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The last seven episodes of Dragon Ball Super have followed Goku and Gohan as they attempt to build a team for the upcoming Tournament of Power—a battle where the existence of eight entire universes, including our own, will be on the line.

However, this is a tournament unlike any Goku and friends have ever been a part of before. In an eighty man, team battle royale, the ten best fighters from eight different universes will battle it out in a massive melee. The last team standing wins.

So the question becomes, who are Earth’s ten “strongest” fighters—especially when you remember that power level is not the most important aspect of choosing a team? As the only way to lose in this fight is via a ring out, things like experience, teamwork, and cleverness can easily overcome an immensely powerful opponent long enough to get a ring out—something Goku and Gohan have learned time and again as they have gone about recruiting.

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But their recruiting hasn’t gone as easily as they had hoped. Because the fate of our entire universe is on the line—and the entire tournament is basically Goku’s fault—they are reluctant to tell those they are recruiting about what is at stake so as not to cause a panic.

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Thus, Goku and Gohan have to find different ways to motivate people to join the team—which in turn gives us insight into what are heroes are willing to fight for when the fate of the world isn’t in the balance.

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For Goku himself, the stakes don’t particularly matter. He’s excited more than worried—he’ll get to fight the strongest people from across countless worlds after all. When it comes down to it, Goku is basically a thrill junkie, always looking for his next fix. Fighting against those stronger than him and overcoming them makes him feel alive. Remember, this is the man who even put a hit on himself just so he would have an excuse to fight the hitman.

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Gohan on the other hand is fighting to save the world—but more than that, he’s fighting to protect his family. As we saw previously, being a father to Pan is what currently defines Gohan. Few things can draw him out of his normal, boring life, but fighting to protect his daughter certainly does. Unfortunately, this is a double-edged sword for Gohan. While his family gives him a reason to fight, it also can distract him from the actual fighting as he worries about the price of failure.

Dragon Ball Super Looks at Our Heroes as Fathers

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Buu, the third member of the team, doesn’t particularly care about the fate of the universe. At first, it’s implied he only joins the team because Mr. Satan, his best friend, ask him to. It also helps that Buu that gets to “play”—play, in this case meaning “beat the ever-loving crap out of a wolf man.” After the pre-tournament exhibition match, Buu is excited to find people who are so strong and begins training so that he can “play” even harder.

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After his recent adventure training with Goku under Master Roshi, Krillin has once again devoted himself to being a fighter. Without his fears of past battles to hold him back, he has finally surpassed his old power by leaps and bounds. All it takes for him to join the tournament is the fact that Goku has asked him. At this point Krillin wants to prove himself—not only to Goku and the others, but to his daughter and, most importantly, himself.

Krillin’s wife, Android 18, feels no need to prove herself or fight at all, really. She is content in the role she has chosen for herself: wife and mother. Then comes the simple promise of 10,000,000 zeni to the winners. That hefty sum of money is enough for her to spoil her daughter for years to come. Then there’s also the fact that she worries Goku is not telling them the whole truth behind the tournament—which, of course, he isn’t. So money plus the fear that something more important is going on is enough to get her to sign up.

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18’s brother, Android 17, on the other hand, is not swayed by the love of fighting nor the promise of cold hard cash. In the years since his last appearance in Dragon Ball Z, he has found his calling: protecting an island filled with rare creatures. Leaving this for a fighting tournament is simply not in the cards for him.

After learning 17 has a family, Goku opts to tell 17 the truth about the universe being on the edge of destruction. But even this isn’t enough to get 17 to join the team. To 17, a god simply erasing all of existence is so far above him, it truly is an “act of god”—i.e., if it happens, it happens. It’s only after Goku helps protect the island and then promises 17 a wish from the Super Dragon Balls that 17 agrees to help.

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When it comes to Piccolo, Goku doesn’t even bother hiding the true stakes. Like Goku, the stakes don’t really matter to him. He’s in it for the fight—a chance to once again battle strong opponents with techniques he’s never seen before. But even more than that, he’s eager to see what will happen with Gohan in the tournament: if he’ll be able to overcome his own ego and the double-edge sword that is his family to become a fighter on par with his father or not.

Tien, on the other hand, has found a new life as a martial arts teacher. To him, it seems wrong to simply abandon his students for selfish reasons like a monetary reward or simply wanting to fight strong opponents. Of course, once his past comes back to haunt him in the form of a vengeful young woman, his duty to repair the town he lives in (via the 10,000,000 zeni prize)—and thus show his students how a responsible master acts—gets him to join the team.

For Roshi, the simple mention of 10,000,000 zeni is enough to have him volunteer—think how many lewd products he could buy with that cash. For the perverted old fighter, it’s a no brainer.

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And as for Vegeta, he’s in it for pure ego as always. Now that his child has been born, there’s nothing that could keep him from proving to everyone what he already knows: that he is the strongest fighter in any universe (well, if you ignore those pesky gods and angels, anyway).

Dragon Ball Super is streaming on Daisuki and Crunchyroll with English subtitles and airing on Cartoon Network’s Toonami with an English dub.

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