Another year equals another trophy for Dominique "Sonic Fox" McLean as he took his third Evolution Championship Series title today in front of a crowd of thousands at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas. Only 18 years old, it seems like there's no slowing down for Sonic Fox.
He has won it all before, convincingly across Injustice: Gods Among Us and Mortal Kombat X, but this time, unlike before, he was pushed to his absolute limit in Mortal Kombat X. His opponent, Bahraini player Sayed "Tekken Master" hashim Ahmed, has never attended a major tournament before, and in his debut on the big stage at Evo in Las Vegas, he came to impress. He took Sonic Fox to a second set, 10 games, before Sonic Fox finally wrapped things up with a decisive blow.
Following his win, Sonic Fox jumped out of his seat in excitement.
"I don't know how it feels yet," he said. "It'll probably hit me -- how it feels to be a be a three-time Evo champion -- in the morning, but I'm super exhausted."
Prior to playing Tekken Master in the grand finals, Sonic Fox took a dominating win over him in the winner's finals 3-0. Sonic Fox says that he was expecting to do it again, and Tekken Master coming out stronger in the grand finals took him as a surprise.
"When Tekken Master beat Scar, I was really excited, because I didn't want to fight an extremely stressful matchup," Sonic Fox explained. "I was actually expecting to 3-0 [Tekken Master] in the grand finals. But I don't even know what happened. He was so smart, he played so well, and he's so good with neutral in that game. I still ended up playing an extremely stressful match."
To take the win, Sonic Fox threw off his signature blue fox hat, revealing his head for the first time. The crowd and the commentators were ecstatic, making jokes that they were shocked not to see his brain under the hat. When asked why he removed the hat, Sonic Fox said it helped him focus.
"[Removing the hat] was a way for me to relax and also it helps me focus, so I kind of always say, 'the limiters are coming off now,'" he explained, laughing. "I focused and regained what I needed to do in that matchup, quickly clutching out two other games after I took off the hat. It let me think more."
As one of the first times he has been challenged, it's possible that other players are out there that could give him a run for his money. Some players may be unable to attend tournaments, and therefore don't get their shot.
"[Tekken Master] definitely has to be an online warrior," he said. "You never know who you're going to come across, but there could be that one player who gives you a run for your money. Luckily for me, I didn't lose a single match until the grand finals for this tournament. And it is grand finals, so if you want the trophy, you better earn it."
But Sonic Fox' game comes with one challenge: obtaining an audience due to the maturity, blood and gore involved in Mortal Kombat X. While his peer Brad "Scar" Vaughn told ESPN.com that he believes Injustice 2 will fix that issue, Sonic Fox has a different approach.
"Tell other people who are looking at us and saying, 'that's so gross' to grow some balls," he said. "That's really it. I've been playing the game from age 13 and I've seen worse graphics. This is light work. Are you serious right now?"