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Is it already time to ban Lab Coat Android 21 from Dragon Ball FighterZ tournaments?

Posted by Dakota 'DarkHorse' Hills • April 5, 2022 at 8:15 p.m. PDT • Comments: 28

Banning a character from serious fighting game play is an extremely rare measure generally reserved only for the absolutely most game-busting choices, and that's a bridge the FGC is currently deciding whether or not to cross.

Debate has taken hold of the Dragon Ball FighterZ community currently with the discourse of banning Lab Coat Android 21 from tournament play, and they may have a point for wishing it to be so.

As the newest character added to DBFZ, Lab Coat 21 hasn't even been available for a month and a half at this point, but we're already seeing more discussion to remove her from the competition than any prior DLC — and there's been some unbelievably top tiers in that mix.

Although this alleged issue with the character has been bubbling at or below the surface for a while now, things seem to have boiled over this past weekend at Bum's Birthday Bash 2022.

The tournament brought together many of DBFZ's best players from North America and Europe for the first time offline since the pandemic began, which made it a great testing ground for the game's current meta.

It was certainly a fun event for many, but we ended up seeing at least 5 or 6 players using Lab Coat 21 in the top 8 and around a 50% pick rate for the top 32.

So why do people want this strong new fighter removed from the format this quickly?

The Case for Banning

Over the course of Dragon Ball FighterZ's competitive life, we've witnessed a handful of top tiers dominate the meta between the likes of GT Goku as well as Ultra Instinct Goku, but none of them ever reached close to a consensus on banning them at their strongest.

What makes Lab Coat Android 21 so special then?

While there's multiple arguable issues at play here right now, a majority of them are tied to the DLC's unique draining mechanic.

Lab Coat 21 has an easily accessible level 1 Super command grab that nerfs her opponent's damage by 21% while buffing some of her own attacks by that same number.

That damage nerf stays for the entire time the hit character remains alive, and cutting damage by over 20%, even in a game as crazy as DBFZ, can really add up when mere pixels and frames can make a difference.

On paper alone, that's potentially too strong, but in practice now we're seeing the title's meta start to warp to a point where matches are becoming a game of who can land the grab Super first.

Because the grab can simply and easily combo'd into, there's no real way to play around the move besides don't get hit... or make sure you hit them back with your own.

That can quickly create a metagame that's stale and unfun for both players and spectators, and at least some would argue we're already at that point.

EG|SonicFox, who took 2nd place at BBB and also used Lab Coat 21, jumped into the conversation to share their opinion and poll the community for theirs.

"As much fun as I have playing Lab Coat 21, I actually think we as the community should ban the character," wrote SonicFox on Twitter. "I think as she is now, she isn't healthy for the game and is an omega rulebreaker. It might be time..."

The top player's community poll pulled in close to 15,000 votes in total with 51.6% of responders just barely affirming that the Android should be banned and 48.4% voting nay.

Those results are far from a consensus although it's apparent many, many players think there's a real problem for the numbers to get that high in the first place.

Rise|NitroNY, who placed 9th at the event and also used Lab Coat, chimed in writing "Ya know I'm never really down to ban a character but yea she gotta go."

There's the case to be made as well that the newest character is also top tier strong even without the grab using her spinning blade that can hit from full screen and be hard to or not punishable at all.

She can get solo OTGs better than any other character thanks to her stomp plus nice lows and an overhead, which gives the Android 21 variant the tools to be 1 of the best in FighterZ even without assists to back her up.

So why wouldn't we take her out at this point?

Why She Should Stay

As mentioned at the start of all this, banning is reserved for the worst of the worst, who could potentially kill the competitive scene if left unchecked.

Just look at Meta Knight from Super Smash Bros. Brawl if you want an example.

I'm not fully on board with saying Lab Coat 21 has already reached that point, however, especially with her only releasing in late February this year.

The community ended up letting GT Goku rock despite being probably just as OP upon release with his ridiculous mixups and fullscreen extensions / conversions, and while there was discourse about banning him, that never happened.

She also only makes up at most 1/3 of each player's team, so it's not like her being there is the only focus of the game now — and she's far from an unstoppable force.

We've seen similar games like Marvel vs. Capcom 2 and 3 survive and thrive with their own busted characters for decades although that is admittedly also not the ideal situation.

It would certainly help ease players' worries about what the game could turn into if Bandai Namco would tell the community whether or not they plan to continue updating FighterZ or not.

If we knew that a patch was coming at some point that would likely nerf Lab Coat in some fashion, competitors would likely be more willing to ride this wave and see where it goes.

But we don't have that assurance right now unfortunately.

If I were a tournament organizer, I would probably wait at least another month before making such a monumental decision to see where the community and feelings about the game are sitting after more time has been available to process this puzzle that may or may not have a solution.

This upcoming period may end up being one of the most important in the DBFZ's entire life, and there's no easy solution that will seemingly please the vast majority of those still dedicating their time to the game.

We'll turn the vote over to you all now with our own poll as to whether or not you think Lab Coat Android 21 should already be banned from tournaments or not or if the FGC still needs more time to come to a correct decision.

Should Lab Coat Android 21 be banned from Dragon Ball FighterZ tournaments?

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