Week 13: Resolving some Uncertanties

I guess one can say this most weeks, but I do feel like we’ll get some answers on a few key robots tonight. Among them are Copperhead finally getting a real test, Skorpios needing to prove they’re actually good rather than 500, Rotator and Fusion limping along at 1-2, and Ribbot at 0-3 taking it’s last breath. When I did the most recent power rankings I struggled to place basically all of these guys, to different degree, and for different reasons.

Emulsifier (1-2) vs Quantum (3-0)

Potential trap game for Quantum here, coming off the huge win over Black Dragon, and facing what has been a very uneven rookie in Emulsifier. They did win their last game but it was against someone pretty useless…checking…yeah it was Banshee, that doesn’t tell us anything. They also played Malice and were destroying them before they, Emulsifier, spontaneously died for no reason, and in their other fight they gave us one of the best battles of the year against Fusion…I don’t know if they’re good either?

Anyhow, lot of volatility, both in their design/weapon and in their results. That can be risky. We haven’t really seen Quantum get hit much this year, they’ve been too in control and their design has largely swallowed up the competition. They probably can’t swallow up Emulsifier’s weapon though. I do some areas of concern for Quantum! If they can’t bite the weapon, and they start getting hit, where do you go from there?

Still, Emuls has been a mess, Quantum has done all its homework up to now. It must have a plan ready for bots like this (oversized vertical spinners). But really, I’m going with Quant to reach 4-0 (woo-hoo!) because they have a massive, massive advantage in speed and driving and also experience. It could get interesting though, and a loss is not crazy. But I think we’ll make it.

The Pick: Quantum by Judges Decision

Gigabyte (1-2) vs End Game (2-1)

LOL!

Ok, a couple seasons ago this could have been verrrry interesting, but since then End Game has significantly improved, Gigabyte has significantly declined, and verticals dominate the horizontals now more than ever. I don’t think we get a minute out of this one. To be honest I’m not sure I can even imagine a world where End Game loses. Unless they drive their forks into the floor again.

The Pick: End Game by Knockout

Shreddit Bro (0-3) vs Overhaul (1-2)

It’s dangerous to pick old bots like Overhaul to win (again!), especially against vertical spinners, and it’s also probably risky to pick multiple control bots to win in the same evening. However…I just watched the Shreddit Bro fight from last week again, they are awful. The thing can’t move, and like, is the spinner working either? What exactly are they good at?

I think Overhaul can push them around for a while, reach 500 for the year, and probably make the playoffs. Here’s hoping.

The Pick: Overhaul by JD

Rotator (1-2)  vs Fusion (1-2)

(Shakes head grimly) I can’t believe I’m doing this…

The vibes coming off of Rotator, who I constantly rate highly and praise and so forth (some of it here), are really bad right now. They’re having all kinds of prep issues for these fights. They struggle to keep the wheels moving. They have issues with their remote control. And on and on.

On the other hand, we have Fusion. Yes, 1-2. They faced Witch Doctor and Huge, those are potentially top five seeds when we reach the playoffs. And they showed great in one of those, might have been my fav fight of the year so far(. They did NOT show well last time against Huge.

If we throw that last fight out and say it’s a terrible matchup for Fusion, then we have two excellent performances where in both cases, they HIT HARDEST. They had a better weapon than Witch Dr did, in fact they had two better weapons! Somehow. And in the fight against Emulsifier they were landing better shots too, against a robot that certainly looks like a top tier spinner in terms of power. Their vertical has just the right exposure where they repeatedly won the exchanges against those robots.

So what the heck, let’s say Fusion comes out swinging like they did in fights one and two and flips Rotator a few times. I’m not sure they’re gonna hold up! Fusion at least has shown durability this year and of course they have a backup weapon if the first fails. I’ve heard enough. Let’s take a chance.

The Pick: Fusion by KO

Skorpios (2-1) vs Ribbot (0-3)

I’ve been thinking about this one for a while. And more broadly – I’ve been curious about the idea of bounce-back momentum and desperation and such qualities all season. Is a desperate bot a more dangerous opponent? Are good teams that end up 0-2 destined to turn it around in fight 3?

Well, I’m starting to believe in it, the evidence is starting to offer support. Two very good teams that ended up 0-2 to start the year did bounce back, in Blip and Whiplash, and in both cases I doubted they could turn it around. I was wrong. So, if we’re learning lessons around here, then it’s time to rethink this.

Anyhow, I think this is a much closer matchup than records indicate, and while Ribbot’s momentum is certainly not good, neither is that of Skorpios. They looked great in bout one, barely survived bout two, and then got smoked in fight three. Yes, fight 3 was the Sword Incident against Sawblaze, whatever. They were bad against Big Dill too.

I guess I’m feeling bold, and feeling something. Give me Ribbot here. Skorpios does generally do well against horizontals, and I think that’s what Ribbot is coming with here given the way their season is gone. But what Ribbot has that the other horizontals usually don’t is speed, and durability, and agility, and I think Skorpios will struggle to contain them. I think Ribbot will keep slipping loose and slashing Skorpios’ sides. And also, I doubt the hammer-saw will be effective in doing real damage to Ribbot’s very tough skull…area.

Give me the frog. I picked them the last two fights and got burned, I guess I have a soft spot. It’s gonna be close. I think Rib ends up cutting the tires pretty good.

The Pick: Ribbot by KO

Dragon King (1-0) vs Terrortops (1-0)

Lol.

The Pick: Terrortops by KO

Copperhead (3-0) vs Ripperoni (2-1)

And we here we have a couple of really big vertical spinners going head to head.

First of all – let’s just recognize and congratulate Copperhead for amassing the following regular season records over the past three seasons (the COVID year on)

  • 3-0
  • 2-0
  • 3-0

Yeah, they’re pretty good at this. Their playoff runs have been short and less impressive, and so I refuse to give them top billing in the Power Rankings. But still! These guys have to have one of the greatest career season records in history, even considering they went 2-2 (or 2-3 maybe) in 2019. When they lose, it’s to weird designs (Mammoth), incredible driving skill (Witch Doctor), or uhhh, whatever happened in that Bounty Hunter match against Gigabyte in early 2021. Anyhow, just getting that established. Copper is the real deal.

I have a working theory that may apply here, and it is that most vertical spinning weapons are pretty even when they go head to head. They’re all approximately on the same plane, and so upsets are always possible in such matchups. A recent case to point to is Madcatter vs Lock-Jaw, recent history told us Madcatter was distinctly better, but really they’re about the same. Another match this year I can mention is Witch Doctor vs Fusion – early on while Fusion’s vertical was working they were winning the weapon-on-weapon exchanges pretty handily. And yet Witch Doctor’s weapon is one of the absolute strongest this season, and has to be stronger than Fusion’s by the numbers. If my thinking is correct, than this is a fairly even match, even if Copperhead has years of experience and success, while Ripperoni has played in 3 fights in their career and is really only above 500 because of extreme luck when their opponent self-disabled themselves.

Another consideration here is the vertical disk versus the vertical drum. The notable vertical drum spinners are Minotaur, Copperhead and Riptide, while the disk spinners are End Game, Ripperoni, Uppercut (deceased), Witch Doctor, Hypershock, Lock-Jaw, Madcatter, Cobalt, and probably a couple more I’m forgetting. Umm, just thinking about this quickly, it does seem like the drums generally get the better of the disks?

Minotaur beat End Game, was well on their way to beating Witch Doctor (they clearly won the majority of the exchanges in that fight despite their result), and this season beat Cobalt (though they took some hits). Copperhead has less of a history facing top bots, I will say despite losing to Witch Dr last playoffs they did win the first exchange! They lost because they got outdriven, badly. But they did win that first hit let’s see it again

And Riptide has been on a run against the disk spinners too, Catter and Jackpot (grudge match) and Uppercut too (that might have been a case of a bad angle). They haven’t lost to such a weapon that Ripp has. At the very least there’s some good evidence saying drums do well here, and I’m having trouble coming up with strong counter-examples from the sport recently.

The bottom line here is this: I’ve been struggling mightily with picking the main events (an unfathomable five in a row). And how do you get out of a gambling slump? You do it by picking favorites, by leaning into the odds, rather than trying to defy them. Copperhead is the favorite here. All the past data points to Copperhead. Recent results and the eye test this year also point to Copperhead. I’m not going to overthink. But I also won’t be surprised if Ripperoni pulls it out – as stated above I don’t think there’s a huge difference between the top vertical spinners. So I won’t be surprised, I’ll just be mad that I “blew another one”.

The Pick: Copperhead by KO

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