This weeks’ slate of fights seems to include a large number of these “Bubble” Teams – robots that have excelled somewhere recently, but haven’t fully proven themselves. It’s largely robots in the congested middle of the standings, along with a few that I think are top notch but again, have more to prove.
Here it goes
Fight 1: Yeti vs Madcatter
Two highly aggressive, offensive-focused robots. Yeti has a large exposed drum spinner (somewhat comparable to Minotaur’s weapon), Madcatter has a fairly classic vertical spinner, maybe one model smaller than Uppercut’s or End Game’s. Madcatter’s design is also fairly normal, Yeti has got this this long body on larger wheels. Not sure the point of that, I think he’s pretty tough and hard to KO.
I like Madcatter here, last year all he did was win, 3-1 regular/postseason (lost to Tombstone) and 2-1 in the Bounty tournament (lost to Rotator). He seems to beat your middling/average robots with consistency, which is how I’m grading Yeti I guess. They missed the past season so he could be potentially rusty, but more than that they were having design questions and possibly existential quandaries about how to move forward in modern Battlebots (remove the forks or not?). I think Madcatter is ready to go at the bell and will deliver another swift kill.
The Pick: Madcatter by Knockout
Fight 2: Defender vs Ribbot
Ribbot we know and love by now, a frog shaped robot that’s extremely durable and has both vertical spinner and disk spinner weapons in its congiguration options. Almost impossible to kill.
Defender is a brand new robot, captained by none other than Mr Whiplash’s photogenic brother! Cool! It’s a clamper/lifter bot apparently, or maybe a clamper/crusher similar to Kraken? It was late when I did research and I’m not going to double-check that.
Anyhow, rookie bots usually struggle, especially in Fight 1, and last week Switchback did nothing to dispel that stereotype. Coming from the Vazquez family Defender should be better prepared than most, still. I don’t hate the matchup for Defender honestly, I think Ribbot could have a slight weakness for clamper style robots, Kraken beat him in 2019. But I also believe Ribbot is a top-tier bot that will take care of business against lesser opponents.
Either Defender will win in a Judges Decision (JD) or Ribbot wins by Knockout (KO).
The Pick: Ribbot by KO
Fight 3: HiJinx vs Mammoth
HiJinx – last seen soaring through the air due a historic shot by Uppercut. KO’d in 33 seconds!
It has a very low undercutting blade. She’s kind of like a miniature Valkyrie. The entire robot is sleek and low to the ground and very compact.
Mammmoth of course is the largest robot in the sport that tries to win by smothering their opponents, being hard to attack by being oversized and having weird design, and has a giant flipper that’s like four feet long and slaps smaller robots across the arena.
I like this matchup for HiJinx. It should chew right through Mammoth’s low wooden(!!!) and frame and/or slice right through the wheels. It’s so low I think Mammoth will have a hard time catching him with its bar and scooping it up for a heave. Still, HiJinx will likely need to survive a few tosses, hopefully it’s durable enough for that. I think it is.
The Pick: HiJinx by KO
Fight 4 “The Undercard”: Kraken vs Rotator
Hmmmmmmm, this is a toughie (and an excellent undercard match). Rotator is known for being flexible and deploying different designs and strategies and generally spending a lot of time on game plan and preparation. It’s a firy little bot with either one or two horizontal spinners, generally one these days with a wedge on the other side. Both offensive and defensive robot. Highly durable. Weakness are that it’s not super fast and can get pushed around.
Kraken is a giant crocodile head that tries to bite and eat the other robot. It grabs on for 30 seconds at a time (the limit as mandated by the sport) and usually breaks the thing it bites down on, hence it usually tries to bite the weapon. The matches are always a blast. The thing is tough as nails and never gets knocked out but it does sustain a lot of visible damage and loses a lot of Judges Decisions.
How my heart yearns to pick Kraken!
I’m not going to. It seems to me that surest way to beat Rotator is to check him, to drive into him hard and kick him around. That’s what End Game had to rely on after their weapon broke and it worked. Other times this was a problem in past matches was against Blacksmith and Beta (the pushy hammerbots). Otherwise he’s pretty dang good and doesn’t lose much (the other lost last year was against Valkyrie in one of the greatest fights ever and I still can’t believe Valkyrie held up like they did). I’m not sure what wedge is optimal here, I don’t know what configuration Mr Rotator needs to employ to maximize his chances against the meanest crusher in the sport right now, I just have confidence he’ll have a plan and be well-prepared like he always is. My advice would be to get the weapon spun up and try to break the teeth (I guess the higher/overhead spinner might be the way to go here?). Also do your best to avoid being grabbed and held more than 1-2 times (he’s going to do it once). And please avoid having him grab and break your weapon in the first 45 seconds!
I don’t think think there’s much to cover on the Kraken end of things. There never is! His strategy will be exactly the same as all the other times, grab him and mess up his weapon and drag around the arena for 30 seconds. Then rinse and repeat. That’s it, that’s the whole thing. He can win this match, I don’t think it’s crazy, but I think Rotator has the edge. I’ll be rooting like hell for the green guy though.
The Pick: Rotator by JD
Fight 5: Rusty vs Blip
Blip is a new robot, a flipper apparently! Heads up Zman! Rusty is, well, whatever the hell this thing is.
The weapon last year was an “overhead screwdriver attack”, he would slam the tool down as hard as possible. It’s certainly awesome from a gritty, DIY perspective (Rusty is a very cheap bot built by one man), and it was effective at times? At least in the Bounty match, he somehow beat Kraken (Rusty!!!) after tearing up his head and face for several minutes and then in the next match knocked out Copperhead’s weapon (RUSTY!!!!!!!!!!!) for about a minute but it came back. Still!!! Now, Mr Rusty did say at the end of last season that Rusty would be retired (and probably disambled and dumped back in the yard, from whence the garbage came) and he was building Rusty Jr, so maybe it will be better? Maybe they’ll be a real weapon?? Maybe it won’t just be a single guy building a robot out of garbage found lying in his parent’s yard???
Yeah I don’t know, we’ll see. But based on what I saw last year…I am, um, inclined to go with the flipper here, and not the robot built from a pile of tomtato cans. Assuming the flipper has decent design and can get some flips in (I’m a little concerned looking at the photo…) then I think Rusty will lack the reliably to keep self-righting and hold up overall to damage distributed across the entire robot as a flipper can inflict.
The Pick: Blip by KO
Fight 6: Tantrum vs Malice
Malice last season: Beat Ax Backwards(who?), Shatter!, Lost to Madcatter, Gigabyte. They went 2-1 in the Bounty Hunter episode
Two of their losses last year occurred when they were tossed and landed on their side, and simply could not get back down. It was crazy. In one case (I think the Bounty episode) they were completely dominating the match and 100% would have won if they hadn’t pinned themselves. Their weapon is a lot stronger than Tantrum’s though it has shown the propensity to break.
Tantrum is a tough little gnat that scrapes the ground, gets lower than their opponent and pushes them around for the length of a bounty match. It’s extremely compact and tough, their weapon is a weird little spinner that punches on command. They are all about control and not taking damage and getting the low ground. Had a great playoff run last year. (I recently defended their honor here)
This is mostly a class pick – I just think Tantrum is a better robot overall, a cut about Malice. They should win this. Malice has a pretty good drive train and have won “hospital” matches before where both robots were highly disabled, so they have a chance. I expect Tantrum to break the weapon within the first minute or two and push them around from there.
The Pick: Tantrum by JD
Main Event: Bloodsport vs Whiplash
I spent way too many words talking about this here. Here’s a quick summary – Whiplash is great but I think it’s a decent matchup for Bloodsport, they are (potentially) the kind of bot Whiplash has lost to before, and I’m picking them in a sizable upset and statement win for the ascending team.
The Pick: Bloodsport by KO