Several hundred episodes ago, Goku proposed the idea of a universe-wide tournament to the King of All, and he agreed — with a price. In exchange for the opportunity to battle more powerful fighters, all participating universes would have to risk total annihilation: the losers will be erased from existence, while the winner will be saved and granted one wish. Since then, Gohan's reverted to his Ultimate form, Android 17 was revealed to be alive and good, and Goku unexpectedly recruited Frieza. The show finally introduced female Saiyans (and later Super Saiyans!) as well, in the form of Caulifla and Kale from Universe 6. The meeker Kale is Broly’s equivalent from Champa’s universe.
And that’s only the preliminaries. It’s become even crazier, and nastier, since the tournament actually began.
Warning: Massive spoilers for Dragon Ball Super ahead.
Universe 8’s Sidra tried to assassinate Frieza and Goku ahead of the tournament, only to fail miserably. Frieza partnered up with Frost, but chose to betray him. Gohan teamed up with Frieza. Legendary Super Saiyan Kale went on a rampage but learned to control it; her partner Caulifla successfully ascended to Super Saiyan 2 thanks to Goku’s coaching. Zeno eventually erased Frost when the emperor tried to attack after already being defeated. From the other end of the ring, Master Roshi almost died, Frieza is laying low, Tien and Krillin were eliminated, and the show just introduced two new Namekians. But the madness doesn’t stop there.
Jiren the Gray — a Pride Trooper from Universe 11 and this tournament’s most formidable combatant — stepped in and took out Kale. He barely even flinched. Provoked by Goku’s Super Saiyan Blue, he engaged both Goku and Hit, defeating the former thrice in battle, and the latter once after him. In his desperation to gain the upper hand, Goku awakened a new form called “Ultra Instinct,” easily matching Jiren in power, but only temporarily. Similarly, Hit almost knocked #Jiren off the ring, but was eventually overcome by brute strength and defeated. During this rest period, Frieza shared part of his energy with an exhausted Goku as payback for Namek, while Jiren meditated, apparently finding his participation no longer necessary after the loss of LSS Kale, Goku and Hit.
Feel winded yet? According to the Grand Priest, we’re only 50 taks down (that’s #DragonBall speak for 24 minutes), but after 77 episodes of constant battle royale and plot twists left and right, it feels like we’ve been watching since forever. During those first 50 taks, new friendships were made and fragile allegiances lost. Innocent lives were brutally taken. But if there’s one thing that hasn’t changed, it’s the master-and-student relationship between Vegeta and fellow Saiyan Cabba, who met shortly before the Future Trunks arc. If any, it’s only been strengthened.
In Episode 112, Cabba tries to fend off Monna from Universe 4, but fails and nearly falls off the ring. He is saved at the last minute by Vegeta, his beloved shishō, who gives him another pep talk about the importance of holding on to one’s Saiyan pride. Vegeta then promises to resurrect everyone from Universe 6 with the Super Dragon Balls if Universe 7 does win, reminding Cabba of his promise: to introduce him to Planet Sadal’s proud and honorable king, something Vegeta is still looking forward to. Cabba feels empowered, and shortly after, defeats Monna after turning Super Saiyan 2.
Why Cabba, And Why Save Universe 6?
Vegeta is classic tsundere. He will never fully admit why he’s drawn or attached to any one of the other characters in the series, not even his own wife and son. However, he’s grown some and mellowed since his introduction in #DragonBallZ, and has become much easier to read. In this case, Vegeta is nice to Cabba because he’s feeling sentimental.
Having grown up on Planet Vegeta and been its prince for several years, Vegeta has a soft spot for fellow Saiyans because of their shared heritage. This mutual history (and overwhelming Saiyan pride!) transcends tournaments and universes, so much so that Vegeta sees Cabba, Caulifla, and Kale as comrades instead of enemies, and Universe 6 as a brother-universe instead of an opponent. For him, Cabba and Universe 6 — and all the Saiyans currently living in it — are family. And we already know how far Vegeta is willing to go for the sake of his family.
Vegeta likely also feels for Cabba because of their shared fears. Vegeta once lost a planet he had called home; he’s felt the pain of its destruction for years. Similarly, Cabba might lose both his planet and his universe because of this tournament. Vegeta knows how that’s like, and does not wish for Cabba to experience it. He sees himself in these ragtag band of Saiyans and can easily empathize.
Being prince of the same race as Cabba’s, it’s possible Vegeta feels equally responsible for Planet Sadal’s safety, almost as if he’s back home all over again. In this sense, the young #Saiyan is like home to him, something familiar he’s missed and hasn’t belonged in for a very long time. There’s so few Saiyans left in Universe 7, at some point Vegeta’s probably learned to cherish what little he finds, instead of always trying to kill or viciously one-up them.
Cabba was the first Saiyan introduced from Universe 6. During the Champa arc, #Cabba exchanged blows with Universe 7’s #Vegeta, who would later awaken the dormant Super Saiyan in him and become his master. This master-student partnership extended to the Tournament of Power, where both Cabba and Vegeta meet again, this time working with each other instead of against, despite being on opposing teams.
Unfortunately for Cabba, however, Frieza cornered him after his rematch against Monna and to sate his pent-up grudge against Saiyans, savagely knocking him off the ring. Vegeta vowed to avenge Cabba’s defeat when he wins.
It’s presently unknown what Goku intends to use the Super Dragon Balls on, aside from resurrecting Frieza as promised. This may simply be Vegeta manifesting his Saiyan pride. After all, Goku entered this tournament for only one reason: to feed his bottomless hankering for a good fight. He probably hasn’t thought this far yet, including what to do with his wish in the event his team does win.
Let’s hope #Goku uses it for the same purpose as Vegeta, but adds the other universes to the mix, not just Universe 6. After all, it wouldn’t be Goku without the naivete and the altruism.