BattleBots 2020: Episode 9 in Review

Good evening my dear comrades, and welcome to another belated review of everyone’s favourite currently ongoing robotic combat television show. That’s right, it’s BattleBots 2020, and today it’s the turn of episode nine. Now, yes, I know what you’re thinking – by the time this review goes out, we’ll have already seen episode ten and discovered who’s going to be in the top 32. I’m fully aware of this. But, since episode eight’s review came out yesterday, you can tell I’ve been a bit behind with the upload schedule. It’s been a bit of a rough couple of weeks.

However, we’ll just try and pretend like we don’t know who the top 32 are and just enjoy some inane ramblings from an episode that’s probably already been long forgotten about. If that’s okay with you. As a reminder, this episode featured a whole host of bots fighting for their lives to snatch a spot in the tournament – Shatter, Captain Shrederator, Gruff, and a whole host of others, most notably last season’s runners-up, Witch Doctor, as well as a cracking main event between Black Dragon and Copperhead. Episode eight yielded a solid 5-2 score for yours truly, but this promised to be one of the toughest ones to predict since the opening weeks of the season. And I was all there for it.

Let’s check out what happened.

Shatter vs Captain Shrederator 

That’s officially the last time I put my faith in Captain Shrederator. We’ve barely even started the review and already I’m at 0-1.

I went with Shrederator mostly on the basis that they looked to have solved their reliability issues in their fight against Axe Backwards. It was a tough call, with both bots at 1-1 and having it all to play for. And in fairness, for the first minute and a half, my gamble appeared to be working. Shrederator kept teasing Shatter with some cute little jabs before landing a couple of big hits, on one occasion turning Adam Wrigley’s bot clean over. But, lo and behold, a minute and a half in, the stars and stripes start smoking. Just like the simulations. 

From then on, it was Shatter’s to lose, and they went complete ham on their opponent, landing blow after blow to the top of, what was at this point, a broken frisbee. Their plan had been to absorb the hits with their front plough and then go to work with the hammer, and they pulled it off to perfection.The Captain started smoking, its top looking akin to that of Detonator when it fought Frenzy all those years ago, and only just made it to the buzzer as the fight completely turned around. Shatter claimed the decision, and Brian Nave’s boys were left to wonder what might have been.

*Insert relevant MC Hammer lyrics here*

For Shrederator, it’s another year without top 32 action, and they can go home and try again for next year. As for Shatter, they all but confirm a spot in the bracket, and Adam Wrigley can finally let his hair down. 

Claw Viper vs Gigabyte 

In a surprise turn of events, the BattleBots social media team managed to out-do themselves by getting the running order wrong. This fight was billed as third on the card, but instead second and third were swapped around, meaning this week’s fight card not only brought us Captain Shed in Feburary, but this doozy as well. If you’re a supporter you’ll understand. 

I really wish I hadn’t put my faith in Claw Viper’s ability to box rush successfully, because, in the words of the team, it “drove like ass”. It went for the box rush, completely missed, and then Gigabyte went to town with no apologies. It was great seeing Matt Maxham back after all these years, and the show he put on was phenomenal. There was a scare when Gigabyte flew about four feet up into the air, but it came back down to rip the back wheel off of Claw Viper, rendering it all but useless. 

It’s a shame for the Claw Viper team, who burst out of the traps this season with an awesome win over HiJinx, but now, with a 1-2 record, look like they’ll be outside of the top 32. As for Gigabyte, it’s been a fantastic recovery from their opening fight, and they’ll be hoping for a respectable seeding come the top 32.

*insert generic Gigabyte UFO joke here*

HiJinx vs Chomp 

Onto fight three (or two, however you want to look at it), and this was one that the fans couldn’t seem to agree on. For every comment saying HiJinx would eat away at Chomp’s legs with the undercutter, there was another suggesting Chomp could withstand the hits and immobilise HiJinx with the hammer. I went with the former, and I’m really glad I did.

I don’t know if it was the additional armour, the power of the weapon, the quality of Orion Beach’s driving, the fact that Chomp isn’t that quick (to put it nicely), or all of the above, but from the outset this was HiJinx’s fight. They bided their time and took the shots at the right moment, waiting for Chomp to swing with the hammer, duck under the bot and take the legs out from the other side. It was a virtuoso driving display, and one that resulted in HiJinx being totally dominant and leaving Chomp static in the corner with its legs caved in.

In a battle of two bots at 1-1, HiJinx made a dominant statement for a late spot in the top 32. For Chomp, as it was revealed it managed to somehow lose to f*cking Ghost Raptor, it may look cool and be an awesome bit of engineering, but its hopes for the tournament look all but dashed for now. Oh, and I finally get a win to my name, whoopee. 

Are there any owl Pokemon of the fire variety?

SlamMow vs Witch Doctor 

It’s hard to believe that it was SlamMow that went into this fight at 2-0, and last year’s runners-up Witch Doctor, two-time receivers of the Hexbug toy treatment, enter with an 0-2 record after looking off the pace with their disc being woefully unreliable. They needed a big win here to have any shot at making the tournament, and boy did they deliver.

After working tirelessly through the nightto craft and weld a whole new disc for themselves, with a little bit of help from the one and only Al Kindle, Witch Doctor was ready for action and went straight to work on Craig Danby’s bot. I was a bit surprised SlamMow wasn’t set up with the front wedge, and though I understand what they were going for, it ended up backfiring horribly as Witch Doctor, who didn’t even have time to paint their new weapon, sliced one of the suplex arms in half, made inroads on the middle section, and capped it all off by taking out one side of SlamMow’s drive. And then, just to prove how well the new disc can hold up, Mike Gellatly took Witch Doctor for a spin into the arena wall, not once, but twice. Tactical driving, I tell you. Besides, SlamMow was already out for the count, so you may as well go and destroy the arena while you wait. 

And with that, Witch Doctor appear to have saved their season, and look back to their best, ready to take on the big boys again. For SlamMow, a 2-1 record should just about still see them through, even if they did take a beating.

All in all it’s just another witch in the wall

Gruff vs Extinguisher 

With my predictions finally starting to gather some momentum, we turn now to the fight that I, and many other people, were most confident about. Gruff hasn’t had the easiest of seasons, sitting at 1-1, but it’s fought two tough bots in Whiplash and Hypershock, and that’s not the worst of records to be sitting on after that. Extinguisher meanwhile, well, it’s not really set the world alight, has it? Much like Gruff, it’s had two tough fights against Perfect Phoenix and Gigabyte, but it’s not really covered itself in glory, or done much of anything, in either of them. And it didn’t look like things were going to get any easier.

The fight started much as I expected it to, with Gruff bullying Extinguisher around the box, spending a solid minute trying to suplex it, torch it, and even flip itself over whilst the two were entangled. After a case of “nice editing, bro”, the two bots were free, Extinguisher’s new spinner having magically died after clipping the front of Gruff, and this was Sam McAmis’ for the taking. The little fire engine was totally controlled, pushed about the box, the win was there. Until…

Yes, with a minute to go, Gruff just decided to stop moving. After all that excitement, adrenaline, and overall hope, the motors gave out and left Gruff smoking in the corner. I couldn’t believe it, no one at home, or in the studio, including the Extinguisher team themselves, could believe it. Extinguisher had just gone and claimed the most unlikely of wins by doing approximately f*ck all. And therein went my prediction, up in a literal ball of smoke, and the Extinguisher team can leave the tournament happy, safe in the knowledge they claimed a win against one of the tournament’s big boys.

I guess this is how you fight fire with fire – even upside down

What this means for the top 32 is anyone’s guess, but the result sure does make things interesting. 

Atom #94 vs Perfect Phoenix 

The battle of Ray Billings’ apprentices. As the master stands from the shadows, draped in the colours of death, knowing only one will emerge victorious and gain his everlasting respect, who would the King of Kinetic Energy be routing for in this one?

Well, sadly he made that pretty clear by spending the whole fight over the shoulder of Perfect Phoenix’s driver, Tyler Nguyen, which I get he has a moral obligation to do, but it makes things less interesting. And his influence became abundantly clear about ten seconds into the fight as Atom #94’s drum spinner was disabled after approximately one hit, and it never really had a chance to get going. Even after, on separate occasions, Perfect Phoenix yeeted itself halfway across the box and then lost its weapon, even smoking come the fight’s end, there wasn’t really anything the boys from India/Canada could realistically do to win the fight. Ray Billings guides his apprentice to another, much-needed victory.

With Extinguisher inexplicably saving itself from becoming the first bot to go 0-3 this season, the honour now falls onto Atom #94. Who knows if it’ll find itself with other bots in such esteemed company come the end of the series. As for Perfect Phoenix, this win brings it to 2-1, and we should see it in the top 32.

The bots have really had it in for Kenny this season

Mammoth vs Deadlift 

In between the last fight and the main event, we also got a snippet of an untelevised fight between Mammoth (1-1) and Deadlift (1-0). It’s surprising we haven’t seen a whole lot of Deadlift this season, because when we have seen them they haven’t looked all that bad. Maybe this fight was just that dull, because the highlights seemed to make it out as though it was three minutes of Mammoth vaguely flailing away at its opponent, sometimes hitting them, with Deadlift finding it hard to get a grip of the giant’s awkward frame. 

Mammoth claimed the W, putting themselves at 2-1 with a solid chance of going through, especially after throwing HUGE out of the arena all those weeks ago. Deadlift, yet to make it to air, appears as though it’s lifted its last lift.

Black Dragon vs Copperhead 

And so we arrive at the main event. Two bots at 2-0, potentially eyeing up the number one seed, as they seek to end the regular season unbeaten. Black Dragon against Copperhead, a fight that promises to be as epic as it is momentous. 

After kindly freeing Copperhead from the floor by way of its egg beater, Black Dragon took a pretty hefty beating in this one. It even got chucked towards its own team, smashing into the protective glass and saving them from a horrible accident that would have prevented this show from ever airing again. Remember the days when we didn’t have protective walls around the arena? 

Anyway, Black Dragon ends up being flipped on its head, and being caught at exactly the right angle to sever its weapon belt. In a moment worthy of the “oh no” thing that’s been going around on TikTok recently, the Brazilians looked to have lost it there and then, being flung about left, right and centre by Copperhead’s deadly drum spinner. They remained aggressive throughout though, and thank goodness they did, because the more they tried to break Copperhead’s fist with their face, the more it actually started to work. Zach Goff’s bot looked to be slowing down the more the fight went on,and Black Dragon kept throwing themselves into the drum trying to break it. As valiant an effort it was, it wasn’t successful, and Copperhead took the JD. That’s why you gotta keep your weapon working, folks.

I think this is what Chris calls “getting popped six feet into the air”

Copperhead moves to a very solid 3-0, looking much improved and on course for a high seeding. We should also be seeing Black Dragon in the top 32, but they’ll be disappointed they didn’t put on more of a performance in such a crucial fight.

And that, folks, about wraps it up for another episode. I’m sure you all enjoyed this trip down memory lane, reliving the many thrills and spills last week had to offer us. It’s probably not what you’re all thinking about, given that we’ve just seen the top 32 and everyone’s losing their sh*t over P1 not making it in. As if 2020 was bad enough, 2021 is already bringing the weirdness to a whole new level. Anyway, that review is going to be out tomorrow, and oh boy do we have much to discuss. 

Until then, stay safe comrades, and have a fine day.

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