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Panda CEO removed after mass roster walkout following Smash Bros eSports allegations

The CEO of Panda Global has been removed from his role following Smash Bros tournament allegations that have led to numerous members leaving the eSports organisation.

Last week fan tournament Smash World Tour claimed that Nintendo had shut down its annual championships at the last minute, while also accusing Panda Global CEO Dr Alan Bunney of trying to sabotage its events.

It’s alleged that Bunney, whose Panda Global was running its own official Nintendo-licensed Smash Bros events, was telling tournament organisers last year that Smash World Tour was shutting down, in an attempt to dissuade them from booking its shows.

As a result of the allegations, 10 of the 17 eSports personalities listed on Panda’s website as part of its ‘roster’ have since quit, leading to a Panda statement today confirming that Bunney is no longer CEO.

“Panda has heard the concerns of the Smash community and is taking immediate action,” its statement reads. “Alan is no longer CEO, effective immediately.”

According to the statement, Panda has set up a temporary ‘Interim Management Committee’, which will help release anyone who wishes to resign from their contractual obligations.

“We call on the community to treat those affected by these events with grace, understanding, and to call out and report any attempts of doxing or harassment,” the statement reads.

“Additionally, due to security concerns for our staff and contractors, the Panda Cup Finale is postponed.”

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A statement posted last week by the organisers of Smash World Tour claimed: “We quickly found that many organisers were concerned about joining up in 2022. They told us that they had been told by Alan, the CEO and co-founder of Panda, that we were going to get shut down and were not coming back in 2022.”

According to the statement, Nintendo reassured Smash World Tour that Panda’s licence was not exclusive, and that it would speak to the Panda CEO about his alleged behaviour.

Instead, however, Smash World Tour claims it was eventually told by Nintendo that it would not be given a license to host Smash Bros events in 2023, and had to cancel its annual championships, set to take place on December 9 to 11 with a prize pool of $250,000.

Panda initially responded with a statement saying that while it did “regret an interaction between Dr Alan and [epsorts channel] Beyond the Summit”, it was adamant that “any implication that the Panda Cup team had any influence on [the closure of Smash World Tour] is false”.

Following the publication of Smash World Tour’s allegations and Panda’s initial response, a number of Smash Bros competitors who were signed to Panda announced that they were leaving. Of the five Smash Bros roster players listed on Panda’s website, three have now quit.

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Smash Bros players Plup, WaDi, and iBDW all tweeted that they were leaving Panda, while Punk and Marine, who were signed for Panda to play other fighting games, also quit.

“I’m quitting Panda,” Plup wrote. “I’ve truly enjoyed my time there, and they treated me well. I know that, at a certain point, they had the community’s best interests in mind. I just don’t think I can support them anymore.”

A number of influencers sponsored by Panda have also announced their intention to leave. Five of the six content creators listed on Panda’s website have quit.

“I’m leaving Panda,” said Smash Bros YouTuber Little Z. “I’m really grateful for the all opportunities they have provided me with, and have met so many wonderful people there.

“However, I do not agree with how they have responded to the current situation, and can no longer associate myself with their brand.”

“I too will be resigning from Panda,” said commentator TKbreezy. “Was gonna wait till I get home but I can talk about it more in depth later. That good feeling I had from being under this org and finally being sponsored feels erased with no chance of coming back.”

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