Good morning, and welcome back to the Beat! Last time, Chomp got outchomped, Tombstone had a tough but not that tough fight against Whiplash, and we got some clarity about who’s in, who’s out, and who’s on that bubble. If this right here is Episode 13, then by my math there are six (this included) more fight cards to make a lasting impression and make that final push. Unless you’re Parallax, which apparently left after two fights. Or Sharkoprion, which sadly as an alternate only ended up getting three, so they’re done on that portion at least. Would this week’s fights start to separate the wheat from the chaff, or would it murky the waters and widen the number of teams on the bubble? To the fights!
Red Devil vs. Valkyrie
Red Devil: 2-1 (W, KO 2:24 over Brutus; L, JD 2-1 to Monsoon; W, JD 3-0 over SubZero)
Valkyrie: 2-2 (L, KO 2:04 to Ultimo Destructo; W, KO 1:54 over Predator and Bale Spear; W, JD 3-0 over Hypothermia–Desperado QF; L, KO 1:32 to Lock-Jaw–Desperado SF)
The first fight on the card is one of those aforementioned potential fights for one if not both teams. Red Devil, at 2-1 on the year and with a KO over Brutus to its credit, would probably become the second sawbot (or two more than I and probably others expected) to be a virtual lock to punch its ticket in with a win over Valkyrie, which showed a bit of the good and the bad in its Desperado appearance, making the semis with a win over Hypothermia but self-destructing in its loss to Lock-Jaw. A win for them would give them a leg up on the 2-2 teams inevitably going to be bunched up and hoping for one of those last few spots, as they’ll have the benefit of a fifth fight and more importantly a third win, because as Spinal Tap said, it’s one more.
Well, it’s “one louder,” but same thing.
Yeah, this is seriously sounding like March Madness speak. But it’s not like St. John’s has been any good this century, so it’s the best I got.
For this fight Red Devil went back to its plow that worked so well against Brutus, and less well against Monsoon. To counter it Valkyrie went with their most circular weapon, a six-toothed disk nicknamed “Sonic the Wedgehog.” I fucking love it. They couldn’t go with their bar spinner, since as we recall, the Spirit of Boston broke against Lock-Jaw, so it was either this or Dr. Tooth.
Red Devil surprisingly did not go for the box rush out of the gate, but let Valkyrie spin her disk up. The plow was able to tank the hits well. But only the plow was able to tank the hits. Because after a couple shots Valkyrie was able to get a bit to the side, and do… well, this.
So all of a sudden the most-of-Red Devil was down to one working tread. Incidentally, the broken drive pod was still mobile since they have separate motors and I guess separate receivers too. So Red Devil’s amputated leg was still squirming around. One of the official photographers even set it to everyone’s favorite absurdist tune!
So while all of that was happening, Valkyrie kept working the left side of Red Devil to try and get at the weapon pod that way, though I’m not sure how effective it was. Red Devil, still mobile, tried its best to get the plow in front of most of the shots, which it did to an extent. For Valkyrie, the biggest thing in this fight was that the weapon worked throughout, and it did! The drive a little less so, driver Frederick Moore noted the robot had “A BAD CASE OF ZOOLANDERITIS” (in all caps, yes) and could only turn right, which is why Valkyrie couldn’t get around to the other side and finish the job.
Actually we’re not sure what would happen if both drive pods were forcibly removed from Red Devil and were both squirming around. I believe as per King Arthur vs. the Black Knight they’ll call it a draw? Anyway, due to Valkyrie’s Zoolanderitis and Red Devil surprisingly making due with one attached tread and for the most part keeping the plow in front, it actually went to the judges. Of course once that happened it was a pretty cut and dry decision, Valkyrie wins by unanimous decision, going to 3-2 and making its best case of the year. Red Devil, meanwhile, falls into the 2-2 quagmire.
Brutus vs. Gigabyte
Brutus: 2-1 (L, KO 2:24 to Red Devil; W, KO 0:41 over Son of Whyachi; W, KO 2:33 over WAR Hawk)
Gigabyte: 1-2 (L, KO 1:09 to Tombstone; W, KO 1:29 over Double Dutch–Desperado QF; L, KO 1:29 to Lucky–Desperado SF)
Well this is intriguing. Brutus has won its last two fights, as after getting toppled by Red Devil it recovered nicely by overturning Son of Whyachi (with the wedge) and the robot in possession of their old flywheel, WAR Hawk (no, not joking about that), with their new one. Now they get the full-body spinner Gigabyte, which has not quite lived up to its expectations. Beating the fuck out of Double Dutch does not win you many points, especially when you land on it, damage your srimech, and it costs you in your next fight. There’s probably a “keeping your entire pole” joke here, but I’m too lazy to synthesize one. Moving on!
Brutus did come out to try and push Gigabyte around before the shell got up to speed, as you’ expect, but they didn’t go as full bore. It was kind of a controlled box rush, if that can be a thing? Either way Gigabyte was still briefly unbalanced by it before escaping towards the middle, where Brutus followed it and both bots got sent spinning across. It was in the aftermath of this where we realized Brutus’s weapon wasn’t spinning, which meant that its wedge would have to find a way to win the day and at the very least kill Gigabyte’s spin.
There were a couple shards from Brutus that came off, as you’d expect, but the wedge worked as Gigabyte pinballed after every exchange, and this went on until about a minute left into the fight, where Gigabyte’s shell stopped spinning. So they were even on the weapon count, except Brutus’s weapon wasn’t broken, but they hadn’t had it on specifically for this moment. And with a minute left, the tables turned to Brutus trying to chase down Gigabyte, thanks to a brilliant rope-a-dope by Adam Bercu and Brutus.
They charged, slightly missed, ended up at a slightly wonky angle, Gigabyte pushed back, and Brutus got flipped over. And apparently one of the shards helped with the disk self-righting. So all that brilliant strategizing, and you end up with your wheels in the air and your weapon unable to help you flip back over. So out of all the ways you expected this one to go, I’m intrigued by whoever predicted that Gigabyte wins by KO in 2:49 because its opponent couldn’t self-right. Both bots end up at 2-2.
Can I just say something for Season 4, 9, whatever you want to call it? Vertical spinners, there are so many of you. There’s Bite Force and Brutus and End Game and HyperShock and Bombshell and Lock-Jaw and WAR Hawk and Witch Doctor and, you get my point, right? Why does it seem like EVERY SINGLE ONE had difficulties with their weapon being used as a srimech? Okay, except for Bite Force, and Lock-Jaw’s invertible so it doesn’t count. Like, come on guys, you’re all brilliant bot builders, how did basically everyone have the same problem? Can you guys (and girls, though Witch Doctor hasn’t had srimech problems this season, yet) fix that for next season? Please? Thanks guys!
Bombshell vs. Bite Force
Bombshell: 0-3 (L, KO 1:53 to Lock-Jaw; L, KO 1:19 to Bronco; L, JD 3-0 to Yeti)
Bite Force: 3-0 (W, JD 3-0 over Blacksmith; W, KO 0:36 over HyperShock; W, KO 1:02 over End Game)
Speaking of srimech issues, here’s Bombshell. (Sorry Mike Jeffries, that segue worked way too well.) It’s been a rough year for the 2016 runner-up, as after the build time cut into their modularity, their vertical disk hasn’t done what we all hoped and expected, not getting up to speed and more vitally in their fights not being able to help self-right, as was the reason for their losses to Lock-Jaw and Bronco. And they had the fight against Yeti won, right up until the point that the damage done by Yeti bending one of their axles led to the robot catching fire in the dying moments.
On the exact opposite side of things is Bite Force, sitting at 3-0, looking to become the first robot to go 4-0, and in my mind lock up at lowest a #3 seed, depending on Tombstone and Bronco’s fourth fights. Bite Force has shown the power of that vertical bar, which it didn’t get as much of a chance to show the previous season. The difference is basically just a piece of metal over the weapon chain so it doesn’t come off, and it’s worked. And since they know they’re in, Paul Ventimiglia took this fight to tinker with the internals, going with four smaller motors for the weapon instead of one larger one, in hopes of reliability.
Bombshell’s biggest change was Mike Jeffries giving up the controls for this fight. Instead another member of the crew, Matthew Carroll was doing the driving. And you know what? You could tell right away. Bombshell was shaky from the get-go, tentative, not keeping its wedge in front of Bite Force, which immediately took advantage, coming to the side and flipping Bombshell over, and like a bowl of petunias said, “oh no, not again.” Bite Force immediately went for the kill with a couple shots and pushes to get to the corner and then, boom, Bite Force goes yard. No, seriously, they hit Bombshell over the wall. You know, the one Bronco likes to throw the opponent over. Which makes it twice that Bombshell went out of the arena this season. Bite Force wins by KO in 49 seconds, goes to a perfect 4-0, and screw top 3, depending on Tombstone vs. DUCK! and Bronco vs. whoever they fight Bite Force may earn the top seed. And the Magmotors’ll do just fine.
Son of Whyachi vs. End Game
Son of Whyachi: 2-1 (L, KO 0:41 to Brutus; W, KO 1:34 over Lucky; W, KO 0:54 over Monsoon)
End Game: 2-1 (W, KO 1:22 over Captain Shrederator; W, KO 2:01 over Lock-Jaw; L, KO 1:02 to Bite Force)
The stakes for this fight are simple. Winner goes into the “lock” category, loser is on the 2-2 bubble. Don’t get me wrong, we could still see both of these robots in the tournament, win, lose, or draw, but better to win and not leave out all doubt. For Son of Whyachi, they got one of the other big vertical spinners, Monsoon, in their last fight, and it went fairly well for them. Not so much for Monsoon, but it went well enough for them. End Game got Bite Force and failed to seize the opportunity to finish off one former champ and got KOed because of it. Now they get a second chance against another one. For this, fighting a horizontal overhead spinner such as Son of Whyachi, they actually went away from their disk setup to a horizontal bar, giving a little less surface area. Either way, my prediction for this fight is that there’s no way in hell it goes three minutes. I mean, the last fight Son of Whyachi had that went to the judges in a BattleBots competition was as Nitro SOW, as a super heavyweight, in the NPC Charity Open. That was in 2004. As a heavyweight, it’s only happened twice, once in its first fight where the hammer stopped and they had electrical problems and once in the final against BioHazard, which was rife with controversy anyway because BioHazard was wrongly counted out with 10 seconds left. Also that competition led to the whole re-writing of the walker/shufflebot weight bonuses and everything, kicking Son of Whyachi to the super heavyweights. Point is, as I said, this ain’t going to the judges.
The two bots took enough time to spin up and met in the center to throw that first punch. Son of Whyachi went flying into the wall, onto the screws, actually shattering the Lexan inner wall above the screws, and had to take a couple seconds to unstick its hammer from on top as the force of bouncing off the wall got them off the screws. Meanwhile End Game was not moving. End Game was out cold, not because pieces went flying and parts were everywhere, but because the BEC voltage regulator to the receiver went, so the receiver was dead, which meant the robot couldn’t move. One hit and that’s it. Well, maybe two, the slow-mo shows that as the robots spun from the force of the strike Son of Whyachi’s second hammer hit, so who knows, that might’ve been the difference. Son of Whyachi wins by KO in 43 seconds, avoiding being stuck on the screws which might have led to a double KO. Which would have been really interesting, because what do the judges do to judge one hit, right? Either way, Son of Whyachi’s a lock, and End Game will have to see whether they get a continue or it’s game over for the Kiwi Killer.
Bonus fight: Lucky vs. Reality
Lucky: 2-3 (L, JD 3-0 to Skorpios; L, KO 1:34 to Son of Whyachi; W, JD 3-0 over Gemini–Desperado QF; W, KO 1:07 over Gigabyte–Desperado SF; L, KO 2:42 to Lock-Jaw–Desperado Final)
Reality: 0-2 (L, JD 3-0 to SawBlaze; L, KO 1:50 to DUCK!)
It’s pretty simple for Lucky, after running out of steam in the Desperado final. Win, or go home. 3-3 might get you into the mixture with all the 2-2 robots, but 2-4 will not. As for Reality, it’s been a tougher road, losing to SawBlaze and DUCK!, but it would be nice to get a W at some point.
Lucky had to undergo some rebuilding after the Desperado tourney, as you’d expect, and they have their wedgelets back for this fight, instead of the giant wedge they had for the Gigabyte and Lock-Jaw fights. Reality hasn’t had that kind of work to do, as they’ve only had two fights, not Lucky’s five.
Lucky was a little slow our of the gate, giving Reality a chance to spin the drum up, but they were able to use the wedgelets to get under Reality and slow the drum. The one worrying thing was they hadn’t used their flipper, but considering it would have been weapon to weapon it was the strategic play. They were able to get under Reality at the start, so everything was okay. But the one time Reality was able to get under Lucky, the Canadian flipper was spun on its head and had to self-right, and from that point the fight turned as a piece fell off of Lucky and its drive suffered.
But Reality was having difficulty moving too, and at this point it was two damaged bots crab-walking towards each other. Reality was able to connect on that last time and, though Lucky’s flipper was moving and frantically firing, they couldn’t drive. Reality wins by KO in 1:55 and Lucky’s luck runs out.
Main event: Blacksmith vs. Minotaur
Blacksmith: 1-2 (L, JD 3-0 to Bite Force; W, 2:55 over The Four Horsemen; L, JD 3-0 to Witch Doctor)
Minotaur: 1-1 (L, KO 2:22 to Tombstone; W, JD 3-0 over Hypothermia)
We all know what happened last time these two bots faced off, and I posted it last week, so I won’t post it again. Let’s just get to the fighting bits. Blacksmith, rather than the full wedge, just had its two forks at the front of the robot. A full wedge, like what they had the previous time these two fought, sounds like a good idea, yes, but if Minotaur were to get under it they’d be trapped under the wedge, which would mean they could just grind away, like what also happened the previous time. As a result of that Minotaur didn’t go with its forks but with their own small wedge under the drum. Also, as in the Hypothermia fight, they determined to start with the drum not spinning at full speed for control. The reasoning is that you don’t want the robot wheelieing around from the gyroscopic forces, making it difficult to turn, the drum can still do plenty of damage at half-speed (as seen in the entire fight against Hypothermia), and then later on in the fight you can turn the dial up when going for the kill shot.
The early seconds of the fight were of the two robots feeling around. Blacksmith got under once but it wasn’t until Minotaur started trying and successfully flanking Blacksmith where the action started. They got a shot, then once Blacksmith fired the hammer in retaliation, Minotaur got under thanks to the hammer recoil and briefly ground away at the front and the bottom. Of course, we’ve seen that Blacksmith’s still sturdy and still game, getting another couple hammer strikes in. And overall, the forks proved the right play, the only problem was that when Blacksmith fired the Big Time Hammer the recoil gave Minotaur an opening to do its damage, eventually able to stick Blacksmith between a rock and a hard place, its drum and the pulverizer, to do some more damage.
The highlight hit of the fight was actually Minotaur attacking and getting hit with its own recoil, somersaulting away from Blacksmith. That worried them a little but considering all the shots it took from Tombstone, it was more than sturdy enough to withstand, but it meant that Blacksmith could come in and get a couple more shots in before the bell. And Blacksmith definitely had a much better fight that the all-but-KO it suffered in the first fight. It wasn’t on fire, the hammer head was still attached to the robot. Didn’t change who had been the aggressor, and did more damage, and all that in terms of the judges, that was still pretty clear, Minotaur wins by unanimous decision. Vai Brasil!
And with that, onto Senor’s updated projections! Please note that the locks are not correlated to seeding, as to borrow from ESPN’s Bubble Watch a lock would still have to lose every fight remaining and still comfortably be in to be a lock. Or be done with their fights because then they can’t lose.
Locks: Lock-Jaw (4-2, Desperado champ), Bite Force (4-0), Son of Whyachi (3-1), Tombstone (3-0), Bronco (3-0), SawBlaze (3-0), HUGE (3-0)
In as of now: Icewave (2-1), DUCK! (2-1), Monsoon (2-1), Whiplash (2-1), End Game (2-2), Minotaur (2-1), RotatoR (3-1), Skorpios (2-1), Yeti (2-1)
In the discussion, fights remaining: Witch Doctor (2-1), Petunia (2-1), Warhead (2-0), WAR Hawk (2-1)
In the discussion, no fights left: Valkyrie (3-2), Red Devil (2-2), Brutus (2-2), Gigabyte (2-2)
It pains me to say it, but Sharko’s off the board, knowing they’re not getting a fourth fight, and wins over Kraken & Deviled Egg and Gemini aren’t quite banner wins. But there’s some shuffling, and we’ll see what’s left to determine in the next few weeks. The main event for tomorrow night is between a pair of robots at 3-0 looking to lock up top seeds, Bronco and SawBlaze. Which apparently outranks the other marquee fight that is believed to be that night, Tombstone and DUCK!. We’ll see if the spinner-killer’s metal shows its mettle or if Tombstone can get revenge for Last Rites vs. Whoops! at RoboGames ’17. There’s also apparently Warhead vs. Warrior Dragon? Okay, this sounds like a solid card. We’ll have to find out if it meets the hype!