VGBootCamp has canceled the 2022 Smash World Tour Championships and the entire 2023 Smash World Tour, according to a statement from the circuit organizers. The organizers said they received a notice from Nintendo the day before Thanksgiving informing them they could not operate the Smash World Tour without a license.
“We are truly devastated that this is all being taken away,” the statement said. “Words cannot express how difficult this process has been.”
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
According to the statement, Nintendo contacted the Smash World Tour organizers in November of last year about giving them a license to stream Super Smash Bros tournaments like Panda Global’s newly-announced circuit. However, the licensing process was delayed for so long that VGBootCamp announced the 2022 Championships without first getting approved for a license.
Last week, Nintendo informed the Smash World Tour organizers that it expected them to only operate with a license and that it also would not grant them a license for this year’s Championships or any tournaments in 2023.
As a result, VGBootCamp canceled the Smash World Tour Championships about a week and a half before the event was scheduled to take place. They also canceled events planned for next year, such as Glitch: Duel of Fates and Double Down 2023.
Allegations against Panda CEO
The statement from VGBootCamp claimed that Panda CEO Alan Bunney attempted to recruit tournaments for the Panda Cup by telling organizers that the Smash World Tour would be shut down and tournaments could not be part of both circuits anyway. Bunney also reportedly wanted exclusive streaming rights for Panda Cup events.
VGBootCamp’s statement then asserted that Beyond the Summit was uninterested in adding its tournaments to the Panda Cup due to the streaming rule, along with other tournaments that were streamed by Beyond the Summit. In response, Bunney allegedly threatened to get Nintendo involved, potentially jeopardizing unlicensed tournament broadcasts.
Multiple employees of Beyond the Summit have publicly corroborated the claims from VGBootCamp. Bunney has not yet issued a public statement in response to the allegations. The Smash World Tour organizers said that they brought Bunney’s actions to Nintendo’s attention, to which the company claimed Bunney did not speak for Nintendo.
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
Community reaction to Nintendo canceling the Smash World Tour
The Smash community has responded to Nintendo’s cancellation of the Smash World Tour with overwhelming criticism. Although the last-minute announcement caught many off guard, others have pointed out that Nintendo’s decision is not entirely surprising given the company’s historically embattled relationship with the competitive Smash scene.
In light of the allegations made against Bunney, many other community members have called for a boycott of events run by Panda and licensed by Nintendo. Players like Shephard “Fiction” Lima and Josh “Joshman” Lyras have already announced their intention to drop out of the Panda Cup Finale.
Goes without saying there is absolutely 0 chance I attend Panda Cup after this news
Absolute fucking dog act, beyond disgusting behaviour https://t.co/C94dCi7TDh
— Joshman (@LilTrickshot) November 29, 2022
Dylan Tate is an alumnus of the Hussman School of Journalism and Media at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is a gaming journalist with a love for Nintendo esports, particularly Super Smash Bros. and Pokémon.