Season 3 of Dragon Ball FighterZ is the Wild West.
Back in February, we got hit with a perfect storm. The new season of DBFZ brought with it a wave of changes to character balance and core mechanics. Most notably, every character in the game went from having a predetermined assist to three assist options, blowing the team building possibilities wide open. Characters that were written off for having bad assists suddenly became more appealing, and every player watching was ready for a brand new meta to explode. And then the FGC had to go into hibernation.
With big events like Combo Breaker forced to postpone for a year, the scene lost the driving force of the meta. Without seeing which characters could excel at a high level and win in-person tournaments, Dragon Ball players were left with speculative tier lists that couldn’t be put to the ultimate test. The silver lining, of course, is that the community was liberated from those same tier lists, which can sometimes become shackles for players. As a result, a wave of unique and interesting Twitter/YouTube tech has become the stand-in for determining character value. Undeveloped and underexplored characters are finally having their moment.
However, the game isn’t without clearly strong options. Emerging stars like Z Broly and UI Goku, alongside long-term staples like Kid Buu and Bardock, have proven popular so far this season. But one former top tier, locked in hibernation since the end of season 1, is starting to emerge as a powerful choice for season 3 teams: Gotenks.
People aren’t considering how strong ghost oki really is in a meta where people are panicking trying to find a meaty that’s not from level 3. Plus he gets multiple mix ups and can get assist back. And plus for half a bar and it jails. Top tier neutral, godlike assists
— Tweak On Hitbox Day 10 (@Tweakk_FGC) July 30, 2020
Twitter tech expert Tweak on why he believes Gotenks is better than GT Goku.
Why Gotenks Thrives in DBFZ Season 3
Back in season 1, Gotenks was proven to be a fantastic character. Whether it was his assist allowing for ToD’s in a tournament setting or seeing Kazunoko win the world championship with him, you couldn’t turn on a pro Dragon Ball tournament without seeing the fused children wreaking havoc.
In season 2, Gotenks vanished. Snapping out enemy characters dominated the meta. Because being snapped in forced you to enter the battlefield on a specific frame, a universal setup could be used to guarantee continued pressure. As a result, knockdown oki became a lower priority, which made his once-coveted ghost oki less appealing. GT Goku was introduced and became a must-have character, reducing the variability of many teams. When faced with the state of play in season 2, Gotenks didn’t become a worse character, but simply less enticing than other options.
In season 3, snap has been nerfed. Now players have the ability to manually time when their snapped-in character enters the screen, eliminating the universal setups that were so dominant in season 2. Because of this, the mechanic is now less valuable. The game is moving back towards knockdown oki, and this is huge for Gotenks. Most characters thrive from their level 3 oki, but Gotenks approaches things differently. He has access to his secondary Super Ghost Kamikaze Attack, which allows him to control 4 ghosts with his 4 main buttons. With a sliding knock down, Gotenks can spend a single bar to set up immense pressure that requires some vigilant defense to persist through. With snap nerfed, his incredibly strong oki option shines.
Alongside most of the cast, Gotenks also received some major changes in season 3. His special moves now function as a rekka sequence, allowing him to chain moves together for higher combo damage or more unpredictable pressure. Half bar EX moves allow him to make use of tricky and punishing specials like EX Miracle Super Punch and EX Dynamite Kick.
Plus, as a cherry on top, Gotenks hard counters the seemingly omnipresent Z Broly.
Dekillsage skillfully demonstrated what the character could accomplish last season, and season 3’s change to the cost of EX moves has made Broly a demon. His armored moves and strong zoning can be brutal to deal with, as any online player will tell you.
The Legendary Super Saiyan does, however, have a weakness, and it comes in the form of two fused children. Because Gotenks’ special moves offer multiple hits in rapid-fire succession, he is fantastic at breaking through Broly’s frustrating armor. If a Gotenks player can predict when a lariat or grab is incoming, they can power straight through it and start a high-damage combo, effectively shutting down many of Broly’s strongest tools.
Where To See Gotenks in Action
While there are no tournaments to prove Gotenks viability, there are plenty of active players making a case for him on a daily basis.
If you search Twitter for the hashtag #DBFZ_GTK, you’ll find an abundance of new tech. Players like Shk0do have been hard at work finding innovative ways to use Gotenks’ tool kit in a season 3 environment, such as using new C assists to set up multi-ghost combo structures.
— Georg Shkodo (@Shk0do) June 29, 2020
Others like The Cool Kid93 are looking for ways that Gotenks excels in practical situations. For example, he is capable of low-profiling beneath UI Goku’s unique (and sometimes irritating) wakeup option.
— THE COOL KID93 (@Redmond2393) July 23, 2020
This is only scratching the surface of the intricate and extensive tech that players have come up with over the past few months of social distance experimentation. There is surely more to come before the cast have a chance to prove themselves in an offline tournament setting. Until then, investing in your Gotenks play seems to be a wise option.
Ryan Farmer, aka KRCPinto, is a fighting game player and fan based in Austin, TX.