The Super Smash Bros. fandom has been notoriously at odds with Nintendo due to the company’s refusal to get involved with competitive Melee and Ultimate. But that may be about to change.
A surprising tweet from Panda Global this morning revealed that the esports company had partnered with Nintendo of America to create an officially licensed circuit for Melee and Ultimate in North America. This was later corroborated by Nintendo. The event will begin in 2022 and will have cash prizes.
“This partnership with Panda 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,” Nintendo of America’s senior director of product marketing Bill Trinin said.
The circuit will begin with online qualifying rounds for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate in 2022. Offline qualifiers for Melee and Ultimate will follow once Panda and Nintendo both feel it’s safe to host live events.
Competitors from Canada and Mexico can also enter the tournaments once travel is deemed safe. The winners from these qualifiers will compete in a grand finals event.
The Super Smash Bros. community is curious as to what has made Nintendo change its mind about supporting esports after years of open hostility. Some feel it has something to do with “Smash clones” like Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl gaining momentum and having developer support.
With the Warner Bros. fighting game also officially revealed, it’s possible Nintendo feels threatened by the competition. Either way, pros like Juan “Hungrybox” DeBiedma have called the news “God’s work.”
Nintendo has notoriously derailed a number of Smash Bros. tournaments over the years, most notably moving to shut down a Melee tournament at Evo 2013, though Nintendo eventually backtracked. The company has also announced unpopular, uncompetitive rulesets for former events.
While the announcement has the Smash community largely excited, the players have remained skeptical for now. A lot of fans have already started joking about the tournament having items and four players.
It’s still unknown what the circuit will truly be like but it’s all but confirmed that Project+ and other fan-made versions of Super Smash Bros. titles will not be present.