There’s no doubt about it: Christopher “NYChrisG” Gonzalez of Afterglow Elite is the one to beat in Marvel. No player has been so consistently dominant in Marvel since Justin Wong in the Marvel vs. Capcom 2 days, and Chris G’s recent reign of terror is particularly impressive given the fact that no other high-level competitor has managed to perform quite so consistently in Marvel vs. Capcom 3.
But he’s not unbeatable.
I spoke to Richard Nguyen, Empire Arcadia’s Job “Flocker” Figueroa, and Eduardo “PR Balrog” Perez of Evil Geniuses, each of whom has defeated him in a tournament set in the past, to see what they think the secret is to shutting him down at Evolution 2013.
Step 1: Take Morrigan Out
No surprise here: Gonzalez’ Morrigan is hands-down his most dangerous weapon, and beating him means taking her out early. SoCal player Richard Nguyen (Zero/Dante/Strider) said that his team composition was critical to his win because it had a decent matchup against the Morrigan/Doctor Doom combination:
My team of Zero/Dante/Strider is able to put up a good fight against Morrigan. But I believe it’s not a winning fight for any of my characters. The way I see it, 80% of the cast has a near-zero chance of beating her even somewhat consistently. However, Zero can kill her in one combo — though it’s hard to get the initial hit due to Soul Fist’s projectile durability — Dante can use teleports to mess her fireball and fly inputs — but he does no damage against her 950K health total — and Strider provides an annoying assist for Morrigan to deal with as well as comeback potential with X-Factor and Ouroboros — but it’s hard to come back against three full health characters. So, the key was probably my team composition and some luck that my Strider was able to get started with X-factor. The other opponents that Chris G had to play always had teams where Morrigan just simply beats on a rather consistent basis — Phoenix and Wolverine teams, for example.
Eduardo “PR Balrog” Perez concurs. “The key to beating Chris was to be really unpredictable and try to keep him out of the air, since Morrigan’s runaway skills are extremely powerful,” he said. “I think what I had going for myself was that I was really reckless when I was trying to get that first hit on his characters.”
But each player agrees that Gonzalez’ Morrigan is the best out there. “I think he’s easily the best Morrigan/Doom player because he knows how to play Morrigan the most,” Job “Flocker” Figueroa told me. “I personally don’t think his team is optimized at all, combo-wise, but he does have the ‘field experience’ over everyone, because he knows how to rushdown with her, he knows how to keep the fuck away with her, and he knows everything in-between.”
Nguyen identified a significant detail about Gonzalez’ fireball spam. “Chris G does Morrigan fireball spam more consistently than anyone else. He’s one of the few who can land the infamous 16-hit Soul Fist juggle from full screen, which is basically only possible if the fly/unfly timings are near perfect eight times in a row,” he explained. “He also uses the other very powerful aspect of Astral Vision of Morrigan that no one else really uses, which is that it negates pushblocking about half of the time. With this, he is able to set up constant 50/50 mixups with standing L or fly to jumping S for a low or high mixup while Doom’s Hidden Missiles locks his opponents down.”
Perez also mentioned that Chris G’s defensive talent is an essential part of his game. “I believe what makes him better than any other player that tries Morrigan/Doom is his defense; Chris has one of the best if not the best tech throws in the game, and I’m always impressed by his comebacks with Doom.”
Vergil vs. Magneto?
Recently, Chris G swapped Vergil out for Magneto to round out his Morrigan/Doctor Doom shell a bit; I asked each player to weigh in on whether they thought it would be easier to take on Chris G’s new team.
“Vergil as a level two or three X-Factor character is scary for any team,” Nguyen said. “In particular, though, Vergil against Strider is a war of initiation. The first one to put up Spiral Swords or Ouroboros gets the huge advantage. The switch to Vergil definitely made the matchup harder for me.”
“It really depends on what he decides to do because, I don’t know if he’ll pick Magneto against me,” Perez said. “Wolverine deals with Magneto more easily than Morrigan. I don’t think it would be a good idea, but who knows — after all, he is Chris ‘Genius’.”
Figueroa, meanwhile, thinks the Magneto swap is possibly a troll move. “I think him switching to Magneto makes it easier on everyone,” he said. “Vergil is a blatantly overpowered character, and I think he’s either sandbagging with Magneto, or he’s just depending on Morrigan/Doom so much that he doesn’t care who his third character is — like when he picked Firebrand in the past.”
Putting Chris on Tilt
Each player agreed that Chris G’s weak spot — if he has one at all — is in his extraordinarily emotional nature. “The biggest thing I’ve noticed is that even when he’s winning he seems to feel the pressure when it was close,” Figueroa said. “You can see him sighing or shaking his head between matches when his opponent has already clicked on rematch, so probably his nerves are his biggest weakness.”
Perez agreed. “Honestly, Chris is an emotional player, so I have to say his emotions are his biggest hole. If you do something risky, or if he drops a combo that makes his character die then he will fall. I believe his biggest weakness is himself, right now.”
But Nguyen doesn’t think it’s that big of a weakness. “He is a very emotional player, however, it strangely does not seem like it affects his gameplay too much. It is still something to look on improving however, as I have a similar problem.” Instead, Nguyen thinks that Gonzalez’ Vergil is his weakest spot. “His Vergil definitely can improve as well. Chris G gets the job done with him, but there is definitely room for improvement, which is kind of scary and silly at the same time.”
Beating Gonzalez Again
Beating Gonzalez once puts you in a fairly exclusive club. Beating him twice, however, is almost unheard of — so I asked each player how confident they were in beating Gonzalez in a runback at Evolution 2013.
Figueroa liked his chances. “I’m very confident I can beat anyone right now — whether it’s Chris G, Justin Wong, FChamp, Daigo — anyone from Japan, or anywhere in the world,” he said.
Perez was similarly confident, if coy, in his reponse. “I have something in store for him specifically.”
Finally, Nguyen was a bit more modest. “I definitely will not beat him consistently or anything,” he said, “but I do have confidence that I can put up a good fight and possibly win a three out of five set with a lot of luck and focus.”
What do you think is key to taking out Chris G in UMvC3 at Evo this year? Tell us in the comments!