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Thursday, May 26, 2022

Panda Cup FINALLY revealed! First officially licensed Super Smash Bros. North America circuit

By LUDWIG VON KOOPA - You've been waiting, so here it is.

If you are interested in competitive Super Smash Bros. and look at the news (or KoopaTV), then perhaps you remember eSports organisation Panda announcing that they would launch a North American circuit for Super Smash Bros. Melee and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate—but not just any circuit: this would be the first ever officially licensed circuit by Nintendo of America! And then we heard nothing. Even April 2022 passed with the official Nintendo-sponsored and competitive NintendoVS North American Open April 2022 for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate (not featuring Panda in any way).

Of course, the fact I'm writing about this again now means that it's finally time to reveal the Panda Cup. Website with more details here, but you can also watch a produced trailer:

There will be a series of already-scheduled events ran by other tournament organisers in the community that count as qualifying tournaments for the games, as well as a series of Panda Cup Online Qualifiers from July to October for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. The online part is to be inclusive, especially considering the regional biases that go into the physical tournament events. ...Sucks for Super Smash Bros. Melee that doesn't have official online capabilities.

The actual Panda Cup Finale is from December 16 to December 18 in Los Angeles, California... with a $100,000 prize pool. That's certainly a lot of money. However, it's important to note the disclaimer: Nintendo of America is not a sponsor, co-sponsor, or administrator of this tournament. This is different than the tournaments that they hold on Battlefy for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate and other games (see above NintendoVS North American Online Open, as well as last weekend's Splatoon 2 Turf War May 2022), where they explicitly are the tournament sponsor and fund the prizes. So as far as I can tell, Panda is footing the prize pool.

There are several unannounced details (like anything about those online events... besides that there will be 40 of them), but they did publish the rulesets for Super Smash Bros. Melee and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. I don't think I need to say this, but I've seen people ask this: These are competitive rulesets. There aren't items. There are competitive stages. Nintendo licensing the event hasn't impacted the rulesets at all and they are what you'd expect. Wobbling is banned in Super Smash Bros. Melee. Lylat Cruise is smartly allowed as a Counterpick in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.

It's not clear what the full extent of Nintendo's involvement is (besides retweeting that the Panda Cup exists) or it's just going as far as giving it a legal blessing and letting the community handle the rest. I'm sure SOME people in said community will find reasons to complain about this, but I think it's exactly what people have been dreaming of for many years. Panda insists Nintendo is an actual partner in this.

Well? Are you excited over this? Or are you still holding out for some extra information? The first event will be at CEO in Florida on June 24 if you feel like travelling there, for both games. ...You sadly won't see Ludwig there.

Here are the full details and the schedule for the forty online qualifier events across eight regions.


  1. Wow! I have never played Smash Bros myself but I have definitely heard of it before! I did not know they would even do something like this! And the fact that Nintendo **licensed** it? Wow! Just wow!

    1. As opposed to, say, CAPCOM sponsoring their fighting game tournaments like the CAPCOM Pro Tour where CAPCOM USA has a much more prevalent role.

  2. I only care about two people when it comes to competitive Smash: Hungrybox, because he lives in my state and I took a summer college course with him once without realizing it was him, and DDee because he's young and cool. I hope they both participate.

    1. Hungrybox is definitely going to participate.

      I can't root for Steve players. >:(

    2. He's been leaning back towards Pokemon Trainer lately, I think.

      That doesn't change that I think good Steve players are HILARIOUS to watch.

    3. Well, I can root for Pokémon Trainer.

      Steve vs. Steve matches are funny, I admit.


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