The Dragon Ball FighterZ finals bracket at South East Asia Major (SEAM) 2019 in Singapore this past weekend featured a very rare sight: a time out victory.
After a day of tough competition, dark horse Filipino competitor Mico “Xanxus” Crawford-Perez and Japanese powerhouse Kei “BNBBN” Komada found themselves among the Dragon Ball FighterZ finalists who had survived the 51 other players in the early portions of the SEAM 2019 brackets. BNBBN was the clear favorite, but Xanxus’ competent use of a unique team featuring Super Saiyan Blue Vegito, Super Saiyan Blue Vegeta, and Super Saiyan Vegeta had helped him edge out strong players like Naoki “Matoi” Yasuda and Nicholas “Seo” Choo in pools. Both players entered their losers finals match with the threat of elimination looming overhead.
Xanxus opened strong, making smart use of Super Saiyan Blue Vegito’s annoying mixup tools and assists to put some serious damage on Kid Buu, a major part of BNBNN’s team. This forced BNBBN into early usage of Sparking—a mode that empowers and heals characters—to save Kid Buu, giving Xanxus an advantage later in the match. That said, BNBBN isn’t considered one of the best Dragon Ball FighterZ players in the world for nothing, and he soon began to make a comeback against the Filipino upstart.
With just 24 seconds left on the in-game clock, both competitors had been reduced to one character apiece: Super Saiyan Vegeta for Xanxus and Kid Buu for BNBBN. As has been the case since the game’s release, Super Saiyan Vegeta is an incredible assist character, but he otherwise falters when put into one-on-one situations, whereas Kid Buu excels in just about every stage of a match. Again, it seemed BNBBN would put this one away, but that’s when Xanxus employed a unique strategy in Dragon Ball FighterZ competition: running out the clock. By making smart use of his movement tools to keep away from BNBBN and going for lengthy combos, Xanxus was able to whittle away at the clock. As the seconds ticked down, BNBBN fought valiantly, but in the end, it was a losing effort. Xanxus took the round, grinning as the rarely seen “TIME’S UP” graphic appeared on the screen.
It’s certainly not as prevalent a tactic in fighting games as it is in, say, American football, where many games end with one team running out the clock while preserving a point lead, but every now and then, a fighting game match presents a similar situation. After all, the player with the most health left when the timer runs down in a fighting game will take the win, and thus folks who find themselves with a life lead in the final seconds of a game tend to have the advantage. This strategy isn’t always looked upon in the most favorable light, mostly in the Super Smash Bros. community, but it’s a viable tactic that makes great use of in-game systems to win at any cost.
Time outs are particularly rare in Dragon Ball FighterZ due to a variety of factors. First, the in-game clock is absolutely massive at 300 in-game seconds, which tick away at about the same rate as real-world seconds. That’s already five full minutes with which competitors are allowed to play. And unlike in other fighting games, time stops whenever characters perform supers which, if you’ve ever watched a DBFZ match, you’d know those get used all the time. Sure, the damage dealt per second doesn’t tend to be as high as one would expect from a three-on-three Vs. style game, but it’s enough to get the job done most of the time. I can’t remember the last time I saw a time out in serious DBFZ match, and the SEAM 2019 commentators were just as shocked by Xanxus managing to win with one.
It might seem anti-climactic, but in the fighting game community, a win is a win. This ethos permeates every level of competition. The in-game clock is there for a reason, and when it gets low, it’s well within a player’s rights to use that to their advantage if they have the life lead. Xanxus did not manage to beat BNBBN in the full set, but for one round, he took an incredible Dragon Ball FighterZ player to the limit and walked away the winner—even if only temporarily. And that’s something he can hang his hat on.