Russian Super Smash Bros. Team Misses Tournament Due to Visa Issues [Updated]
The team blames Nintendo, while the company denies any fault
Russian team Ye Olde Guard has successfully qualified for the major Super Smash Bros. Ultimate tournament, which will be held in Amsterdam on May 4-5. Unfortunately, the team will not make it there on time — according to them, Nintendo is to blame.
One of the team representatives posted the following on GameMAG forum:
"We are not going anywhere — Nintendo Russia are incompetent people, who messed up with visa processing — they were doing them for us — as a result, they decided to file them at the very last moment before the holidays (May 1-5 and 9-12 in Russia). You can’t get to the embassy anymore, and the nearest date at the visa center was April 26, which does not meet the deadlines. In the end, we received NOTHING for winning the tournament."
Two days later the same team member confirmed that they will receive consolation prizes:
"Yesterday evening employees of Nintendo Russia replied, offered a compensation. [I] Asked for a Switch for each member of the team — [they] confirmed, should send them out soon. Of course, there is a bitter aftertaste, but it’s good that we were not left with nothing in the end.
I hope that in the future, Russian office will approach such organizational issues with due respect or leave visa procedures to the winners from the get-go, and then reimburse the costs. If we were originally presented with such an option, we would have taken it. What happened is a complete nonsense."
Nintendo themselves have a different view on the situation. According to the official press release, the procedure took way longer than it should have:
"For bureaucratic reasons that Nintendo cannot influence, the visa process takes longer than usual on the eve of Russian public holidays. Because of this, the Russian team will not be able to attend the tournament in Amsterdam. Due to the scale of the event and problems with logistics, it is impossible to postpone the championship to another time or give Ye Olde Guard the opportunity to play online with teams in Amsterdam. Therefore, the tournament will be attended by 11 instead of the planned 12 teams."
Ye Olde Guard will not only miss the European tournament, but also will not be able to participate in the world championship in Los Angeles this summer. Only winners of regional tournaments, such European and North American, can get to the world cup.
This is not the first time Nintendo Russia faces backlash. Last year it was reported that Russian employees face toxicity in the office, which led to an official investigation by Nintendo of Europe. Nintendo’s esports division also faced criticism recently, after grouping more than 30 European countries as "other" in Splatoon 2 tourneys.
UPDATE: Russian publication GameMAG reached out to both Nintendo Russia and Ye Olde Guard team.
CEO of Nintendo Russia Yasha Haddaji clarified the situation:
"We reached out to the travel agency the week after the [Russian] tournament, but it was just impossible to get visas by the right time.
We did our best to schedule interviews as soon as possible to get receive the travel documents as soon as possible, but no supplier could help solve this problem.
We always strive to make every effort for the Russian players, and we are incredibly sorry that this team, which has such great potential, will not be able to take part in the European championship."
Players Andrei Pleskonosov and Dmitry Latash also shared their opinion. They confirmed that both the embassy and the visa center are very busy at this time of year:
"Unfortunately, we received information from Nintendo about visa problems too late. We tried to sign up for an interview — the nearest date was April 26.
There was no information about urgent processing on the website of the Netherlands’ visa center. Therefore, it is true that there was no guarantee that we would receive visas before May 1.
There was another option to try and get Schengen visas through another country, such as France. I was told that it was dangerous to do this, as there were many cases when people were turned around right at the airport. So we didn’t take risks.
It wasn’t the most pleasant situation, but the circumstances were like that. As an alternative, Nintendo promised to prepare consolation prizes for each member of our team. This, of course, alleviated the situation."