Note: I am going to (attempt to) use a grading system in the recaps this year, win or lose each robot gets a letter grade. Thus at the end of the season we have something to indicate the quality of the wins, and more significantly the quality shown in losses. Obviously most wins will be an A, but a robot can get an A in a loss too, maybe. Or maybe just a B. I don’t know, it’s new, we’ll see what happens.
The grades reflect how well the robot competed in the match, they should not be speculative or based on what-ifs or any sort of partiality based on the matchup or design advantage.
Witch Doctor: A
Ok, and this isn’t reflected in the grade, but I was disappointed Ribbot appears to have already abandoned their B configuration (undercutter and no wedge) against the top tier verticals already. I wanted to see more of it! I thought there was a chance it could be successful! So did they, they used it a couple times last year, and it earned them the huge upset win against Uppercut in 2020. Maybe they assessed and thought it wasn’t sustainable, and then saw it fail against End Game in about 3 seconds last summer in the Slugfest tourney.
Anyhow, maybe the horizontal thing isn’t going to work, but their vertical game hasn’t been successful against other top verticals either (the losses to Madcatter and then Black Dragon in the playoffs in 2020 come to mind). I’m concerned about the Frog. I am not concerned about the Voodoo Children, who looked absolutely dominant in an anxiety-free cruise control against what should be a top twenty opponent. Witch Doctor remains positively elite. And again I wonder, how were they possibly seeded 24th in last season’s playoffs?
Captain Shrederator: D
Quantum is friggin awesome and it’s so much fun to watch the grabber/crusher bots when they are successful. The thing is fast, well-armoured, has a sweet wedge, and I love watching it bite things. That moment when the tooth sinks in, that’s the good stuff.
I gave Shred a D over an F because he did stay alive for a good amount of time and obviously this matchup is very tough for him. But man this robot is going nowhere fast and the full-body spinner is looking as antiquated and irrelevant as ever in 2023. Bummer!
I initially thought I was going to award Gruff a B here, as a first example of a win without playing great, and it does concern me that Gruff’s two main tools (the flipping arms and the flamethrower) are not really getting the job done and seem out of touch in this very modern incarnation of the sport. But watching it again – Ripperoni does have a giant spinner weapon, and Gruff just drove into it, multiple times, leaning on his prodigious armour and praying his durability and reliability holds up. Man, I mean, it ain’t exactly pretty, but in a world completely overset and dominated by vertical spinners, this certainly qualifies as an approach! This is a very easily reproducible strategy! Gruff has done this before, it’s what they do, and it seemed to be more successful against horizontal weapons than verticals. This is a good sign.
Ripperoni, man…that was effing wild and extremely entertaining, but nowhere close to the type of in-ring behavior that will lead them to wins. Something broke off in a fairly early collision and after that the ridiculous torque of their weapon caused them to self-flip…when they were just standing there, doing nothing. It was an absolute circus.
So yeah, I’m pleased and proud of Gruff for moving well and actually finding success, but a lot of the match was standing around and watching Ripperoni go nuts. And then Gruff still broke down in the final seconds, so that’s not good. Nevertheless! All hail the flaming king, if they can someone win the next one they should be in the playoffs. And I have a lot to say about the Cobalt-Gruff matchup we’re getting next week. Anyhow.
Giving Shatter! a decent amount of credit for sticking around and not dying for a while, before they eventually did. This was not a good fight for them. This is not a good matchup for them. Better times are coming with the schedule.
Oh man, Huge. Huge. Huge buddy. That was AWESOME.
The whole picture has come into focus now (at least against this particular opponent). The wheels are shields! This B version of the wheels is not rubbery but rock-hard and strong. This now seasoned and well-informed driver behind the wheel can alternate between blocking off the opponent (how many hammer shots were harmlessly deflected?) and then opening up to reveal the MASSIVE SPINNING OVERHEAD BLADE.
Now, this weapon, who does it not work against? The curved one seems particularly effective tonight at cutting in to the opposition. Huge should be able to chuck around anyone smaller than him, which is everybody! I know I’m getting ahead of myself, we’ll see how the season goes, but again on paper this robot is top-notch. It looks like they’ve taken a step forward, at the very least.
I’ll say one more thing on the Huge front – most of the robots that would be a big problem for him are gone. Tombstone is temporarily retired. Son of Whyachi is retired. I don’t see Ice Wave on the schedule. All these horizontal robots have been dying off. Also in his favor – Uppercut is gone for now, who beat him last year. Also Deep Six. The seas have parted, possibly. We’ll see. Good start.
(overheard in my living room during the fight)
Me: Yikes, I don’t know if Glitch even has a self-righter. Not looking good.
Mom: How did Glitch go 7-0 if they can’t move and they have no self-righter?
Me: Ummm…(long pause) Miracles. Miracles mostly. A long string of miracles, each as improbable as the next. Nothing more, nothing less.
So yeah, if you ignore the 7-1 career overall record, we have a robot here that still doesn’t move well, and doesn’t have a self-righter. That’s not a recipe for success. That’s not a recipe for anything. If they aren’t receiving miracles from on high, that are happening in their favor, I’m not sure how many matches they can win. Looks like they fixed none of the problems from last year, that’s not a good sign.
Now, they might play better in future, it’s still a good design, or maybe the miracles will return! They were reliably getting them last season!
Riptide is just a stallion man. What a great great robot. The tendency to self-flip remains a concern, might keep them out of the top tier, but for now they have ascended to the next group down.
Free Shipping: A
I really like Gigabyte and thought something might be happening after their incredible end to the 2020 season. But man, that did not look good!
Well, actually it looked really cool for a stretch at the end.
But again, as I said earlier, there’s a difference between successfully providing amazing visuals due to freaky kinetic behaviors, and you know, successfully winning Battlebots matches. The latter is the objective, the former is not. Usually the two run at odds against each other, and that is the case here. And with Ripperoni, who I already shredded. Gigabyte needs to figure out why the heck the self-righter broke so quickly, and fix that. And also it needs to stop driving like a dumbass, good lord that was awful. I’m trying to be understanding because we have new drivers, but goddamn. Don’t drive into the walls, stupid. (Sorry, I’m lashing out because I like this robot, and I’m disapointed)
For Free Shipping’s part, I can’t really withhold the A here, they did what was needed and got the job done. Workmanlike and uninspiring I’d say, but effective for sure. Weapon looks decent. I don’t think they’ll do well against a robot with real power, but we’ll find out. Probably. I can’t recall their schedule right now.
Ok, I could go off and harp here on how I was 4-1 in my picks and then the self-righting mechanisms broke on the last two robots and (arguably) cost me both fights.
Probably not the case. Gigabyte was not ready to beat anyone, and Tantrum against Minotaur is a tough ask. But the matches certainly ended prematurely, when the robots had a lot left to give. Tantrum was good here, the wedge design and approach (kind of swiping at Mino and trying to flip them/send them flying) worked to an extent. Oh man, that recovery by Mino where he flipped onto his side…no other robot can do that move, I’m not sure anything else on earth can do that. But Tant had to be happy early on, it was close.
Then he got flipped and Mino caught the fists! And that messed up the self-righter, though it seemed to not lift strongly enough anyone. But at that point one more flip was going to end it, and the next exchange was as so…
And he didn’t land the right way.
Ah well! Tantrum was certainly due for a loss. Might be more coming, their schedule is brutal (as it should be). They’ll be fine, but ultimately this shows they were lucky to an extent to win last season, and I don’t imagine they’ll be repeating. It’s tough out there.
Minotaur was great, had a better attitude and focus (the big guy has to help), and pretty much did their thing. Again, I can’t overstate how incredible that recovery was in the middle of the fight, when Tant had just tossed them and seemed to have an opening.
One more thing – Tantrum seemed reticent here to use the weapon, I think they only punched once. Maybe afraid of the big spinner it was facing, that it wouldn’t hold up? That’s a little curious to me, must be something internal they decided. Overall though I would have thrown caution to the winds and used it more. They need to know if it can work against the big guns in the sport.
Alright, that was a great first episode, very strong opening to the season. Next!