Team Tutorials volume 1. Zero/Doom/Vergil Part 1

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So today we’re launching a new feature for the blog.  This will be one part team breakdown, one part match analysis and many parts of just having fun playing Marvel against all comers!  Marvel is a little bit different than other competitive games in that people take long sets against a particular individual almost as seriously as major tournaments.  Big time money matches and exhibitions have been a part of our community for years and the big winners in this format are people who can think on the fly, vary their play and adjust quickly to their opponent’s playstyle.  So I’ll try and walk you through that process, something that’s a little unexplored so far.

The team I’m going to look at for this week’s post is Zero/Doom/Vergil, a team that’s kind of the redheaded stepchild of the Zero/Vergil family, at least for now.  The team hasn’t seen as much play as Zero/Dante/Vergil or even Zero/generic projectile assist/Vergil although that may change soon.  Justin Wong played the team for a bit towards the end of 2012 and has gone on record as saying he thinks this is one of the best teams in the game.  This is also Chris Schmidt’s alternate team and he looks to be a bit more active in the tournament scene in 2013.  So think of this as a little sneak preview of something you may be seeing a bit more of.

There are two distinct versions of Zero/Doom/Vergil, one with plasma beam assist and one with missiles assist.  While plasma beam has its benefits, namely ground control and ease of starting offense for Zero, I’m going to be concentrating mostly on the missiles version simply because it’s the more complete version of the team and the one you’ll be seeing more of in the future.  Vergil likes all 3 of Doom’s assists but it seems as if hidden missiles assist is his preferred assist, especially with the new combo extension tech discovered by NerdJosh and other EC players.

Pros:

I’m surprised that this team isn’t more popular because one of the pros of this team is that this is the Zero team that requires the least amount of execution.  Vergil assist gives you an easy mid-screen combo extension meaning you don’t have to master the difficult sentsuizen, buster, teleport down, relaunch extension.  And Doom gives you a couple of alternatives to the lightning loop.  You can TAC to Doom and kill basically anything you touch even without the infinite.  Justin Wong had some nice success playing the team this way without even learning the lightning loop.

You can also end the fully extended combo with rekkoha into sphere flame which does over 1 million damage from a low B or a jumpin, giving you a much less taxing ToD compared to lightning loop at the extra cost of less than 1 meter.  Obviously all Zero players should work on mastering the lightning loop and all the combo extensions but this team is a good starter team for people who are just getting into the character.

Damage is no concern to the other members of the team either.  Doom to Zero (air photons to rekkoha) or Doom to Vergil (air photons to spiral swords, plus post spiral sword extension) are high damaging DHCs and Doom always has the option of level 3 for himself.  Vergil never has a damage problem himself either as long as he has plenty of meter for sword loops.  Structuring a match is very easy with this team; whatever you touch you should kill.  And you will almost never run out of meter on this team.  Since Zero kills in a meter positive fashion you can choose to burn a meter and go for the sougenmu + missiles trap and take a nice chunk of chip damage whenever you want it.

In my opinion the best feature on this team is the powerful incoming mixups with any character on point.  Vergil’s round trip incoming options are pretty well known by now as are Zero’s solo lightning series.  Zero can use missiles in a way similar to how he uses jam session to set up corner crossups and fake crossups.  It’s not even close to as easy to confirm off of missiles as it is to confirm off of jam session but it’s an option.  For example if someone is blocking the crossunder lightning consistently, Zero can show an obvious crossunder, let them block, then call missiles directly underneath them and teleport up or just walk under from side to side charging the buster and setting up another crossup.  Any hit leads to jump B + buster into basic combo into lightning loop.  Again, not even close to as easy as doing the same confirm off of jam session due to how missiles work as an assist, but it’s another level to the normally obnoxious Zero incoming mixup series.

Doom and Vergil also have an incoming mixup similar to Doom and Ammy with Doom calling the assist and footdiving above the field of vision to create a timing based crossup.  Just like with Ammy you get a high-low-throw mixup if they manage to block the initial mixup with the added benefit of a blocked rapid slash assist occasionally dropping them behind you and out of the corner for no discernible reason whatsoever.

This team has solid if unspectacular zoning capabilities.  Zero can supplement the missiles assist with charged busters and hadangekis and he can use a blocked Vergil assist to force the opponent full screen.  Doom on point can also use the Vergil assist in a similar way and can use the Vergil assist to set up full screen combos.  For example you can passively zone with butter gun + Vergil assist and visually confirm that into a combo even from full screen.  You can also use photons to set up blocked rapid slash assist then finish off the sequence with a plasma beam earning a decent amount of chip and pushing them all the way out.

If you happen to have picked plasma beam, Vergil can zone a little bit with judgment cuts backed by plasma beam both for chip and to set up a mixup.  A useful mixup that Vergil/plasma beam can do is to get right to the edge of stand C range and do stand C + plasma beam and cancel into either B teleport, rapid slash or judgment cut.   If you chose to teleport you can confirm into sword loops off of the plasma beam.  If you chose judgment cut you can cancel to Devil Trigger and get a full combo there also.  Rapid slash can act as either a crossup or a fake crossup depending on how far along the plasma beam is.  This can be useful if you use a lot of rapid slashes with Vergil as it can make the other side doubt their blocking.  It may not be good enough to be a better choice than missiles in the late game but if you happened to pick plasma beam to help with a difficult matchup, it’s another nice example of the team’s synergy.

And finally while this team features Vergil anchor you have options in a late game scenario after you’ve lost your Zero.  You can leave Doom in and let the match play out that way, saving Vergil for XF3.  Or you can use Doom’s extra options on incoming to keep him safe and immediately DHC Vergil in with swords.  If your Zero had a productive game you may be sitting on large amounts of meter.  You can then use that meter to set up extended sword series with missiles.  Combine that with round trip glitch and you can force the other side into giving away their x-factor simply to survive the onslaught of chip damage.

Cons:

The most obvious downside to this team is that the zoning with Zero on point is not as good as people think it is.  A lot of people fight Zero under the belief that a fully charged buster is a trump card.  It is not.  The red buster only has 3×3 low priority points of durability.  So when you get into a battle against dedicated zoning teams, it is strongly in your best interests to not play a zoning game and to be very careful about how and when you call out missiles.  In a lot of fights vs. zoners it can be difficult to find a time and place to call Doom out and establish your offense.  In fights vs. zoners with strong projectile assists it can be almost impossible.

Doom as a point character may get exposed on this team also.  While Vergil assist is good at forcing the opponent full screen and supplementing Doom’s zoning game, it’s not much help as an offensive assist, with its primary feature not helping Doom run mixups at all.  If you choose to DHC Doom out and bring in Vergil to play the late game with Vergil + missiles you run the risk of getting stuck with Doom anchor and trying to fight it out solo where he’ll be at a disadvantage against most of the common anchors on tournament teams.

This team takes on the strengths and weaknesses of Doom missiles and in matchups where missiles are weak, you’re in some trouble.  Zero’s go to strategy with other assists (jam session, projectile assists, Akuma tatsu) is to earn a block and then set up a 50/50.  That’s the strategy with this team also, except it can be somewhat harder to set it up against some players. Many players have become adept at plink backdashing to avoid missiles.  So it can be a little harder to hold the other side in place and force them to block so you can get your offense started vs. other common Zero assists.

Matchups:

This team is generally solid against other top tier with a couple of exceptions.  Teleporters plus Strider really bother Zero at the start of a match.  Vergil/Strider especially.  Zero likes to be the bully and completely control the air and vajra makes Zero consider blocking in the air, blunting his momentum.  Zero can cleanly punish a naked Vajra with crouch C or a jumping pizza cutter, but the threat of the point character attacking from behind  is usually enough to stop Zero from trying.  And once Zero has committed to blocking, teleporting to coax him into missing a block is smart strategy.  Add all that up and a Vergil willing to liberally helm breaker + Strider is dangerous.  It’s not a complete counter match because this kind of strategy will generally force the other side to burn x-factor, giving you an advantage in the endgame.  With x-factor out of the way, Doom/Vergil can adopt a zoning gameplan and play slowly with the knowledge that Strider without x-factor left is not a threat to a loaded Vergil.

Another problematic matchup is against Morridoom.  Zero has to land something in the opening salvo otherwise this match is simply not going to go well for him.  Morrigan can overpower Zero in a projectile war and calling out assists during astral vision is not a good idea.  You can give yourself a second chance by tagging Vergil into a fireball outside of astral vision but the problem is that your team order becomes Vergil/Doom/Zero and that’s risky.  If Vergil doesn’t get the job done and dies to Morrigan, you’re basically finished.  Zero can use Sougenmu and a double level 3 buster to harass Morrigan during astral vision but this is not really going to work.  You can use the double busters to make her block or to hit her Doom but eventually she’s going to take control back.  It’s less of a strategy and more of a last gasp.

This team also has a problem with Zero/Dante.  Jam session’s superiority over missiles gives the opposing Zero free reign to set up his offense putting you on defense.  Zero vs. Zero matches usually come down to first touch wins.  Not just the mirror match, the entire game!  If you can win the Zero mirror you are a heavy favorite to win the rest of the game since you can successfully switch to a zoning gameplan on Dante/Vergil (if they even get to touch the ground), but you are not a favorite to get that far.  This is a matchup that switching to plasma beam can be more help than missiles since you can often wipe out the jam session on reaction and not have to worry about letting the other Zero set up.

Another matchup that changes dramatically depending on the choice of assists is Magneto/Doom.  Generally Magneto/Doom will outperform Zero/Doom-missiles because Magneto can wipe out Zero’s Doom with disruptors whereas Zero needs to give away his level 3 buster to do the same to the other side, which is obviously what Magneto wants.  Plasma beam changes a hopeless match into a pretty even match.  The switch in this match changes Zero’s gameplan a bit.  Generally Zero with missiles doesn’t play as aggressive.  With plasma beam Zero is going to rely much more on teleports behind the plasma beam and teleport+buster as a secondary mixup off of this.  This becomes more of a Wolverine style that a lot of Zero players aren’t as comfortable with.  It’s an option though and a good benefit to the team especially in longer sets against Magneto players since it can give the other side an entirely new gameplan to adapt to.

That’s it for the team breakdown.  Check back tomorrow for part 2, where we go over a couple sets and add some match analysis!