BB23 Week 4 Recap: The Comeback Kids

You know, we don’t really get a ton of comebacks in the sport. Obviously 3 minute matches (with many finishing in far less time) limit a long story, and damage is often irreversible, once you’re wounded you can’t function well enough to be successful. Well, this week we didn’t just get a serious comeback in the main event, we got three of them! Two were for-sure, no-doubter comebacks, and the third was sloppy but featured a key turning point that reversed the momentum and lead to the outcome.

Also, on a personal note, I broke my 4-3 streak by going 5-2! Alright! Still struggling with the main events but I gotta say, it feels good to be a month into this thing and haven’t had a losing week. I have grown.

Black Dragon: A

Monsoon: B

Man oh man, I don’t know if there’s a robot better in the world at just suffering severe damage, getting all blasted and messed up and tossed around like a rag doll, and still running perfectly fine and going the full three minutes. There’s no strategy more reproducible then just sustaining punishment. Last season I picked BD to win the title, they didn’t get close, but maybe my instincts were on point. Maybe some year they’ll get the right matchups and win the whole thing by refusing to die, by outlasting everyone in the field. It could happen.

Also, huge congrats to the now 22 straight matches with no losses by Knockout. Talk about elite company…

Monsoon looked good, sure they needed to have their weapon hold up longer in order to earn the win, but how many other robots can possibly withstand those shots and continue to function? Going against a ridiculously durable robot is probably the worst matchup for a shaky, half-reliable vertical spinner. See Uppercut vs Ribbot, 2020 (that one still stings). So I think they’ll be alright or at least in the hunt, I can’t recall it right but I think they have a tough schedule. All in all, props to a successful return for the guys from UK! Welcome back!

Malice: D

Emulsifier: D

One of the policies around here is we don’t spend (read: waste) time writing words about bad fights, and especially bad fights that aren’t relevant to the big picture. Emulsifier is 0-2 as a rookie facing an easy schedule – they’re done. They’re out. Unless something miraculous happens, in which case I’ll cover that with enthusiasm. Malice is 1-1 with the worst performance in a win this season, maybe multiple seasons. If Malice just died as it looked like they would then Emulsifier would have probably received an A – they were dominating and ripping Malice to pieces. Malice didn’t die (they are resilient!) so they get a D.

Now, Emulsifier scaves off a failing grade because they looked great. UP UNTIL THEY DROPPED DEAD. So I think a D is appropriate here.

One more thought: in previous seasons this would have been called a double-KO and Emuls would have won by a Judges Decision. Some probably consider them robbed, I do not. Here’s the thing in this sport – You can’t have your robot “drop dead”. You can’t! It’s the one absolute no-no, the one thing you have to avoid at all costs. Let that be a lesson. Let’s move on.

Overhaul: B

Starchild: D

This was a weird one, continuing this wonderful trend of highly memorable third fights. One was the Bloodsport-Copperhead explosion, the other three were all very strange. This one was the debut of Starchild, and yeah, the highly-innovative weapon didn’t look very good. It didn’t seem effective at all frankly, it was hyped to hit as hard as anything. Obviously it looks like Huge, and more than once I was like “yeah, they should just be Huge, if they’re gonna do a big wheel setup. This B Grade Huge idea isn’t cutting it”.

I thought it was largely a dream matchup for Overhaul’s design and it was. I still Overhaul is not very good! Which means Starchild must be also of poor ilk! Hopefully it’s first fight jitters, plenty of robots have looked bad in fight one and turned a corner in subsequent fights. But man, that weapon, it had so many chances to slash and hurt Overhaul, and it really didn’t. Overhaul doesn’t have a ton of armor (does it?). I’m concerned.

Quantum: A

Gruff: D

Oh man what a slaughter this one was.

SPEED. The word is SPEED.

If you’re that much faster and quicker than your opponent, you can do whatever you want to them. You can avoid what they want to do, because you can drive around it. This will come up later when I’m breaking down a certain snake-based robot (the surprise story of the year to date). Quantum just flew to the side of Gruff, ran down the robot and picked out the spot it wanted to bite the most, and then bit it. It was easy.

I don’t know what Quantum’s ceiling is, beating Gruff and Capn Shrederator isn’t exactly impressive at all (Gruff did win their first to be fair), but it look so incredibly dominant in these performances. Man! It’s exciting to see a different kind of design on the rise. Ah hell I don’t usually do this but let’s peek at their remaining schedule.

Fight 3: Black Dragon (1-0)

Fight 4: Emulsifier (0-2)

Ok cool, that next fight will tell me all I need to know! Black Dragon is a force but they have struggled (in wins) against grabber bots before (Kraken, Overhaul). They are certainly elite enough to give us a proper litmus test on the British Crusher.

Gruff…yeah I don’t know. That was bad, I figured they avoided an F by at least staying alive for a long time and surviving many bites. But yikes. If they are completely outdriven by fast robots then they are going nowhere. Witch Doctor is up next, GULP.

Beta: C

Kraken: D

So, the grades are bad here, because the robots moved very poorly and suffered reliability issues. But it was a fun one! I loved it. And also, there was a decent comeback here.

I like Kraken’s new design, it’s got the Switchback idea going where you can swing/drop the weapon. I guess this one is less flexible and probably more used to drop for extra punch. And the durability remains elite! The weapon hit ok but had an issue (we’ll get to that), and then the drive broke down, which was never very good. Bad driving and gripping of the floor is typical for newbies. That will improve.

Beta…eh, I dunno, they were ok. Moved like crap. Durable tho, wedge was good, and weapon was decent. But Kraken had the edge early, got around to the back of Beta and started chewing things up. It looked bad for the Brits. But they separated, Beta starting moving a little. Then, something happened. Crazily enough, in the midst of a lot of mediocrity here, Beta came through and gave us…


And wow, how about that. A traditional hammer completely decimated a vertical spinner! In the year 2023! Shatter! must have been so happy to see that. Obviously hammers are not en vogue now, and the solid hammer is even rarer now that Blacksmith dropped theirs. It’s Shatter! and Beta, and they’re playing next which is great. But man, is Kraken’s just weaker than others, or could this work against similar weapons? I don’t know if you’ve heard, but there are a lot of dominant vertical spinners in the sport today! I bet someone is taking notes.

(Jeez, it’s funny that Kraken stopped being a clamper bot, right when the Clamper Renaissance was hitting the sport! Quantum and Claw Viper are a combined 4-0, so yeah. Weird, and kind of a bummer for Krak that he’s missing the party. Ah well)

Shreddit Bro: F

Horizon: F

This was just awful.

Similar to the second fight of the night – when I was breaking that down I had to decide between assigning two F’s, or assigning two D’s. I went with D’s. Here was different, and I think my reasoning was sound. Emulsifier vs Malice was a real fight, it ended horribly but there were legitimate shots being exchanged. Two robots attacked each other with intent and dealt damage.

Yeah, none of that happened here. Instead two robots stumbled around aimlessly with almost no control over their movements. It was maddening. One did occasionally make contact but the shots were anemic (Horizon), one had a weapon that could actually hit but drove so poorly it was largely negated. I don’t want to say any more about this, everyone involved needs to undergo self-improvement. Next.

Hypershock: A

Whiplash: C

And yep, here was the biggest comeback of all. Not from a damage point, more from a temporal standpoint, in that Hypershock just mucked around for the first ninety seconds or so. But Whiplash couldn’t put them away. Frankly Whiplash couldn’t figure anything out, seems like they are having trouble figuring out their strategy this season.

Um, I’m kinda sad that “Great Whiplash” is suffering so, and may already have moved onto a non-Great status. For years this robot was incredible! Creative and plucky and really rose to occasions and performed well in big moments. It was awesome. And now the magic is gone, just as inexplicably as it was there. It’s always tough for control bots, but Whiplash somehow defied the odds and won, over and over again, season after season. They were an unquestioned elite for years. I’ll have more to say about their decline, the topic “Whiplash has a Vertical Spinner Problem” won’t be inaccurate any time soon.

Hypershock looked great, once he got flipped back over and Whiplash seemed a bit weakened and vulnerable to being pushed around. I will award A with the caveat that man, it’s tough to keep giving your opponent openings like that and get away. Whiplash’s feebleness and inability to put them away was why they won, in my opinion. You give a good robot like Hypershock time and multiple chances and they’ll kill you. End Game is next, they have a very tough schedule this year. But hey, they’re 1-1 now and get to have a season. Unlike Whiplash.

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