BattleBots 2021: Episode 8 Power Rankings

Well folks, the time is nearly upon us. Episode eight marks the first set of bots to have completed their regular season schedule, and the bracket is starting to take shape. We now have a clear idea who the top seeds will be, who has a solid chance of making it through, and who the official no-hopers are. But at the same time, this is looking to be the most competitive season to date, which means about three quarters of the competing bots involved still have a fighting chance of making the top 32.

The most recent episode re-enforced both of the above factors, as we saw bots make spectacular comebacks to launch themselves back into contention, and hopes potentially dashed in equal measure. Malice and Blacksmith battled out a monumental slugfest which left the flaming hammer-saw a crumpled mess. Ribbot ended the regular season with a 3-0 record after KO’ing P1, and End Game solidified its spot as the number one seed with a spectacularly swift OOTA of SawBlaze. Last year’s number one seed Hydra, meanwhile, suffered one of the biggest shocks ever seen in the Battlebox, and now we’re left wondering whether or not they’ll even be in the top 32. They probably will.

With all that in mind, remember that these rankings are purely subjective and just for a bit of fun. I wish they were an accurate reflection of what the mysterious selection committee were thinking at the time, but alas that day is yet to come. And with so many bots at 1-1, with such an eclectic array of bots and performances this year, it’s getting harder and harder to give them a truly accurate ranking, especially at the business end of the regular season. As Chris and Kenny highlighted, even at 2-1, no record is the same. I’ve tried my best, though. If you disagree, please be like Greg Gibson and don’t be a d*ck.

With all that out of the way, here are the big movers and losers from the week just gone.

1. End Game (3-0) =

The champs will be the number one seeds this year, no question about it. After knocking out Hydra and Witch Doctor in their opening two fights, they were drawn up against the bot that looks most able to challenge them this year in SawBlaze. And they sent them out of the arena within thirty seconds. It may not have been the fight we, or the teams wanted, but if anything it just underlined the point that End Game takes no prisoners. What progression from four years ago.

2. Hypershock (2-0) +1

The highest ranking the Bales bot has ever seen in the two years I’ve been doing these rankings, Hypershock looks a dead cert for a high seeding this year.

3. Uppercut (2-0) +1

So too does Uppercut. Two awesome victories to start with, but may need a bit more of a challenge in their third fight.

4. SawBlaze (2-1) -2

I’m hesitant to move SawBlaze down too much in light of their loss to End Game, since they’ve looked immense for the most part of the season, with comprehensive wins over Minotaur and Mad Catter. This loss will hurt their ranking for sure, but they are no doubt a bot to be feared going into the top 32. It’s not exactly as if they disgraced themselves against End Game either, since it was all over before things began! Don’t write them off.

5. Ribbot (3-0) +3

Ribbot hasn’t endured the most challenging of schedules this year, and ends it with a comfortable 3-0 record. However, it’s the manner of their wins which is impressive. They made light work of Defender and the veterans Overhaul, and rounded things off with a hard-fought victory over a much improved P1. The way they sent P1 onto the upper deck this week showed what they’re capable of. Here’s hoping they stay away from the killsaws in the future, though.

6. Whiplash (2-0) -1

Another year where they look like a team to beat, with wins over Bloodsport and Skorpios.

7. Copperhead (2-0) -1

Looking to make up for a disappointing exit last season, Copperhead looks in good stead for another high seeding.

8. Tantrum (2-0) -1

The little orange bot continues to surprise with two dominant victories.

9. Rotator (2-0) =

Looking as destructive as ever, Victor and co. will look for another victory in fight three.

10. Black Dragon (2-1) +6

Rounding out the top ten this week we have Black Dragon, courtesy of a brutal victory over Claw Viper. They had a few wobbles during the fight, and I’m not sure we’ve seen the best of them this season. And in a year so competitive, I’m not convinced they’ll still be in the top 10 come the tournament. We’ll see though, and this victory only adds to their easy KO of Icewave and a hard-fought display against Rotator.

11. Jackpot (2-0) -1

The first week in a while where they’ve been out of the top 10, but they’re still looking good for a bracket spot.

12. Blip (2-0) -1

Still hasn’t faced much of a test with its opponents this season, but Blip still looks mighty impressive.

13. Glitch (2-0) +30

Well. Who saw this one coming? Going into this week, Glitch looked like a write-off, being fed to Hydra to secure Team Whyachi’s place in the top 32. But the college rookie survived being chucked thirteen feet into the air to score an unlikely KO, with one of the most brutal shots we’ve ever seen, and one that left my jaw on the floor. The way it caught Hydra on they volley to take its flipper off was spectacular. I’m still not sure they have what it takes to outperform the bots above them in the long run, but a KO over last year’s top seeds sees them climb the most out of any bot ever, and sees them all but secure a place in the top 32. If anyone saw this coming, have yourselves a cookie.

14. Shatter (2-0) -2

The last of the current 2-0 bots, Shatter probably needs a KO against a spinner to fully prove its worth going into the bracket.

15. Mad Catter (1-1) =

Let me tell you something brother, they’ll be looking for a big win to lift them higher up the ladder, because they look good for the top 32. Oh yeah!

16. P1 (2-1) -3

It’s hard to tell if P1 has actually improved or whether it just got lucky against Valkyrie before an easy win over a rookie bot. But a win over Valkyrie is still a win over a top bot, and a deserved one, and they’ll be hoping for a spot in the top half of the seeds to make up for missing out last year. They also gave a fine showing against Ribbot, limiting the impact of the spinner until the final minute, where they were unceremoniously dumped onto the upper deck. Let’s see what they can do in the tournament.

17. Skorpios (1-1) =

Should still make the top 32, even if they lose their third fight. They’ve looked very good.

18. Fusion (1-1) =

Was duly thrashed by Copperhead, but their win over Cobalt is holding their position.

19. Cobalt (1-1) =

As mentioned above, resoundingly beaten by Fusion, but what a display against Ghost Raptor to make up for it.

20. Gigabyte (2-1) +6

For a bot that ended the 2020 season so strongly, we haven’t seen the expected performances from them this time around. That being said, after a disappointing loss to Uppercut and a win over Capt. Shrederator where they had little to do, this win over SMEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE looks to have set them on the right path. They picked away at their opponent, which could easily have been a banana skin for them, but a couple of big hits showed the power that they possess. I suspect they’ll be in the top 32, but maybe with a lower seeding than they’d have hoped for.

21. Hydra (1-2) -7

Speaking of low seedings, last year’s number one finds itself languishing in 21st this week, and it may well go even lower in the last couple of weeks. Realistically, it maintains a relatively high spot because even in defeat we’ve seen what it can do, and its win over Gruff was one of the most dominant we’ve seen this season. Losing to End Game is no disgrace, but to be whacked in the face and made to look second-best to a rookie which, up to this point, hadn’t looked at its best, the only way is down for them from here. They’ll be in the top 32 (just), and at least it will make for an interesting balance of fights when we get there.

22. Captain Shrederator (2-1) +5

One of the hardest bots to rank this season, Shrederator ends the regular season at 2-1 after a win over Jäger where it didn’t need to get out of second gear. Either need or couldn’t, because in true Shrederator style it looked as though they couldn’t get their weapon going. It’s been the case in all six seasons it competed in. Still, it regardless managed a KO over Tombstone, which means that its 2-1 record should be enough to see it into the main tournament for the first time.

23. Tombstone (2-1) +8

Normally regarded as one of the most destructive bots in the field, this season Tombstone is currently a contender for the “most disappointing bot” award. It’s strange that they haven’t really been tested against a higher-calibre opponent, and it’s stranger that they’ve been so underwhelming in all three fights they’ve had. Yes, Free Shipping has a rich history outside of BattleBots, but it looked a fight that Tombstone was always going to win. They can count themselves lucky they got enough damage in in the opening thirty seconds before their weapon packed in, but if they are to go through, as I’m sure they will, it will be with a bottom-half seeding for the second year in a row, and they’ll need to fix the issues they’ve been having as soon as possible.

24. Minotaur (1-1) -4

The Brazilians look as though they’re about to pick up form, but need a convincing win to solidify a top 32 spot.

25. Riptide (1-1) -4

Had a spectacular victory over HUGE, but was underwhelming against Defender. We need another opening-fight performance from them to see them progress.

26. Malice (1-2) +20

We’ve said not all records are the same, and Malice may just have saved their season with that win over Blacksmith. After struggling against Tantrum and Jackpot, Malice finally hit top gear in their final fight, and Blacksmith was almost unrecognisable at the end of it. It was a phenomenal display in one of the fights of the season so far, but it’s hard to tell whether they’ve done enough to make the top 32. There are still plenty of bots below them who have a fight in hand that can easily leapfrog them with the right performance.

27. Yeti (1-1) -5

We’ve seen the good and the bad of Yeti this season, and now they need an ugly win to progress further.

28. HUGE (1-1) -5

The same can be said of my beloved HUGE. I can’t imagine the top 32 without them. Win pls.

29. Bloodsport (1-1) -5

They’re low down for now, but after their win over Subzero I suspect they’ll have enough momentum to boost their ranking, depending on if they get a good win in their last fight.

30. Valkyrie (1-1) -2

Seasoned veterans, but they only have a simple win and a disappointing loss to their name so far. A solid win over another seasoned vet should see them through comfortably.

31. Lucky (1-1) -2

What a win over Blade. Will they be lucky enough to reach the tournament for the first time?

32. Deep Six (1-1) -2

Holding on to the final top 32 spot for now, but something tells me they’re going to get leapfrogged in the next couple of weeks and miss out. But you never know what their final fight will bring.

33. Mammoth (1-1) -1

Hasn’t looked bad by any means this season, and their position is more a reflection of the bots above them. I’m hoping we see them in the bracket again.

34. Witch Doctor (1-1) -1

Surely they can’t miss out? 2019’s runners-up need a convincing final display to propel them into bracket status.

35. Icewave (1-1) -1

The returning veteran has looked a bit out of its depth so far, but their win over Deadlift may well give them the belief they need to qualify.

36. Blacksmith (1-2) -1

I think that defeat spells the end of Blacksmith’s quest for the Giant Nut. It came into this season promising so much with a literal flaming spinning hammer, but it leaves with it barely making an impact. Their fight against Malice was a great chance to show what it could do, but a direct hit to Malice’s weapon rendered it useless within about 40 seconds. It somehow survived to the end of the fight, but it left the arena a crumpled, fiery mess. If they don’t make it through, as I think is the case, here’s hoping we see the best of it next season.

37. Defender (1-1) -1

The younger Vasquez holds a 1-1 record, but a top 32 spot looks in doubt.

38. Gruff (1-1) -1

Looks as durable as ever, but also uncontrollable and unreliable.

39. Claw Viper (1-1) -14

I said last week if Claw Viper doesn’t fight and come up with a good display this week, it will drop out of the top 32. And that’s what happened. OK, so it did admittedly have a tough task against Black Dragon, and it did actually start out incredibly well, as evidenced below. However, Black Dragon caught its back wheel on the follow-through, which basically ended the fight from there. From that point onwards, it was a plaything for its opponent. It will need a big display in its third fight to throw itself back into contention for the bracket.

40. Hijinx (1-1) -2

It didn’t beat Kraken, and I can’t see it going much further.

41. Retrograde (1-1) -2

Was handed a royal battering by HUGE, and now its future in the tournament is question.

42. Dragon Slayer (1-1) -2

Yes, it’s impressive that it has a win after two pretty tough matchups. But the more I look at Dragon Slayer the less cut out for slaying its way into the top 32 I think it is.

43. SMEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE (1-1) -1

After claiming one of the strangest KO’s in recent memory, SMEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE was given yet another tough test this week in the form of Gigabyte. They actually performed pretty admirably with their solid wedge for the most part, limiting the damage inflicted to said wedge. Unfortunately, they didn’t really dish out any of their own, and all it took was a couple of trademark Gigabyte shots to send it packing. Despite the edgy paint job, I feel this is another year where the long boi misses out on a spot in the tournament.

44. Switchback (1-1) -3

The lowest-ranked winner after an uninspiring couple of performances.

45. Kraken (0-2) -1

I don’t know how they haven’t gotten a win this season. Please give them a friendly last fight so they have some sort of hope.

46. Lockjaw (0-2) -1

Donald and co. may be on the verge of the unthinkable – the tournament regulars need a trademark performance to stand a chance of going through.

47. Subzero (0-2) +1

Another year where the flipper looks out of whack. Two tough draws, but I’m still not hopeful of its chances.

48. DUCK! (0-2) +1

Hopefully DUCK! can bow out with a win, as I don’t suspect we’ll be seeing it around for much longer.

49. Overhaul (0-2) +1

The veterans’ return has been less spectacular, and unfortunately is looking rather outdated.

50. Ghost Raptor (0-2) +1

Chuck’s bot just ain’t made of the right stuff this year. Hence why we last saw it being broken in half.

51. Deadlift (0-2) +1

Whaddup? Just some gym bros hoping for a decent performance in their last fight. I’m not sure of their chances, though.

52. Free Shipping (0-3) -5

Well, we have an official casualty for this season. Ending at 0-3 despite giving us some memorable moments (mostly its literal explosion), Gary Gin’s Free Shipping will be heading home at the regular season stage, as many of us probably would have expected. It had a pretty nasty final draw against Tombstone, and promptly had three of its four wheels torn asunder. But it put up a decent fight after that, and who knows, if Tombstone hadn’t got to those wheels or if its weapon had packed in a bit sooner, we may be sitting here with Free Shipping in the top 32. Alas, it wasn’t meant to be. Who knows how much more we’ll see of everyone’s favourite Amazon delivery truck?

53. Jäger (0-2) =

This was never going to end well for the German multi-bot, was it? A full-body spinner facing two middleweights was always going to end in disaster. Credit to Jäger though, they managed to take advantage of Shrederator struggling to spin up and landed a good shot with their saw. That was as good as it got though, and ol’ stars n’ stripes managed a KO without ever really getting going. I think that spells the end for Jäger, and who knows if they’ll even get a third fight.

54. Triple Crown (0-1) =

Still only the one fight against a tough opponent in Valkyrie. Here’s hoping we see more before the end of the regular season.

55. Slammo! (0-2) =

Slammed into submission in two fights, and I think a comeback is unlikely.

56. Pain Train (0-2) =

The train is currently stranded at the station, as its top keeps falling off.

57. Blade (0-2) =

It hasn’t exactly been spinning to win so much as driving into a wall and looking generally lost.

58. Pardon My French (0-1) =

As Chris described it this week, “barely functioning.” Like me in the morning.

59. Rampage (0-1) =

Up and over in one fell swoop against Retrograde. Will we see them again?

60. Rusty (0-1) =

Finally, out saviour holds the rest of the pack up for another week. Here’s hoping we see your overlord one more time before his retirement.

And that, folks, is a wrap on this week’s power rankings. I know there will be some placements you undoubtedly disagree with, but when there is so much wrong with the world at this moment, I think we can all agree that a couple of opinions about robots that spin that may or may not be a bit off aren’t worth fighting over. Is anything worth fighting over, really? Everyone’s entitled to their opinions, and if you happen to disagree with mine please be friendly about it in the comments. People reading alone is nice enough for me.

Until next week, stay safe everyone, and thanks for reading.

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