After a few weeks away, Dominique "SonicFox" McLean returned to New York City's weekly Next Level Battle Circuit tournament series this week for a bit of Dragon Ball FighterZ competition. The king of fighting games had taken a few recent losses to rival Goichi "GO1" Kishida, and was ready to throw down with a new team - and perhaps block access to a tournament slot along the way.
The Next Level Battle Circuit in Brooklyn acted as a qualifier for Summit of Power, a special Dragon Ball FighterZ competition to be hosted by esports outfit Beyond the Summit in June. The winner would be invited to join the event alongside SonicFox, GO1 and six other summoned players for a weekend of Dragon Ball festivities with $US10,000 ($12,858) up for grabs. So this week's NLBC bracket was stacked with talent, all vying to earn the coveted invite.
Because he already had the invite to Summit of Power, SonicFox didn't have to attend Next Level Battle Circuit. Instead, he was playing to regain the throne he had abdicated to New Jersey competitor Eduard "HookGangGod" Deno, who managed to rack up a four-week streak of victories in SonicFox's absence.
Since falling to GO1 in two separate exhibitions, SonicFox had returned to the lab, constructing a brand new team for serious Dragon Ball FighterZ play. Gone were Goku Black, Hit and Android 16 - the powerhouse trio he dominated with for months - in favour of Cell, Gotenks and Kid Buu.
It's easy to see why: In Dragon Ball, the ability to confuse the opponent is just as important as pure power, and these new characters have the tools to maintain pressure in ways the previous group lacked. SonicFox first proved the potency of his new team by defeating Northern California visitor Vineeth "Apologyman" Meka in exhibition, and then winning the entire tournament at Bum's Birthday Bash two weeks ago.
Heading into Next Level Battle Circuit, SonicFox was ready for a repeat performance, and had the perfect opportunity to do so when he was paired against Eli "LostSoul" Rabadad for his first match.
Fresh off a Dragon Ball FighterZ championship at Anime Ascension, LostSoul was one of the few players in attendance who looked ready to challenge for the crown, but even he looked lost against SonicFox, dropping to the losers bracket after a quick 0-2 loss. When asked about Cell afterwards, all SonicFox could say was, "He's fuckin' perfect!"
SonicFox shredded through the bracket with his signature hot streaks and overwhelming offence, and with the day almost over, the only obstacle left in his way was the man he came there to beat. Despite his use of an unorthodox team comprised of Piccolo, Goku Black and Vegeta, HookGangGod had dominated in Brooklyn while SonicFox was away.
While he made more of a dent in SonicFox's armour than previous opponents, HookGangGod also proved unable to completely stop the new Cell powerhouse. When all was said and done, SonicFox had regained his crown, dropping only one game to HookGangGod over the course of winners and grand finals.
It always hurts to lose a tournament, especially after a long winning streak, but the silver lining for HookGangGod was that the Summit of Power qualifying position was passed down to the second-place finisher. He'll be travelling to Beyond the Summit's Los Angeles headquarters this winter, hopefully with a bit more experience and ready to throw down with some of the best Dragon Ball FighterZ players in the world.
As for SonicFox, he's ready to upgrade from his iconic fox hat and start competing in a full fursuit, claiming, "GO1's gonna get sent to losers in a furry suit! That's gonna be so funny."