BattleBots 2020: Predictions for Episode 9

Good evening, comrades, it’s ya boi, back at it again with another round of ridiculous robot predictions to help you get through another cold, dreary Thursday. Now, we’ve been having a pretty decent amount of success at this predicting game recently, and last week was no exception, clocking in with a 5-2 record. Much to my chagrin, it turns out going against my gut instinct of Skorpios winning in favour of “look at the big f*ck off weapon” was a terrible idea, but I won’t claim any responsibility for Lockjaw deciding to be f*cking useless. It could’ve been better, but I can’t complain, because we still got some cracking fights out of the ones I got wrong.

This week, however, looks like a whole different ball game. After a couple of weeks where the fight cards have looked annoyingly easy to predict (on the whole, that is), we’ve got seven fights that will probably shape most of the top 32, and for like, four of them, I’m stumped. I saw the line-up, I’ve stared at it and mulled over it for days on end, and I’m still struggling to come down on a winner for the majority of them. I can’t imagine this being a particularly high-scoring week for your humble narrator, but at least if I’m wrong you can take great pride in mocking me.

Let’s get into it.

Shatter vs Captain Shrederator 

Kicking things off and – yup, I’m stumped. To start the night we’ve got two bots on the periphery of the top 32 as things stand, with both sitting at 1-1 records. Shatter has been absent for a while after a controversial loss to Malice, whilst Shrederator’s measured decapitation of Axe Backwards remains fresh in the memory.

I’ve seen a lot of people put their money on Shatter for this one, but personally, I’m not all that convinced. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big fan of Adam Wrigley’s shuffling sledgehammer (not least because of the football aesthetic and their awesome YouTube content), and with their hammerhead welded firmly back on they do have the ability to easily win this fight. What I’m more concerned with is their ability to withstand the powerful hits of Captain Shrederator. Shatter doesn’t have the capacity for an effective box rush due to its omni-wheel design, and if it hits Shrederator at the wrong angle then a repeat of what happened against Malice is fully on the cards. 

Brian Nave and the boys also looked on top form in their last fight. Yes, there’s a massive step up in quality from Axe Backwards to Shatter, but if they’re as controlled and damaging as they were last time, and if the robot holds up (which is a big if), they’ve got an equally good chance of winning. They could also get a couple of lucky shots to the underbelly if Shatter mistimes a shot with the hammer and goes flying into the air.

Lookin’ a bit bare there, Shatter

My concern is that Shatter won’t have an opportunity to use its hammer effectively, and in the event Shrederator were to go hockey-pucking across the arena after a big impact, Shatter won’t be quick enough, or will already be incapacitated, to do anything about it. This is a very tough one, and I’m not wholly convinced I’m making the right call, but my gut is telling me to controversially pick the stars and stripes for this one.

WINNER: CAPTAIN SHREDERATOR

HiJinx vs Chomp

After that bout of mechanical existentialism, we move on to… another bout of mechanical existentialism. It’s the cracking hooting sensation that is the owl-themed HiJinx up against the walking death turret of Chomp. Two bots we haven’t seen a whole lot of this season, with HiJinx at 1-1 after an untelevised flipping of Tracer, whilst Chomp hasn’t been since it whacked Gamma 9 into submission.

There are a lot of interesting questions this fight raises, and it’s kinda hard to take all of them into account. For example, how effective will Chomp’s hammer be against a robot with such a narrow build? Can HiJinx get to the legs before Chomp can land a blow on it? Just how hard is that protective metal round the legs anyway? It throws a whole lot up into the air, and at this point I’m left to question more than just this fight.

HiJinx does have a slow spin-up time on the blade, but given that we’d be here until Christmas if Chomp decided it was going to dictate the tempo of the fight, I shouldn’t think that would be an issue. It’s really a question of who hits hardest, and while HiJinx might not be the most maneuverable bot there is, I do think it’ll be able to get to the legs of Chomp and avoid any major damage from the hammer, leaving its hulking opponent to hobble about a bit until its counted out. Either that or one hit from the hammer will leave HiJinx conked out. 

I think this might be bait

WINNER: HIJINX

Claw Viper vs Gigabyte

Yeah I’m struggling on this one too. F*ck me they’re not making it easy this week, are they? 

We’ve got another two bots at 1-1 at the lower end of the top 32, both responsible for one awesome win and spectacular defeat each. Claw Viper box-rushed HiJinx into last Wednesday before being set on fire by Black Dragon, whilst Gigabyte recovered from being decapitated by Copperhead to claim a win against Extinguisher. The playing field has been well and truly leveled. 

I’ve seen a lot of people online say that this is an easy win for Gigabyte after its return to form against the hammer-wielding firetruck. Except a win over Extinguisher isn’t really a lot of evidence for anything is it? Sure, it shows the power of the weapon, but it’s not much of a test. And anyone who saw Claw Viper’s speed and control against HiJinx will probably know that Gigabyte is in for a similarly tough showing. A showing I think it will ultimately lose if the Viper gets its game plan right. A box rush, some tactical hits with the wedge to slow Gigabyte down, and then maybe even flip it over with its lifter. Maybe I’m an optimist, but this is one I’m sticking my neck out on.

Look I did the predictions before I saw this picture don’t @ me

WINNER: CLAW VIPER

SlamMow vs Witch Doctor 

If you were told before the start of the season that one of these bots was 2-0 and the other was 0-2, which would you pick? Last year’s runner-up that has consistently made the knockout tournament and earned itself two Hexbug toys in the process, or an experimental “suplex machine” from the mastermind behind Foxic and Predator?

Yeah, it’s been a weird ol’ season. SlamMow quietly moved to 2-0 last week, adding War? EZ! to its list of victims, whilst Witch Doctor has been stuck on 0-2 since its gruelling defeat against Kraken a few weeks back. It’s weapon has looked shaky and unreliable, breaking twice on direct impact, leaving it in the unprecedented position of having its top 32 hopes hang in the balance.

Despite the polar opposite records the bots have, I think this is a chance for Witch Doctor to make a much-needed statement against a new opponent that hasn’t faced an elite bot before. While I think SlamMow could get a couple of good lifts in if it’s lucky, the benefit of Witch Doctor having a srimech will be the ultimate decider here. If it can survive a couple of lifts, I think it’ll get to work and dish out some tasty hits – if the team have ironed out the issues with its drum. 

Witch Doctor comes in- AND AN RKO OUTTA NOWHERE

Overall, this should be a solid win for the Gellatly crew. But imagine if Witch Doctor ends at 0-3! Or, more importantly, SlamMow ends on 3-0!

WINNER: WITCH DOCTOR

Gruff vs Extinguisher 

Time for a fight I’m pretty sure was chosen purely because of the puns. World’s mightiest flamethrower meets a fire engine. I bet whoever came up with that one was super proud of themselves.

Thankfully this isn’t one of those fights I spent long dwelling over. Gruff hasn’t had an easy time of things this season but still has a very respectable 1-1 record to its name. Extinguisher, on the other hand, sits at 0-2, and doesn’t look like cracking the top 32 any time soon, even if it also hasn’t has the easiest run-in this season. 

Essentially, this is Gruff’s to lose. A chance to fully propel itself toward the upper echelons of the championship bracket against a bot that won’t really pose much of a threat, even with a spinner attached to it instead of the axe. I don’t really see any outcome other than a fiery end for the truck, to be honest.

this is fine

WINNER: GRUFF

Atom #94 vs Perfect Phoenix 

The penultimate entry for this week sees the battle of the Ray Billings School for Technically-Gifted Newbies – in one corner it’s Perfect Phoenix, and in the other it’s Atom #94. Again, whoever thought of this must’ve been really proud of themselves. 

It’s been two wildly contrasting tales for these two so far. Perfect Phoenix sits at 1-1, and while we haven’t seen it set the world alight, its one-hit KO on Extinguisher bodes well for its top 32 hopes. Atom #94, on the other hand, hasn’t really done much of anything so far this season, proving to be fodder for Big Dill and Tantrum. And it’s not going to get any easier for them here.

As Ray Billings watches from the corner in a dark cloak, surrounded by mist and doing his best not to pick a side, Perfect Phoenix is probably going to split Atom #94 in half. Nothing about the bot this season has convinced me that it’s stable or reliable enough to handle the hits Perfect Phoenix can dish out. To me, this looks like a solidification of a top 32 spot for the Phoenix, and a slump to 0-3 for the Atom.

Did Perfect Phoenix shrink or something?

WINNER: PERFECT PHOENIX

Black Dragon vs Copperhead

And now, the final curtain. And what a fight it’s falling over. Two unbeaten bots, two of the best drum spinners in the competition, one awesome showdown. In the closest thing we’re going to get to an international stand-off this season, it’s the Brazilian Black Dragon up against Copperhead from the good ol’ U-S-of-A.

If you’d have presented me with this fight during pre-season, I’d have said this looks like an easy win for Black Dragon, hands down. But in this strange and unpredictable world that we’re currently living in, Copperhead has since emerged as one of the most powerful bots in the whole tournament, putting doubters to shame with a couple of epic KO’s. And I think it’ll claim another scalp and be the one to move to 3-0 here.

I still love the aggressiveness of Black Dragon, and think they’ll be in the top half of the bracket come tournament time. But not only have they looked a bit cautious in their opening two fights, but it looks to me like there’s more for Copperhead to get at with their weapon than vice versa. It’s one that could easily swing at the hit of a drum, but that’s what I’m punting.

*boom* *boom* *boom* another drum bites the dust

WINNER: COPPERHEAD

Well, there we are folks, another week of predictions done and dusted. Hope you had as much fun as me predicting this episode, because it feels like my head is about to shut down from all the stress it’s given me. Whatever happens, hopefully it’ll be an episode full of sparks, destruction, and me being satisfied when my controversial choices come to fruition. For once.

Thanks for reading, comrades, and see you soon for some reviews. 

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