First I was super happy about Huge, then I was angry that I was getting so many picks wrong, and then during the final two fights that mattered (excluding Terrortops, sorry guys!) my mind was completely shell-shocked; I sat and watched in disbelief at what was happening before me. Quantum over Black Dragon and Blip over Tantrum, back to back? It was too much.
What a great episode. Some fights are worth digging into, others might be just a tip of the cap to great entertainment. Like the first one, where Hydra somehow pulled off 20 flips in 3 minutes. Here goes.
Free Shipping: C
Free Shipping survived three minutes of non-stop battering, I think that’s worth a C.
I mean, look at this! Process this information.
Absolute insanity. I called it (one of the very few things I called correctly here), it was a clear “get-right” moment for Hydra to flip relentlessly flip some poor bastard. Happened to be the very nice likable Free Shipping this time. Ah well! Hydra looks wonderful, they are back to the ultra-low wedges that a) make them borderline invincible, and b) make them move like crap, which frustrates all and lead to their demise last year. In fact, the Judges sent them a warning with the Black Dragon decision a few fights before Tantrum – that they were sick of watching with Hydra’s “turret” strategy and didn’t think it was proper gamemanship. People’s opinions differ here, I’m just describing what happened. See the fight card from the Hydra-Black Dragon fight here.
Anyhow, not much else to say, Hydra is very capable of winning everything. Free Shipping, not so much. But we like them!
Also, and there was so much to enjoy in this episode – but we had an all-time moment in the first ten seconds, because Free Shipping activated the flamethrower right before the opening flip, and for a moment FS was not much more than a giant fireball flying through the air.
Umm, haha, another match where there isn’t really a ton to say? It was awesome tho.
Huge killed him in three shots, and he was looking pretty bad after just one. By the third his top had been, um, popped. Crazy. Huge looks awesome, that weapon!!! There is a post coming soon on Mr. Big, lot more discussion on the breakout season there(link).
Fusion did not look good. They don’t have a ton of armour or high durability, they’re all about offense. This is a bad matchup for them as well. It was funny tho, cause he did land the first blow with the horizontal (the correct strategy for sure), and it messed up the tread a little, but ultimately was just a nip, a bite. And it made Huge made. So he trucked him. Twice more and we were good!
Lock-Jaw: A (reluctant) A
Sigh. Glitch man, it’s the same story all the time now. No self-righter, and bad driving. This was better, but he played turret and just tried to be facing the right way for when the attack came. Then the attack did come, he was positioned properly, and still lost the exchange.
Ah well! I’m still not terribly high on Lock-Jaw (and they caught fire again), but hey they’re 2-1. They’re winning.
And then it started getting really good!
The Second Annual Hammer Bowl
Surprise! Guess what everyone, Beta is good!
Incredible turnaround from that first fight against Kraken where they were a mess. That wedge is an absolute beast, might be the biggest in the sport now that I’m thinking about it. They get low, they are very strong in the drive (which Shatter! is not) and hey, they’re using their weapon and it’s very powerful. In fact, I know it’s a hammer and not really on par with the other big weapons today, but I think disabling an opponents weapon is very important, so we’re going to give Beta ANOTHER
HIT of the WEEK
Shatter! disappointed here, and it seems like Whiplash and others they’re not sure what their strengths are and how they fit into the sport of 2023. They got out-maneuvered and outpowered by Beta, pretty much completely dominated driving wise. They had that one moment in the corner where Shatter! had two good swings in attempts to disable Beta’s weapon…but they whiffed. Because he was too far away! Because the forks were too long! And like, Beta has a shorter weapon, so the fact that the forks were too long for Shatter! meant they were way too long and could have been shorter. Dang! Beta is definitely in the mix and that’s very interesting, Shatter! for now is fading.
Black Dragon: B
What a fight, and what a final statement on behalf of Quantum, Claw Viper, and ‘Grabber Bot Nation’, that this season is different.
I thought Black Dragon impressed here too, I gave them a B because they never really landed a powerful hit on the opponent, and thus really had no chance when it ended early and went to the judges. But man, I thought they drove great! Some of their best driving to date. They looked like Minotaur in spots out there, in particular when they somehow reared up on their haunches using gyroscopic momentum
Cool stuff. But the dang Quantum design is unbelievable, it just suctions up the opponent and pulls them into the jaws. What an incredible front, great against horizontals and verticals all at once (hard to do). Early on BD looked like he would eventually overpower him, controlled a few exchanges, and that was that moment where Dragon tried to back off and regroup where Quantum quickly followed and managed to bite the wheel. It swung momentum, I thought. One great feature of the Quantum approach is that he gets these breaths, these breaks, in the middle of the action, while he’s chewing up the enemy. Really gives the opportunity to control pace and everything else.
To me, this is about Quantum being excellent and possibly elite(!). What a season they’re having. I don’t fault Black Dragon much, but we’ll see. Both have more fights coming. Conclusions will be born out.
I think I’m had my fill of watching Slammo disappoint in the box. But hey, that Terrortops robot looked great! It’s got the combo arm and spinner, the Big Dill design! I sounded off about it here. Anyhow, only mentioning this to say I like that design, Terrortops had it fully realized and ready to go (honestly understood their strengths better than Big Dill, who is actually on the show), and also it my only win during the final five fights, when my picks went 1-4. YEESH.
And then, there was the final act, which I found largely stunning.
I don’t know if there’s much to break down – Blip absolutely DOMINATED the entire time. They looked great! He was aggressive and punchy with his driving, trying all the little tricks to stab underneath the opponent. It largely worked. Blip chose to limit flips, which he knew Tantrum would survive (although…see next paragraph) because instead he could rack up control points, and really, run out the clock. Four flips was it, though some were very impressive. And I’d say over two minutes of the action featured Blip’s front end pinned underneath Tantrum. I thought Tantrum was about to go on another giant run again where they looked unstoppable and won with their plucky, hard-to-qualify approach that just always seems to work. Like they’re the hero of the action movie. Anyhow. I was surprised. All the credit in the world to Blip – this was their season, this was the whole thing. They were 0-2. They were facing the defending champs. They had a single three minute match to turn things around, if not it was over. And they did it. They Responded to Adversity (more on that here). It was awesome, and inspiring. And suddenly I’m thinking they are in the mix and possibly a real contender, depending on the matchups they get. The thing is an absolute brick, maybe the stoutest robot we have. That’s a big advantage.
Ok, Tantrum, love you but I think you made a big mistake here. They screw up driving early (that’s forgivable, I’m not focused on that), and Blip gets a great pin on them, and Tantrum is still running the spinner, I guess hoping the gyroscopic motion would help them get down?
Fine, but then they get flipped, the spinner is still running, they end up landing on it, and surprise, it breaks! And they don’t have a weapon for the rest of the fight. (Tantrum is not going to beat Blip without a weapon, that is certain)
Now, this opens the door for a larger discussion that might be interesting, because a lot of robots do intentionally run their spinner when they go flying, with the idea that it will kick them back onto their feet, and quickly. Some robots seem to use that as their self-righter period (Death Roll, Emulsifier, Glitch, even Cobalt it seems!). Fine! That’s a thing that some robots do. I would say Tantrum has the weakest vertical spinner out of every vertical spinner in the competition, maybe they beat out one or two – they shouldn’t be running it when they hit the ground. It will break. Hopefully that’s a lesson learned and they’re good going forward.
But man! As the Power Ranker around here, this Tantrum loss makes things tough! Where do I put a 1-2 team that hasn’t really impressed out of the quick execution of Hydra? Can I really keep Tantrum ranked better than a 3-0 Huge, who BEAT the same Blip that they just lost to?
I don’t know! Stay tuned.