The war against the competitive Super Smash Bros. scene seems to show no signs of stopping as of late; this time, Nintendo has shut down a series of collegiate Super Smash Bros. Ultimate tournaments run by PlayVS. Nintendo has been on a crusade as of late, seemingly with the sole goal to damage Super Smash Bros.'s chances of having a viable competitive scene
Following the international humiliation of the Super Smash Bros. community when reports of rampant abuse and pedophilia surfaced, Nintendo put the first nail in the coffin when it sent a cease and desist to shut down a Super Smash Bros. Melee tournament due to the tournament using a modded version of the game to enable online play. This later led to professional Smash players coming out and stating that Nintendo was holding the series back from growing into a competitive esport, which then spurred the start of the self-proclaimed #FreeMelee movement. In early December, Nintendo similarly shut down its own livestream of a Splatoon 2 tournament, presumably due to some players showing support for the FreeMelee cause, which ultimately led to the hashtag #FreeSplatoon trending.
Now, the cycle is repeating yet again. Since yesterday, "#FreeUltimate" has become a Twitter trend after Nintendo put a stop to Super Smash Bros. Ultimate collegiate tournaments by amateur esports organization PlayVS. These tournaments were slated to take place in Spring 2021 and were shut down under the pretense that Nintendo is working on official collegiate esports tournaments. However, in the replies of the a tweet posted by user Fizzi36, it's revealed that this was not canceled over a cease-and-desist, but rather by Nintendo's request. The Discord conversation screenshotted below also shows that the high school tournaments for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate seem to inexplicably remain on-course to take place, perhaps lending some credence to Nintendo's other claim.
Nintendo has gone into a downward spiral in terms of popularity with competitive gamers this year, and it's doubtful 2021's start will change that relationship anytime soon. Despite the recent release of Sephiroth in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, the live chats of recent Nintendo Directs have been flooded with #FreeMelee due to the recent controversy. The recent actions that Nintendo has taken towards the Super Smash Bros. competitive scene, combined with other recent PR disasters, has made Nintendo fans protest against the company for the first time in a long time (and, for once, for good reason).
While it is true that these actions arguably aren't as universally demonized as much as something like crunch in the video game industry - and Nintendo's reputation certainly isn't as much on the line as CD Projekt Red's - it simply seems silly that this is the hill that Nintendo is letting Super Smash Bros.'s competitive future die on. These shutdowns may be in the legal right, but ethically, it could do real harm to the series. While popular now, the backbone of the Super Smash Bros. series since Melee attained cult classic status with fighting game lovers has always been its global competitive scene, and Nintendo is actively informing even completely legal Super Smash Bros. Ultimate players that they aren't welcome.