Week 8 Picks: The REAL Match of the Century

Pulled out a 5-2 week last time, though still struggling with the upset picks. Still, better! Let’s keep it rolling as robots complete their 3 fight regular season and the playoff field comes into focus.

Malice (0-2) vs Blacksmith (1-1)

Here it is, Blacksmith, here is your opportunity. You drew an 0-2 reeling robot in your last match, a win puts you at 2-1 and something around the 20 seed in the tournament. You lose, well, you’re probably dead.

I don’t have much hope for Malice having a chance at the postseason but I’m sure they want to win and save face here. A handful of robots with 1-2 records will almost certainly make the playoffs, but the upside of a win over Blacksmith doesn’t seem like enough.

Anyhow, the matchup – Malice has a horizontal drum spinner that can be dangerous but pretty much breaks every match these days. They move fairly well and do have good durability. Blacksmith isn’t special in the movement category either but he does a very good job keeping his robot facing the right way. They have a hammer of course and it’s a hammer-saw this year. It did very well in the first match, in the second it started well but got slashed by Shatter!’s (superior) hammer. I think Blacksmith needs to be careful with the hammer and avoid weapon on weapon, he should start by seeing if he can use his hard front to break Malice’s weapon. Although, I guess he might go with wedges and try to keep Malice at a distance? Where he can take long hammer shots safely? I would just try to take the hits and break it, go with the hammer-saw as Plan B, but we’ll see. Overall Blacksmith has been better this year and seems to be a tougher, more reliable robot.

Hard to pick Malice here unless we’re expecting Blacksmith to choke or have bad luck in a big spot, which is certainly possible and has happened before. Nevertheless…

The Pick: Blacksmith by Judge’s Decision

Black Dragon (1-1) vs Claw Viper (1-0?)

Black Dragon lands an easier opponent after facing and losing to Rotator last time in a good bout. Claw Viper doesn’t have much of a track record (rookie last year, I think?) and the best I can find on them is one match this year on YouTube, where they won (I think?). Maybe they had another unaired fight they’ll tell us about?

Anyhow, Black Dragon is extremely durable, well driven and has a pretty powerful weapon. Claw Viper is EXTREMELY fast, maybe the faster robot here, and has a grabbing mechanism, it’s a clamper bot like Kraken. I think this should be fairly easy for BD unless they get grabbed of course. These two actually fought last season! That’s kinda weird, Black Dragon won in a knockout.

Side Note – there’s a point at which the Black Dragon fires go from adorable and tweet-worthy to being a legitimate concern for the team’s prospects. Last time it was like they set themselves on fire at the start. I’m not quite sure what’s going on there, overall my faith in my pick for champion this season is a bit shaken lately.

The Pick: Black Dragon by Knockout

Gigabyte (1-1) vs Smeeeeeeeeeeeee (1-0?)

Smee* definitely won their only fight (on YouTube), it was two weeks ago I believe. They are a fantastic design where they want to surround and smother their opponent like a snake. I think they’re like 12, 14 feet long, something like that?

Gigabyte is an excellent full-body spinner. They lost to Uppercut and beat Capn Shrederator (who had beaten Tombstone), so that’s a respectable 1-1 record. They are ridiculously durable and can withstand the most ridiculous hits.

Hmmmm……

Well, Smee* isn’t going to give them any ridiculous hits. Smee* is going to wrap around Gigabyte and hold them there, keeping Gig from spinning. And Gig must not be able to do anything. Even when it gets going, Gigabyte doesn’t really cut or slice the way other spinners or horizontal spinners can. Smee*’s material has generally held up, though it hasn’t faced a serious weapon yet, but I worry for Gig here.

The tweet that posted the fightcard promised Shocking Upsets, so we’ll start here.

Upset Pick of the Week #1: Smeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee by JD

Glitch (1-0) vs Hydra (1-1)

YEAH

Hydra got back on track last time, flipping Gruff SIXTEEN TIMES before he landed outside of the arena and was counted out in a rare Hydra KO. It was a wild scene.

Glitch participated in one of weirdest and worst fights of the year where they spent half the match drifting sideways in very unnatural ways. I think they have omniwheels and can do the whole sliding thing but in this case they were out of control. Their weapon was powerful (if I’m thinking of the right match) and did significant damage against the other robot, but that robot was awful. Hydra is excellent. I’m not going to spend any more time on this, I assume Hydra will get under this rookie robot who is still figuring this out.

The Pick: Hydra by KO

Tombstone (1-1) vs Free Shipping (0-2)

Fun Fact: These robots were both involved in (different installments of) the HIT of the Week last time they competed, and both were incapacitated by their respective hit! Yet Tombstone happened to win his match because it was a simultaneous incapacitation.

Free Shipping lost to Blacksmith and Uppercut, a tough slate (especially that second one). They are a fast and well-driven lifter both with a prominent flamethrower as well, like if Gruff were fast and lost all the time. Tombstone is Tombstone.

I’m wondering about those wedges on Free Shipping, very serious stuff that Blacksmith couldn’t hurt at all over several minutes of slashing, and they did get under Uppercut in the first exchange, before Uppercut started raining haymakers. And I also wonder if Tombstone is any good, after losing to Capn Shred (certainly nothing special) and going to the judges with a double-KO against Mammoth. It would have been a lot more inspiring if Tombstone just, you know, won the fight.

Alright, screw it, we’re going upsets tonight.

Upset Pick of the Week #2: Free Shipping by KO

Ribbot (2-0) vs P1 (2-0)

Intriguing match!

P1 was bound to land someone good after making to 2-0, and they got a top 8 team in the playoffs last year that is incredibly durable and also looks like a frog. A 2-0 vs 2-0 slate, the winner gets something like…the 7 seed maybe?

P1 is a race car, they are incredibly fast and low to the ground. They get on opponents, stay on them, and control them, driving them around and/or flipping them. Ribbot has a more traditional weapon, either horizontal or vertical spinner. They are underrated good drivers and fast. Not particularly low to the ground though.

I’m taking Ribbot, but I’m intrigued at how P1 plays this and wondering if they can use their lowness advantage to win the match somehow. On the flip side does Ribbot use its undercutting horizontal spinner? That is very low and definitely wouldn’t miss P1, but would probably be a greater risk to break. Vertical spinner seems safer except I guess there’s a chance it won’t be low enough…this should be interesting. For the 7 seed!

The Pick: Ribbot by KO

And now, the big one…

End Game (2-0) vs Sawblaze (2-0)

The REAL Match of the Century!!!!!!!!!

(Unlike that fake match of the century that almost got me fired)

I don’t think there’s a ton to break down here, you should know these two by now. The defending champion End Game has the best weapon in the sport and is almost a guaranteed knockout, Sawblaze controls entire matches as he carries the opponent around the arena and boasts a vastly improved overhead saw this season. They’re both great, absolute titans at the moment. I think Sawblaze is having a better season, absolutely dominating Minotaur and Madcatter from start to finish. End Game fought a slightly better slate (Hydra and Witch Doctor) but got lucky in both, Hydra’s flipper broke after one flip (and after that the outcome was a formality) and Witch Doctor had him on the ropes when WD’s right side drive broke down, just as EG was turned and vulnerable. Nevertheless, End Game withstood some adversity and overcame all opposition, proving to be more reliable and well-built than his opponents.

The question is, will Sawblaze do what he’s done to everyone else this season, get right under EG and drag him around where he’s completely at SB’s mercy? Sawblaze is extremely low (only Tantrum has beaten him in that department in recent memory) and while End Game does do well in the ‘ground game’ department they do that jerky thing when they turn and the sides lift up. Hydra got under End Game at the start, as did Tantrum last year in the playoffs. End Game only needs to hit Sawblaze…I dunno, twice(?) before they take the win, but Madcatter (a lesser bot but sporting a very similar weapon to End Game) landed precisely zero good shots on SB. I expect we see something similar tomorrow.

It’s a crazy opportunity, this high-profile of a matchup in the regular season, where the winner can really and truly claim to be the greatest at this point in time (and yet they have to prove it all again in the playoffs next month). Of course I thought we had this in Week 1 with Hydra and End Game…I blame Hydra and their seeming ability to disappoint in a big spot. Win or lose I don’t think the Sawblaze of 2021* can possibly deliver a wimpy performance. Get your popcorn ready.

The Pick: Sawblaze by KO

(I was going to say JD, always more likely with Sawblaze, but nah, I think it’s going to be emphatic. SLASH AND BURN!!!)

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