Image via Panda

Panda postpones Panda Cup Finale, ousts CEO as Smash backlash reaches fever pitch

After a week of drama and departures, action has been taken.

Right as Mainstage was nearing its conclusion, Panda released an updated statement confirming Dr. Alan Bunney is no longer chief executive officer of the organization and the Panda Cup Finale has been postponed. 

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According to the statement, this move was made due to the backlash and concerns voiced by the Super Smash Bros. community over the last week following the Smash World Tour’s sudden cancelation.

This also comes after more than a dozen of Panda’s players and staff announced they would be leaving the org over the issues, along with almost every top player dropping out of the PC Finale. 

Now, Panda is working with “outside advisors” to form a temporary Interim Management Committee that will navigate the organization through its most difficult period, starting with communicating with team members who desire to resign and supporting anyone internally who might feel displaced to find a home.

“Panda is committed to demonstrating our dedication to the community, and everyone who shares our passion,” the statement reads.

Related: Ludwig back to ‘save Smash from becoming scuffed’ after SWT cancelation

“Panda is committed to do our part to move the competitive Smash community above and beyond the current situation, starting with an internal restructure and a rededication to our values as members of this community”

As most of the community—those that weren’t busy attending Mainstage—have noted, this feels like what most people wanted out of the initial statement that was mostly deflecting blame and referencing Nintendo’s follow-up to the SWT team. 

Now the main question is, who is running the show?

Bunney might not be CEO of the org anymore but nowhere in the statement does it state he will no longer be involved with the company as its majority owner. In addition, a large chunk of Panda’s players and staff have already turned in their resignations. So unless the IMC is already in contact with some of them, the community is concerned with who the “Panda employees” working on the restructure might be.

The community is also left with no answers surrounding the SWT cancelation, Nintendo’s licensing process for events, and Panda/Bunney’s involvement in threatening other organizers involving Panda Cup.

With the Panda Cup Finale now postponed, Ludwig’s Scuffed World Tour event on Nov. 18 will be the final big Smash tournament of the year. And, depending on how Panda’s restructure goes from here, it is unlikely the org will rebound as players still have no plans to stop boycotting Panda-sanctioned events at this point.

Update Dec. 5, 12:17pm CT: Shortly after Panda’s statement went live, Dr. Alan Bunney released his own short post—confirming he had stepped down as CEO. 

Bunney notes he has stepped down as CEO of Panda to protect the “safety and wellbeing of the team.” He also announced an additional statement including evidence to support two claims is in the works.

For him, those claims are that the SWT team lied in some capacity during its statement and Beyond the Summit’s leadership put the Smash “community in jeopardy.”

Considering every statement from Panda and Nintendo have provided very little context regarding the situation while the SWT team walked everyone through a step-by-step process of how it tried to get officially licensed and was rebuffed, Bunney will need to bring a lot of receipts to disprove some points. 

As for the BTS claim, with how long that team and its staff have been in the Smash community and the allegations against Bunney that involved threatening the BTS team’s tournaments if they didn’t join Panda Cup—something that has been backed up by multiple other TOs—it would be surprising to see anything close to evidence proving that they endangered the community.


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Cale Michael
Lead Staff Writer for Dota 2, the FGC, Pokémon, Yu-Gi-Oh!, and more who has been writing for Dot Esports since 2018. Graduated with a degree in Journalism from Oklahoma Christian University and also previously covered the NBA. You can usually find him writing, reading, or watching an FGC tournament.