Everyone knows Mago is one of the 2D gods of fighting games. He has always been one of the men to beat in any bracket he puts himself in. From Street Fighter IV to Street Fighter V, Mago continually finds himself in the highest echelons of competitive play. And it’s no surprise that he once again finds himself in Capcom Cup. With him being on the lower end of the seeding, how does he fare?
When you look at Mago’s competitive history in Street Fighter V, you see results upon results of him using Karin, with a couple of Rashid counter-picks littered in there. But that all changed in 2018 as Mago metaphorically hit the brakes and went to Cammy full-time.
Opting to go the route of using the inarguable highest-tier characters, Mago has done well playing catch up with dedicated Cammy mains. He has the pressure down, the spacings, the usage of every tool she has nearly perfect. He is one that is capable of picking up new characters fast, and it shows. Even in the instances where he has picked Rashid — typically as a counter for Birdie — he has shown a great sense of understanding of the character, his tools, and exactly why it’s a good counter for the characters he uses him to counter.
Master of None
But this shift is exactly the problem I have with Mago, and exactly why I can’t see him doing as well. I understand full well that character balance is always ebbing and flowing in Street Fighter V with seasonal patches. But truth be told, Karin never fell far enough in the tiers to warrant Mago to knee-jerk into changing to Cammy. Yet, he did so anyway.
What I view this is as textbook Mago, who typically shifts to whatever the highest tier is in any revision of a game without stopping to look at his previous character to see if they still hold any merit in the competitive meta. Often, they do, and yet he still switches to what’s the highest tier at any given moment. In Street Fighter IV, he started with Sagat, then switched to Fei-Long as soon as he started looking strong in Super. As soon as Ultra released, we saw him abandon Fei-Long in search of success with Yang. There was even a point within the arcade release of Ultra where we saw him play Chun-Li as rumors swirled that she might be top tier in the revision, only for him to ultimately choose Yang when it wasn’t the case.
And this is where Mago finds himself again. Karin was definitely a strong character through the first two seasons, and because she wasn’t top 5, Mago found himself a new character in Cammy. And the problem with that is he has had to play catch-up, and while he has done well with that, he isn’t able to fall back on mounds of experience that dedicated Cammy mains have had. This is why you see players like NL and Xiao Hai doing better than him on the circuit. It’s because all the situations that Mago struggles in, they’ve been there and know the answers. Mago doesn’t.
It’s hard truth time. Mago has been Tokido’s long time training partner, but there’s no secret that he’s not the last boss everyone hoped for. With his fear of commitment to a character that he doesn’t deem stronger than the rest, he actually suffers more than he benefits.
Do not get me wrong, I don’t oppose someone switching mains completely when it fits them better — or when their main gets nerfed into the ground. But I feel like neither one of these situations fit Mago. With him going up against the polar opposite in Luffy first round, someone who has tons of experience against better, more-experienced Cammys, I don’t see him doing well at all.
With that, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Mago go 0-2. While I would personally advise Mago to stick with Cammy or go back to Karin for Season 4, I’m not going to be surprised to see him switch to whatever character tops the tier list yet again.
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