A third installment as we make our way through the 2023 season.
Tier 1: Best of the Best
1) Sawblaze (2-0)
2) Minotaur (2-0)
Two at the top.
You could put them in either order, it’s extremely close. Both are 2-0 with two knockouts against robots that won their other fight. The case for Minotaur is that they had the hardest matchup in Tantrum, but I’m giving the edge to Sawblaze for two reasons. One, their two fights were unbelievably stress-free, he had Hypershock on his back within 30 seconds and got under Lock-Jaw the entire goshdarn time. Minotaur’s fights had a lot more back and forth. Second, these robots fought each other in the premier fight of last season, and Sawblaze completely kicked his ass. So there’s that.
3) Tantrum (1-1)
4) End Game (1-1)
Here we slot in the two recent champions, each with one loss. In Tantrum’s case they fought one of the only two robots ranked above them, and it was close, and they lost largely because their self-righter was unreliable. So I think that’s fair. Bad Days happen, right? (In the second fight they kicked the ass of a robot who is also in Tier 1, fairness throughout I hope)
Well, if we’re subscribing to the ‘Bad Days happen’ theory, then we will also give a giant mulligan to the terrific End Game, who took a loss when he immediately drove his forks into the kill saw-holes and began immobilized, literally three seconds into a match. This gargantuan self-inflicted mistake does not diminish his greatness, yet.
5) Witch Doctor (2-0)
6) Hydra (1-1)
Ok, I initially had Witch Doctor higher (they were 2nd place in the last rankings, and you know, won their match since), but man they struggled mightily against Fusion, whom the jury is still out on. They went to the judges and squeaked out a 2-1 split decision! They were completely decimated at the end of the match!
So yeah, when we consider that near-loss where their weapon was busted and their wheel and wedge ripped off, and then consider that their other win was against Ribbot who’s looks awful at 0-2, I think it’s ok to kick them down to 5 and behind the proven champions until further notice.
Hydra took a tough loss against Tantrum, which proves Tantrum is better than them. That’s ok. Hydra is still top tier.
Tier 2: Barbarians at the Gates
7) Riptide (2-0)
8) Cobalt (1-0)
9) Copperhead (1-0)
10) Black Dragon (1-0)
Power wins. Powerful vertical spinning weapons win. You’ll notice three of these bots have only fought once, I’m cheating a little. Riptide looks the best and has the least track record, the other three have been great for years. Some of the hardest hitting weapons in the sport. Riptide and Cobalt have serious upward momentum and could possibly get into the Top Tier at some point, we’ll see how the season finishes.
The odd duck here is Black Dragon, who does not possess a weapon comparable with the others. No, in fact they were up against a weapon like that in their opponent Monsoon, and took a gazillion brutal shots that threw them all over the arena. Then surprise! Monsoon’s weapon stopped working (worn down and tired from trying to murder BD) and Black Dragon controlled things from there, winning easy. They’re great for their insane, insane durability and they have other skills too. But definitely a more diverse robot than the others in this group. It hasn’t been a good year for their fellow “nutty durable robots”, Ribbot and Gigabyte come to mind. Black Dragon might remain the only one who doesn’t lose from damage (he loses when the opponent gets under him). An interesting, freaky robot to keep an eye on.
Tier 3: I need to see more, But Holy Fuck this is a Good Start
11) Huge (2-0)
12) Claw Viper (2-0)
13) Quantum (2-0)
14) Skorpios (2-0)
Here’s the group of new designs that have yet to accomplish and sustain success, especially the first three. Huge has a very powerful though unusual weapon (it does spin vertically) while the other two are grabber bots. Time will tell if these ideas can make real noise. For now they are streamrolling the competition they have faced. They have not faced elite competition! But that’s not their fault, and at the very least these four are highly reliable and will not beat themselves, or just drop dead. This is the group to watch.
As for Skorpios – the design overall is very successful (at least, the parts of it that mirror the succesful Sawblaze), but he personally has yet to find success in the modern era, and has always struggled against verts, documented here and here. This season his narrative so far is that he came up with a new design against his bugaboo and it worked perfectly in round one (Jackpot). The narrative was different this past week where he faced a surprising challenge in a reconfigured Big Dill, took their opponent lightly and chose a suboptimal configuration for their robot, got kicked around to start the fight, and then won anyway. It was something.
Again, it’s about winning matches, credit to the scoreboard. This group is somehow a combined 8-0.
Tier 4: Close and Dangerous
15) Rotator (1-1)
16) Madcatter (1-1)
17) Hypershock (1-1)
18) Fusion (1-1)
All with very respectable losses (in order: Hydra, Riptide, Sawblaze, Witch Doctor) to robots in Tier 1 and near the top. That said, none of the three were very competitive in those matches and all were knocked out in about a minute (Rotator’s might have gone longer). I’m giving the nod to Rotator for sustained excellence over the past three seasons (where they keep getting knocked out to the eventual champion) and they really looked great in their second dominant win. The other two are similar bots, I’m giving Catter the nod because they both faced and beat Whiplash, and Catter’s win was more dominant. That’s it. I just remembered that Hypershock beat him soundly in the Slugfest last summer, whatever. They’re both very good. Fusion goes last because they have just arrived, but their fight against Witch Dr was an instant classic and very encouraging. Incredibly exciting possibilites exist for that design.
Tier 5: Well, this is Disappointing
19) Blip (0-2)
20) Whiplash (0-2)
21) Glitch (0-1)
22) Jackpot (0-2)
Of all robots Blip really got the raw end of the deal here, first facing End Game (what are you gonna do), then they went up against Huge in a matchup that is HEAVILY SLANTED in the big guy’s favor, and that was only ambiguous because of the Hydra-Huge incident from a couple seasons back (ugh). I think they’re better than this and will be fine…but they won’t be because they have Tantrum next (UGH). Poor bluey. Ah well.
Otherwise the remaining three robots here have been major disappointments across the board, Whiplash was in Tier 1 to start the season. Glitch has…kinda always sucked? They just won because of repeated divine intervention. And Jackpot, they’re only listed here because a) 20 felt like a nice round number (EDIT – Damn!), and b) it’s possible that Rotator and Skorpios are just really good. I could see Skorpios pulling the same trick on, I don’t know, Catter or Ribbot (that matchup is on the schedule!). So maybe Jackpot is still good (5-0 in the regular season the past two years) and just had tough breaks. Like Blip.
Yeah, we’ll pause there, the next group would include Shatter! and Beta and Bloodsport and maybe even Gigabyte. Death Roll and Monsoon I suppose. Ripperoni! My goal here is to list all robots that are likely to be a factor, which is usually around twenty. I think we’ve accomplished that. There’s kind of a lot of bad robots so far this year haha, luckily there is plenty of intrigue and variety at the top.