I don’t typically watch esports, but last night’s Evo 2018—the world's biggest fighting game competition—was so intense and beautiful I couldn’t look away. Normally, the biggest moment at Evo is the last event of the show, the final match in what's widely considered the gold standard in the fighting game community: The latest Street Fighter game, which is Street Fighter V this year.
This year however, is different. Street Fighter V has been having issues since launch and Dragon Ball FighterZ, an amazing fighting game based on the Dragon Ball anime, currently has a lot of momentum. It’s a great game to play, but it’s also a lot of fun to watch because it looks almost exactly like the show it's based on, and it was the most entered to event at Evo this year.
The finale pitted Dominique “SonicFox” McLean against Goichi “GO1" Kishida. The two players nursed a rivalry throughout the tournament and fought each other several times. The most amazing moment of Evo 2018 came during their third match, SonicFox had GO1 on the ropes but GO1 almost managed to turn around the fight by summoning the ancient dragon Shenron to grant him a wish.
In Dragon Ball lore, Shenron is a dragon that grants wishes to whoever collects seven dragon balls. In the game, this plays out when the players perform certain types of combos. Performing a light attack combo rewards a random dragon ball. To get a specific ball, players have to hit target combo numbers. So a combo 30 to 39 hits long awards the third ball, a combo between 40 to 49 awards 4, and so on.
The balls are shared between players, but only one player can summon Shenron, the wish granting dragon. With all seven balls collected, the first player to max out their super meter to level 7 and perform a light attack auto combo that summons the dragon. It’s hard to do and incredibly rare in tournament play. But it happened last night. With one fighter left and almost no health, GO1 managed to summon the dragon and use his wish to restore his fighter—Vegeta—to full health.
It didn’t matter though, SonicFox had the momentum and crushed him.
SonicFox is a furry, and after he won the tournament he put on a big blue fox head and pumped his fists in the air. “I’m gay,” SonicFox tweeted shortly after his victory. “Also the best DFBZ player on this fucking planet. Don’t you forget it.”
GO1 looked on as SonicFox was presented with the gold medal. It didn't fit over his giant head, so it was left dangling from his ear.
SonicFox’ genuine enthusiasm was infectious. He’s the kind of esports personality the scene needs. He’s great at the game and an absolute blast to watch on and off the field.