When asked why Smash 4 would not be on Sunday despite having so many entrants, Mr. Wizard said, “The best shows get Sunday, not the game that has the most entrants.” This is interesting because if you’ve been watching a MVC3 stream for any recent tournament, odds are you've read the same phrase spammed on an endless loop: DED GAME. Much of this is your standard meme proliferation, but it's also a general query about the longevity of the game. Marvel vs Capcom 3 has been out since 2011 and the initial excitement following its release has given way to a cagey wariness. The game has proved esoteric, extremely punishing, and often visually difficult to follow. There is a large skill floor that makes it hard for new players to get into. Viewership is slowly decreasing and the game is mostly dominated by a select group of characters.
The Evil Men Do:
But Mr. Wizard is not wrong. Despite all of those problems, MvC3 remains one of the hypest finals every EVO Sunday no matter what happens. Because it brings the same storyline each year: Good vs Evil.
The thing you need to understand is that everyone wants to win. In a game like MvC3, where there have been no balance changes since the beginning of 2012, the player base has explored most relevant nuances within the character pool, the system and how they interact with each other. The result is a metagame that tends towards extremes. The best players rely on compositions that nullify options and drastically get stronger once they reach a certain point: getting the first hit and setting up incoming mixups (ZerO), building 5 bars with X-factor (formerly Dark Phoenix, now Vergil), keeping the opponent out beyond limb range (Morrigan/Doom). No matter how boring the spectacle turns out to be, most veterans will be utilizing one of these strategies at EVO.
Part of a balanced breakfast. Even comes with its own movie.
So that is the natural evil. Basically every single top player uses one of those three approaches. Everyone but Justin Wong.*
*To be fair Wolverine is a junior member on the Axis of Evil. But we let it slide because he uses Storm/Akuma.
The Good Guy:
It was a strange turn of events. Justin Wong was the Father of Marvel. During the heyday of the MvC2 scene he redefined the concept of dominance, earning his place as the head of the MvC2 Triumvirate. From 2004-2009 Justin won every single tournament he entered. He became infamous for his impenetrable defense and unyielding cool in the worse circumstances; he could play any top-tier team and excelled with pocket characters like Cyclops. It was a historic event when he lost to another member of the trio, Sanford Kelly, at Breakpoint in Dunellen, NJ.
You’d probably end up hating him too after 5 years of him dancing every time he beat you.
Because he was so dominant, he was so good, he never got the unrequited support or love of the fanbase. They actively rooted against him and left whenever he was playing a finals because the result was a foregone conclusion. He was a villain, one they wanted to stop at any cost. Yet something strange happened along the way at EVO 2013 and EVO 2014.
In the words of Bizarro Harvey Dent, “Either you die a villain or live long enough to become the hero.” Out of all the top players in MvC3, Justin Wong was the only one stubborn enough to stick with his sub-optimal team out of affection. Using Wolverine/Storm/Akuma, he fought against the Axis of Evil and brought the hype over and over and over. He became the people’s champ. Every other player had succumbed to using Morrigan or Doom or Virgil or Zero, or some other cheap variation created to suffocate the other player. By no means is the Wolverine + Tatsu combination fair, and it has its own set of "damned if you do, damned if you don't" circumstances in the corner. But Justin's team doesn't guarantee automatic victory, and it's easier to assume Justin's can be attributed. And he did it off the back of comeback after comeback after comeback. Years ago, "Wong Factor" was coined to describe his inexplicable ability to pull out a victory from nowhere. It didn't matter how bad the matchup was on paper, or how razor-thin the line he had to walk for a theoretical victory. Justin would somehow find the right set of reactions for a comeback.
Here are just some of the feats he’s done over the years:
The game is fun to watch at the highest levels, but it is Justin Wong’s story that elevated Marvel to greater heights. In a strange way the former scourge of MvC2 is now the savior of its successor, and has become beloved in the process.
Bonus Section: MKX
I only know two things about Mortal Kombat. Yomi > Sonicfox > everyone else.
Justin Wong would have been a good oncologist.