The first fight blew my mind, and the rest of the night I was just along for the ride, mentally behind and futily trying to catch up
It was a legendary upset, probably the biggest upset ever. Last year Hydra-Glitch was almost as stunning, but Glitch turned out to be really good (and were at least 1-0 at the time); Riperoni had never won a fight before and were largely incompetent against Gruff. There were four fights involving veterans and we pretty much got the full spectrum of outcomes: fighter plays great in a must-win situation (Rotator), fighter doesn’t play great but sneaks out the victory anyhow (Skorpios), and everyone’s favorite – fighter makes a monumentally dumb mistake and loses in a laugher. Then there was the main event where one robot outplayed the other one and again took care of business in a must-win. Lots of interesting threads in the season at this point. We’ll try to hit on as many as we can. Starting with the Legendary Upset (words by Kenny)
End Game: F
Catastrophic mistake by End Game. The (arguably) greatest fighting robot on earth got stuck and helpless all by himself, ten seconds into a match. It’s like if Tom Brady kept dropping the snap from the center, or Lebron forgot how to dribble, or if, I dunno, Justin Verlander kept throwing pitches into the stands.
I mean like, the other lesson here, is no matter who you are, when you “really get hit”, you look just like any other robot out there. End Game was getting tossed and kicked around like some poor shmuck facing Madcatter. And he got all damaged! He got unstuck and all and it seemed like a comeback was possible but Riperoni continued to kick his ass. Crazy stuff.
The funny thing too is like, I dunno, how badly can we rip End Game for this? They were coming off a 15-2 stretch the past two years, with a title and a golden bolt trophy. They had a bad night! They made a mistake! They can’t fall far in the power rankings, if they take another loss it’s a totally different story. Look Riperoni can hit, they have a huge weapon, and they occasionally hit Gruff in the first match when they weren’t self-flipping themselves around the arena in a ridiculous display of acrobatics(. They had a chance in this one for that reason, not everyone has the power to finish them off in that moment. Credit where credit is due. But this was a fluke, we think.
So like, one very real factor that has to be considered when you’re a robot with long forks is getting them stuck. Look at what happened to Whiplash last season!
Terrible luck. But that’s just not a thing that can possibly happen to Minotaur or Witch Doctor. The Whiplashes and End Games and Hydras of the world are embracing additional risk with their approach. It can burn you, sometimes in a HUGE spot (again, Whiplash). Something to keep in mind.
Death Roll: A
Yeah this one wasn’t super interesting. Death Roll is good, it doesn’t look like Switchback is. This was a bad matchup for him though, the weapon power isn’t comparable.
They made a big deal out of Death Roll’s l
ack of configuration options, they have the same setup/weapon for every fight. I kinda like it? It makes things interesting and different. Problem is – in their first fight they fought a robot in Cobalt that was similar to them EXCEPT that they had wedges and won the low ground – and Cobalt landed every single blow and won every exchange and completely decimated Death Roll. So yeah. The “Single Approach” can be cool if you have a very flexible design, it’s not when your design has a very clear weakness that can be exploited by most of the top robots. But hey, we’re gonna to play out the season and see how Death Roll fares.
Captain Shrederator: D
Man this one was even worse! Yet overall I generally loved this episode, but this was an ugly one.
It’s hard to earn a D in a win but Shred was pretty much awful across the board. Their weapon broke in a second. Then at the end they resuscitated it, but still couldn’t land a single professional shot on their opponent, who couldn’t move by then. They drove like a jackass and kept crashing into walls. It wasn’t quite as insane a turnaround as would come later with Skorpios beating Big Dill, but I’d say HiJinx was winning this fight until they just kinda stopped working. These robots stink (lot of that lately); let’s just move on.
This was a fun one, although it mostly involved an angry Rotator kicking the absolute snot out of poor Jackpot. This was a solid reminder that Rotator is pretty darn good, a vicious monster when it gets going and can attack with ease, and seems to have Jackpot’s number (2-0 now). I say it a lot, the horizontal spinner is becoming antiquated, but it’s still a very dangerous weapon and this bot has it paired with excellent low wedgelets and a tough shell that deflects blows. The combination usually works. I’d even go so far to say I think they would have showed better against Hydra if they hadn’t had the technical issues screwing with their preparation. This was a great showcase of the offense/defense they do, using the front wedge to control the opponent to slow the fight down, then whipping across with the running weapon and tearing up the front (or even side).
I guess I don’t have much to say here in terms of analysis, I gave Jackpot a decent grade because they resisted dying for a very long period of time. They’re tough at least. Lots of good shots! Rotator bounces back to reach 1-1 and Jackpot’s season is 0-2 and a disaster.
Big Dill: C
Dang! Sometimes the sweetest victories, or at least the funniest victories, are the ones where a robot is getting its ass kicked, and then out of nowhere things randomly turn around and they win!
Skorpios was getting completely owned here. Outside of briefing slashing Big Dill’s front wedges (which didn’t seem to make a difference) they were getting owned in every exchange by a surprisingly tough opponent. Big Dill hit them with the spinner, Big Dill flipped them, all Skorpios was good at was self-righting. They had blown it, they messed around and used the wrong configuration (why the anti-horizontal spinner here, after the anti-vertical looked so good), and they were going to pay it. No, I know why they used this configuration, they figured it didn’t make a difference and wanted practice with it in the regular season. They took the opponent lightly.
And then they won anyhow, in another quick knockout. They’re 2-0!
So yeah, no karma there. Big Dill does look improved, but reliability still sucks, so yeah. There are a lot of medioce to bad robots in the field right now. Skorpios is definitely not one of them, this was a poor victory for them but won’t matter long term. They still took care of business.
Valkyrie has been strikingly ineffective this year, the new ownership group isn’t doing well. This fight was bad. I don’t want to discuss it further.
I will note – lots of generally ok teams seem to be bad now, more by the eye test than by record even (Valk is 1-1 as is Banshee, but I’d want neither in the tournament playing like this). HiJinx and Shred made it last year, they shouldn’t be in the way they are playing. Nor Valkyrie. Nor Malice. Nor Gigabyte (they have a second fight coming up but already 0-1). Some shaky 2-2 teams are gonna get in, which gives my Gruff-loving ass hope. Anyhow. The Main Event!
Umm, let’s try just reprinting my fight forecast from last week and see if that covers everything…
“I think this(Tantrum) is the robot best built to beat Hydra consistently – glued to the ground, with a tight front that can push against them, and a flexible weapon that can reach down and punch where other can. The Tantrum spinner was precise enough to break Hydra’s flipper, that’s only happened twice in history (IIRC). I think this is a good matchup for the Hill Squad, and furthermore – while Hydra looked great in their opener they drove up Rotator’s wedgelets more than once. Last year that was unthinkable – Hydra might be better and more mobile while being less low, that usually won’t hurt them. I think it hurts them in this case.”
Yeah, Trevor nailed it! That’s pretty much exactly what happened, the notable thing being Hydra’s front forks were less low than last season and that hurt them big.
It was great to see Tantrum looking good again (I think the Minotaur fight was flukey with the bad self-right and that one would be a toss-up if it happened again) and I don’t fault Hydra much at all here. He’ll use the older forks if he faces Tantrum. I hope he doesn’t though, for his sanity. Haha.