If there is one thing everyone knows about Nintendo it’s that they aren’t always the friendliest when it comes to esports. Super Smash Bros. has been one of the most popular esports in the world ever since Super Smash Bros. Melee came out on the Nintendo GameCube. These days, people who want to play Smash either still play Melee or Super Smash Bros. Ultimate on Switch. The community is large and very passionate, but it has frequently struggled to get the support of Nintendo. While it has been hosting unofficial tournaments of both games for years, it’s not uncommon for them to be shut down.
Fans of Smash Bros. have always found this frustrating because Nintendo has traditionally not given them support, but that may change in the near future. On Thursday, in a surprising move, Nintendo announced that it has partnered with esports organization Panda Global to host the first official North American Super Smash Bros. tournament. The real shocker? Not only will this circuit support Ultimate, but it will also support Melee.
Confirmed. Ready your A-game, Super #SmashBros competitors. We’ve partnered with @PandaGlobal to launch the first officially licensed Super Smash Bros. championship circuit in North America, coming 2022! #SmashBrosUltimate #SmashBrosMelee https://t.co/3WKbEYrMH2
— Nintendo of America (@NintendoAmerica) November 18, 2021
Does this indicate a possible change in Nintendo’s attitude towards esports? Maybe! It would be fantastic if Nintendo would start allowing some of its more competitive games to host official esports tournaments and receive the support they deserve. Esports is, in many ways, free advertising for the games themselves, so there’s no real downside for allowing these tournaments, sspecially when fans of the game are going to host their own anyway.
All of that said, let’s wait and see how long Nintendo continues supporting tournament circuits like this before we say for sure the company stance has changed. Nintendo has a history of supporting events and communities only to suddenly change course. It wasn’t that long ago that then Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Aimé played Super Smash Bros. Melee champion Hungrybox to reveal Ryu’s arrival to Super Smash Bros. for Wii U. Of course, that moment of public outreach didn’t lead to official support from the company until this circuit.
The mercurial nature of Nintendo is part of what makes it so frustrating sometimes for communities like the Smash Bros. community. They just want to play their game and know Nintendo’s stance on it. Hopefully, this is a sign of positive change within Nintendo.