Dominique “SonicFox” McLean is the greatest fighting game player of the modern era, and was at the height of his powers in Philadelphia this past weekend.
The twelfth and final installment of the Winter Brawl event series attracted over 700 competitors, 316 of which made the trip to compete in Dragon Ball FighterZ. SonicFox was the clear favorite, riding high since the game was released in late January. But would dominant wins at local tournaments like Next Level Bettle Circuit and Team Stickbug translate to a win at a major like Winter Brawl?
SonicFox cruised through the DBFZ bracket until his matchup against former Evo champ Christopher “NYChrisG” Gonzalez. SonicFox had publicly downplayed Vegeta’s worth, but NYChrisG expertly used the common assist character en route to a fast 2-0 win, handing his opponent his first loss in the game since it was released.
While he made sure to give NYChrisG his props, it was clear the gears were turning in SonicFox’s mind in preparation for a hypothetical rematch. “His team strategy was new to me, especially with the sparking usages,” he explained, referring to NYChrisG’s penchant for using Dragon Ball FighterZ’s life-restoring Sparking Blast mechanic early instead of saving it for his final character. “But I think I know what to do.”
As the tournament continued, it was clear that the possibility of a rematch would soon become a reality. SonicFox powered through the losers bracket, defeating training partner Jon “dekillsage” Coello and frequent Dead or Alive rival Ryane “XCaliburBladez” Jimenez on his way to the grand finals, where NYChrisG was already waiting.
SonicFox doesn’t lose very often, whether in Skullgirls, Injustice, Marvel vs. Capcom, or any of the other games he plays. And in the rare occasions that he does, he fights back with a fury belied by the fuzzy fox ears he wears as a member of the furry community. After being handed his first Dragon Ball FighterZ loss, SonicFox set his sights firmly on NYChrisG, and unloaded for the next 25 minutes.
The best fighting game players take away their opponents’ ability to have any fun at all. That’s exactly what SonicFox did in his 6-0 victory. By combining the power of Goku Black, Hit, and Android 16, he left little room for NYChrisG to mount any offense of his own, completely taking much of the strategy he had used to win earlier out of the equation. With the final animation playing out and his victory secured, SonicFox jumped from his chair and started shouting at the crowd. Despite the rare diversion on his way to victory, SonicFox had won yet another Dragon Ball FighterZ tournament.
During a post-match interview that saw him don a ‘Vegeta Sucks’ cap, SonicFox could hardly contain himself. “I’m lit right now, what the fuck!” he giggled. After composing himself, he explained that he wasn’t playing “as nice as I wanted to” in his loss the day before, but that he was able to take advantage of some of NYChrisG’s patterns to turn things around in grand finals.
His next step: “take out” Goichi “GO1” Kishida, a strong competitor who has been at the forefront of Dragon Ball FighterZ competition in Japan. “Goichi, omae wa mou shindeiru,” SonicFox threatened, referencing a famous line from manga and anime series Fist of the North Star that roughly translates to “you’re already dead.” The two players have been expertly building the hype for this matchup, culminating in GO1 telling SonicFox “you’re next” after winning a tournament just a few days before Winter Brawl.
But even with the high of victory still fresh in his mind, SonicFox’s priorities are clear, and petty: “I want an apology for everyone that came at me when I lost to NYChrisG about Vegeta.”
Ian Walker loves fighting games and writing about them. You can find him on Twitter at @iantothemax.