BB23 Week 3 Recap: Skorpios Breaks Through

I was right.

Here’s what I said one week ago.

“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!”

I still get that stunned feeling when something works out perfectly, when I produce a theory and reality confirms it. Knowing the builders well I went out on a limb to say that they would have something new cooked up for Vertical spinners. I really thought the Hypershock loss left a mark, and apparently it did. They were ready to go with something brand spanking new. Here it is.

That’s awesome. By the eye test, that looks great. And then in practice, wow. But we’ll get to them, let’s cover the five preceding fights first.

All in all I picked two decent-sized upsets, for the second week in a row. 0-2 last week. This week? One was a huge victory and the upset of the season to date, the other last one hit and about 12 seconds before the team I picked to win was shredded into pieces and burst into flames. My point is, I went 1-1. In the upset business that’s still a good week, even if you were on the wrong side of the most embarassing loss of the season.

Overall, another 4-3 week. Seems to be a pattern around here.

Cobalt: A

Death Roll: D

Death Roll barely scraped out a non-failing grade by continuing to be highly durable, they took A LOT of shots from maybe the most powerful weapon in the sport. Design-wise though, boy did they get their clocks cleaned. Cobalt was lower and that meant Death Roll couldn’t land A SINGLE BLOW. Dang! Not what I was expecting! Usually a more exposed weapon like theirs always hits home but Cobalt had them matched perfectly.

My takeaway is more that Cobalt is extremely good (I’ve got them slotted at 7, the first robot outside the Titan-like top tier) than Death Roll is bad. I think DR is rusty and will be very effective against most robots. Still, they were 6-1 total in the last season they competed in, 0-1 feels like a letdown!

Claw Viper: A

Ominous: F

Dang! Every year some robots take a leap, up or down, and are just a different caliber than we’ve seen them at before. Claw Viper looked great here, with a fully realized strategy that might be effective? It’s like the slickest and fastest robot there is, with a flexible grabbing and lifting that offers multiple moves. You can grab and push around, you can lift, and you can even suplex. If this works out then we have a new type of robot to content with here, one that’s both unique in its approach and also very entertaining. Suplexes! I’m getting ahead of myself of course, my reaction should show how excited this performance was. Claw Viper has Arrived. Maybe.

Ominous looks really cool, but it didn’t move well, and the weapon didn’t do any damage, so I’m sorry but this is an F. If Claw Viper goes 3-1 this year and is a top 20 robot then I’m being too hard. I will offer a full apology to Ominous if that is what happens.

Copperhead: A

Bloodsport: F

So, last season I deemed one “hit” each week as the “Hit of the Week”. Here’s a good example. I didn’t mention this in the first two weeks, in part because I forgot about it, and there weren’t any stupendous, earth-shattering, immediately “shrined in legend” hits that took place.

Ok, we got one of those now

Hit of the Week

Umm, not a ton to say here. Copperhead is close to elite, Bloodsport is not close to elite. I think this might be final ‘nail-in-the-coffin’, not for Horizontal Spinners themselves, but for the idea that when a horizontal weapon hits a vertical weapon, it can “come out ok”. There is a tremendous build-in advantage for vertical weapons when they hit a horizontal weapon, especially when both are running at full speed. It’s Science.

So, if you’re, say Bloodsport, going up against say, Copperhead, then you should focus on out-driving him and do everything to avoid weapon-to-weapon contact, much like a certain Battleblogger recommended before the match. Bloodsport, you have 3 minutes! Take your time! It was like they tried to drive around the weapon (and reach those juicy wheels) for like ten seconds, then gave up and said screw it. And then suffered possibly the most embarassing loss of the year. There’s a lesson here!

Lock-Jaw: B

Malice: D

On the rewatch, I couldn’t help but think “neither of these robots looks very good”.

I’m giving Lock-Jaw a B for mostly being in control and doing what he wanted…but I wanted to see more. Can’t you hit harder than that? Every other vertical spinner is chucking robots into the sky like it’s home run derby, and this felt like a fight from 2019 or something. Lacking power. From both sides, Malice wasn’t good either. Their weapon did nothing and was quickly disabled. I don’t feel like talking about this one anymore.

Lucky: A

Triton: D

I got this one wrong, because last year Lucky had a very fragile and underdeveloped frame, without large wedges and consistent. Umm, apparently they fixed all that!

So yeah, if you have a thick and robust front like that, then taking down a nascent horizontal spinner is pretty easy. And it was! The flipper didn’t do much and is still poorly positioned, but a tough well-driven robot can win fights in this league.

Honestly I think Triton could show us something in another scenario, didn’t look terrible. I thought they looked better than Blade from last year. I really like the whiplash move these kinds of robots make. We will see how they do next time.

Skorpios: A

Jackpot: F

It’s probably not a favorite of many others that saw it…frankly I expect plenty of people didn’t like it at all…but this was instantly one of my favorite fights of the season to date.

It was quick, but it had a full story. It had a narrative about overcoming obstacles, and getting better. Or, on the other hand, not doing those things.

I’ve said before and I’ll say again how every fight in Battlebots can be a discrete entity, its existence and quality completely separate from any before or since. Some fights look like fights, others take the forms of other sports. This one was like Judo, or Martial Arts, or even wrestling. It was a single pin. It was one move. It’s really worthy of a full breakdown and its own column, coming soon.

For now – Skorpios has a newly successful strategy against these kinds of robots that are running the sport, and Jackpot has not improved on its ground game, durability, or self-righting capabilities. It’s possible the impact of their weapon catching on Skorpios broke the whole thing, or when the ax went into their back. Either way, not good! Jackpot might be in for a tough season. Skorpios is trending up.

Hydra: A

Rotator: D

A little disappointed that Rotator had such issues heading into this, I think they probably give us a better match if properly prepared. They said the remote control was busted, that’s not an interesting or helpful thing to spend hours troubleshooting! Anyhow, Hydra dominated as most everyone expected. Looked great. He knows he needs to be more aggressive this season and seems to have embraced the mindset. It makes for a better watch!

I initially hated the configuration choice that Rotator went with, but now understand the logic and what he was going for. If you hit Hydra low you’re going against an incredibly strong wedge and armoured flipper setup. You might bounce off, or you might get flipped – neither is a good outcome. If you go high then you’re looking at his back, which is the weak point (I guess). You avoid bouncing your horizontal spinner like so often happens. That’s all great, but Rotator: what about the flipper? If you try to attack his back he’s going to flip you! No good solutions for Rotator here, but I do think that’s the idea – Whiplash slashed his back good in a close victory. If somehow Hydra gets up on Sawblaze’s forks, yikes. (I’ll be taking Hydra in that matchup later this year but still)

The other thing I will mention – Hydra seems to be more maneuverable and slightly less low to the ground now. That’s the direction they want to move in (especially considering how last year ended), but it is surprising to see him ride up Rotator’s forks. Rotator couldn’t convert this edge into anything significant, that was a little disappointing. I do wonder if another robot can. We shall see.

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