The Dragon Ball franchise features a number of martial arts tournaments, but where do the main Z Fighters place in each Tenkaichi Budokai?
Where did Dragon Ball’s main fighters finish in each of the series’ World Martial Arts Tournaments? In the Dragon Ball franchise, the Tenkaichi Budokai (World Martial Arts Tournament) is as deeply embedded into Dragon Ball’s DNA as the wild transformations and dastardly villains. While these periodic tournament sagas diverted from Akira Toriyama’s usual formula, some of Dragon Ball’s most epic battles can be found during these episodes. With the famous white-tiled ring, the seemingly immortal announcer and the promise of glory, these competitions allowed heroes to show off new moves and prove themselves against their peers in clashes that wouldn’t happen under normal circumstances.
Unfortunately, the Tenkaichi Budokai was often also used as an excuse to introduce new villains. With alarming regularity, the gathering of Earth’s greatest fighters would attract the evildoers of the Dragon Ball world, and the structure of the tournament would often descend into chaos, leaving the actual results secondary to the arrival of a major new threat. Here’s how all of the Z Fighters fared during their tournament appearances.
Goku – Goku’s first tournament took him all the way a final against his own sensei, Master Roshi, in which the Saiyan finished runner-up. Returning the following year for the 22nd competition, Goku again reached the final and again lost, this time against Tien through sheer dumb luck. Third time was certainly the charm for Goku, as he won the 23rd Tenkaichi Budokai against the resurrected Piccolo. In Dragon Ball Z’s first tournament, Goku is forced to concede during a match against Vegeta due to threat of Buu. Clearly no longer taking things seriously, Goku quits the 28th tournament after achieving his goal of discovering Uub.
Krillin – Krillin was a semi-finalist in the 21st Tenkaichi Budokai, losing to Master Roshi. The following year, the bald warrior had the misfortune of coming up against Goku in the semi-finals, once again making a swift exit. Krillin’s luck didn’t improve in the 23rd competition, as he was ruthlessly battered by Piccolo in the quarter-finals. Before quitting the 25th tournament to join his friends in opposing Babidi, Krillin won his sole match.
Tien – Entering his first tournament in its 22nd year, Tien became a Tenkaichi Budokai champion in a desperately close battle against Goku. Unfortunately, he couldn’t retain that title, losing in a rematch against Goku in the semi-final round the following year.
Yamcha – Dragon Ball’s resident punching bag competed in the story’s first tournament, the 21st Tenkaichi Budokai, and lost in the quarter finals to eventual winner, Master Roshi. It was a similar story for Yamcha in the 22nd tournament, exiting in the quarter-finals against that year’s victor, Tien. Another quarter-final beckoned the following year, when Yamcha lost to a disguised Kami.
Roshi – Disguised as “Jackie Chun,” Roshi defeated Goku in a narrowly-fought final to win the 21st World Martial Arts Tournament. Roshi donned his alter-ego once again the following year, losing to Tien in the semi-finals, but only via a noble forfeit.
Chiaotzu – Chiaotzu didn’t cover himself in glory during his 22nd Tenkaichi Budokai debut, losing to Krillin in the quarter-finals due to his poor math skills.
Piccolo – The Namekian’s first tournament was the 23rd Tenkaichi Budokai, in which he came runner-up to Goku after a fierce clash. When he competes in the 25th competition, he concedes against Shin after sensing a strange and mystical power from his opponent.
Goten/Trunks – The slightly older Trunks bests Goten when the two friends meet in the final of the Junior Tenkaichi Budokai. The pair later enter the adult tournament together under the name “Mighty Mask,” but are disqualified when Android 18 exposes their ruse. The duo separately enter the cancelled 28th tournament.
Gohan – Gohan made his debut in the 25th World Martial Arts Tournament under the Great Saiyaman persona. He had his energy drained by Babidi’s minions during his first match. Gohan’s progress in the 28th Tenkaichi Budokai isn’t shown.
Android 18 – Android 18 finished as runner-up in the hastily-restructured 25th Tenkaichi Budokai, bribed to forfeit by the wealthy Hercule.
Vegeta – Both of Vegeta’s Dragon Ball tournament appearances were scuppered. The first (25th Tournament) because of Babidi, and the second (28th) due to Goku leaving with Uub.