Dragon Ball FighterZ Evo debut is anyone's to win

Dragon Ball FighterZ will boast the most competitors at this year's Evo in the game's debut at the annual fighting game tournament. Christophe Pettit Tesson/EPA

It's finally time for Dragon Ball FighterZ to make its Evolution Championship Series debut. Released in January, the game has taken the fighting game community by storm, with players from other major titles flocking to the scene. With the highest number of players competing in any game, at 2,575, there will be no shortage of big names trying to win the first DBFZ title at EVO.

Unlike some games in which one player dominates the scene, the four major DBFZ tournaments of 2018 have each seen a different winner. Goichi "GO1" Koshida started the year with a win at Final Round in March. Dominique "SonicFox" McLean got his revenge at Combo Breaker 2018. Fellow New York local Eduardo "HookGangGod" Hook followed that with a win over SonicFox at Summit of Power. Most recently, Ryota "Kazunoko" Inoue came out of nowhere with a big win at CEO 2018 in June. With such parity at the upper echelons of competition, it's anyone's guess as to who will come out on top this weekend.

That said, many will be looking at SonicFox to rise to the occasion once again at the Mandalay Bay. The multigame fighter has a few EVO wins under his belt for Mortal Kombat X and Injustice, and he has a shot to add a third title this year. Of those four events listed above, CEO was the only one in which he failed to make the top four. He's also coming off a win at VSFighting last weekend, in which he defeated both GO1 and his Cyclops Gaming teammate Ryo "Dogura" Nozaki in the top-eight with his new team featuring Android 16, Zamasu and Bardock. Look for him to come into this event with a full head of steam.

Although GO1 joined SonicFox as the best of the DBFZ scene in the first few months of the game's release, he has fallen on hard times the past few events. His last big win came at Stunfest 2018 in May, but that tournament was his to lose, as there weren't many big-name players in attendance. Despite the lead he had on everyone earlier this year, it looks as though the rest of the field has caught up to, or even passed, GO1.

HookGangGod is a name few knew prior to the release of DBFZ, as he dabbled in a few other games over the years but never attended tournaments in person. A regular player at the Next Level Battle Circuit weeklies in New York, HookGangGod has quickly risen to prominence with some big wins to his name. Not only did he win Summit of Power in June, but he's coming off a win at Defend the North last weekend, which will surely give him a ton of confidence in Vegas. He'll especially be looking for his revenge after being blanked by both GO1 and Dogura in the CEO top-eight.

We haven't seen Kazunoko since his win at CEO last month, but that makes him no less of a threat here at EVO. His run at that event using his unique team of Yamcha, Adult Gohan and Kid Buu was something of legend, having to come from the losers bracket and win seven straight sets to claim the title. It might be his only win of the year, but he has a slew of top-five finishes at Final Round, Stunfest, Combo Breaker and Summit of Power.

Those might be the ones most likely to pick up a win next weekend, but there are plenty of others that have a shot. This list of attendees reads like a laundry list of the best players in the scene: Vineeth "ApologyMan" Meka, Jon "dekillsage" Ceoello, Naoki "moke" Nakayama, Chris "ChrisG" Gonzalez, Victor "Punk" Woodley, William "Leffen" Hjelte, Reynald "Reynald" Tacsuan, Steve "Supernoon" Carbajal, Derek "Nakkiel" Brusca, Luis "Teemo" Gomez and Jonathan "Cloud805" Morales are just a few of the other names that will surely populate the brackets on the final couple days of competition.

It might not be closing out the event this year -- that honor goes to EVO mainstay Street Fighter V -- but you can bet that these players will put on a show all weekend before crowning the first winner on Sunday at the Mandalay Bay Events Center.