Been hearing talk lately about the Marvel gods of UMvC3 - whether they can be consistently defeated, whether we should even be calling them “gods”, etc. It's an extension of the hierarchy we adhered to in MvC2 and a good starting point for discussion. Perhaps others saw it differently, but here’s how I saw it:
The MvC2 Trifecta: IFC Yipes, Sanford Kelly, Justin Wong
IFC Yipes was the Triforce of Power. In an endless ocean of Magneto sharks, Yipes was somehow the biggest damn shark with 3 times as many teeth. At his peak, he managed nearly flawless execution, which is monstrous considering the physical demands of MvC2. While it was ShadyK who started the first wave of meta-changes to Magneto and MSP early on, it was Yipes who eventually pushed the triumvirate beyond the glass ceiling limiting everyone else. EVERYONE was biting his resets and mixups, especially that stupid one where, on wakeup, he normal jumps over your head only to airdash down-back to his original position to short-short-Psylocke you... UGH. What’s even nastier is that he had one of the best Sentinels (right behind Sanford and Desmond) despite his main team being MSP.
However, Yipes wasn’t without weakness, he wasn’t around for the earliest years of MvC2 so playstyles that had fallen out of the metagame, like Duc’s Spiral at EVO 2005, gave him trouble. Regardless, he would later bounce back to claim the EVO title in 2007. Rumor has it he also had the best War Machine, but I ain’t never seent it so w/e
Sanford Kelly was the Triforce of Courage. He was the only player foolhardy enough to truly accept the challenge of defeating the undefeatable Justin Wong. A tragically emotional player, Sanford would wage war in MvC2, and with every battle he would channel the fury of a million suns to fuel his game. Sanford was the one to finally end Justin’s 5+ year undefeated streak at Breakpoint in Dunellen, New Jersey. This victory, along with his subsequent EVO win in 2009, completed his ascension into godhood.
Sanford had the best Sentinel, which meant everything in a game where success rode heavily on the ability to pilot/fight Sentinel. Some would say he ended up having the best Cable towards the end, too, but those in the know would still give that title to Potter or Smoothviper. Playing against Sanford in MvC2 was suffocating. His only weakness was the very thing that drove him: his emotions. It’s been said that if you could get into his head somehow, victory was a near guarantee.
Shouts to Bill and Potter!
Justin Wong was the Triforce of Wisdom. Justin wasn’t as “powerful” as Sanford or Yipes, but was backed by an unrivaled wealth of intellect and experience, making him the greatest of all time. Justin was a goddamn monster and went undefeated for the first half of MvC2’s lifespan. He was the only player to ever give me that dreadful feeling of “I can’t beat this guy” in MvC2. He was just too solid. Fighting him was like climbing a vertical mountain while wearing a backpack full of lead as boulders fell from above.
He could play any top-tier team, had the most solid Cyclops, had the best defense, and could never be counted out, no matter how dire the situation. Justin forced you to play a rigid game in an otherwise open-ended engine; just one incorrect anything - be it a jump, a dash, or a button - would give him all he needed to take control of the match. He was also the most clutch player of all MvC2, which he proved time and time again. It was like he was always doing the optimal or near-optimal thing at every point in the match, and was almost always in a good position. Maybe Sanford or Yipes would say otherwise, but it seemed to me that Justin had no weaknesses.
It’s well understood and accepted that these 3 were the MvC2 gods (with honorable mention to Chris Schmidt, the only player to defeat all 3). But it’s a new day, a new game, and a new set of deities to worship. The 5 best players are considered to be: Chris G, Filipino Champ, Justin Wong, Flocker, and PR Rog. These guys have somehow circumvented all the “randomness” that people often cry about and have performed the most consistently since the game was released. So, what makes these guys the best?
Chris G - easily the best Morrigan player, and considered to be the overall best UMvC3 player by many. The most decorated player to date, Chris G plays a very “detailed” game of Marvel in addition to having possibly the best defense and air throws/techs. While some players need to get in close or have heavy momentum to get their games started, it seems Chris only needs a little bit of space and/or meter to take control of a match. Arguably the most consistent player thus far.
Filipino Champ - takes high level UMvC3 seriously and it shows. Champ has some of the best Magneto movement, is arguably the best at all the characters he plays (his Dormammu being the uncontested best), and is another contender for best defense in Marvel. Plays a solid risk-averse style rivaled only by Chris G and Flocker. His attitude and confidence amplify his Marvel game, and he has proven to be a monster in the clutch. Could be tied with Chris G consistency-wise.
Justin Wong - plays a deliberate game of Marvel, forcing that same rigid response type of game just like MvC2. Justin is a beast when it comes to applying pressure, causing even the best to crack. Also brought with him the same level of clutch from 2, which is so important in a game with X-Factor. Rule #1 is always bet on Justin Wong. Rule #2 is never bet against Justin Wong.
Flocker - seems to always be in a good spot with Zero, which means his opponents are usually disadvantaged from the get-go given that he possibly has the strongest Zero. I’d also put his defense up there with Champ and Chris. I find it peculiar that people suggest he switch out Hawkeye from his main team considering the mileage he gets out of the assist and the games he’s clutched out with Hawkeye anchor. Flocker can always be counted on to play well in majors, and is the least likely of the top 5 to fall victim to an upset. I cannot recall the last time he failed to make top 8 (if not top 2) at a major.
PR Rog - dude is crazy relentless when it comes to Marvel. Has an explosive style that can take down anyone, including the others on the list. Plays with an intensity comparable to Combofiend, and executes some of the quickest Marvel sets. Somehow manages to 3-0 even the best. Eduardo has proven to be among the top echelon of Marvel players.
I think it makes sense to say that these guys are the 5 most consistent players. If your criteria for Marvel deity status is simply those who are on the top of the mountain, then you’d be correct in calling these guys the Marvel gods. Of course some would argue that it’s a defeatist attitude, but it really just depends on your definition of “Marvel god.”
However, I will say that I don’t think the skill gap that separates the top from the rest in UMvC3 is as wide as it was in MvC2. The gods of UMvC3 are currently the best, but the gods in MvC2 were far and away the best. What’s interesting is that if you watch the old EVO 2002 MvC2 top 8 footage, when the only gods were Justin and Rowtron, you can see that they were also far and away the best at the time. Was this due to the nature of the game? The nature of the scene? You could say the advent of the internet and YouTube has played a major role in narrowing that far and away skill gap. But then again, MvC2 footage had been circulating well into 2005-2006 while that gap still existed all the way to 2010. It’s difficult to say. You could probably write another full-bodied article exploring this. (and by You I mean Viscant)
Again, it’s about your definition. If your criteria for Marvel godhood is to be far and away better than the rest, then maybe the top 5 aren’t as godly as we make them out to be. There are just too many good players on the cusp who have proven they have the potential to be the best.
With all that said, maybe it’s unfair to compare the two scenes, as times have changed drastically and the two games are too different to compare directly. Also, we’ve been playing UMvC3 for a fraction of the time we spent (and are still spending) with MvC2. The gap might not be as wide now, but this isn’t to say it can’t get wider and that a handful of the current UMvC3 gods (or otherwise) could very well dominate in a similar fashion to that of MvC2.
I think the most significant thing to take away from the idea of gods in UMvC3 is that there is a level of both play and consistency to be attained beyond what the vast majority of us are reaching, and that is what we should be striving for as players and as a community. Furthermore, I believe the best thing that can be done for the UMvC3 scene (or maybe any scene for that matter) is for these gods to be toppled. As it stands right now, the top 3 of most major Marvel tournaments isn’t too difficult to predict, but it doesn’t have to be that way. The process of having the supposed best teams, strategies, and players cut down and re-established promotes growth and progress within the competitive scene. It is through this process that we can see what players are really capable of in this game.
It reminds me of Ono’s idea for SSF4:AE, where he thought it would be interesting to have Yun and Yang be goliath characters that the community could band together to fight against. Though the idea might not have worked as well as he would have hoped, the same idea applied to players on top can make for a compelling narrative in competitive play. Having the pillars of heaven shook at a tournament always makes for a good show.
God-killing produces more than just a compelling narrative, though. Those pillars being shaken also means that (hopefully) the level of play has increased, which can benefit both players and spectators. It can ignite new strategies (Nemo’s FoF centered gameplan, Green Ace’s Trish on point and as assist), allow theory-only strategies to come to fruition (Firebrand/Skrull shell from ApologyMan) or cause us to re-examine old views once held as fact (Sentinel/Firebrand/Shuma/Wesker viability from RayRay/Zak Bennett/Angelic/Unknown respectively, or anchor Dante viability from Cloud/Flux/Green Ace, just to name a few).
So, how do players on the cusp reach that highest level? Practice, re-evaluating strategy, and training execution are all important, but I believe players would benefit the most from an attitude change. Anytime someone talks about a loss, be ready to hear a classic:
“I wish I picked cheaper characters”
“LOL Marvel hitboxes/X-Factor”
“I was so tired from last night”
“Random footdive/divekick/Helm Breaker”
“I wasn’t feeling it”
“He plays like such a nut, didn’t expect him to do that - I’m only good against players who know what they’re doing”
“I didn’t care anymore”
“This game is so random”
“I don’t even like/play this game”
People have been making these excuses for as long as fighting games have existed. This is not unique to UMvC3. It’s the standard scrub mentality. Why take responsibility for my gameplay when I can pin my shortcomings on the game? It’s the game’s fault, not mine. It was my mistake, not my opponent outplaying me. I don’t need to improve as a player, rather this game needs a patch. Excuses let players feel like they’ve won, despite the game clearly declaring a loss.
Knowledge is achieved through humility. There is still much to be seen, learned, and done in Marvel. When the excuses stop and player accountability comes into play, actual improvement is inevitable.
I believe solid play and an attitude conducive to success trump all when it comes to competing in Marvel. I also believe that there is still much to be explored in team construction/synergy and character matchups. But the reality is that this is a game where bad matchups are a hit away from becoming good matchups, X-Factor exists, and some situations are just non-reactable. I think we can all agree that nobody is safe playing Marvel - not even a god.