What a slate!
I’m, er, reluctant to make comments like “Match of the Century” after I used the term on occasion last season(here, here), and in both cases the fight designated as such was a total flop(here, here). First was Hydra’s flipper failing immediately against End Game, then there was the End Game-Sawblaze “fight”.
Anyhow, if those things hadn’t happened, I would probably designate this the “Fight Week of the Year”, based on the high-level competitive matches in every slot. It’s gonna be great! And more than just entertaining, I feel that some of the main plotlines of the season will be further developed tonight. First and foremost: the Potential Control Revolution on our hands, with Claw Viper and Quantum still unbeaten on the year (6-0). Claw Viper faces his biggest test and one of the fiercest vertical spinner robots in Hypershock. Then, for those watching the very top of the Power Rankings, we have two of the five top tier robots facing down tonight in a fascinating match. The Great Sawblaze takes on the “Bad Boy” of the sport in Hydra. Both are absolute monsters and will be top-seeded in any case (even if they lose, a 2-2 Hydra with losses to Tantrum and Sawblaze should still be seeded like 10, in my opinion). Still, it’s a great litmus test right before the playoffs for both. I picked Sawblaze to win it all, so far so good.
Lock-Jaw (2-1) vs Madcatter (2-1)
Ok, so there’s gonna be some upset picks tonight, or at least some risks taken. Let’s start off with one right here!
Kinda cheating, but I noticed the title of the episode is “Jaws and Claws”, which seems to indicate something significant with both Lock-Jaw and Claw Viper. Now, I am not going to be picking Viper tonight. Can I pick against both?
Both are similarly built vertical spinners on fast four wheel drive robots. Lately it seems like Madcatter is “better”, mostly because Lock-Jaw was an awful 0-3 last season while Catter was a top 16 seed, but I think it’s close overall. This season: both 2-1, one lost to Riptide and the other to Sawblaze. Those are both great robots that beat everybody! Catter did beat Whiplash, who is superior to anyone Lock-Jaw has defeated.
Lock-Jaw has the experience here, I didn’t love how Catter looked against Big Dill in their last match. What the heck! Give me the vet!
The Pick: Lock-Jaw by Knockout
Gruff (1-2) vs Malice (2-1)
This is an emotional one for me, because I love Gruff to death, and they’re just not very good. Fundamentally flawed! But I have a soft spot for them that I can’t get rid of, and damn, they do come out of the gate with a win every season and I start believing again. They beat Ripperoni, the new darling of Battlebots! That was a great win! Then they were completely, deeply outclassed in their next two fights. To be very fair, those were against two 3-0 robots. They’re 1-2 with a tough schedule and one big win, this is pretty much where I expected them to be.
Here’s why I’m freaking out – their last match is a good matchup for them, against a lesser opponent, and I don’t need to do the math to see there’s a big difference between 2-2 and 1-3. At 1-3 the season is over, and I will be devastated. At 2-2 I think they’re in the playoffs, and probably something like the 22-25 seed! Maybe higher, if they look good. They had a test like this two seasons ago, against something called “Extinguisher”, who has not been seen since. Gruff was rolling and then they stopped moving. It was dreadful.
Malice is one of the weaker 2-1 team we’ve ever had. Their season to date – a loss against Lock-Jaw, a “win” against Emulsifier where they were getting embarassed and then their opponent dropped dead (like Gruff two years ago), and then finally a loss that was overturned to a win against Valkyrie. They’re indestructible, sure, they rarely am knocked out. But their weapon kinda stinks, and Gruff’s design is best against horizontal weapons. Can Gruff just rerun the Ripperoni strategy here? Drive into Malice with the forks down, then upon contact fling the forks up, and they should go flying. Repeat until the weapon breaks. Then – this is critical – once you get a lead, switch priorities to making sure YOU SURVIVE FOR THE REMAINDER of the match. Three minutes can be a long time. Please Gruff, just hang on. Don’t drop dead. Don’t defeat yourself.
I believe in you.
The Pick: Gruff by Judges Decision
Doomba vs Dragon King
We don’t have time for this one, not today. Someone told me long ago, “Son, never bet on Doomba. No matter what.”
The Pick: Dragon King by KO
Claw Viper (3-0!) vs Hypershock (1-2)
Do I have to say much here?
It’s just a great and fascinating matchuup. Control vs Power. Speed vs Weapon. A rising star against a scuffling powerhouse.
Hypershock’s main problem this season, well, there are two.
1) Self-flipping himself, all the time
2) The schedule
He lost to Sawblaze and End Game. Those are, um, very good robots that nobody beats. And that’s mostly why I’m leaning Hyper. His win was against Whiplash, that’s the comparable robot to Claw Viper. Whiplash was able to control Hyper in sports, and be in front early, but couldn’t put him away. Eventually Hyper got righted and attacked with his huge weapon, which Whiplash doesn’t have. Whiplash was quickly dead, despite winning 80% of the fight.
I also have questions about Viper’s “lowness”, because Hyper has really big low forks. They haven’t worked well this season, but still. If he can get a grip on Viper and push him into a corner that would be very bad. Viper has won his other matches with speed, predominantly! But Hypershock has the speed to counter that. I also…I feel like Hypershock is so big it will be hard to pick up. Hyper is not a compact robot. Whiplash kinda struggled to get a grip and move them around, this was part of their downfall.
If Claw Viper wins this, the sky is the limit. He is a shooting star. If they go 4-0 then I think ppl should honestly be picking Claw Viper to win the championship. That would be a SEISMIC SHIFT for the sport, and I would be giddy.
Upset Pick of the Week: Hypershock by KO
Free Shipping (1-2) vs Big Dill (0-3)
Ok, here’s one of my favorite upset picks of the year.
Big Dill has been evolving all season, each fight a revelation compared to the previous one. They’ve gone from impotent joke (loss to HiJinx) to completely surprising Skorpios to nearly taking down a very good Catter. And like, they’re a borderline different robot each time! They dropped dead the first two times, and then against CAtter they went the distance, taking a million hits!
I love their design. I love the forks. The spinner seems to deliver. Free Shipping is fun and very well driven, but I think he’s outclassed here weapon-wise. That’s what I’m betting on. Give Me Big Dill.
Upset Pick of the Week #2: Big Dill by KO
Shreddit Bro (0-2) vs Lucky (2-0)
Lucky is one of the worst 2-0 teams ever, or rather, has had the two easiest wins of maybe any team in history. And now they’re getting the 0-2 Shreddit Bro, good grief. I wondered if the huge lower class of bad robots would result in a lot of robots getting very easy, stressfree wins, that inflated their record.
Well, the beneficiaries turned out to be just Lucky and Copperhead, haha. But if I squint – at least one of Lucky’s opponents have looked better lately! Triton seems to be a Battlebots-caliber robot, at least, they beat the inept Glitch a week ago.
Anyhow, I have seen nothing from Shreddit Bro that makes me believe they can succeed in any scenario, ever. Lucky can drive and has a big strong wedge. That should be enough.
The Pick: Lucky by KO
Sawblaze (3-0) vs Hydra (2-1)
Sawblaze – it’s been a while since he really “lost” a fight (Tantrum in the 2020 playoffs, I guess). His two defeats last season were over in seconds, because he made a driving error or wasn’t oriented properly towards the opponent. He made a mistake, got jumped, and was facing opponents with such dangerous weapons (End Game, Witch) that they could knock him out in an instant.
Here’s what I like about this match – Hydra doesn’t have “one hit knockout-power”. If you make a mistake he can flip you in an instant, and “take control”, but he’s not going to kill you. This is like Hypershock vs Whiplash earlier this season, Whiplash was in control for huge stretches but couldn’t deliver a KO, and Hyper hung around. When the tables turned and Hyper had the advantage, he killed them.
That’s what I’m expecting here. Overall these are two of the lowest robots in town, Sawblaze has improved that aspect each year, so I’m not sure who will win that. I think it will go back and forth, like Whiplash-Hydra or even Tantrum-Hydra. But: Sawblaze can survive being tossed around. He’s got a great self-righter. He’s extremely durable. He’s quick and drives very well and Hydra has shown weakness on that front. I think Sawblaze can handle 5-10 flips without taking serious damage. More than that, he probably loses (and 10 flips is a lot by itself, that means most of the match Hydra was in control).
But on the FLIP Side…
If Sawblaze gets under Hydra, and drops that killer hammer-saw into Hydra’s very vulnerable back, it’s over. Hydra will have a very tough time getting out of Sawblaze’s clutches, and he’s going to take heavy damage until he does. I think that’s game over for him. The back was recently targetted by Rotator (unsuccessfully), I also recall Whiplash slashing it good in the 2020 playoffs. Going low against Hydra doesn’t work. But again, that’s not how Sawblaze is configured.
I’ve been terrible with these main events recently (lost four straight!), and Hydra could certainly win this, but I gotta stay the course. I do the analysis and make the pick, the same approach each week. I think Sawblaze is the best robot, and I think he will win tonight.
The Pick: Sawblaze by KO