Week 5: Holy F This is a Good Lineup!

A very nice 6-1 performance last week…I’m picking a couple big upsets so going to be hard to match. But maybe! 17-11 on the season to date.

Free Shipping (0-1) vs Uppercut (1-0)

Oh good god.


Can Free Shipping withstand a nuclear shot from Uppercut? Can this old-timey robot (that missed last season) withstand multiple hits from the most powerful weapon in the sport?

I mean, I gotta lean no, but I guess there’s a chance. They have those big steel wedges in front that kept Blacksmith at arm’s reach and absorbed some serious shots from that hammer-saw (it is the year of the Hammer-Saw now, apparently) without breaking down at all. Oh, but Uppercut is going to catch the end and fling them into the air…yeah I’m not going to spend a lot of time thinking about this one, they are far more compelling matches ahead. I say they get punted and counted out within fifty seconds.

The Pick: Uppercut by Knockout

Blacksmith (1-0) vs Shatter! (1-0)

It’s The HAMMER Bowl!!!

Pretty much the only two hammer-bots still competitive in the sport and they’re both pretty dang good (both ranked top 20 as well). Blacksmith made the playoffs in the 2019 season before missing last year and looked spry in their return with an upgraded weapon (HAMMER-SAW). Shatter! went 2-1 last year in both the regular season and postseason, which is pretty impressive (though they benefitted from Mammoth’s crazy and historic upset). We have not seen them yet because they were relegated to a YouTube fight, where they dismantled their crappy opponent. I think they have a couple of different hammer head types, usually it’s a thing hammer with a sharp point, almost like a pixax. But I also think they had a different hammer in the Youtube fight, I dunno.

Let’s compare the two

  • Weapon: Blacksmith has the burlier hammer-saw now, Shatter!’s options seem to be more precise and piercing. I’d give slight advantage to Blacksmith
  • Movement/Driving: Blacksmith’s driver is good but it’s a little lurchier and definitely not fast. Shatter! is fast. Plus they have the omniwheels so they’re better positioned for shots with the weapon. Advantage Shatter!
  • Durability/Armor: Traditionally I’d lean Blacksmith here, they were once one of the toughest robots around, but I dunno, Free Shipping doesn’t have a real weapon and hardly tested them there. Shatter! has looked really tough against everyone except for End Game and even took a few shots there before folding…we’ll call it a draw.
  • Recency: Shatter! could be a top bot, and they are ranked higher than Blacksmith at the moment. They went 4-2 last season with two playoff wins. I don’t know if Blacksmith has ever won playoff games, they didn’t in 2018 or 2019.

I’ll take Shatter! but it could go either way. My heart will be cheering for Blacksmith.

The Pick: Shatter! by Judges’ Decision

Jager vs P1 (1-0)

I have no idea who Jager is. P1 is coming off a big upset victory (predicted here!). They are a slim and slippeary race car that is very fast and gets under most opponents.

Quick google of Jager…

…Wait what? It’s three robots??? Bah?

Apparently it’s three little robots, ok then. We don’t ever believe in picking robots that try that strategy…honestly I’m not sure P1 likes the matchup but he should be able to bully them around 80 pound robots with ease (he’s 250). Zroom Zroom.

The Pick: P1 by Knockout, I guess

Hydra (0-1) vs Gruff (1-0)

Holy moly. My jaw hit the floor when I saw this matchup.

As a major Gruff fan I’m not happy. Gruff certainly can’t be happy that he’s facing one of the best robots of the past three seasons coming off a LOSS, his FIRST regular season loss EVER. And Hydra probably hates this matchup too! Gruff is unkillable! He’s probably going to survive many flips and do weird things that could cause issues for the Big Man.

Um, so let’s see, neither one really has a “violent” weapon that can actually hurt the other. Gruff has forks and flame, Hydra has the flipper. This is going to be really weird. Of course SOP for Hydra is getting low and getting under the other, and he should be able to do that here…right? I don’t think Gruff has proven to be particularly low, robots have certainly done that (Deadlift in that wild Bounty match). And then you flip him a bunch…he’s probably going to hold up to the abuse. And he can get himself self-righted no problem with the forks.

That’s the Hydra perspective – for Gruff this comes down to the forks. Can you possibly use the forks to get under him, to push back against the flipper and wedges almost like Whiplash did? Is that possible, do you have a configuration for that? A different style of fork? If you could ever upend him and scoop him up, I really don’t think Hydra is that durable (again, the Whiplash fight last year) and you could maybe slam him into walls. (Gosh, imagine Gruff picks up Hydra and then Hydra fires the flipper while on Gruff’s back, this should be a bonkers match tomorrow night) Even if you can’t flip him, what if you use the forks to keep distance and avoid letting him flip you, and then douse him with fire? I don’t think Hydra will like that! Oh, another idea I just had – try to get the forks caught up in the flipping mechanism, screw up his only weapon. There’s so many opportunities for how this could go and how Gruff could potentially dirty this up.

…Obviously I’m deeply tempted to make the “Homer Pick” here, take the upset and my lovable Gruff Dog in a HUGE win. Let me think a little bit more…

The Gruff Corner

Which of Gruff’s Features is most important in this fight?

A) Armor and Durability

B) Lifting Forks and “Bed”

C) Flamethrowers

It’s B, maybe (hopefully!) C. Definitely not A. It’s all about the forks and using them to keep Hydra at bay, get under Hydra, maybe even flip or capture Hydra. If any of those things are possible.

…Alright I’ll do it. My first upset pick of the week (oh don’t worry, we’ve got a big one coming later). Gruff holds up to some flips and breaks the flipper (maybe it even breaks itself again, it’s happened before) and that slow and strong lunk proves to be a bad matchup for one-dimensional Hydra. A man can dream, it’s a free country.

Upset Pick of the Week #1: Gruff by KO

Gigabyte (0-1) vs Captain Shrederator (1-0)

The SPINNER Bowl!!!

What a fight lineup this is, certainly the best of the year to date IMO. Hopefully it lives up to potential, we haven’t had a ton of close fights so far this year.

Alright, here we go

Why Gigabyte: One of the most durable robots, maybe the durable robot, in the sport right now. Got flipped 13 times by Hydra and was fine (lost in a JD). Also – just faced and beat another spinner in the Bounty match last season, Son of Whyachi! They are 0-1 because they faced Uppercut in week 1 and that was too much for them, I think that’s a perfectly excusable loss.

Why Captain Shrederator: Before the season I would have laughed this off and taken Gig without an explanation. BUT: the Captain did just beat Tombstone, easily, and while TS has certainly fallen in stature that’s not an insignificant victory.

I like Gigabyte here, more experience, more record of success, more durable by any indication. But they did lose their driver that helped them a lot last year, and I didn’t like their driving/strategy in week 1. So I’m nervous! But sticking with one of my bot pals.

Also – holy moly this should be a blast! It’s going to last under a minute and feature some of the most insane impacts you’ll ever. BOTH will be spinning at absolute top speed before they decide to drive into the other.

The Pick: Gigabyte by KO

Dragon Slayer vs Duck! (0-1)

(googling Dragon Slayer)

Um, it’s a rookie, I guess, meh whatever. We don’t take rookies around here, and I think Duck! is legit, and also think the final fight of the night will show how good Duck!’s first opponent was. We’re taking Duck! against some inexperienced bot who absolutely will not be strong enough to kill him, and we believe the vet will have a good game plan and execute as Duck! does.

The Pick: Duck! by JD

Ok…here it is

End Game (1-0) vs Witch Doctor (1-0)

I think this is a) an absolutely terrific matchup, and b) a very competitive matchup.

If you analyzed robots by three categories, here’s how these two would compare:

Weapon: Advantage End Game

Driving/Speed: Advantage Witch Doctor

Durability: Advantage Witch Doctor

I guess the last one could be questioned, but even while going 2-3 last year in the regular and postseason WD never got knocked out (while in his 1 loss EG did), and they fought some serious bots. I guess none hit as hard as EG but still. Witch Doctor is great because they’re a combination of power, speed and toughness, a very well-calculated balance. And they have a terrific driver to drive their far more agile robot.

End Game we know, giant weapon, they point it at the opponent and make contact. They are decently fast and decently armored, but it’s really all about the weapon. They do push well, if everything is busted on both bots I could see it going either way. But here’s the thing – when was the last time End Game fought someone like Witch Doctor? When they did last face a robot that could hit them back, hard, with another vertical spinner? Let’s look at the oppponents faced during EG’s magical run

End Game’s 2020 and 2021* Schedules:

  • Tombstone (horizontal spinner)
  • Bloodsport (horizontal spinner)
  • Hypershock (vertical spinner)
  • Perfect Phoenix (horizontal spinner)
  • Rotator (horizontal spinner)
  • Shatter! (hammer)
  • Tantrum (um, small punching spinner, not sure what to call it. Much weaker than WD’s)
  • Whiplash (small vertical spinner and lifter)
  • Hydra (flipper)

Wow, that’s a lot of horizontal spinners, and then a variety of other stuff, but only one thing comparable to the weapons in this fight and that’s Hypershock. And come on, Hypershock’s weapon kinda sucks, Witch Doctor is 10x the robot that Hypershock is. They really haven’t been tested against something that can beat them, I think Witch Doctor is capable of beating them! This is at least a semi-even match and they have areas to take advantage of. (I haven’t discussed who gets under who, I suppose End Game is lower, I just don’t think that matters to Witch Doctor, see their match against Whiplash. They’re going to take some hits, but if they can survive and hit back, and go weapon to weapon a few times…)

I’ll do it, I’ll take another big chance, End Game will probably win but it’s not a lock. Witch Doctor can distinctly outdrive them, take some hits, make it a bruising brawl and they should be able to hold up in those circumstances better than the champ. Going to need some luck too. Still, what a win this would be, would completely flip the Ranks and open up the field in this very intriguing season.

Upset Pick of the Week #2: Witch Doctor by JD

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