Justin Wong is THE MvC2 God. We sit down with him to get some of his insights on this legendary game.
Panda Global's Justin Wong took some time to sit down and chat with esports.gg about Marvel vs Capcom 2, what the game means to him, and what he hopes for the future.
Justin Wong is one of, if not, the greatest American fighting game players of all time. He holds the current record for most EVO first place finishes in history (9 so far)! In 2021 alone, as of 10/01/2021, he has won 89 tournaments, with a goal to get 100 tournament wins before the year ends.
Although he has numerous tournament wins in a multitude of games, Justin Wong is most known for his mastery of the Marvel vs Capcom series. With the #FREEMVC2 movement going strong, we asked Justin Wong to give some insight on his love for Marvel vs Capcom 2.
Kaze: What is your favorite Marvel vs Capcom 2 related memory? It could be something from the professional scene, it could be something like a hangout with friends, or even just your first time seeing the game. What is it to you that makes it memorable?
Justin Wong: I think Marvel vs Capcom 2 is just very memorable to me because it's kind of what got me out of my shell, from just like playing at the arcade to traveling. Cause I didn't really travel for any other game but, a lot of people in the arcade really were like hyping me up telling me that I have a really good shot, and I should try to travel for tournaments and see what happens.
Marvel vs Capcom 2 was literally the start up to my career in general as a professional fighting game player. So it definitely holds a lot to me when it comes to just seeing this game in general.
"I think Marvel vs Capcom 2 is just very memorable to me because it's kind of what got me out of my shell, from just like playing at the arcade to traveling."
Kaze: So before you used to only play locally at Chinatown Fair right? So Marvel vs Capcom 2 was the first game that you would travel outside of that general area for?
Justin Wong: Yeah, pretty much. You know, I would play like Street Fighter 3: Third Strike, Capcom vs SNK, Super Street Fighter 2 Turbo, Alpha 3 all of these Capcom fighting games at Chinatown Fair. But Marvel vs Capcom 2 was like the first game that stood out, far more than the other games. A lot of people wanted me to travel, especially because there was a heated East Coast versus West Coast rivalry.
So before there was "Justin Wong" there was "Eddie Lee" but he kind of retired. There wasn't any person to rise up for the East Coast scene, and they really wanted me to take that chance, that leap of faith for Marvel vs Capcom 2. So I did, I took greyhounds to Chicago, to Virigina, flew to B5 in Sacramento California to participate in Marvel vs Capcom 2 tournaments. It turned out that I was pretty good at the game.
Kaze: I'd say you're more than just pretty good. I'm so glad that you took that risk because your success has lead to some of the most amazing moments in the FGC. But moving to a more casual standpoint, what are some of your favorite non-gameplay things about Marvel vs Capcom 2?
Justin Wong: Favorite non-gameplay memories of Marvel vs Capcom 2 is probably the friendships I've acquired from the arcade. I would say even to this day, I still have a majority of the same friends that I've met from the start of Marvel vs Capcom 2. Some were a few years after, when Chinatown Fair was still hot.
The Chinatown Fair is how I've met a lot of my close friends like Christ Matrix, IFC Yipes, and Mike Infinite. There's many more players from Chinatown that I look up to as individuals. They also taught me how to become a better person.
I used to have a stutter and a speaking problem, and I didn't know too much about life. My upbringing wasn't the greatest, so I learned a lot about social interactions from the people at the arcade playing Marvel vs Capcom 2.
I definitely owe a lot to the bonds that I built over the years at Chinatown Fair playing this one game. It brought us all together, and overall I would say that I benefited the most because it taught me how to become a better person that fits in society.
"It's how I've met a lot of my close friends like Christ Matrix, IFC Yipes, and Mike Infinite. There's many more players from Chinatown that I look up to as individuals. They also taught me how to become a better person."
How MvC2 helped in the classroom
Kaze: That's so great to hear. So often we hear in the news that video gamers are anti social or they don't know how to talk to people. Its really great to hear that you had an opposite experience, and its one that's shared with others.
Justin Wong: Yeah. Even like for like for schooling I was like, pretty bad at schooling. I didn't understand like how to figure out how to memorize specific like history when you've got a history test. Or understand math equations. I was like terrible at school.
But once I literally unlocked how to understand how to play fighting games then school really just clicked for me. I went from like a bottom 10 student to literally like a top 10 student in like one year. Just because of how good I got into fighting games and how I understand how I like to look outside the box. It just created like my critical thinking when playing fighting games.
Kaze: Returning to the game itself, what are some of your favorite mechanics that are in Marvel vs Capcom 2? It could be stuff they added, or it could even be glitches that are used.
Justin Wong: When it comes down to it after playing Marvel vs Capcom 2 and other versus series games afterwards and understanding how those work, I really appreciate mobility. The mobility in Marvel vs Capcom 2 is so much more solid and fluid and not as stiff, especially compared to games like X-men vs Street Fighter or Marvel vs Capcom 1.
I feel like its because they changed from a 6 button game to a 4 button game with 2 assists. Because they went to a 4 button game, you're able to implement specific dashes by using 2 buttons instead of 3 buttons. Because of that, mobility is so much faster in Marvel vs Capcom 2.
That's what really stands out to me. The fact that you're moving super fast, its like when you're watching Dragon Ball and their battles and you see them moving super fast. That's how I feel when I play Marvel vs Capcom 2.
Kaze: I definitely know what you mean. Sometimes when you watch high level Marvel vs Capcom 2, you see people wavedash across the screen instantly or see Sentinel fly around and just completely control the sky. The game looks like its moving a mile a minute.
Justin Wong: Yeah, that's why I like the mobility a lot.
Under explored characters?
Kaze: So I'm just curious, are there any characters that you feel are under explored in Marvel 2 even though the game has been out for more than 20 years at this point?
Justin Wong: I would say as a person that likes to play all the characters in any fighting game, I do think there are characters that haven't been explored yet. I would say Dhalsim was a fun experiment for me. Even though I became somewhat decent with him, its probably only like 20% of what he can possibly do.
Dhalsim is one of those characters that requires a lot of time. He's probably one of the most complex characters in the game, and it would be really cool to see more people to pick him up and see what he can do. Dhalsim is just not an easy character to use.
I would say another character is Anakaris. Anakaris is actually pretty darn cheap. He's very hard to block and there's a lot of nasty setups. If he hits you with his curse, its pretty much GG at that point, especially if you can loop the curse. It's pretty darn broken. I would say those 2 off the top of my head.
I do think there's a lot of unexplored character in Marvel vs Capcom 2 that could be played at a high level, but I also think just expanding your knowledge of other characters in the game makes it a lot more fun. The most fun thing for me right now is picking a random unconventional team that's low/mid tier and beating people that use top tier teams. It's like the greatest joy.
Justin Wong the low tier god
Kaze: On the subject of low tiers, I'm curious, do you have a favorite low tier character right now? I know you've been featuring the Jin Amingo Ken team for a while, but is there a character that you really like in particular?
Justin Wong: Its probably just trying to find sick conversions. Right now I really like Jin and Amingo. Jin and Amingo for some reason they work out very well and they're pretty fun. I would say those two, maybe Felicia and Hulk, they really have some dirt, they have cool stuff that they can land that you don't normally see in god tier matches.
Like using Jin's Blodia Punch to cause a flying screen and they can't roll from it then getting a tag combo. The screen locks in position, so even though you're midscreen, the game thinks you're in the corner. Stuff like that is what makes me so interested in these characters. Its because I played so much Marvel vs Capcom 3 that I thought about how to optimize these characters in Marvel vs Capcom 2.
Why Marvel 2?
Kaze: Speaking of Marvel vs Capcom 3, why is it that you always return to Marvel vs Capcom 2 instead of other games?
Justin Wong: Man... I don't know! For some reason when I boot up the stream and I don't know what to do, I always end up gravitating to Marvel vs Capcom 2. It just feels that when I'm playing Marvel vs Capcom 2, my creativity as a fighting game player just goes off the charts compared to when I play a different game.
It might just be my love for it, my passion for it, the time I spent with it, but whenever I play any other game, I don't get the same ideas that I could possibly have when it comes to Marvel vs Capcom 2.Overall, I think its just my love for the game I would say.
Kaze: Speaking on love for the game, do you remember the very first team that you ever picked when you played this game? For me it was Morrigan Ryu Strider because I just loved those characters. Was there a select three characters that you gravitated towards when you booted up the game for the first time?
Justin Wong: So when the game was in arcades, because I was at the arcade day one, right when you start the game you start at level 0. There's a level system at the bottom of the character select screen and there's the default roster and all you see is a bunch of question marks. So we were stuck with the default like 16 or 20 characters.
So I would say Hayato because I loved Plasma Sword on the PS1. I had a blast playing that and he was a new character. The second character I used was Strider because that was who I mained in Marvel vs Capcom 1. He was broken in Marvel vs Capcom 1, so I would play Strider again. The third character was Psylocke. I actually loved Psylocke not from previous Marvel fighting games. When I played this SNES game called X-men Mutant Apocalypse, I thought Psylocke was the most fun character, so I picked Psylocke.
So my first team when I put in my first 50 cents was Hayato Strider Psylocke.
"My first team when I put in my first 50 cents was Hayato Strider Psylocke."
Tips for new players
Kaze: So do you have any tips for players looking to pick up Marvel 2 right now? Maybe they just saw JM Crofts' video about Nulldc Bear and fightcade and maybe they want to pick up Marvel 2 but they've never played it before. Do you have any tips for them?
Justin Wong: I would say that there's kind of two different answers to it. When you pick up this game are you trying to play with top tiers or low tiers? Its really hard for low tiers to compete and enter tournaments against top tiers. It really comes down to that. If you do pick up the game, and no matter what route you play, you wanna spend most of your time in training mode for a bit.
Its important to master your characters, their movesets, their combos, and their synergy with delayed hyper combos. It really comes down to a lot of practice in training mode and a lot of watching matches. Seeing how other people are playing the characters you're playing and possibly joining a discord to have conversations and set up matches where you can play people.
Best team for beginners
Kaze: And for those new players, do you have a shell that you would recommend in case they're overwhelmed by the number of characters?
Justin Wong: If they're trying to play high tier characters, I would recommend playing Cable, Sentinel, Commando. Its called "Team Scrub", that's what they used to call it back in the day. Its one of those teams that can really level the playing field because of how much easier it is to use that team compared to others.
Modern Day substitute for MVC2?
Kaze: And for those people who want to get something similar to Marvel, but they feel iffy about emulation or maybe their PC can't handle it. If they only have a PS4 or something like that, is there a modern day fighting game that you would recommend for that audience?
Justin Wong: Hmmm similar? I feel like there's not that many games that are similar, but if you wanted to, you could play Marvel vs Capcom 3. The online is definitely trash, so I don't know if I could recommend online. Offline though, the game is amazing. Its great, its one of the best games of all time. So I would say Marvel vs Capcom 3. That's the closest you can get with a modern game.
"The game, Marvel vs Capcom 2, is over. 20 years old and people still love playing it to this day. There's no need to balance it or to make changes. I think that's modern game syndrome and old games don't really need that."
Potential Patch for MVC2?
Kaze: If Marvel vs Capcom 2 were to get rereleased, and they rebalanced the roster, is there a character that you wish was better than they are now?
Justin Wong: Oh man, to be honest, I rather there be no rebalance. I feel like if you would try to rebalance the game or add DLC characters, you might as well call it Marvel vs Capcom 4 at that point. The game, Marvel vs Capcom 2, is over. 20 years old and people still love playing it to this day. There's no need to balance it or to make changes, I think that's modern game syndrome and old games don't really need that.
Kaze: Lastly, I just want to ask you one thing. Can you do a fucking infinite?
Justin Wong: I mean I can do a bunch of infinites. I've been doing infinites for so many other characters now besides Iron Man, its fun master those efforts, that's for sure.