Hey all you cool bots and comrades, it’s ya boi from The Robot Soccer League hitting you up with another round of metal-mashing predictions. And boy, this week promises a heck of a lot. Sparks will fly, things will get broken, and we may finally get to see about half the competing robots work properly. Maybe. But don’t take my word for it, take it from the BattleBots social media team, who promise us “some of the best fights in BattleBots history”, as well as an incredible main event. Hopefully this will make up for all the divisive battles that have split the fandom, and builders, straight down the middle five episodes into airing. And if it’s all a bunch of lies, then prepare for the comments section to be doused in kerosine and promptly set ablaze.
Following on from last week’s pretty astounding 6/7 predictions score (curse that f*cking bike ra- no, we’re not going there today), here’s hoping for another rip-roaring showing this week. On paper, I’ve had an easier time with who I think will win this week, but, as well all know in this sport, three minutes in the ring can lead to anything. So knowing my luck it’ll be a solid 0.
Rotator vs Valkyrie
We’re starting the show this week with a belated November 5th display between two almost inseparably even bots, Rotator and Valkyrie. I say that because all we’ve been teased from this fight is a light show big enough to rival a Stockport v West Ham game (trust me, non-football watchers, that’s a good gag), and I’m pretty sure this will be one of the teased fights that falls into the “pretty f*cking insane” category.
Rotator comes into the fight still reeling from its “controversial” loss to Beta with an 0-1 record, whilst Valkyrie has had a near opposite turn of fortune, somehow claiming a win over Tantrum despite spending almost the entire match being bullied about and having its skull caved in. Regardless, it’s a tough one to call. As I mentioned, both are pretty even bots, with similar weapons, and a kinda similar design. Ultimately though, I think this comes down to weapon durability, and there’s way more evidence to suggest that Rotator’s weapon will hold up against Valkyrie’s than the other way around. We saw that a few slams from Tantrum was enough to disable the undercutter of Leanne Cushing’s bot, whereas Rotator’s weapon took endless punishment from Beta in its opening fight, and still worked fine at the end of it. And there’s more evidence yet from its showing in Bounty Hunters that it’s a real force this year.
And that’s why Rotator gets the nod for me. I think it’ll most likely set up with its’ steel end to deflect away Valkyrie’s hits, disable the disc, and go in for the kill. Maybe with the double disc set-up if Valkyrie proves to be too high off the ground. Whatever happens, the real winners will probably be us, the fans. Sparks will fly, s*it will go down, we’re in for a wild ride.
Extinguisher vs Gigabyte
Not exactly a match-up I saw coming, but given Gigabyte’s dire need of a win after its poor excuse of a performance against Copperhead, I can see why we’re getting it.
That’s not to put all my proverbial eggs into one basket, though. Extinguisher has a pretty tough front to it, which, if it actually works, could be able to stand up to Gigabyte and maybe deal a bit of damage to it. But this doesn’t seem likely to me, especially after a one-hit KO against Perfect Phoenix didn’t exactly highlight the little red fire truck at the best of its abilities. If Gigabyte arrives in full working order, this should be a straight forward victory, a few shots to the tyres and front doing the job. Something tells me it won’t be that easy on paper, but I’m obliged to go with my gut in the name of big spinny things.
Long live the spinnah.
Slap Box vs Sharko
A potential wild card for “fight of the night”, especially when you consider both bots have done approximately f*ck all this season, but this bout definitely has some big robo energy hiding away in it.
Now, to say that Slap Box has done “f*ck all” this season might be a tad harsh, considering its debut bout was against none other than f*cking Tombstone. It’s just a figure of speech, after all, but it still didn’t really do a lot. More than Sharko, though, which lost a wheel after approximately five seconds against SMEEEEEEEEEEEEE and spent the rest of the fight being tediously picked apart. While it’s fantastic (or… fintastic, heheh) to see Ed Robinson back for one last ride in the box, I don’t think it’ll make it through this fight. Slap Box definitely showed a vague bit of potential against Tombstone, and, if I remember correctly, we saw the shark en route to being suplexed by this very bot in a promotional trailer.
Personally, while I’m sure Sharko will put up a respectable showing, I’d expect Slap Box to control the pace of the fight, get a few good slams and lifts in, and ultimately be the bot here that makes it to 1-1.
WINNER: SLAP BOX
Mad Catter vs Malice
When the BattleBots gang announced that there would be some of the best fights in history in this episode, my eyes were instantly drawn to the middle event. Though anything’s a step up from what we saw last week in this spot.
We’ve got two teams looking to go 3-0 for the season, all but confirming a spot among the very best for the top 32. It’s not a match-up I’d have thought I’d be saying this about at this point in the season, but here we are. Mad Catter has certainly had more conviction in its wins and (mostly) appears to be a pretty durable bot. Malice meanwhile has ground its way to 2-0, courtesy of a demolition job on Axe Backwards, and an edgy split decision win over Shatter. I don’t think this will be a foregone conclusion, but my instinct is to go with Mad Catter.
I’m still not entirely won over by Malice in all honesty. Don’t get me wrong, it’s weapon is powerful as f*ck, but I just think the design and build still look as though it may fall apart after one big hit too many. If Mad Catter went in with their spinner setup, I’d go so far as to say this would be an easy win for them. However, Martin “the Megalodon” Mason and his wily gang of misfits have graciously/foolishly decided to make this fight more interesting by going in with their flaming hammer configuration. Why? Well officially, they want to “avenge their friend Shatter” and “prove that hammer bots can actually win”. An interesting line to take, seeing as Beta, as well as Shatter, the bot it’s supposedly avenging, have both already won fights this season. Unofficially, my guess is that they want to try out new weaponry now that their bot is all but through to the top 32, and see what would work best to carry them forwards.
I still think they’ll have enough to do Malice in, but Malice may well have put some extra armour on after losing the weapon belt from Shatter’s axe. I think some heavy impacts on Mad Catter’s wedge will ultimately prove its undoing, but this really could swing either way. Just expect some things to get broken in the process.
WINNER: MAD CATTER
Atom #94 vs Tantrum
This isn’t one I’d have put down as “predictable” in the build-up to this season, so imagine my surprise when I took a look at the card and thought this fight was the easiest of the lot.
Both bots go into the battle at 0-1, having had majorly contrasting opening fights. Tantrum, as mentioned previously, bossed Valkyrie about for 2 minutes before deciding it’d had enough and packed itself in in the middle of the box. In almost the exact opposite circumstance, Atom #94 essentially decided to f*ck about for a bit against Big Dill, before being shunted about the arena and losing spectacularly on a judges’ decision. It didn’t exactly do anything to convince me this would change from its Bounty Hunters appearance either. It might be a bit ballsy to base this fight exclusively on the duo’s previous fights, but I think this is one for Tantrum to make amends for its cheap opening loss and take advantage of the struggles Atom #94 has been having.
It might prove to be a pretty tight affair, but my money’s on Tantrum for this one.
Pain Train vs SMEEEEEEEEEEEEE
Just before the supposed spectacular main event, we’ve gotta jump through the burning ring of fire and endure a robot that barely worked in its opening fight against another that did work, but had about as much energy as a Death Cab for Cutie song.
In fairness, this fight actually has a lot more pedigree than meets the eye, as it turns out, with both being upgrades of two quality bots from the beetleweight circuit. SMEEEEEEEEEEEEE is, well, a bigger SMEEEEEEEEEEEEE, but with a series of hinged wedges and undercutter spinners, whilst Pain Train is an upgrade of Team Shreddit’s bot Shreddit Bro. The only fight I’ve found of the two beetleweights fighting each other resulted in SMEEEEEEEEEEEEE winning after Shreddit Bro’s spinner became entangled with loose stickers from the wedge of its comparatively large opponent.
Somehow I don’t think that’s going to happen, but I do think the overall outcome will be the same. Pain Train looked woefully unconvincing in its loss to SlamMow, so unless the team have gone away and ironed out the flaws in its game, I can’t really see it doing anything to Joe Fabiani’s insane wedge. I don’t see it having the torque or power to do any real damage to the wedge, and the drive didn’t look reliable enough to get any hits round the back where the real damage would be done. I think the fight will probably be reflective of the image below; SMEEEEEEEEEEEEE constricting Pain Train, taking little nicks out of it, and ultimately winning. I know the promotional images are never the best thing to predict an outcome by, but I’m pretty confident with this one.
SawBlaze vs Uppercut
And now folks, we have arrived. Two bots from MIT, responsible for two of the best performances of the season so far, head-to-head for a chance to move to 2-0, and all but guarantee themselves a seeding of epic proportion in the top 32. Fasten your seatbelts, it’s gonna be a rocky one.
I never thought I’d be saying this, considering I thought Uppercut would be lucky to get into the top 32 this season, but this is almost too close to call. It’s almost as if both designs counteract each other. SawBlaze has a good enough driver in Jamison Go to keep Uppercut away from its back and wheels, but were it to go head on, weapon to weapon, the reach and power of Uppercut’s weapon would still most likely cause some pretty serious damage. Because SawBlaze seems the more vulnerable of the two (in my eyes at least), I’m actually going to punt for Uppercut on this one. Yes, I was skeptical of it at the start of the series, no, we won’t see a repeat of its fight against Gemini, and yes, outside of Bite Force, which it was resoundingly beaten by last season, this is its first real test of top quality opposition. Like, SawBlaze could easily win the whole thing this season, and its performance against Whiplash just showed what it can do.
This is gonna be close, chaotic, spectacular, and most likely a classic example of who’s face holds up better against the others’ fist. But, because Uppercut is more likely to win the damage battle, I’m just about giving it to Uppercut. May the universe have mercy on me.
Phew, well that’s a relief. I can’t wait for this episode to air, and to hopefully put our minds at rest about the selection of nonsense we’ve had to tolerate for the past few weeks. This episode still begs some interesting questions, such as why we’re seeing Mad Catter and Malice complete their schedules over seeing bots that we’ve only seen once, such as Gruff, Hypershock, Whiplash, and, most criminally of all, Rusty. Hopefully they’ll all be back next week once we’ve recovered from the thrill of too much sparks.
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Thanks for reading everyone, and if you survive this week’s episode, see you again soon.