And on the twelfth day of Christmas, my true love (BattleBots) gave to me; two bots I’ve never seen before, an Animal Farm remake George Orwell himself would be proud of, and a roided-up Batmobile taking on 500 lbs of pure leg. That’s right everyone, it’s predictions time again.
This year, BattleBots have decided to give us an extra festive treat by bringing us the fourth episode of the 2020 season on Christmas Eve. That means, for those of us used to staying up into the early hours of Christmas Day, either due to the sheer excitement of finding free sh*t under a tree or the insomnia that comes with existential anxiety that kicks in at 3am on a regular basis, there’ll be extra reason for us to stay up this year, to see fourteen heavy metal monstrosities rip the living daylights out of each other.
As you’ve probably guessed, this week’s fight card is another doozy. Another one I have no idea how to predict, or what to expect from, but I’m pretty sure my eye-opening 6/7 from last week is in no danger of being eclipsed this time around. We’re also somehow already at that phase where bots are already making their second appearances, meaning the Championship bracket is going to start taking a rough shape by the end of this episode. How did we get here already? It seems like just yesterday our favourite show came back to our screens.
Anyway, before I get sidetracked about the cruel mistress that is the universe’s concept of the passage of time, let’s jump into some predictions.
Slap Box vs Tombstone
Given how certain things have gone this season, this opening battle really could spring a surprise or two. Tombstone is of course Tombstone, a legend of the game with that eternally powerful spinning bar, controlled by the equally eternal Ray Billings. Tombstone obviously isn’t unbeatable, however, and is already sitting at an 0-1 record after its loss to End Game, with some teams seemingly having figured out how to use their own energy against them. Mostly, in spectacular style.
I don’t think this will be the case against Slap Box, a newcomer to the show, with an admittedly speedy drive system and effective lifter. I think it has a solid shot at beating other competitors on the show, but when I look at it, I don’t see a bot that can beat Tombstone. There’s too much for Ray to attack, I don’t know how effective the lifter will be in counter-acting Tombstone’s lethal spinning weapon, and the Billings boys have been doing this for too long to let anything disastrous happen against a new bot they (on paper) should be beating. To my mind, this is the BattleBots team saying to us “OK guys, we know Tombstone lost to End Game, but here’s an easy win to kick the show off and show you he’s back”.
Maybe I’ve thought about it too much, but I think I’ve made my point.
SlamMow vs Pain Train
The first of many fights that have appeared in this fight card that, to be honest, I have no f*cking clue how to predict. Two first-time bots, which I’ve seen fleetingly little video of, two untried weapons, this could literally go either way. And the public seem to agree with me.
SlamMow, from the mind of Craig Danby who has brought us such legendary bots in the past such as Foxic, Foxtrot and Predator, has decided to ditch the “disgruntled fox” aesthetic for a design that might actually allow him to win a fight without breaking down within 20 seconds. SlamMow is a “suplex bot”, kind of similar to Complete Control that’ll look to hoist Pain Train into the air and send it hurtling back down to the floor with the force of a thousand bullets. Hopefully. Pain Train, meanwhile, is a vertical drum spinner that looks like it could cause some damage, but with like zero video footage of this thing in action it’s a bit hard to tell.
All I can say for sure about this fight, from the promotional image that’s been released, is that SlamMow has a front wedge on it that takes some scuffs. That’s about all I can say about how effective Pain Train’s weapon is. I really don’t know which way this one’s going to go, but if I were forced into a decision, I’d say Pain Train. Barely though. If the drum spinner is as effective as it looks, I think it could pretty easily disable SlamMow’s weapon and then go in for the kill. It could go the complete opposite way, but I need to pick a winner, and my winner is the locomotive lunatic.
WINNER: PAIN TRAIN
Skorpios vs Perfect Phoenix
Apparently the definition of madness is to do the same thing over and over again and expect different results. On the basis of this prediction, I must be one insane f*cker.
For the first episode, which saw Skorpios battling Bloodsport, I predicted SawBlaze’s inbred cousin to take the W on account of it’s durable front armour plating which has held up to bots like Icewave in the past. Sadly, I was wrong. Bloodsport tore Zach Lytle’s machine apart, which kind of went down without much of a challenge. I was proven thoroughly wrong, and my faith in the cyan sensation has been questioned.
So why am I predicting it to win on the same basis that let me down three weeks ago? That’s a fantastic question, and the answer is mainly because I think it will hold up to Perfect Phoenix a lot better than it did against Bloodsport. Perfect Phoenix, as has been mentioned countless times, is a pretty old bot at this point, with not a lot having been done to it since its peak eleven years ago. It’s still a pretty deadly bot with an excellent driver, as we saw against Extinguisher, which it immobilised in one hit. But immobilising Extinguisher in one hit is much like a heavyweight boxing champion KO’ing a scrawny 10 lbs opponent who starts the fight with two broken arms. Sure it’s an easy win, but it doesn’t really paint a clear picture because it’s not a fair fight. In my eyes, some good driving from Skorpios, keeping the front plate pointed at PP’s blade will eventually lead to the weapon motor giving out, at which point the hammer saw can come in for some tasteful slaughtering. If they actually put it on this time.
Mad Catter vs Ribbot
The animal encounter I mentioned earlier, it’s the age old battle between cat and frog in the fourth battle on the card.
With both bots coming in at 1-0, it seems almost impossible to split them, and most people seem to be struggling with it as much as me. Mad Catter’s victory over Fusion has been one of the highlights of the series so far, not just because it was so spectacular, but because it showed how far it had come in the space of a year. It looked aggressive, powerful, and most importantly, like it wasn’t going to split in half at any given moment. Ribbot, meanwhile, KO’d Tracer in one felled swoop, flipping it over with its spinner and making it look almost effortless.
On their performances this season I’d be inclined to go with Mad Catter. However, this looks, on paper, to be an almost completely even fight, and I’m going to have to go for which one I think is the superior bot. Which is Ribbot. David Jin’s ferocious frog might lose more wheels than a McLaren car going round the bend at the Monaco Grand Prix (I don’t know if that’s true I don’t watch F1), but it’s a solidly-built bit of work which seems to know how to prepare for every opponent it faces. I think they’ll come at the maniacal Martin Mason with a surprise weapon that will do enough damage to win the battle. Or just put a really low wedge on and get some good hits in round the side. There’s also the question as to whether Catter’s victory against Fusion was a fluke, or whether it’s because it’s genuinely good now.
All things that will be answered in due course. But for now I’m going with the frog.
Gamma 9 vs Chomp
This is almost a battle between student and master. Gamma 9, who had walking turret hammer thing Gammatron back in the classic series, against the newest bot to give this method a go, the infallible Chomp.
I so want to put my money on Gamma 9. My heart is telling me it has to be, and logic is kinda making me want to do it as well. I’ll say this off the bat, Gamma 9 looks cool as f*ck this year. It looks like something out of a 50’s sci-fi B-movie, and I’m all for it. It also looks like a brick, which hopefully means it holds up better than it did in its 2018 showing.
However, my head, as well as 51% of my logic, is saying that Chomp is going to take this fight. Yes, it’s a completely new, complicated design, and despite being the heaviest bot in the field by a mile, I don’t know how far that fact will carry it. That being said, I think it will win this bout mainly due to Gamma 9’s track record. Kurt Nemeth’s bot also looked like a tank of a machine in 2018, and still managed to lose to The Four Horsemen and a broken Double Dutch. I’m thinking it will start out strongly, get underneath Chomp a few times, but struggle to do anything of note to Zoe Stephenson’s bot. And then, knowing Gamma 9, something will go wrong. Like, maybe Chomp will get one or two really good hits in that jar something loose and cause the Gamma slamma to stop working.
Remember Pressure Drop vs Subject to Change Without Reason from season one of the classic series? I think we’ll see something similar here. After-buzzer attacks and all.
Shatter vs Malice
This episode really isn’t letting up on fights I’m not sure about, as the penultimate one is no different.
Two bots coming head-to-head on 1-0 records after impressive first showings, it’s Adam Wrigley and his band of hooligans with Shatter, against Bunny (who was once associated with the hammer gang) and her buddies with Malice. Now, I’ve seen a lot of people predict Malice to win this fight, and I totally get why. They literally sent Axe Backwards down in a big ball of flames, showing how powerful their horizontal spinner can be. However, an impressive display against Axe Backwards is like winning a 100m against a bunch of crippled sloths. Yes, you won convincingly, but it doesn’t really prove anything does it?
I think Malice will find this a much tougher test and ultimately come away from it with a loss. Mainly because I still think the robot looks quite loose and unbalanced, and against an opponent in Shatter which, usually at least, can absorb big hits pretty well, I think it might break itself before it breaks Shatter. Even if that doesn’t happen, Malice’s weapon belt is primed almost perfectly for the hammer to get some good hits on, driving provided, and I think that’s how it’ll go down. Obviously I could be made to look a fool on this one, but I’m going against the people’s choice for a good ol’ big-time hammer.
Bloodsport vs End Game
Welp, here we are. Another week, another main event that looks almost too close to call, much like about half the card this week.
Again, both these bots come into the battle on 1-0 records with two mightily impressive wins. Bloodsport, as mentioned earlier, showed just how powerful their weapon is but dismantling Skorpios, while End Game sent Tombstone flying out of the arena in about 15 seconds. Both are pretty high up the rankings ladder as a result, both have clearly upped their game with some fearsome improvements to their weapons, both look pretty hard to separate when paired together.
I think this is going to be over and done with in about two to three hits myself, and I think it could go either way which bot comes off the better of the heavy exchanges. I know a lot of people have also sided with End Game for this one, presumably because in a vertical-horizontal battle it’s the vertical that usually (but not always) has the advantage. I’m looking more favourably at the “not always” side of things, and actually going for Bloodsport. I think they look more capable of causing damage to End Game, and I think one or two good hits could send End Game careening across the box and inflict enough damage to either stop its weapon and move in for the kill, or break their srimech as they get flipped over.
Obviously, I could be completely wrong. End Game themselves have beefed up their front armour to deal with opponents like Bloodsport, and any massive weapon-on-weapon hit could benefit them instead. Knowing my skills of predicting things, Bloodsport will spend most of the fight up in the air. But I stand by my judgements.
And so draws to a close another round of predictions, with a grand hint of festivity in the air. I know Christmas won’t be the same this year, what with the whole global situation still dragging on and making us wish it could all be over soon, but I think a good old episode of BattleBots is the extra present we all need this year. It may well be another frustratingly controversial episode, but that’s all part of the fun isn’t it?
Speaking of fun and presents, it’d be a really fun present to me, your humble internet blogger, if you could give the page a like and a follow, give us a friendly share to your mates, and to give us a follow on Twitter @robosocks14. It means a lot that people are reading my stuff, and any extra support goes a long way to motivating me to keep this up. I love BattleBots and robot combat and love providing the world with new content about my favourite thing. A new review will be out soon, I’ll also be posting power rankings in due course, and of course we have a new spin-off to look forward to come the new year.
Remember kids, stay safe, be sensible, be kind to your friends. Merry f*cking Christmas.