Battlebots Week 9 Picks: The Home Stretch

Last week was awful. Let’s do better!

No complaints on the fight card but it is lacking almost any “top tier” bots. We’re still waiting on the third match for Uppercut, Whiplash, Copperhead, Witch Doctor, Bloodsport, Madcatter, Rotator, Mammoth, Huge, Shatter!, holy moly that’s most of the fight card. I guess they’re saving a bunch for an explosive Week 10.

> Gruff (1-1) vs Cobalt (1-1)


This is a real offense/defense match. Gruff has more armour than almost anyone (85 pounds up front I think?) and does a control thing using their very gritty forks. Cobalt has a ridiculously powerful weapon strapped to its back and not much else going for it.

The question here is the ground game. Can Cobalt scrape Gruff up and onto its back where the weapon is and it can deal significant damage? So far the answer on that has been no, Cobalt literally didn’t do that once in its first match against Fusion (not a particuarly low robot) and then did land some shots against Ghost Raptor (including the HIT of the Year) but it was inconsistent overall. Also, Ghost Raptor is really terrible, and Fusion got destroyed in their match after beating Cobalt handily. Gruff on the other hand beat a rookie and then lost to Hydra, who is very good despite having a bad year.

I’m picking Gruff, and I will be incredibly stressed out and worried that I am cursing these poor robots with my predictions. But I do think Gruff is better and will win, I don’t expect Cobalt will be able to get Gruff up onto him and into the weapon. I think Cobalt can be picked up and bullied around and I expect Gruff to do that after whatever the early exchanges look like. And why not, blast away with the fire from the get-go, can’t hurt. I don’t get the feeling Cobalt is a well-oiled machine (no pun intended), knock on wood.

The Gruff Corner:

The Gruff Corner:

What feature should Gruff utilize most in this fight – armor, the forks/carrying “bed”, or the flamethrower?

Either Armor or the Forks. I think the forks, but have to mention that if Cobalt lands a hit or two Gruff is more adept to withstand the blow than most robots. The front armor is really serious. They lost bad to Hydra last time but they did survive fifteen flips and were still moving, the thing is well-built throughout. The armor is the backup plan though, Plan A is using the forks to pick up and push Cobalt into a wall. Although…don’t really want to flip him, hmm. So we’ll say Forks and Armor, I don’t think flame will be effective but should still try!

The Pick: Gruff by Knockout

> Duck! (0-2) vs Riptide (1-1)

I think I’ve picked Duck! twice now and he’s 0-2, clearly my affection is misplaced there. Riptide had a great win over Huge and then a highly entertaining loss to Defender that was wild. They have a serious weapon and it hits hard, where Duck! has nothing (the beak/grabber appendage has been extremely disappointing and their old model was clearly, clearly superior). I think Riptide does damage and does not receive damage in return, which is not a formula for a Duck! win.

The Pick: Riptide by Judges Decision (Duck! still never gets knocked out, he just goes to the judges and loses)

> Valkyrie (1-1) vs Pardon My French (0-1)

I don’t remember a thing about Pardon My French, looks like it played in a single YouTube match and lost. It does appear to have a weapon…meh. I’m not big on Valkyrie anymore but they should win this going away. They lost to P1 and then won over some bum in a YouTube fight, but actually P1 is good now, so maybe Valkyrie is ok. They should have enough killing power to end this one quick.

The Pick: Valkyrie by KO

> Lock-Jaw (0-2) vs Blip (2-0)

Ahh, sometimes I have a personal take on a particular robot and their narrative, and then they go against another robot that I have a take on, and it’s interesting if the takes work well together or not. Here they do!

I think Blip is overrated and due for a loss, I could just feel it coming in their last match. They were flipping themselves and kept landing on the wrong side, seemed out of control…meanwhile Lock-Jaw is at least an average robot and they’re 0-2. I said I couldn’t see him going 0-2, and while I was wrong, that means I really, REALLY can’t see him falling to 0-3. The momentum I perceive on both ends tells me this is my Upset of the Week.

Blip is a delightful new flipper, very flat and glued to the ground. Lock-Jaw is your standard 4WD vertical spinner robot, fast and well-driven, tactical, hits pretty hard. I think it’s a coin flip overall and I’m picking LJ for the reasons above. I expect they find a way to land that first shot, get Blip up and he struggles to right himself while Lock-Jaw lands some haymakers all over the body. If I’m wrong it should be fun festival of flips. Win-win baby.

Upset Pick of the Week: Lock-Jaw by KO

> Minotaur (1-1) vs Deep Six (1-1)


The Pick: Minotaur by KO

(Ok, I’ll spend a little time here. Minotaur is a very agile and quick small robot with a front that’s pretty much all weapon, a big vertical drum spinner. Deep Six is a delight, a preposterously large vertical spinner that looks like it could slice through hordes of assembled humans. The problem is that it’s slow and lurchy, and moves very poorly and also when it lands a hit the impact is so insane it goes flying and almost kills itself. At least that always happened in past years, this year it stumbled into a victory in week 1 against Pain Train who is now 0-2, and then lost a terribly boring match where it couldn’t move at all and the refs counted it out after no action whatsoever. The point is it’s extremely unreliable on multiple fronts, whereas Minotaur is reliable and a good to great robot. So I don’t think this will be hard, Minotaur will start by flanking DS to avoid the weapon, then attack a side, then Deep Six will stop moving, the end.)

> Subzero (0-2) vs Hijinx (1-1)

Subzero is a mediocre flipper, Hijinx is a mediocre horizontal spinner.

Sigh, I don’t really care. Hijinx was so awful against Kraken and somehow won, it was wild. Subzero at least has played good teams (Bloodsport and Shatter!) and was feisty…or at least moved around and initiated things. If they hadn’t missed on approximately 9,999,999 flips in the last match they might have had a chance to beat Bloodsport.

The Pick: Subzero by JD

> Skorpios (1-1) vs Yeti (1-1)


It’s another offense vs defense. Skorpios has a big wedge that’s great against some things (Yeti’s weapon though? Hm) and likes to control matches. It did bring out some new forks in the last match that we hadn’t seen before, so they seem to be embracing flexibility, but the forks prevented their weapon from reaching! Their weapon is an overhead saw like Sawblaze’s though probably not as good.

Yeti is an old robot that missed last year but has looked pretty good this year, losing to Madcatter (ok, they got kicked around a lot) and then beatin Pain Train. They are an interesting larger design and have a big drum spinner weapon in the front. Durable and lots of smashing power.

I really want to pick Yeti, but I don’t know, based on who they’ve faced and the results Skorpios is clearly the better bot here. They lost a judges decision to Whiplash, Yeti got annihilated by Madcatter. And yet, I think the way to stop Yeti is to damage him and I don’t think Skorpios is equipped to do that. Another key thing here – Yeti’s angle is often to get on top and smash the top of the robot. Can he drive his weapon right up Skorpios’ front and break the hammer saw pretty easily? It’s happened to Skorpios before (Witch Doctor last year).

Alright, I’ll do it. It’s about the robots match up, I just get the feeling Yeti’s weird design will get the edge here. And it does seem like the “offense” robots usually win this season.

Upset Pick of the Week #2: Yeti by KO

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