Pandexodus begins: iBDW, WaDi, and more are leaving Panda after Smash World Tour cancelation

The first wave of exits hit after an unsatisfying response.

Screengrab via Beyond the Summit

The consequences of not keeping players, staff, and creators informed of decision-making and statement crafting are coming back to hit Panda right in the chest as many of the organization’s top talent are already making an exit—or at least discussing the possibility of one, starting with one of its two star Super Smash Bros. Melee players, iBDW. 

Notably, iBDW has been very open about his plans to likely exit Panda barring the team’s statement blowing him away. As shown by the community response to that post and Nintendo’s own follow-up earlier today, it is clear that wasn’t the case and he has officially announced that he is leaving Panda.

“My actual issue with this is even if somehow the entire thing were someone else’s fault, right, it feels like there was no empathy in the statement,” iBDW said. “The tone is just denial and then one apology that sounds so forced. Even if they were clear, it just feels tone deaf.”

With the current number two ranked player in Melee already out the door and receiving total support on the decision from the community, it feels like just a matter of time before the rest of Panda’s long-standing Smash roster begins to depart. 

WaDi is the first Ultimate player to make the decision to leave, announcing that he would be exiting the org as soon as he can. 

“I will be leaving Panda as soon as I can. Just too much damage has been done to the [Smash] community, to me, to my brand, to all that stuff,” WaDi said. “I can’t just stand next to it. I can’t sit here and wait for something. For it to get better when signs just keep pointing downward.”

Coney also hosted a very short stream to discuss his thoughts and keep transparency with the community, noting that he was part of the Panda Cup team internally from very early on with production and content, sharing how much faith he had in how it would turn out with who was working on it. 

Related: Ludwig is back to save Smash from becoming scuffed after Smash World Tour cancelation

With that lens, he can’t speak to Panda CEO Dr. Alan Bunney’s interactions in recruitment for the Panda Cup that have been highlighted as threatening and negative since he was not involved with that side of the circuit. Though he does note that none of the Panda Cup team expected the SWT cancellation, and says he is more disappointed that everything has reached this point and is putting the scene in jeopardy. 

“The goal of all of this was to elevate the scene, to make things bigger. To give people something to believe in,” Coney said. “Regardless of how we got here, how it happened, the ‘Nintendo said this to who,’ or it was misinterpreted—I don’t really give a shit. The point is there’s a smoking crater where the [Smash] community used to be. That’s fucked.”

Coney’s concern lies more with who is being impacted by this the most—the uninvolved people at Panda and VGBootCamp—with jobs being on the line because of this. 

For himself, Coney doesn’t plan to stop creating, but he is contracted to work the Panda Cup Finale and is still with the team. However, he doesn’t “know if there is a world” where he remains with Panda after it ends due to this. 

Commentator and creator turndownforwalt has also already left the organization, with others like TKbreezy and VikkiKitty potentially following soon after. And that is only the front facing content people, speaking nothing to the PGstats team or everyone working behind the scenes at Panda. 

This is also focusing on the Smash and backend of things, too. Panda has players signed in multiple other high-profile titles like Street Fighter and content creators that could very well be impacted. 

Additionally, the Panda Cup has no chance of running as was previously intended prior to the SWT cancelation. Hungrybox, aMSa, Ginger, Wizzrobe, Eddy Mexico, KoDoRiN, MkLeo, Dabuz, and more have already dropped out of the event—leaving the lineup sparse and likely to lose more. 

That is also not taking into account Ludwig’s announcement that he will be running a tournament featuring the top players from the SWT who want to attend that will be held the same day as the Panda Cup Finale’s finals in support of VGBC. Things are not looking good for the future of Panda from any angle.

Update Dec. 3 9:44pm CT: A day later and a good chunk of Panda’s contracted players and staffers have either outright quit or put in their resignation to the organization—citing the team’s recent actions as the reason. 

On the player side, this mostly centered around their last remaining Melee player and top competitor, Plup. 

Meanwhile, the entire Panda commentary team is gone, with Coney, Tkbreezy, and Vikkikitty also announcing their departure. Saint Cola will be joining them on the traditional fighting game side of things too. 

The largest outcry came from the Panda content, production, and PGstats team, with more than a handful of people involved in those areas either turning in their resignation or ending work with the organization outright. This included content director Thomas Tischio, talent manager Jaaahsh, and multiple contributors to Panda and PGstats from animators to editors, writers, and more. 

Along with that, more top players from both Melee and Ultimate have opted out of competing in the Panda Cup Finale. Ultimate saw Sonix, Onin, Light and more drop.  

On the Melee side, with Mang0, Magi, S2J, and more dropping out it has brought the total number of players refusing to attend to 18. That is over half of the total lineup and only includes players who qualified or were invited directly, with more likely to come. 

Panda has made no additional statement about the situation and still plans to hold the Panda Cup Finale from Dec. 16 to 18, but without half of the players who were supposed to fill out its star-studded roster something will have to change before the event.