Fresh off of his victory in Dragon Ball FighterZ at Winter Brawl 12, Dominique “SonicFox” McLean bolted to the commentary desk, took Yipes’ headset, and delivered a message by quoting the anime, Fist of the North Star.
“Goichi, omae wa mou shindeiru.” Translation: “Goichi, you are already dead.”
All of this started three weeks ago with another callout. Goichi “Go1” Kishida, upon winning a DBFZ tournament in Osaka, grabbed a microphone and declared that SonicFox would be the next to fall.
Now the two are fated to meet in a first-to-10 exhibition match at Final Round in Atlanta this weekend. The exhibition has been dubbed as the DBFZ community’s very own Battle of Gods, named for the eighteenth Dragon Ball Z movie.
Go1’s bonafides in the anime fighting scene are without reproach. He is widely considered to be an anime god and the greatest Melty Blood player of all time. In Blazblue and Guilty Gear Xrd he has scores of top three finishes to his name in international tournaments, and now his sights are set on the recently released Dragon Ball Fighter Z. Go1 has already made a name for himself as Japan’s top DBFZ player with a small collection of local wins under his belt. At Tokaigi he left a trail of killers behind him on his road to first place, felling players such as Dogura, Souji, and Yuki.
But SonicFox’s litany of accolades is nothing if not prolific as well. Many know him as the young man who reigns over NetherRealm Studios fighters like a tyrant, but Fox’s dominance actually goes back to Skullgirls. This is why it should not have shocked the Marvel community when Fox emerged as a force to be reckoned with in Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite, a game not terribly unlike Skullgirls.
In fact, the last person to call SonicFox out challenged him to a first-to-10 in MvC:I. Ryan “Filipino Champ” Ramirez lit a fire under SonicFox after Champ talked smack about him on his stream. Shortly after the gauntlet was thrown down and SonicFox put the boots to Champ with a dominant 10-4 win.
Dragon Ball FighterZ is an entirely different beast, though. It isn’t Guilty Gear, and it isn’t Marvel. It isn’t Melty Blood, and it isn’t Skullgirls. But it does have a lot in common with each of those games. Like Guilty Gear and Blazblue, it is an Arc System Works fighter, and it features the potential for unrelenting pressure and the style of movement that anime games are known for. It is also infused with mechanics that hearken to Versus fighters like Skullgirls and Marvel, with a focus on teams of characters, team compositions, and tag mechanics along with similarly insane mix-ups and set play. Blending the two styles makes DBFZ more than the sum of its parts.
That is what makes this show match between the two fighting game titans so tantalizing. It represents not just the promise of hype matches – that’s a given – but there are so many unknown quantities in the nascent game that make the outcome difficult to predict. Is this enough of an anime game that Japan will dominate it for free like so many others? Or is this more in Fox’s wheelhouse with its similarities to Skullgirls? It’s impossible to tell.
Final Round’s Battle of Gods is a clash between Japan and America, between a veteran and a still-young prodigy, between disparate fighting game backgrounds and, most of all, a collision between two of the all-around best fighting game players in the world.