Organizers of the Smash World Tour have announced its 2022 championship tournament and its 2023 series of events have been canceled following a notice from Nintendo telling them they could no longer operate their tournament.
“It is with an unbelievably heavy heart that we must announce that both the upcoming Smash World Tour Championships, as well as the 2023 Smash World Tour must be canceled,” organizers wrote in a Medium post.
“Without any warning, we received notice the night before Thanksgiving from Nintendo that we could no longer operate. This was especially shocking given our discourse with Nintendo the past twelve months. Since then, we have been working around the clock to take the proper steps logistically, as well as to prepare this statement with proper legal guidance.”
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
The Smash World Tour boasted over 6,400 live events worldwide according to organizers with an attendance of over 325,000. This year’s championship was also set to have the largest prize pool in competitive Smash Bros. history at $250,000.
Nintendo has a known history of butting heads with third-party Super Smash Bros. events and tournaments. Nintendo shut down a Super Smash Bros. tournament in 2020 for using online mods, and famously, Nintendo tried to shut down Super Smash Bros. Melee from taking place at Evo 2013. This was following a community-driven donation drive where the winner could pick a game to enter in Evo which was Super Smash Bros. After online outcry, the tournament was allowed to proceed.
Last year, Nintendo seemed to be making inroads into the competitive Smash Bros. competitive scene by announcing an officially-licensed tournament with Panda Global called the Panda Cup. However, the organizers of the Smash World Tour allege this very relationship may have impacted the tournament’s closure.
The statement accuses Panda CEO Alan Bunney of sabotaging Smash World Tour’s organization efforts despite an ongoing discussion between Smash World Tour and Nintendo about a potential license for themselves and where the company “made it clear that Panda’s partnership was not exclusive[.]”
“However, we quickly found that many organizers were concerned about joining up [with Smash World Tour] in 2022. They told us that they had been told by Alan, the CEO, and co-founder of Panda, that we were going to get shut down and were not coming back in 2022.”
In a statement to IGN, Nintendo says, “Unfortunately after continuous conversations with Smash World Tour, and after giving the same deep consideration we apply to any potential partner, we were unable to come to an agreement with SWT for a full circuit in 2023. Nintendo did not request any changes to or cancellation of remaining events in 2022, including the 2022 Championship event, considering the negative impact on the players who were already planning to participate.”
The organizers dispute this in their blog saying, “Our Nintendo rep opened by letting us know that they are being asked to deliver the news that going forward, Nintendo expects us to only operate with a commercial license, and that we would not be granted one for the upcoming Championships or any activity in 2023.” The organizers say they received this notice in writing as well.
In an interview with IGN earlier this year about the Panda Cup, the company says the decision to officially license a tournament “was really an important kind of step for us.” However, the company also hinted at the internal decision-making processes which have frustrated the grassroots community for so long.
“We love the grassroots community, we want to see it thrive, we want to see it be strong, but there’s also — we as Nintendo have our own internal challenges,” Nintendo’s Bill Trinnen said at the time.
Regardless, organizers of the Smash World. Tour says they’ll lose “hundreds of thousands of dollars due to Nintendo’s actions,” but is promising full refunds for all attendees.
Matt T.M. Kim is IGN’s News Editor. You can reach him @lawoftd.
Source: IGN Video Games All