Five Questions with Daniel “Clockw0rk” Maniago

If you play MvC2 and you don’t know the name Daniel “Clockw0rk” Maniago, then you don’t know Marvel. He placed top 8 at Evo2k2 and more recently in top 3 at Evo2k10 – representing unique, crowd-favorite Strider/Doom teams that almost nobody else plays effectively.

Maj: MvC3 has been receiving mixed reviews from the core MvC2 community, but every new build seems to take a big step in the right direction. What’s your take on Marvel vs Capcom 3 so far?

Clockw0rk competing at Evo2k10Clockw0rk: I remember when I read about the details of MvC2 on – more specifically, the button layout. As an avid MvC1 player, I was really disappointed that it was being changed to 4 buttons and 2 assists and already hated the game. But sure enough, it turned out to be OK.

So as far as the button layout goes, I have an open mind and trust Capcom on how they think the buttons should be. I can’t say that I’ve been a fan of any of the builds that I’ve played (Evo and SCR) but I haven’t really gotten a chance to play it all that much. I really don’t like the button mapping that they’ve had (top three weak medium fierce, bottom 3 exchange a1 a2), but I’ve been told the final default will be different.

I think one of the hugest reasons why MvC2 is so awesome is that there are just way too many ways the game plays. Magneto plays WAY different than Cable plays WAY differently than Spiral plays WAY differently from Storm plays WAY differently than Strider plays WAY differently than Blackheart and so on. Sentinel plays WAY differently than any character in any fighting game really.

If MvC3 can recreate that variety of gameplay (the true indication of a good fighting game – playability, not balance) as well as the heavy team dynamic, it’ll be in good shape IMO. I have faith in Capcom putting out a quality game, and I’m looking forward to it.

Maj: I remember you played Capcom vs SNK 2 for a while – your K-Ryo was dangerous! How come you never got into Street Fighter IV?

Clockw0rk: I’m actually on and off with the game, currently being off (shouts to Wentinel!). I play Guy and Ibuki mostly coz they’re fun. I think I’m sorta decent at the game but definitely not top by any means. I think one of my main problems is that I’m not technical enough with the game, same problem I had with CvS2. In these two games I rely solely on reflex and instinct, and it only gets me so far. In MvC2 I’m good enough at it where I can go auto-pilot like that but not in these games heh.

I don’t care for SSF4 too much. I don’t think it’s particularly interesting but I play it because I enjoy the characters I play. I used to play CvS2 while waiting in line for MvC2 at SHGL and got decent at it. Seems like now I play SSF4 while waiting for MvC3 and I’m getting half-decent.

Maj: Your name always comes up whenever anyone talks about Strider/Doom. Why hasn’t anyone been able to duplicate your success with that duo?

Clockw0rk: I think there are a few reasons of course.

1) I think most Strider/Doom players don’t know how to do lock down properly. Anyone can Ouro + call Doom, but it takes an actual good Strider player to lock down the opponent in a manner in which they cannot move (or moving would prove detrimental), then seamlessly transition into the next Ouro. It takes a thorough understanding of how much block stun each move does (whether it be animals, Doom rocks, regular attacks), how the positioning of the screen as well as your ability to manipulate it affects your Ouroboros (screen shifting), and how your opponent behaves while being trapped (push blocking, mashing, doing nothing, assist masher, alpha counter happy, etc).

2) Meter management – Strider is difficult enough to play with when he has meter, so it’s paramount you keep the amount of time that Strider has no meter to a minimum. (I wonder if this same principle applies to 3S Yun?) I try to use Ouro as defensively as I can, kinda like the panic bomb button in shooters. Wait till Mags finally gets in and is about to hit you, then Ouro. You also gotta keep busy both in and out of Ouro – everything you do will build you meter, including teleports. Even the buttons you use during your attack patterns (fierces as opposed to shorts) can mean the difference between having an Ouro to get Sentinel off you or not.

3) Doom – this point is probably the biggest one. Doom is such a good character and yet I can count the number of good Dooms I’ve seen with one hand. I’m really not trying to be vain, rather commenting on how poor Doom players play their character. Scared Dooms get rushed down because they’re scared, know what I mean? Which ties into #3 …

4) Attitude/Heart – I feel a lot of Strider players don’t put enough into it to win as much as they’d like. I remember a while back, Devil_X of Tekken/Soul Calibur was getting really good with Strider. But I felt he could never win as much as he should because of his outlook on the team (how weak it is, how limited Strider is, how crappy Doom is, etc). If you don’t believe you can win, the game is already lost.

I know Strider isn’t as strong as some other characters. But I definitely believe Strider has more potential than the other 55 characters in the game, and so that’s why I’ve played him the past decade. He has the tools to get it done, it’s just mistakes are unforgiving. I also feel Doom is more than strong enough to hold his own when he comes in on point against top tier, and is better than any of the other “assist only” characters on point (Cyclops, Commando, Psylocke, Tron). That’s how I feel, so that’s how I fucking play it.

Even in situations where the match up is no good (vs Matrix) or if I’m clearly losing, if I have at least a little bit of Strider and Doom and at least one meter to work with, I feel fantastic, even though I shouldn’t. I feel characters should be afraid of Strider, even if they shouldn’t, so I that’s how I play it. Your game is a reflection of your own confidence, or lack thereof.

Maj: Where exactly would you place Strider/Doom in Marvel vs Capcom 2 tiers? Everyone accepts Sentinel, Storm, Magneto, and Cable as the undisputed top four, but the discussion tends to get real murky around Strider/Doom.

Clockw0rk: MvC2 is a team game, and I think it should be evaluated as such when it comes to tiers. I can’t think of any other fighting game offhand that has nearly as much team dynamic as MvC2, and this is why snapbacks are so effective. They often throw off any plans you had before the match started, and they expose major weaknesses within the team, including a lack of options of a new character coming in, or a weak link character-wise on the team.

It’s that same team dynamic that makes Magneto/Storm/Cable, a team with 3 supposed god tiers, generally weak and unplayed. They don’t go well together at all. With all that said, I think it goes something like best team overall is Matrix (Storm/Sentinel/Cyclops) followed by Thrax (Storm/Sentinel/Commando) and MSP (Magneto/Storm/Psylocke) – those are top tier.

I’d say Sentinel/Strider/Doom is somewhere near the bottom of the upper tier of teams while Combofiend’s team (Magneto/Iron Man/Sentinel), MSS (Magneto/Storm/Sentinel), and Duc’s team (Spiral/Cable/Sentinel) are near the top. Without yapping too much more, I’d say overall the top tier is those 3 teams, the upper tier has 10-15 solid teams, and mid tier has dozens, if not hundreds, of viable team configurations.

Maj: MvC2 had arguably the most dynamic competitive evolution of any fighting game ever created. Why is that?

Clockw0rk: The game couldn’t help go through as many evolutions as it did – both in-game and community-wise really. I think of all fighting games, MvC2 definitely has the most room for creativity … the best representation of a fighting game player’s thoughts manifested digitally on-screen. Its engine is just too open ended, and its nuances too wide; whether it was intentional or accidental is irrelevant really.

You have so many ways you can attack, so many ways to defend (run away, call assist, alpha counter, pushblock, etc) from four different quadrants of the playing field (ground level left and right, and super jump height left and right). The various “states” that characters can go into (Anakaris doll, Iceman’s freeze, Jill’s zombies) are as abundant if not moreso as RPG status ailments.

Even all the projectiles have vastly varying properties. Iceman’s beam has a bunch of hits and all hits instantly, but won’t pass through Ruby Heart’s water column move thing. Doom’s photon shots hit you off your feet but don’t knock you down, Storm’s typhoon passes through everything and hits slowly, Strider’s animals come from one side of the screen to the other but are fragile, Ryu/Chun/Guile’s fireballs all hit like they do in Street Fighter, etc etc etc.

Teams we thought were way too good early on in the game are now weak, techniques we used back then are obsolete. With 56 characters, each with 3 different assists, the ability to DHC, and such a large playfield, and just the overall open ended-ness the game, I feel MvC2 couldn’t help not only thrive, but evolve as such.

Maj: Do you think it’s over? Have we reached the end of the line, or will MvC2 look completely different in two years?

Clockw0rk: I don’t know, but I’m leaning towards end of the line. I think the game is just way too old not only for people to keep playing, but for new players to try and pick it up and feel successful, seeing as how the level of play is so high that novices just get crushed by seasoned players.

Seems you’ll always be able to find someone to play against online at least. We’ll know for sure MvC2’s fate once people get their hands on MvC3. Though if people keep playing Marvel, I’ll keep playing Marvel.

Maj: If you could magically change three things in Marvel, what would they be?

Clockw0rk: Strider more health, Ouroboros x2 duration, Strider in MvC3 (yep)

Maj: What did you think of Evo’s decision to host MvC2 on PS3 this year?

Clockw0rk: When it was first announced, I actually made a huge rant about it. In my post I made a prediction about the same people being on top regardless of DC or PS3. Sure enough, EVO results this year had Justin winning the tournament, with Sanford and Yipes on top.

Again, it’s the attitude. Come to Evo with a shit attitude, and its gonna show. And if you’re crap on DC, you’re crap on PS3, arcade, XBox, whatever.

Maj: Alright sir, one last question: What happened to

Clockw0rk's ... pillow?Clockw0rk: had 3 purposes initially.

1) It originally was my senior project for high school, my project being “Fighting Game Community and Arcade Sub-Culture” (I got an A!).

2) There were hardly any real match videos online at the time; this was way before youtube. So we wanted to provide footage of actual matches for people to download, among other random content.

3) Stupid thing is most of those matches were matches of us winning in tournaments haha. I don’t know about ShadyK or Genghis or anyone else involved, but I can honestly say part of that website was just to get my name out there so I could be more “known.” I first started getting immersed in the scene as a teenager, and I craved the attention, recognition, and respect I saw at both the arcade and on the forums. helped me cultivate that attitude heh. Later on I think I became way more low key and stopped caring about that stuff as much. Believe it or not, I really didn’t want to play the 3000$ money match heh. I think now there are way more matches posted online of me losing than winning, so I guess I deserve that ;b

It reminds me of the SSF4 scene nowadays – you get hundreds if not thousands of people with that same attitude I had initially, make both the games and media more accessible, and you have a modest representation of the average player now: the kind that wants to get on the stream, the one that just wants to make top 8 or 16 or whatever gets showcased, the one that wants to be interviewed, etc. At least thats the impression I’ve gotten from the SF4 community as of late. Is that offensive to say haha? shrug

Can’t blame them though. Having the whole room going crazy for you never gets old =]

Anyway, one year I forgot to pay the bill and the site ended up going down. 4 or 5 years ago, my oldest brother got the domain back for my birthday, but I ended up not doing anything with it. CBF really.

Speaking of websites, check out – they’re good friends of mine and make some sick custom joysticks!

Daniel Maniago teaches 4th grade at Chavez Elementary in Norwalk, California. He still plays MvC2 and current tournament fighting games, as time allows. Since he no longer has a website, you can check out his facebook page to see what he’s up to lately.

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5 Responses to Five Questions with Daniel “Clockw0rk” Maniago

  1. Maj says:

    First photo hijacked from karaface’s archives and second photo (randomly) provided by Clockw0rk. Thanks guys!

  2. BankBank says:

    great interview. entertaining read, and the guy seems very insightful. would love to see a regular Q&A with him on how he feels mvc3 is progressing.

  3. Osirun says:

    I really like the comment Clockw0rk made about playability. It’s something I think TvC is lacking (but still has) and I hope that MvC3 has enough of it to be a deep game. I’ll admit, though, that I don’t completely understand how to define “playability”.

    Could there be a follow-up in the future about what exactly playability is? Maybe with some games that have it as examples, and then some that don’t?

    Anyway, great interview!

  4. P1d40n3 says:

    I love these five questions; series. Keep it up!

    And yeah, I really liked that throw-away line of playability over balance.

  5. Maj says:

    It’s pretty hard to define “playability” in a precise, useful way. It just boils down to each individual “important” matchup being genuinely “interesting” as opposed to there being lots of matchups.

    But how do you define a “good” matchup? I don’t think you can. Or rather, there’s no way to provide an accurate definition that’s short enough to be useful.

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