B23 Week 4: PANIC BOWL

I’ve gone 4-3 every week. Every week! Normally I start very slow, at least week 1, and then follow that up with a 5-2 day soon after. Not this time. This time I’m running my bets like a very diversified, risk-averse financial portfolio. Slight and steady gains every goddamn week. Currently +3 on the year, expect +15 in a 15 week season. Anywho.

Two themes in this fight card. One is Panic Bowl, detailed here. This is the best Panic Bowl on the schedule right now so we’ll enjoy. It’s the main event.

The other theme is – I’m looking at the images for some of these new or modified robots, and I have absolutely no idea what is going on. What happened here? What horrible twist of fate could this be?

Or our beloved Kraken! Now, they said he was being put down, and now he’s back, so I’m thrilled on that front. But man of man, Kraken, what the hell happened to you?

I’ll throw in Horizon too, is this a three spinner thing?

Feels like AI-generated robots lol. Ok, onto the Picks…

Black Dragon (I had them around 10 in my preseason Power Rankings but that’s way too high, 3-2 overall last year and 2-1 in the Slugfest)

vs Monsoon (missed the past two seasons)

Gee whiz, I think we’re up to 0-5 for the rookie robots now? And Death Roll lost (missed multiple seasons), however Quantum did the same and dominated in their opening fight. Still, 1-6 for rookies or robots that missed significant time is a pretty strong trend.

So we’re going to take Black Dragon here. They are an extremely durable, extremely plucky robot that made a Final Four in 2020, whereas Monsoon is a larger vertical spinner without much else going on. Kinda like Uppercut maybe, or even better, imagine if Copperhead was a disk instead of a drum. That kind of design. Assuming BD can withstand a hit or two, or just dodge them (seriously, how did they not only beat Madcatter last year but avoided any serious hits? Just crazy) they can outdrive and outlast Monsoon, who will not hold up past a certain number of exchanges.

The Pick: Black Dragon by Knockout

Malice (0-1) vs Emulsifier (0-1)

Our first fight this season between two teams that have already played, this episode straddles between the first and second fights. Malice lost a long tough match to Lock-Jaw, their durability was great but their weapon broke quickly again, while Emulsifier lost an EPIC clash to Fusion where they repeatedly refused to die and it was awesome. Malice has a horizontal weapon while Emulsifier has a vertical; Emulsifier has the strong advantage on that front.

This match is an incredibly good contender to go the distance, wow. Malice isn’t great but they almost never suffer a KO. I thought Emulsifier looked really really good in their first match, even though they lost and lost to Fusion (who does not have a history of being success). The weapon edge is heavy for Emuls and I don’t see any reason to think they won’t win here, possibly in explosive, resounding fashion.

The Pick: Emulsifier by KO

Overhaul (0-3 last season, maybe? Not good) vs Starchild (rookie)

Squints…Um…man these third matches have been weird every week, looks like it will continue.

We know Overhaul at least, an antiquated grabber bot that’s basically prehistoric in origin. I think they once said it did really well(!), against Bite Force(!!!!), in 2015(!!!!!!!!!!!!!). That doesn’t really matter now. The new guy is Starchild, which we can say is a Huge knockoff of some kind. But a) the weapon looks different and odd (a strangely positioned smaller vertical spinner?), and b) what the hell happened to this robot, why is all melted on the front? Why would you want it to look like that?

Anyhow, in terms of the design matchup this is a case where Overhaul wants to grab and hold something over its head, Starchild is already there! No concerns about getting underneath them or whatnot. Just reach up. Overhaul has mostly lost lately but they did show very well against Black Dragon in last season’s slugfest, so we’re picking them to get off the schnide.

The Pick: Overhaul by Judges Decision

Gruff (1-0) vs Quantum (1-0)

Oh man, am I excited for this one.

Any pair of robots will match up differently, every so often you find a pair that really brings out the best/worst in each other. Think about these two, and specifically Quantum. Quantum has no strategy but to get close to the other robot and then stay close, for 30 seconds at a time, while the tooth bites into things and so forth.

How’s that going to go against the most prodigious flamethrower in the sport?

Like, the flame almost never works, it’s little more than an intimidation factor and a crowd-pleaser, but part of the reason for this is that the robots are constantly in motion and the flame is not concentrated in a single spot for more than an instant here or there. Constant motion is a good strategy against fire, one would think that’s a easy gameplan to invoke against Gruff (who doesn’t move well himself). But again, what choice does Quantum have?

Fight Prediction:

– Quantum grabs Gruff for large periods of time

– Gruff spends more than a minute dumping fire right Quantum’s face

I guess…Quantum might try to outmaneuver him, and bite from an angle? It seems like Gruff should be able to try and stop this, and also any futzing around by Quantum gives Gruff an opportunity to use his forks. He can flip Quantum over or maybe pick him up, if Quantum is moving slowly. Quantum has the speed to probably negate the forks but then can he choose his spots the way he wants to?

This should be really fun. Ugh, man, I’m a big Gruff fan and I know they’re not very good. I’ll be rooting for them hard, but Quantum should have the edge. They are quicker, they move much more crisply, and it doesn’t seem like there’s a scenario for Gruff to kill them, unless the fire actually breaks through. That would be awesome! I’m not expecting it. More likely Quant lands a debilitating bite sooner or later, or heck, maybe he’ll bite through the gas line.

The Pick: Quantum by JD

Kraken (new design) vs Beta (3-1 in 2020, missed last season)

Again, I’m blown away with this Kraken reimagining, it’s like it’s still going to crush you but when it does you’ll be hit with a vertical disk spinner? Whaaaa?

That could be really fun, but I’m going to remain on this very strong “don’t pick rookies” trend and go with Beta, who is not great but certainly a realized capable robot with success in its past. They’re a pretty solid hammer-bot that bizarrely doesn’t like to use its hammer? Heh, maybe not a terrible idea considering that Blacksmith essentially broke his hammer in every match he fought in (and it was glorious). I’m saying Kraken (who lost most of the time anyhow, in his past life) needs at least one fight to work out the kinks.

The Pick: Beta by JD (Still betting on that Kraken toughness!)

Horizon (rookie) vs Shreddit Bro (rookie)

Sigh. I don’t know who these robots are, I have no idea what Horizon is doing, and I’m confused as to whether or not Shreddit Bro has a relation to Captain Shrederator or not. And I hate research!

Let’s just go with the more compact bot that probably has a vertical weapon, not the sprawling wild thing cookie up in feverish robot building dreams. We’re trying to break 4-3 here.

The Pick: Shreddit Bro by KO

And now, it is time for the first annual…

PANIC BOWL!!!!!!!

Whiplash (0-1) vs Hypershock (0-1)

These two robots are 0-1, and the fact that one of them will be 0-2 is pretty shocking. Right? I mean, I’m not as high on Hyper as others but he did look ridiculously destructive at the end of last season and he did it by being extremely low. I thought he would win that angle against Sawblaze…he did not. Battlebots itself ranked Hypershock 8th and Whiplash 7th(maybe? Something like that), so obviously they thought this would be a marquee matchup, and it is. But the anxiety for these two teams, yeesh. And the schedules are not exactly easy down the stretch, FAR FROM IT.

Anyhow, on one hand Whiplash has been BAD(link) against vertical spinners now. Very bad! If he’s not fighting Black Dragon he’s basically useless. I didn’t hate the new design, looks a lot like Tantrum and Skorpios (those two went 1-1 in competitive fights, so), but the spinner was a non-factor against Catter, and then Catter started chucking him ten feet in the air until he died. Hypershock is not very different from Catter, and heck, he beat Catter in the Slugfest last season with relative ease. Whip is very nervous, I’m sure.

But on the other hand – if Hypershock is going to drive like THAT(link) then he’s not going to beat anybody. And like, damn, the weakness here is pretty clear, he gets flipped onto his head and can’t recover. Whiplash literally has a flipping arm! That’s what he does! He flips robots!!!

So yeah, if Hypershock can stay grounded, stay right-side-up, then he can win, sure. But he’s gonna have a very hard time getting under Whiplash in any event (even against Catter Whip held up ground game-wise) and he’s always ready to self-flip, any small singular event could cause it to happen. A stiff breeze. Whip looks at him wrong. I don’t know! I just think once he’s on his head Whiplash can relax and do his thing, he used to the best in the world at those kinds of moments. If the fight lasts more than, I don’t know, twenty seconds, I think Whiplash is going to come out on top.

The Pick: Whiplash by KO

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