Goichi “Go1” Kishida has been dominating the Dragon Ball FighterZ scene since the game came out with a devastating lineup of Adult Gohan, Cell, and Vegeta. His success isn’t really in dealing punches and kicks, though: it’s that it’s almost impossible to land blows on him.
The rhythm of a Versus style game like Dragon Ball FighterZ is easy enough to pick up. Players typically dance around each other in a neutral standoff, throwing out different moves and variations while avoiding or blocking the other’s. Once an opening is found, a player goes in and they’re on offence, executing long combo strings that will either damage the opponent or force them into full-on defence.
Being on defence is stressful. One guy is trying to beat shit out of you, and he might be able to call in an assist character to help. Lots of players panic on defence; Goichi thrives there. A history of anime-style fighting games has trained Goichi to deal with the sort of barrage that FighterZ can throw at you.
In fact, he’s dangerous when you think you have him locked in a corner trying to escape. At this last weekend’s NorCal Regionals, Goichi was in the corner and waiting to take his turn on offence against Naoki “Moke” Nakayama. You can see him get snapped to Gohan and edge for an out, trying to find hops and gaps where he can get out of the corner Naoki has put him in. He finds it in a crucial moment — he reflects the oncoming barrage and hops over the head of Naoki’s Cell.
Reflect is a handy move for tossing those pesky long-range ki blasts to the side, but you have to time them right to get the punish. Goichi has completely mastered that timing, and in combination with a little leap into the air, he’s the one driving again.
The final match of the Goichi-Naoki series came down to a one-on-one: Naoki’s Vegeta against Goichi’s Cell. Goichi is at a sliver of life and hanging on, and, Naoki thinks he’s caught him. He uses vanish to pop to the other side but Goichi is already aware. He immediately guard-cancels the hit and punishes Naoki for it.
The few who have managed to penetrate Goichi’s defence don’t manage it for long. Dominique “SonicFox” McLean went through the gauntlet against Goichi, playing him several times over the course of a week. SonicFox started to adapt and follow Goichi’s patterns, learning how his brick wall of defence was constructed just so he could ram it down at the right time with a solid Android 16 piledriver or Goku Black’s elegant overhead flip-kick.
In a later set that wasn’t streamed, McLean apparently beat Goichi, but he took to Twitter to say that wasn’t the definitive runback. “He is going to go stronger than me by tomorrow,” wrote McLean. “And then we are both gonna escalate to a higher level!”
The other player who has come the closest to destroying the wall is Goichi’s sparring partner: Ryo “Dogura” Nozaki. In addition to having a fantastic fighting game wedding, Nozaki managed to take a set off Goichi at Final Round 2018.
The two have practised together, met at local tournaments, and it seems like they have even had their tactics rub off on each other a bit, as seen by the start of one round between them.
In a follow-up interview with BornFree, Nozaki notes that Goichi seemed nervous and not at his fullest. And these are the exceptions to prove the rule – the tiny handful of losses that stand out compared to his near-flawless tournament runs through major events like Final Round and NorCal.
Obviously, his offence is incredible as well – he uses every member of his team, and anyone facing Goichi will face an impressive onslaught of Gohan combo strings. Lots of DBFZ stars have escalating numbers and big finishers, though: only Goichi has that level of talent on offence and defence.
Executing the right combos and maxing out the potential damage is one thing, but expertly mitigating it is another. Health is a finite resource, and Goichi gives up as little of it as he possibly can.