This is nothing new to the SOR2 community, but one of the best characters that is often tapped for speed runs is strangely enough, Max. Why? Because he's capable of dishing out a LOT of damage quickly.
Max's most damage move is actually his head clinch (grab from front, hit B once) but because of the time it takes for him to do the head clinch it's really not that usable in large crowds.
His SECOND most damage move is his jump slam when grabbing someone from behind. (Grab someone from behind, jump then hit B) The problem is, trying to grab someone from behind can be quite difficult when you can't pole vault. The way to get around this? Do a jump-in elbow PAST the enemy sprite, (down + B while in air) and immediately turn around right when you land behind the stunned enemy sprite. This will in a lot of cases net you a back grab.
Max's normal combo, by the way, can deal almost a full bar of damage if your sprite overlaps with the enemy sprite. The hook punch in his normal combo has an additional hit box on the elbow area, which can net you an extra hit. (which is why sometimes when you're surrounded, you'll find yourself hitting people BEHIND you when you do the normal combo)
Max's blitz attack (forward, forward +B) is nigh useless as a combo ender or as a crowd control move (doesn't knockdown, and doesn't do a lot of damage), but is GREAT for quickly dashing across the screen. This will actually help his speed quite a bit.