In season 1 maxi wasn't A tier. He was lower. Average at best.Heaven's guard is beatable, but the risk-reward for that move is so lopsided, it's not even funny. It beating every attack except delayed ones and guaranteeing a hit afterwards is stupid. Even more so when most characters can't do any guaranteed hits after a RI. If you do nothing, Maxi gets to continue pressuring you with stance mixups. If he interrupts your delayed move with attack buttons, you suffer a lot of damage because his counter hits are strong and you're dead if your back is against the edge. Just the existence of that damn move alone makes you want to hesitate attacking him. Most of the time, Maxi will have enough meter to do it because getting meter isn't difficult and he can easily create setups for it. He gets half of the meter he spent to RI back after lethal hitting. The fact that he can easily beat Soul Charge activations as well makes it even more ridiculous. The biggest problem is that the aGI window is absurdly wide just like Neutral Guard while also beating almost everything. It's simply overpowered.
His Seven Stars Severance buffs aren't nearly as ridiculous as Heaven's guard, but are also good buffs that Maxi was blessed with even though they weren't necessary. He was a strong character from the beginning. In season 1, some attacks like 2K beat both of his aGI's, but Maxi could beat that by attacking instead of aGI'ing. He always had the options to beat everything, now he has one more option in Heaven's guard that is even less risky. He already had strong counter hits, mixups you have to respect, low-risk moves with high reward like 6A and 3B, a strong soul charge, a good CE and the best mid in the game (6A+B). He might have been A tier in season 1, but he's easily S tier now. His 2A+B is also annoying to block when there is online lag. No, Maxi doesn't really suffer from people figuring him out because as I said, he has options to deal with everything so he will always be a threat. The character is stupid. And I'm not copying anyone's opinions or tier lists.
Most of his moves like 1B, NG, 44AB, RC AA , LO K etc didn't work because of too much pushback, too slow, bad tracking etc. NG could easily be re-gi'd because of no break attack. Looping with maxi was bad because of all these inconsistent behaviors
The only thing that was better for maxi in Season 1 was 88A was safe on block and had major pushback.
Like marginal said you're overselling HG. HG is a double edged sword. Maxi loses more meter then he gains. If he's successful x2 he gains 50%. If he fails x2 he loses a bar.
And the only reliable damage after HG is NG A 6A+B for 62. Everything else takes over a meter. HG is easy to read because maxi players use it to protect themselves when he's negative on block in stance. The only time a maxi player uses it when he's plus is to read a SC. And if he fails to read that he just wasted more meter.
You can whiff punish a failed NG/HG. That's another reason why it's risky. With a CE it's really easy. HG also isn't hard to confirm. The flash is literally you're indicator to attack once it's over.
NG A is horrible on hit and block. And the others moves come out too slow for you to say him continuing to attack is a problem. It's not... If you know Maxi's frame data.
Combine this with that fact that moves like 1KA 1AB 1B can still be dealt with by fast moving characters like ivy Sophie, hilde Tira etc shows that his stance game is still inconsistent in frames.
Characters can still backstep Maxi's stances and evade his moves from POINT BLANK range . It's not as bad as season 1 but it's still there.
2K was a good option in s1 and still is a good option in s2 despite HG. And no 2K beat out alot of Maxi's moves on block when he has negative frames transitioning into another stance.
All this said marginal is correct. Maxi is A tier not S. If they fix his stance problems and give him one or two more tools he might become S. Learn the match up more. Maxi's game plan hasn't changed since s1. You just have to look out for HG. That's it.