Video game company Nintendo is currently in hot water with many of its most devoted fan and esports communities. It all began last month, when Nintendo forced a Super Smash Bros. Melee online tournament to shut down as a result of an unofficial mod that made the 20-year-old game playable online, with Nintendo arguing that it "cannot condone or allow piracy of its intellectual property." The competitive Melee community fought back with the #FreeMelee hashtag, criticizing Nintendo for forcing a shutdown of an online tournament in a time when in-person tournaments aren't possible, and over copies of a game that's not even in production anymore.
Other esports communities stood in solidarity with the Melee community, most notably the Splatoon 2 scene, with many top players entering an official Nintendo-sponsored Splatoon 2 tournament under names that referenced Melee and #FreeMelee in protest of Nintendo's decisions. Nintendo ended up canceling the online stream for the event without explanation, leading many to suspect the cancelation was an attempt to silence further spreading of the #FreeMelee hashtag. Splatoon 2 top players reacted by withdrawing from the tournament entirely, with the fanbase raising funds to hold its own (fans ended up raising enough for a $25,000 prize pool for this tournament, with an additional $3,000 going to charity).
Nintendo has yet to respond to requests for comment.