‘Can’t catch a break’: Nintendo’s SWT shutdown leaves Hungrybox, iBDW fearing for Smash’s future

Smash will survive, but the future might look much different.

Screengrab via EvenMatchupGaming

With the sudden cancelation of the Smash World Tour and subsequent follow up comments from Nintendo and the team behind the circuit, players, viewers, and everyone in-between has all been left very confused about what is going on.

But two of Smash’s top players have provided their thoughts as Hungrybox and Panda player iBDW discussed just how the SWT situation could impact the scene from now.

According to Hbox, this won’t impact the grassroots nature of Smash since tournaments can still be run. His worry, though, is it will affect larger-scale events like Majors because Nintendo’s decision to not provide a license to the SWT shows the publisher may be more willing than in previous years to step in and remove a tournament’s right to broadcast the event.

This would also potentially impact larger online Smash events or modern tournaments put on by creators like Hungrybox and Ludwig. 

This is made even more troubling by all of the tournament organizers who called out Panda CEO Dr. Alan Bunney for threatening to cancel events that did not sign on with the Panda Cup—which Hbox himself confirmed with multiple TOs, along with the public statements from Golden Guardians and Beyond the Summit. 

Unfortunately, as both Hbox and iBDW point out during their conversation, only Bunney and Nintendo know the real story. And, while the Liquid-sponsored player did have a brief exchange with Bunney sometime before his stream, it was mostly just confirmation that a PR statement of some kind is being worked on. 

Related: Ex-Street Fighter dev Yoshinori Ono bashes Smash World Tour decision

But that PR statement likely won’t be enough to salvage the damage done by the SWT’s cancelation, as iBDW has openly stated he is waiting for Bunney to comment but will likely be leaving the organization—something that many other Panda-sponsored players and creators may follow suit in doing.

And, while he can’t talk specifics, the top player has his sights set on either a top tier org or trying to bring a new face into the Smash scene, as long as they are willing to financially support him being a competitor as he grinds to become number one.

TKbreezy, VikkiKitty, ESAM, Plup, Coney, and even Alpharad—who owns a minority stake in Panda but has been hands-off with the team for years—all voiced their concerns and made it known they are just as in the dark as everyone else while waiting for Panda’s statement. 

And that is just internal. Multiple top players who were going to make an appearance at the Panda Cup Finals later this month have already dropped out and both iBDW and Hbox made it clear there is a good chance none of the top players attend due to the SWT cancelation and the apparent malicious intent shown by the Panda CEO

The two even add to an ongoing joke about attending Panda Cup and deliberately dismantling the broadcast by playing to stall or taking long breaks between sets.

IBDW specifically noted that, if he was forced to go via contract or some other reason without Panda making a statement, he would IRL stream on his phone and let chat vote for his character in each game.

“I think Panda is likely not going to exist in the capacity it is [now],” iBDW said.

“Panda is going to be significantly more affected than Nintendo. Panda is a grassroots organization that tanked their PR and realistically has no chance at making a substantial comeback.” 

Overall, both players agree Melee, and the Smash scene as a whole, will survive this just like other poor situations but could end up in a sort of limbo for 2023 because of how Nintendo and, seemingly, Panda are now approaching things with the near zero percent chance of the SWT returning should the decision be overturned.

It is unclear how events can function if Nintendo does decide that independent Majors with no licenses are in fact a thing of the past.

But whether that results in the Smash community going underground with its streams or focusing on the true grassroots nature of locals and non-broadcasted tournaments, Hbox plans on running things until he is told directly to stop. 

“I’m still going to do it,” Hbox said. “I’m going to run my events until I get a fucking knock banging on my door. Until they physically come and say I can’t do it.”

Hbox teased that his online Coinbase series might try to jump into in-person events in 2023 depending on how things go, and if Panda does end up crumbling, he will talk to org owners to try and find homes for the players and commentators who decide to leave or are let go. But nothing can happen until Panda makes its statement regarding the situation.