The organizers of the Smash World Tour have today announced that they are being shut down after Nintendo told them “without any warning” that they “could no longer operate”.
The roundthat is run by a third party (since Nintendo has traditionally been so bad at this), had evolved over the years into a third party of the biggest in the esports and fighting game scene. As the SWT team says:
In 2022 alone, we’ve connected more than 6,400 live events worldwide, with over 325,000 in-person participants, making the Smash World Tour (SWT, or the Tour) the largest esports tour in history for any game title. The championships would also have featured the largest prize pool in Smash history at over $250,000. The 2023 Smash World Tour is said to have a prize pool of over $350,000.
That’s all toast though, as the organizers now say “Without any warning, we received word from Nintendo the night before Thanksgiving that we could no longer operate”. While Nintendo has yet to comment – we’ve reached out to the company –Nintendo recently teamed up with Panda to run a line of competitive, officially licensed games crush events.
While this will be a disappointment to SWT organisers, fans and players, it also left the team in a huge financial hole as so many bookings and plans had already been made for the events. As they say in the cancellation announcement:
We don’t yet know where everything will end up with contracts, sponsorship obligations, etc. In short, we will lose hundreds of thousands of dollars because of Nintendo’s actions. That said, we are taking steps to resolve many issues that have arisen from the cancellation of the upcoming Smash World Tour Championships, especially for the players. Keep an eye out for help with travel arrangements in the coming days. Given the timeline we were forced to, we had to publish this statement before we could iron out all the details. All participants will receive a full refund.
The move blindsided the SWT team who, after years of friction, thought they were starting to make some progress with Nintendo:
In November 2021, after the Panda Cup was first announced, Nintendo reached out to us to call a few people on their team, including a representative from their legal team. We really thought we might be shut down given that they now had a licensed competitive track and partner in Panda.
Once we joined the call, we were very surprised to hear the exact opposite.
Nintendo contacted us to let us know they had seen us build over the years and wanted to see if we were interested in working of them and pursuing a license as well. They made it clear that Panda’s collaboration was not exclusive, saying it “hadn’t gone unnoticed” that we hadn’t infringed on their IP regarding game modifications and that we represented Nintendo’s values well. They made it clear that game modifications were their primary concern with regard to “preventing events”, which also made sense to us given its enforcement over the years in that regard.
That long conversation changed our perspective on Nintendo on a macro level; it was incredibly refreshing to talk to several senior team members and clear the air of a lot of miscommunication and doubts in the years before. We explained why so many in the community were hesitant to reach out to Nintendo to collaborate, and we truly believed that Nintendo was taking a close look at their relationship with the community and ways to get involved in a positive way.
Do not think so! Besides the fact that Nintendo now stipulates that tournaments can only be held with an official license, something SWT had failed to sign up – the team also claimed Panda was going around trying to undermine them with individual event organizers (the World Tour would have been an umbrella to tie these together), all while Nintendo kept saying nice things to their faces, Panda had told these grass roost organizers that the Smash World Tour would be permanently discontinued, making them reluctant to get on board.
You can read the full announcement herewhich goes into much more detail and concludes with a call “that Nintendo rethink how it currently operates with their relationship with the Smash community and its partners”.