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After six months of silence since announcing a North American Super Smash Bros. circuit in conjunction with Nintendo, Panda Global confirmed Thursday that the Panda Cup will kick off in July. In addition, Panda announced Nintendo will not be a sponsor, co-sponsor or administrator of the circuit.
The Panda Cup will be the first officially licensed Super Smash Bros. circuit and will feature events for both Melee and Ultimate. It is unclear what the existence of this circuit will mean for unlicensed Smash tournaments. Panda CEO Alan Bunney did not respond to a request for clarification on the nature of Panda’s partnership with Nintendo prior to the publication of this article.
More than $100,000 will be up for grabs at the circuit finale, which will take place in Los Angeles, California, from December 16-18. The prize pool will be split evenly between the Melee and Ultimate brackets. There will be 32 finalists per game.
The first officially licensed North American circuit for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate and Super Smash Bros. Melee is here.
— Panda Cup (@PandaCup) May 26, 2022
Panda Cup details and format
Similar to the Smash World Tour, the Panda Cup will partner with community-run events. A certain number of players will qualify for the finale at each event. The schedule of tournaments is as follows:
- Community Effort Orlando 2022, June 24-26, three qualifying players for Melee and Ultimate
- Get On My Level 2022, July 1-3, two qualifying players for Melee and Ultimate
- Smash Factor 9, July 29-31, two qualifying players for Melee and Ultimate
- Lost Tech City, September 30-October 2, three qualifying players for Melee and Ultimate
- The Big House 10, October 7-9, three qualifying players for Melee and Ultimate
- Let’s Make Moves: Miami, October 28-30, one qualifying player for Ultimate
- Saving Mr. Lombardi 3, November 12-13, one qualifying player for Melee
- DreamHack Atlanta 2022, November 18-20, two qualifying players for Melee and Ultimate
- Last Chance Qualifier, December 15, two qualifying players for Melee and Ultimate
Three of these events — GOML, Smash Factor and Let’s Make Moves: Miami — are also Smash World Tour events, confirming that the two circuits are not mutually exclusive.
In addition, there will be two other ways players can earn a spot at the circuit finale. There will be a series of online qualifiers where eight Ultimate players from eight regions across North America will secure spots at the finale. However, there will not be online qualifiers for Melee.
Finally, there will be an expert community panel that will select top players from each game who did not outright qualify for the finale. This panel will determine six slots for the final Ultimate bracket and 14 slots for the final Melee bracket.
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.