Marvel vs. Capcom fans old and new shared a moment when Evil Geniuses’ Justin Wong reclaimed his Evolution Championship Series title against Chris “NYChrisG” Gonzalez of GamesterGear in the championship finals. Key to Justin’s decisive victory, of course, was his choice to start Storm instead of Wolverine, which we hadn’t seen from Justin at all in the months leading up to Evo 2014. I caught up with him to learn more about his point Storm and his pre-Evo efforts to prepare for Chris.
Patrick Miller: When did you start practicing Storm on point? Who’d you practice it against? Was the plan always to save it for Evo?
Justin Wong: I always thought in my head to start Storm on point, but it was something I thought wouldn’t work because meter building got nerfed in Vanilla. I used to play point Storm in Vanilla with Storm/Wesker/Akuma.
So I thought to myself, “I think against Chris G, it might work because I believe that Storm can fight Morrigan in the point war.” I practiced it against Helix and NerdJosh, and I also played Morrigan on the side against K-Brad, who showed me a lot of weaknesses with Morrigan outside of the bullet hell with the fireball/unfly inputs if he crosses me up. And I definitely wanted to save it for Evo because pretty much I learned back in the day that you SAVE THAT SHIT FOR NATIONALS.
PM: What do you gain from starting Storm vs. starting Wolverine? What made you want to start practicing it? Aren’t you kind of screwed if you lose Storm early on?
JW: I gain a lot from starting Storm instead of Wolverine because I get the air mobility, I have a projectile to beat Soul Fist, I can stall in the skies because of my floating capabilities, and I can snipe assist or snipe Morrigan with Elemental Rage and Hail Storm. With Wolverine, I need to land the hit before Morrigan pushes me away, and 9 out of 10 times Chris G will push me away and start Bullet Hell which gives him all the momentum in the world.
To be honest, I just never wanted to switch teams. I learned a new team for Morrigan, which was Vergil, Storm, Akuma, but I really just wanted to win with my team. I am pretty much screwed if Morrigan kills Storm because Wolverine just cannot do anything from far. I don’t have a beam and Akuma has low life so if I call my assist wrong, then he will get extremely hurt. Wolverine’s role second is just there for the Hail Storm + speed up setup — I can get three mixups from that situation, which the chance of blocking is probably less than 15%.
PM: Was it hard to save point Storm for Evo instead of breaking it out at another tournament? How confident were you in that strategy when you hadn’t really tested that order out at other events?
JW: It wasn’t hard to save Storm until Evo just because I was very confident going in. Evo is where magic can happen for anyone, just because it’s the grand stage and trying to adapt to something new like that is very hard with the amount of pressure that is on the line.
PM: Martin “Marn” Phan sent Chris to losers, so you didn’t have to face him until grand finals. Do you think he would have successfully adapted to your point Storm if you had to play him two sets (winners and grand finals)? Did you have other tech specifically planned for another set?
JW: I think if Chris had another set, it would’ve been closer, but the way I was denying him meter was very important, and I could tell he was also nervous because he raw tagged a lot. But even if he had adapted, it would have still been a test of patience, and I am willing to run the clock out ’til zero, so it would’ve definitely been an endurance match. I would’ve stuck with those three characters until the end of the tourney no matter what.
PM: You sent Revolution Gaming’s Ryan “Filipino Champ” Ramirez to the losers bracket, where he eventually lost to Chris. If Champ had won, were you also prepared for a second set with him? Do you think he had anything saved up for finals?
JW: Me and Champ are literally 50/50. His movement is so good, but I have the patience to wear him out and make him make the first mistake. And if Wolverine can get the start on him, usually he will be on the losing end of the stick. I also played a lot of games with GoldenBoyNeo when he was staying with me, so its not like I don’t have the matchup knowledge — and no one really plays Wolverine/Akuma, which I think is a very different type of duo than Wolverine/Doom. I think Champ might’ve switched to a Morrigan team, but I would’ve been very confident just because Phoenix is always a problem when it comes to high level play.
PM: This is certainly one of the most notable (and successful) instances of saving matchup-specific tech for Evo in Marvel 3. Do you think that we’ll start seeing a lot more pocket characters and one-off mixups in the next few years of Marvel?
JW: There are so many more duos that haven’t been discovered in UMvC3. It’s one of the most creative fighting games of its time, and there will be more Apologymans, Angelics, Clockw0rks, and so on. I’m excited to see the future hype.
PM: How does it feel to have your first Marvel 3 title?
JW: Feels really good winning my first MvC3 title at Evo. I’ve always been in every top 8 in MvC3/UMvC3, and finally getting first made me realize that I still got it and I still have more to dish out before the new generation of FChamp, Chris G, and PR Rog can take it away from me.[hr]
Storm image courtesy of KaboXx