The 2019 Dragon Ball FighterZ World Tour is quickly coming to a close. Shifting from the Caribbean shores of First Attack to the elegant architecture of Madrid, Spain, the Tour approached one if its final Saga Events of the season – an Event that has proven worthy of the hallowed annals of esports history.
Although fighting game pro Goichi “Go1” Kishida has reigned as the undisputed king of the 2019 World Tour, he hasn’t gone without his challengers – more specifically, competitive young prodigy Dominique “Sonic Fox” McLean. The rivalry between these two fighters spans from DBFZ’s inception, with Go1 famously calling out his American opponent with a pointed message after winning a weekly local just a month after release: “Sonic Fox, you’re next.”
Since then, the two have duked it out at nearly every opportunity, with things coming to a head at EVO 2018. With Sonic Fox taking the victory after an unexpected side switch, things were more tense than ever between the two: but their subsequent runback at EVO 2019 saw an emotional reaction from Go1, who fell to the floor in tears after finally getting revenge on his rival.
A rivalry for the ages
It’s no secret that Go1 sits at the number one spot in the DBFZ global rankings. With 1,350 points and five first-place victories under his belt, the pro had already qualified for the Tour’s Finals in France, thanks to his win at EVO. However, Sonic Fox was close behind, having taken second place at the EVO Saga Event and scoring other top placements at Tenkaichi Events throughout the season. But it wasn’t points that had all eyes on these two: instead, it was their historic, emotionally-charged rivalry, which came to another electrifying climax during the Tour’s second-to-last Saga Event in Spain.
While Go1 sat out a number of Events following the Penang Esports Festival in September, the DBFZ steamroller showed up for the Spain Saga Event in early November – a major development for other competitors, as the player hasn’t lost a single official Event he’s entered this year. However, this was a tournament that wouldn’t take its usual course, as fans would soon find out – but wasn’t just Go1 who was worthy of mention.
“El Padre” shakes up the stands
Taking place in Madrid, this Saga Event brought out the best of Europe’s competitors, with names like France’s eighteen-year-old Wawa, Kyden, and Spain’s “El Padre” Shankz in the mix. Standing as local favorites among the crowd, Wawa and Shankz brought fans to their feet after qualifying for the Top 8 bracket in one of the year’s most stacked events to date.
Sunday’s action began with a venue-shaking battle between Shankz and Go1, with the Tour’s fifth ranked hopeful standing against one of the season’s greatest giants. Although Shankz managed to put up a convincing fight, Go1 ultimately took the set, sending Spain’s favorite to the Losers’ bracket to face off with multi-fighting game pro Kei “BNBBN” Komada.
It was this fight that sent fans reeling. After taking the first game, Shankz whittled BNBBN down to his final character – but despite his one game lead, the Spaniard wasn’t in the clear just yet, with BNBBN likewise taking out two of Shankz’s fighters for a single-character battle. With just one character left a piece, the crowd was desperate for their hometown hero to take the set, who scored a knockdown on BNBBN’s Kid Buu early in the last round. Breaking through his opponent’s guard, Shankz managed to get another hit, resulting in a game-ending combo that saw BNBBN lift up his rival’s hand in a touching display of sportsmanship.
The rise and fall of Wawa
Of course, Shankz wasn’t the only European shaking up the competition, by far. France’s Wawa likewise made an impressive showing in Sunday’s Top 8, defeating fellow countryman Kyden to face off with Sonic Fox in the Losers’ Quarter Final – who had been sent to the lower bracket by none other than American hero and Thunderstruck 2019 champ “dekillsage.” With a victory under his belt and the stands in his favor, Wawa put up a fierce fight against his opponent, taking the first game to thunderous applause – but despite Wawa’s ferocity, Sonic Fox was hungry for a spot in Grand Finals, and managed to seal the deal against the Frenchman in a 2-1 run, taking out each of his characters in quick succession during their last match.
This placed Sonic Fox in the Losers’ Final against dekillsage for a major runback. Having been eliminated by their fellow American early in the bracket, Sonic Fox was preparing for an even greater runback – a chance to face off against Go1 yet again in the Grand Final. Fans across the world gritted their teeth in anticipation as two of the West’s top DBFZ players duked it out for a guaranteed spot at the Finals – but it was Sonic Fox who emerged victorious, defeating dekillsage in a dominating 3-1 streak.
Sonic Fox gives Go1 his first season loss
Thus, the night rose to a fever pitch as one of fighting games’ greatest rivalries prepared to add yet another chapter to its already storied history. With Go1 in Winners’ side, Sonic Fox was tasked with resetting the bracket – an undertaking they achieved in a shocking 3-1 run, despite being shaved down to their final character. In a jaw-dropping comeback, Sonic Fox’s GT Goku turned the tide of battle, resetting the bracket for a final showdown that had fans on their feet all over the world.
While Sonic Fox may have defeated Go1 at EVO 2018, Go1 successfully defeated McLean a year later, and once more at Celtic Throwdown. Having suffered two defeats at the hands of their rival, this bracket reset offered Sonic Fox a chance at redeeming themselves – as well as creating one of the biggest upsets of the 2019 tour. Hot on the heels of their reset, the Fox showed that they were not going to back down, soundly defeating Go1 with an explosive super that saw the fighting game star rise from their chair without even letting the animation complete.
Falling to the floor in shock, Sonic Fox’s reaction to their momentous victory was much the same as Go1’s – but this win meant more than another achievement over their rival. With this win, Sonic Fox gave Go1 the only black mark to his name in the 2019 season, cementing themselves as the second-highest ranked player and a major candidate to take the upcoming Finals.
With Spain’s Saga Event in the books, fans look forward to the final Saga Event of the season in Tokyo, Japan at the end of November. With Western heroes like Shankz, Dekillsage, Chris G, and Wawa also rising up in the ranks, things are shaking up for the DBFZ scene in a big way – and there’s no telling how this trend will pan out in the near future.