How Labcoat Android 21 Broke Dragon Ball FighterZ

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21% damage reduction, 21% less fun for everyone involved

Story Highlights
  • Labcoat Android 21 dominated Dragon Ball FighterZ with an absurdly strong moveset. Her Super inflicted a permanent damage debuff on opponents while buffing her own damage, making her a near-guaranteed win.
  • Labcoat 21’s overwhelming power became a staple pick in top-level play. Her dominance frustrated players and led to a ban and a call for balance adjustments.
  • To address the imbalance, Labcoat 21 received significant nerfs. These included reduced meter gain, vulnerability on her command grab, and a scaling down of her overall damage output.

Introducing a diverse array of characters is a hallmark of fighting games, offering players a wide range of playstyles and strategies to explore. However, with this diversity comes the potential for imbalance. No game is perfectly balanced, but Android 21: Labcoat’s release in Dragon Ball FighterZ completely nulled the need for any other character.
 

First Implementation

The reason Android 21: Labcoat or Labcoat 21 was so absurdly broken was due to the character flavor. The Devs based all her skills around the number 21, true to her name. What this did was create a kit that cannot be naturally nerfed or buffed, as that’d change the entire character theme. While this was a fun little idea in practice, it set up Labcoat 21 for ruin.


The Basics

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Even before I delve into the nitty-gritty, just her basics alone are enough to give her an advantage. Where each fighter in a combat game has a set role (rushdown, zoner, grappler, etc.) Labcoat 21 can do it all.

Her Dashfight page goes on to state: “She has everything you could wish for in a character without any notable drawbacks. Incredible damage potential, good meter build, powerful and easy-to-use anti-air, overpowering pressure, great normals, incredible OTG, and an unreactable command grab super.”


Debuff

Labcoat Android 21 - Super
Labcoat Android 21 – Super

Upon her initial implementation, Labcoat Android 21 introduced a game-breaking mechanic, allowing her to permanently debuff opponents damaged by her unblockable command grab Super, Photon Pulse. This drastically reduced their damage output to a mere 1/5th or 21% of the original damage.

This lasted until the end of the match and was the bread and butter of her kit. This was also what took her from a somewhat overpowered character to being unbeatable. You can see just how much of a difference the damage reduction makes here.

Her Dustloop page states, “It completely removes the damage upsides from Sparking, Limit Break and installs like , Adult Gohan’s  and more. You can’t even use traditional Happy Birthday/Merry Christmas team wipe combos with this debuff applied to your character, as even highly damaging sparking combos ending in a Level 3 will simply deal the same damage as a regular combo using meter.”


Tournament Bans

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The first major tournament after her release was the Combo Breaker 2022. In the tournament, 33 of the top 48 players had her in their team. In the top 8, 7 of the players picked her. This ultimately led to her ban from the upcoming CEO competitions. Surprisingly, EVO 2022 didn’t ban her.

Android 21 Ban
Android 21 Ban (from CEOGaming)

The Dragon Ball FighterZ World 2023 didn’t ban her either, and we saw a repeat of the earlier tournament. While the winner didn’t use Labcoat 21, brackets A, B, and D barely had a single competitor not using her.


The Nerfs

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Labcoat 21, unsurprisingly, was subjected to a flurry of nerfs ever since her performance at Combo Breaker. While most of these were slight number changes, some big ones finally pulled her down from her uncontested throne. 

YouTube video

They reduced her Meter gain by half, reducing the pressure she could put on and the risk of her command grab Photon Pulse applying the debuff. They also changed the properties of some of her moves to now work as Ki Blasts, meaning a timed block could reflect and stagger her. While she’s still a solid A tier, she’s nowhere near her former glory or even the top of today’s meta.

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