Orochimaru is one of the three legendary Sannin along with Jiraiya and Tsunade. However, what makes him stand apart from his two former teammates is the fact that while he’s not exactly the most powerful of the three, he’s definitely the most dangerous.
As a genin, Orochimaru was assigned to Team Hiruzen along with the other two future Sannin. During this time there weren’t many flags that would hint at the direction his future would take. However, this all started to change during the 2nd Shinobi World War.
At this time, he would suggest things like mercy killing war orphans, which was in sharp contrast to the views his teammates held. Once the war was over, and Team Hiruzen was disbanded, Orochimaru went on to join Root under Danzō Shimura where his evil tendencies began to be unveiled.
From here on out, Orochimaru would perform human experiments to attempt to understand all the various jutsu in the world. To him, collecting all of these jutsu was the ultimate form of strength, and nobody was going to stand in his way, not even his former teacher and Third Hokage, Hiruzen Sarutobi.
Later on, he would also attempt to steal the Sharingan from both Itachi Uchiha and Sasuke Uchiha so that he could master new jutsu even faster. This would eventually lead to his downfall and defeat at the hands of his star pupil, Sasuke.
Finally, despite being an antagonist in both Naruto and Naruto: Shippūden, Orochimaru plays the most active role of the three Sannin in Boruto: Naruto Next Generations.
Due to the nature of Orochimaru’s quest to master every jutsu, it should come as no surprise that he has quite many essential skills. To start with, he can use Fire, Water, Wind, Lightning, Earth, Yin, Yang, and Wood Release. Along with the Wood Release, he also has three other kekkei genkai, Jūgo’s, Sakon and Ukon’s, and Shikotsumyaku.
As for summons, Orochimaru has a decent number. Not only does he have a summoning pact with the giant snake Monda from Ryūchi cave, but he can also summon up to three Rashōmon gates, a shinigami, and the souls of the deceased shinobi.
But, if all this wasn’t enough, there are also three other abilities which make Orochimaru stand out from the rest. The first is his ability to absorb chakra. This isn’t anything too complicated, but it’s essential for the massive amounts of chakra he expends during battle.
The second of these abilities allows him to place curse marks on anyone he bites. While curse marks are often used to grant the wielder more power than they would typically have, they can also be used by Orochimaru to limit the powers of those who wield them. For example, his curse marks make it nearly impossible for anyone with one to attack him.
Finally, he also has a regeneration ability, which essentially makes him immortal. Once his body has sustained too much damage, Orochimaru can “shed” it in favor of a new one. However, this regeneration has a limit, as is learned when Sasuke finally kills him.
For being a Sannin, Orochimaru doesn’t have the best match-ups. Sure, his regenerative abilities will help him survive a lot of dangerous encounters, but they aren’t going to help him win. The same can also be said for a number of his other abilities such as his Rashōmon summon.
Orochimaru’s kit is specialized for longevity, not power. He’ll poison or injure his opponents, but then wait for them to become too weakened to fight back before going in for the kill. So, while he can defeat just about any support ninja, he struggles with all-out attackers who can break through his regeneration.
Naruto Uzumaki and Jiraiya are some excellent examples of those who can do this, with the former being the better option thanks to his tailed beast mode. Additionally, Orochimaru doesn’t have good match-ups against dōjutsu users.
We’ve seen how he can’t beat the Sharingan in his attempts to fight both Itachi and Sasuke, and through his fight against Pain, we saw that he’s no match for the Rinnegan either. It can also be assumed that the Byakugan would be effective against him, thanks to its ability to see through genjutsu.
So, why is Orochimaru considered so dangerous if he doesn’t have that many good match-ups? Simply because he doesn’t need many good match-ups to defeat most other shinobi. There aren’t too many who have either dōjutsu or the ability to break through his regeneration, and so he can stall out almost anyone else.
As a stall-type shinobi, Orochimaru would fit in well with other stall-oriented team members. Yes, his original team, Team Hiruzen, was good, but each of the three Sannin doesn’t really make each other any more effective.
One of the best options to pair with Orochimaru is Kankuro from the Hidden Sand Village. He uses puppets so as not to put himself in direct danger, and his puppets use poisoned weapons which help with Orochimaru’s stalling tactics.
Another option is Anko, though she’s more of a miniature Orochimaru. Anko doesn’t have the regenerative abilities of her former teacher, but she does have a few of his skills that would come in handy such as those revolving around snakes and poison.
Finally, anyone with a tremendous amount of chakra is also useful for Orochimaru due to his chakra absorbing ability. This could mean someone like Sakura Haruno or Tsunade Senju thanks to their strength of a Hundred seals, but better options would be Kisame or Killer B.
Kisame and Killer B both have massive chakra reserves which are unlikely to be depleted, making them ideal partners for Orochimaru. The only issue is that they’ll probably have to choose between playing an offensive or supportive role because even they probably don’t have the chakra for both.