Dominique “Sonicfox” McLean couldn’t dream of a better scenario for their Day 1 at Evolution Championship Series 2022. After they made it to Top 48 of the Multiversus side tournament with their best friend and Evil Geniuses teammate Jon “dekillsage” Coello, they got to hug it out on the main stage of Evo in front of thousands as SonicFox captured the one title that has eluded them.
After 10 years, the Skullgirls franchise finally got it’s time to shine as one of Evo’s nine titles at this years event for the first time in the games’ history with Skullgirls 2nd Encore. And despite having six victories in five different titles across a decorated career, it was this win in this game 10 years after release (with the smallest entries among the main lineup), that meant the most to SonicFox.
“This has to be my number one most favorite Evo moment,” SonicFox said after the win. “It’s the game I’m the most passionate about, the game I shed the most blood, sweat and tears for.”
They added: “It’s the game that made me who I am today.”
SonicFox and his journey to the top in Skullgirls
SonicFox has been playing Skullgirls for a very long time and has proven that any fighting game they touch passionately they will excel in. As a result, SonicFox came into the biggest tournament in the game’s history as one of the favorites, but they weren’t the favorite – at least not when coming to seeding.
Japan’s “PenPen” was the tournament’s number one seed which he earned in part due to his win just a month prior at Combo Breaker. In that event, PenPen came all the way from Losers side of top 8 and beat everyone in his path. When he got to Dekillsage in Losers Finals, he beat him 3-2, when PenPen took on SonicFox in grand finals, he 6-0’d them to become champion. SonicFox never wanted to lose to PenPen ever again and made sure the practice heading into Evo would prove that.
“I made sure to optimize a bit more, made sure my strategy was a lot more consistent and made sure my play was a lot more cleaner,” SonicFox said.
As Skullgirls Top 8 kicked off, the winners bracket was all chalk as the top four seeds entering the event, were the four players in winners semifinals with SonicFox taking on Daniel “Cloud” Normandia while PenPen took on DekillSage in a rematch of Combo Breaker. After SonicFox breezed past Cloud to sit in winner’s finals, they watched while DeKillSage went up against the tournament favorite. The match played out almost exactly like Combo Breaker with the set going to Game 5.
But this time the script flipped, after DeKillSage clutched out the Game 5 win, he was rushed on stage by his best friend as the two celebrated, DeKillSage took down PenPen and the reward was getting to play against SonicFox in winners finals.
SonicFox said on Twitter before the Winners Finals match that “it didn’t matter what happened now win or lose” because being able to play against their best friend was reward enough. The two play all the time and both said that sets between the two could get streaky in either direction. But don’t get it twisted, SonicFox always intended on winning the event.
They also mentioned that they weren’t going to “choke” this time. After trouncing DekillSage in three quick games, SonicFox sat alone in Grand Finals while getting front row seats to watch the finale of the DeKillSage and PenPen saga. A PenPen win would allow SonicFox to exact revenge for Combo Breaker themself, but DeKillSage had different intentions.
In one of the most thrilling best of five matches so far at Evo 2022, DeKillSage managed to double eliminate PenPen to set up an all-EG Grand Finals, a literal dream for the two players. For SonicFox, the pressure of PenPen was lifted and although they weren’t the one to take him down, they were so excited for their best friend to do it.
Leave PenPen to me pic.twitter.com/ilZpKd9eh4
— dekillsage (@dekillsage) August 4, 2022
“I trained him, I gave him all the anti-PenPen tech,” SonicFox said. “And he smoked mans, and that got me so hype because our hard work paid off.”
Couldnt have been a more perfect end either.
Thank you for one of the most intense matches of my life @dekillsage
Forever my best friend! pic.twitter.com/jnPhnX6oTX
— SonicFox (@SonicFox) August 6, 2022
As the two sat down for the first set of Grand Finals, the two felt pressure but for SonicFox it was a different kind of pressure.
“Once I hit Grand Finals with my best friend [DekillSage], it wasn’t a matter of winning or losing, but we had to play our best, we trained our asses off,” SonicFox said. “Now it’s just you and I left and it’s like ‘nah I want to show I’m better than you.”
In the first set of Grands, DeKillSage played like a different player, he played like he was Combo Breaker PenPen the way he 3-0’d SonicFox to reset the bracket. SonicFox was playing for a dream title but DeKillSage was playing for pride and as a result, he swallowed it when he needed to.
“I hate playing that kid bro, they’ve been beating me for like nine years,” DeKillSage said. “I knew my Annie wasn’t on SonicFox’s level but my Filia is at the top level so I can compete.”
But SonicFox was not having it. As the potential 6-0 (just like at Combo Breaker) was on the table, SonicFox regrouped and came correct to start off the second set. But it wasn’t easy. Both players played their hearts out as the entire tournament came down to single game. But the writing was on the wall and as Game 5 unfolded, it was all SonicFox. The culmination of it all hit SonicFox in that moment as they fell to the floor on the stage and realized that their dream came true.
The tourney winning pop off! GGs to @SonicFox and @dekillsage, congrats to both of you for making grand finals and to SonicFox for winning it all!#Evo2022 #EGWIN #LIVEEVIL pic.twitter.com/lHcSxAlaVJ
— Evil Geniuses (@EvilGeniuses) August 6, 2022
“Finally after 10 years to see that my favorite fighting game of all time has an Evo, I was going to do all I possibly can,” SonicFox said.
It was bittersweet for DekillSage, although SonicFox realized a dream, DeKillSage’s performance was legendary. Double eliminating the tournament favorite in back-to-back Game 5’s and then pushing SonicFox to the absolute brink is something people will remember for years to come. To DeKillSage, he thought he played well but didn’t think he played at his peak.
“I think I played at an eight or a nine,” DeKillSage said. “I think I could have practiced my Big Band a little more, 50 more hours in training mode.”
As for SonicFox’s rating of their best friend’s performance, they couldn’t have been happier.
“He showed me that when [DeKillSage] believes in himself, he can literally do anything,” SonicFox said. “He nearly beat me.”
As for the future of the 10-year-old game, the hope coming from the two best players in the world, DeKillSage and SonicFox is that this is just only the beginning.
“There is so much room for the game to grow,” DeKillSage said. “We got 295 people here and there is no way that would have happened just two or three years ago, we are only going up man, we’re going to really grow.”
SonicFox added: “Skullgirls is the best fighting game ever, the community is so accepting it’s like one big happy family. We’ve always been accepting of each other from various different fandoms to come down and play this wonderful game. I would give my life for this game.”