At the CEO Fighting Game Championships last weekend in Daytona Beach, Florida, the marquee games of Dragon Ball FighterZ and Street Fighter V closed out the show with one unexpected winner and another riding a hot streak.
Ryota "Kazunoko" Inoue was the unlikely Dragon Ball FighterZ champion at CEO, but he did not look like an underdog in his dominating top-8 loser's bracket run. He took down the most stacked Dragon Ball FighterZ tournament to date, despite all odds, and reset the grand finals against arguably the best player in the world, CYCLOPS Athlete Gaming's Goichi "Go1" Kishida.
The DBZ competition could be described with one phrase -- one-sided. Japan ruled the field with four of the top spots: Go1, Sho "Fenritti" Shoji, and Ryo "Dogura" Nozaki and Kazunoko. Regardless of the recent team compositions from Dogura, and to a lesser degree Go1 and Kazunoko, it was a bloodbath in their favor. Japan's emphasis on lockdown assists, pressure and impeccable defense, the region made another step in advancing the game's evolution. Players from the U.S. exited the tournament in disappointment, finishing with a collective 0-12 record in the top 8.
Kazunoko finally broke through as a true DBZ tournament threat with convincing victories during The Summit of Power when his oddball team of Kid Buu, Adult Gohan, and Yamcha was one of the highlights. His insistence on forcing his Super Dash and Adult Gohan lockdown with Yamcha assist was tough to deal with, but with a newfound emphasis on defense, his completion to top threat was fully realized.
Fudoh's Atsushi Fujimura took the CEO Street Fighter V title over Qanba's Zeng "Xiao Hai" Zhuo Jun. Fujimura continued his torrid run in the Capcom Pro Tour with only one loss in the winner's final against Xiao Hai, but more than made up for it with a 6-1 victory in the grand finals.
The grand finals between Fujimura and Xiao Hai was full of top-flight play. Despite the one-sided result for Fujimura, it was still a joy to watch two players at the top of their games. It was a battle between Fujimura's optimization off a stray hit and elite ability to hit-confirm against Xiao Hai's reactions and high game sense and awareness. In the end, it was Fujimura's adjustment and tempo change to a slower pace that ultimately decided the victor.
The ever-changing landscape of Street Fighter V's competition was on full display at CEO. It wasn't Panda Global's Lee "Infiltration" Seon-woo or Echo Fox' Hajime "Tokido" Taniguchi in the final three, but Xiao Hai and Nordavind's Arman's "Phenom" Hanjani instead. At this time, it would be foolish to label anyone as an overwhelming tournament favorite because the field is so wide open. The one downside to the parity was the lack of character variety (10 Cammys in the top 96) and it may not change anytime soon.