BattleBots 2020: Predictions for Episode 7

Hey all you cool bots and comrades, it’s ya boi from The Robot Soccer League crash landing your way with another set of predictions for your reading pleasure. Last week was another near-unprecedented success as I went a staggering 5-2, succumbing only to two judges’ decisions, only one of which I feel was the correct result. But I’m not salty, and I definitely don’t feel as though my pride has been irreparably damaged. 

Following on from last week’s smattering orgasm of sparks, fire and sharks, it’s another awe-inspiring and surprising line-up, which is hopefully going to be a friendly acquaintance to me on the prediction front. Because, well, it’s not exactly as if the line-up is disappointing, far from it. But is it just me or do at least five of these fights seem… well, predictable? Obviously the beauty of robot fighting is that (within reason) anyone can beat anyone, but this almost seems the producers are trying too much to put this to the test. Who knows, maybe we’ll see some startling upsets to go along with the flying wheels, broken weapons, and hopefully another cameo appearance from SubZero’s drone.

Let the bot predicting begin.

Captain Shrederator vs Axe Backwards

On paper it’s a bit of an underwhelming way to start the night, with two bots on 0-1 going head-to-head, so I’m hoping that this is actually a fight that will go down in the annuls of history as “a surprise to be sure, but a welcome one”. That being said, this also has a Captain Shrederator win written all over it. 

It might be a bit ballsy to suggest that there’s a clear winner here, considering that these bots have a combined overall win/loss ratio 3-18, which is quite frankly abysmal. To think we couldn’t have Bite Force back this season and we got landed with these guys instead. However, whilst their combined records are about as impressive as my crowns won/games played ratio on Fall Guys, this humble narrator is of the opinion that while both are kinda useless, at least Captain Shrederator can cause damage. And on a good day, a lot of damage. It’s just in the unfortunate position of needing to finish its opponent off quickly due to its poor reliability. Which hasn’t often been the case, meaning many of its losses have been down to it being frisbee’d about until it stops working.

Axe Backwards, meanwhile, has pretty much seen it all at this point. It’s been split in half, thrown out of the arena, and most recently set on literal fire. It’s as if whenever it sets inside the box these days, its opponent comes up with a new way to destroy it. I can’t see Shrederator doing such a thing, unless it wins through death-by-patriotism, which, as we know of American TV shows, is a very real possibility. But I don’t see a way for Axe Backwards to win here. Even if it sets up with its wedge attachment, it’s proven to be such a weak sauce build so many times in the past that I think a few shots to the side from Shrederator will incapacitate Kurt Durjan’s bot. Obviously this is one of those aforementioned fights where I could be horribly wrong, but for now I have to stick with Cap’s shield for the win.

WINNER: CAPTAIN SHREDERATOR

P1 vs Copperhead

Staying in the predictability pool for now, we’ve got two bots currently at polar opposites of the spectrum. Copperhead currently sits at 1-0 after a brutal decapitation of Gigabyte, demonstrating the potential that lil’ drum spinner carries. P1, meanwhile, makes a late entry into the fray this season, with this being its first televised battle. I say “televised”, because the team have confirmed this will actually be their second fight, and we’ll be treated to a small highlight reel of their first. So for all we know they KO’d Tombstone in about 4 seconds, and are now one of the most feared bots in the field.

That probably isn’t the case, seeing as how we’re seven episodes in and this is the first we’ve seen of them (outside of Bounty Hunters), so I doubt this is the start of a belated run to the Giant Nut. If their first fight wasn’t important enough to be shown as part of the main broadcast, that probably doesn’t bode well for them. Especially since P1 has been pretty useless in almost every other fight we’ve seen it in so far. Yes, it looks cool, and its low ground clearance might pose a threat to Copperhead, but that’s about all I’ve got.

The age-old question of the snake vs the F1 car

Barring a lucky shot where Copperhead flies over P1’s wedge and goes careening into such a position where it can’t self-right, I’m sensing a pretty straight-forward win for Zach Goff and co. here. Expect sparks to fly and a few wheels to fall off. There’s not really much else to say.

WINNER: COPPERHEAD

Beta vs Rusty

Making it a hat-trick of “fights my four-year-old nephew could predict”, we’ve got the biggest mismatch of all. In one corner, a seasoned veteran of the game, a commanding KO in its first fight, one of the fiercest, most powerful weapons we’ve ever seen on BattleBots.

In the other corner is Beta.

In all seriousness, as incredible as Rusty is, both in concept and execution, it hasn’t got much of a hope here. Save for Beta breaking itself from using the hammer too much and knocking something loose, or setting itself on fire with its magnets (seriously, that’s a thing that can happen), this is John Reid’s fight to lose. Presumably these two were paired together to make up for the lack of good hits we saw in Beta’s win over Rotator, and now have a chance to demonstrate the awesome power of the hammer against the bot with the weakest armour in the whole field. Because life just isn’t fair sometimes.

Rusty, we love you, and seeing your win over Sporkinok will always be a moment us fans will treasure for a lifetime. It was fun while it lasted, but we’ll see you at the funeral.

WINNER: BETA

Hypershock vs Mammoth

And now, for the first real test of the episode. Marking the mid-point of this prediction extravaganza, we’ve got two of the most unpredictable bots in the whole show. Thanks for that, production team. It’s professional Peter Crouch lookalike Mammoth against glorified RC car with a spinner, Hypershock.

Both bots have had pretty contrasting starts to the season. Hypershock, which in any other timeline would be the favourite for thisslug-fest,sits at 0-1 after fizzling out to a loss against Gruff, whilst Mammoth looks to add to its stunning victory over HUGE. The cult of Will Bales behind Hypershock certainly have the conventionally better bot, boasting a phenomenal driver and a powerful weapon, and you’d think there’d be plenty for them to chew on the awkward, gangly frame of Mammoth. But that’s exactly what we thought would happen against HUGE, and look how that turned out. That’s why I’m going with Mammoth.

Yes, this might be an insane call, but I can’t help but think that in fight card full of clear wins, this is the one that’s going to throw us an upset. We’ve seen that Mammoth has been given a burst of pace this year, with quick turning making it hard to get to the vulnerable bits. Yes, Hypershock is nippy as f*ck, but I can just see Mammoth keeping its front pointed at the spinning disc, getting a few good whacks in to disable it, before we see Hypershock’s unreliable drive decide to pack it in again. I also think Hypershock’s speed could be used against it, seeing it drive up Mammoth’s flipper/launcher and turn itself over.

When there’s a fly that won’t leave you alone

Call me a mentalist, a commie utopianist if you will, but I’m gonna gamble my chances with Ricky Willems on this one. I’m not confident about it, but I’m too deep into the argument to turn back now.

WINNER: MAMMOTH

Sporkinok vs SubZero 

Aaaaaaaaaaand we’re back. Back to another fight with two kinda meh robots, but still with one the clear favourite to win.

I’m a bit disappointed that SubZero hasn’t really been given a proper test so far this season – yes, it lost to Jackpot, but that was by virtue of it suddenly breaking down than by having any real damage caused to it. And its victory over Grabot was cool and all, but it was essentially a free win. That puts it at 1-1, and now it’s back against another new and unproven bot in the form of Sporkinok, which didn’t exactly cover itself in glory in its defeat to Rusty.

If SubZero ends up doing a Malice I stg…

I don’t really expect it to cover itself in a whole lot of glory here, either. Itsdrive looks sluggish, its weapons look devoid of any real power. There’s also a lot of tasty ground clearance round the back and sides for SubZero to exploit and demonstrate how gravity works with the colourful spork. Yes, the ice-cool assassin could just as easily pack it in and break down again, but I think this fight will probably be long over before it has a chance to make that a possibility.

WINNER: SUBZERO

Tracer vs Bale Spear 

Now, to me this looks another foregone conclusion, but apparently the elders of the internet seem to disagree. Tracer comes in at 0-1 after being unceremoniously tossed over on its back by Ribbot, whilst Bale Spear makes its first appearance of the season (outside of Bounty Hunters), but for all we know it’s already standing tall at 2-0 after two off-screen wins over SawBlaze and Bloodsport.

I think that Tracer should be the obvious winner of this fight – after all, Bale Spear has never really done much of anything, seeing as it insists with sticking with the ol’ Robot Wars series 2 approach of “stick a spike at the front and lightly bump into something in the vague hope it’ll cause damage”, and Tracer does have a pretty powerful weapon attached to it, but clearly we haven’t seen the best of it yet.

FARMAGEDDON

It’s main problem is that the spinner is too high to inflict any real damage without the help of a feeder wedge. And seeing as the team have decided to designate wedge duties to the minibots, which is a pretty baffling design choice as far as I’m concerned, it’s yielded little success so far, seeing as it’s missing the crucial element of being able to reach things. However, this shouldn’t be much of an issue against Bale Spear, since it has plenty of moderately flimsy armour at a nice height to get a few good shots at. Barring something extraordinary happening, I think this is a win for Tracer. It’s not served me well in the past, but surely third time’s the charm?

WINNER: TRACER

Whiplash vs Gruff 

To round things out for the night, we’ve got two of my favourite bots going it at for three minutes in a grueling three-minute control-fest. I know, it’s everyone’s favourite judging criteria on full display for us all to see. No helpings of damage for us today, thank you. 

I was beginning to fear that Whiplash had been irreparably damaged in its clash with SawBlaze in the opening fight of the season, it had been so long since the Vasquez clan had last made an appearance. But here they are, looking to avoid becoming the latest big name to fall to 0-2 against Gruff, who overcame Hypershock in their first encounter. Both bots are similar in a lot of ways – two lifters thatcancause damage but aren’t all about that, two top drivers, two very durable machines. This could easily come down to a game of chance, who can survive who’s hits for longer, who gets trapped in the more awkward place, who can recover best from being shunted around the box. This could easily be a tight, cagey, even affair that’ll result in the next in a long list of controversies we’ve had this season. But, I can’t stay on the fence here, so I’m just, only just, going to punt for Whiplash.

Taken from the music video to Kasabian’s “Fire”

There really isn’t a whole lot to separate them, but when it comes down to the nitty-gritty of it all, I think Matt Vasquez is the superior driver to Sam McAmis, and I also think that it’ll cause more damage to Gruff with its spinner than Gruff will with its flamethrower. I know I said it’s not all about the damage here, but should this go to the judges, as I think it will, it’s this humble narrator’s opinion that something like that will swing the scales in Whiplash’s favour. There’s plenty chance this’ll go the other way, but I can’t back down now. Whiplash is my pick for the Giant Nut this season with good reason.

WINNER: WHIPLASH

And that about does it for another edition of “predictions you didn’t ask for but read through anyway because you love the sh*tty content I produce”. Hopefully this is another successful week on the predictions front, although if any results were to go against my logic, as will probably happen, at least it’ll be entertaining. No-one watches BattleBots because it makes for predictable viewing, do they?

Remember good folks of the internet, The Robot Soccer League is on Twitter @robosocks14, and it’d sure be swell if you could give us a helpful follow. Or e-mail at therobotsoccerleague@gmail.com, I swear I don’t bite.

Thanks for reading comrades, and happy bot battling. 

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