went to a marvel tournament in San Jose (what’s up keystone bar and grill) and ended up coming in 4th out of 16th! pretty happy about that, considering the three in front of me were Ricky Ortiz, Falcomist (former Melee player who i have never heard of but apparently is a regular south bay marvel head and plays at the FGTV house etc), and PR Balrog.
somewhat hilariously, i got sent to losers in the first round by my buddy josh, one of my oakland marvel heads who i had spent a good 8 hours in the two days prior playing marvel with. i convinced him to go, to enter, and gave him a ride, and he repays me by beating me 3-2. thanks, buddy. (as it turns out, i was his first legit win in a marvel tournament ever. pretty sweet for him, especially because i usually take our sets by a 2:1 or 3:1 ratio!
so i had to crawl up the loser’s bracket, running through four guys i’ve never met before (i don’t play in local tournaments pretty much ever), and then getting pretty solidly spanked by falcomist. it’s funny, i didn’t *feel* outclassed, but he just consistently seemed to have the advantage in the neutral game (playing nova/doom/dormammu), which is something i don’t come across often as a zero player. really, though, the main thing i learned is that the PS3 marvel port is ass, and i need to start practicing on it for evo, because i didn’t land a single lightning loop for the first three opponents! and i was dropping it at the OTG divekick -> buster part, which is one of the easiest things to do.
also, i remembered what it was like to deal with tournament jitters. it has been a while since i’ve competed (really, i’ve just done evo 2011 and evo 2012). i noticed that it wasn’t a tremendous factor in my combo execution, but i definitely played a less-smart neutral game (lots of unprotected air-dashes in and such) than i usually do, which i think was the main reason i lost to falcomist so badly. i’m gonna see if i can start up some low-stakes money matches with bihn or something to get used to it. between PS3/stick adaptation (i wasn’t playing with my TE, since it’s not a PS3 stick) and jitters, i was probably playing at like 60% or so.
i forgot how big a deal jitters are! i remember last year at evo, i commented to bihn on how surprised i was that i did better in AE (2-2) than i did in UMVC3 (2 and out, though my first match was against the top seed in the bracket), and he pointed out that even though i’ve logged more marvel time overall, the skillset for AE is closer to cvs2/ST/3s, each of which i’ve played WAY more in tournaments (mostly CVS2), so i’m way more comfortable in those tournaments than in marvel (which i’ve mostly played only semi-seriously for MVC2 tournaments, and not all that well). there is some truth to that, i think!
highlights of the tournament were: hearing one guy say “that’s the strangest vergil i’ve ever seen” (most likely because i don’t use the spiral swords that much); apparently making one guy hella salty after he lost to me (he bitched to his buddy something about a scrubby vergil; i’m the first one to agree with you, bro), and cvs2! some guy named allen brought out a PS2 with CVS2 and a pair of MAS sticks. takin it back, baby! it’s the best game ever, until i lose to a roll-cancel-heavy A-blanka and then i hate it again.
the third guy i played in losers bracket saw my team (Zero-Doom-Vergil) and said, “man, that’s a business team!” or something like that. yup! and if there’s one thing i’ve noticed from some of the folks at the tournament, it’s that team composition is one of those things that i definitely take for granted. i don’t play with many people — really, i just play with josh and bihn — but both those guys always make sure to use very synergistic, well-designed, gameplan-friendly teams, which forces me to make sure i take a good look at my team, too.
essentially, a well-composed team has a versatile game plan, with backup options when things don’t always go so well (snapouts, wasted x-factor/meter, an early character loss, etc), assists that let the first and second characters control the screen and prolong combos to build extra damage and meter, etc. IMO, smart players with well-composed teams are far more scary than an execution specialist using a team with poor synergy.
whether your team is well-composed or not kind of depends on how many of the following things it can do, and how well. your ideal team:
- can kill a regular-health starting character with a one-touch combo using two super meters (ideally, one that lets you build a meter during the combo, so you can kill with the 1 meter you start out with) or one meter + x-factor
- can kill a regular-health starting character after an air or ground throw, ideally without x-factor
- has an anchor that could reasonably make an x-factor 3 comeback even if you lose your first two characters to the opponent’s point character
- has point/second characters that could also reasonably make an x-factor 3 comeback, in case your anchor gets snapped in and killed
- has an anchor and/or assist that can go into the late game phase with an extreme advantage (vergil, strider, phoenix)
- has an anchor and/or assist that would convince your opponent to snap it in instead of killing your point character with that combo (the above plus great assists like dante-jam session, doom-missiles, or sent-drones)
- can reasonably safely DHC any character into or out of any other character (screen-filling supers and state-change supers are key here)
- can reasonably safely crossover counter any character into or out of any other character (bonus points if that crossover counter leads to a high-damage combo opportunity)
- gives the point and second character a combination of assists that create openings, control the screen, and extend combos
- uses heavy-hitting, meter-building TAC combos to make the opponent worry about TACing (which in turn creates its own reset options)
all these facets describe a team that is pretty much always a threat, no matter where you are in any phase of the match or how many characters you’ve taken out. naturally, some teams are better than others, and some excel at different phases of the game.
for example, teams with frank west are often particularly dependent on getting that first hit, because they usually have a setup that can lead to leveling frank up to 4 or 5, which gives you a very imposing, potentially game-winning character with one combo (and your point is probably also dead), but they can crumble if the player quickly loses the point character and gets stuck with level 1 frank. some players like to use teams with doom anchors, but that can lead to its own problems if you end up in one of doom’s worse matchups (like hawkeye or dorm, for example), because even with x-factor 3 it’s hard for him to deal with certain characters. anyway, a good team can put you in all kinds of uncomfortable positions, and it might be worth asking yourself how many of the above things your team can do, to see how good it is really. maybe next time i’ll post about how this breaks down into my own team.