It’s the most anticipated fighting game tournament of the year: the Evolution Championship Series, otherwise known as EVO, is hailed across the fighting game community as the largest competition in the world. Standing as an important yearly pilgrimage for fans and competitors of all ages with a slew of games in the lineup, players had a ton of action to look forward to on the weekend – and Dragon Ball FighterZ brought the heat.
FighterZ gather at the world’s biggest fighting game tournament
This year’s EVO saw a mass amount of entrants for games across the board, with seven titles boasting over 1,000 players apiece. Dragon Ball FighterZ was one such game, garnering over 1,198 entrants ready to knock heads in a Super Saiyan Showdown at the world’s most celebrated fighting game tournament to date.
As the world’s most popular fighting game showdown, EVO stands in the Dragon Ball FighterZ World Tour as a Saga Event, awarding the victor an automatic spot at the Finals in January. While both Saga and Tenkaichi Events award points to qualifying players, Saga Events provide a major leg up for the 1st place winner – making the competition even fiercer than usual.
2019’s first Saga stop
With two Tenkaichi Events in the books, EVO marked the Tour’s third tournament this season, coming hot on the heels of CEO and VSFighting just two weeks prior. Both Events saw the same faces in Grand Finals: Shoji “Fenritti” Sho and Goichi “GO1” Kishida, the latter of whom has won both competitions and sits in the Tour with a whopping 400 points.
GO1 stood as the Tour’s demon, having taken two Events back-to-back following Ryota “Kazunoko” Inoue’s insane win streak last year. With Fenritti close behind, it seemed as though the World Tour had a solid set of top players – but they weren’t the only ones making waves in the fray, by far.
“Don’t hold back on me just ’cause I look like a kid, Vegeta!”
Nine-year-old “Tsuyoshi,” known for his performances at Japan’s Fighting Tuesdays in the Red Bull Gaming Sphere, made an impressive showing on Day 1 by making it out of his pool without losing a single match – which made for an equally impressive moment on stream.
Although just nine years old, Tsuyoshi is no greenhorn, as evidenced by his jaw-dropping play against opponent “Killmonger” during his first ever on-stream EVO battle. Without losing a single character, Tsuyoshi defeated Killmonger 2-0 – proving that age is no barrier to skill in fighting games.
Upsets and the unexpected
Day 2 saw even more action as pools progressed into the Top 32 and Top 16 brackets. While Fenritti is hailed as one of DBFZ’s strongest players, his run in Winners’ side didn’t last to Top 8: fellow Japanese pro HiroHiro saw to that, knocking Fenritti into Losers’ with a surprising use of Android 17, which had analyst Damascus reeling from his seat in the commentator’s booth.
That wasn’t the only upset of the weekend, either: while Kazunoko dominated the competition last year, America’s own Dominique “SonicFox” McLean (and last year’s DBFZ EVO champion) knocked him into the Losers’ bracket to secure a spot in Top 8 in Top 16, landing in Winners’ side to face HiroHiro shortly thereafter.
Rivals, roasting, and runbacks
2019 marks Dragon Ball FighterZ’s second year at EVO, in the wake of 2018’s exciting installment. Last year, SonicFox confronted his famed rivalry with GO1 on Sunday’s main stage in Grand Finals, with GO1 resetting the bracket and SonicFox requesting a side switch via coin toss – a switch that the American hero ultimately won, leading to an unamused expression from his opponent.
SonicFox went on to take the 2018 championship in a legendary comeback, ultimately setting him up to defend his title the following year – a journey that led him straight back to his rival in 2019’s Winners’ Final. With their 2018 battle in mind, SonicFox made sure to give a few good natured taunts toward the opposition, with GO1 returning the roast ahead of one of DBFZ’s most anticipated runbacks thus far.
The fall of Fenritti
It was as though no time had passed at all: Both players, in prime condition, went toe to toe, taking a round each until the set was tied 2-2. With just a single game left, the two were hacked down to their final characters – but GO1 ultimately emerged the victor, clutching out the win to knock SonicFox into Losers’ bracket (not without a well-deserved popoff, which saw him sink to the floor in relief).
Despite GO1’s win, their battle was far from over. Although Fenritti had secured a spot in Grand Finals at two previous Events in the Tour, EVO’s traditionally unpredictable competition saw a major shift in 2019’s general trend for the pro. In an eyebrow-raising turn of events, SonicFox soundly eliminated Fenritti from the fray, taking the set 3-2 – and bagging Fenritti’s Grand Finals spot, in the process.
GO1 takes the 2019 EVO championship
Thus, SonicFox was set to face off against GO1 in one of the most hyped runbacks in EVO history. With one of America’s most decorated fighting game pros going up against DBFZ’s current steamroller, it seemed like either fighter could take the championship – but only one player could emerge victorious.
Considering the closeness of 2018’s Grand Finals battle, many fans were expecting a bracket reset from SonicFox as the competition came to a close. While the American champ started off strong, GO1 showed that he isn’t the current FighterZ demon for nothing, whittling SonicFox down to his final fighter, Kid Buu.
Where GO1 had reset the bracket in 2018, it was now SonicFox’s turn to try for a reset – but GO1 ultimately took the championship before it could happen, punishing a heartbreaking dropped combo from his storied rival to win 3-2. Despite having taken two Events in the 2019 Tour, an EVO victory had eluded him until now, resulting in an emotional reaction that saw the pro crying with joy.
Two new Fighterz enter the fray!
Although there wasn’t a dry eye in the building, it’s not just the competition that has fighting game players excited for EVO. Character reveals and announcements are likewise heavily anticipated, and DBFZ fans were not disappointed. Dragon Ball Z: Fusion Reborn antagonist Janemba joined the fray of FighterZ, alongside Goku and Vegeta’s powerful fusion, Gogeta [SSGSS]. With two new faces in the lineup, players can expect to get their hands on Janemba on August 8 – less than a week after GO1’s tear-jerking EVO win.
That’s not all: six new events have likewise been added to the 2019 Dragon Ball FighterZ World Tour, taking up the latter half of the year to include countries like France, Spain, Malaysia, and the Philippines, among others. However, it is Melbourne, Australia, that will be seeing the next stop on the Tour on August 30, leaving competitors with a month to prepare for the next Tenkaichi Event.
With GO1 having taken three Events in the Tour thus far, it appears that the pro is set to be 2019’s biggest star: but with names like France’s “WaWa,” Spain’s “Shanks,” and others in the mix, there’s no telling madness what the next stop will bring. Gather your energy and charge up a spirit bomb, because this year’s competition is just gearing up – and it’s already off to a wild start!