If the news of Dragon Ball FighterZ being pulled from tournaments has you alarmed, please don’t fret. The breakout hit fighting game isn’t going to become a “one and done” phenom in the tournament scene.
For those who haven’t heard, Dragon Ball FighterZ was recently pulled from some fairly large fighting game tournaments for undisclosed reasons. This includes Dream Hack Atlanta and Anime Ascension, the former of which already had entrants lined up.
FighterZ was also notably absent from the lineup for EVO Japan 2019, one of the biggest fighting game events in the world. Considering the game was the most viewed title at EVO 2018 on Twitch, this news raised some eyebrows.
The Dragon Ball property owners Toei Animation, Bandai Namco Entertainment and Shueisha have been fairly silent on the issue as well. Shueisha, in particular, has made no statement or comment on the matter since it began, either officially or through social media.
Toei Animation claimed no knowledge of tournament pulls in a tweet, while Katsuhiro Harada pledged the company’s support for the game in a statement regarding his appointment as supervisor of the Bandai Namco Fighting Game esports strategy team on Dec. 27 stating:
“We are already planning to have as many official tournaments as possible for next year—while continue supporting tournaments held by the community.”
Amid all of this, members of the fighting game community and fans of Dragon Ball FighterZ have been understandably alarmed. After all, the title is still fairly new, and even as popular as it is, a sudden drop in visibility could drag the title out of the limelight.
And yet, for those who have followed the fighting game scene, it’s nothing new. If anything, it shows just how legitimate Dragon Ball FighterZ is as a Dragon Ball property and tournament mainstay, and how much its influence has grown in such a short time.
Like any other fighter, Dragon Ball FighterZ’s continued rise in popularity brings with it a higher potential for revenue and influence on the brand it represents.
For Dragon Ball FighterZ, this means having a higher influence on the Dragon Ball franchise, one of the biggest and most lauded properties of all time in Japan.
Its manga stands as one of the best selling in history, and thanks to the recent series Dragon Ball Super, the series has once again vied for televised ratings on par with the medium’s current heavy hitter One Piece, tying it in household ratings back in 2016.
With this in mind it’s no surprise the property’s owners – be it Shueisha for the manga, Toei for the anime or Bandai Namco Entertainment for FighterZ – would be highly protective of how Dragon Ball FighterZ influences the brand.
This includes pulling the game from tournaments due to the venue not being big enough, or not being a part of an official circuit supported by the property holders like the current Dragon Ball FighterZ World Tour competition held by Bandai Namco.
It’s something that has occurred several times in the fighting game community. Many other series have seen just as much drama around tournament inclusion and been pulled by the property owners despite high popularity among fans.
One of the most regular culprits of this have been Nintendo with the Super Smash Bros. series. Over the years, every entry from Melee onward has been barred from inclusion or banned from live streaming in major fighting game events.
This includes even the largest events like EVO, which only a few years ago had to agree not to stream their Melee tournament to even include it in their lineup of events.
At the end of the day though, they, like Toei, Shueisha or Bandai Namco Entertainment, are in their right as the property owners. It’s up to them how the license is used, and how its image is cultivated publicly through tournaments and competitions.
And yet, this also allows them to strengthen a series and ensure its longevity, especially with a series or game with strong fanbases.
The Super Smash Bros. series has never been hotter. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate has already seen record sales numbers, and past entries like Melee continue to see interest and tournament use even with the red tape organizers have to cut through to include it.
The same could undoubtedly be said of Dragon Ball FighterZ. Having gained the mainstream popularity that it has, the game taps an audience that neither the anime nor the manga could even with their sustained relevance.
To pull FighterZ completely from the tournament scene would sacrifice this boon, which none of the three owners would want for the property. Instead, they’re likely determined to make its presence as strong as possible so it remains relevant for years to come.
Plus, even if it does become harder to organize its involvement in tournaments, the fandom around it ensures there are, and will be, plenty of people eager to make it happen.
The support of top players like Dominique “SonicFox” Mclean, Kishida “GO1” Goichi and so many more will only bolster this, keeping the mainstream esports community focused on the game and keeping FighterZ popular to play, watch or both.
It is a bummer that Dragon Ball FighterZ has been pulled from tournaments. It’s a drag that smaller venues may not be able to organize tournaments around it, and that larger events have to jump through so many hoops to include it in their lineup.
In the long term though, Dragon Ball FighterZ won’t be going anywhere, and if anything may be on its way to becoming an enduring member of the fighting game scene.