After years of neglect and in some cases outright hostility, Nintendo has finally admitted that it is competitive Smash Bros. Melee exists. On Thursday, Nintendo announced a series of all-new tournaments for the 20-year-old GameCube game. They become part of an official Smash Bros. championship series starting in 2022, which will also feature the latest game in the series on Switch, Smash Bros. Ultimate.
While the events will be licensed and supported by Nintendo, the e-sports organization Panda Global will be the one driving this new North American championship circuit. Players will first compete in online qualifying rounds, followed by personal qualifiers “when major events return.” The winners will then be invited to the grand final later this year.
Details such as planning, rules and prize pools, long a sensitive topic for Nintendo, is still up in the air, and all live events will, of course, have to contend with the ongoing pandemic. Smash Bros. Ultimates online network code is what it is, hopefully Nintendo and Panda Global will be able to figure it out sooner rather than later. Smash Bros. Melee, meanwhile, is not even available on modern platforms, so call your childhood neighbor if you want to train for the event. Maybe a buddy will still have their old GameCube.
Either way, it’s big news in part because of Nintendo’s long history of being super weird when it comes to the big competitive followers of their games. Previous Nintendo-backed tournaments have been few and far between. And when they do, they tend to make use of bizarre set of rules and restrictions that does not fit well with the existing communities.
“For anyone who’s not aware of how big a deal this is: Nintendo, along with finally delivering prize pools, has just acknowledged the existence of competitive Melee for the first time in years and chose to embrace it, “Juan Manuel” Hungrybox “DeBiedma, one of the best Melee players ever, tweeted today. “@PandaGlobal does God’s work. I never imagined the day. “
On some occasions, Nintendo has tried to resist the enthusiastic grassroots competition scenes that have arisen around Smash Bros. series. The company in the first place struggled to keep Smash Bros. Melee out of Evo, the biggest fighting game event of the year, back in 2013. The company has also prevented third-party tournament organizers from streaming the games In the past.
As a result, Nintendo’s newfound embrace of competitors Smash Bros. scene also brings up new concerns about whether it will try to exercise too much control. The company has a story aggressive shutdown of fan-mods, which has been crucial to maintaining the competitiveness of the elderly Smash Bros. game. Recently it has been canceled entire tournaments over the use of modded versions of Smash Bros. Melee and Fight, games that have long since ceased to be for sale.