The 2019 Dragon Ball FighterZ World Tour has come to a close, at last. Kicking off at CEO in Daytona, Florida and making its way across the globe, the Tour’s final Saga Event threw down in Tokyo, Japan in a desperate final battle that would determine the 16 qualified players who will ultimately fight for the title of DBFZ champion.
Following the Tour’s explosive Saga Event in Madrid, Spain, Japan’s subsequent Saga Event marked the very last tournament ahead of the DBFZ Finals in France. With nearly an entire season behind them, this final Saga Event presented a last-chance opportunity for players to earn points and qualify for the Finals – but only one competitor would take the championship and make the cut, without a doubt.
France’s breakout fighter
Unlike Tenkaichi Events, which award the top 16 players with a scaled amount of points depending on their placements, the first-place winners of Saga Events receive both points and a guaranteed spot in the Finals. Standing as the last opportunity to score a certain seat at this coveted tournament, the Tour’s top talent made a showing with high hopes of qualifying – including breakout French pro Marwan “Wawa” Berthe.
18-year-old Wawa has dropped jaws across the globe in this year’s World Tour, scoring top placements throughout the season and even taking Europe’s prime Tenkaichi Event, Ultimate Fighting Arena. However, this isn’t the youngster’s first stint in the fighting game scene, by far: in fact, the prodigy made a name for himself at just ten years of age in The King of Fighters series, taking the Cannes’ World Game Cup in 2013 against team Morocco. Boasting an extensive history of competitive fighting games under his belt, it makes sense that Wawa has performed well, thus far – but no one expected the heat he brought to Japan’s Saga Event.
Wawa makes a grand entrance
In fact, it truly seems that DBFZ is falling into the laps of Western players, many of whom have made major strides in the game as the season wears on. While Japanese pros like Shoji “Fenritti” Sho, Ryota “Kazunoko” Inoue, and Goichi “Go1” Kishida have historically dominated the title, fresh faces like America’s Steve “Supernoon” Carbajal, “Dekillsage,” and, of course, Dominique “Sonic Fox” McLean have been taking names, as well – a trend that led to a stacked Top 8 bracket in Japan’s final open-entry DBFZ tournament and a shocking Grand Finals.
Following a nail-biting Top 16, it was the West who opened up the Japan Saga’s Top 8 bracket with a match between American favorite Supernoon and France’s Wawa. With the crowd divided, Wawa took the game in a decisive 2-0 run with a Happy Birthday, knocking Supernoon into Losers’ side and moving on to face an opponent who took last year’s World Tour and would ultimately become his demon in his bid for first place.
Kazunoko gets his revenge on the magic pixel
Kazunoko notoriously monopolized the 2018 World Tour, taking four out of seven Dragon Balls and emerging the champion against opponent Fenritti, who has made a similar, hard-hitting showing in the 2019 season. It was Kazunoko who Wawa faced in the Winners’ Final, determining the first entrant into the Grand Final with a loss to spare.
This wasn’t the first time the two had faced off, though: Wawa notably knocked Kazunoko into Losers’ side during a clutch play at VSFighting earlier in the season, marking one of the tournament’s biggest upsets. Holding this previous loss in mind, it comes as little surprise that Kazunoko came well prepared for his enemy, moving on to Grand Finals in a death-defying 3-1 set over the Frenchman despite living on just a sliver of health.
A grudge match spanning the season
Ahead of Wawa’s displacement in Losers’s side, all eyes were on the remaining competitors, comprised of the UK’s “OBAssassin,” Fenritti, Dekillsage, and Ryo “Dogura” Nozaki. While he fought hard, OBAsassin was eliminated by Fenritti 2-0, with Dekillsage similarly defeating Dogura in a 2-0 run. This set up the two pros for yet another historic grudge match: having taken out Fenritti at CEO in June, Dekillsage ran it back in its Top 8 bracket, where Fenritti ultimately defeated the New Yorker 3-0 during the Losers’ Final.
Although they haven’t faced off much throughout the rest of the season, it was this rivalry in the minds of fans as the two fought, once again – and this time, it was Fenritti who emerged the victor. The multi-talented Japanese pro started out the grudge match strong, taking the first game only losing a single character. However, Dekillsage wasn’t out of the game just yet, scoring a win shortly thereafter with Broly – but in spite of his gumption, Fenritti took the set 3-1, going on to face Wawa in the Losers’ Final.
Wawa “becomes perfect” with a perfect KO!
It was do or die for Wawa, who’d come incredibly far in arguably one of the season’s most important tournaments yet as its last, non-Japanese representative. While Fenritti sat comfortably in third place in the global rankings, Wawa still needed to secure his seat at the Finals without a doubt – and his chance was nigh. The crowd cheered at the sight of Wawa choosing SSGSS Gogeta, giving him the powerup to cleanly take the first game. However, Fenritti wasn’t one to back down, taking two games against his French opponent before it came down to the final match, which left both commentators and fans alike stunned as Wawa secured the victory with an eye-popping perfect KO.
Wawa wins the DBFZ World Tour’s last Saga Event
Coming off of a hugely impressive win against Fenritti, Wawa was set to duke it out with Kazunoko once more, giving an already thrilling tournament an electrifying ending with a high-stakes runback. Having lost to Kazonoko in Winners’ side, this set laid it out all on the line for Wawa – not only for points, revenge, and even a spot in the Finals, but the glory of being one of the world’s finest DBFZ pros to date.
Wawa’s momentum clearly showed in their next meeting, with the young Frenchman resetting the bracket in a striking 3-1 run, confirming his DP into a Level 1 with Adult Gohan to seal the deal. Having effectively knocked his opponent into Losers’ side, Wawa had successfully returned the favor to Kazunoko – but the 2018 champ showed that he was nothing to sniff at, bringing their subsequent match to the final game in spite of Wawa’s 2-0 lead post-reset.
As if things weren’t already down to the wire between these two players, their last game was completely even, with both pros whittling each other down character by character. However, it was Wawa who ended up gaining the upper hand, eliminating Kazunoko’s GT Goku to bring out his final fighter, who he defeated with a well-timed Ki Blast to seal the deal and stand victorious in the 2019 DBFZ World Tour’s last ever Saga Event.
What’s next for the World Tour?
This boosted Wawa’s status in the global rankings to fourth place, standing beneath Sonic Fox, Fenritti, and the ever-reigning Go1, respectively. Other qualifiers in the Top 16 include such names as Dekillsage, Maddo, BNBBN, and Chris G, who took the Tour’s last Tenkaichi Event at Puerto Rico’s First Attack. With the finalists secured, all that’s left is the Last-Chance Qualifier and Finals: and with such a major upset near the end of the season, there’s no telling what will throw down at the Tour’s last tournament for 2019.