So now we’re going to run a couple sets using this team so you can see some of the concepts discussed in action and walk you through my thought process. These sets are recorded over XBL so the execution may not be 100% perfect (and given the fact that I’m playing them, you should expect that anyways!) but as always with online play the strategy and tactics of a game are more important anyways. Drops happen but smart play should happen also!
Set #1: Viscant vs. TuboWare
TuboWare sent his thoughts in also so we can see both sides of this match. His questions/thoughts are in italics. Let’s get to it!
0:00-5:30: The first two games of this set are a feeling out process, just trying to figure out how I’m going to fight this match. Obviously the first thing I notice was that in both cases when a melee exchange was initiated in the Zero vs. Wolverine fight I immediately started taking damage (0:40 off a drop and 3:30 when I never fully escaped the opening gambit) so I want to avoid close combat from this point on at all costs.
5:45: So here I’m making a conscious decision to zone more given that my previous neutral strategy is not working. If Wolverine touches me there’s about a 66% chance I’ll lose Zero AND have to fight a level 4 Frank which is a recipe for disaster. I was lucky to win game 1 thanks to a random foot dive and happy birthday helm breaker and deserved to lose game 2 because I was a little too reckless with Zero so I’m making the decision to zone a bit just to give my opponent a different look and to see if it worked out. For the most part it did although I got a little sloppy and got hit at 6:25 when I got baited into a melee exchange. But since the zoning strategy worked I decided to keep doing it.
“Third game, you saw that I was being a nut with Wolverine, and started to zone me out with Hangeki/Missiles. This is something I struggle with in general. I played my two main teams against you, the Wolvie one first (obviously) and I always have trouble getting in with him against a point character that has fast/good projectiles being backed by hidden missiles assist. What am I doing wrong? I see players like Noel Brown get in on missiles and I can’t seem to do it properly. I try to remain patient and pick my spots, but it seems like there are no holes to get into. Am I missing something?”
The way I see it your team is going to struggle against missiles just because no assist on your team can challenge the missiles. Generally Zero/Doom struggles against quick projectile assists because if someone like Magneto is coming out I’ll have to use my buster to overpower or cancel his beam giving your point character time to jump away and then start to attack. On your team with Frank assist, this only really applies from half screen or closer. If you call him out from full screen I have time to line up both Wolverine and Frank and blast them both.
One of the things that Noel Brown does that I really like is that he keeps his Wolverine and Frank separate when he’s going up against zoning so one buster or one EM disruptor can’t hit both. He makes you choose which target you want to attack and if you choose neither you have to block and eat a mixup. Since you rarely got close enough I had time to line up my buster, then dash behind Doom keeping me safe from even a berserker slash that I don’t pick up in time. One time you did at 5:50 so I was forced to take evasive action while holding my buster and leaving Doom open for damage. That was an opening but I managed to get the air throw in the exchange and close it up.
Still, the odds are against Wolverine/Frank when trying to challenge a zoner plus missiles. I’ve noticed Noel going to Wolverine/Akuma and leaving Frank off the team when he has to fight heavy zoning so it’s something you might want to consider also.
7:45-11:30 I’m sticking with the gameplan of zoning with Zero (hard tag obviously an execution error) and still seeing success so I’m deciding to just keep it simple and do it until it stops working. Generally the strategy with Zero/missiles is to force the other side to block missiles, and then go for lightning crossups looking for one hit, but against this team I figure that only gives away openings where I might get hit. I throw in a couple of teleport into busters just to keep him honest but I really shouldn’t have even done that. In long sets when you have an advantage you need to press your advantage mercilessly. Make them adjust to you.
11:45: So here’s the adjustment. TuboWare has had enough of zoning so he switches to this team. What this signals to me is that he is going to keep a VERY watchful eye out for missiles. Generally when people lose to zoning and pick Hawkeye they’re looking for gimlet xx gimlet or gimlet xx dash slide combos to try and either pick off Doom or set up a happy birthday. So as long as I see Hawkeye on screen with any meter, I’m resolving to be extra careful with Doom.
“So now in game 6 I switch to my other main team, Hawkeye/Deadpool/Strider. I generally use this team against Doom because all three characters have answers for hidden missile assist, as well as Doom himself. I also feel that Hawkeye does decently well against Zero. All seemed well at first, but even with me doing a decent job of zoning out both Zero and Doom at the start of game 6, you eventually get in and bop me. What happened? This was around 11:45 in the video. At 12:25 I do a safe block string and end it with poison tip, so I go to hit another button and you hit me first. Did I time this wrong, or what happened? Kinda confused on that one.”
The initial opening came on a gift, really. You had me pushed full screen away and I’ve taken a couple arrows to the face and taken a hard knockdown from Strider so at that point I’m thinking about how exactly I’m going to get in and probably going to be passive until I have a red buster to threaten Strider with or until you superjump and give me a place to call Doom. But then you jump in and give me the opening and I gratefully accept it. You definitely have an advantage here but weakened your own position.
The hit after poison arrows is me playing tendencies more than anything else. While Hawkeye is generally positive after blocked poison arrow (the guide has him at +5/-6/-3 but that doesn’t mean a lot given that it’s space/height dependent), the “natural” followup to that is slide (11f) or a dash then stand B (length of dash + 7f). Doom crouch A is 6f and interacts well with relevant Hawkeye hit boxes so it’s a calculated risk that tends to work out in Doom’s favor. Plus since the Doom matchup vs. Hawkeye/Strider is so bad for Doom, I’ll take a risk here given that it’s a better opportunity than I can earn myself in the neutral game. Knowing that I’m in a mood take a risk here, you can counter that with blocked poison arrow into trick shot xx ice arrow or using blocked poison arrow as a CH setup and going straight into crouch A/stand B and slide as a hit confirm.
Also of note I telegraphed my intention to you at 12:10 and you happened to jump away. But since the match is borderline unwinnable, even knowing that you might be anticipating it I took the chance anyways. Let it be known that had the situation arisen a 3rd time I probably would have tried again.
“At about 15:15 I start making a comeback with Strider off of almost getting perfected. Too bad almost doesn’t count, cuz you hit me with a footdive after I dropped a combo. Was that more of a panic footdive? Or what I just in a bad position and you took advantage?”
Honest answer? I’m scrubbing out hard here and just being like “screw it, something good might happen”. Seriously though, it’s one of those natural human responses to frustration. Dooms who are scared will footdive and you can count on that. Vergils will helm breaker in that situation something like 143 times out of 100. So yeah while it was Doom vs. Strider who didn’t have his orbs on, in reality it was just a frustration foot dive that happened to land. This is the Marvel equivalent of throwing out a wakeup ultra because you’re mad at yourself. Except it might cross up, is mostly safe and leads to mixups in your favor. Marvel!
16:00: So now TuboWare puts out Deadpool on point instead of Hawkeye. This means that I get my missiles back which I greatly appreciate. It’s also during this game that I notice an awful lot of up-back in his gameplay whether against Doom or Zero. This changes how I’m going to fight the rest of this set and I’m going to look for low air throws and low B as my counter.
“At 18:15 you hit me right off the bat with a happy birthday. My question is, you did cr. M to start the match. Is that not risky when I’m jumping and calling my assist at the start of the match? Or did you just know that you would go under my assist and hit us both?”
Zero crouch M is 8f and while the hitbox is ginormous it’s not the best normal to use in a faceoff situation. But since you were already jumping it’s not that much of a risk. I didn’t anticipate getting a happy birthday here but I’ll take it. All I was really looking for was tripguarding Deadpool since he had his guns out.
21:50-end: From this point on I’m taking advantage of my read from before. I noticed a lot of up-back from both Hawkeye and Deadpool and I’m going to rely on this read until I’m forced to abandon it. I’ve basically stopped doing teleport mixups and I’m just hunting low Bs with Zero and low As with Doom. It costs me almost my whole Zero in chip and minor damage but eventually I get what I’m looking for.
“There were times that I felt helpless. I would do almost 60% damage on Zero in just chip damage, then you would get in once and kill me. Am I playing the game incorrectly? Should I just be playing top tier and killing in one hit no matter what?”
Generally you do want to structure your matches to kill the other side’s point character in one hit. But that wasn’t really the problem in this set as your team can kill in 1 hit. Deadpool can get through Zero’s health on his own and Hawkeye can get there on a DHC to Deadpool. My gameplan was conservative by design for the most part after getting bopped by Wolverine a couple times and clean hits on Zero from that point on were tough to come by.
As you noted you got a lot of chip damage on Zero but you gave up your position willingly too much. The way to get someone to open up their game is to keep hammering away with the chip. Hawkeye+Strider is a nightmare for my team but as noted, you gave that position away by jumping in or getting yourself into 50/50 situations and I took advantage of that. You have to make me earn those situations. There are at least 2 games in here I count that you could have killed Zero with chip if you stuck to that gameplan and that would have forced me to open up my game which would have been beneficial to you, giving you more assists to pick off and teleports/tridashes to take advantage of. Then if I’m moving forward, Deadpool teleport + Strider opens up for you and gives you another way to get damage. So on and so forth. But before all of that you have to make me think “I can’t win with this defensive strategy” and make me change it up. It’s the mental aspect of long sets; a couple things go differently and my confidence breaks, which changes my gameplan and everything from that point on is different.
You don’t necessarily need to switch teams since the moral of this set was unearned damage. I got an awful lot of mileage out of dropped combos and you giving up position so the whole set would have gone differently without that.
Set #2: Viscant vs. OMGitzAndre
00:20: So the first thing to note is that I’m going to a different BnB combo here and forcing myself to go for lightning loop. The reason for this is because Magneto (along with Storm, Shuma, Iron Man and Ammy) doesn’t juggle like other standard characters. The standard sentsuizan, buster, lightning combo extension is very difficult to hit on those 4 with Zero needing to be in tighter for it to work. It’s not impossible, but it’s a hassle and when you add online to the mix, I would greatly prefer to not even risk it. Since none of those characters have a lot of life I do a different, less optimal combo on them just to make my life easier. These are all low health characters who die in 1 lightning loop or less anyways so as long as I’m hitting the loop like I should it’ll all work out in the end. Of course since this is online it means that I have to stop going for the rekkoha into sphere flame combo and start going for lightning loops and just live with the result and I start out 0 for 1 in LLs for the set. C’est la vie, can’t let it get to me since a LL drop is a more optimal drop than a lightning drop.
3:15: Immediately after I did the level 3 I regretted this. Since I lost the first game to Wesker I was thinking “I should have snapped” RIGHT as the level 3 comes out. After I blow the finishing extension off the level 3 (just a simple sentsuizan would have done the job), Andre DHCs Wesker in of his own volition and I breathe a silent sigh of relief. If I was in his shoes I would have just let Doom do his best and go for level 3 Wesker again. He should make me prove that I can beat that.
4:45: This is a good illustration of the weakness in zoning on the Zero/Doom-missiles team. Magneto+Doom overpowers it because I have to first create an opening to establish my Doom and his disruptors can force me to stop doing that. I have two options in this case. I can try to trick him with teleport up, buster, dash around THEN drop Doom and try to get behind him (since I’m still technically on normal jump arc I can call Doom above the line of vision) and then go about the normal Zero gameplan of light zoning to create a block, then teleport mixups. Or I could just go berserk and use lightning as a poke and try to just overwhelm him with offense. I choose to go crazy until he stops me. I haven’t exactly been playing conservatively in the first two games but after that quick exchange where he forces me out with his zoning I’ve made up my mind, I’m going to be the bully.
8:05: I go for the snap here because I’m not that impressed by his Doom as of yet. I haven’t seen him play Doom much as a tournament character whereas I know Magneto is one of his tournament characters. Even though I’ve been hitting LL consistently in this set and giving him a chance to run a strong duo like Magneto/Doom is dangerous, I feel like it’s worth the risk. Even though the snap didn’t exactly work out and I had to sweat out the end of this game, I feel like it was the right decision and would definitely do it again. I would probably take back the level 3 at 9:00 though and go for LL. That’s an example of me being lazy and not trusting my execution and it almost (should have) cost me the match. The level 3 was not even remotely close to killing him AND it left Vergil naked. Awful decision.
11:03, 11:08: Here are 2 examples of a really good adjustment by Andre. He’s figured out that my default pattern when I release the buster right over his head isn’t a second lightning or a dash, it’s either teleport down or delayed pizza cutter. So he’s sticking out normals into space waiting for them to find their mark. Smart stuff, it works twice for him and it’s effectively put me on notice.
13:20-15:00: This is probably the worst perfect you’ll ever see. Even though it’s a perfect, I dropped 4 separate combos and I’ve lost faith in my execution. This changes how I play the rest of the set as I start going for lower execution combos and setups. And of course, that will bite me in the butt later on.
15:45-16:00: OK so here’s the turning point in the set even though it comes in a loss. The first swing he took was on an air dash. Usually in that setup I’ve shown him lightning. And as you can see by the air B that comes out and I fall to safety I actually tried it except it didn’t come out and I got a combo out of it! Lucky me. He then takes 2 swings at 15:58 and 15:59 which should have worked and probably would have in live play. Once again, he’s put my Zero on notice and told me “stop doing that”. Since 4:45 I’ve been playing the bully gameplan but after seeing him have 3 near misses I’ve told myself “OK enough of that, new strategy”. Even though I win in an OCV, he’s clearly on to me.
17:50: Andre has had enough of Zero. A lot of people don’t like starting Vergil because it tempts you to burn x-factor early. Because you CAN doesn’t always mean you SHOULD. In this case though, burning the x-factor is 100% the right move. Up to this point in the set I’ve shown him a crappy Doom and what looks like a day 1 Vergil. The only thing that’s actually doing damage is Zero, so take out the problem. Just because it doesn’t work out doesn’t mean that you made the wrong decision. Marvel is not a game where it pays to be results oriented. The remainder of this game is a useful illustration of how much Vergil helps Doom’s incoming mixups.
19:25: Even though the set turned 2 games ago, here’s where Andre starts seeing the benefits. His adjustment to my Zero getting stupid was to use early swords to force me to calm down. Interestingly enough I was going to play this game conservatively anyways after my observations from 2 games ago, but he couldn’t have known that at the time so it’s a smart adjustment.
21:25: Andre sticks with his early swords gameplan and it works to draw me out and make me take risks that I finally am forced to pay for. Once Zero is down, I’m basically done for in this game; I don’t even get a chance to play Vergil. I don’t know how this wasn’t a perfect.
23:05: Oh I know how the last game wasn’t a perfect. Because this one was. Basically the same story as last game except my mistake was bad footsies. Zero dies fast, Doom gets plowed, Vergil doesn’t get a chance to play. 5 golden letters.
24:30: OK, so here’s the most important point in the set thinking wise. He has now won 3 in a row and I’ve done a combined 1 pixel of damage in the past 2 full games. Stuff just got real. His adjustment made at ~15:45 has swung the entire set. By swinging at lightning he calmed my Zero and my plan B of conservative play has been a giant dud. While getting combo’d by Vergil (I had plenty of time to think) I’m thinking about switching Doom missiles to plasma beam and trying to regain ground control. That’s a possibility and one I might have gone to later but instead I decided I was going to try and attack his adjustment. He turned the set around by proving to me that he’s willing to swing at lightning. So I’m going to use this knowledge to my advantage.
24:35, 24:42, 24:48, 25:11: What do these 4 lightnings have in common? I placed them all in areas that his stand S would miss either due to height, crossup or timing. 25:09 I do the same thing with teleport up where he actually does take a swing and it misses, just as planned. Not a perfect counter since he still had a combo to kill Zero that he dropped, but I had a potential death combo on Vergil at 24:40 that I drop also so I consider it a success. All in all I’m feeling pretty good about myself, I feel like I solved the puzzle. This is the first game in 4 that Zero has won his match and it’s no coincidence that I get back on the board.
31:10: I hate tagging in Magneto instead of leaving Vergil in. To this point I don’t think I’ve blockeda Vergil teleport mixup. Like not even once. I’d like to see him press that advantage. Even though Magneto hits Doom, all tagging Vergil out was give me a chance to get back into a game that I was getting worked in.
32:55: Similar to the above I really hate the decision to start Magneto instead of Vergil. Vergil gave me all kinds of problems and beat Zero 5 games out of 7 and he’s the entire reason Andre got back into a set that was beginning to get away from him. Starting Magneto instead of Vergil just gave me a chance to go back to the hyper-aggressive gameplan I’m much more comfortable with. He catches my Zero with a shockwave but it only does about 40% and leaves himself empty. I disagree with that decision unless you’re willing to x-factor off of it and kill Zero. Now that the 1 meter is gone I don’t even have to respect that. The exact thought going through my head as I’m getting shockwaved: “sweet, now I can be as random as I want”. And that’s the end of that.
I like this set because it shows off the thought processes on both sides. I start the set basically controlling 6 of the first 7 games, then Andre makes a key adjustment and seizes control over the next 4 and the set ends with us basically even in terms of control. I feel like I didn’t TAKE control of the set at the end but had it handed to me by Andre not pressing the advantage with Vergil. Even if there was a strategic decision to take out Vergil and save him for another matchup (likely to match up with my own Vergil), in a long set type of environment I feel like you have to press the advantage if the other person is underperforming against one particular character or one particular setup. At this point after playing 13 straight games against one guy you’re playing the man, not really playing the game anymore.
That’s all for the Zero/Doom/Vergil team tutorial sets. I’m going to be running this feature bi-weekly so make sure to follow me on Twitter (@JayViscant) and Facebook (facebook.com/Viscant) so you can know when I’m going to tape the next set!