Evo 2019 has come and gone, and top competitor Dominique "SonicFox" McLean is once again the undisputed champion of Mortal Kombat. The achievement was one sought by many as the first Evo for the newest game only released this past April, and SonicFox surprised many by using Cassie Cage from beginning to end, never swapping out, and dominating the competition.
Now that the event is over, everyone is looking to Cassie and examining how exactly this one fighter was able to shut all others down in one of the most competitive scenes in the world.
To speak about the history that some players have with their fighters in Mortal Kombat 11 requires a couple of caveats. First, we need to consider how similar, or entirely different a fighter may be between both Mortal Kombat X and Mortal Kombat 11, because some may say that so-and-so is an Erron Black main, having played that character for years in the last game. This is true to a limited extent, since so many of the characters play differently, even if thematically identical from one game to another
Secondly, with the first point in mind, is the world’s best players have only had about three months of playtime to learn the ins and outs of their characters. This is important because it may point to why SonicFox has had such dominant success with Cassie, who we can consider more balanced than others.
Sonic's History With Cassie
In late May, a mere month after the game launched, SonicFox spoke to the strengths and weaknesses of the fighters in the game on his Twitch channel. He also speaks to the strengths of characters like Sonya, Geras, Erron Black, and Jacqui Briggs as “S” class, but what is interesting is that when listening to SonicFox speak, it sounds as though he comes to the realization that Cassie is an outstanding character, and that he should put some time into learning her, which at this point, he says he has yet to do.
Five days after that we have seen SonicFox came in second place at Combo Breaker 2019 using Jacqui Briggs, losing to Scar who was using Sonya Blade. Scar was well equipped to deal with Jacqui’s rush mechanics, and that might have been the point when SonicFox decided to go for overall balance rather than a rush character.
Why Choose Cassie
As SonicFox has explained at various points, the characters he considers “S” tier all have fantastic strengths, but few weaknesses. He states in his videos that Erron Black is great, if your footsie game is unmatched, and Jacqui is the rushdown Queen, but as we saw against Scar, not all fights call for rushing down an opponent. Geras and Sonya also have great strengths with some stipulations, but Cassie Cage is unique.
Unlike the other “S” tier characters, SonicFox considers Cassie to be the most balanced fighter in the game, as well as having strong points to her toolkit.
For starters, she has a versatile 9 frame advancing mid that lets her dominate that space, which is also where other top tier characters tend to want to be outside of characters like Shang Tsung and Cetrion, who are great at range.
Next, thanks to her shadow kick, Cassie can choose when to leave a corner almost at will, as stopping her from doing so requires great skill and perfect timing. This is a massive advantage not shared by all characters without the use of defensive bar resources, and in itself is a massive boon to her kit.
With regards to zoning, Cassie is one of the best in the game due to the nature of her projectile. Who would have thought that literal guns in a fist-fight would be so powerful? Everyone, literally everyone. Cassie’s throws are also better than most, and her crushing blow requirements are simple to meet.
All of this together makes for a powerful combatant with less damage output potential than Geras or Sonya, but this is made up with a versatile toolkit.
Was Cassie The Right Choice?
Clearly, winning Evo and sweeping the finals against Dragon 3-0 answers that question. We could also consider the question in terms of the other potential fighters that SonicFox could have used.
This writer speculated for the month prior to Evo that Shang Tsung in his Warlock tournament layout would be the main choice for SonicFox because of the numerous vods showing hours of online practice with the newest DLC character. However, Evo 2019 has also shown that this might not have been a good choice, since even the best Shang Tsung players seemed to have trouble dealing with the seemingly better ranged potential of Cetrion.
Jacqui Briggs of course comes to mind as another fighter expected to be seen at Eco, but once again some of the top players in the world seem more than able to deal with the potential of her rushdown mechanics. This is not to say they do not work well, but she is expected at this point.
All in all, we can likely say with confidence that while Cassie is less powerful than some other fighters in terms of raw damage output potential, in the hands of a dominant expert like SonicFox, her balanced abilities proved more than enough to dominate the competition.
For now, we can likely expect to see SonicFox continue with Cassie, but a day after the conclusion of Evo 2019, he has already Tweeted about Jax Briggs.
Damn I played so much jax today hahaha hes way too much fun
— FOX | SonicFox (@SonicFox5000) August 5, 2019
Will we now see the influx of Jax at fighting events? We can only guess for now, but it would be a sure way to mix up the expectations and plans of other players!