After half a year since it was officially announced, esports organisation Panda Global has finally lifted the curtain on the Nintendo approved Smash Bros Ultimate and Melee circuit, the Panda Cup.
What seemed like another doomed project headed to the pantheon of promised events that didn't go through thanks to the Japanese company's intervention (most recently, Nintendo prevented Smash from joining the now-Sony owned Evo tournament), the Panda Circuit will start in June, with multiple events serving as qualifiers for the grand finale later this year.
"Through our partnership with Nintendo America, we are proud to welcome the inaugural Panda Cup," Panda stated on their official Twitter account.
Unlike the Smash World Tour organised by VGBootCamp, the Panda Cup will solely focus on North American competitors and events, with tournaments in Mexico, the United States, and Canada selected as "official stops" that will grant spots for the final event.
Panda Cup - Schedule and format
The first event in the Panda Cup circuit will be Community Effort Orlando, most commonly known as CEO, from there another seven official offline events will take place alongside eight more online regional qualifiers.
A Last Chance Qualifier will also take place before the final tournament in December. Finally, a panel of community experts will determine those players worthy enough to participate in the Panda Circuit based on recent results.
These are the confirmed offline events thus far
- CEO: June 24-26
- Get On My Level: July 1-3
- Smash Factor 9: July 29-31
- Lost Tech City: Sep 30- Oct 2
- The Big House 10: Oct 7-9
- Let's Make Moves Miami: Oct 28-30
- Saving Mr. Lombardi 3: Nov 12-13
- DreamHack Atlanta: Nov 18-20
- Last Chance Qualifier: Dec 15
- Panda Cup Winter Finale: Dec 16-18
The final event will be held in Los Angeles, California. All qualified players (32 for Ultimate and 32 for Melee) will be flown out by Panda to compete for the grand prize.
Panda Cup - Prize pool
The most enticing aspect of the Panda Cup is the prize pool, which is set at $100k, split evenly between Smash Ultimate and Melee.
- Ninja admits Nintendo halted plans to add $500k pot to Smash at Evo
- MkLeo becomes four-time Smash Genesis champion, beats Glutonny in Grand Finals
- Mang0 to take break from competitive Melee, cites demotivation
- iBDW wins Summit 13, dedicates victory to father's cancer battle
Further information regarding the prize pool breakdown will be shared at a later date.
What remains a mystery is Nintendo's involvement in the Panda Cup. A small footnote towards the end of the announcement video ensures fans that the company is "not a sponsor, co-sponsor or administrator of this tournament."
In any case, we're glad the Smash community can finally be acknowledged by Nintendo after years of being trampled by the Japanese company.
For more on all things Smash Melee, check out our dedicated section filled with news, tournament results, and more.
Featured image courtesy of Panda Global.