THE HYPERPEDIA OF
MARVEL VS. CAPCOM 3
BY RICHTER GORGON
Few competitive video game communities have a history as storied and significant as the Capcom Vs. fighting game scene. Beginning in 1994, Capcom and Marvel Comics combined forces to produce a series of fast and colorful arcade fighting games including X-Men: Children of the Atom and Marvel Super Heroes. But the game that would define this unique collaboration of Japanese design and American style was the 1996 arcade hit X-Men vs. Street Fighter. All the essential qualities of subsequent crossover games were established there: a large and diverse roster of characters, teams of 2 or more fighters to be tagged in at will, an emphasis on elaborate aerial combos, and numerous bugs, glitches, and infinites that are infuriating to endure but oh so much fun to perform on your hapless opponents. It was this emphasis on flash and fun over substance and balance that attracted a different crowd to the Capcom Vs. series, a scene distinct from those attached to the increasingly more serious and demanding fighting games like Street Fighter III.
After numerous annual sequels and rehashes, the Vs. series reached critical mass with the release of Marvel vs. Capcom 2 for the arcade and Sega Dreamcast in 2000. Due in part to the explosion of affordable internet, the emergence of grassroots tournament series (including the Evolution world championships), and a prolonged dearth of new fighting game releases, the Marvel 2 community would survive, thrive, and electrify audiences for more than 10 years. It was only the shock announcement and subsequent release of Marvel vs. Capcom 3 in early 2011 that convinced all but the most bitter holdouts to hang up their glitchy Dreamcasts and massive homemade fight sticks for shiny new consoles and slick Japanese-style controllers. Thus, a new community was born — one rooted in the past by the players and traditions of its origins yet still advancing slowly and deliberately into the future, where new champions emerge and new traditions are honored. To fully appreciate this continuity between the past and present, we must look back at those champions of old who helped define the champions of today.
THE THREE SUPREME FIGHTING
GAME GURUS OF NORTH AMERICA
Beginning in the early 1990s with the phenomenal success of Street Fighter II in arcades and the countless fighting game franchises that followed, there emerged three dominant regions in the United States where the best of the best fighting gamers were trained and cultivated. Within each region was a single player whose knowledge and mastery of the game was so absolute that their techniques and style forged the community of players that surrounded them. Because information was slow to travel, each region developed a distinct style of play that mimicked the strengths (and weaknesses) of its most dominant player, not unlike how the many schools of martial arts sprang up in the days of old around a region's greatest fighter. For this reason, these original masters of fighting games are most accurately recognized as gurus, since they both formed and informed the wider community around them.
The three supreme gurus whose influence is undeniable and remains to this day are as follows:
Eddie Lee of New York City (NYC) | Master of the "Turtle Style" that emphasizes defense and evasion above all. Justin Wong and Chris Gonzales were both proteges of Eddie Lee at the infamous Chinatown Fair arcade, and their incredible defensive abilities prove the value of their instruction. Seldom one to travel, Eddie Lee remained a local legend who gradually faded into obscurity, save for the stories shared by those who knew him best. Although no recordings exist of Eddie Lee in his prime, there is rare footage of him competing in the early days Marvel vs. Capcom 3. His then-unusual team of Dormammu / Doom / Haggar and reactive posture appeared completely at odds with the popularity of aggressive teams and rushdown playstyles. However, these characters and tactics would prove highly influential in later years as the competitive Marvel vs. Capcom 3 scene developed.
Alex Valle of Southern California (Socal) | Master of the "Bull Style" that emphasizes relentless aggression defined in four letters: RTSD, meaning "Rush That Shit Down." In the late 1990s, Alex Valle was considered one the USA's top fighting gamers and in 1998 fought a young Daigo Umehara in the world championship for Street Fighter Alpha 3 in San Francisco. A perennial competitor, Valle continues to compete at the highest levels of various fighting games, even as he gravitates more towards tournament organizing and content production. Several months before the release of Marvel vs. Capcom 3, Justin Wong signed with esports team Evil Geniuses and relocated from NYC to Socal. Tired of being reviled as a nigh-invincible and boring defensive player, Wong chose to play as the highly volatile Rufus in Street Fighter IV and pioneered the deadly and evasive Wolverine / Storm / Akuma team in Marvel vs. Capcom 3. Whether by chance or consequence, Wong embraced the RTSD ethos of Alex Valle while living in Socal. Combined with his strong defensive foundation, Wong's intelligent aggression has made him a rare double threat of disparate styles. While Alex Valle himself was never a top player in Marvel vs. Capcom 3, his solid fundamentals and insightful reads would score him the occasional underdog victory.
John Choi of Northern California (Norcal) | Master of the "Eagle Style" that emphasizes absolute control of the opponent. Control is neither aggressive nor defensive, though it can be both or nothing. Simply put, unlike aggressive or defensive postures that define your actions, control seeks to always limit the options of your opponent until their only remaining choice is to defeat themselves. It is the most subtle and demanding of the three styles, but also the most powerful. When control is achieved it resembles perfection but when lost it turns into an ugly chaos. John Choi's mastery of this technique was tested many times while fighting against his bitter rival and good friend Alex Valle. Before the rise of international competition, regional rivalries defined the complex hierarchy of fighting gamers, and Choi was always at the top. His success continued into the EVO era, beginning in the early 2000s when a modest, community-run tournament started by the Cannon brothers in Northern California exploded into the de facto world championship of fighting games. In 2008, Choi was one of the first Americans to win an EVO championship in a game with strong international competition, and is still the only American to win two EVO championships in the same year. Even in the twilight of his career, John Choi continues to achieve incredible victories, as he did at EVO 2014 over the highly-favored Daigo Umehara in Ultra Street Fighter IV and at EVO 2015 over two Street Fighter legends (including Daigo) in the X-Mania Street Fighter Super Turbo tournament. Though never a Marvel player himself, Choi's dominant influence manifests clearly in the clean, controlling play of Norcal's greatest Marvel 3 champion, Filipino Champ.
THE THREE ETERNAL MASTERS
OF MARVEL VS. CAPCOM 3
From the lessons of these three gurus and the communities they influenced, there emerged three players who would achieve the status of eternal masters in Marvel vs. Capcom 3. These are players who have not only proven themselves endlessly at the highest levels of competition, but in some permanent way have defined the game they played, and in so doing are forever enshrined as living pillars of the Marvel 3 community. They are as follows:
Christopher "Chris G" Gonzalez of New York City (now of Socal) | Student of the "Turtle Style." Master of the projectile defense as performed by his signature team of Morrigan / Doom / Vergil. Endlessly talented and easily unlikeable, Chris G is neither a hero nor a villain, though he is usually loved or hated. Known to the world as the most dominant Marvel 3 player ever, within the community he's better known for his salt, his whining, and his quizzical nature. He also possesses an unusual ability to fluster and demoralize even the most focused and confident challengers, a strange phenomenon that surrounds and protects him like a mystical aura known as the "Chris Jitters". Much like The Shadow has the power to cloud men's minds, so to do the "Chris Jitters" overpower otherwise competent players, causing them to drop combos, forget their strategies, or simply make the worst possible decisions. Despite his overwhelming talent and success, he spent the majority of his Marvel 3 career hounded by his catastrophic failures at EVO, and for that he had only himself to blame.
Justin Wong of Southern California (formerly of NYC, now of Norcal) | Student of the "Turtle Style" and later of the "Bull Style." Master of the clutch comeback and devoted practitioner of his original Marvel 3 team of Wolverine / Storm / Akuma. The undisputed king of Marvel vs. Capcom 2, Justin Wong dominated fighting games from the time he was a teenager, winning six of the nine EVO championships for Marvel 2 and reigning undefeated in the game for multiple years. Tired of suffering the boos and jeers that dogged his lame (defensive) playstyle, Wong reinvented himself as a heroic character by dazzling crowds with flashy, aggressive characters and fighting tenaciously against Daigo Umehara in the early days of Street Fighter IV. His ability to triumph in the most desperate circumstances has been attributed to a unique super power called the "Wong Factor" that temporarily boosts his speed, insight, and reactions to near inhuman levels. Currently one of the best Street Fighter V players in the USA, Justin Wong continues to excel in multiple fighting games, but it remains to be seen if his legacy in Marvel vs. Capcom 3 is truly complete.
Ryan "Filipino Champ" Ramirez of Northern California (Norcal) | Student of the "Eagle Style." Master of precise, flawless play as expressed in his two thoroughly refined teams of Magneto / Doom / Phoenix and Magneto / Dormammu / Doom. A natural showman with a magnetic personality, FChamp relishes playing up his role as a real life supervillain — trash-talking, taunting, popping off, and even egging on angry crowds with all the poise and smug satisfaction of a pro wrestler. When not on stage, FChamp has shown himself to be generous and affable but also capable of incredible cruelty and manipulation. He's the most interesting person of the three eternals and also the least talented, but he overcomes this hindrance with a tireless work ethic and indomitable will to win that can conquer most anyone. He was one the first American players to defeat Daigo Umehara in Street Fighter IV, and continued to do so even long after Marvel 3 became his primary game. Always seeking the bigger and brighter spotlight, FChamp "retired" multiple times from Marvel 3 to concentrate on newer games like Street Fighter V. Though he continues propping up his prior Marvel 3 triumphs, FChamp's recent standing has mostly been defined by several high-profile losses.
THE ONE PROVEN MASTER
OF MARVEL VS. CAPCOM 3
Rising to the rank of master within any highly-competitive scene is a rare and difficult achievement. Although masters are granted an elevated status, they must continually prove themselves worthy of their title. These "ordinary" masters exist in a tumultuous limbo until they either ascend to the pantheon of eternals or sink into the abyss of the fallen. The lone proven master of Marvel vs. Capcom 3 is as follows:
Nicolas "Kane Blueriver" Gonzalez | Known as "The Chilean Sensation." A wandering fighter roaming from place to place and subsisting only by the generosity of others. He uprooted himself from a continent with no history of success in Marvel to train in every region of the USA, then Japan, and Mexico, and anywhere else that hosted elite fighting gamers. After years of tireless devotion, self-doubt, and sacrifice, Kane walked onto the final stage at EVO 2015 a nobody with a dream and walked away a world champion. His victory was instantly dismissed and bemoaned by many leading figures of the Marvel 3 community. Some were unable to hide their contempt that a freeloading, unaccomplished foreigner had the temerity to win Marvel, a franchise with a 15 year dynasty of success that belonged exclusively to the USA. Eventually, emotions cooled and grudges faded. Kane returned to Chile and the Marvel scene continued on in the USA, still passionate but humbled by the disillusion of their supremacy. But it wasn't until his return in 2016 and a string of major victories over the USA's best players that Kane finally became recognized by nearly everyone as a legitimate master of the game.
THE TWO FALLEN MASTERS
OF MARVEL VS. CAPCOM 3
Not all masters endure forever. While some players excel over a long duration, others burn brightly for a fleeting moment before fizzling out suddenly or slowly fading away. Though their accomplishments were great, fallen masters are often disregarded for leaving behind a tarnished, incomplete, or forgotten legacy. They are as follows:
Eduardo “PR Balrog” Perez | Known as "The Daywalker." A sloppy, hyper-aggressive, yet shockingly intelligent and tenacious Marvel 3 player. Originally from Puerto Rico, PR Rog burst onto the fighting game scene in 2010 with his savage and highly-successful Balrog play in Street Fighter IV. He found early success in Marvel 3, narrowly losing the first EVO championship in 2011. But the balance of his passion, fame, and accomplishment has always remained with Street Fighter IV. Despite competing and winning at the highest levels for the majority of Marvel 3's lifespan, PR Rog gradually lost interest in the game and stopped playing entirely in early 2015. However, his legacy lives on the Marvel scene even today, though perhaps not as he intended. His signature team of Wolverine / Doom / Vergil (once known as "Team Rog") is now better known as "Team Scrub," a term dating back to the old Marvel 2 days, meaning a team that wins consistently with the least skill required. "Team Scrub" has been the name of several teams in the lifespan of Marvel 3, but PR Rog's happens to be the latest and perhaps even the last. In a sense, it's actually a testament to the brilliant, brutal efficiency of the team he refined to win as effortlessly as possible. And to some, that laziness is the surest mark of genius.
Job "Flocker" Figueroa | Know as "Flockeye" for his exceptional mastery of the often-dismissed Hawkeye character. A Puerto Rican native who not only excelled in the early days of Marvel 3 but also pioneered the most powerful and regrettable character in the game, Zero. He placed well in major tournaments for several years before emerging in early 2013 as the #1 contender at the height of Chris G's dominance. He placed 2nd to Chris G at Final Round XVI before finally besting him at East Coast Throwdown V, to the delight of everyone except Chris G. A few months later, Flocker did the unthinkable and stopped Justin Wong's colossal juggernaut of hype dead in its tracks to win EVO 2013. Though he continued placing Top 3 consistently, Flocker found few victories the following season, as both Wong and Chris G once again proved his better. By 2015 he stopped practicing entirely and, despite a surprise 2nd Place showing at CEO 2016, now rarely reaches Top 8. His unpopular EVO victory over Wong and steady decline thereafter gave license to label Flocker a fraud, but that undeserved label only stuck because so many were quick to forget his brief yet legitimate period of dominance.
THE FOURTEEN MASTER KILLERS
OF MARVEL VS. CAPCOM 3
Between masters and ordinary players is a rank of fighters that belong to neither group. Not only have they defeated masters of the game on several occasions, they've done so in the service of achieving a higher victory, such as winning a major tournament or a huge wad of cash. However, they still haven't fulfilled the myriad esoteric qualifications to be called masters, so instead they remain master killers. Here are the best of such players:
Hajime "Tokido" Taniguchi | Graduate of Tokyo University. The undisputed best all-around fighting gamer of all time. Winner of multiple EVO, SBO, and major tournament championships in games 2D (Street Fighter) and 3D (Tekken). The first foreign player to win a major Marvel tournament in the USA. The #1 Marvel 3 player in Japan before being supplanted by Nemo in 2013. Continued to defeat top Marvel players well into 2014 until he dropped the game to concentrate on Street Fighter IV and The King of Fighters XIII.
Peter "Combofiend" Rosas | A tenacious competitor of multiple games and fixture of the Socal fighting game community. The only player to equal Justin Wong in his ability to clutch out seemingly impossible victories. A top Marvel 2 player and innovator, his successful Marvel 3 career was sadly cut short when he was hired by Capcom USA in late 2012 and forbidden from competing in any Capcom fighting games. He was later promoted from community manger to associate producer of Street Fighter V.
Kyohei "MarlinPie" Lehr | Dr. Doom innovator and notorious tricycle thief. A New Jersey native that drove audiences wild with his hype, stylish, and unbelievable Doom combos. A top Guilty Gear player, he still continues to play and occasionally impress in Marvel vs. Capcom 3.
Martin "Marn" Phan | A Zero player dating back to Tatsunoko vs. Capcom (the failed predecessor to Marvel 3). EVO champion and former League of Legends team owner. Based in Socal or sometimes Vietnam. Former medical anomaly and current Street Fighter V dynamo — he's a pretty interesting guy. When he's not busy staring in fighting games he's usually playing them, and he does so with such intensity and reckless abandon that he terrifies even the most unshakable players.
Michael "IFC Yipes" Mendoza | The greatest FGC hype man of all time. Marvel 2 legend and NYC representative. Mostly known for his godlike commentary, Yipes displayed rare moments of brilliance while playing Marvel 3, conquering the likes of Chris G and Filipino Champ. Creator and promoter of the Curleh Mustache tournament series, a rotating invitational tournament spanning multiple years that's generated unbelievable hype and sparked some historic rivalries as well.
Naoki "Nemo" Nemoto | A top Japanese fighting gamer since the early 2000s. Formerly an accomplished Guilty Gear player and Chun Li master in the early days of Street Fighter IV. He was one of the only Japanese players to devote himself entirely to Marvel 3 and generated significant attention by winning several, high-profile money matches against the USA's best players. Nemo was enticed by the release of Ultra Street Fighter IV in 2014 and quickly became Japan's #1 ranked player in arcades. He continued to find considerable success in Ultra, but his Marvel play suffered as a result. By 2015, he was no longer the exciting, fascinating menace he once was, as other, more threatening Japanese players came to supplant his position in their region.
Vineeth "Apologyman" Meka | A well-known competitor in the Norcal Smash Bros. and anime fighter scenes. He famously refused to be known as a "Marvel player" despite winning incredible victories over top competitors and nearly ruining the game with his unblockable, one-touch-kill team of Firebrand / Doom / Super Skrull. Though he travels infrequently, Apologyman is a serious threat to win any tournament he enters, so long as he avoids his most notorious nemesis (other than Filipino Champ) — mental self-defeat.
Jonathan "Cloud805" Morales | That happy-go-lucky and (once) luxuriously haired rogue out of Socal. He burst out of the barely-functional online Marvel 3 community and famously upset Filipino Champ in the Top 8 of EVO 2013. That's a bit like nearly winning Wimbledon after playing a lot of Mario Tennis. After his shocking EVO performance, Cloud began frequenting the tournament circuit and quickly became a consistent Top 8 finisher. Despite never winning a major tournament, Cloud is best known for his highly impressive performances in long-set exhibitions and his unique, masterful Dante play (a well-rounded character with an enormous skill ceiling that's capable of performing very exciting and expressive spectacles).
Daniel "Clockwork" Maniago | Master of the Strider / Doom trap in Marvel 2 and innovator of the Strider / Doom shell in Marvel 3. Fearless and focused. A Socal hero who continues to refine and improve himself as a player. Similar to Marn, Clockwork is frightening to everyone because he can potentially beat anyone. Unlike Marn, Clockwork remains an enduring threat by suffocating his opponent with deliberate, intelligent pressure and not wild, unpredictable frenzy. A perpetual 9th Place finisher at EVO, Clockwork fights hard through every loss and victory. It's that dogged determination that's earned him so many fans and gives them hope that a worthy triumph will find him yet in Marvel vs. Capcom 3.
Raynel "RayRay" Hidalgo | The new face of New York Marvel. Made a deal with the Devil to be the fastest, flashiest Magneto player around, and in return is cursed to forever finish 2nd place. Often called "Amuro RayRay" for piloting the best Sentinel in the game (a hulking, awkward robot character that's usually called "Wackbot" when played by anyone else). Barely an adult when Marvel 3 launched, RayRay has matured into a confident, well-accomplished competitor who many rank as a Top 5 player in game today.
BeeBall (or sometimes just Bee) | A Canadian recluse who refuses to cross the border to play Marvel (probably due to the high cost of fuel) but will body most anyone who steps onto his home turf. An infrequent player, his team of Spencer / Frank West / Dante seems like it belongs to a now-ancient era of Marvel 3 before the game was firmly understood, but with a kind of bumbling genius, BeeBall still manages to make it work. Like many foreign players, his rank in the Marvel hierarchy is nigh-impossible to assess, but after defeating several top Marvel players in recent tournaments, there's renewed focus on this elusive challenger hailing from the snowy north.