On 5th December, Panda Global on social media stating that Dr. Alan Bunney is no longer its chief executive officer (CEO) and also informed that the Panda Cup Finale has been postponed. Panda Global stated that it is taking action after hearing the concerns of the Smash community. The organization saw itself caught in the mire after VG Boot Camp (VGBC) announced the cancellation of Smash World Tour 2022 and wrote an open letter to Nintendo.
VGBC alleged that it learned Panda Global’s CEO Dr. Alan Bunney was threatening tournament operators and organizers that they would get shut down if they did not sign on with the Panda Cup. Smash World Tour (SWT) also claimed that Alan continued to tell organizers that SWT would not be coming back in 2022 and that their individual events would also be at risk if they were on the Smash World Tour.
Panda’s statement and the formation of a temporary IMC
Explaining that Alan is no longer its CEO, Panda Global said, “In the interim, Panda employees are working with outside advisors to form a temporary Interim Management Committee (IMC) to act as CEO to navigate this critical time.”
It added that the identities of those in the IMC shall not be made public at this time owing to safety concerns. However, it detailed the priorities of the IMC. They are as follows:
Work with any team member that desires to resign, including release from any contractual obligations
Support those who feel displaced through these events to find a home either with Panda or another organization
Further, Panda called on the community to treat those affected by the turn of events with grace and understanding and also urged people to report attempts of doxing or harassment.
It revealed that the Panda Cup Finale would be postponed due to security concerns of its staff and contractors. “The IMC will work to issue refunds to all those who registered in the coming weeks,” the statement added.
Notably, on 3rd December, Panda Global first addressed the Smash World Tour and Nintendo controversy. It posted a lengthy statement and noted that Alan has been one of the more vocal supporters of the broader community. However, it acknowledged and regretted an interaction between Alan and Beyond the Summit. The organization said “[Alan] spoke in a manner that did not reflect either guidance from Nintendo or our own standards. Panda took efforts to rectify the situation immediately and in the second half of the year a dedicated team made up of multiple staff members was assembled to manage Panda Cup activities and serve as the primary point of contact for event runners, removing the possibility of future miscommunications from occurring.”
Many of Panda Global’s top talent are starting to make their exits including Super Smash Bros. Melee players Cody “iBDW” Schwab. Meanwhile, some of those associated with Panda have discussed the possibility of quitting openly.
iBDW tweeted, “After a week of thought, I’ve come to the not-so-difficult decision to imminently become a free agent. I’m currently the #2 ranked SSBM player worldwide, and looking for a team and home to chase #1 with and especially to grow with through content. RTs appreciated, thank you <3”
Likewise, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate player Chris “WaDi” Boston , “I will be leaving Panda as soon as I can. Too much damage has been done to the community. You know? To me, to my brand, to all that stuff. 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.”
With the Panda Cup postponed, the community will be looking forward to event, which will now be the final big Smash tournament of 2022.