Welcome back to the Beat! For the couples of peoples who might have read this on other sites, welcome to our humble abode. Right here, right now, it’s now or never, do or die, all the other clichés. It’s the last chance for robots to make their cases to get into the last 16. And there will be chaos. So without further ado, onto the fights!
If I told you at the beginning of the season that one of these robots is 3-0 and thus is all but assured of a spot in the championship tournament, you’d say Icewave, right? Well, we would all be wrong! HUGE has taken the BattleBots meta for a bit of a loop due to its unorthodox shape, and the angle that its vertical bar hits hits in spots where it can get above everyone’s defenses for the usual compact (normally vertical) spinner en route to a shock 3-0. The wheels (and I believe the body might be too) are made out of UMHW, or ultra-high-molecular-weight polyethylene. Or in layman’s terms,
When we saw it, we wondered how it would hold up. Sure, Gabriel 2 did admirably against the defending champion Carbide in Robot Wars in one of the David vs. Goliath performances (except goliath Carbide won by judges’ decision). So how would HUGE fare against one of the elite spinners of BattleBots, Icewave?
Icewave presents an interesting incentive for HUGE, and that would be the engine on top. In theory, a shot to that top part of Icewave which holds the engine could do some serious damage, killing the weapon, and also just blowing up Icewave, like what happened to the middleweight version at the 2004 NPC Charity Open seen here. So that was HUGE’s gameplan, to be able to hit Icewave from above, while also going for a shorter weapon bar to prevent a weapon to weapon collision, which they were pretty sure they’d be on the worse end of.
The two robots came out, Icewave knowing it had to get to the sides, the advantage of being an overhead spinner. It did that, nailing a wheel and crippling it. However, HUGE’s wheel could withstand that hit enough to keep going. But that was like a shark sensing blood in the water as Icewave went to that damaged wheel, hitting it again, and seriously collapsing that wheel this time. The weapon was no longer spinning on HUGE but it was still trying to spin its wheel, so Icewave came in for another shot, and another shot, and…
…well then. So that’s TWO vivisections for Icewave now this season, so yeah, I think they’re in. Hell, I think with two separate instances of breaking a robot in half they may have earned the 4-seed as the best one-loss bot.
As you can guess, Icewave wins by KO, this one in 53 seconds. Also there’s a botcam. It doesn’t have that hit, but crank it up to listen to Icewave’s death hum.
Gemini vs. The Four Horsemen
Gemini: 1-2 (W, KO 2:43 over Mohawk and Kraken; L, JD 3-0 to Lucky–Desperado QFs; L, JD 3-0 to Sharkoprion)
The Four Horsemen: 1-1 (W, JD 3-0 over Gamma 9 and Double Jeopardy; L, KO 2:55 to Blacksmith)
Lemme just get this out of my system now. MULTI-BOT! MULTI-BOOOOT!
All right, I’m better. The two multi-bot teams square off, as twin bots Gemini take on The Four *Famine shatters* Three Horsemen in what will be chaos. Or as Chris Rose put it, “three 4th-graders vs. two 6th-graders.”
Speaking of, Chris and Kenny and the teams are speaking about how winning this will affect their tournament chances, but I’d say this is the one fight of the night where neither robot’s chances will be affected by this. Neither team’s getting in, because as we went over last time, it is not a lot of spots, and already with Icewave winning it’s a certainty that a 3-1 robot will be left out of the running, either RotatoR or Warhead, with Skorpios’s fight pending. So the answer is it’s not happening.
The fight started with Gemini doing the bullying, which you don’t get to write often, flipping one of the Horsemen spinners and then attacking the other.It’s hard to say exactly what happened with such limited times to watch but Buttercup was in one corner and was a wheel down, so they were out quickly. As was Pestilence, first its weapon, then the entire robot. Believe it or not, this does not constitute 60% or more of the robot by weight (which means each spinner weighs more than 40% of the weight of the entire robot, however much that is), so the Horsemen were still in. Except it was their one on Gemini’s two as War fought the remainder of the battle alone. And War was doing its best and doing a little bit of damage, but it was still undersized and you figured the two Gemini would bully it. Except for Gemini’s biggest weakness.
That’s right, Gemini hit itself again! This time it was the black Gemini bot hitting the red one, tearing its wedge off and immobilizing it. So at this point it was back to one-on-one, though the Gemini robot still had the size and weight advantage. And it used it, pushing War to the rail and nearly sending it flying up and over, but it kicked back off the Lexan and stayed in the arena. And interestingly enough it was by the red Gemini bot, which though it couldn’t move could still use its weapon. So War hit off of that and was sent flying to the corner. Specifically a pulverizer corner. More specifically a Gemini-controlled pulverizer, which they used not only to hammer, but to try and trap and pin War in the late stages of the fight, chewing time off the clock until the end of the fight.
It was definitely an interesting fight to call and have to judge, and kudos to War for surviving the whole fight considering how long it was alone, but Gemini wins the battle of the multi-bots by unanimous decision, in all likelihood ending their campaign at 2-2.
Skorpios vs. HyperShock
Skorpios: 2-1 (W, JD 3-0 over Lucky; W, JD 2-1 over Icewave; L, JD 3-0 to RotatoR)
HyperShock: 1-2 (L, KO 0:36 to Bite Force; W, KO 0:50 over Battle Royale with Cheese; L, KO 2:26 to Free Shipping)
Similar to Icewave and HUGE, if after last season I told you that this season these two would fight, and one of them would need a win to remain in the hunt, you’d probably guess HyperShock. But it’s been a rough year for HyperShock as the reliability issues have reared their head again, and 1-2 with a win over Battle Royale with Cheese does not count for much. Instead it’s Skorpios at 2-1 needing that win, especially after getting its arm ripped off by RotatoR, which I’m guessing would give it an advantage in terms of the bubble. The damage was so bad that Skorpios is not using its saw arm, instead using a regular old angle grinder, though still attached by an arm. Skorpios also has toy shovels to counteract HyperShock’s rakes, because, “You can’t dig a grave with a rake.” Which is true, but I guess you can if you have nothing else and try for a while. It would be terribly inefficient, though.
HyperShock got the first hit and had Skorpios do a perfect two and a half, landing on the angle grinder and bending it, before popping back onto its wheels. But after that HyperShock’s disks didn’t really do any damage, whether because the spinner wasn’t spinning, or because things were glancing off. Meanwhile Skorpios attempted to use its arm as a clamp. And they were able to clamp and keep HyperShock at bay as it danced all over the place, nearly getting its (still only one) lifting fork under it, so it needed time to fix that. HyperShock was able to take a piece off the top of Skorpios, one of the pieces around the arm but not the arm itself, so HyperShock was winning on damage, but Skorpios was doing all the aggressive and controlled driving as HyperShock bounded and bounced here and there. Then they went over a killsaw and flipped over. And thanks to only having one lifting fork, they seemed like they were stuck while Skorpios clamped down and drove HyperShock around and ultimately to the pulverizer. The good news for HyperShock was that they were saved by the bell and finally survived three minutes this year! The bad news was that the last view the judges got was HyperShock doing its best but not a particularly good job of trying to self-right, right by the pulverizer.
It went to a split decision, and this time Naomi Kyle was the swing vote, meaning that we didn’t have Naomi Kyle being the dissenting voice for yet another fight, much to the chagrin of the Internet. Skorpios gets the win, going to 3-1. Which leads to the questions. Yes, they went 3-1, but 0 KOs, two split decision wins, and the loss was to RotatoR, another robot on that small bubble. And their weapon at this point was essentially out of commission. But Orion Beach has done a masterful job of driving his saw bot regardless.
And now, onto the rumbles. Win and you’re in.
End Game vs. WAR Hawk vs. Brutus
End Game: 2-2 (W, KO 1:22 over Captain Shrederator; W, KO 2:01 over Lock-Jaw; L, KO 1:02 to Bite Force; L, KO 0:43 to Son of Whyachi)
WAR Hawk: 3-1 (W, KO 1:30 over Axe Backwards; L, KO 2:33 to Brutus; W, JD 3-0 over Overhaul; W, JD 3-0 over Free Shipping)
Brutus: 2-2 (l, KO 2:24 to Red Devil; W, KO 0:41 over Son of Whyachi; W, KO 2:33 over WAR Hawk; L, KO 2:49 to Gigabyte)
Three wedged vertical spinners square off, and the winner receives the #15 seed. End Game’s had the tough schedule as its losses were to Bite Force and Son of Whyachi. Brutus has had excellent defense against Son of Whyachi and Gigabyte, even if it lost the Gigabyte fight due to a fluky angle. WAR Hawk has the best record of the three, but lost to Brutus when the two fought. Three similar bots with similar enough profiles, which means let the best driver and the best strategist win.
WAR Hawk was hesitant to come out swinging, instead having the little WAR Stop enter the fray first. And it took a massive hit head-on from End Game. So that didn’t quite work. (The wedge took the shot, but it didn’t get totally destroyed!) But for this fight it meant WAR Hawk had to come in.
Good news for them, while they waited, End Game hit Brutus head on and ripped its wedge clean off (and took a piece of the ceiling on the way down), and the moral of the story according to Team Brutus was that Flex Tape works, because it was the one fight they took it off the wedge in favor of threaded inserts to all the bolts that had gotten sheared off. It didn’t work, the wedge went flying, and End Game went to work trying to put the finishing touches. This was a tactical error.
WAR Hawk came and attacked End Game while End Game was trying to finish off Brutus, flipping the Kiwi bot over, and it was unable to self-right from there. Then WAR Hawk got to get the finishing touches on Brutus, wedging it on the wall. WAR Hawk wins by KO in 1:08, and it earns the spot. To see who they face, here are the seeds, complete with my commentary.
Pretty self-explanatory, I’d say.
3. Bite Force
I might have had Bite Force over Bronco, due to the 3 KOs to 2, but you can’t go wrong either way, and if chalk holds they’ll fight in the semis.
The first surprise. It’s a little higher than I expected regarding their performance this season, given that it didn’t seem to ramp things up to RioBotz’s normally high standards until the SubZero fight.
Also maybe a little higher than I expected, but big props to Jamison Go for stepping up his game this season.
I honestly thought Icewave was going to get the 4th seed after the HUGE fight. It’s done the most damage all season, breaking two robots in half, so I would’ve had it as the best of the 3-1 bots.
I thought they’d be 8th, so okay.
8. Son of Whyachi
I thought they’d be higher as well after the Monsoon and End Game fights. Before Icewave won, I thought Son of Whyachi was the best of the 3-1 bots.
I wasn’t sure what they were going to do with the Desperado champ, so this sounds about right.
Okay, about where I had them.
Well that answers our question, it seems. I’m surprised it’s 11th and not 13th or 14th, but they must have given a lot of credit to taking out Skorpios’s saw arm.
I had them around the 7th or 8th seed, but as people were quick to point out, even in its wins the weapon cut out a lot, which must have lost points with the judges.
13. Witch Doctor
Everything around is unexpected, but this is exactly right!
Getting vivisected really hurt HUGE’s seeding. Which just shows that they were indeed a lock at 3-0 because that fight couldn’t have gone worse for them.
15. WAR Hawk
16. [Last Chance Rumble winner]
This does mean that Warhead and Skorpios are the two 3-1 robots on the outside looking in. The thing that hurt both of them was losing a weapon. For Warhead, it was the spinning dome, meaning they only had the dino head left. For Skorpios, it was the saw arm, and even the angle grinder was damaged in the HyperShock fight, and that was jury-rigged anyway.
So with that done, who will be the last one?
The Last Chance Rumble: Lucky vs. Bombshell vs. Valkyrie vs. DUCK! vs. Red Devil vs. Gigabyte
Lucky: 2-4 (L, JD 3-0 to Skorpios; L, KO 1:34 to Son of Whyachi; W, JD 3-0 over Gemini–Desperado QFs; W, KO 1:07 over Gigabyte–Desperado SFs; L, KO 2:42 to Lock-Jaw–Desperado final; L, KO 1:56 to Reality)
Bombshell: 0-4 (L, KO 1:53 to Lock-Jaw; L, KO 1:19 to Bronco; L, JD 3-0 to Yeti; L, KO 0:47 to Bite Force)
Valkyrie: 3-2 (L, KO 2:04 to Ultimo Destructo; W, KO 1:54 over Predator and Bale Spear; W, JD 3-0 over Hypothermia–Desperado QFs; L, KO 1:32 to Lock-Jaw–Desperado SFs; W, JD 3-0 over Red Devil)
DUCK!: 2-2 (W, JD 3-0-X over Free Shipping and Mecha Rampage; W, KO 1:50 over Reality; L, KO 2:15 to Bronco; L, KO 2:37 to Tombstone)
Red Devil: 2-2 (W, KO 2:24 over Brutus; L, JD 2-1 to Monsoon; W, JD 3-0 over SubZero; L, JD 3-0 to Valkyrie)
Gigabyte: 2-2 (L, KO 1:09 to Tombstone; W, KO 1:29 over Double Dutch–Desperado QFs; L, KO 1:07 to Lucky–Desperado SFs; W, KO 2:49 over Brutus)
“Massive bot chaos, with so much on the line,
It’s the final opportunity for these bots to shine.
Six bots enter with no time to stumble,
Ladies and gentlemen, it’s the Last Chance Rumble!”
Thank you, Faruq.
Six robots enter the BattleBox with the 16th seed on the line. The winner faces defending champ Tombstone. First things first, in case you’ve wondered, the rules for a rumble are slightly different than a one-on-one fight. They are here:
Please keep note of them.
Now, you can argue some of the robots in this Last Chance Rumble and whether they belong—the big two questions being Bombshell and Lucky, who each have four losses on the season, and in Bombshell’s case, they’re 0-4. Granted, they’ve had by rank the toughest schedule, because all four robots they faced are in the tournament—they faced #2, #3, #7, and #9. Not even Tombstone had to do that. But still, skunked at 0-4 doesn’t look amazing. The two-loss robots at least make sense, although, again, using the bots who were left off the bubble, it would have been nice to have Warhead in the rumble, but if it won it would’ve had Tombstone and nobody would have wanted to see that dino head get mangled by Tombstone. Okay, that’s a lie, some people definitely would have. But not me.
It’s hard to keep track of a rumble, but I did the best I could. DUCK! started off by charging at Red Devil while Gigabyte started to spin up to speed, with Valkyrie sending it flying, but then Valkyrie which spun off and drove into the screws sending it flying too. Then DUCK! just went after Valkyrie and Gigabyte, going after the spinners in an attempt to break them.
Bombshell hit Red Devil perfectly, taking out one of its treads and sending them skyward, right next to Gigabyte who polished the saw bot off. So one down.
We didn’t hear too much of Lucky, it wasn’t a big part of it, it got hit a couple times but it was mostly at the fringes. It was DUCK! and Bombshell doing the mosy, as everyone else was somewhat hobbled. Bombshell charged after Gigabyte and sent it flying, a big part of killing Gigabyte’s drive, but suffered from its own drivetrain problems as a result. In the most brilliant tactic of the match, DUCK! pushed a barely moving Valkyrie into an immobile but still spinning Gigabyte. This pretty much was it for Valkyrie, though DUCK! continued to bully it, occasionally getting after the barely moving, probably deemed incapacitated Lucky.
And with a few seconds to spare, it looked like the robot that I thought was the strongest of the sextet if there was no rumble had earned its spot and its rematch. But remember what the rules said! A robot can be immobile, and get back up, and it’ll still be in. A count-out is only for the field. And a robot did that, as Bombshell, which actually had lost one of its gearboxes and switched drivers (not sure who started driving but they handed the controls back to Mike Jeffries who needed to figure everything out) came back from the dead before a count-out could start. And there were about 10 seconds left which meant that it was going to come to a judges’ decision.
In the decision of the year, the unanimous decision for the 16 seed went… to Bombshell. Wait what?
Yeah, Mike Jeffries couldn’t believe it, Hal Rucker was seriously bummed (Leanne Cushing went to give him a hug), and we’re all trying to figure out what the fuck happened. A rewatch definitely helped to fill things in. Obviously Bombshell won the two damage points, crippling Red Devil by knocking out one of its treads and charging Gigabyte which did lead to the spinner being immobilized. I’m guessing DUCK!’s brilliant tactic of pushing Valkyrie it Gigabyte, while absolutely netting them the control and strategy points, did not get them damage because they weren’t the robot doing the damage, it would be credited to Gigabyte as they are not an arena hazard (though with the guise of Invader, and this rumble, maybe they should be considered one). And I’m guessing because it was active weapon aggression, the three judges all gave the aggression point to Bombshell. I understand the reasoning, even if I don’t agree with it (DUCK! was attempting to use its lifter and it’s hard to be aggressive if you’re not moving and all), but hey, it was unanimous.
So Bombshell gets the 16th seed and a rematch of the finals with Tombstone. Here is the final bracket, courtesy of BattleBots. By the way, I’ll give ups to the graphics department for playing around with some colors to make that picture what it is—it’s from Warhead vs. Minotaur, but at first glance it just looks like a ring of fire.
The first week will cover the left side of the bracket, the second will cover the right, and the third will cover the semis and finals. So let’s look at that left half of the bracket.
(1) Tombstone vs. (16) Bombshell
Definitely an intriguing match-up, since it’s a rematch of the 2016 championship and all. That wedge on Bombshell could be enough to take down the champ, but even in its rumble victory, Bombshell hasn’t been reliable this year, and Tombstone’ll put that to the ultimate stress test.
(8) Son of Whyachi vs. (9) Lock-Jaw
Believe it or not, it doesn’t look like these two teams have fought each other, since Son of Whyachi didn’t face Tazbot, Diesector, Karcas 2, or Root Canal. If anyone can come up with a strategy, it’s Donald Hutson, but apart from “ram into it until it breaks itself before it breaks you” what is the strategy with an overhead spinner? I guess get the forks under it and tip it?
(5) SawBlaze vs. (12) Monsoon
I’d say if there’s a high potential for an upset special on this side of the bracket, this would be it! No, if Lock-Jaw beats Son of Whyachi that doesn’t count, it’s a 9-seed beating an 8, has madness taught us nothing? We still haven’t seen SawBlaze’s plow attachment for spinners—even against End Game it went with the forks. But Monsoon’s taken down one saw bot and sent it flipping out, and I would not be surprised if they did it again.
(4) Minotaur vs. (13) Witch Doctor
Witch Doctor get a second fight against a drum after losing their opener to Yeti. They’ve switched to a more reliable setup but I imagine Minotaur will be in its SubZero setup with the drum all the way to the max, and we’ll see how well they can handle that.
If chalk holds we could get Tombstone vs. Son of Whyachi in the quarters. I have no idea who’d win that fight, just that it won’t go three minutes and there might be some arena damage. Peter Lambertson won’t be happy.
Also I have not yet made a bracket, but if people want a bracket, we can make a bracket. Do I have to say bracket again? It’s starting to sound weird, saying bracket all the time. But let me know. In which case, see you in time for the tournament!