Over the weekend, Nintendo quietly canceled a Splatoon 2 tournament livestream, and participants believe it’s due to the names of some of the participating teams. While Nintendo hasn’t publicly stated their reasoning, the result was a last-minute makeshift replacement tournament for the multiplayer Switch shooter. The fill-in event was a big success.
Word of an issue broke to the public at large on Saturday evening when a gamer who goes by the name Slimy Tweeted that “the Splatoon community, in support of the Smash community, has 30% of the top teams in this weekend’s Spl2 NA Open with Team names in support of Melee and Smash.” They then noted that Nintendo then canceled plans to livestream the event. The tweet went viral.
Was it really the existence of team names such as InC #FreeMelee, Melee Nation, and #FreeMelee 227 that made Nintendo drop the stream? The company isn’t saying and hasn’t responded to Kotaku’s requests for comments.
The tournament site Battlefy was running the NA Open on Nintendo’s behalf, Slimy explained to Kotaku, and most communication from Battlefy and its representatives happened in a publicly accessible Discord Server. The site allowed players to register names on their own to be added to any brackets or lineups, letting players fill the tournament with pro-Melee team names.
On Saturday afternoon a representative who was helping Nintendo run the event through Battlefy posted a short comment on the event’s official Discord, stating: “Due to unexpected executional challenges, we had to forgo a livestream for this tournament’s finale.”
The official reason was vague and could be chalked up to almost anything, but Slimy and others were convinced that the real reason was that Splatoon 2 players and teams had visibly shown support for the Melee community and a recently canceled event called The Big House.
Last month, Nintendo sent a cease and desist to the organizers of The Big House, a popular annual Super Smash Bros. Melee competition. Organizers said that Nintendo objected to the competition’s planned use of Slippi, a fan modification for Melee that allows for better online play. Without the mod, playing Melee—a GameCube game released in 2001—online was a struggle. The fan-created Slippi greatly improved playing Melee online, adding rollback netcode, a must-have for online fighting games. This was important, because, this year, The Big House event was going to be held online and virtually, due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. But Nintendo stepped in, threw a C&D at the event, and it was canceled, angering many players in the process.
Fast forward a few weeks to this past weekend. The Splatoon 2 North American Open finals were supposed to be livestreamed on Dec. 6 featuring the top teams that had qualified. Ahead of that date, many teams registered for the tournament using names that directly referenced the recent Melee shutdown.
All of this news was shared to the community via a tweet from Slimy that went viral, with thousands of retweets and likes. Furthermore, a different Battefly-connected representative in Discord explained that other groups wouldn’t be allowed to stream the finals.
In response to all of this, the community began discussing what could be done to push back.
On Sunday morning, EndGameTV, a fan-run Splatoon and Smash streaming organization not connected to Nintendo, announced that the group, with the help of fans, would hold its own Splatoon 2 finals. The event would be called “The Squid House” a direct reference to The Big House. The Splatoon 2 teams who were supposed to play that day in the official Nintendo event dropped out of the tournament just hours before they were supposed to play, leading to the event not being held. On the Battlefy page for the event, the top four section seems to have been removed.
Screenshots shared with Kotaku, showed the teams dropping out of the event with vague reasons, not unlike the reason Nintendo gave for canceling the stream. “Woah, that’s crazy, one of our players had something come up at the same time so we won’t be able to make it either.”
The Squid House competition, which was organized overnight, was held as planned on December 6, with team FTWaveDash winning the event and the prize pool of $25,000, which had been raised by fans during the tournament. The competition also raised over $3,000 for charity. According to Slimy, The Squid House prize pool was the largest seen in any western-held Splatoon 2 tournament.