The Super Smash Bros. community was stunned earlier this morning when Panda Global announced the first official Nintendo-licensed Super Smash Bros. Melee and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate circuit.
According to Panda's tweet, the short series of events will begin in 2022 and feature cash prizes. Not a lot of other information was revealed about the partnership or tournaments but even these few sentences was enough to rile up the Super Smash Bros. community.
Is Nintendo finally supporting Super Smash Bros. esports?
The competitive Smash scene was immediately blown away by the announcement. Melee God Juan "Hungrybox" DeBiedma pointed out that this is the first time in history that Nintendo has acknowledged competitive Melee.
"Panda is doing God's work. Never imagined the day," Hungrybox tweeted.
Others in the community called it "game changing" while others speculated that Smash might become a "tier one esport." William "Leffen" Hjelte just said: "WHAT."
The news is clearly not what anyone expected, but so far the reactions have been largely positive. The Super Smash Bros. community, especially Melee, has been at odds with Nintendo for years. The company didn't seem willing to get involved with the competitive side of the fighting game series at all, never supporting tournaments or online play — until now.
So far it seems quite promising for the community. The tournament will begin with online qualifying rounds in Ultimate for players based in the United States.
Offline qualifiers will then be hosted for Melee and Ultimate once Panda and Nintendo feel in-person events are safe. Winners from the qualifiers will compete in a grand finals event. Players from Canada and Mexico will also be allowed to enter once international travel is considered safe.
Said Nintendo of America's Senior Director of Product Marketing Bill Trinin: “This partnership with Panda Global is the next step in Nintendo’s efforts to create a more consistent, fun, and welcoming competitive environment for our players and fans. We are proud to stand with an organization like Panda Global to celebrate and support the ever-growing competitive Super Smash Bros. community, and create a space where all players can test and hone their competitive skills.”
Before this announcement, the competitive Smash community was grass-roots, with each tournament organizer working on their own to put together events. The Smash World Tour attempted to connect these majors, making them part of a circuit with a grand final event in Orlando.
Most of the prize money was also crowdfunded, with pros often discussing how hard it was to make a career out of Smash without Nintendo's support.
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