BattleBots 2020: Episode 5 in Review

Hey all you cool bots and comrades, it’s ya boi from The Robot Soccer League coming at ‘cha with another review hot and fresh out the kitchen. That’s right, it’s time for us to have a look at episode 5 of BattleBots 2020, which was pretty much what we’ve become accustomed to right now. Massive hits, high-octane drama, and controversy. So, so much of it. This might be our most controversial episode yet, which is saying something considering we’ve had something to complain about on the internet in like each of the past four weeks.

It’s a shame, because although this wasn’t the best episode we’ve seen so far, the incident in question has overshadowed some genuinely fantastic battles and performances. You’ll be thrilled to hear I have my own take on the controversy later on (which I’m sure is why you’re all here), but we have so much else to discuss as well. So let’s dive right on into it.

Black Dragon vs Claw Viper

It was a pretty simple fight to start the night with. Black Dragon and Claw Viper were both at 1-0 heading into the encounter, but it was the experienced fan favourites from Brazil who had the point to prove here. Black Dragon luckily scraped its way to a win over Kraken in its opening fight, whereas Claw Viper had bullied about fellow newcomer HiJinx, looking mighty aggressive en route.

But if Black Dragon had a point to prove, it proved it within the opening 20 seconds of the fight. Claw Viper’s failed box rush left it open to attack from the get-go, and from then on it never had a chance. A few pops and scrapes from Black Dragon’s egg beater left it smoking in its starting square, and just as it miraculously came back to life as it was being counted out, one final big hit left it fully on fire. Meaning we got to hear the annoying shouty ref deliver us two countdowns over the course of about 30 seconds. Let’s have a big yay for my ears (or what’s left of them) please.

The Mexican Wave really backfired didn’t it

Black Dragon gets its season fully up and running, and Claw Viper gets a harsh reality check, but is still fully gunning for the top 32.

Ghost Raptor vs Jackpot 

As much as I hate to say I told you so, well, I told you so. And then some.

Pre-episode I may or may not have expressed quite strong views towards Ghost Raptor, which I don’t really need to repeat, since I don’t actually hold any resentment toward Chuck Pitzer or his machine, it’s just sort of a self-inflicted meme I’m in too deep with not to commit to. Anyway, I’d described the Raptor’s weapon as “unreliable”, and that a few hits from Jackpot would probably see it disabled before it goes on to lose. I didn’t expect it to go flying off into the California Gulf after one f*cking hit. 

It was a bit of a sh*tshow from the start, if we’re being completely honest. First, Ghost Raptor literally waves its booty in the open and invites Jackpot in for a big hit. Then the weapon goes. Then the whole left side of the robot is almost completely torn off. Whatever the game plan was, it failed spectacularly.

If you love me let me GOOOOOOOOOOO

So Jackpot, a robot that barely worked in its opening fight and won by virtue of SubZero taking a nap in the middle of the arena, currently sits at 2-0 and is all but through to the top 32. Bet you didn’t see that coming.The less said about Ghost Raptor meanwhile, the better.

Grabot vs SubZero

Speaking of SubZero, here it is! Back with a bang after fading to an aforementioned whimper against Jackpot, Logan Davis and co. come in at 0-1 against Grabot, a new bot with a cool new weapon that we’ve seen nothing of up to this point.

Sadly, its er, grabby-hands quickly became proof of the statement that just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you should. I mean, full props to the team for coming in with some ingenuity, and with something that looks like a heavyweight version of a random toy I used a BattleBot in my early youth, but this was an absolute whitewash. I don’t even think Grabot had moved out of its circumference before SubZero had charged in and tossed it on its back, before it spend the next minute or so being tossed about like a hacky sack. A very heavy hacky sack with remote controlled hands coming out of it, but you understand what I mean.

It also nearly took out its drone by flipping Grabot, you couldn’t dream this kind of entertainment

An easy win for SubZero, which moves to 1-1, even though this victory means almost nothing seeing as its opponent did literally nothing. For Grabot, it feels like its BattleBotsjourney may already be over before it had a chance to begin.

HUGE vs Hydra

Welp, here we are. Halfway through the review, it’s all been very innocent so far, but here’s where things start kicking off. I know everyone’s probably tired of hearing about it, but I’ll try and keep things terse to spare everyone’s sanity. And please be civil in the comments about it.

So before the match, I basically assumed this would go pretty much the same way as HUGE’s fight with Bronco did last season. It’ll be flipped about a bit, but because of the height of its opponent, the shots it lands will ultimately see it to victory. On this evidence, Hydra didn’t have a chance. However, Jake Ewert apparently had the same thought process as me (we are psychic besties after all), and my brilliant prediction skills gave him the foresight to put a massive f*ck off bike rack on the front of Hydra. A pretty clever bit of thinking, but, as we know, attachment devices, especially ones designed to play keep-away with the opponent, don’t usually work well.

However, this worked perfectly. HUGE landed one shot in at Hydra in the entire three minutes, and kept it at bay for the large majority of the fight. It was an easy win for the Whyachi boys. So why are a large portion of the fans, as well as HUGE builder Jonathan Schultz aggy about HUGE losing (besides the fact it’s always emotionally distressing watching HUGE lose)? Well, it’s because Hydra may have kept them away successfully, but besides that it didn’t actually do anything. It didn’t take advantage of the exploit they’d successfully found to stop HUGE. No firing of the flipper, no insane launches into the air, just three minutes of of them gently pushing HUGE out of reach. They even spent like 30 seconds just trapping HUGE in the corner and refusing to let them out, much to the frustration of basically everyone involved. And if you couldn’t tell already, this fight was d-u-l-l DULL. Like, Napalm vs Warhog levels of dull. Hydra may have got the win, but my goodness at what cost?

Not touching, can’t get mad! Not touching, can’t get mad!

Ultimately, and annoyingly, Hydra did deserve the win. It controlled the fight, and although I can’t really say it was aggressive, it looks like the hits they got with the pulverizer, which I think might have done something to HUGE’s spinning bar, got them points for damage. But we shouldn’t be seeing fights like this in BattleBots, and Jonathan has every right to feel aggrieved by what went down. In his words, “It wasn’t a fight”. It really wasn’t. It was clever strategy on Hydra’s part, but a fight it was not. And I’m sure Jake Ewert’s no-f*cks-given approach to the whole matter doesn’t help things for him either. I can also kind of understand why the HUGE team were so annoyed about the Beta-Rotator fight a few episodes back. My understanding is that the Hydra fight was filmed before the Beta fight, so it kinda makes sense to me now. Beta still deservedly won that fight, though. 

But that’s enough of that for now. Hydra meanders to a 2-0 record, while HUGE falls to 0-2, putting its place in the bracket in serious doubt. Expect an easier fight in the future for it though, I’m sure we’ll see it get at least one win on the board this season.

Aegis vs Fusion

Moving on to the less annoying Ewert brother, we have the return of Luke’s abomination that is Fusion, fresh from its fiery defeat to Mad Catter, against newcomer Aegis, of which we know, and have seen, little of this flipping phenomenon.

At least, I wish I could call it a phenomenon. The only thing we could describe as phenomenal from this showing was the amount of destruction dished out by Fusion. It took a while to get going, but once it got going the kevlar armour on Aegis (or “ee-gis” as we should apparently be calling it) was reduced to literal smithereens. A side panel came completely off, and what was left of the other side was just scattered about all over the arena floor. 

My word – there’s bits of robot all over the arena!

All in all, Fusion showed us exactly what we were meant to see against Mad Catter, even though it showed off its ability against an opponent that couldn’t really drive, and had roughly half an iota of power in its flipper. The Whyachi boys jump to a 1-1 record, while I have a feeling that’s both the first, and last, we’ll be seeing of Aegis this year.

Big Dill vs Lockjaw 

In the pre-episode predictions, I was really struggling to pick a winner here. Big Dill, which is still, and always will be, the funniest sh*t I ever seen, fresh from a dominant showing against Atom #94, against the veteran Lockjaw, fresh from a sort of shaky win over Captain Shrederator. Two similar bots in a fight that could go either way. Who do I pick?

I put my money on Lockjaw in the end, given the swathes of experience Donald Hutson has driving at BattleBots, as well as the added bonus of its spinner. Turns out that this was pretty sound logic, and that there wasn’t really much need to question this outcome to begin with. This was all Lockjaw. America’s one good Donald came out charging, bending one of the forks on Big Dill straight upwards and damaging its drive with some nice hits to the side. That was the first half of the fight at least. The second half saw Lockjaw spin its weapon down and mostly sit off Big Dill, assuming that they’d won the fight. Nothing else really happened, we got to hear a semi-countdown from the shouty ref again, and Lockjaw won the judges’ decision.

Aw jeez Morty I-I-I’m a stuck pickle Morty

Donald and co. move to 2-0 and look primed to make the championship bracket once more. Big Dill drops to 1-1, but is still in with a good shot at the top 32. We need some food-related bots in there after all.

Kraken vs Witch Doctor 

And finally, we end on something a little more exciting, and a little more positive. I think when we all saw the main event we all thought “the f*ck is Kraken doing there?” because, on paper at least, this looked like it had a Witch Doctor win written all over it. Something more akin to an opening fight to reassure as that Witch Doctor was actually going to do bits this season. But it quickly became apparent why this was main event material.

Coming off a controversial loss to Black Dragon, Kraken needed a statement win to stand a realistic chance at the top 32, but against last years’ runners-up, that was never going to be easy, even if the Gellatly’s bot also stood at 0-1 after an unconvincing display against Hydra. We never got to see the potency of the weapon in that fight after a tooth broke off in its first really big hit. And sadly, the same thing happened again. One forwards charge into Kraken’s gnashers and the tooth went again, leaving Witch Doctor unbalanced for the rest of the fight. It still kept the drum spinning, and managed to tear away some of Kraken’s more superficial armour, but in truth it could do nothing against Matt Spurk’s sea beast. Every attack Kraken just bit down on Witch Doctor’s drum and wouldn’t let go, pushing it about into the arena hazards at every chance it got. If Black Dragon was a slightly cagey affair, this was pure dominance. 

When Cthulhu meets voodoo

The match went the distance, and, to no-one’s surprise, Kraken got the victory it duly deserved. They move to 1-1 and shoot well into contention for a spot in the bracket, while Witch Doctor’s season now hangs in the balance as they fall to 0-2. It’s near unprecedented territory for the team, but they still have every chance to turn things around if they fix the issue with their spinner. And we don’t know if there’ll be another Desperado Tournament this year, but if there is, who knows if we’ll see them in it?

And that about does it for this week’s take on BattleBots 2020. Is this episode forever going to be remembered for Hydra using a large bit of scaffolding to “defeat” HUGE? Probably, but we shouldn’t let the most boring fight of the night, maybe in history, become the focus of this episode. Instead, let’s focus on SubZero going all hell for leather and finally start to show some potential, Jackpot ripping of Ghost Raptor’s whole f*cking weapon, and, perhaps best of all, a stunning upset from Kraken courtesy of some top-notch driving and all-round phenomenal tooth action.

Remember to stay tuned tomorrow folks, because we’ve got another completely not-controversial edition of the power rankings. I’m sure the “WTF is Hydra doing in 15th” gang will have something to say about it at least. If you enjoyed and want to stay tuned for more content, follow or subscribe to the blog, it helps me out a lot. The blog’s Twitter is @robosocks14, if you want to stay tuned with the added bonus of seeing some additional nonsense from yours truly, and you can also give me an e-mail at therobotsoccerleague@gmail.com.

Oh, and if you haven’t already, head to change.org and sign the petition below to help bring BattleBots back to TV screens in the UK. So many of us on these shores can’t access our favourite show, and having it back would go a long way to generating more interest in the sport and STEM, hopefully giving us more new series of Robot Wars, or a new series altogether. We have over 1,000 signatures so far, but need at least 20,000 for the producers to take the petition seriously. So go ahead and sign, and in the meantime, why not hop on to YouTube and watch some clips from Extreme Robots, BuggleBots, Bristol Bot Builders, or anything else robot combat related from the UK (or in general) you can find.

Sign here: http://chng.it/pVBVkQs7Cg

Thanks for reading everyone, and hopefully see you tomorrow.

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