Dragon Ball FighterZ wraps up its first esports season today. This weekend's Red Bull Final Summoning marks the finale of the game's inaugural competitive season and will crown the first Dragon Ball FighterZ world champion. The Top 8 was finalized after Saturday's four Last Chance Qualifiers and now those winners will collide with the winners of this season's Saga winners. Only one can claim the $10,000 grand prize and stand atop the Dragon Ball FighterZ world.
One of the hopefuls is Echo Fox's fighting game phenom and Shacknews' 2018 Person of the Year Dominique "SonicFox" McLean. McLean has specialized in dozens of games, having proven himself to be a renaissance man of the genre. "If I played one game constantly, then I wouldn't be SonicFox, the SonicFox standing before you today," he made sure to tell Shacknews.
Among the games that SonicFox has mastered is Dragon Ball FighterZ, as he enters the Red Bull Final Summoning as one of the tournament favorites. Prior to Sunday's Top 8, Shacknews had the opportunity to speak to SonicFox about this championship event, the upcoming Mortal Kombat 11, his desire to jump into Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, and the Skullgirls community that helped put him on the competitive gaming map.
Shacknews: The Dragon Ball FighterZ championship tournament, Red Bull Final Summoning, is this weekend. Are you approaching this tournament any differently than any other DBFZ tournament?
Dominique "SonicFox" McLean: No, I'm not. If I did it any differently, if I changed my approach to how I go into these events, I would lose.
Shacknews: How do you feel the meta has changed in the last year since the game came out?
SonicFox: The meta now is pretty much playing strong neutral-oriented characters that can also have some kind of coin flip to them. The meta before was just playing all mixup characters, but it turns out that most of the mixup characters in the game didn't have strong neutral control. Now with strong neutral control and especially with how broken snapping is right now, if you can have a character that can control neutral really well and at least force you into a simple 50/50, it's difficult to deal with. The shift in the meta is pretty drastic from when it started.
Shacknews: One of the biggest stories in Dragon Ball FighterZ's first year has been your rivalry with Goichi ["GO1" Kushida]. How do you feel that rivalry has developed, looking back at the past year?
SonicFox: I honestly think it reached its peak at Summit of Power and at EVO. But after that, I want to say it's been dying down now with the bigger rivalries that have come down, like me vs. Kazunoko [Ryota Inoue]. We're probably going to butt heads, even though the only way [Kazunoko] and I could run into each other is in the Winners Finals. I want to show him that I'm somebody that's not to be taken lightly.
Shacknews: Is Kazunoko the man to beat right now, considering he's coming in with four of the Dragon Balls?
SonicFox: Yes and no. I've defeated him multiple times at multiple events, even when he's had three of the Dragon Balls. Even though they weren't World Tour events, I still defeated him. But for sure, I definitely want to beat him. Show him *I* have the Dragon Balls.
Shacknews: We just attended the Mortal Kombat 11 reveal last week. What are your feelings on MK11 and what are some of the biggest differences you've noticed from MKX?
SonicFox: It's an incredible game! I literally can't wait! MKX and MK11 aren't even remotely the same game at all. It's night and day. MK11 is its own brand new game, anybody can come into it from any scene and be good at it, regardless of their background. You don't need prior MK background knowledge to know how to be good at MK11.
And that's not a bad thing. I think the way they approached this new game is incredible. It's extremely neutral-oriented. And I can't wait to play it.
Shacknews: Is there any character that's stood out to you so far?
SonicFox: So far, I really, really like how Skarlet and Sonya are looking. But I'm still waiting to see a lot more characters. I don't think my character is in yet. I don't think a "SonicFox" character is in yet. But I'm waiting and hoping Cassie is the character that makes me lose my s***.
Shacknews: When I think of you and NetherRealm games, I think of how you've been able to master dozens of characters at a time. I think back to Injustice 2 and I think you've mastered pretty much everyone there. What do you feel is the advantage to that approach of playing multiple characters, as opposed to focusing on one or two?
SonicFox: If you can master multiple characters, it doesn't matter how much somebody specializes in a character. If you have better neutral control and fundamentals, you can apply almost every single thing to any character. On top of that, it allows you to pick up people a lot easier than just having one character and specializing in them. If you can split yourself wide, you'll be able to cover almost any other flaw in your gameplay or in your character matchup.
Shacknews: You've teased getting into Super Smash Bros. Ultimate for a while. Is that still something you want to do and is there a character that particularly interests you?
SonicFox: It's something I want to do. I've been extremely lazy with it, just because there's so much work that's required for it. There are a bunch of characters that interest me. I like Wolf a lot right now. I like Daisy, but Daisy's going to take way too much time. I like R.O.B., because R.O.B. is really cool too.
But we'll see. I'm not playing the game as much as I want to. But I understand the game a lot more than I used to. So I can slightly hold my own a bit more than I used to be able to, but still, I have to put in so much work into Ultimate. I'm not sure if I ultimately want to put in that amount of work into it, but we'll see.
Shacknews: You still enter Skullgirls tournaments now and then. I've seen you enter the one at EVO. I know that's a big place where you got your start. What has the Skullgirls community meant to you over the years?
SonicFox: It's pretty much why I'm so good at other fighting games and why I'm so confident in myself. I wouldn't have met dekillsage [Jon Coello] if I didn't play Skullgirls. I actually don't know where I would be in life if I didn't find Skullgirls, because I've made so many good bonds from that game. All that being said, it's one of my all-time favorite fighting games, if not the best fighting game for me, personally.
Shacknews: Last question, what does it mean to you to be the most visible black, furry, queer face in gaming?
SonicFox: Kind of annoying, but... (laughs)
I also realize that I have a great responsibility. I realize that I'm a driving force for a lot of people's confidence and their self-confidence and motivation. I have to do what I have to do, because with great power comes great responsibility, so I'll do what I have to do to help people feel good about themselves. And to support the people who support me and keep moving forward together.
The Red Bull Final Summoning season championship Top 8 for Dragon Ball FighterZ begins later today at 11AM PT live on the Dragon Ball FighterZ Twitch channel.
Ozzie Mejia posted a new article, Echo Fox's SonicFox on Dragon Ball FighterZ, Mortal Kombat 11, and more
Great interview, Ozzie.
Long stream block for the DBFZ Finals today.
11 AM Pacific is when the Top 8 starts, Grand Finals scheduled for 6-7PM. That's ~8 hours total.
4 PM bamco taking a break to reveal some new RPG game dubbed Project Z
and after the GF around 7PM they're scheduled to announce some DBFZ stuff.