Sheldon Chean and Ajith Siva may need to briefly put their friendship on hold if they clash in tonight's national finals for the Arcade Reborn Tour - Dragon Ball FighterZ.
The eight-man esports tournament will take place at the LPL Studios in Auckland and will be featured live on Sky TV and broadcast online on Twitch from 8pm.
Two finalists have emerged from Auckland, Hamilton, Wellington and Christchurch, respectively, to create a field that is representative of New Zealand's best players.
Chean, who plays as "NZFW toash", comes into tonight's tournament in form having beaten Siva at the Garden of Might event in Christchurch on Sunday.
"I talk to Ajith about the game a lot, I look up to him as a player, so it's cool to be able to compete in a new game," Chean said.
"In that sense, I don't really feel like there is a rivalry, but I'm sure he's looking to get the runback from Garden of Might."
Chean, a 22-year-old software developer who lives in Auckland, has been an avid gamer for the past few years.
"I started competing with Super Smash Bros. Melee in 2014, and continued to play that until last year when I pivoted to anime fighting games like Guilty Gear Xrd and Melty Blood. I was always into fighting games even as a casual fan and spectator, but getting into the scene and meeting people at local events cemented that love for the genre."
Siva, known as "Blackout", is based in Wellington and has been one of the dominant Dragon Ball FighterZ players in New Zealand recently.
The winner of tonight's tournament will earn a trip to Las Vegas to compete in the Evo Championship Series in August.
Evo is the world's biggest fighting game championship and attracts the best players from across the globe.
One man who might be able to upset the two favourites - Chean and Siva - is Auckland student Jarrett Rameka who plays as "Mighty Ape WaZa".
"I've played both Blackout and Toash many times and I firmly believe that if someone is going to beat them, it will be me," Rameka said.
With more than 25 years' experience in gaming, the 30-year-old, who also plays Street Fighter 5 and Injustice 2, shapes as a tough out.
Rameka welcomed the opportunity to play live on Sky Sport in what looms as a big opportunity.
"It's going to be nerve racking but I welcome the new challenge. This is what I live for."
Sheldon "NZFW toash" Chean - Auckland
Jarrett "Mighty Ape WaZa" Rameka - Auckland
Ethan "GodTierLeo" Ruatoe - Hamilton
Josh "HG weyden" Weyden - Hamilton
Ajith "Blackout" Siva - Wellington
Mitchell "Unearthed" Phease - Wellington
Nick "Nick4Now" Piana - Christchurch
JungSu "Hanihani Mwohani" Oe - Christchurch