Nintendo has partnered with Panda, one of the world’s leading Smash teams, to run an official Super Smash Bros esports circuit.

Nintendo and Panda, one of the world's leading Super Smash Bros teams, have partnered to launch their own Smash Ultimate and Melee circuit in 2022. This marks the very first time that Nintendo has officially licensed a circuit and marks a dramatic change from their previous indifference towards esports.

And, not one to leave Panda out there all on their own, the Nintendo of America twitter was quick to follow up with their own announcement.

“This partnership with Panda Global is the next step in Nintendo’s efforts to create a more consistent, fun and welcoming competitive environment for our players and fans,” said Bill Trinen, Senior Director of Product Marketing at Nintendo of America. “We are proud to stand with an organization like Panda Global to celebrate and support the ever-growing competitive Super Smash Bros. community, and create a space where all players can test and hone their competitive skills.”

The circuit will include in-person qualifiers for both Super Smash Bros. Ultimate and Super Smash Bros. Melee once large-scale events return. The winners of the virtual and in-person qualifying rounds will then move on to compete in the grand finals for the championship. Players from Canada and Mexico will also be able to enter and compete, once Panda Global and Nintendo have deemed international travel and attendance at in-person events to be permissible.

There has been no word on prizing for the events at present, aside from word that the series will be short, and feature cash prizes. Regardless, it's good to see Nintendo dipping their toes into live Smash events, rather than the Nintendo VS series they've been running online, which famously did not include cash prizing. These events instead offered merchandise and did not use standard rulesets.

“One of our key missions at Panda Global is to serve our various grassroots communities in new and exciting ways,” said Dr. Alan Bunney, CEO of Panda Global. “By partnering with Nintendo, we are giving our competitors the chance to compete in an officially licensed Super Smash Bros. circuit for the first time.”

More details are said to be coming soon on this very first effort from Nintendo and Panda. Smash esports pros from around the world are already rejoicing - and it looks like this could be the first chapter in a golden era, should things go well.

For all the latest on Smash Ultimate, Melee and the new esports circuit, keep it locked here to