Panda Global is hosting a Super Smash Bros. circuit with Nintendo
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Panda Global, a major Super Smash Bros. focused organization, is working with Nintendo to host a series of events in 2022. This will be the first-ever officially licensed championship circuit in North America for both Super Smash Bros. Ultimate and Melee.

Few details about the series are public, but Panda Global did specify that it would be a “short series of events” with cash prizes. More details will be announced in the future. The circuit will include online qualifying rounds and in-person qualifiers (pending COVID-19 restrictions). Players from Mexico and Canada, as well as other players who travel to the US for the circuit, will be able to compete.

Super Smash Bros. is getting a circuit in North America

“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,” said Bill Trinen, senior director of product marketing at Nintendo of America. “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.”

Nintendo has hosted circuits for Super Smash Bros. in Japan in the past but has never brought an official series of events to the U.S. The company has hosted tournaments alongside events like E3, as well. Nintendo has sponsored other tournaments in North America, but the company usually only brings demos of upcoming games and doesn’t contribute prize money.

Community members from across the Super Smash Bros. scene are sounding off in excitement, although some are hesitant to celebrate until more details are public. Nintendo and the Super Smash Bros. community haven’t seen eye to eye in the past, especially when the Japanese company issued a cease and desist order to the organizers of The Big House for using an online network mod. That was only one of several instances where Nintendo has tried to control the grass roots community.

Nintendo has also pushed organizers to stop supporting fan-made mods of Super Smash Bros. games like Project +. Additionally, when Nintendo did host their Japanese circuit, they included items and other settings that competitors consider unfair. Panda Global CEO, Dr. Alan Bunney, has been vocal about this in the past, saying that a Nintendo-sponsored tournament may not include what professional players want.

His organization’s inclusion in this official circuit could be a good sign that Nintendo is open to hearing feedback from pro players. Panda Global’s Super Smash Bros. roster currently includes top players like Eric “ESAM” Lew and Justin “Plup” McGrath.

“One of our key missions at Panda Global is to serve our communities in new and exciting ways,” Bunney said. “By partnering with Nintendo, we are giving our competitors in North America the chance to compete in an officially licensed Super Smash Bros. circuit for the first time.”

There have been a number Super Smash Bros. circuits in the past, including one organized by Major League Gaming in the early 2000s. The Smash World Tour, which has hosted tournaments and qualifiers for players all over the world in 2021, is currently ongoing. You can see players like Leonardo “MkLeo” López Pérez compete in the championship when it kicks off on Dec. 17.

Aron Garst looks at esports from a different point of view by tackling the ways games are molded and broken by players around the world. He covers Call of Duty, Fortnite, Super Smash Bros, and everything else for Upcomer. You can read his previous work at WIRED, Rolling Stone, ESPN and elsewhere. Rise up red sea.
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