BattleBots 2021: Who Wins the Giant Nut? Episode 11 Review

Good afternoon, comrades, and welcome to the first bit of coverage of the top 32 this season. After ten long, gruelling episodes, we know how the bracket looks, and we have a better idea of who this year’s Giant Nut winner is going to be, and the path they will have to take.

Now, I have a post lined up for tomorrow about the bracket itself, pointing out some issues with it and drawing up how I think it should look after the regular season. There certainly were plenty of issues with the final product, and seeing as I’ve spent this season drawing up my own power rankings to determine how the top 32 should look, in my opinion, it seemed like a pretty logical thing to do.

But for now, the power rankings are off the table, and we’re here to review the first set of fights from the top 32 instead. This isn’t going to be a standard review however, far from it in fact. Instead, I’ve devised a system whereby the eight winners from this week’s episode are ranked depending on who has the best chance of winning the Giant Nut, and at the end there’ll be a brief rundown of who I think the winners from the next episode will be. Predictions for the next set of fights will also follow naturally.

I guess we should jump straight into it, and save the complaining for tomorrow’s installment. Let’s get cracking.

8. Riptide

What a season this rookie is having. Four fights and three victories, three knockouts over esteemed veterans of the game. Not only did Riptide beat Shatter in the top 32, it annihilated it, avoiding any massive hits from the hammer, which could easily have disabled its weapon, and landed blow after blow that left the Shatter team totally stunned.

I think the last 16 is where its run will come to an end, though. While it has no doubt been mightily impressive with their all-out aggression and fearsome eggbeater spinner, I do question how reliable it’s going to be as the quality of opposition gradually goes up. In its last couple of fights it looks as though its knocked its opponents out at just the right time, as it appears to have ended the fights smoking and a bit weary. Now that it has a tie against Uppercut on the horizon, its durability is going to be fully put to the test. And I’m not sure it’s going to be able to withstand the awesome power of Uppercut’s weapon. Prove me wrong, but I think this is where it bows out.

As for Shatter, it’s been another decent season for them, but they’re one of the bots we really should have seen fight for a third time. I also thought 14th spot was quite generous for a bot that only fought twice and didn’t manage a KO in either fight. They’ve certainly had their moments this season, but this was a comfortable win for Riptide.

7. P1

To quote Winston Churchill in his description of the Soviet Union, it is “a riddle wrapped inside a mystery inside an enigma.” The same can arguably be said of P1’s form this season. A bot that has perennially struggled in BattleBots, this year they find themselves in the top 32 after victories over Valkyrie and Jäger. Now they’re in the top 16 after knocking out Hypershock. I still can’t decide whether it’s by luck or by judgement, but they’ve made it. It’s true that Hypershock gave them a massive helping hand in their most recent fight by flinging itself on its back and then spending half the fight throwing itself into the wall to try and self-right. It did also take some massive hits which looked to have taken its toll on them by the end of the fight, but it didn’t really matter come the buzzer.

I’d be surprised if they made it beyond the top 16, however. While they’ve shown this season that they are a bot to be reckoned with after years in the shadows, SawBlaze is surely a step too far for them. You never know, their ground game may well give them an unexpected advantage going into the fight, but its vulnerability to an overhead attack will surely see P1 making its way to the exit doors at this point. You never know, though.

I will say about Hypershock that 13th is a ridiculous seeding for them, considering how well they fought in the regular season. They’re another bot whose lack of third fight shows the disparity in the rankings this season. All I can say on the fight is: I bet Will Bales is regretting the lack of a self-righter now.

6. Witch Doctor

I’ve seen a lot of hate for Witch Doctor come about in the last couple of weeks. I will say that I think 24th was a very generous ranking for them, considering they were essentially handed a free 2-1 record with a fight against Rusty. But I think some of their treatment after this episode is a bit much. Yes, it’s a shame that Glitch had to withdraw due to technical difficulties, but sometimes that’s the sad reality with this sport, that these things happen. But the Witch Doctor team had nothing to do with the production team’s selection to fight Mammoth instead. They were the best team available, they willingly stepped in, and it just so happened to be a straight-forward win for Witch Doctor. I do think it’s a rare instance that awarding Witch Doctor a bye would have been the better solution. Mammoth was out of the top 32, and if it went on a run due to a technicality, I don’t really think that would have been fair. It’s a tough one to call, though, and I guess a bye wouldn’t have made for great TV viewing.

So yes, Witch Doctor got itself a second comfortable win in a row, but things are going to be a lot tougher for them when they go toe-to-toe with Copperhead, a bot that had looked so deadly this season. Witch Doctor is a former runner-up and is by no means a pushover, but we’ve also only seen what it can really do against bots you would expect it to beat. It’s going to be one of the more even ties of the top 16, but I’m not sure of its chances.

Mammoth will of course be back, probably not bigger given its size but if the last two seasons are anything to go by, they’ve got more surprises up their sleeves. As for Glitch, it’s a sorry way for their season to end, given the memories they’ve given us from their first-ever three fights. I’m really hoping they come back next season with the issues that cost them ironed out to give us some more destruction.

5. Minotaur

Their season has been a little bit middling so far, hence the 16th seed ranking, but Minotaur finally seem to be hitting their stride. Bloodsport was the second seed last year, and while they haven’t hit those heights this season, they’re still a bot to be reckoned with. Try telling Minotaur that. They managed to make one of the most even contests of the bracket look like a mismatch, destroying Bloodsport’s weapon, and sending them into the hazards at every opportunity. It was a reminder of their reputation and status.

They do have a great chance of lifting the Giant Nut this season, as they’re so desperate to do. It’s just that they’ll have End Game to face in the next round, the reigning champion which has taken all of its opponents to the cleaners this season. It will be a match of massive hits, sparks, and fireworks, but let’s face it, it’s probably going to be End Game’s to lose.

This also marks the end of a disappointing road for Bloodsport, which was never quite able to capitalise on its 2020 run of form. I’m sure a team as dedicated as theirs will go home, have a thorough assessment of their problems, and come back stronger than ever next season.

4. Uppercut

One of the fights everyone was getting p*ssy about being condensed to a highlights package without realising the whole fight is available on YouTube, this wasn’t a vintage win for Uppercut, but one which still highlighted its awesome power. Drawn against my beloved HUGE, this was a fight which could have gone either way, especially after that mighty weapon-on-weapon collision at the start. A couple of slightly smaller hits left us with a simultaneous KO which Uppercut deservedly took.

As mentioned above, it now goes up against Riptide in the last 16. It’s a fight I think it will win, but given that we know Uppercut has the ability to destroy itself as much as its opponent, I’m not sure whether it will be able to make its way past the likes of SawBlaze and End Game to lift the Nut. It’s a game of hypotheticals, though.

As for HUGE, as much as I love the thing, it’s the fourth year in a row it’s fallen at the first stage of the bracket. I think some improvements will have to be made in the off-season for it to go further next season.

3. Copperhead

The other bot “relegated” to YouTube this week, we saw Copperhead demonstrate the full effect of how it’s come on leaps and bounds since it first hit our screens in 2019. What a weapon that boi possesses. It’s a miracle that Lucky was able to survive so many of those shots that were being dished out, but Copperhead really did show how seriously it should be taken going into the top 16.

It now has a tricky tie against Witch Doctor to navigate, but I think if they can get through that, then they shouldn’t fear taking on anyone. I, for one, think it’s a tie that they will be able to get through, and then who knows, suddenly End Game or Minotaur don’t seem so daunting.

A quick word on Lucky, much improved from its last outing. With a new driver in charge of a noticeably more durable bot, things may be going their way going into next season.

2. SawBlaze

SawBlaze is a bot I’ve had faith in winning the Giant Nut for the past three seasons now, so maybe I’m looking at this through rose-tinted lenses a bit. But there’s no denying that, apart from its fight against End Game, it has looked unstoppable. That goes for its most recent fight against Hijinx. While I’m in the camp that believes Hijinx didn’t beat Kraken and isn’t worthy of its spot in the top 32, SawBlaze still had to deliver, and it did. Hijinx never stood a chance as it lost its weapon, its top armour, and its tail, and was left looking less like an owl and more like a drunk from a night out in the 1980s.

If SawBlaze makes it through its next fight against P1, which is a banana skin I think it should just be able to dodge, then it’s set for a collision course with either Uppercut or Riptide, most likely Uppercut. That would be a rematch from last season, which I think SawBlaze will be able to overturn. And then, hopefully, we’ll see the actual fight with End Game we wanted to see earlier in the season.

As for Hijinx, as much as I love the design and the team, I don’t really think its presence will be missed going forwards, and if they come back next season then an overhaul will be desperately needed to make it more competitive.

1. End Game

Yup, it’s boring, but such is the power of End Game and the ridiculous format of the bracket, that as it currently stands, End Game is on course for a second consecutive Giant Nut. It made light work of all comers in the regular season, and breezed past Skorpios in the top 32, which itself had just knocked out Malice in a play-in match.

It does have a juggernaut clash with Minotaur in the next round, which does, in fairness, highlight how competitive the bracket it this year, but given that End Game has come back jacked up on steroids to defend its title, it looks on cruise control to maintain that title, and it’s going to take a monumental effort to stop it becoming the new Bite Force.

As for Skorpios, they remain the most wholesome team in the tournament, and they’ve given us some fantastic moments this season with their never-say-die attitude. But I will say I think they need more of a knockout factor with their new weapon to truly challenge the BattleBots elite. As for Malice, it’s been a disappointing season for them, and I was actually quite surprised to see them given a shot at the bracket. I think some work will be needed if they want to have a proper shot at the Giant Nut in the future.

Predictions

And that’s it for who has the best shot at the Nut from the most recent episode. I’m sure there’s plenty for everyone disagree with, but like most things in life, this is purely subjective, and I may well be proven wrong in the near future.

All that remains for this piece is a quick set of predictions for this coming episode (winners in bold):

Hydra vs. Defender

Ribbot vs. Hydra

Mad Catter vs. Black Dragon

Blip vs. Valkyrie

Jackpot vs. Tombstone

Whiplash vs. Icewave

Cobalt vs. Yeti

Rotator vs. Captain Shrederator

Tantrum vs. Gigabyte

Plenty there for everyone to digest. But for now, take it easy, get ready for Thursday night, and have a cracking day.

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