BattleBots 2020: What the Top 32 Should Look Like

Good evening, comrades, and welcome to a sort-of-special edition of this website’s most beloved series, the power rankings. Yes, even though the top 32 seedings have all been revealed, are all done and dusted, there’s still plenty to discuss.

For you see, the top 32 hasn’t been without its fair share of controversy, as you would probably expect from a series that’s had its issues regarding certain fights in recent times. There’s plenty to discuss in terms of questionable placements, who should be seeded first, and whether certain teams deserve to be there at all. It’s pretty wild, and the internet seems to agree with me. 

For this power ranking, things will be a little bit different. Firstly, you’ll see my final power rankings, based on how I feel each bot has performed this season, and then we’ll look at six points of discussion that the official rankings have brought us. Can you tell that I’m unemployed?

Without much further ado, here’s the list of official rankings compared to mine:

Official Rankings
1. Hydra (3-0) 
2. Bloodsport (3-0) 
3. Copperhead (3-0) 
4. Uppercut (2-1) 
5. Black Dragon (2-1) 
6. End Game (2-1) 
7. SawBlaze (2-1)
8. Whiplash (2-1) 
9. Valkyrie (2-1) 
10. Skorpios (2-1)
11. Jackpot (3-0) 
12. Mad Catter (3-0)
 13. Beta (3-0)
14. Lockjaw (2-1)
15. Fusion (2-1)
 16. Malice (2-1) 
17. Gigabyte (2-1)
18. Tantrum (2-1) 
19. Shatter (2-1) 
20. Ribbot (2-1)
21. Tombstone (1-2)
22. Rotator (1-2)
23. Witch Doctor (1-2)
24. SubZero (2-1)
25. HUGE (1-2)
26. Kraken (1-2)
27. Perfect Phoenix (2-1) 
28. SlamMow (2-1)
29. HiJinx (2-1)
30. Mammoth (2-1) 
31. Gruff (1-2)
32. Hypershock (1-2)
My Rankings
1. Bloodsport (3-0) +1
2. Hydra (3-0) -1
3. Copperhead (3-0) =
4. Uppercut (2-1) =
5. Jackpot (3-0) +6
6. End Game (2-1) =
7. Whiplash (2-1) +1
8. Mad Catter (3-0) +4
9. Skorpios (2-1) +1
10. SawBlaze (2-1) -3
11. Black Dragon (2-1) -6
12. Beta (3-0) +1
13. Valkyrie (2-1) -4
14. Lockjaw (2-1) =
15. Tantrum (2-1) +3
16. Malice (2-1) =
17. Gigabyte (2-1) =
18. SubZero (2-1) +6
19. Kraken (1-2) +7
20. Ribbot (2-1) =
21. Fusion (2-1) -6
22. Perfect Phoenix (2-1) +5
23. Shatter (2-1) -4
24. Rotator (1-2) -2
25. Witch Doctor (1-2) -2
26. HUGE (1-2) -1
27. Tombstone (1-2) -6
28. Gruff (1-2) +3
29. Hypershock (1-2) +3
30. HiJinx (2-1) -1
31. Mammoth (2-1) -1
32. SlamMow (2-1) -4

So I think the main thing to note here is that I actually think the robots that made the top 32 are the right ones! Like, right down to the wire. We can even agree on one of the fights, that Malice and Gigabyte are placed in exactly the right spots to face each other, as well as five other bots in the exact same rankings.

However, since something like this is inherently subjective and left in the hands of the mysterious selection committee, there will of course be discrepancies in the final rankings, and plenty of things that people have had no hesitation in voicing their anger over. Some things that I initially thought were surprising, borderline bullsh*t even, I’ve since come around to. Seeing Beta in 13th was a massive surprise at first, but having put my final rankings together I can understand the decision. Can I understand why Kraken and SubZero are lower than where I would put them? Yes, I can, even if I feel they should be ranked higher. And can I live with Valkyrie being in the top 10 even though I think they should be just outside it? I can, I’m not that fussed about it.

There are, however, some more noticeable “issues” with the top 32 that I feel can’t really be ignored, either through my own personal biases, the anger of the fans, or the committee deciding they were going to be genuinely difficult. I’ve highlighted six topics of conversation to address, so before I get bogged down in too much of a classic tangent, let’s talk about these things in a respectable and friendly manner.

1. Top spot

To me this isn’t a major issue, but I know that Hydra being given the number one seed has had a Marmite-type reaction among the fans. People are either hailing it as the tournament favourite and the undisputed choice for top spot, or are still salty about it beating HUGE with a bike rack. 

Now, I’m not really that fussed about Hydra being the top seed, because it’s totally justifiable. In fact, I think the top four are pretty much bang on. I’d personally have Bloodsport top and Hydra in second place, but I’m not going to start eating an internal combustion engine over it. Yes, you can barely describe Hydra beating HUGE as a fight, but chucking last year’s runners-up, followed by probably the most feared weapon in the whole tournament, ten feet into the air without much of a response, is pretty f*cking impressive. My justification for Bloodsport to be top is that it managed impressive KO’s over Skorpios and End Game, two bots that ended up in the top 10, and while its victory over Chronos wasn’t spectacular, it still showed a good level of consistency that underpinned its ability to be a true challenger for the Giant Nut. Simply put, it’s got more of a knockout factor, it still worked properly at the end of all its fights, and didn’t use any bike racks to BS their way to a win.

If anything it highlights a problem with how the fights are drawn up. Yes, there were only three for each team this year, but it hardly seems fair for the producers to say “Well, we put Hydra against better bots than you, so because we made them fight better bots we’re putting them higher than you”. Does that really make any justifiable sense? Like, I could write a whole article on this issue alone, but is it any wonder that Kraken, who had to fight Black Dragon, Witch Doctor and HUGE this season, has a worse record and subsequently lower ranking than Beta, who, after a tough fight against Rotator, was then given fights against Rusty and Grabot? Also, Kraken is too low on the list but because it finished with a losing record it feels harder to make an argument in its favour. And I only gave myself six spots.

Anyway, that aside, I can understand Hydra getting top spot even though I’d personally have them in second. There are more important things to get confused about.

2. Black Dragon in 5th

Speaking of such, I haven’t seen this issue addressed by many fans online, and I love Black Dragon as a robot, but I’m really struggling to see how it justifies a spot in fifth place this season. 

Yes, its victory over Claw Viper was impressive, but it was against a rookie opponent. Its defeat against Copperhead was ultimately narrow, but it was still dominated for a good two thirds of the battle, especially since it lost its weapon about thirty seconds into the fight. And there are still those, myself included, who feel like they shouldn’t have been awarded a win over Kraken to begin with, their victory ultimately being down to getting a couple of good shots in with the drum spinner, thus boosting their damage score. But or any casual viewer watching the fight, they would probably tell you that Kraken won.

As I said, Black Dragon is still a phenomenal bot that I’ve got a lot of respect and admiration for, and I think they’re likely to go on a deep run into the tournament. I don’t, however, feel like they can justifiably be put above other 2-1 bots such as Whiplash (wins over Gruff and Valkyrie, loss to SawBlaze), End Game (wins over Tombstone and Hypershock, loss to Bloodsport), and Valkyrie (wins over Tantrum and Rotator, loss to Whiplash), as well as three bots at 3-0. 

They’ve had a decent regular season, but fifth seems way too high for them in my view.

3. Mad Catter & Jackpot out of the top 10

Speaking of bots that went 3-0, how both Jackpot and Mad Catter can be ranked outside the top ten completely baffles me.

Yes, Jackpot got off to a bit of a rocky start in its debut campaign, but still claimed a win over a veteran team in SubZero, and followed that up by beating two former semi-finalists who have been around since the birth of the ComedyCentral series, in the forms of Ghost Raptor and Lockjaw. As for Mad Catter, there’s a strong case for it being the most improved bot in the field this season. It claimed a spectacular KO against Team Whyachi’s Fusion, and followed that up with wins over fan favourites Ribbot, and then the 2-0 Malice. Maybe its schedule wasn’t as gruelling as others above it, but I think it’s a sorry mark of favoritism towards the bigger teams with weaker records that have been placed above them. In my rankings, Jackpot comes in at 5th and Mad Catter at 8th. Imagine being those two teams, going a full 3-0 season and not even getting a spot in the top 10, being rewarded with fights against Rotator and Tombstone in the top 32. Especially Jackpot, whose record is even more impressive considering it was only built for $4k. 

I think both these teams have the right to feel aggrieved at being seeded so low. Which is ironic, considering both probably would’ve been happy just to get a win to their name before the season started.

4. Fusion in 15th

I get that Team Whyachi are awesome and build incredible stuff and we should all have hard-ons for incredible TECH that they bless us with, but Fusion in fifteenth seems ridiculous to me.

To rank it above more impressive bots such as Malice, Gigabyte, and Tantrum, who have all also had tougher schedules, is completely absurd, since Fusion claimed wins over two rookie bots, one made of papier maché and the other a glorified RC car, and in its only fight which had some vague semblance of a challenge to it, was set on fire after about a minute. Just a friendly reminder that their opponent from that fight, Mad Catter, sits only three places above them on a 3-0 record. Sure, its wins were spectacular without being especially testing, but you can say the exact same for SubZero, who are ranked in 24th, a whole nine places below Fusion. 

I have them ranked six places lower in 21st on my list, and to be honest I think that’s really as high as they could’ve gone.

5. Tombstone in 21st

When it comes to the 1-2 bots, specifically Tombstone, Rotator, Witch Doctor, and HUGE, there’s a lot you can say about their rankings. For example, does Witch Doctor really deserve to be ranked above Kraken after they lost to Matt Spurk’s sea beast? Do HUGE and Rotator’s performances justify their positions? And is Tombstone in 21st a little bit generous?

It’s the latter point I’ll be focusing on here. Don’t worry, this isn’t some sort of tangent about how Tombstone is overrated, has always been overrated, didn’t deserve to qualify because it doesn’t have wheelguards, etc. I like to think I’m slightly above that. It’s been a rocky road for Tombstone this season, with its only win being against rookies Slap Box, before a loss in a hard-fought loss to Skorpios, adding to being yeeted out of the arena by End Game after eight seconds.

With that being said, I think 21st spot is a bit high for it, and I personally think the victories from Rotator, Witch Doctor, and HUGE were all better than Tombstone’s against Slap Box, and I personally had it down in 27th spot. Yes, it’s a former champion and I guess pedigree has to count for something (as we’ll see in the final point), but I think it’s still a tad generous. Not something to dwell on for too long, but still something I thought was noticeable.

6. #JusticeforP1

And last but not least, the thing people can’t stop complaining about. Who’d have thought that, at the start of the season, out of all the possible robots we’d be outraged at not making the top 32, it’d be P1? The world truly has gone mad.

It’s understandable why many fans, and probably the team, feel aggrieved at not being given a spot in the top 32. After all, the 31st and 32nd seeds, Gruff and Hypershock, both finished on 1-2 records, whereas P1 ended on 2-1, its final victory over SMEEEEEEEEEEEEE being one of the most dominant performances from the tenth episode. It was a statement that needed making, and one that many feel went unrewarded.

I might be the exact wrong person to examine this, because I’ve never really been much of a P1 fanboy, nor one of its predecessor Parallax. But here goes. I get that people are confused that Gruff made the bracket, considering it somehow managed to lose to Extinguisher. My question though is: did it? It totally dominated the entire fight and only lost because of its motors burning out. Extinguisher may have the win to its name, but it did f*ck all to achieve it. And its other two fights, a tough loss to the impressive Whiplash and a decent victory over Hypershock, neither of which are exactly easy opponents to face. The fact that it claimed a win over Will Bales’ bot seems enough logic to justify it making it to the top 32 in my eyes.

As for Hypershock, it’s admittedly harder to justify. Albeit, both losses it suffered were against decent opposition, and its victory over Mammoth, a fellow top 32 inclusion, was Hypershock at its dominant best. It’s just that we only seem to get to see its best in fleeting moments. It may have a losing record, but to be honest, and this may sound harsh, but if you sat down and asked yourself who would win between P1 and Hypershock, on paper you would 100% say Hypershock. Not unless it went full speed straight into P1’s wedge and was sent hurtling out of the arena. 

It’s probably a fight we should have gotten in episode 10. If we’re being brutally honest, the producers really shot themselves in the foot by putting P1 and SMEEEEEEEEEEEEE up against each other, two 1-1 bots of a pretty questionable quality. The fact that we were going to end up with either one of them at a 2-1 record and a respectable chance at making it through was never going to end well. They really brought this heat upon themselves. 

In short, I agree with the decision to put Hypershock and/or Gruff in ahead of P1, but I can understand why people aren’t happy, and the scheduling really should have been handled better. 

And that about does it for this little ramble. I hope you all enjoyed and that no-one is too offended about what I’ve had to say here. Remember, just like the top 32 itself, it’s all a matter of opinion, so you’re entitled to disagree with my inane, muddled polemics, but just keep it respectful. At the end of the day, it’s a show about robots that fight each other that we’re getting p*ssy at to distract ourselves from the mundanity of modern-day life, and the bigger issues that face us.

In the coming days you’ll see predictions for the next episode, the first batch of top 32 ties, a review of said episode, and anything else I can think of/have time to write. Until next time, then, have a good one, comrades, and see you soon. 

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