A screenshot of Gohan from Dragon Ball FighterZ.
© Bandai Namco

These are the 8 Dragon Ball FighterZ players to watch in the run-up to Evo

Dragon Ball FighterZ is one of the hottest games in the fighting scene right now – join us as we look at the eight key players you need to watch ahead of its Evo main-stage debut in August.
Written by Nick Kazdan
11 min readPublished on
There’s no doubt that Dragon Ball FighterZ is one of the hottest fighting games on the planet right now. Taking the huge popularity of the anime it’s based on and distilling that into a fast and frantic fighter from Arc System Works, the makers of Guilty Gear, it’s had solid success since its debut in January. With Dragon Ball Super, the continuation of the anime, revitalising the franchise across the globe, DBFZ has been able to tap into that popularity and has already cultivated a promising fighting scene – in fact, the game’s already set to hit the main stage at Evo this August in Las Vegas, the biggest fighting event of the year.
Despite the fact the game only came out in January, it was revealed in April that DBFZ had more pre-entries than any other title at Evo and tournament director Joey Cuellar recently announced that the game has increased its lead going into May. While some of the fanfare has settled and the game is no longer setting Twitch records for most concurrent players, the community is still growing, and new big-names are emerging every day.
With big events like Evo 2018 on the horizon, competitive gamers are slowly trying to grow their skills and establish themselves as serious contenders. While each of these eight players have unique fighting styles that make them fearsome opponents, many rely on the same characters to fill up their three-person in-game team. Cell, for example, is a permanent fixture on five of these squads, while Vegeta has appeared on six of these players' tournament teams, usually in an assist role, showcasing an interesting meta already.
Take a break from your training, pop a Senzu bean and come learn about these eight players who are already making a big splash in the Dragon Ball FighterZ tournament scene – you’ll want to keep an eye on these fighters.

1. Kishida ‘GO1’ Goichi

Kishida ‘GO1’ Goichi is a Japanese DBFZ player who's already built himself an epic reputation in the scene. Appearing in nine competitions all around the world, GO1 consistently takes first place and already fancies himself as the game's top player. Instead of focusing on offense, Goichi is an incredibly evasive player who likes keeping distance between him and his opponent as he waits for the perfect opening. Additionally, his ability to keep his guard up when forced into corners allows him to punish his opponents and manoeuvre out of sticky situations. Cell and Vegeta, two characters who are both relatively quick and powerful, have permanent spots on his three-person team. During earlier competitions, GO1 turned to Goku Black to finish his team, but ever since March, he’s relied on Adult Gohan, the only character he ranks an ‘S+’ on his team, or Bardock to be the heavy hitter.
Part of what makes GO1 such a versatile player is his previous tournament experience in other titles. Not only is he considered one of the top Street Fighter V players after his fourth-place finish at Evo 2016, Goichi is a former contender in BlazBlue and Guilty Gear Xrd, two other games developed by Arc System Works. While each title is unique and built differently, they have comparable mechanics, and his high skill level in those games gave him a head start when he initially picked up DBFZ. Heading into Evo, GO1 is a safe bet to finish at the top of the leaderboard.

2. Dominique ‘SonicFox’ Mclean

Team Echo Fox player Dominique ‘SonicFox’ Mclean is one of the most notorious gamers in the esports community. Instead of focusing on one franchise, the 19-year-old American is all over the place. Competing in tournaments for Mortal Kombat X, both Injustice titles and Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite, Mclean is a top player in every game he picks up. He’s taken first in the last five Injustice 2 tournaments he's entered, but his attention seems to be shifting away from the DC Comics fighter, and more towards DBFZ in the run up to Evo.
For a little while, prominent fighting-game community Shoryuken actually had Mclean placed above GO1 in the global rankings because he's participated in more tournaments. But when the two competed in a first-to-10 showdown at Final Round 2018 back in March, GO1 came out on top 10-4. What makes Mclean such a skilled, dangerous player is his ability to fully pick apart his opponent's strategy and shift his own play style to better suit his needs going into each match. Keep your eye on SonicFox1 because his skills and charismatic play style make him a tough act to beat.

3. Christopher ‘NYChrisG’ Gonzalez

One of the biggest names in the Marvel vs. Capcom scene, Christopher ‘NYChrisG’ Gonzalez isn't letting the fact his dominant franchise is missing from Evo's main-stage this year keep him down. The American player is ranked number one in both MvC3 and Infinite on Shoryuken’s comprehensive listings, and he also competes in Mortal Kombat X, Injustice and Skullgirls tournaments.
In each one of his tournament appearances, the Evil Geniuses player has relied on the same three-person team to carry him to the top five. Instead of using any heavy hitting characters, Gonzalez picks agile characters like Vegeta, Trunks and Android 18. Vegeta is usually an assist character, but Gonzalez knows how to utilise the Saiyan Prince and manoeuvre him to get up close to rack up big combos on his opponents. At Winter Brawl 2018, NYChrisG beat SonicFox 2-0 and Fox tweeted that Gonzalez's strategy, particularly his use of sparking usages, was "really interesting." While NYChrisG may have felt like the champion after that match, SonicFox transformed his strategy and beat Gonzalez 6-0 in the final round of the tournament. Luckily, Gonzalez has some time to train before the two players compete at the first ever Dragon Ball FighterZ Summit in Chicago this June, and potentially at Evo in August.

4. William ‘Leffen’ Hjelte

A screenshot of Android 21 from Dragon Ball FighterZ.

Android 21 is one of Leffen's mains

© Bandai Namco

It’s been a complicated few years for William ‘Leffen’ Hjelte. After being banned from Swedish Smash Bros. tournaments for outbursts of poor sportsmanship in 2013, Leffen’s name is still shrouded in controversy despite being one of Melee’s best players. With a few tournament wins under his belt, however, he’s also slowly building a reputation as one of Dragon Ball FighterZ's rising stars. Currently, Leffen has said he's focusing on Dragon Ball FighterZ until the DBFZ Summit in June, but it's still unclear which title he will compete in at Evo this year.
His biggest accomplishments in DBFZ to date include taking second place at the Brussels Challenge Major in April and winning a Wednesday Night Fights tournament in March. Despite his nickname of ‘God Slayer’ in the Smash community, Leffen ultimately went down to GO1 in Brussels without taking a single round, stating that it was ‘close’ and that he was using a team that was only a week old. As of now, the two characters Leffen relies on the most are Android 21 and Cell with either Vegeta or Goku Black filling in the final slot. He's also a big fan of Android 16, a character that many players feel is unbalanced or too powerful, and has a knack for using the fighter's big size as an advantage on the battlefield.

5. Vineeth ‘ApologyMan’ Meka

A screenshot of Tien from Dragon Ball FighterZ.

ApologyMan can turn Tien into a top-tier character

© Bandai Namco

Vineeth ‘ApologyMan’ Meka is another Marvel Vs. Capcom alum who's pivoted towards the anime fighter since its release in January. Between 2012 and 2017, ApologyMan competed in 24 MvC3 tournaments, peaking with a fifth place victory at Evo 2016. At every event, Meka used the same three-person team, showing the player's commitment to honing in his skills with particular characters.
Except for the Bum's Birthday Bash tournament back in March, where he took fourth behind players like SonicFox and Dekillsage, ApologyMan has won first place in each of the four tournaments he's entered. Similar to when he played in MvC3 tournaments, Meka has competed with the same three-person team of Tien, Vegeta and Piccolo, with the green Namekian serving as the point character in all of his official DBFZ appearances.
He knows that Piccolo is a relatively weak character who may be holding his team back, but he recently said he "wouldn't enjoy [the] game at all", if he didn't use his favourite character. His mastery over Piccolo's timing gives him an air-tight offence and has earned him a reputation as one of NorCal's best players. With Tien as the secondary character and Vegeta covering most of the assists, ApologyMan's fierce playing earned him a position at the DBFZ summit this June.

6. Sheldon ‘toash’ Chean

Sheldon ‘toash’ Chean cemented his position as New Zealand's best Dragon Ball FighterZ competitor with his victory in the LetsPlay.Live Arcade Reborn Tour this February. As if that's not impressive enough, a week earlier he won New Zealand's first ever national tournament,  Garden of Might. Fortunately, all of toash's hard work is paying off because the Reborn Tour was a qualifying event and secures him a spot on the main stage at Evo this year. Before the Kiwi champion switched over to anime fighting games in 2017, he was a Smash Bros. Melee competitor and he has no problem admitting he still has a lot of room to grow as he settles into DBFZ.
Part of what makes toash such a fearsome player is his ability to immediately follow through with combos whenever he lands a punishing move. With Gohan at the lead of his team, toash darts around in an effort to dominate the battlefield before forcing his enemies into the corner and relying on Kid Buu to perform an assist power move to finish off his opponents. Toash uses Goku to complete the three-person team and utilises the Saiyan warrior as a lead brawler and an assist character in equal measure.

7. Ryo ‘Dogura’ Nozaki

Having headed to Vegas and competed against the best fighters in the world eight times, Ryo ‘Dogura’ Nozaki is no stranger to the pressures associated with playing at Evo. While he's entered more Street Fighter V tournaments than anything else, Dogura is best known for his experience playing BlazBlue and Guilty Gear Xrd, two other Arc System Works games. So far, Nozaki has only competed in five Dragon Ball FighterZ tournaments but the growth in his short career is already noticeable. Cell is the only character Dogura has relied on in each tournament appearance, but Vegeta and Kid Buu usually round out his team. While he's a formidable fighter with each character, his ability to lock in powerful combos with Kid Buu makes the villainous alien his strongest asset. Dogura has also been hard at work turning the DLC character Broly into a new centrepiece for his team, but he's yet to wield the Legendary Super Saiyan's power in a tournament.
Additionally, Dogura is actually GO1's sparring partner, so he’s constantly practising with one of the game's best players. While GO1's name may be more notorious, Dogura is just as big a threat, and if he can learn to dismantle GO1's tight defense before the two potentially face-off at Summit and Evo this summer, Nozaki could walk away with the top prize. He still has a lot of work to do though, because in Final Round 2018, Dogura placed third behind his partner Go1 and SonicFox, who took first and second place, respectively.

8. Luis ‘Teemo’ Gomez

Before picking up Dragon Ball FighterZ, Teemo competed in Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite tournaments starting in late 2017 and even participated in three Street Fighter V tournaments between 2016 and 2017. Before shifting his focus over to Dragon Ball FighterZ, he took first place in MvC at the Canada Cup last October, just five months before his debut DBFZ tournament.
Though the Canadian has only appeared in two tournaments for DBFZ, he's performed incredibly well. In addition to taking second place at the Canada East Championship, Teemo completely swept the Michigan Masters tournament and took first place without losing a single match, even holding his own in the final round as the video shows. His team always consists of Cell and Goku Black, but he relies on Cell the most to lock his opponents in corners and initiate combo attacks. During the Canadian Championships, Teemo relied on Vegeta, but he switched over to the Saiyan Prince's son Trunks when he took home the grand prize in Michigan. While he’s a skilled defensive player, he relies mostly on heavy offense to keep up the pressure instead of waiting for his opponent's to leave an opening.
On May 11, Teemo came face-to-face with Goichi in a first-to-10 exhibition at the Canada Cup Masters Series. Even with the home-field advantage, Teemo went down 10-1 and took third place overall at the tournament behind GO1 and NYChrisG.