Panda Global CEO Removed Amid Smash Bros Controversy

Panda Global CEO Alan Bunney has been removed from his position amid a firestorm of controversy surrounding Super Smash Bros esports tournaments.

Published: December 5, 2022 9:54 AM /


The Panda Global logo on top of a fight in Super Smash Bros Ultimate

Panda Global CEO Alan Bunney has been removed amid an ongoing controversy surrounding Super Smash Bros esports tournaments, with particular reference to Smash World Tour and the Panda Cup. Panda says it has "heard the concerns of the Smash community", but Bunney has a slightly different take.

The announcement of Bunney's removal follows last week's news that esports event Smash World Tour had been canceled by Nintendo "without any warning". In the post announcing that cancelation, the Smash World Tour organizers made a number of allegations against Bunney, including efforts he had apparently made to dissuade organizers from joining Smash World Tour.

Earlier today, Panda Global announced Bunney's departure via Twitter. Panda says Bunney is no longer CEO of the company "effective immediately" and that an anonymous and temporary interim management committee will be assembled imminently. In addition, the Panda Cup Finale has been postponed indefinitely, and refunds will apparently be issued to those who registered.

A chaotic fight scene in Super Smash Bros Ultimate
The Super Smash Bros esports scene is quickly growing to resemble one of the game's characteristically chaotic battles.

According to Bunney himself, he stepped down as Panda's CEO to "protect the safety and wellbeing of the team". He says he'll make a "statement (with evidence)" shortly, linking to an image file with two bullet points that simply read "SWT lied" and "BTS leadership put the community in jeopardy". 

We'll have to wait and see exactly what Bunney means by this, but the former is a reference to Smash World Tour. The second bullet point refers to Beyond the Summit, an esports broadcaster against whom Bunney allegedly made "a variety of threats" regarding broadcasting rights for Panda esports events. Panda acknowledged this interaction in an official statement last week, in which they disavowed any responsibility for Smash World Tour's cancelation but admitted that Bunney had had an interaction with Beyond the Summit which "did not reflect either guidance from Nintendo or our own standards".

The lead-up to Bunney stepping down as CEO was fraught with controversy for Panda. First, reports suggested that more than 80% of Panda's sponsored fighting game squad had quit, and then high-profile Smash Bros tournament group Smash Calendar removed Panda from its system. Smash Calendar says it's "disappointed, appalled, and incensed" by Panda's behavior surrounding the Panda Cup.

If you've never heard of Panda Global before, it's the esports company with which Nintendo decided to partner for the Super Smash Bros Championship Circuit, an official esports tournament for Ultimate and Melee. Nintendo itself has expressed frustration with Bunney and Panda's aforementioned actions, so it's not just Panda's community who are concerned.

We don't yet have a timeline as to when the Panda Cup Finale will air, and we also don't know if Smash World Tour is planning to organize anything for 2024 or beyond. Stay tuned for more info on this rapidly developing situation.

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Joe has been writing for TechRaptor for five years, and in those five years has learned a lot about the gaming industry and its foibles. He’s originally an… More about Joseph