The Smash World Tour (SWT), a grassroots Super Smash Bros. circuit organized by VGBootCamp, announced that Nintendo is shutting down its finale less than two weeks before the event. This has major implications for both the grassroots esports scene and its relationship with Nintendo.
Over the last year, Super Smash Bros. community figures have launched two major circuits to help unify the community: the SWT and the Panda Cup. Both of these events were structurally similar. Players could earn points at participating independently run events to earn their way into a year-end finale.
In an open letter, VGBootCamp alleges that problems started when Panda Global attempted to get tournaments to join the Panda Cup exclusively instead of participating in both circuits. In the document, they claim that tournaments were nervous about joining the SWT because Dr. Alan Bunney, CEO of Panda Global, told them that the SWT was “going to get shut down and [was] not coming back in 2022.”
Despite being unlicensed, VGBootCamp also claims they had positive conversations with Nintendo. According to VGBootCamp, Nintendo said that “Panda’s partnership was not exclusive” and that the SWT was in good standing because it “had not infringed on their IP regarding game modifications and had represented Nintendo’s values well.”
VGBootCamp applied for a license from Nintendo for their event in April 2022. The organizer asserted that despite reminding Nintendo for months about the pending license, the developer did not respond until the night before Thanksgiving.