Panda Cup Finale also in peril with many competitors pulling out of event
The competitive Super Smash Bros. community is very different than it was just a week ago, and that now very much includes one of the largest eSports organizations connected to the scene.
Following Panda Global’s first statement made regarding the controversy surrounding the Smash World Tour’s cancellation and behind-the-scenes operations, over 80% Panda’s players and commentators from Smash and the wider fighting game community appear to have resigned from the team so far.
At the time of reporting, top Melee competitors Cody “iBDW” Schwab and Justin “Plup” McGrath as well as Chris “WaDi” Boston, Ryan “Saint Cola” Collins, Zak “Coney” Zeeks, Terrence “TKbreezy” Kershaw, Marine and Victoria “VikkiKitty” Perez have all publicly stated their resignations or intentions to do so.
“I’m quitting Panda,” wrote Plup on Twitter. “I’ve truly enjoyed my time there, and they treated me well. I know that, at a certain point, they had the community’s best interests in mind. I just don’t think I can support them anymore. Now I must sleep for 1,000 years in preparation for da next tournament.”
It’s been about 4 months and I’m happy with the work that was done in that time and the people I’ve worked with and had a chance to learn more about. Not sure what the future holds but I know I’ll always find a way.
— TKbreezy 🎙 (@TKbreezy) December 3, 2022
This exodus from the company has already dropped Panda’s roster of on-screen talent confirmed by more than half with others including Justin Wong, Victor “Punk” Woodley, Keenan “Kizzie Kay” Kizzie, Eduardo “HookGangGod” Deno and Little Z removing mentions of Panda from their Twitter pages — although they’ve yet to make a formal announcement yet.
The monumental response comes in the aftermath of the Smash World Tour announcing the 2022 championships and entire 2023 season would need to be canceled after Nintendo denied their licensing agreement.
Organizers for the SWT accused Panda and its CEO Alan Bunney of improper conduct in their attempts to recruit major tournaments for their own Panda Cup, which is officially licensed by Nintendo.
Panda’s response to the allegations came 3 days later, but did little to quell the backlash from the Smash community and beyond.
I won’t be attending Panda Cup.
Too little, and way too late. https://t.co/902CEl9VQe
— hungrybox 🏆🏆🏆 (@LiquidHbox) December 2, 2022
Many other top playes who aren’t sponsored by Panda have announced their intentions to no longer attend the Panda Cup Finale including Liquid|Hungrybox, CLG|SFAT, Tempo|Axe, LG|Maister, Liquid|Dabuz, BC|Magi, Furia|Fatality, GG|Zain, VGBC|aMSa, C9|Mang0, Fiction, GG|n0ne, Wizzrobe, T1|MkLeo, CG|Medz, Pipsqueak, FLY|KoDoRiN, LUM|Ginger and CG|Eddy Mexico.
The Panda Cup Finale has not been canceled and is still scheduled to take place December 16–18 currently, although you generally need to have players to put on a tournament.
Similarly, this leaves the future of the Panda eSports organization in grave peril as well, considering their talent roster outside of the FGC currently consists of only 1 chess player.
To try and make up for the Smash World Tour 2022 Championships’ cancelation, popular streamer Ludwig has announced his intention to host “The Scuffed World Tour” on December 18 with invitations to the top 8 SWT competitors in Smash Ultimate and Melee with the goal of raising money to help VGBC and players.
These are the 8 I will invite from each game- if anyone is unable to attend we will fly out the next highest point earner
Also happy to provide a $50,000 total prize pool for the event
Hopefully that makes it worth the players time! pic.twitter.com/NF4psOMlMD
— ludwig (@LudwigAhgren) December 2, 2022
Since its inception in 2015, Panda quickly grew to be one of the largest and most successful eSports organizations with a growing roster of players, commentators, content creators, streamers, stat trackers and influencers centered around Smash and the FGC.
As things stand now, however, it will likely be difficult to recover from the staff resigning on mass and the perceived damage / broken trust for their community relations.