Today we’re going to talk about the 2nd group of teams, which have separated themselves from the pack and are making big time showings but don’t seem to quite be on the level of the top teams.
Vergil-y/Wesker-b/Strider-y. Wesker-b/Dante-any/Vergil-y, Wesker-b/Magneto-a/Vergil-y, Doom-b/Strider-y/Amaterasu-b, Magneto-a/Strider-y/Sentinel-a, Vergil-y/Dante-any/Strider-y, Wesker-b/Dante-y/Strider-y, Doom-b/Sentinel-a/Strider-y, Vergil-y/Doom-a or b/Strider-y, Vergil-y/Dante-any/Magneto-a
Players to watch:
Padtrick and Zeus: Vergil/Wesker/Strider
BT | Clockw0rk: Doom/Strider/Amaterasu
Chou and OMGItsAndre: Wesker/Magneto/Vergil
This group of teams that top the 2nd grouping is dominated by Strider and Vergil proving once again that if you want to pick a winning character in a Capcom fighting game, pick a character with red hair or a sword. It makes you wonder whose Cheerios Hayato pissed in to buck the trend in MvC2, doesn’t it? While the grouping of teams in this list are roughly equal to each other I want to make special note of the Vergil/Strider shell and go over a few things since it’s very underused and deserves more of a look in serious competition.
Strider assist was one of the early flavors of the month but it fell out of favor once people learned how to deal with it. Or so they thought. It’s a good assist with most all characters but when you add a point character that can protect it and convert off of it from multiple positions you have a dominant force and Vergil can do both. Many players who gave Strider an early look and abandoned him may want to have another look; the best Vergil/Strider teams are closer to the top 3 team groupings than anything else in the 2nd tier.
The Vergil anchor team construction is another team construction that warrants another look.
When early Japanese tournament results were coming in many people seemed confused by how often Vergil appeared as an anchor. Early American wisdom was that Vergil was best suited as a point or second character so that he could have more assist usage. It turns out—at least for right now—that Vergil is a dangerous character in all positions. The tactics may change depending on what slot he fits into but he can dominate in all of them. Early on many people laughed and thought that Japan would be free since their main anchor wasn’t as good as America’s main anchor (Wesker). Well, who’s laughing now? They were right and we were wrong.
Magneto-a/x/Sentinel-a. Doom-b/x/Sentinel-a. x/Doom-b/Sentinel-a. Doom-b/Sentinel-a/x, Magneto-a/Dormammu-a/Sentinel-a
Players to watch:
Joker: Magneto/Iron Man/Sentinel
Let’s get this out of the way quickly. Sentinel as a point character is among the weakest in the game. As has been pointed out by many different people, when Sentinel drops into the action and has to fight on his own, how often do you hear the commentator say “oh this is a great match for Sentinel!” It debatable whether there even are any great matches for Sentinel, much less among the common tournament characters.
So why does he still show up on a wide variety of teams? The Magneto/Sentinel shell and Doom/Sentinel shells are among the most resilient in the game. Both are well suited for both offense and defense and can be molded to almost everyone’s individual playstyle. I’ve long advocated to someone who wants to actually get into Marvel that they start with a Doom/Sentinel team simply because mastering this shell will make you better at Marvel.
This is a prime example of how the best teams are more than the sum of their parts. As we’ve seen by the many individual tier lists, many people think Doom as an individual character is not top 10 and Sentinel as an individual character is bottom 10. But when combined together they can shut down top tier teams simply due to their synergy.
Magneto-a/Doom-b/Phoenix-a or b. Zero-any/Doom-b/Phoenix-a. Wesker-b/Haggar-a/Phoenix-b, Wesker-b/Magneto-a/Phoenix-b
Players to watch:
Tokido and Filipino Champ: Magneto/Doom/Phoenix
BT | Viscant: Wesker/Haggar/Phoenix and Wesker/Doom/Phoenix
The demise of Phoenix has been greatly overstated. Her teams still rank among some of the best in the game just it appears she’s fallen further than she actually has given that Zero/assist/Phoenix and Wesker/assist/Phoenix were probably the absolute best teams in vanilla Marvel and definitely the best ones tournament wise by the time Ultimate supplanted vanilla as a tournament game. Meter building changes and overall system changes have changed the way Phoenix teams need to be constructed. Due to how fast meter built in vanilla you could get away with having two meat shields in front of her and rely on her to win the game by herself. This can still happen but is much less of an expected outcome in ultimate.
The meter change gives Zero and Magneto teams an advantage over Wesker teams since they can build more meter in 1 hit and force the opponent to make difficult decisions about when to snap back and when to kill the point character. Also more thought has to go into the 2nd character on a Phoenix team now than in vanilla. In vanilla the 2nd character could be a pure assist and Tron and Haggar showed up frequently. In ultimate, your 2nd character needs to be counted on to start offense without assist support. If you lose your point character early, your 2nd needs to possibly generate 2 hits in order to give you the meter necessary to get to Dark Phoenix. This is why Doom is the most common 2nd character on Phoenix teams; among characters with good assists, he simply is the best one at creating enough solo offense to be a reliable plan B.
In vanilla Dark Phoenix didn’t really have counterpicks. She had to watch her step around Magneto or Akuma and Dormammu holing himself up in the corner behind a flame carpet could be tricky to get around but for the most part she was a power character, very straightforward and with a simple and easy to execute strategy. Ultimate is a different animal. She is completely dominated by Vergil anchor, Dr.Strange anchor and Strider anchor and has serious issues with Morrigan and Hawkeye in general.In short, she’s become a regular character with good matchups and drawbacks like the rest. Dark Phoenix as a strong anchor means that her teams are still good enough to be a strong tournament team that can beat most teams but they no longer dominate the game.
Spencer-any/Vergil-y/Hawkeye-a, Spencer-b/Wesker-b/Hawkeye-a, Spencer-any/Doom-b/x, Spencer-any/x/Taskmaster-a, Spencer-a/Sentinel-a/Akuma-b
Players to watch:
Combo Fiend: She-Hulk/Spencer/Doom, Nova/Spencer/Hawkeye
BT | Yipes: Spencer/Vergil/Hawkeye
Generally the best Spencer teams are designed with one purpose in mind: to maximize combo potential enabling him to kill any character off one clean hit while offering some kind of projectile support allowing him to zip in freely and set up high low mixups. Hawkeye, Taskmaster, Chris and Iron man are better than Doom plasma beam in this case because the opponent is left standing after getting hit on the ground. The key to maximizing Spencer teams is making sure the two support characters can work well together.
Vergil/Hawkeye or Wesker/Hawkeye are good examples of duos who not only work well for Spencer’s purposes but can operate as a self-contained unit. Wesker and Vergil can both make excellent use of the Spencer assist for teleport resets, with Spencer-B being Wesker’s absolute favorite reset assist in the game.Of course since Doom-missiles can work well with Spencer this opens up the possibility of adding Morrigan to the team. Her projectile assist is not spectacular but the Morrigan/Doom trap may be too good to pass up. Nobody notable has made use of this team but there just may be something here that may cause this version of the team to move up the ladder and separate itself from other Spencer themed teams.
Dormammu-a/Magneto-a/Wesker-b, Wolverine-any/Spencer-b/Wesker-b, Spencer-a or b/Magneto-a/Wesker-b, Magneto-a/Dante-y/Wesker-b
Players to watch:
Masta CJ: Dormammu/Magneto/Wesker
Wesker anchor was the flavor of the month early on with many people overreacting to the character’s overall power. While still good, his weaknesses are exploitable. He struggles with zoning and teams with Wesker anchor have significant trouble with Phoenix anchor teams and Morrigan teams in general unless the point character is particularly strong against her like Dormammu.The problem with the Wesker anchor team is that even if you accept the premise that Wesker anchor is great and worth playing for you have to make sacrifices to get to that point. The whole point of discussing teams instead of individual characters is because as players we recognize the value of team synergy and how important assists are. When Wesker is your anchor you don’t get much support. Samurai edge is the best for extending combos but outside of certain Dante grapple setups it just isn’t a very good assist for much else.
That’s IF you accept that Dark Wesker really is worth fighting for. Evidence is starting to mount that he just isn’t. As the game trends back towards zoning and characters that Wesker isn’t designed to fight, playing a team like that may be betting it all on something that won’t get the job done. There are plenty of teams out there with inefficient anchors or anchors that have a very good reason to be afraid of Dark Wesker but when you look at the best teams in the game and the ones you’re likely to run into at the end of a tournament, there aren’t nearly as many as there used to be. As MorriDoom becomes more dominant, Wesker is the biggest loser.
Wolverine/Wesker/Akuma, Wolverine/Storm/Akuma, Wolverine/Frank/Wesker
Players to watch:
Justin Wong: Wolverine/Storm/Akuma
Noel Brown: Wolverine/Frank West/Wesker and Wolverine/Wesker/Akuma
Being at the bottom of the 2nd grouping of teams isn’t a bad thing, it still puts you above about 115,000 other team combinations, just not above the best in the game. Wolverine still has some of the most destructive start of the round mixups and can scare a MorriDoom at the start of the round by not giving her room to breathe and get started.But Wolverine’s problems start when the other side successfully rebuffs the start of the round attack and gets pushed out. His nerfs to berserker slash really hurt him when you look at the best characters zoning options.
If Zero is holding a charged buster and assists or Morrigan has astral vision up with assists, Wolverine has no easy way in and has to carve his way in slowly which can be significantly more complicated. A player like Justin Wong has realized that Wolverine will always have a problem with zoning and switched his main Wolverine team to Wolverine/Storm/Akuma to try and mitigate the zoning problem as much as possible but this leads to a low damage team that has to be right repeatedly. In vanilla, Wolverine didn’t have this problem; he only had to be right once and then overwhelm the other side with drop in mixups until they’re finished.
So Wolverine is like Phoenix now. A perfectly good character who can contribute to some perfectly good teams, just he no longer dominates the metagame and forces you to address him first when thinking of what team you want to play. Maybe Capcom is better at this balance thing than we thought. Oh wait, I just remembered Zero is in this game. Never mind.
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