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
Unsurprisingly, Nintendo and Panda Global are facing massive community backlash. Veteran Melee player Aiden Calvin tweeted that he will never attend a Nintendo/Panda Global licensed Smash event ever again. Various online figures like Bobby Scar and Team Liquid’s Hungrybox are all but daring Nintendo to try to stop them all.
MoistCr1TiKaL, the founder of Moist Esports, immediately released a video sharing his thoughts on the recent turn of events. Having started Moist Esports in Super Smash and currently operating Moist Esports at a loss, Charlie provides an insightful opinion on the topic from someone who is clearly in it for the love of Smash.
Anybody registered for SWT and hasn’t yet registered for Mainstage will be eligible for free venue this weekend!
Fill out this form by the deadline if you want to play bracket or present your receipt in-person if you just wanna spectate!
— Beyond the Smash (@BTSsmash) November 30, 2022
Beyond the Smash stepped up in a major way, reopening registration for Mainstage 2022. Those who were already registered for SWT were made eligible for free venue this upcoming weekend. And that’s what the Smash community is all about and what Nintendo and Dr. Alan seemingly fail to understand.
What Will The Future of Smash Look Like?
This may very well be the straw that breaks the back of the Smash community. After decades of unfair treatment by Nintendo, only for a former Smash community member to join in on the “fun”, everyone has a breaking point. And I wouldn’t be surprised if this were the Smash community’s breaking point.
It’s hard to know where Smash will go from here on a global scale. At the local level, there’s little Nintendo can realistically do, provided grassroots tournaments avoid the broadcasting trap. But Dr. Alan has essentially doomed the Panda Cup before it got off this ground with these closed-door antics befitting an organized crime group. And with Nintendo themselves stating that major unlicensed Smash events are a thing of the past, the international Smash scene is in for a rough time. Just when Smash was on a high point after the Ludwig Invitational.
But let us all remember that at the end of the day, it was people on the ground that started the competitive Smash scene, and that won’t change. Perhaps Smash fans around the world will no longer be able to connect as much as they could in the past. And that hurts. But unless Nintendo sneaks into everyone’s houses in the middle of the night like the Grinch and takes every existing copy of Smash, competitive Smash is here to stay. Just in a smaller capacity.
All we can hope for is for Nintendo’s heart to grow several sizes someday. I won’t hold my breath.
One Final Note: With the exception of Dr. Alan there’s no names or faces in either Nintendo or Panda Global at the center of this controversy. Just two relatively faceless companies. So, when you’re justifiably upset at these backdoor shenanigans, make sure not to direct your ire at any given Nintendo/Panda Global employee you see. Most likely were just as in the dark about this as we were.