Battlebots Week 2 Playoff Picks: Group of DEATH

Hmmm, with the newfound inclusion of fights getting summarized and booted to YouTube (a practice not seen since Season 4), might as well make it a game and try to predict which ones suffer such a fate! Fights are ranked in order of “YouTube Worthiness”, most to least. Which means I’m ranking fights worst to best…let’s just get into it.

Playoff Record last week: 7-2(!)

Hydra over Defender (31 seed play-in match)

Hydra 1-2

Lost to End Game
Beat Gruff
Lost to Glitch

Defender 2-1

Lost to Ribbot
Beat Riptide
Beat …someone else

If Hydra doesn’t win I will lose all my faith in humanity.

I guess this might be fun if Hydra flips him a bazillion times but I’m sorry, Defender is just too young and green and not ready for prime time yet. They’re only 2-1 and in this spot because they won one of the craziest matches of the season over Riptide who is really good and just had a bad day. They might show it because HYDRA but I don’t want to watch it, it’s not even an actual match of the round of 32. Skip.

Rotator (6) over Capt Shrederator (27)

Not a flattering angle but you get the idea. Blade in front, hanging wedges in the back

Rotator 2-0

Beat Kraken
Beat Black Dragon

Capt Shred 2-1

The one on the right

Beat Tombstone
Lost to Gigabyte
Beat…Jager maybe? I think it was Jager

Funnily enough these two fought last season in a Bounty episode and it was awesome! A really great fight! Highly recommended. (R won of course)

Nevertheless this fight card is so incredibly stacked with tasty matchups I think this one very likely gets the hook (if they’re only showing 7). The Captain hasn’t helped himself in that all his fights ended extremely quickly this year and weren’t very compelling (god that Gigabyte match was such a waste of time). Not a lot of back and forth, not a lot of intrigue. The Captain will internally break down in the first minute here, it’s probably just as well to summarize.

Whiplash (3) over Icewave (30)

Whiplash 2-0

Beat Bloodsport
Beat Skorpios

Icewave 2-1

Lost to Black Dragon
Beat Deadlift
Beat Fusion (Worst Match of the Year!)

I’d personally rather watch Rotator/Shred several times over this one, I don’t think Icewave has anything left in his combustion engine gas tank. Whiplash is going to annihilate him (see Week 3, Black Dragon over Icewave if you want a preview). Still Whip matches are always super fun and Icewave is a vet with a well-spoken captain, I think this one makes the show (as the worst fight of the night!).

Blip (7) over Valkyrie (26)

Blip 3-0

Beat Rusty
Beat Overhaul
Beat Lock-Jaw

Valkyrie 2-1

Lost to P1
Beat…um, hmm. Triple Crown! No idea who that is
Beat…are these real robots? The schedule says ‘Pardon my French’

I don’t have high hopes for a competitive contest here (at all) but flippers are fun! What we really need to hope for is Blip flips Valkyrie while Valk’s blade is running hot, so she’ll bounce of the floor at full power and throw herself god knows where. Can’t wait!

Tantrum (11) over Gigabyte (22)

Tantrum 2-0

Beat Malice
Beat Lucky

The one on the right

Gigabyte 2-1

Lost to Uppercut
Beat Captain Shrederator
Beat Smeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee

I think given the right matchup(s) Gigabyte could go on a run, they’re a very serious robot. But they’re also an antiquated full body spinner that needs time and space to get going, and their draw was a Final Four robot last year that went 2-0 this year and still somehow dropped to the 11 seed, and it’s a bot that is fast and relentless and can stop on top of anyone for 3 minutes. Borderline worst case scenario for our round friend. Still, you never know! Anything can happen! Should be a fun watch but I don’t think it will be competitive.

Tombstone (23) over Jackpot (10)

Tombstone 2-1

Lost to Captain Shred
Beat Mammoth
Beat Free Shipping

Jackpot 2-0

Beat Deadlift
Beat Malice

This is a very interesting matchup, but more so because the participants have weaknesses and thus both have an opportunity. Opposites attract here – Jackpot is juvenile and green and has a 5-1 career record in the regular season and playoffs, but has still never won anything of significance nor have they even fought anyone particularly good. Tombstone is an old veteran who’s won a title and had an incredible streak of dominance, but that’s over with and now seems to be very average. Also, both weapons hit EXTREMELY hard! Might be the highest matchup of weapon power in the playoffs so far outside of Uppercut-Huge.

Here’s the deal: while Tombstone has shown warts I still think he’s a more resilient robot, whereas Jackpot’s resilience is a perpetual concern. Less money was invested in Jackpot than any other robot in the sport, it’s a fact. Can they self-right? I dunno! Will they get stuck on the floor or in a saw hole at some point? Certainly possible! If both lose their weapons will Tombstone be able to bully him around? Maybe, we just saw Tombstone do this to Free Shipping (on one wheel, I’ll admit that part). I just like the crafty veteran here, he really really needs this win to maintain respectability, he got a winnable draw in the first round and needs to cash in. If I were coaching Tombstone I would emphasize an unusual strategy here – “Tombstone, you’re the better driver. You’re faster, you’re more agile. Use it!” I really think Tombstone needs to fly around like his hair’s on fire, weaving and swiping and slashing and making the match really chaotic for Jackpot. I saw a lot of great driving from him against Free Shipping (the cuts on those wheels!!!). I also saw how incredibly powerful the weapon is when he drives into the other robot at top speed, a tactic Tombstone usually doesn’t apply (the ridiculous Mammoth collision documented here). You’re not the most powerful weapon anymore, you might not be the most deadly in this fight even, so you better adjust and use a more modern strategy. I think he’s coming around to that mindset anyhow. Still, can Tombstone become a different robot overnight? We’ll find out in a few hours.

(I guess this is my Upset Pick of the Week, I’m mostly following chalk, though most of these fights are coin flips in actuality, even the 2-31 matchup!)

Cobalt (14) over Yeti (19)

Cobalt 2-1

Lost to Fusion
Beat Ghost Raptor
Beat Gruff

The one with the teeth

Yeti 2-1

Lost to Madcatter
Beat Pain Train
Beat Skorpios

Another matchup of very, very high powered weapons. Interesting high-low dynamics going on here – Yeti’s weapon is basically glued to the floor (a large drum spinner) while Cobalt’s is unusually high and on their back. Also, Yeti has very low and adjustable long wedges that worked great against Skorpios. Cobalt’s entire body is contoured like a wedge, sloped to drive the robot right up and into the danger zone. Who will have the low ground? Cobalt would have it normally, Yeti’s forks won them that category against Skorpios, who isn’t that low at all really. Yeti still might take it here but I generally like the robot with more expertise over someone trying things out. Cobalt had issues early in the season (it’s been a wild ride) but against Gruff he was sliding under them at will and ripping apart their belly. And of course there was that hit on Ghost Raptor…ok one more time!

Here’s the problem, for Yeti – they traditionally LIKE to get on top of the other robot. Part of their design is to climb up and smash things on top of the other robot. If they do that here, YIKES! Yikes yikes yikes! Obviously they will have this in mind and might go with a more ‘ground-bound’ configuration, but I don’t know, when the music is running and Yeti is in the heat of battle he tends to abandon strategy and go with the flow. If he ends up

So yeah, I’m picking Cobalt. I have vivid memories of Madcatter chucking Yeti all over the box earlier in the season, Cobalt is a different design but the weapon type and power is similar. If Cobalt gets space he can/should get going at high speed which will drive Yeti up into the weapon, that’s the most effective strategy for Cobalt to be successful. None of this “defensive configuration” bullshit. Yeti will be tough, maybe they’ll dominate the low game and I don’t know that Cobalt is all that durable…hm. Well, I guess I’m betting against that! Overall, pound for pound, it does seem to me (and other observers) that Cobalt is a cut above Yeti, a Dark Horse for the title, a robot with enough killing power to get through anyone. That’s my reason for picking them as much as anything. Give me the Brits.

Ok, time for the “Group of Death”

Madcatter (15) over Black Dragon (18)

The one on the ground

Madcatter 2-1

Annihilated Yeti
Lost to Sawblaze
Eviscerated Rampage

Black Dragon 2-1

Beat Icewave
Lost to Rotator
Beat Claw Viper

We’ll probably know within 10 seconds how this one is going to go. The ground game is HUGE here for both and probably more Black Dragon. If he can get under Catter and avoid the weapon he should be able to chew up the bottom of the robot and might make quick work. On the other hand, if he doesn’t and drives into Catter’s weapon head on, his weapon isn’t going to match and BD is going to take a ton of damage on that exchange.

Now, BD can handle more damage than almost anyone, but Catter’s weapon is stronger than almost anyone’s, I believe he was 3rd in the Weapon Power Rankings earlier in the season. 3rd out of like 70 something robots! And Black Dragon’s weapon has showed a propensity to die lately, I dunno. Plus the fires! So many fires! If you do want a reason to doubt Catter, he’s certainly the less durable bot here, I don’t think he’s been in a lot of 3 minute fights (mostly because he knocks out the opponent in 1). Oh right, he did go the distance with Sawblaze, he got his ass kicked but held up well. Yeah I don’t think he’s going down unless Black Dragon tears him up early and really owns the ground game (see previous paragraph).

Black Dragon can do it, they can rise to the occasion and pull off a big performance and a win. I just don’t think it’s going to happen, things haven’t clicked in that magical way for them this year so far. Now’s the time, of course. I love them, but I’m taking the Cat. One lesson seems very true this year: when in doubt go with the bigger weapon. I think Madcatter keeps it spinning and kicks around a flaming Brazillian BBQ for three minutes.

Ribbot (2) over Hydra (31)

Ribbot 3-0

Beat Defender
Beat Overhaul
Beat P1

I wondered who would get stuck with Hydra as the extremely dangerous high(low) seed. And it turns out to be Ribbot, who only got to celebrate them landing a 2 seed (I was stunned) for a moment before realizing what it entailed. Poor guys!

This matchup should be great, and here’s why: Ribbot can take the flips. Ribbot can and will survive MANY flips. Maybe more than anyone else could! So let’s all hope for ten to fifteen flips in the first two minutes, and yet Ribbot is still going strong when Hydra’s reliability breaks down.

At least that’s what I’m betting on. Their reliability completely failed them against End Game (they would have won) and then against again Glitch. It’s a lost moment now but when Glitch landed from that INSANE flip in the opening seconds they were stunned and immobile for like ten seconds. Hydra tried to rush them and flip them again, but he couldn’t get there! Hydra was somehow already limping! Another flip and Glitch would have been Glutch, and Hydra would have landed an appropriate seed in the teens.

The point is, I can’t trust Hydra to hold up well this season, and they’re going against a robot that always, ALWAYS holds up well. I’m hoping for a classic where Ribbot gets flipped until Hydra can’t flip him no more. Like a Homer Simpson Boxing Match. Nothing would make me happier. And heck, if Hydra wins good for them, I don’t think it would be a surprise. It’s cruel but a reality – somebody has to lose these fights.

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