In the wake of Nintendo being Nintendo and unceremoniously canceling the Smash World Tour, one of the year’s biggest esports tournaments dedicated to all things Super Smash Bros., copious folks in the game’s community have come out in protest. Casual fans, pro players, long-time commentators, and even other tournament organizers, from AITX eSports to Beyond the Summit, have all publicly denounced not just Nintendo for its asinine decision but also Panda Global for allegedly causing the Smash World Tour to get shut down. Now, it appears many of those people are boycotting all of Nintendo’s officially licensed tournaments as well.
Starting in 2020 and operated by Video Game Boot Camp, the Smash World Tour is a series of unofficial international tournament circuits for the brawler. Despite the pandemic shuttering the Smash World Tour 2020 event, Video Game Boot Camp hosted an online tournament last year and planned for this year’s competition to return to the in-person format that was planned two years ago. Unfortunately, because Nintendo wouldn’t sponsor the Smash World Tour 2022 event, potentially due to the company already partnering with esports organization Panda Global in 2021, Video Game BootCamp announced in a Medium post that “without any warning” this year’s tourney was now dead.
“We don’t know where everything will land quite yet with contracts, sponsor obligations, etcetera—in short, we will be losing hundreds of thousands of dollars due to Nintendo’s actions,” the Smash World Tour’s organizers said in the post. “That being said, we are taking steps to remedy [the] many issues that have arisen from canceling the upcoming Smash World Tour Championships—especially for the players. Please keep an eye out in the coming days for help with travel arrangements. Given the timeline that we were forced into, we had to publish this statement before we could iron out all of the details. All attendees will be issued full refunds.”
Super Smash Bros. fans aren’t happy about what’s going on, with many posting their frustrations on Twitter. Some pointed fingers at Panda Global CEO and co-founder Dr. Alan Bunney for allegedly trying to recruit tournaments to the Panda Cup by threatening to get Nintendo involved to shut the Smash World Tour down and reportedly attempting to create a monopoly by requesting exclusive streaming rights to the Panda Cup. Others fear this may hurt their careers and livelihoods. The main consensus is to never watch, support, or attend a Panda Global event ever again. A lot of people seem to feel this way.
In Twitter messages with Kotaku, Captain Falcon main Jas “Fizzi” Laferriere said he doesn’t purchase Nintendo games anymore out of moral duty ever since the company brought down another Smash tournament, The Big House Online, back in December 2020. Now, with the news of Nintendo causing the shutdown of another tournament, Laferriere is suggesting that the community boycott.
“I do not intend to attend any Panda Cup events,” Laferriere said. “We have always been a grassroots community first and I think it’s important to stand up for our tournament organizers. I hope we can come back stronger, as we’ve done many times before.”
Falco main Shephard “Fiction” Lima told Kotaku over Twitter he “absolutely hates that Nintendo always cancels things right before they happen.” While he couldn’t attend the Smash World Tour due to scheduling conflicts, Lima expressed frustration over the tourney’s sudden cancelation. He also took issue with Bunney for his alleged involvement in ending the Smash World Tour.
“Not attending an event by that guy ever again. In terms of Nintendo-licensed events, I still have some (unjustified) hope we will eventually work things out with them. No matter how many times they mess us over. It’s really hard to avoid them on the off-chance they’re finally turning things around. Their support would change everything, and Smash would become much more widespread and lucrative. However, as things stand, it looks like [Nintendo and Panda] basically are trying to shut down grassroots events, and I can’t stand for that. So, until grassroots events like Smash World Tour can be allowed to exist alongside licensed events, I will not be coming back to licensed events.”
Even Video Game Boot Camp, after already canceling the Smash World Tour, posted a Google document just quickly touching on the “uncertainty regarding Video Game Boot Camp’s future.” In the short statement, the organizers said that a couple of other upcoming Smash tournaments it’s hosting this year, such as Glitch: Duel of Fates and Double Down 2023, have also been canceled.
“At the moment, our future is uncertain in regards to running major tournaments—but as of right now, based on our recent communications with Nintendo, we would be putting ourselves at further risk if we continued forward with our current plans,” Video Game Boot Camp said in the post. “We are hopeful that this does not mean we will not be running major events in 2023—just that our future is currently uncertain.”
The future of Super Smash Bros.’s competitive fighting game scene is looking quite precarious, with Video Game Boot Camp admitting in the statement that it’s “currently navigating budget cuts, internal communications with our team and partners, commitments/contracts, as well as sponsorship negotiations that will inevitably be affected by all of this.” It’s possible that smaller tournaments will continue without Nintendo’s blessing, but, as has been done time and again, it’s likely only a matter of time until Nintendo comes a-knocking. And that bums me out a lot, as someone who’s a big fan of these tournaments.
Kotaku reached out to Nintendo and Panda Global for comment.
Update 4:05 p.m. ET, November 30: Added a statement from pro Smash player Shephard “Fiction” Lima.