We are proud to announce our partnership with @NintendoAmerica
In 2022 Panda will bring the first officially licensed circuit for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate and Super Smash Bros. Melee to North America.
More details for this short series of events with cash prizes coming later. pic.twitter.com/9PdW9ntfd6
— Panda (@PandaGlobal) November 18, 2021
Confirmed. Ready your A-game, Super #SmashBros competitors. We’ve partnered with @PandaGlobal to launch the first officially licensed Super Smash Bros. championship circuit in North America, coming 2022! #SmashBrosUltimate #SmashBrosMelee https://t.co/3WKbEYrMH2
— Nintendo of America (@NintendoAmerica) November 18, 2021
The announcement was a very welcome surprise to the competitive Smash community. Nintendo has been infamously averse to acknowledging the competitive community among its games, particularly Super Smash Brothers, on the basis that competitive play goes against the “party” spirit of Nintendo’s multiplayer games. In 2013, Nintendo went so far as to try and block Melee from appearing at EVO, the premier fighting game tournament. In 2020, Nintendo issued a cease-and-desist to the Melee “Big House” tournament due to its use of the Slippi mod, which allowed players to play the Gamecube game online. This led to the #FreeMelee movement within the community.
Until now, the competitive Smash scene, which is relatively massive on a global scale, has relied on fans to organize tournaments. An officially licensed competitive circuit organized by Nintendo – with cash prizes of a yet-to-be-announced amount – is undoubtedly a boon to the scene.
Today is the first day of a beautiful future.
Thank you for acknowledging competitive Melee and for providing support to both scenes.
I’m looking forward to what can be accomplished with both parties working together.
This is gonna be something very special. 🙌
— hungrybox (@LiquidHbox) November 18, 2021
I legitimately never thought I’d see the day Nintendo acknowledged competitive Smash, much less team up with an esports org
This is a very momentous occasion https://t.co/54gBGzG7pY
— PreacherofUrgod (@PreacherofUrgod) November 18, 2021
I joined the Smash community in 2007. 14 years ago we would dream about the day that competitive Smash was supported by Nintendo at a large scale.
For us those dreams didn’t die over the years, they only grew stronger.
And now it’s finally happening.
— Panda | Dr Alan (@DrAlanB) November 18, 2021
There was still some skepticism about Nintendo getting involved in the Smash scene, which had been doing decently on its own. Some players expressed concerns over what Nintendo may or may not allow in an officially licensed competitive circuit.
Leaked ruleset for the Panda Global × Nintendo circuit pic.twitter.com/QAV3fyhEqC
— prismoid (@prismoid_minus) November 18, 2021
Mixed feelings on the Panda Global announcement. Nintendo granting the “license” to run a smash circuit is another step forward for competitive smash to exist outside of “grassroots.”
It’s less exciting with the context of stuff like Big House Online imo
— An Evening With Silk Sonic & Knuckles (@Th3Composer) November 18, 2021
Still, the general reaction to the news has been excitement and positivity. The Smash community will have to wait until 2022 to see if the promise of an officially licensed competitive circuit lives up to the hype.