So making the decision to tier by teams will make everything clearer and easier to understand right? Wrong! I expect this to cause just as much grief and salt as any individual list. Probably more. This cannot possibly be accurate. There are 117,600 possible team combinations out there not counting assists. Counting assists there are 3,175,200 combinations. Your favorite team will probably not make the list. In fact (and here’s the REAL problem), not only will your favorite team almost surely not be on the list, almost nobody’s favorite team will make it! Unlike MvC2 there aren’t very many common actual teams in this game yet. Due to the game’s diversity and relative balance (Marvel is like West Virginia, everything’s relative) very few 3 character team combinations repeat in top level play. Duos repeat and are quite common but actual teams? We’re not quite there yet. I don’t think we ever will get there.
So why do this at all? Well it’s fun. Second off, I’m sitting in an airport on my way to Chicago for UFGT8 and there’s an evil redheaded woman staring at me like I’m a lamb chop. If I pretend this is really important hopefully she’ll leave me alone. But the most important reason is because I want your feedback. Is there a particular team combination that you think needs to be highlighted because it’s that damn good? Tell me about it! Am I completely wrong and overrating theory in favor of results? Tell me about it! Am I a fraud who nobody should listen to? Keep that to yourself--I’ve already heard that one! And with that out of the way, here…we…go! We'll start with the Top 3 teams; These team groupings seem to be above the rest in theory and in practice and most importantly they force bad matchups with many other top teams. Like in a solo tier list being strong in space in a vacuum is good but being strong against other likely tournament teams is more important.
Zero, what was he buffed for?
Zero-any/Dante-a/Vergil-y, Zero-any/Vergil-y/Hawkeye-a, Zero-any/Vergil-y/Doom-b, Zero-any/Vergil-y/Akuma-b
So let’s get started with something that will probably make everyone good and mad, the optimal Zero team as the #1 team in the game. A lot of people are going to complain since this team hasn’t done a lot of winning but people need to be patient; I don’t think there’s anyone out there who’s mastered this team from top to bottom yet meaning this team still needs to grow into its theoretical potential. I think the best form of this team is team Zero may cry (or more appropriately, Zero will make you cry), Zero/Dante-A/Vergil-Y.
The premise of this team is simple. Zero is a dominant point character. Vergil is a dominant anchor. Zero can kill off of stray hits in a meter efficient manner with the lightning loop meaning you can generate 1 hit kills while still building meter and Vergil with meter at the end of a game with XF3 is a monster who dominates other common and strong anchors like Phoenix, Wesker and Morrigan. The reason Dante is the preferred assist is that jam session works so well with both Vergil and Zero both for combos and mixups. Plus Dante and Vergil have excellent synergy together meaning that even if Zero is killed instantly this team can still do serious damage. Other forms of the team are top notch as well with Doom-missiles working well with both Zero and Vergil for combos and lockdown potential and Akuma-tatsu providing for very difficult to read resets and Hawkeye arrows allow Zero to teleport in freely and set up some easy pressure without burning the buster. Still, Dante-a gets the nod from me.
In my eyes, this is the most powerful team in the game; now it’s up to players of this team to prove me right. Stop dropping combos guys, make me look good!
MorriDoom: Make way for the bad (girl)
Any/Morrigan-y/Doom-b, Morrigan-y/Doom-b/Any or X/Doom-b/Morrigan-y
I have a sneaking suspicion that we have found the villain of UMvC3. Instead of a pure and beautiful maiden like Phoenix, it’s an evil impure succubus named Morrigan. Judging by crowd reactions, she’s already the most hated character and she hasn’t even been maximized yet. The best form of this team may very well be Zero/Morrigan/Doom and it’s yet to make an appearance in tournament. Getting the most out of MorriDoom is really up to the player. Starting Morrigan means you only start with one meter meaning you probably shouldn’t go into astral vision mode immediately, plus you’ll have to fend off an opening mixup.
But when you start with 1 meter, the other side is starting with just 1 meter also—this makes it much harder for the other side to nuke Doom. Using a battery is guaranteed to keep your Morrigan safe at the start of the round and will give you more meter to play with especially if you use harmonizer assist liberally. But this leaves your Morrigan vulnerable to snapback mixups; as good as she is she doesn’t have the best evasion tools after being snapped in and nobody blocks Zero’s welcome mixups reliably. And while you’re building meter for your Morrigan, they’re building meter for a counter as well and they’re almost certainly targeting Doom.
Morrigan is a great character on her own but with Doom she becomes a different and suffocating force; if the opponent takes out Doom this team is still good but it’s just not the same. So while it may not be the best team in the game and while there may be some flaws to attack, there’s a very good chance it’s the most important especially right now earning it the coveted 2nd spot in my list. So many characters including a lot of very good characters and teams get shut down so completely that having a counter to this team may become a requirement to compete seriously. With the monkey-see monkey-do mentality that so many players have, this team is likely coming to a scene near you. Be prepared.
Viper, not quite the apex predator (but awfully close)
Viper-b/Dante-a/Strider-y. Viper-any/Doom-a or b/Amaterasu-b, Viper-any/Doom-b/Strider-y
Viper is the least picked top tier character in any Marvel game since the beginning of the series and likely one of the least picked in any fighting game. Players almost universally agree that she’s incredibly strong but very few people have any actual experience with the character. While compiling this list I had to ask Viper players for help about what her best teams are (thanks to Chrisis) simply because aside from Marlinpie you just don’t see much of her. Her execution barrier is the reason for her underuse; only an actual master Viper scares anyone.
Since her normals are so weak you need to take advantage of good assists and be spot on with her seismo pressure in order to mount any kind of serious threat. The proper Viper teams can not only beat the best teams in the game but they can prevent the other teams from even getting to play. Poorly constructed Viper teams simply aren’t very good at all. Strider’s vajra assist and Dante’s jam session are key to making a great Viper team. Viper is one of the best characters at protecting Strider since she can ignore beams and projectiles and vajra gives her 2/3 screen pressure that she can convert into 1 million damage combos. Jam session and cold star give her near inescapable incoming mixups including potential unblockables.
Luckily these characters work well as duos after Viper dies so the overall teams are strong. So while the top Viper teams may be less flexible than other top teams their sheer muscle power makes up for it. It’s up to the players to decide if mastering multiple high execution characters is worth it to them. As Marlinpie has proved to everyone the brass ring of a major tournament win is there, it’s up to other people to grab it and run with it like he has.
Vergil & Strider have swords and stuff
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
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.
What can Sentinel do for you?
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
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.
Phoenix can't control your salt
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
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 and his rad friends
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
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.
Dark Wesker is um... well... not rising; He's actually falling pretty fast.
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
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 greatly misses vanilla, still mauls you.
Wolverine/Wesker/Akuma, Wolverine/Storm/Akuma, Wolverine/Frank/Wesker
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.
Trish: Do I fight too dirty?
Trish-b/Vergil-y/Doom-b, Trish-y/Morrigan-y/Phoenix-y, Wesker-b/Trish-b/Dante-y, Trish-b/Wesker-b/Strider-y
Trish is a very difficult character to tier individually. She handles some characters like Wolverine and Wesker spectacularly. She has an assist that is brilliant for resets. She can set up some near guaranteed unblockables with the right team. With the right partner (HIDDEN MISSILES) she can solve her damage problem or at least mitigate it by being able to repeat supers in the corner. She can battery safely and effectively against rushdown characters making her a strong Phoenix escort.
Why isn’t she higher? Simply put her best teams just aren’t as good as other best teams and she can be a liability if the other side has an answer to her and doesn’t have to come in to her. She has some great square jump pressure and arguably has the best dive kick in the game but her game is predicated on the other side fighting hard to get in. When she has to be the aggressor or she’s forced into a spot on the team that doesn’t favor her, her teams fall apart.
Firebrand: Kya kya kya kya (So I heard you like unblockables?)
Firebrand-any/Dormammu-a/SuperSkrull-y, Firebrand-any/Dormammu-a/Amaterasu-y, Firebrand-any/Morrigan-y/SuperSkrull-y
By now Firebrand’s strategy is very well known. After landing a hit he can either set up unblockable resets or guaranteed snapback resets given the right assist or the right setup. When done flawlessly the game is essentially over in 1 hit. This team would move up the lists if it had more tournament success. Even if Firebrand fails and/or the unblockable strategy is not a total success, Dormammu and Skrull or Dormammu and Amaterasu can operate well together.
A REAL side benefit to this team. It may be among the best equipped to handle Morrigan. Both BT|Dieminion and Chris G mentioned how much they dislike playing zoning characters against Skrull during the lame play panel at UFGT8. Dormammu is another big threat to Morrigan. Add that to the threat of setting up repeated unblockable into snapbacks on her and her assists and you’re giving MorriDoom a lot to think about.
Viewtiful Joe has in fact beat Marvel vs. Capcom 3
Viewtiful Joe-a/Dr. Strange-b or y/Morrigan-y, Viewtiful Joe/Frank West-a/Rocket Raccoon-b
Both of these teams are built in the same way. Viewtiful Joe frustrates you with constant voomerangs and tries to provoke a predictable response. Joe expects you to dash in and try to get underneath his voomerang pressure. When you do, you run into a shopping cart, an eye of agamatto or a giant log out of nowhere, then you get combo’d and frustrated even more. Other than Morrigan, nobody would argue that these characters are top 20 on their own, but in combination they’ve achieved some great success.
BT|Dieminion has rode his fundamentals to multiple top 8s in majors and Kusoru shocked all of the US’s top players with his win at Final Round by carefully following the strategy and catching people rushing in. Given how people want to play Marvel, this team is great. Teams based around Spencer or Wolverine that have a single minded rushdown purpose are simply not equipped to deal with this kind of projectile assault. It remains to be seen whether these teams will hold up as more players try their own hand at zoning but it just goes to show that a well constructed team of “weak” characters can still win in UMvC3.
Storm: All hail the queen
Trish-any/Storm-a/Morrigan-y, Amaterasu-b/Storm-a/Akuma-b, Wesker-b/Storm-a/Akuma-b, Spencer-any/Storm-a/Sentinel-a
The most common Storm teams appear in sections above. Justin Wong plays Wolverine/Storm/Akuma , Fanatiq plays MSS, Dios-X plays Doom/Storm/Sentinel. All of these teams can more properly be classified as being primarily “other” teams and tiered higher even though they take advantage of this strategy as well. Storm is a mid-tier character who has one trump card in her pocket. She is the single biggest threat to support characters in the game. Her DHC into hail activates instantly. Her team super into hail OTGs, is fast, safe and covers the entire lower portion of the screen, even wiping out Morrigan clone fireballs coming from behind.
She can even force early x-factor occasionally; assuming proper spacing, when an assist is caught in the hail storm, the point character cannot push block to reduce damage or else the assist will take some bonus unscaled damage. Rather than taking damage on two characters, sometimes the only decision an opponent can make is an early x-factor which can screw them up for the entire rest of the game. If someone relies too heavily on a particular assist such as Dante-a, Sentinel-a or Doom-b, Storm holding meter can always make the decision to pick it off and force them to play out the match without their preferred support character. Sometimes taking a team apart from the back can make all the difference.
99th tier: The worst possible team I can come up with.
Chun-Li -B/Phoenix Wright-b/Hsien-Ko-y
Not only is there no damage on the team, all characters are in the wrong possible spot with the worst possible assist. Even low tier characters can be threatening if put in the right position. Chun needs to be 2nd or 3rd so you can TAC into infinite with her. Phoenix Wright needs help to get into turnabout mode and he can contribute a little with the dog assist. Hsien-Ko is a terrible anchor and needs to be used liberally as a golden armored assist in order to have any real value.
These three characters together could potentially form a team that might actually beat a few other teams but not with these assists or in this order. When you think about why this team fails and how minor tweaks could make it better, you can apply this same type of logic to your own team. Don’t lose to the select screen; give yourself and your characters the best possible chance at victory!