Hydra (4) vs Deathroll (29)
I mean, LOL, Hydra is the lowest robot we’ve probably ever seen, and Deathroll is like, defiantly non-low, to the point that it made non-competitive in his two losses (Cobalt and Monsoon).
I don’t know how to envision a Deathroll win here, OUTSIDE of Hydra tossing DR, and then DR lands on him, spinner first.
Probably unlikely! But just in case, Hydra please back away and hide after every toss. I mean dang, I’ve seen this robot land on his own active weapon and toss himself all over the arena. We need you in good health Hydra, we got a long playoff run ahead of us.
The Pick: Hydra by Knockout
Minotaur (1) vs Fusion (32)
I like Fusion a lot, every fight of theirs feels like I’m watching an action movie. But they’re not gonna beat Minotaur. Best case they might toss him way in the air a couple times, Witch Doctor style.
Even that probably won’t happen though. Minotaur can choose which weapon to attack, and lol if he hits the horizontal one. Fusion has given us some epic fights this year but I don’t think this will be one of them.
The Pick: Minotaur by KO
Quantum (5) vs Ribbot (28)
I mean…I could see this being close, I guess I can squint and see an upset. I think it’s unlikely though.
Ribbot’s second match was a pretty hapless loss to Claw Viper, and Quantum is nothing if not a better Claw Viper. So he’s got that footage to go on. And Quantum did very well against Black Dragon who resembles Ribbot to a degree as well. Maybe Ribbot goes with the horizontal weapon? See, if you’re 1-3 and the 28 seed, we don’t have time to discuss your configuration options in detail…
Anyhow, Quantum won’t care what body type they get, I think they’ll be stronger and tough enough to survive Ribbot’s less than top notch weapon(s), and teeth will get to work. I have concerns about our boy Quant overall, not so much here. It could happen though! Don’t think it can’t. I just don’t expect them to lose this one, not yet.
The Pick: Quantum by Judges Decision
Black Dragon (21) vs Ripperoni (12)
So like, I’m kind of a Black Dragon fan, I once predicted them to win something…I have no faith in them whatsoever! This season I think they might be kind of bad!
Here’s the thing I learned – it’s a University team. Students come and go. The designers and pit crew and drivers are all liable to change from year to year. So their more likely to have good years and off years than any regular robot. Driving is a huge part of Dragon’s game!
Anyhow, I’m looking at a 2-2 record that lost to Riptide and Quantum, both 4-0. Fine! Those are “good losses” I guess. Otherwise we have a win over Beta that looks better than it is (Beta’s only loss), because Beta is super susceptible to any vertical weapon, and this was the only one they faced. And their other win? Against Monsoon, where they were getting absolutely pulverized before Monsoon’s weapon stopped working? Yeah, that looks less impressive in hindsight, or more like they got lucky against a mid-tier opponent.
Dragon could be 1-3 easy, and out of the playoffs. Meanwhile Ripp has…well…been far luckier than Dragon in wins over End Game and Copperhead. End Game was covered here and is pretty self-explanatory, Copperhead ran away from Ripp and let them attack his weak backside. That was dumb and unhelpful for the purposes of analysis.
Anyhow, I think Ripp’s weapon is vicious enough to mess up BD pretty good. I guess BD could do its thing and hobble around and wait for the opponent to die (see the Monsoon fight I just covered), but I think it’s more likely we see a second straight knockout now that the streak is over (against another very potent vertical spinner). Could be a good one, and could be another magical BD win, but I’m not seeing it. Not this year. Uppercut always won its first playoff match and I expect the same for the Pizza.
The Pick: Ripperoni by KO
Monsoon (24) vs Cobalt (9)
Ok, I’ve mentioned my emerging Vertical Spinner Theory before, in that robots with similar vertical spinner weapons will be competitive with one another, despite apparent differences in pedigree. Any fight between two verticals is inherently close, the theory posits.
So this should be a case where that thinking applies? But nay, no, I can’t go against Cobalt here. They seem like a better, more polished version of Monsoon, for one thing. Also this is the best and most polished version of Cobalt we’ve seen in their seasons to date. I cannot imagine this robot going out in the first round, I just can’t. He should be lower and able to drive those forks into and under the tipsy Monsoon. And yes, the weapons look similar, but Cobalt’s costs like $55,000, and Monsoon’s does not. There’s a big difference in ferocity.
Still, if you want to know why the upset happened, see my future book “Vertical Spinner Theory, and You!”.
The Pick: Cobalt by KO
Sawblaze (8) vs Blip (25)
So, yeah. Here it is. I wanted to take one massive upset somewhere, because I think they usually happen. Maybe less this season (with 4 fights to gauge everyone’s aptitude) but still).
I’m taking Blip. I think their driving is supreme, I think they’re super under-seeded, and I just fear that Sawblaze’s weapon won’t be effective against them. They are a brick! Lowness could go to Sawblaze, but maybe not, we saw how Blip was uber aggressive and slippeary and slid under Tantrum’s front more than once. Also, I remember how bad Sawblaze looked against Tantrum back in the 2020 playoffs, something about that shape and design and again, the lowness. I don’t know if Blip lands many flips, I don’t know if they need to. If they get under SB and control the fight and drive him into walls it will be enough. The Sawblaze loss to Tantrum looked a lot like that.
Upset Pick of the Round of 32: Blip by JD
Malice (17) vs Switchback (16)
Life is short, I dunno. I don’t have a lot of thoughts about these two robots.
Should be a close fight, Malice will persevere and last three mins in almost every case, weapon or no weapon. I just think Switchback can really hit hard, and we all know how Vertical Weapons are doing against Horizontal Weapons these days.
The Pick: Switchback by KO
Beta (13) vs Whiplash (20)
I’d love to believe in Beta here. I’d love to believe that a robot having a genuinely good season, with multiple surprising wins and no bad showings, can best a robot (Whiplash) that is thoroughly inconsistent, has showed us nothing impressive all year, and is really only here because Tantrum is even more of a mess and couldn’t get their act together.
But I’m taking Whiplash, because the design matchup favors them to an absurd extent. Whiplash likes to get under their opponent and push them around, they can win matches doing this without even involving the spinner (we’ll get to that in a moment), and I see no reason why they aren’t going to pants Beta in the low-ground category. Beta’s has a brick wall of a front wedge, it’s great to bully their foes, but it really isn’t low enough to go up against the best in the sport. Whiplash should be able to slip under and then up-end Beta with ease. And even if the designs are somehow a draw – when Beta drops its hammer the resultant momentum tosses them up in the air. If Whip hasn’t gotten under them yet, they will whenever Beta attacks. So, what? Beta’s going to fight the match with no weapon? Or only use it when he gets Whiplash? Man, Whip should be faster and he’s a better driver…
Guys I could go on and on here, I think the vertical spinner could also spell death for Beta if it’s running. I really think all analysis points to a landslide for the lower seed. Beta can win if Whiplash has reliability problems or underperforms like we saw this season, but they’ve won two in a row now and I can’t imagine them failing to be ready for playoffs round 1. Round 2 might be a different tale.
The Pick: Whiplash by Knockout