This article is part of our Dragon Ball FighterZ series.
Every major Dragon Ball FighterZ tournament since the game’s release in January has seen at least one American in the grand finals. Whether it was Dominique “SonicFox” McLean or Eduardo “HookGangGod” Hook, there was always some representation from the USA.
Until the first stop on the Dragon Ball FighterZ World Tour at CEO this past weekend.
Japan came to play this weekend and showed it by completely washing every single American that made the Top 8. It wasn’t even close, y’all.
Vineeth “ApologyMan” Meka? Lost 2-0 to Ryota “Kazunoko” Inoue in the losers’ round 4.
Jon “dekillsage” Coelle? Lost 2-0 to Ryo “Dogura” Nozaki in the losers’ round 4.
SonicFox? Lost 2-0 to Kazunoko in the losers’ quarterfinals.
HookGangGod? Lost 2-0 to Dogura in the losers’ quarterfinals.
For the first time ever, there was an all-Japan Top 4 at a major DBFZ tournament. With that in mind, I know what you’re probably thinking. Goichi “GO1” Kishida definitely won, right? Well, you’d be wrong. Close. But still wrong.
Coming all the way from the losers’ bracket, Kazunoko traversed this stacked bracket and picked up wins in six straight series with a scorching 15-2 overall record to win the tournament. Yeah, he was on fire from start to finish on Sunday. With his signature Yamcha leading the way, there was nothing his opponents could do to prevent the onslaught.
While taking down two of the best Americans in the game was one thing, the way in which he turned in the same performance against his fellow Japanese juggernauts in Dogura and Sho “Fenritti” Shoji was even more impressive. The manner in which he ran through those two was painful to watch at times due to the surgical precision in which he carried himself.
If beating those four players was impressive, then him taking out GO1 in back-to-back series with a 6-1 record was downright otherworldly. He even did this without Cell OR Vegeta! So much for having to play Cell to win, eh?
Kazunoko was just on fire in this set. While GO1 usually looks calm and collected, he was visibly shaken all throughout the grand final. Just look at him the moment after he went down 2-1 in the grand finals reset.
The manner in which Kazunoko mixed GO1 up with relentless aggression is something we haven’t seen before. I just wrote about how great the defense of GO1 is only for Kazunoko to just run straight through it all night. While this has a lot to do with the sheer fact that Kazunoko is just really freaking good, I think his win actually speaks to a greater shift throughout the entire DBFZ scene.
In the first couple months of the game’s existence, it was all about GO1 vs. SonicFox. That was the talk of every single tournament as everyone was waiting to see who would make the next move. GO1 won the first showdown at Final Round. But then SonicFox took the next round at Combo Breaker.
SonicFox’s win at Combo Breaker seemed to spell the end of the SonicFox/GO1 Saga of Dragon Ball FighterZ, though. They jumped out the gate early on with their raw skill, but ever since, the rest of the field have had plenty of time to hit the lab and close the gap substantially.
First, we saw HookGangGod beat both SonicFox and Goichi in the same tournament at Summit of Power. And now Kazunoko did the same at CEO this weekend. I’m not sure what they will call this Saga once it's all said and done, but we’ve certainly entered uncharted territory.
As we wade through this new era of DBFZ, one thing is clear: Kazunoko is on top of the game right now. By winning CEO, he secured the first Dragon Ball of the World Tour. If he can grab the next six, he will guarantee himself a spot in the grand finals in early 2019. The story now becomes whether someone else can knock him off the throne at VSFighting on July 20-22 in Birmingham, UK.