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At a glance
- Smash Bros esports tournament organiser Panda says Alan Bunney is no longer CEO
- Bunney replaced by Interim Management Committee, identities kept private due to harassment concerns
- Panda Cup Final delayed due to security concerns, refunds will be issued
Panda Global has replaced its CEO and delayed the cup final for its current Super Smash Bros championship following the ongoing controversy around the shutdown of a rival tournament.
In a statement via Twitter, the company said: "Panda has heard the concerns of the Smash community and is taking immediate action. Alan [Bunney] is no longer CEO, effective immediately."
However, Esports Insider observed that Bunney is still owner of Panda Global.
The news followed the shutdown of the Smash World Tour, a rival grassroots Super Smash Bros esports competition that had been working with Nintendo.
The SWT organisers claimed that it cancelled the event after Nintendo chose to end their partnership. SWT also accused Panda Global of "attempted sabotage," claiming the organisation – and Bunney specifically – had been telling potential partners earlier this year that SWT would be shut down.
Panda's official partnership with Nintendo is not an exclusivity deal, and Nintendo said in its own statement that it did not require Smash World Tour to cancel its event.
But Panda has received widespread criticism via social media since the SWT allegations, with reports of players and commentators pulling out of the Panda Cup in protest. Esports site Event Hubs reported that over 80% of Panda Global's sponsored fighting game team have resigned amid the controversy.
With Bunney no longer in position as CEO, Panda Global has instead formed a temporary Interim Management Committee – although the identities of its members have been kept anonymous "due to concerns over harassment and safety."
In addition to running the company and helping to seek a replacement, the IMC will work with any members of staff who wish to resign, including releasing them from contractual obligations.
Panda also announced the upcoming cup final has been postponed "due to security concerns for our staff and contractors," with the IMC working on issuing refunds for everyone who registered to attend.
"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 company added.
Panda first responded to the controversy in a statement via Twitter on Friday, in which it said it was "as surprised as the public" to see SWT's announcement, as well as the accusations that "attacked the hard work and ethics of those behind the Panda Cup."
"The team was not informed of any intention to cancel the Smash World Tour Championship 2022, nor has the team ever engaged in conversations that sought those ends," the company wrote.
Panda did "acknowledge and regret" one interaction between Bunney and esports broadcaster Beyond the Summit, in reference to a specific allegation from SWT, but claims it took steps to remove the possibility of miscommunication in future.