In fighting games, some players become synonymous with certain elements of the games. Perhaps they employ a unique technique, or maybe they are known for using a specific character. Say the name “Strider” at a tournament, and for Marvel vs. Capcom fans, one man comes to mind : Daniel “Clockw0rk” Maniago.
A former teacher, Maniago gave up the classroom to focus full time on fighting games. For over a decade now, he has been one of the most famous Marvel vs. Capcom players in North America. Now, as a member of Team BROKENTIER, he carries his wall-hopping ninja and Latverian dictator into the next generation of fighting games.
Clockw0rk’s journey began in the same place as many of southern California’s notable Marvel players : Southern Hills Golfland. However, Marvel wasn’t the game that first drew the attentions of a young man that would go on to make the Strider Hiryu and Doctor Doom pairing a piece of pop canon.
“I used to tag along whenever my brothers would go to the donut shop or Round Table Pizza to go play the original Street Fighter II,” says Maniago. “It wasn't until Street Fighter II came out for SNES that I learned how to play, rather than mash buttons.”
“I tend to play based mostly on reflex and instinct.”
Starting out, Clockw0rk focused on Street Fighter Alpha 3 and Tekken Tag Tournament alongside Marvel vs. Capcom. It was a Street Fighter legend that served as Clockw0rk’s biggest influence in those early years, “Mr. Street Fighter” himself, Alex Valle.
“In all honesty, Valle was a big influence of mine when learning to play fighting games. I didn't mean to, but I ended up adopting his style of play early on,” says Maniago. “I tend to play based mostly on reflex and instinct.” Clockw0rk also learned from Marvel rival and fellow Team BROKENTIER member Jay “Viscant” Snyder. “Viscant also had a big impact on me, and I'd always get hype whenever I'd see him post in any strategy forums.”
“. . . it took me seven or eight tries until I finally placed high.”
Clockw0rk’s first top eight finish in Marvel vs. Capcom came toward the end of Southern Hills Golfland’s seven year reign as ground zero for Marvel talent. “My first top eight finish for MvC2 was at SHGL, during one of their regional tournaments, around 2002 or so,” says Maniago. “These MvC2 tournaments consistently had 100 plus people, and it took me seven or eight tries until I finally placed high. My biggest win of that night was beating iMaGe, one of the early dominators of MvC and MvC2. I ended up losing to MIKE WATSON of all people, and I've not heard the end of it to this day. IT IS 2012. Protip, never lose a game of Marvel to Watson. Ever.”
Building on his initial successes brawling his way through SHGL’s infamous monthly 128-man tournaments, brutal brackets that would draw regularly draw players from all over the United States, Clockw0rk began to perfect the pairing for which he would become notorious. As Marvel vs. Capcom 2 grew older, its overall game began to coalesce around three fixture characters - Magneto, Storm, and Sentinel. Daniel, however, had two other characters in mind.
“. . . jumping around and creating all these different situations felt like art to me, in a way.”
“Strider is sick!” exclaims Maniago. “Everyone has their creative outlet, and thinking about it now, it seems mine was playing Strider and Doom in MvC2. Sounds dumb, but jumping around and creating all these different situations felt like art to me, in a way. MvC2's engine let you create and respond to a ton of different situations in a ton of different ways. Given this, I felt that Strider and Doom gave me the most shades of color to work with to create something sick on the MvC2 canvas, so to speak. Besides all that, Strider and Doom was just a ton of fun to play, so the game never got boring for me after all those years.”
For years, Clockw0rk and his trademark duo fought their way through Marvel vs. Capcom 2 tournaments across the country. Now, with the release of Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 and the re-introduction of Strider, Clockw0rk is able to reunite original “Team Best Friends”. His goal?
“My biggest goal is definitely to win EVO. But EVO is so hard to win! I was really pumped that I got third place the last year EVO had MvC2. However, it also sucked, because I was so close to making Grand Finals. I'll never be able to say that I won MvC2 at EVO, ever.”
That lost opportunity is not something he intends to repeat with Marvel 3. Clockw0rk is hungrier than ever. “I have a plan this spring and summer to practice nothing but combos for at least an hour a day, then play with people as much as I can throughout the week.”
The first permanent addition to the Team BROKENTIER roster, Maniago is excited for the future alongside his teammates. “Being on the same team as the legendary IFC Yipes? S-i-c-k.” His favorite BROKENTIER gear? “Besides Swords n' Stuff, of course, my favorites would have to be gold foil Tiger, followed by AHVB!”
You can follow Daniel’s exploits on his Twitter, @mvcclockw0rk, and keep up to date on all of Team BROKENTIER by following @BROKENTIER. Keep an eye out for Clockw0rk, and the rest of Team BROKENTIER, as they fight their way down the Road to Evolution.