BattleBots 2020: Episode 3 in Review

Well guys, it’s another week, another long overdue review after another awesome episode of BattleBots. Now usually, my reviews are kinda late to the party due to working silly hours and a vague sense of maintaining a social life around my commitment to the glorious capitalist cause. And that’s generally the case this week. But there’s another reason as well, because this episode has gotten people talking. Like, a lot. Even more than the last one. I’ll get to the cause of the talking in due course, but I’ve needed time to compose myself, gather my thoughts, and not write anything too reactionary. Because there’s a lot I could say about what went down this episode.

You probably know full well what I’m talking about if you’re reading this, and I apologise for clogging your feed with it. But the controversy on display isn’t the only thing this episode has to offer. Action, sparks, upsets, flames, this episode had it all. So let’s try and get through this and keep the controversial content for when it’s necessary.

Let the bot reviewing begin.

Copperhead vs Gigabyte

I’m glad we’re kicking things off with a short one here, because the insomniac in me has decided to start writing this at just gone 2 in the morning, and I don’t know how many functioning brain cells I have left at this point.

Basically, this fight consisted of two good hits from Copperhead; one to take off Gigabyte’s srimech/directional pole/big stick, and one to take its shell clean off, and send it hurtling into an arena light at less than 12 parsecs. I was sat there watching things happen thinking whether the Gigabyte team had been kidnapped and replaced with reptiles in human skin suits posing as the Gigabyte team, because everything seemed wrong here. To have that much damage done in two hits made me question who the f*ck did the welding on this bot, and also who was controlling it, since when it wasn’t being tossed around like a haunted rag doll, it was essentially just throwing itself headfirst into the arena wall.

I’m seeing double here… four Gigabytes!

Now, before the episode, I said I don’t really think much of Copperhead as a bot, and I still sort of stand by it. I’m still trying to figure out how much of the victory was because of its quality and how much of it was because of how useless Gigabyte was. But if it keeps this up it has good reason to prove me wrong. As for the new emo Gigabyte, get your sh*t together, bro.

Jackpot vs SubZero

This was just one of those battles that leaves you thinking “WTF did I just watch?” when the end klaxon sounds. Not in a “Holy sh*t that as totally wicked” sort of way, more in a way which leaves you feeling confused, but not wholly unsatisfied.

Basically, I predicted Jackpot to win this battle, on account of it looking pretty fierce, and the fact that it was facing SubZero. It did win the battle, but how it managed to I have no idea. When it wasn’t getting itself high-centered on the arena floor, it was getting flipped, rammed into the wall, and even had its weapon half broken. This fight was all SubZero from the get-go, and it looked certain there was going to be no other outcome than a win for everyone’s seventh-favourite flipper bot. Then it just decided to die in the corner and give Jackpot, which had also managed to high-center itself on top of its opponent at this point, a free win. You couldn’t make this up.

Oh and SubZero had its drone back too. Went as well as you’d expect

So Jackpot goes 1-0 with about the most unconvincing win I’ve seen from anyone in a while, and to be honest, if it hadn’t have just decided to break down, SubZero would probably be above it in the top 32 power rankings. On the whole, a decidedly bizarre mindf*ckery was experienced by all today.

Uppercut vs Gemini

Much like the Copperhead-Gigabyte battle, I can’t tell how much of this win was down to the phenomenal power of Uppercut, and how much of it was because it was facing Gemini. I had Uppercut down to win the fight, but I didn’t expect it to win this convincingly. 

Much like the first battle, this one was over in two hits. The first one saw Uppercut get under the black Gemini bot, and go full Wheely Big Cheese mode by launching it out of the arena from like halfway inside the box, plonking itself down right in front of Judge Lisa. First Tombstone and now Gemini coming to say hello to her, she’s really getting up close to the action this season. The second hit on the red Gemini bot took a whole wheel off. Like, not just the wheel, the entire shaft was just ripped off. The kid controlling some part of Gemini saying “Welp, we’re screwed” after this 20-second annihilation was certainly a high point of the episode as well. What a display.

“The first robot to KO Gemini”, like that’s some sort of achievement

I may still reserve my opinions of Uppercut for when it fights a higher caliber of opponent, but take nothing away from them, this was impressive. That weapon has some serious power in it, and while I may still be unsure over its stability, this performance has gone a long way to proving me wrong, and placing them in the top 32. As for Gemini, better luck next year. Or just give up.

Beta vs Rotator

Oh boy, here we go again. Even more controversial than last weeks’ tussle between Kraken and Black Dragon, the returning Brit basher Beta squares off against Vicious Victor and his neon demon Rotator. An epic three-minute slug-fest that saw Beta squeeze a judges decision in its favour, much to the chagrin of many fans and competitors alike.

There’s so much I could say about this fight, and I intend to go more in-depth with it in a separate article, once more of the dust surrounding it has settled. All I can say on it, for now at least, is that Beta deserved the win. In my eyes, this wasn’t a controversial fight. Beta completely bullied Rotator around the box for the full three minutes, while the only notable thing Rotator did was the damage to Beta’s weapon head, in an effective, albeit very lucky hit. That one hit certainly won the damage category for Rotator, but how Victor Soto, Will Bales, or anyone else could think they had any legit claim to victory because of their one good hit is kind of beyond me. It’s even more absurd how they could then rally together in the pits to have a p*ssing match about how “unfair” the decision was. Yes, more consistency in the rules and judging criteria would be great, but the right bot won.

“AMERICA EXPLAIN”

For once, I’m inclined to agree with Gabriel Stroud. Beta dominated the fight. The only thing controversial about this fight is the fact that it can be considered controversial in the first place, and it’s more down to the rules than Beta being an undeserved winner. While Beta will certainly need to show effective use of its weaponry to have a more comfortable place in the top 32, a win against Rotator is still a great start to the series. As for Rotator, time to stop sulking in the pits and go again. And that’s all I have to say for now.

Valkyrie vs Tantrum

Now that’s out of the way, we move on to another fight that left me feeling satisfied, yet so, so confused.

On paper, this was an easy win for Valkyrie. A solid bot with a powerful undercutting spinner and a decent track record from past seasons, against Tantrum, a comparatively tiny bot which is almost the exact polar opposite to its opponent, it seemed pretty clear to me that Tantrum would probably be over and done with in about two or three hits. I was pretty confident of that fact. So imagine my surprise when the little orange bot that could starts taking the fight to Valkyrie, and disables its deadly spinner after only a couple of slams into the wall. From there it was piggy back central, and Valkyrie was being taken for a ride left, right and centre, although it did admittedly inflict some pretty noticeable damage to the top of Tantrum before its weapon gave out. 

All around me are familiar faces

The fight was Tantrum’s for the taking, and then, much like SubZero, it just sort of… died. It just gave up in the middle of the box. The launcher part of its weapon looked like it had been disabled pretty early on, but the bot was working fine up until then. It essentially just gave up and awarded Valkyrie the win I expected it to walk to. Am I pleased I got the prediction correct? Absolutely. I’m just confused how we got here. Valkyrie may have left the arena with the victory, but at least if Tantrum can turn these performances into wins then it has a decent surprise shot at the top 32.

Also, quick note on the controversy here; Chris and Kenny claimed during the fight that Tantrum had inflicted no damage on Valkyrie, and that their weapon being disabled was “the wall’s doing”. If Valkyrie had won this fight on a JD I don’t even know what sort of position we’d be in right now.

Atom #94 vs Big Dill

I’m sensing a recurring theme here. I’m happy I got the outcome right, but at what cost?

In a battle of two newcomers I’d seen next to nothing of, I just thought it would be fun to go for something other than a spinning bot for a winner. Atom #94 sure looked powerful, and, as it turns out, was built under the watchful eye of Ray Billings, who is apparently everywhere this year, contributing to a bot in each of the three episodes aired so far. What next, has he lent a helping hand to the Bale Spear team as well? Anyway, our first ever Indian representatives landed themselves a debut bout against Big Dill, which is essentially what would happen if WAR Hawk turned itself into a pickle.

I had fully expected Big Dill to use its lifting prongs to find the weak spots in Atom #94 to turn it over and bully it about. And that’s exactly what it did. Except I also expected Atom #94 to, well, work. It was clearly having problems with both its weapon and drive system from the start, and led to Big Dill turning it up and over, sticking its prongs in the weapon drive, and shunting it about the arena, before having to end the fight early on account of the two being inseparably stuck together. Big Dill was, of course, named the winner, leading to the biggest question of the episode: what did Ray Billings say to the Atom #94 team? Do I sense a tactical sabotage mission?

Funniest sh*t I ever seen

Anyway, a great showing from Big Dill, while Atom #94 will probably need to actually work in order to wrangle its way into the bracket.

Hypershock vs Gruff

And here we have it, folks, we have arrived at the main event. It wasn’t one I expected, but nevertheless, one to look forward to. Hypershock, the perennial underachiever propped up by the impeccable good looks of Will Bales, against Gruff, a bot who left us wanting more from last season, and has come back in 2020 looking a pretty decent force of nature. Sam McAmis’ hair is also impeccable btw. 

I may have been in the minority of people who expected Gruff to win here, but after surviving a couple of scares in the opening thirty seconds, including being flipped clean over, it really took this fight to Hypershock. And there was so much fire. Like, so much. Remember that bit in Spider-Man 2 where Peter Parker runs into that burning house? Bro, it’s got nothing on this fight. I couldn’t tell you if it was the intense heat of Gruff that brought Hypershock to a grinding halt, but it certainly did something, because the Bales boys’ bot gradually seemed to fall away piece by piece as the bout went on. One of the wheels at the front went, the weapon went, and then the whole drive went, courtesy of a flame-induced piggy-back from Gruff over into the screws.

No mother, it’s just the northern lights

And I won’t lie, it was pretty satisfying seeing Will Bales fall to the floor in disappointment after his hissy fit over the Beta-Rotator decision. Even more so because Gruff is the kind of control bot he seemed to have it in for. Good on you, Gruff, I got your back. Whatever happens this season, I’ll be there for you. As for Hypershock, I think I’ve made my point.

And that about wraps up this week’s take on the BattleBots action. It’s been an emotional rollercoaster, but we made it to the end without getting into the nitty-gritty of it. That comes later. To be honest, I’m just happy to have improved my record after a poor showing in the first two weeks. Six out of seven is pretty phenomenal in my eyes, and I’m sure if Gigabyte hadn’t shown up drunk it would’ve been a clean sweep.

But we move on, and there’ll be more predictions out on Thursday morning. I don’t think I can reach the lofty heights of six out of seven again, especially with some of the draws we’ve been handed out, but I’ll give it a good shot anyway. It’s the least I can do for a festive episode of the show. 

Don’t forget, as well as predictions and reviews, there’ll also be power rankings coming your way after this next episode. And we also have BattleBots: Bounty Hunters to look forward to in the new year, so there’s going to be no shortage of content for you to enjoy, even if it comes at the cost of my sanity. How can you keep up with all this high-quality content? Well, you can always follow this blog on WordPress, I’m on Twitter @robosocks14, and if you really wanted, you could email me at therobotsoccerleague@gmail.com. And, if you want, you could even leave your comments down below, as long as you’re nice about it.

Thanks for reading, as always, and you’ll see me again shortly. 

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