Well, comrades, this is the end. After fourteen long weeks of ups, downs, side-to-sides, massive yeets, explosions, bike racks, and an unparalleled level of love for P1 of all robots, we’ve reached the end of the 2020 season of BattleBots. In so many ways this season has been the most unexpected of all – literally, since I think everyone was amazed we got this series in the first place, but also because of the sheer magnitude of upsets, nonsense and general sh*thousery that has taken place over the last few months. It’s been nothing short of sensational, and it all reaches its apex with this, the best of the best, the eight bots left who are still in with a shot at claiming the Giant Nut.
It’s safe to say that nobody expected this to be the quarter-final line up. Not at the start of the season, not last week, not ever. I had Tantrum completely written off at the start of the season, and look where that’s gotten me. It means, of course, that all predictions have become increasingly thrown off as the season has gone on, and last week’s score of 3-5 was a bitter pill to swallow. Uppercut decided to pack it in, Rotator lost on a split, Bloodsport decided to be generally useless, the usual sort of stuff that costs you points in the predictions game. But my pre-season pick for the Nut, Whiplash, is still alive and kicking, at least for now.
So what do I think this episode has in store for us? Do I still think the Vasquez clan will claim their first BattleBots title? Will Rusty come in with a steel chair at the last second and snatch it from them? All will be revealed below.
Hydra (1) vs Whiplash (8)
We may as well start with my pre-designate champion, which finds itself up against the indomitable number one seeds Hydra, seeking to keep up their reign of terror this season.
Since the bracket started, Hydra has looked near-invincible, and has landed a grand total of 26 flips over its last two fights, against Hypershock and Gigabyte respectively, which isn’t exactly an easy thing to do. They made it look easy. Add to their victories over Witch Doctor, HUGE, and Uppercut, and you have a bot which seems capable of beating everything in its path this season, with or without a bike rack. It has yet another tough match-up in the guise of Whiplash, fresh off of beating Valkyrie for the second time this season. It’s a fight between two of the best drivers in the field, and it promises to be an intriguing affair. So does my pick for the Nut still hold up?
Alas, no, it does not. When the bracket first started, I would have said Whiplash would win this tie all day long. As things have progressed, and Hydra has proven to be almost impossible to out-drive and get in underneath, the two things that Whiplash is an expert at, I’ve begun leaning more and more towards Jake Ewert and the Whyachi clan. I don’t expect this to be a KO, and the Vasquez clan have clearly anticipated a tough ground game in this one. I just don’t think it will be enough, though. I think Hydra is more likely to get another ten flips to its name and then claim a judges’ decision, like it usually does.
My sincerest apologies to the Vasquez clan, who I’m sure don’t really care about my opinions since they already know how the fight went. But I’m going flip-flop central and picking the number one seeds.
Ribbot (20) vs Black Dragon (5)
How we’ve ended up with this as a quarter-final tie is completely beyond me. On the one hand, Ribbot, for all its value as a robot, has essentially lucked its way through to this stage, after Uppercut spectacularly broke down and Beta decided to give the frog a free pass with its ridiculous armour configuration. Black Dragon, meanwhile, has looked a shadow of the bot that won me over with its aggressive driving and stupidly powerful weapon, scraping through fights, looking ponderous, and its weapon having barely any impact on proceedings. Its fight against Tombstone in the top 16, arguably the fight of the night on paper, was one of the dreariest things I’ve seen in a while. And yet, here we are, with me predicting it to move on to the semi-finals.
Honestly, there isn’t too much logic behind this one, since that usually doesn’t end well for me. But if Black Dragon can make it this far by doing approximately f*ck all, I can just see something ridiculous happening to Ribbot that stops it in its tracks. It’s not to do with how they’re fresh from being dismembered by Uppercut, since they’ll most likely be using their spare bot to save them from all the laborious repairs they’d otherwise have to do. But one or two lucky hits from Black Dragon before their weapons both go down and a pushing match ensues is sadly the most likely outcome here.
I’m thrilled that Ribbot has gone on this Cinderella run this season, through luck or through skilled judgement, but even with Black Dragon only being half the bot it was last season, I’m giving this one to the Brazilian boys.
WINNER: BLACK DRAGON
Hydra (1) vs Black Dragon (5)
Yeah, why not, let’s switch things up a bit! Usually this is where I’d hop on over to the other side of the bracket to finish up the quarters, but let’s choose our first finalist right here and now, to make a nice change of things. And, in my humble opinion, the number one seeds will be up against the number fives, which at this point we somehow have to describe as an “underdog” situation. Fix your bracket please, BattleBots.
I may have just mentioned about how Black Dragon can only go so far in this tournament when performing the way it does, and I think this will be its swan song, for this year at least. Much like I said previously, Hydra is just far too close to the ground, and I can’t see Black Dragon’s spinner having much effect on proceedings, provided Hydra can keep its flipper pointed straight at it, which Jake Ewert is oh so good at. That, coupled with Black Dragon’s high ground clearance at the back, means we should see about two or three flips before the weapon miraculously breaks, and Hydra can be free to go to town until the judges declare it the winner.
Yeah, I might have overthought this one a bit, but let’s face it, Hydra’s going to the final.
Tantrum (18) vs SawBlaze (7)
Ah, Tantrum. The little orange bot that could. It’s overcome so much this season, and has vanquished almost all before it. It’s gotten the better of Atom #94, Gamma 9, Fusion and the second seeds Bloodsport, and even in its loss to Valkyrie, it still looked like a class above its opponent. For a bot I’d completely written off at the start of the season, to see it get this far is nothing short of phenomenal.
But all good things must come to an end, and sadly, for the eighteenth seed, I think the buck stops here, against the mighty SawBlaze. As much as it pains me to say it, Jamison Go’s bot is the exact opposite of what Tantrum would want to ideally face. There’s no massive spinner to destroy, it’s hard to push around, it’s frighteningly well-controlled. There doesn’t look like a whole lot that Tantrum can do to SawBlaze, whereas when you put the wheel on the other mount, there’s a whole lot SawBlaze could do to Tantrum. I would fully expect to see Tantrum scooped up and for a few good shots to land on its vulnerable top armour.
I really wish Tantrum all the luck in the world for this one, but sadly I think a SawBlaze win is the only outcome here. Prove me wrong, though.
Shatter (19) vs End Game (6)
The final tie of the last eight to have a look at, and sadly, another one of the more one-sided ties this episode has to offer. In my delusional eyes, anyway.
I’m quite surprised that Shatter has made it this far, but take nothing away from the team, they’ve worked hard, earned a spot here on merit after a shaky start to the season, and tis clearly means a lot to them. I’m equally surprised at their opponent End Game’s success this season, overcoming most of the reliability and durability issues that have plagued them in the past. Their weapon looks as mighty as ever, and is now capable of sending Tombstone and Hypershock flying out of the arena. It’s for that reason that I have them down as clear favourites for this one.
Even with the abomination of an End Game the team have decided to send into the arena for this one, I’m not convinced that Shatter will be able to have much of an impact with its hammer as their team would like, even if they go with their pronged configuration again. I think two or three big shots from End Game will ultimately prove dividends, barring a one in a million shot where Shatter lands a perfect blow to End Game’s weapon belt(s) and then just completely wails on it for three minutes. That’s a really nice dream to have, and part of me really wants it to happen. Sadly, though, this is more likely to be a boring win for the higher seed than another stunning upset. Sorry, Shatter team. I hope we can talk about footy together some day.
WINNER: END GAME
SawBlaze (7) vs End Game (6)
So, fighting it out for the right to call themselves “Champion of the Right-Hand Side”, it’s number six vs. number seven, the USA vs. New Zealand, SawBlaze vs. End Game. Provided this is the fight we get, what a fight it promises to be.
This is one instance of the ground game being where the fight will be won and lost. SawBlaze will look to scoop up End Game and land some nice shots to the top of it, whilst End Game will most likely come in with its wedgelets and look to his SawBlaze round the sides. There really isn’t much to split these two, and honestly it’s too hard for me to split them, or decide which outcome is more likely. They’re both vastly improved from when they met all the way back in 2018. I’m gonna have to play a game of Russian Roulette to decide who’s going to meet Hydra in the final, and I’m just about leaning toward SawBlaze.
As I said, this really could go any number of ways. But SawBlaze is, in my eyes, more likely to score a good shot round the back of End Game, than End Game is to land a killer shot to SawBlaze’s more vulnerable sides. Honestly, I just don’t know how this would play out, but I have to pick a winner. On a mental split, it’s SawBlaze for me.
Hydra (1) vs SawBlaze (7)
So, this is what it all comes down to. My hypothetical final sees apparent champions-elect Hydra against perennial near-misses SawBlaze. Who wins? You decide. No, actually, that’s a lie, I decide. Or predict. They’d actually decide.
Anyway,does Hydra and team Whyachi claim the Giant Nut in my hypothetical universe? Well actually, no, they don’t. For whatever reason I keep having visions of Jamison Go and his team lifting the Giant Nut, and to be honest I can’t question my visions. In terms of how things would actually pan out in a fight, I think SawBlaze is one of the few bots that can outdrive Hydra, get to its more vulnerable side armour and cause damage. We’ve seen already this season that Hydra can begin to look a bit wobbly when it on its sides, specifically near the back, and SawBlaze is just the kind of bot that can deliver those pinpoint shots that cause the exact right amount of damage. Obviously Hydra could deal out like another umpteen hundred flips in and claim a judges’ decision, but the optimist in me is telling me there won’t be a second Giant Nut in twenty years for the Whyachi clan.
Go get ‘em, SawBlaze, and bring home the Nut for the “underdogs”.
Welp, there you go, folks. The BattleBots 2020 season is at an end, and we have nothing more to predict. We still have that one episode of Bounty Hunters, but it’s not really the same is it? I guess for now we sit back and watch the episode when it comes our way, enjoy it while it lasts, and contemplate the nature of our existence whilst we wait for the announcement of a sixth rebooted season. Hopefully by then we’ll see fans back in the studio, more fan favourites making a triumphant return, a nice fresh set of rules that clarify the judging criteria and disregard bike racks as a thing of the past. It’s still a glorious time to be a BattleBots fan, and hopefully it will be for some years to come.
Even as the season ends, there’s still so much to say, so much potential content to write, so many barmy new ideas coming to the fore. I’m not sure exactly what’s coming yet, but I can only tell you to brace yourselves for what’s gonna happen.
As usual, thanks for reading, comrades, and I’ll see you all again soon.