The Dragon Ball FighterZ World Tour finals concluded with a Big Bang Attack this past weekend in Paris, France, capping off a months-long season of competition in the popular three-on-three fighting game. The bracket was mostly decided beforehand, but one Japanese competitor was given an eleventh-hour opportunity to slip in by way of a last chance qualifier held right before the finals, leading to his adoption in the hearts of the mostly French crowd.
There’s no doubt that Tachikawa Toru is one of the best Dragon Ball FighterZ players in the world, but several circumstances kept him from qualifying for the World Tour finals over the last few months. Although he had impressive showings at tournaments across the globe, Tachikawa fell just short of securing a spot at the finals, leaving his chances at the main event resting on his ability to win a planned last chance qualifier right before the official competition was scheduled to begin.
A total of 235 players signed up to participate in that last chance qualifier, many of whom, like Tachikawa, had spent months competing at Dragon Ball FighterZ World Tour satellite events only to find themselves on the outside looking in. The most formidable of these players was French competitor Kayne Seys, who was eventually Tachikawa’s last obstacle to making the finals. In the winners finals of the last chance qualifier, Tachikawa made an incredible comeback from two games down to send Kayne to the losers bracket, and he ultimately finished the job in grand finals with an impressive 3-0 sweep. The enormity of the moment brought the Japanese player to tears.
But Tachikawa would have very little downtime between his last-minute qualification and the World Tour finals themselves. Less than an hour later, he was ushered back out onto the stage to participate in his round-robin group, which also included killers like Tsubasa “Maddo” Imai, Christopher “NYChrisG” Gonzalez, and local hero Marwan “Wawa” Berthe. Tachikawa sailed through this pool, during which he eliminated France’s hopes with a quick victory over Wawa. This put him on a collision course with rival Goichi “GO1” Kishida, a competitor thought of by many as the best Dragon Ball FighterZ player in the world.
At this point, France no longer had any representatives in the tournament. The top 8 bracket was overwhelmingly Japanese, with a few Americans sprinkled in for good measure. That said, the hometown crowd found a new hero to cheer for in Tachikawa, who entered the venue before his finals match with GO1 sporting a large French flag. It would have been easy to construe the gesture as Tachikawa waving a trophy of his victory over several of the country’s best players, but spectators largely fell in love with the gesture, and Tachikawa would remain an audience favorite throughout the rest of the event.
Tachikawa’s time in the top 8 bracket was a fair deal less exciting than the route he took to get there. He got a few good shots in on GO1, but ultimately failed to bring down the eventual Dragon Ball FighterZ World Tour champion. After getting back on track with a strong performance against Vineeth “Apologyman” Meka, he would fall to GO1’s teammate and tournament runner-up Shoji “Fenritti” Sho in the semi-finals, sending Tachikawa out of the event in fourth place.
Apart from being a hype moment, Tachikawa’s adoption of the French flag as a symbol of his performance and the audience’s subsequent support might have had tactical advantages as well. Like most fighting game competitions, the Dragon Ball FighterZ World Tour finals event was held among the spectators, meaning there was very little divide between them and the players on stage. While some players may find the noise distracting, others feed off that energy, and the relationship between Tachikawa and the French crowd very well could have had an effect on his play. Whether this was a shrewd move on Tachikawa’s part or simply a benefit of his inherent showmanship, Tachikawa’s overall showing was incredible for someone who wasn’t even in the finals when the weekend started, and a testament to how strong he can be if the situation presents itself.