I filled out my bracket a few days before the tournament began, the same day as I filled out my March Madness bracket. Synergy Baby! But I forgot to post it here, here’s my tweet from last week. (Man, Battlebots remains as niche as ever even on Twitter in 2022. I’ll remember these rough days when we’re the National Pastime!)
Overall I like Sawblaze to go the distance, knocking out the very formidable End Game in the semi-finals and then the ascendant Rotator in the finals. I really, really like Rotator’s design this year, the excellent adjustments with the wedges, the ongoing evolution of this robot is fantastic. I have them winning very competitive matchups over Tantrum, Whiplash and then Madcatter (my DARK HORSE) before finally falling in the final, when Sawblaze immediately scoops him up and drives him into the walls and screws for three minutes. Finally Madcatter is my pick to emerge from the very competitive East, I wanted to pick a lower seeded robot somewhere and he seems like a fine bet. Ultimately though I think Rotator has the defense and strategy to manage him (Rotator beat him last year in the one of the Bounty episodes).
Individual breakdown of the regions and what I’m expecting to see below!
The North is dominated by End Game’s presence, obviously, and while I expect to win the region there are several stiff tests lined up for them. #1 is Minotaur, fresh off a shallacking of Bloodsport. They have all the experience and veteran toughness needed to give EG a full run for their money, regardless of how we think the robots physically match up. After that is either Copperhead (very powerful overall but I think ultimately vulnerable in a way EG can exploit) or Witch Doctor. Yes, the same Witch Doctor who gave EG the hardest fight they endured this season to date. I expect EG to prevail again but would definitely not be surprised with the opposite result, the recency of WD facing them has to be a big advantage for the challenger. EG can potentially face the runner-up bots for the 2018 and 2019 championship, both robots succumbing to Bite Force, who as we know is End Game’s predecessor, both spiritually and literally.
I think this region is even more one-sided for the top seed (and it got easier last Thursday with the Hypershock debacle). This is Sawblaze’s territory. This is Sawblaze’s turf, the West is his to lose. Next week he gets P1, I’m sorry but come on, no WAY he loses that match. Give me a few scotches and I’ll talk about Hypershock’s chance to beat Sawblaze, I don’t think P1 is capable of it. The entire West has this wacky theme going for it, so many strange bots, at the bottom we’re now left with Uppercut and Riptide. Two very dangerous and unpredictable robots, I like Uppercut of course but we’ll see. That would give us Sawblaze vs Uppercut in the West final, a rematch. I like Sawblaze but who knows with Uppercut! As I detailed in another post – every match that Uppercut fights in, every second they’re on the floor, the chances of something terrible happening to them get worse and worse over time. Uppercut is a stick of dynamite, imminent destruction is always a shout/spark away. Look at this last match for god’s sake, they are essentially the winner, drive into Huge for a final shot and end up on their back fully disabled. I’ve seen enough, it’s not just random good/bad luck, they are inherently caustic and chaotic. Every appearance by Uppercut is a coin flip and I don’t think they can flip heads 5 times in a row. Three maybe? That’s more possible. I still like Sawblaze though, I think it’s his year.
I still can’t believe the following robots are all in a quadrant together:
- Ribbot (3-0, number two seed)
- Hydra (1-2 but who cares, they’re still Hydra. Number one seed last season)
- Madcatter (5-1 over the last two seasons, extremely powerful robot, beat Ribbot last year in the regular season!)
- Black Dragon (2-1 the last two seasons, made the final four last year and beat Ribbot along the way!)
Yeah, Ribbot has its work cut out for them, yikes. All of those four deserved an easier path. Instead we end up with an incredible Round of Death right away. Any of these 4 can win the two matches ahead of them, all are good enough to win the finals even. Maybe. On the other side of the East…
(Note – I picked the robot with the most powerful weapon of the 4, Madcatter, I don’t know. For this to occur I’m also counting on Ribbot’s durability to outlast Hydra’s newfound shakiness, because I’m not sure Catter can beat Hydra. It’s gonna be crazy!)
I may be a recognized and admitted Blip-hater, but I have them getting out of this quadrant pretty easily. For one thing, there is no way in heck that an Aaron Hill bot is going to lose to Valkyrie, there just isn’t. Now – it appears Valkyrie beat Tantrum early last season, but let’s check the tape. Right, Tantrum had broken Valkyrie’s weapon and was absolutely going to win when they just…dropped dead suddenly and were counted out.
Anyhow, Blip will get by Valkyrie, and they’re getting a very flawed robot coming out of the other matchup. Tombstone is a former champ but has not proven anything to me yet, losing to Capt Shred (who’s not great), beating Mammoth in a DOUBLE Knockout (who missed the playoffs and only participated as a sub) and surviving a bout with Free Shipping (0-3). Tombstone died in the first two fights and then lost his weapon a minute into the third. None of this is good! They could beat Jackpot, they could even beat Blip in a one-off, but what I don’t believe they can do is win two consecutive playoff matches against high-end robots. As for Jackpot, I think Blip gets under them easy and…does Jackpot have a self-righter yet? They didn’t last time I checked. I expect Blip to emerge here and then get absolutely PULVERIZED by whatever lucky soul escapes from the other half of the East bracket.
While the highest concentration of elite talent in a single quadrant is in the East, the South overall has the highest number of top robots, in my opinion. I’m still stunned Tantrum dropped to the 11 seed! I thought they were top ten along with Rotator and Whiplash. Those 3 are by far a cut above, but then there are two other robots of a different cut (offensive and HIGHly dangerous) that ended up in the other half of Whiplash’s quadrant. Those are Yeti and Cobalt, and they will be treating us to a wonderful first round shakedown in a few days.
Assuming Gigabyte is out because of its terrible first-round draw (Tantrum) that gives us five interesting robots to play with here. Whiplash Rotator and Tantrum are all very unique and well-conceived, each mostly accomplishing their success without a top tier weapon (ok Rotator’s is pretty close). Which makes great matchups any way you cut it: Rotator-Tantrum looks like a lock and would be very interesting, along with Whiplash-Rotator (I’ve been wanting to see that one for years) and Tantrum-Whiplash would have a lot of juice too (this was very close to being the Finals matchup in 2020!). But the dark horses are out there! Can the vicious Cobalt or Yeti go on a run and upend these more tactical/strategic bots using sheer weapon power? It does seem like the Year of the Weapon. Of the two Cobalt definitely seems like it has the higher ceiling but Yeti’s got some advantages on their side…I don’t know! I think anything can happen and some of the best fights in the tournament definitely will.
(I’ve got Whiplash winning two rounds and surviving Cobalt before their luck runs out against Rotator and those awful wedgelets. I also like Rotator against Tantrum, I think the mismatch between the power of their respective weapons is too much)
We’ll see how I do! If anyone cares I did go 7-2 in the opening week of the playoffs, it’s a new season for the Battleblog Picks as well! Huzzah!!!