Vertical Spinner War Update

Early in the season I pointed out that Vertical Spinners were dominating the sport, and one of the big ongoing narratives was what were the best approaches to use in the “War Against the Vertical Spinners”.

So, halfway through the season – how’s the war going?

Here are the notable wins by non-vertical spinners, over robots with vertical spinners, in the BB23 season to date.


  • beat Hypershock
  • beat Lock-Jaw

Claw Viper

  • Ominous
  • Ribbot

Two different approaches here – Sawblaze gets LOW, while Claw Viper is just too darn fast. Each uses their respective edge to capture the opponent and control them from there. Claw Viper has really been a breakout star and a terrific story, regardless of how the rest of their season goes. Oh hey, they get their toughest vertical challenge yet in Hypershock in their last fight, that’s going to be wild.


  • Monsoon

The problem with giving credit here is that Whiplash faced two more vertical spinners to start the year, and lost both of those. So they’re 1-2 against verticals. I’m sorry their schedule is so tough, and I’m encouraged by the Monsoon fight, but they have a losing record against verticals. They’re still figuring things out.


  • Ripperoni

They were completely outclassed in their other matches (including an elite vertical in Witch Doctor), but Ripperoni looks really good now, so what the hell! Celebrate, young Gruff! The strategy of being insanely armored, and then literally driving straight into the opposing weapon, actually some bore relevant fruit. Good for them. I really hope they make the playoffs.

(Black Dragon

  • Monsoon

I’m breaking my own rule, Black Dragon has a vertical spinner weapon so they don’t qualify for this list. But they didn’t really use their spinner in their win over a very big, very traditional vertical spinner in Monsoon. Nay, they won because they took a ton of shots, like a champ, and didn’t die. This is a simple strategy and it can be replicated against anyone. Monsoon has not showed to be a top tier robot, BD’s test is in a few weeks against the very potent Riptide. We’ll see how it goes, should be a blast.)


  • Jackpot

We’ve seen this movie before. I think Rotator is a legit contender, again. What stood out was how their weapon got the “low ground” during exchanges with a larger vertical weapon. See also their fight against End Game two seasons ago when they broke EG’s weapon. That never happens.


  • Jackpot
  • (Big Dill? Technically a spinner. What an underwhelming win tho, we’ll leave this in parenthesis)

We hadn’t seen this movie before! I broke it down in detail here, and here.

(Yes, it is possible Jackpot is just mediocre. Whatever! They got off the shnide last time against Ribbot, who I still think is good despite a 0-3 showing this season)


  • Black Dragon

That was awesome, and extremely encouraging for the sport and this new control movement taking place this season. I discussed it here. Quantum is built to close down on vertical weapons and control the fight, it worked on one of the most jumpy and wild drivers there is. Their design vaccuum the opponent right into the fangs. It was glorious. More of this please, especially in the playoffs.


  • Free Shipping

This is familiar, Hydra is one of the best against spinners, I didn’t discuss him earlier because flippers are really a separate category. I say that because it’s different when you’re so low the opposing weapon can’t touch you. I mean, being the rug beneath the opponent’s feet works against any robot, as does chucking them into the air. So like, whatever, sure, Hydra wins against verticals, probably more often than he loses. But he wins against anyone, and when I consider the losses, the few that we have were against vertical weapons! He’s got a worse track record against this type than others. Anyhow, that’s my opinion. Of course he still bears mention.

Ok, so for strategies we have

  • Getting Low and Controlling Them: Sawblaze, Whiplash, Skorpios, Hydra
  • Crush the Weapon Head-On: Quantum
  • Drive to the Side and Control Them: Claw Viper
  • Be So Durable it doesn’t matter: Gruff, (Black Dragon)
  • Kill Them with a (Low) Horizontal Weapon: Rotator

Huh, when you put it like that, the real standout is Rotator. Interesting, as always. I mean, all the other horizontal weapon robot are struggling to rub two sticks together these days, and Rotator beats a vertical spinner every year. I still don’t quite “get it”, the other approaches are about getting around the dangerous part, having the correct angle to neutralize the weapon (Quantum), or the durability thing. Those all make sense. And Rotator is just…really solid, and makes the right design and configuration choices, and has a low center-of-gravity weapon that is still extremely dangerous, even if horizontals are very much not in vogue?

Again, I’m not just reacting to wins over Jackpot, Black Dragon, Madcatter – the guy broke End Game’s spinner and lost a tough and painful split decision, and this was the year End Game WON THE TITLE. Nobody else did that to End Game during their playoff run. Last year they similarly gave Tantrum the scare of their lives. They’re just really good, I guess, but I still don’t quite get it. The sum of their parts exceeds the parts themselves. They’ve found the combo and nobody else in that weight class has. At least that’s how it appears now.

Anyhow, sidetracked by Rotator musings – as for the big picture, this is great! This is very good! The anti-vertical spinner movement is as healthy as it’s been in years, and I’m so excited to see how things work out for all these different bots and their strategies, especially the up-and-comers like Claw Viper and Quantum. So far BB23 has delivered, IMO, and I am thrilled for the second half of the year.

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