Good afternoon, comrades, and welcome to the thing you’ve all been waiting for – at long last, it’s time to take a look at episode ten of BattleBots 2020. The final episode of the regular season, eight bots at 1-1 looking to consolidate a spot in the top 32, a whole lot to get through and so little time to do it in. To be honest, we pretty much knew the top 32 going into this (at least we did if you’ve been keeping score through meticulously-produced power rankings on a weekly basis), so to me this was more an episode to determine who would sit where in the rankings. But I don’t smoke the same funky sh*t the mysterious selection committee do, and regardless, this episode promised a whole load of entertainment. It also promised us P1 vs SMEEEEEEEEEEEEE, which made me question what it was we’d done to deserve this.
Last week’s episode yielded a 4-3 score for yours truly on the predictions front, mostly down to Gruff deciding to pack it in after completely dominating Extinguisher. I was sincerely hoping there’d be none of that this week, no unnecessary messing with the top 32 I had laid out pre-air, an opportunity to try and gain the ability to say that I well and truly “called it” this week. But with so many epic match-ups, it’s very easy to make mistakes. As we all do in life.
Let’s see if I made any this week.
Uppercut vs Hydra
Here’s one straight off the bat. No time to get into the episode, we’ve already got a wrong prediction. Fantastic. A fight that promised much and did indeed deliver plenty, it was a fight between two 2-0 bots potentially vying for the number one seed spot. In the case of Uppercut, that was absolutely the case, after two incredible yeeting performances in their two fights. Hydra, in my opinion, could stake less of a claim to the top spot, because while it’s had a harder schedule, it was near-broken by the end of its fight with Witch Doctor and was lucky not to be counted out, whilst its fight against HUGE, well, we all know what happened there.
If there were any doubters about its ability, and if I’m anything to go by, there were, they were promptly silenced by a flipping spectacular display. The sacrificial Hexbug arena Uppercut brought in with it didn’t last long, and neither did their hopes of winning the fight. Or their hopes of getting a Hexbug toy for that matter. I was convinced that Uppercut would easily be able to get to the sides of the thinly-armoured Hydra and get to work dismantling it. How wrong I was to be proven. Jake Ewert put on a virtuoso driving display to keep the flipper pointed at Uppercut, constantly getting in underneath Alex Hittori’s bot and tossing it into the air. Uppercut’s weapon somehow kept working until the end, but only managed one or two small hits to Hydra’s body, and looked off-balance throughout, getting caught in the killsaws and tilting itself onto its side as it looked for the perfect angle to attack. It never came, and although Hydra looked like it was having some control issues come the end of the fight, it was a pretty easy win all things considered.
Since we discovered the top 32 at the end of the episode, I may as well confirm here that Hydra did indeed claim the top seed from Uppercut, which slipped down to a still mighty respectable fourth spot. Both are going to be ones to watch out for when their time comes in the tournament.
SawBlaze vs Rusty
I don’t really know what the point of this fight was. Yes, both bots were at 1-1 records, but these two are poles apart. SawBlaze has been one of the best, most feared contestants BattleBots has had over the past couple of seasons, while Rusty is in a whole stratosphere of its own. A mismatch of epic proportions.
SawBlaze has had a rough schedule this season, as you’d expect, but this just felt like they were being given a free pass into the top 32 here. Much like when Beta was drawn to face David Eaton’s bot a few weeks ago. A chance to go ham on poor, defenseless Rusty, who’s just here to have a good time and give others a friendly poke with his drill. SawBlaze thankfully put its circular saw on to save Rusty from getting a true hiding, but it still wasn’t a pretty sight. Sparks flew, Rusty’s arm was severed, the whole back end was caved in and covered in cuts and slices, and even when the little scrap bot looked down and out and just wanting to get the f*ck outta there, Go and co. just kept coming back for more. But, even after all that, Rusty still made it to the buzzer! It never stood a chance of winning the decision, but that’s something to be proud of, making it three minutes with one of the best bots in the field.
SawBlaze’s easy victory put them at 2-1, which earned them the seventh seed for the top 32. As for Rusty, that’s all we’ll be seeing of it for now, but it’ll be back, and in greater numbers. At least we’ll always have the SawBlaze team’s cosplay to remember it by.
Tantrum vs Gamma 9
What a night for Tantrum. Going in at 1-1, as one of the most notably improved bots in the tournament this season, this was a chance for it to storm up the rankings ladder and into the top 32. A great chance considering its opponent, the Batmobile-themed Gamma 9, has only fought once this season, and had its head bashed in by Chomp’s hammer. A chance that Tantrum seized with both fists.
From the get-go the little orange bot was totally dominant, showing us what its puncher can do when it has the chance to get going. Bits and pieces went flying off of Gamma 9, and it was so impressive to see a bot half its size shunt it about from pillar to post across the box. Tantrum only got better as the fight went on, slamming Gamma 9 into the screws and sending it hurtling onto its back. It self-righted when it was flipped over, but its drive was completely busted and was counted out with barely a second left on the clock. There’s not really much to say other than Tantrum was just brutal throughout.
A surprise entrant into the top 32, Tantrum slides in at number 18 in the seeding ladder. If only it hadn’t broken down against Valkyrie, what might have been. As for Gamma 9, this defeat left them floundering at 0-2 without any hope of making it any further. Maybe they had another fight after this, we may never know, but it matters not anyhow.
Hypershock vs End Game
One of the many 1-1 vs 1-1 ties this episode promised us, the mid-episode event promised to be a doozy. Although both had the same record, as Chris Rosemade a point of making, End Game were looking to confirm a place in the top 32, while Hypershock were looking to make sure they make it at all. End Game’s win over Tombstone has certainly done wonders for their chances, whilst Hypershock’s one victory came over Mammoth. Impressive, and maybe a bit harsh to say it’s fighting for its life, but I guess the two aren’t of a comparable calibre. The point is, both sides needed a win, and this promised to be an all-guns-blazing affair.
And it was. One that was over in about 15 seconds, but that’s the kind of heavy-hitting affair we love to see. End Game got the best of the opening weapon-to-weapon exchanges, flipping Hypershock over onto its head, before a massive hit sent it spiralling out of control towards the face of Jason Bardis and onto the screws. One more little pop was enough to seal the deal, with Will Bales looking eternally miffed as his bot lay caught on the wall, its self-righter stuck open keeping it in place. I think the highlight of the fight, though, has to be End Game toying with a bit of Hypershock shrapnel, sending it towards Kenny Florian and knocking off a piece of plastic from the outer wall, bumping into Kenny on its way. The fact Kenny spent the entire post-match interview holding onto his arm and rambling about how he could have died like he’d just been shot was honestly hilarious. Hilarious, but also a pretty stern reminder for the safety team to get the arena in check.
With that, the New Zealanders storm into the top 32 with the number 6 seed, and finally seem as though they’re getting the best out of their bot. As for Hypershock, it did receive a spot in the tournament, only just, scraping in at 32 and being left to fight Hydra in its next fight. Good luck, Will. Maybe try blinding them with all that neon you’ve got knocking about.
P1 vs SMEEEEEEEEEEEEE
When I saw the fight card, I was just left wondering why on earth we’d been given this. Yes, they’re two bots on 1-1 records, but come on, they’re not exactly the pinnacle of roboteering are they? The fact that one of these two was going to end the season on a winning record after being virtually useless throughout the entire course of the show really didn’t butter my egg roll. I was not happy boy.
Imagine my surprise, then, when this turned out to be one of the most entertaining fights of the whole episode, and that P1 actually decided to turn up for once. The lil racing car did a great job of getting in behind its big wide boi of an opponent, managing to somehow balance it on top of its flipper and carry it over to the screws, like it were an actual wrestling bout. After freeing SMEEEEEEEEEEEEE they just kept toying with them, eventually leaving them upside down and on top of the screws, summoning the count out. They also somehow managed to remove one of SMEEEEEEEEEEEEE’s undercutting bars, unbeknownst to me until they were turned turtle. Not that those weapons exactly did much anyway.
I do think SMEEEEEEEEEEEEE could work in heavyweight form, but, if it’s feasible, I would like to see it as one big wedge with a spinner in the middle, much like its beetleweight counterpart. Do away with the bendy joining wedge from this season, which I think has hindered its chances of being that effective. They fall to 1-2, and we won’t be seeing them in the top 32. The same goes for P1, despite their overall winning record and impressive final display, which several keyboard warriors have been quick to voice their frustration on. I never thought the day would come where people would be actively lobbying for P1 to be put into the top 32 of BattleBots, but I guess we’re living in that sort of a time. I have a post about the top 32 coming up, so I’ll save my opinions for then. If you can wait that long.
Grabot vs Beta
For a bot considered to be one of the best in the ‘biz, a bot deemed worthy of being hunted for a bounty, a Hexbug toy, and a grand homecoming after four years away from the show, it’s genuinely baffling why Beta has been put up against Rusty and Grabot this season. Sure, we had a pretty epic, not-controversial-at-all fight against Rotator, but where are other epic line-ups against the Tombstones, Whiplashes and End Games of the world? In a season where Kraken has had to fight three of the very best bots in the field, the fact that Beta has had two free wins to claim a top 32 spot seems laughable.
This fight went exactly as you’d expect. Grabot, whose only other fight this season saw it be tossed all over the box by SubZero, never managed to get going, and after being teased about and pushed across the box (resulting in the third time in this episode Chris and Kenny made a ‘BattleBots house tour’ joke this episode, yay us), Beta pinned Grabot in the corner and just straight up wailed on the poor thing. It didn’t look like it did much externally, which is testament to the armour Grabot put on top of it, but the sheer amount of powerful blows to its top left it smoking, down a wheel, and out for the count.
It was a prime display from John Reid’s bot, and one that seals a 3-0 record and a number 13 seed for the top 32, only out of the top 10 because of the bots its faced. If it had been given more of a challenge there’s no doubt in my mind it would be one of the top seeds. As for Grabot, it can take its flailing arms and wave us goodbye.
Valkyrie vs Whiplash
For the final fight of the regular season, closing out this emotional rollercoaster we’ve been on, is a match-up that may not have the same stakes as some of the others we’ve had in this episode, but one that promised sparks, chaos, anarchy, and much more. And that’s exactly what it gave us.
Whiplash, heading in at 1-1 and looking to secure a high ranking for the top 32, decided to do away with its spinner to give themselves as much protection as possible for when they went in for the box rush on Valkyrie. A wise move, considering Valkyrie was sitting pretty at 2-0 before the fight, and their weapon looked at its peak in their most recent fight against Rotator. And one that paid off, seeing as for every shot that Whiplash took from Valkyrie’s vicious spinner, chunks of armour came flying off. Fortunately for them, the spinner seemed to go down after about 20 seconds, leaving Leanne Cushing and co. defenseless, and at the mercy of the Vasquez clan and their impeccable driving. Parts came off of Valkyrie as it was lifted and shifted from one corner to another (and yes, we had to hear more jokes about the “BattleBots grand tour”), and although it made it to the buzzer, this was Whiplash’s fight all the way through. The fight should also be noted for the world’s quickest box rush, after about one second, sending Valkyrie flying on top of the screws and ripping off the top panel of said hazard. That sh*t was legitness.
That win put Whiplash at 2-1 and secured them a lofty eighth spot in the seedings, while Valkyrie falls to the same record and sits just behind them in ninth, meaning should both bots win their next fights, we’ll be seeing a rematch of this bout in a couple of weeks. If that’s the case, the Valkyrie gang will need to come up with a proper counter to the heavy armour and driving skill that Whiplash possesses.
And that wraps things up for another day, folks. The final regular season episode is all wrapped up in a neat little package, and at least we know who will be competing in the top 32. Whether you agree with the selections or not, whether or not you really think there should be justice for P1, it’s none of my business to comment on the matter. Oh, I can’t even say that with a straight face, that’s what this site was made for! Tuesday (or Wednesday depending on the quality) will see a nice little opinion piece on the top 32, including my final power rankings and what I would have changed. I promise it won’t be as controversial as it sounds.
Anyhow, we end the week with another solid 5-2 record, which I’ll gladly take after seeing Uppercut being flung through the air with about as much grace and elegance as a three-legged hippo on a trampoline and P1 turn in an actually decent performance. I don’t know for sure how easy/difficult the bracket will be to predict, there’s a lot of wildly varying opinions floating about online, but that’s the joy of having the likes of Tombstone, Witch Doctor, HUGE, etc all down in the bottom half of the bracket. Here’s hoping for some interesting turn-ups along the way.
Thanks for reading, comrades, and I’ll see you again soon.