This article is part of our Dragon Ball FighterZ series.
Before we begin, let’s address the elephant in the room. Yes, Cell is still the strongest character in Dragon Ball FighterZ. Yes, Kid Buu and Bardock are still close seconds. Yes, those characters are used in many teams in the upper echelons of competitive play. None of this will change until another balance patch hits and forces change into the equation. Until then, we’re stuck with those guys at the top.
That being said, some of the top players in the game are starting to go against the grain a bit. In the time between Summit of Power two weeks ago and Northwest Majors X this past weekend, both Chris “NYChrisG” Gonzalez and Dominque “SonicFox” McLean have introduced new characters into their rosters for the time being. Not only have they brought in new characters, but they’ve brought in characters that many believed to be at the bottom of the barrel in terms of overall power.
After finishing tied for last place at Summit of Power, ChrisG went back to the drawing board. He’s decided to stick with Bardock and Super Saiyan Vegeta, but opted to swap out Trunks (known to be his favorite character in the game) for Tien of all characters. While we’ve known that Tien has solid damage, his other deficiencies (punishable specials and wonky setups using Chiaotzu) deter most players from picking him up. Not ChrisG, though.
While he ultimately lost to SonicFox, that’s a hard baseline to really judge from. Just about everyone loses to SonicFox (only Sho “Fenritti” Shoji, Eduardo "HookGangGod" Hook and Goichi "GO1" Kishida have beaten him in major tournaments). What’s most important here, however, is that not only did ChrisG blow through everyone on his path to the grand finals, but he actually reset the bracket against SonicFox. Granted, SonicFox was also using a new character (which we’ll get to in a second), but ChrisG did what few have been able to do and took a set off the elusive fox. Dropped combos continued to plague him a bit throughout the series, but it was still a better showing that saw him looking much more comfortable than he did during the entirety of Summit of Power.
SonicFox’s character switch in the weeks since Summit of Power is even more surprising, though. Sure, he did lose to Hook during the grand finals of the Summit. But it was a ridiculously close series that could have went either way. Still, it seems as though SonicFox wanted to change things up a bit, which led to him swapping out Gotenks in favor of Android 18.
Now, it’s true that Gotenks had some pronounced cons (he’s a child after all, so his normals have terrible range due to his short stature), he had some of the best 50-50s (situations where you force your opponent to guess whether an attack with hit high or low) in the game and frequently gave his opponents fits. Not only that, but Gotenks fit SonicFox’s style of leaning heavily into scrambles in order to beat his opponents. Android 18 is no slouch, boasting nice damage and plenty of lockdown options, but she doesn’t seem to fit SonicFox’s style as much as Gotenks does at first glance.
Seeing SonicFox play with the character, though, it’s easy to see that she fits him just fine. With her ability to utilize Android 17 with one of her special attacks, SonicFox is essentially playing with three assists instead of the normal two. This allows him to further keep his opponent pinned down, which is when SonicFox is at his best. If he’s forcing you to block and make guesses as to where his next attack will come from, he’s got the upperhand. Android 18 allows him to do that just as, if not better, than Gotenks did, which makes this a solid move for SonicFox. Not to mention the fact that playing with a character that many don’t have a ton of experience playing against gives him an additional upper hand since they won’t be as familiar with his toolkit. All of this was put on full display when he took the top spot at Northwestern Major X on Sunday.
Time will tell if these guys hold onto the new characters or if it was just an experiment for NWM. With CEO, which just so happens to be the first stop on the recently announced Dragon Ball FighterZ World Tour, coming up this weekend, we’ll find out how permanent these switches were.