The vast and vibrant fighting game community surrounding Super Smash Bros. received some devastating news over the Thanksgiving holiday. On Nov. 29, 2022, tournament organizers revealed that the 2022 Smash World Tour Championships would no longer be held this December. What's more, the 2023 Smash World Tour has been canceled in its entirety.
This announcement comes in spite of the fact that the ongoing 2022 competitive event has been in operation for several months throughout the year.
The team of tournament organizers expressed that they are "truly devastated" at the news, given that they've already hosted several Smash World Tour events over the past year leading up to the championships. In an official statement, they cited the ongoing discourse between publisher Nintendo and esports organization Panda Global as a major indicator of World Tour's downfall.
Why was Smash World Tour canceled for both the remainder of this year and for the next? Let's dive right into the drama.
Why was Smash World Tour canceled?
The championship games for the 2022 Smash World Tour were set to be one of the biggest events in Smash history with a prize pool of over $250,000. Reportedly, the 2023 event would have upped the ante with a $350,000 prize pool. The event already saw considerable success in 2021, with Nintendo even voicing their intentions to officially license the 2022 games.
However, complications emerges after Panda CEO Alan Bunney began warning the Smash World Tour organizers that they would be shut down soon.
According to a tweet by tournament organizer LD, Panda Global began scaring other TOs from continuing operations without an official sanction from Nintendo. All this reportedly occurred while Panda Global was flaunting their own license for their upcoming Panda Cup Super Smash Bros. tournament.
Though Panda Global's behavior was reportedly "under evaluation" by Nintendo, communications between them and Smash World Tour broke down over the past few months, even as World Tour events were still being held.
The Smash World Tour organizers received little response from Nintendo regarding the future of the event until late November 2022, when they pulled the plug on the 2022 championships a month before they were to take place. According to the organizers, Nintendo only spoke in "generalities" regarding why they abruptly canceled Smash World Tour, a stark contrast with the transparency with which they had initially approached them.
The cancellation has drawn the ire of the Smash community at large. While Nintendo has been historically shy about acknowledging the competitive scene for Super Smash Bros. in the past, fans have been hurling backlash at both Nintendo and the team at Panda Global.
Smash fans on Twitter have since theorized that "Panda very clearly did not want this to continue and most likely gave Nintendo an ultimatum" concerning their representation.
As of this writing, many believe that Panda Global is making a concerted effort to be the only officially licensed Smash tournament circuit in operation.