We all know that defense played a significantly larger role in this year’s game than most. A few times this year, we saw an unusual kind of pick made: a first round picks focused primarily on defense. In most years, this is insane, but sometimes, good defenders were a scarcer resource than good offense bots. I saw it a few times this season:
FMA Champs: 225 declined the #1 seed, 303, to pick 747, a defense and level 3 climb bot who was the best defender there by a mile. They picked up 5401, a top 10 or so cycler at the event as their second pick and went undefeated in playoffs.
Tech Valley: 145, the sixth captain who was great at scoring cargo in the cargo ship, needed to do something crazy to have a shot against #1/#2, so they picked 250, one of the two truly standout defenders at the event, and the field was just deep enough to give them a good low hatch robot to round it off. They upset their way to semis and took it to three against #2. Frankly, I was more worried facing alliance #6 than alliance #2 in finals, because their defensive chops made them a scarier wildcard.
Battlecry: 195 picked up their Einstein buddies 1073 (the best defenders in the building) from the 7th spot. While the gambit didn’t quite pay off, the alliance was a contender and I don’t think it was an unreasonable move, though it’s not the pick I would have personally made in that position.
IRI: 2767 and 1073 were picked first round and primarily played defense. I think it’s really interesting that this happened twice at the highest level of play, but it makes sense: the pool of offense bots for second picks is just that much deeper, and 2481 2767 would have an early second pick with IRI rules, so a first round defense pick was far less of an offensive penalty.
Where else did first round defense picks happen this year? Were they the right (or close enough to right) pick? I think this phenomenon is a really interesting quirk of this year’s game.
Bonus question: did anyone ever try anything really wacky like 1 offense bot + 1 defender + 1 counterdefender in playoffs?