BattleBots 2021: Predictions for the Final

Good day to you dear comrades, and welcome to, and I can’t believe I’m actually saying this, the final episode review/preview of the current (soon to be most recent) season of the finest robotic combat show currently on television. It doesn’t seem like fourteen weeks have passed since SawBlaze sent Minotaur into a fiery abyss to kick things off this year, and yet on Thursday we’ll find out who’ll be taking over from End Game as the nuttiest boi (or gal) in all the land.

Last week’s top 16 episode brought about plenty of thrills, spills, and broken brackets. I don’t know how many people had Minotaur olé-ing the reigning champion, Tantrum punting Rotator straight out of the box, or Riptide f*cking demolishing Uppercut’s wheels, but all three of those things happened to leave my jaw planted firmly on the floor. Every fight had something going for it, really. Bits of robot snake strewn all over the arena, two masterclasses in effective flipping, and a virtuoso display of driving from Go and co. I think we should take a moment to spare a thought for Whiplash, though – runners-up last season, this season relegated to having two regular season fights and both of its knockout ties repackaged as highlights. Misleading highlights at that. For one of the best bots in the whole field, I think we can agree they were done dirty this year.

For now though, we turn our attention to the quarter-finals, and boy oh boy what a line-up we have. Minotaur’s reward for seeing off the reigning champions is a date with 2019 runners-up Witch Doctor. The winner of that fight will meet either SawBlaze, which looks on a whole other level this season, or Riptide, a rookie which has come from nowhere to take this year’s bracket by storm, tropical or otherwise. On the other side of the bracket, Blip and Hydra will be squaring off in a “king-of-the-flippers” match-up, and the winner of that will face off against either the awesome power of Cobalt, or the deceitfully destructive Tantrum. We’re all set for an all-star, unpredictably brilliant round of robotic carnage.

With it being so unpredictable, why am I going to offer you a full set of predictions down below? Well, that’s just the kind of anarchic content you should have come to expect from this page by now. I won’t be going through things fight by fight, as that will just offer up a bunch of hypotheticals that will probably end up being entirely wrong. Instead, I’ll just be ranking the eight remaining bots on which ones I think have the best chance of ending up with the Giant Nut. That’s worked pretty well the last few weeks, though it hasn’t stopped my bracket from being any less busted.

Without much further ado then, let’s dive right in.

8. Witch Doctor

My sincerest apologies to all the Witch Doctor stans out there, but this is really the only quarter-final prediction I’m pretty much set on.

Witch Doctor may have had quite a few fights this season you may want to label as “tin pot,” especially for a bot with as much pedigree as the Gellatly’s. It’s definitely had its fair share of fortune in reaching it to the quarters, but its top 16 fight against Copperhead was easily its finest performance of the season, making light work of one of the deadliest drum spinners in the competition.

Unfortunately for them, they now have to face the deadliest drum spinner in the competition in Minotaur, and I don’t really see a way past them. It’s by no means a foregone conclusion, but Minotaur seems to be going from strength to strength this year, while Witch Doctor just isn’t the same bot it was two seasons ago.

They’ve done well to get this far, but I think the quarters will be as good as it gets for Mike and Andrea.

7. Blip

There are three things in my life that bring a tear to my eye; the opening ten minutes of Up, the final ten minutes of La La Land, and the entirety of Blip’s round-of-32 fight against Valkyrie. Just seeing the majesty with which it sent its opponent through the air is enough to bring anyone to tears.

So it’s pretty painful for me to put Blip as low as seventh on this list, because I love everything about it. Its cute but cuddly design, its remarkable technology, the fact their team captain is one of few people who can relate to saying their name is “Aaron, but not spelled the usual way” before the person they’re talking to freaks out and spells it the usual way anyway. I’m just not sure I see it beating Hydra. Does it have the better flipper? Yes. Has it had the better season? Absolutely. Will it get the better of Hydra in the ground game to get those all-important flips in? I’m just not sure it will.

Even if it did, it would still have to face either Cobalt or its compatriot Tantrum, neither of which I see it beating either. It’s just my opinion, but I think this is as far as Blip goes. I really hope I’m wrong, though.

6. Cobalt

This one’s bound to cause a stir in the comments, since most opinions I’ve read have Cobalt universally beating Tantrum. I guess my question is: why?

In every scenario I’ve drawn up in my head regarding this fight, I can only see Tantrum winning. They’re lower to the ground and their weapon is better suited to causing damage to Cobalt than vice versa. Yes, Cobalt’s weapon is easily the more destructive, but I just don’t really see them getting the perfect shot they would need to knock Tantrum out. The little orange dude would probably win via the judges, but that’s just the outcome I see happening.

I am, of course, aware that my theory could be complete nonsense, and that the Robotic Death Company are currently reading this in fits of laughter as they stare at the Giant Nut on their mantlepiece. Their weapon is vicious, it’s well-armoured, and there’s every chance they have the right attachment to get the shots they need. Again, prove me wrong.

5. SawBlaze

I’m calling it now: Riptide beats SawBlaze. I know, I must be on some funny stuff at the time of writing.

SawBlaze is a bot I’ve tipped for the Nut in each of the past three seasons, and each time something has tripped them up in the last eight. In 2019 it was Witch Doctor, last season it was Tantrum, and this year I just have the feeling it’s going to be Riptide. My only logic for this is that if Riptide uses its all-out aggression strategy as it did so well against Uppercut, it’s going to get just the right hit to get a good hit to the wheels, or to a vulnerable area os SawBlaze on its forks as it pops up for a wheelie.

Of course, as with all of these predictions, this could just be wishful thinking. Jamison Go is one of the best drivers out there and looks determined to take home the Nut this year. And I get the sense if they beat Riptide the Nut is as good as theirs. They just have to win the quarter-final first.

4. Riptide

So yeah, controversial call, but we have Riptide in fourth spot here. Heaven knows what the comments will think of this.

Admittedly this ranking hinges on the rookie causing its biggest upset yet in defeating SawBlaze, which is a hill I sort of now have to die on considering my defence of it in the section above. I just get the feeling it’s going to pull it off, much to the disdain of everyone who has to fiercely squiggle SawBlaze out of the winners’ spot in their brackets. But Riptide has earned its spot here. Its display against Uppercut was to my mind the best performance of the top 16, and it’s one they will surely be looking to build upon.

SawBlaze is a whole other challenge, and even if they beat them I don’t see a way through Minotaur for them. But regardless of where they end up, what a run they’ve had.

3. Hydra

Before the season started, this would have been a pretty reasonable reasonable place to plonk last year’s top seed. After the regular season, it’s pretty hard to fathom how they’ve ended up here at all.

After Hydra’s stunning loss to Glitch, I’m pretty sure BattleBots’ favourite bad boy was written off by most of the fanbase. But after winning its play-off against Defender, Hydra has stormed its way to victories over Ribbot and Black Dragon, and made all three of those fights look pretty easy. It’s been a pretty stellar comeback from the Whyachi gang, and one I think will continue against Blip. After that, it’s anyone’s guess. In all honesty, I think whether it faces Cobalt or Tantrum, they’re more likely to end up on the losing side. Hydra’s never been the most maneuverable around the arena, and I think a faster bot could take advantage of them.

Whatever happens though, thanks for the entertainment, guys.

2. Tantrum

It’s pretty hard to fathom that I’m sitting here writing about Tantrum being a Giant Nut contender. Written off as a joke bot for its first two years, last years’ semi-finalists now have a brilliant shot at going one better this year.

As in the reasons outlined above, it’s a shot I think they’re going to take. Cobalt won’t be easy, but I think they have an edge over them. A likely semi-final against Hydra will be just as challenging, but at this stage, who should they be fearful of? The only bot to have beaten them since the start of last season is End Game. They’ve gone home, and Tantrum looks more durable, solid, and destructive than ever before.

Given their opponents, I think they have every chance of punching their way to what two years ago would have seemed an unthinkable final.

1. Minotaur

All that would stand in their way is the mighty Minotaur. Semi-finalists in 2016, runners-up in 2018, I think this could be the year they finally go all the way.

They had a slow start to this season, but came back to secure a sixteenth-place seeding, and they haven’t looked back. It got the better of Bloodsport, it’s fresh off the back of knocking out End Game, and I don’t think there’s much stopping them from here. Apart from a possible semi-final with SawBlaze, which trounced them in the season opener, but even then, I have a feeling lessons will have been learned. For every possible opponent the have coming up, I can’t see any other outcome than a Minotaur win.

You heard it here first, folks, the Giant Nut is going to Brazil.

But those are just my opinions. The whole point of a show like BattleBots is to be as unpredictable as possible, and I’m sure literally everyone who reads this will have their own takes on what’s going down on Thursday night. But one thing is for certain, one of these eight bots will be holding the Giant Nut high above their heads as the new BattleBots champion. At least their teams will, the robots can’t actually do any lifting.

Oh, and remember to all the UK fans out there, repeats of the 2018 season are now showing on ITV4 every weekday at 7pm! So if you want to take another look at Monsoon, Bombshell, Battle Royale with Cheese, and other bots of yesteryear, now is your chance to do so!

Thanks for reading everyone, and have a wonderful day.

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