Week 3: Death Roll Returns!!!

Death Roll (last appeared in 2019) vs Cobalt (4-2 overall last season, made Final 8)

Oh good god.

Back in 2019 we were introduced to a new Wonder From Down Under, in the form of this out of control psychotic killer robot that 1) never stopped killing, 2) never stopped winning, 3) never really died or seemed to suffer any pain. The thing (Death)Rolled through their entire schedule and took care of business in the first two rounds of the playoffs against great competition before finally sputtering out and losing a tight 2-1 judges split decision. So in its rookie and only season, 3 seasons ago, it never got knocked out, and it knocked out everyone it faced, until its final match where it went to the judges and lost on a coin flip.

So yeah that was something, possibly the highlight of that season. In 2019 they were amazing, 3 years later it’s possible they will not be as good, or at the very least come out flat. On the other hand we have the delight of 2022, Cobalt, the Wild-Card, who started off fights stumbling and usually ended them by shredding the opposition into many pieces. There was this unpredictableness and also an air of clumsiness to their approach, while they also sported the most lethal weapon in the field. It was a thrilling combination.

I placed both these robots in the same tier, they certainly mirror each other. And of course they both have the same weapon type, the giant vertical disk spinner. It’s definitely a toss up, the design difference if that Death Roll’s weapon is exposed and right on its front (no real wedges of significance for DR, it’s weapon first and foremost and nothing else), whereas Cobalt’s is protected by being deep on its back. Cobalt needs to drive into and under the opponent to get them to hit the weapon (and if so, they are truly a One Hit Wonder), and in this case that means…*checks notes*…driving into Death Roll’s huge and unavoidable weapon. Ok, now that I’m breaking this down that’s a huge issue and slants the fight heavily for the Aussies. If Death Roll is working and able to move properly (super reliable in its first season) then this could go quickly.

The Pick: Death Roll by Knockout

Ominous vs Claw Viper (1-2 last year?)

I got a lot of fights to go through and spent too many words on the first one. Ominous is a rook, I’m squinting and it looks like a weird shaped bot with a vertical weapon. Claw Viper is a control bot that is extremely fast (if shakily driven). They have been middling but they’ve been here at least, this is their third season, and I thought they looked better at end of last year. If my math is correct rookies are 0-3 on the year and my strategy of picking against them last year kept me above 500, so we’re riding that until further notice. Claw Viper will outmaneuver and grab him.

The Pick: Claw Viper by Judges Decision

Copperhead (8 seed last season) vs Bloodsport (17 seed last season)

Wow, great matchup! These two were the 2 and 3 seeds as they both went 3-0 in 2020, then suffered tough longshot upsets in the playoffs. Ah well! One is a premier drum spinner, like a slower and more powerful Minotaur (Copperhead), and Bloodsport is a very fast and talented horizontal spinner.

Now, right now vertical spinners are in and horizontal spinners are not, and generally verticals beat horizontals one on one. However…Bloodsport seems to be trending up, they showed well against Riptide (who’s great) in the YouTube special matches, looked strong in the Slugfest Tourney going 3-1, and have a new desing…I feel the needle is trending up. The huge advantage they have in this matchup is the driving, they are much faster than Copperhead. That means they will be able to get loose and get the spinner moving repeatedly, then choose when to land the hits. Of course they’ll want to outmaneuver Copper and hit a wheel or the back…gonna be tricky but they have a shot.

Ah heck, the upset picking hasn’t gone well for me so far, but I don’t want to miss it. Bloodsport has scored big wins against verticals before, see 2020.

Upset Pick of the Week #1: Bloodsport by KO

Lock-Jaw (0-3 last season) vs Malice (1-2 in regular season and maybe 2-4 overall?)

Oh man, you guys used to be good!

Again, short on time here, Lock Jaw is like Hypershock but was terrible last season (against a good schedule), Malice has a vertical weapon that is pretty decent and is extremely durable! But hasn’t gotten many wins lately, I guess they had a tough schedule too. Looks like Malice has a new design, which might mean success in future, but I’ll wager it’s a sloppy debut. Here’s to Lock-Jaw bouncing back and looking like his old self again.

The Pick: Lock-Jaw by KO

Lucky (2-1 and the 20something last year, maybe 25?) vs Triton (rookie)

TRITON NOT PICTURED

Wow, Triton is crazy looking, an assymetric giant horizontal bar? Like Deep Six is lying on its side? Yowzas.

Lucky is a middling flipper that was decent last year. They don’t seem to have the necessary armour to compete against real robots? And they’re not terribly low? I have concerns. Very well driven though, will give them that.

Ugh, I’m not supposed to pick rookies, but I feel like if Triton can just turn the weapon on and it hits Lucky then it will be over. And also like – I really want to root for Triton here. That’d be much more fun. I picked Lucky a couple times at the end of last season (Slugfest and a YouTube match) and I think they did poorly in both. I’m off the wagon!

The Pick: Triton by KO!

Skorpios (2-3 regular season/playoffs, did win their Slugfest bracket) vs Jackpot (2-0 regular season, 10 seed, 1-1 playoffs)

Ahhhh man.

I really want to pick Skorpios, and I was planning to, but this is a toughie. Jackpot is all offense, all the time, their issue is that they’re very cheaply made compared to other bots, so durability and self-righter leave something to be desired for sure. I think they were highly overrated being slotted in as the 10 seed last year. However, they’ve gone 5-0 in the past two regular seasons, so yeah.

On the other hand, we have Skorpios, a traditionally upper-middle class bot who always has a good showing. Now, I’ve been talking about the fight against Vertical Spinners, we have another permutation here. And while Skorpios hasn’t done greatly lately against these things, I am going out on a limb and theorizing they will have a new plan for this season. The loss to Hypershock last season was so quick and unpreventable, they have to work on something. I’m taking a leap of faith! If nothing else, as he said before getting punted by HS, “If we collide and we both flip over, I can right myself quickly, he cannot”. That’s part of the idea I’m hoping for. Jackpot is not particularly reliable at saving itself, and Skorp is durable as heck. Hope is a good thing.

Upset Pick of the Week #2: Skorpios by Knockout

Hydra (overall 5-3 last season, made final four) vs Rotator (6 seed last year, lost to eventual champion)

Great Fight! Thank you Battlebots!

We have a flipper, the best flipper in the land, going against the best horizontal spinner in the land. Neither has much experience fighting the other robot type, which is why this is great. I recall Rotator beating a dying Bronco in 2020, and then of course we have the Insanity that was Hydra vs Ribbot last season. Never before or since have I seen a fight that could be described as a “Cartoon Fight Cloud”.

Anyhow, these two are two of the best, so this should be a fascinating test. It seems like Hydra should be ok to get under Rotator, although he did use wedgelets last year that were very effective (see the fight against Black Dragon). Of course a horizontal weapon seems like it has more of a chance to hit Hydra, if he ever got to the side, and also Hydra might break its flipper when it fires into the spinner. However if that happens the flipper will continue to work (again, see last playoffs) and that collision will send Rotator SOARING. Hydra won the match against Ribbot more by being a wedgebot and taking advantage of a COMPLETELY OUT OF CONTROL Ribbot, who was possibly struggling with the configuration they use less often. Rotator will not give that to Hydra, they don’t lose control like that as other Horizontals do.

I’m taking Hydra. But man, there are things to like about Rotator here, and of course, they have a history of GIANT UNPRECENDENTED REGULAR SEASON UPSETS OVER THE BEST IN THE SPORT. Just saying. Rotator must have a plan and a configuration ready for Hydra, like every good robot should at this point. I can’t wait to see what it is.

The Pick: Hydra by Judges Decision

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