NRG Esports' Steve "Supernoon" Carbajal is one of many top contenders looking to qualify for the Dragon Ball FighterZ Red Bull Final Summoning. The #8 PGRZ player in the world has consistently placed highly within a majority of the events he has competed in throughout the World Tour, but has come up short ahead of the Last Chance Qualifiers.
Players will gather in Downtown Los Angeles for four Last Chance Qualifiers, the winners of whom will join GODSGARDEN's Ryota "Kazunoko" Inoue, Echo Fox's Dominique "SonicFox" McLean, Cyclops Gaming's Goichi "GO1" Kishida, and NRG Esports' Eduardo "HookGangGod" Deno in competing in the Final Summoning. Kazunoko currently holds four Dragon Balls, with the latter holders each possessing one Dragon Ball.
The Kid Buu lord sat down with Inven Global ahead of the LCQs to talk about the current DBFZ meta, the World Tour format, and his appreciation for Kazunoko.
Supernoon, you were recently competing at Frosty Faustings. How did that event go?
It was a one day tournament, that's why a lot of the players who went ended up going. It's really the last major tournament for Dragon Ball before the Finals, and it being a one-day event helps train a lot of people who were there for the Last Chance Qualifiers.
LCQs are a lot shorter than a one day tournament. They last about a couple of hours, but there's going to be four of them at the same time. Myself and a couple of others in the top 4 at Frosty Faustings went with the intent of training for the Finals. It didn't really matter to us if we won or lost. It was more about focusing on playing for a full day and seeing how we felt afterwards.
How does preparing for multiple LCQs compare to preparing for a normal tournament?
I would say it's easier in some ways and harder in others. These tournaments are single elimination, whereas the typical major is double elimination. When there are so many world class players from around the world there, it's really important to maintain a confident mindset. You have to go in believing in yourself and have a level of trust with yourself and your line of thinking.
You have to be really confident in how you play the game. You want to be accepting of what happens because you really can't afford any room for tilt. You need to be able to accept whatever happens inside or outside of the game and just play through it. There are so many chances in this LCQ format, so you never know which one is your "run" so you need to have the best mindset possible for all situations.
How do you think the most recent patch will affect the meta at the LCQ and Finals?
Overall, I feel the game is pretty good. However, they decided to patch the game right after the Japan saga event, which was kind of weird. It was a random patch just announced the day after the event. A lot of us don't really know why they did it. They nerfed certain character mechanics or strengths, and eliminated some characters' abilities for true block strings. Because of this, other characters have become way better.
In addition, what was already meta before the patch was not nerfed. Gotenks and Piccolo were already strong, and they shot up the tier list after the patch because they remained untouched amongst all the adjustments.
I feel like the game is in a good place, but the meta itself wasn't really nerfed, which is weird. It's kind of like the mechanics and contextual factors around the meta. The game is in a state, at a higher level, where those characters define how the game is played. They don't necessarily automatically win you the game, but they do set the tempo on the match and dictate the flow automatically because of how polarizing their strengths are within the meta.
It's definitely a different experience to play against those characters on this patch. Last I checked, you have yet to play Gotenks or Piccolo in a competitive match.
After the patch, I played Gotenks/Bardock/Yamcha for a couple of weeks to prepare for the saga event in Australia as opposed to my normal Kid Buu teams. But I kept playing it and I realized while it is technically the best composition in the game, it's just not for me. It feels lifeless; there's no soul to it. I can't be me and there's nothing fun about it. It's just not the game I want to play.
I just stuck with my Kid Buu team and I've been doing more or less pretty well. I've been placing consistently at all the majors I've gone too after the patch. It's just more or less about being the best player on the day of the LCQs now.
Excluding yourself, are there any heavy hitters going to the LCQ that have a good chance of making it?
There's a couple that I think have a really good shot. The thing about the LCQ is that there will be so many of the world's best players there.
Some players I think absolutely have a shot of outright winning an LCQ are Dogura from Japan; Reynald from SoCal; Fenritti from Japan; Nakkiel from America has been blowing it up recently; dekillsage; Acqua; Tachikawa; Chou; Galileo — a lot of the Japanese players from Fighting Tuesdays all have a really good chance because their scene is so strong. Off the top of my head, those are some players who could win.
It's crazy, since Kazunoko took four Dragon Balls you have so many good players scraping for a chance at the Final Summoning. As far as the format itself, what are your opinions?
Many players, myself included, have been very vocal about the format since the tournament started. As the year progressed and we've traveled around the world for these chances, it kind of felt like it sucked. Straight up.
To be unfiltered, it was terrible. It was cool traveling the world, that was great. But I top 8 most tournaments that I go to, and throughout the year of going through all of these events for Dragon Ball specifically, I only failed to top 8 in 3 or 4 out 17 total events. I also top 8'd two saga events; 2nd in Mexico and 5th in Australia. I got 13th in France and 9th at CEO. To have such high placements consistently and not be rewarded with anything in the World Tour is kind of garbage.
Outside of me, there have been plenty of other players who top 8'd frequently or were runner up to Kazunoko. There was no reward for being consistent, which is where circuit points would usually come in. I hope that if/when season 2 of the World Tour is announced, they adjust the format. It's fine to keep the Dragon Ball gimmick, but I feel like the tour was a very empty shell. They had the Dragon Radar events, but if you win one of them, you don't really get anything.
People should be rewarded if they are making a final in every tournament they enter. They deserve to be rewarded for that consistency. It's hard to keep winning. It's hard to stay on top in the FGC, especially nowadays with the internet and access to footage. Everyone's watching each other, so it's hard to stay the best because it's really hard to be consistent.
DBFZ has so much competition all around the world, so to be one of the people in the world who is super consistent, it feels bad to not be rewarded. Hopefully, in season 2, there are circuit points so the real best in the world don't have to go through these crazy single elimination brackets.
I appreciate your straightforwardness. Amongst the four players locked into the Finals with Dragon Balls, who do you think is most likely to take the whole thing?
I think SonicFox outright has the best chance out of everyone who is qualified. He has recently bodied the other three players who have Dragon Balls.
Last time I saw him play HookGangGod, he smoked him. The last time he played GO1 was at EVO, and we watched Sonic win. Sonic vs. Kazunoko has been the most competitive recently, but we haven't seen them play in a few months since SonicFox hasn't been traveling to the Saga events recently. The last time we saw them play was Tokyo Gameshow and Sonic won that pretty convincingly.
SonicFox is clearly the favorite to win the Final Summoning, but Kazunoko can never be counted out. Kazunoko isn't crazy technical; he doesn't do anything different; he always plays the same. He has a very polarizing style of play because he specializes in playing his opponent. That's what he's really good at. SonicFox has been pretty good about not letting him figure out things and adjust by just running him over and having an instant answer to everything he does.
I played Kazunoko in Australia, and I was the only person to get even a game off of him. After that, I lost two straight *laughs* he immediately understood what to do. It was wild, I never played against anything like that.
Kazunoko is one of my favorite fighting game players of all time because the way he plays speaks to me. I play similarly, and the thing I think I understand mostly about him now that I've played with him is that he finds the most consistent strategy. Any day of the week, he's going to be able to do the same couple of things that he does perfectly. It will always work; it's so cheap; it's just so good. It's so reliable that you can just keep doing it over and over.
Kazunoko plays against everyone in the same style with the slightest of adjustments. When I played him, I steamrolled him at first, and then he almost came back in the only game I was able to win. He has this way of forcing you into these awkward moments or exploiting weird tricks that causes you to make mistakes. Even when you're in an advantageous state, you feel like somehow you're at a disadvantage.
Lastly, he understands that his strength is playing fast and he takes advantage of how wild he is.
Thanks so much for all the insight, Supernoon. Best of luck in the LCQs. What color hair will we see?
Rocking the white. Gotta go Ultra Instinct.