Dragon Ball FighterZ is not supposed to be the main event at fighting game tournament Evo. But at any event like this, it’s the best stories that rise to the surface. In the fighting game community of late, those stories often involve Dominique “SonicFox” McLean, and, when it comes to DBFZ, his rival Goichi "GO1" Kishida. This year, it was GO1 who triumphed – but SonicFox didn’t seem to mind one bit.
The match was a rerun of last year’s DBFZ finals, which saw the pair face off after SonicFox had previously knocked GO1 down into the losers bracket. After GO1 fought all the way back up, he looked dominant. That is, until SonicFox asked to switch sides, eventually coming out the champion even after GO1 almost – but not quite – managed to turn around a losing fight by pulling off an incredibly rare set of combos to restore his character to full health.
But this year it was GO1’s turn to be crowned the best DBFZ player in the world. And immediately after winning, overwhelmed, he burst into tears.
Cameras lingering on esports competitors weeping is usually an uncomfortable affair, but SonicFox’s apparently completely effortless grace completely saved the day.
There’s hugging, there’s laughter. SonicFox gets GO1 to stand up in front of the crowd who are utterly thrilled by his win. It’s just very genuine and lovely and tragically rare.
Competitive game rivalries are so often focused on trash talk and expressions of anger. Emotional responses sell storylines like this, but they’re not usually positive. Overwatch League this year has taken the time to focus on the faces of finals-match losers, and highlight their despair. At other times, they’ve repeatedly zoomed uncomfortably close on losers punching their desks. It's understandable to feel bad when losing in a competitive setting, but seeing a very different reaction out of SonicFox, enjoying the game and his second-place finish is a breath of fresh air.
Of course, he’s also still a winner, specifically taking home the gold for Mortal Kombat 11. More importantly, this result can only mean that his rivalry with GO1 will return for a third round next year. All the best storylines use the rule of three, after all.