BB23 Week 8 Picks: Sibling Rivalry

This week’s installment of the very excellent 2023 season (we can give last week a pass, at least it ended with the glorious Minotaur-Cobalt) includes a couple matches between sibling robots. The undercard fight (middle) is the latest edition of the Hammer Bowl, last seen here. Shatter! played in that one too and was victorious. Then, the main event is something we’ve been expecting for a while now, and almost got in the SemiFinals last season. It’s the Aren Hill Bowl

Tantrum and Blip

Yeah, I know. Let’s go through the fights.

Free Shipping (1-1) vs Hydra (1-1, Power Rank 6)

Free Shipping has looked improved if not downright good this year, and while it can be sad to see a robot abandon a non-traditional design for a spinner weapon, it’s probably ressurrected this robot’s career (0-3 regular season in 2022). Now he has a weapon, and can still drive like a crazy man and continue to make that his trademark. That’s all well and good, but he’s facing a superior opponent in Hydra, and Hydra is going to be a mean and nasty mood after the schlacking they just received from Tantrum in the rematch. Shipping doesn’t seem low enough to get under Hydra’s still competent wedge.

It’s an obvious pick but I think we’ll be fine here. Hydra has a brutal final fight too so they really, really need this one, and like I said, he’s gotta be in a terrible mood. Should be fun to watch but I think Gary possibly ends up out of the arena on this one.

The Pick: Hydra by Knockout

Huge (2-0, Power Rank 11) vs Fusion (1-1, Power Rank 18)

Ok. This is it. For Huge, this is the final regular season test (they get effing Starchild in fight 4). If you pass…then wow…you’re at least a top 10 robot in the tournament. Maybe even like, I don’t know, the 6 seed or something.

Huge has dominated its first two fights but both opponents had non-traditional weapons, a hammer and a flipper. Will there be any hiccups against the spinners of the world? The spinners that keep winning everything? In a wonderful twist they get to face both vertical AND horizontal spinnners, in one match! Before the season I thought this was one of Huge’s easier fights and poo-pooed this robot, but Fusion has absolutely turned heads and put on a display in two classic matches this year. They did lose the second one to Witch Doctor, a top tier component of course, howbeit the weapons did break. Now, Huge’s design is definitely vulnerable to horizontal spinners, so Fusion will want to lean on that. On the flip side Huge has improved its wheel durability a lot and will certainly use the rigid gray ones.

I would think Huge would welcome weapon-on-weapon collisions here with either weapon Fusion wants to offer. Despite Fusion’s versatility Huge’s is definitely more powerful (one of the most powerful in the sport). What Huge wants to avoid is Fusion attacking its wheels and the horizontal spinner specifically slashing the wheels. So I think Huge wants to keep moving and minimize the “wheels as shields” approach they’ve employing with success this season. When he’s close just turn the weapon at him. Huge just wants to make contact, any part of Fusion will do. Huge has been nimble this year, they’ve been driving well, in the Blip fight especially they were moving in and out of danger and able to give the opening, timing-wise, to the opponent. It will be tricky but I think the big boy can succeed, and hand poor, poor Fusion another tough-luck loss. Even if they hit 1-3 (Rotator last! Oh no!!!) they should be allowed into the tournament, the strength of schedule is brutal, they’re really good, and both their matches to date were among the best of the year. Nevertheless.

The Pick: Huge by KO

Lock-Jaw (1-1) vs Glitch (0-1, Power Rank 21)

So, this one is funny, because on paper the obvious mismatch is Lock-Jaw fast and experienced driving against, well, however you want to describe Blip, a robot that moves like a rock. So one would think Lock-Jaw can completely outmaneuver him and dominate the match that way, possibly flipping him over in the same manner by which he lost his opening fight.

And yet…

I think Glitch is better than it has shown, or at least BETTER THAN THAT, and it’s just really hard to make any sort of judgment on them when they went an impossible 7-1 last year, while at the same time the eye test told you THIS ROBOT BLOWS.

I am splitting everything down the middle here and saying that I think Glitch is good, and due for a bounceback, and I also just think Lock-Jaw is thoroughly average. What Glitch does have going for it is one of the toughest frames you’ll see, robots generally bounce off Glitch and never dig in. The moment that sticks out for me is when Rotator easily got behind Glitch, went in for a hit, and instead Rotator was the one that bounced and got upended while Glitch remained glued to the ground. It’s tough to do anything when your opponent is much lower and Glitch has that edge here. Finally, if Glitch lands a shot with that ridiculous spinner, look out. We’ve seen how that goes. I think “Clumsy” manages to stumble around a little bit better and catches LJ before LJ can do any significant damage.

Upset Pick(?) of the Week: Glitch by KO

Hammer Bowl #2

Beta (1-0) vs Shatter! (0-1)

The records say one thing, but context says another. Shatter! lost to Huge, who is now 2-0 and looks fantastic. Beta beat Kraken, who is now 0-2 and one of the worst robots in the sport (post on this upcoming!). The historical record tells me Shatter! is better, and didn’t miss last season while Beta did, and won a fight against another hammer bot last season in Blacksmith.

I don’t have much else to say or break down. Shatter! moves better (but not by a ton), I don’t know who is more durable but Beta looks like it, both have different hammer types they can use. I’d say Shatter! has the more effective weapon. But they’re hammers!

Anyhow, give me the Brooklynites in a bounceback. It’s more fun when they’re in the mix.

The Pick: Shatter! by Judges Decision

Quantum (2-0, Power Ranked 13) vs Black Dragon (1-0, Power Ranked 10)

Oh wow.

The question here is – what do you believe, and how strongly do you believe it?

I’d say there are question marks on both, though to different degrees. Quantum is wildly unproven, even at 2-0 this season they have faced Shrederator and Gruff, I don’t know if either of those will make the tournament. But like, they’ve looked great, and dominant! Black Dragon, on the other hand…I don’t know, they’re hard to place. They made final four two seasons ago, last year they had losses against Rotator, Hydra and Whiplash…that seemed to put them around tier three with an evident weakness against low wedges. Are they a real contender? Could this approach of “be insanely durable and completely unkillable, and be less concerned with weapon/lowness/strategy” actually lead to big wins?

Hard to say!

As for this match here, Black Dragon does have a history of playing “down” to clampers and eeking out close victories. He almost lost to Kraken at the beginning of 2020 (in Kraken’s next fight he took down Witch Doctor, so yeah, he was having a moment), and then in the Slugfest last year Black Dragon struggled strangely with Overhaul. Both fights went to the judges. I think this is going the same route unless BD knocks him, but Quantum is built tough and I expect him to dominate large stretches of the fight, dragging the Dragon around.

Ugh, I’m trying to convince myself to take Quantum but it’s a hard sell. I’m a Black Dragon guy at heart. Their design is inspecific so that they can adapt and persevere against any and all foe types. When I say they struggled and won, the key part is the win, not the struggle. The struggle is a testament to their endearing nature. The struggle is a compliment.

The Pick: Black Dragon by JD

Terrortops (???) vs Slammo (Sigh)

This is another fake fight, looks like, tho Slammo has been here before (and been unimpressive). So I’m not going to spend time on it. But hey, give me the robot with the dinosaur connections! It looks cool, kind like Whiplash but the spinner stays on the body. Or something. Rock and Roll.

The Pick (this is not official and will be dismissed if I am 6-0 otherwise): Terrortops by KO

Tantrum (1-1, Power Ranked 3) vs Blip (0-2, Power Ranked 19)

Well well well.

These two robots have largely the same design, but the weapons differ substantially. Last year they were the bees knees, Blip going 5-1 in the regular and postseason, Tantrum reaching 7-0 and the championship. That’s a lot of success! This year, not as much, but the schedules have been absolutely brutal. Tantrum did right the ship against Hydra in its last match with a surprisingly easy win.

And heck, I think they’ll do it again here. The proven design is Tantrum, not Blip, and Blip going 5-0 to start its career is not enough data to conclude anything. They’ll both be low, I expect it to be a wash, and then Tantrum can punch with its spinner and Blip has no counter. If they flip Tantrum, if they flip them a bunch of times, so what? Who cares? Tantrum will be fine. But I don’t think so, I think Tantrum will be in control again, and right back on track with all momentum in their direction. I hope so, at least. They’re so awesome.

The Pick: Tantrum by KO

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