Hi everyone, welcome back to the Beat! Last week, Brazil beat the FC-named team, Bite Force went a ho-hum 4-0, and Hydra grabbed the torch from Bronco. This week, it’s a special playoff thing, but it’s not the top 16!
The powers that be that is known as the BattleBots Tournament Selection Committee determined that the bubble was so big that they decided to go the play-in route. So 8 fights for 8 spots in the championship tournament. It’s not quite a formal 24-bot bracket, because seeding will be done after the 16 are set. Meanwhile, the bots locked in are:
Bite Force, Black Dragon, Death Roll, Hydra, SawBlaze, Tombstone, Whiplash, and Witch Doctor.
I assume those are your top 8 seeds, in some order. The one that surprised me is SawBlaze, actually. I would have thought Son of Whyachi would be a shoo-in. Both are 3-1, and their losses cancel each other out (SawBlaze’s loss to Tombstone, Son of Whyachi’s to Whiplash) but SawBlaze has the one KO over RotatoR and JDs over Ribbot and Blacksmith. The Ribbot one was dominating, but the Blacksmith one was very close. Son of Whyachi’s wins are all by KO against HUGE, Texas Twister, and Kraken. Someone said it was because then you’d have two Team Whyachi robots as top 8 seeds and that wouldn’t be fair. Or maybe Yeti, but I presume the rest of the schedule (Free Shipping, Rainbow, and Tantrum) doesn’t win it as many favors. Okay fine. My seed projections of those 8:
I have Whiplash over Tombstone for this season in terms of strength of schedule, with Whiplash’s loss being to one of the four 4-0 bots and Tombstone’s being to RotatoR. Plus the fight against Gruff might have lost Tombstone a couple points in the seeding, but on strength of being Tombstone it still gets the nod over Black Dragon even if the latter is 4-1. Meanwhile, the 17 bots on the bubble get to fight for their spot. And then seeding will be done afterwards. Like, much afterwards. Like, they’ll be released on Thursday after post time. So I’ll project those too. But for now, onto the play-ins!
Valkyrie vs. Quantum
Valkyrie: 2-1* (L, KO 2:14 vs. HyperShock; W, KO 0:42 vs. Ragnarök; W, JD 3-0 vs. Monsoon)
Quantum: 2-2 (W, JD 3-o vs. Blacksmith in 2:16; L, KO 1:19 vs. Lock-Jaw; L, KO 1:19 vs. Death Roll; W, JD 3-0 vs. DUCK!)
So I’m going to make my picks for each of these fights too. Valkyrie has grown from last season’s strong rookie showing, improving record-wise and showing some more power and reliability from its undercutting weapons. In its loss to HyperShock it got blitzed from the start and couldn’t really recover, but wins over Ragnarök and Monsoon (and a fourth fight that’ll probably be a bonus fight considering it’s Valkyrie). BattleBots has yet to post the results of the fourth fight. Quantum is 2-2 and has showed difficulty against vertical spinners, as its losses were to Lock Jaw and Death Roll. This time it gets a horizontal spinner, which does have a bit more to bite, but the question is that wedge. I’m picking Valkyrie in this one, who will be going with their bar, Sweet Caroline, since it spins up fastest. Quantum will be going with their single-tooth mouth, which is actually the more powerful of the two. No, I don’t know why the double-tooth exists then, maybe to prevent the single-tooth from getting fucked up? Either way they also have a new wedge.
I also have tonight’s Faruq (or more accurately the writers) critique. All those Classical references, including “…Wag-near death” and he didn’t hum “Flight of the Valkyries”? I’m surprised. And a bit disappointed. That’s kind of a gimme.
Quantum did go for the box rush, as Valkyrie expected, but missed, giving Valkyrie a chance to spin up, glance off of Quantum’s wedge, and flip itself over, turning the undercutter into an overcutter. This meant they had a bit less control, but it wasn’t all bad because it meant that the bar could go over the wedge rather than bite straight into it. And this proved useful as Quantum pushed Valkryie, whose bar went right into Quantum’s tooth and knocked it right out, eliminating the crush.
Well, not exactly eliminating the crush. Tooth or not, that hydraulic ram is still disgustingly powerful, and Quantum could still use it like a clamp, to try and push Valkyrie around. And somehow this was doing damage to Valkyrie’s wheels and kept the bar from spinning. With that Quantum could pin and bully, and shove Valkyrie into the screws and over the screws, bar down. They wouldn’t be able to get out of this one. Quantum wins by KO in 1:44 and moves on. And Senor is 0-1 on the night.
Yeti vs. DUCK!
Yeti: 3-1 (L, JD 3-0 vs. Bite Force; W, JD 3-0 vs. Free Shipping; W, KO 0:56 vs. Rainbow; W, KO 2:45 vs. Tantrum)
DUCK!: 2-2 (W, KO 0:52 vs. Bombshell; W, KO 2:18 vs. Cobalt; L, JD 3-0 vs. Lock-Jaw; L, JD 3-0 vs. Quantum)
Yeti’s gotta feel like one of the ones slighted a bit from the play-ins, because I felt it would have been pretty safe in the 16, somewhere around the 10 or 11 seed. Its one loss was to Bite Force, so ho hum. I guess the latter three fights, wins against Free Shipping, Rainbow, and Tantrum, aren’t the strongest, but Free Shipping was 2-2, and both Rainbow and Tantrum were “are you for real” bots that Yeti showed weren’t. As for DUCK!, it’s one of the 2-2 bots that got in because come on, everyone loves DUCK!. Also its 2-2 record was against some tough bots as it fought three bots also competing tonight. Even if the Cobalt win was floor-assisted. As for Senor’s pick, I liked Yeti because it’s one of the few spinners that have seemed resilient enough to last the full three minutes. Greg Gibson would actually have to choose when to smash! Kind of like strategy!
Yes, of course DUCK! went for a box rush, and not only that, but got an early with its face, meaning that Yeti, still being forkless, had to dance to self-right while DUCK! could stay on and keep pushing. Hal Rucker was being aggressive, getting the push on Yeti even as it was a grinding drum-to-plow angle. But during this somewhat stalemate, Greg Gibson decided to change it up a little bit. Once again, some semblance of kind of strategy! As DUCK! tried to lift, Yeti would back away ever so slightly, enough to not get lifted and flipped, and then came back in for a strike. It was a great on-the-fly move by Greg Gibson, and from that the fight started to turn, as it was Yeti pushing, Yeti taking DUCK! to the wall, mostly grinding away, occasionally landing a bigger punch, but probably being content to grind away and gain more and more control of the fight.
However, as Greg Gibson put it, a spinner only has so many hits in it, and Yeti’s drum started to slow and eventually did grind to a halt. Which meant that Yeti smashed the other robotic way, by bull rushing the fuck outta its opponent like an Alaskan Aaron Donald (see, we’re still a football site). Meanwhile DUCK! was dancing to do any sort of control, meaning maybe its drive was messed up? Either way it went to the judges, as a fight like this was expected to, and they unsurprisingly went for Yeti by unanimous decision. And no, DUCK! was not robbed, you don’t have to all send the Ruckers baked goods. I mean you still can if you want, I don’t see why you couldn’t. But Yeti won this fight. And Senor’s 1-1 for the card.
Lock-Jaw vs. Skorpios
Lock-Jaw: 3-1 (L, KO 0:48 vs. Tombstone; W, KO 1:19 vs. Quantum; W, JD 3-0 vs. DUCK!; W, KO 1:34 vs. Bombshell)
Skorpios: 3-1 (W, KO 2:37 vs. Copperhead; W, KO 2:52 vs. Sidewinder; W, JD 3-0 vs. Tantrum; L, KO 1:37 vs. Upper Cut)
First things first, Zachary Lytle was really happy about this fight. As surprising as this sounds, he’s around my age-ish (probably a little older) because he was watching BattleBots on Comedy Central watching Donald Hutson win two championships with Diesector. And now he gets to fight him. At BattleBots.
Second things, this fight happened already at the BattleBots Challenge, which made people wonder if it was a rematch and grudge match. And to be honest, you could see from the fight that Lock-Jaw had some issues, even from the Whiplash fight. So it wasn’t at full strength. So it was a combination of the two that made me waver back and forth before ultimately picking Lock-Jaw in this one.
So, why are these two not in the top 8? Well for Lock-Jaw I think the biggest thing was actually the Bombshell fight. It was a win but it was not exactly an impressive one, like the fight against Quantum was. As for Skorpios, it went 3-1 but you could argue it was a soft 3-1 considering the only fight they had against top competition, a bot even in this play-in, was against Upper Cut. And that was a loss. The three wins were Copperhead, Sidewinder, and Tantrum, and that’s not exactly Murderer’s Row or the robotic equivalent of it.
Skorpios, with the percussive saw, went for the box rush, as its job is to pin and control and get close and not dealing with a spinner helps with that and everything. Unfortunately that did not work at all as they were sent flipping. And that bent the wedge. Which meant that even though Skorpios could use the saw arm to self-right it couldn’t really get under. And then Lock-Jaw could repeat the process. Over and over again. Like seven or eight times, it just kept going.
Included in the attrition was Skorpios’s right tire, which frayed and frayed as Lock-Jaw went for it more frequently until coming off. This led to wondering if it was still making controlled translational movement, this year’s Chris Rose Phrase. With how it’s explained it seems like a bit of a judgment call, where other rulesets have it just as “Can the robot move out of its circumference?” But Skorpios could, for now, and the fight continued as Lock-Jaw continued but had to be careful as there was some smoke emanating, whether from the pulleys or from the motors. And Skorpios even got a last-ditch moment where the arm came down but the disk did not spin. But after waiting for the smoke to subside Lock-Jaw gave one more pop and the refs then started the count. Skorpios got its revenge and Zach Lytle got the win over Donald Hutson he had dreamed of, but it was only in that fifth-place/bonus fight at the re:MARS. This time around, Lock-Jaw wins by KO in 2:58, just under the gun.
HyperShock vs. HUGE
HyperShock: 3-1 (W, KO 2:14 vs. Valkyrie; W, KO 0:41 vs. Monsoon; L, JD 3-0 vs. Bite Force; W, KO 2:59 vs. Breaker Box)
HUGE: 3-1 (L, KO 1:36 vs. Son of Whyachi; W, KO 1:25 vs. Jasper; W, JD 3-0 vs. Gigabyte; W, JD 3-0 vs. Bronco)
As much as I love Will Bales and HyperShock because of how bonkers the two are, HUGE is specifically designed to be a hard counter against this type of bot, the compact vertical spinner. So it is with a heavy heart I’m picking HUGE, even as BattleBots posted a picture of people in HyperShock jackets (Will’s parents) at Lowe’s/Home Depot/Ace/whatever in the garden aisle. Which means exactly what you think it is!
That’s right, it’s The Rakening 2: Electric Yellow Boogaloo! (Hey, I posted that comment on HyperShock’s Facebook and Will liked it.) Yes, the battle rake returned. And actually…
… it’s two rakes. As in, 2 Rakes 2 Furious! (And that killed on the Reddit live thread.)
Anyway, it’s the only way to not have HyperShock pass directly under HUGE and get the shit torn out of its top. And the rake rush worked, as it stopped HUGE’s blade and HyperShock could push HUGE towards the screws where it actually got a bit stuck and HyperShock was a little overeager to jam it in deeper (alternately repaying the favor that Breaker Box did it getting caught in the killsaw). The problem is, these rakes weren’t exactly the strongest heaviest-duty rakes. If such things exist. And they started to bend under HUGE’s weight, because apparently two rakes aren’t supposed to take the weight of 250 lbs. on them. And because of that it meant that HUGE could get closer and eventually tear off that top armor or the srimech, or both, and break the rakes. Crazily, it broke one of the rakes right into the already diminished weapon and put it right in the weapon well, jamming it up. Yup, it’s a thing.
So HyperShock had to try and improvise, namely by ramming the large wheels to try and push HUGE around. And it kind of worked since the wheels took some damage and buckled a little bit, but on the other hand when HUGE was able to pivot it could deal damage to HyperShock, and HUGE was starting to control the fight. Damage was being done to the drive on the left side of HyperShock, and eventually HUGE was able to get that hit on the rear right to entirely lop it off. It almost worked, but (and this one’s not mine) this time it was The Betrakeal. To quote Will Bales, “If it works we’re not stupid. If not, we’re idiots.” Well, it kinda worked, but Season 5 HyperShock’s going to need specially made battle rakes for it to work. HUGE wins by KO in 2:57, and Senor is very sad to go 3-1.
RailGun Max vs. Bloodsport vs. Upper Cut
RailGun Max: 3-1 (W, KO 1:03 vs. Mad-Catter; W, KO 0:57 vs. Shellshock; W, JD 3-0 vs. WanHoo; L, JD 2-1 vs. Free Shipping)
Bloodsport: 2-1* (L, KO 1:06 vs. Black Dragon; W, JD 3-0 vs. Lucky; W, KO 1:36 vs. Breaker Box)
Upper Cut: 3-1 (L, KO 2:34 vs. Tantrum; W, 1:05 vs. Mammoth; W, 2:17 vs. Breaker Box; W, KO 1:37 vs. Skorpios)
It’s a rumble. For a spot. Your mileage may vary about whether you think this is a good idea to have a rumble, but hey, Eruption won the 10-bot rumble in Robot Wars Series 10 and then proceeded to win the championship, beating defending champion Carbide. So it won’t always be the best robot—Eruption won by laying low. So with that, even though in my eyes RailGun Max has been the most impressive of the three, it won’t win because that means it’ll either get teamed up on by the other two or attack someone else and fuck itself up. Its belts have been susceptible as well. So with that, hell, I’ll say Bloodsport. Like Valkyrie, there’s probably a Science Channel fight that’s missing for Bloodsport where it’s probably 3-1. Also because the Upper Cut crew did The Wave, except it was dabbing. And I think that’s minus a billion points.
As for the fight, the three robots came together and managed to impressively simultaneously bump each other. Impressive in the simultaneousness, not the power of the bump. And then Upper Cut retreated to let RailGun Max and Bloodsport have a run at each other. RailGun Max start by taking out a minibot (oh whoops, it was Platypus, which is theirs), and then had a big shot with Bloodsport that sent it spinning and bouncing over the wall for a ground-rule double—I mean, KO. Beyblades would be proud.
Oh yeah, and RailGun Max had lost its weapon belt and was a sitting duck. And essentially just clean up the loose change by taking out one of RailGun Max’s wheels. Upper Cut wins by double KO in 2:21, and Senor goes to 2:21. For that, Upper Cut’ll very possibly be the 15 or 16 seed, even if they’re behind 2-loss bots.
RotatoR vs. Blacksmith
RotatoR: 2-2 (L, JD 3-0 vs. SawBlaze; W, KO 0:57 vs. Bombshell; W, KO 2:59 vs. Tombstone; L, JD 3-0 vs. Death Roll)
Blacksmith: 2-2 (L, JD 3-0 vs. Quantum in 2:16; W, JD 2-1 vs. Kraken; L, JD 2-1 vs. SawBlaze; W, KO 2:55 vs. Captain Shrederator)
RotatoR’s in the door primarily for one reason, and that’s beating Tombstone. If it were 2-2 and beat anyone else (other than Bite Force) there might be another bot there. Blacksmith, honestly, I’m surprised. Its wins are a split decision against a middle of the pack bot in Kraken and a KO against Captain Shrederator but everyone got a KO against Captain Shrederator this year. Everybody does love Blacksmith, but to me the most notable snubs are Shatter!, Gigabyte, and Ribbot and you could make an argument for them here. However, Al Kindle does have the best unamused face this side of McKayla Maroney (totally topical, right?) so that has to count for something. Blacksmith has its wedge on to combat the lower disk, but its the higher one Al’s worried about because for the first time this year RotatoR actually has the setup that its name is based on! It only took them five fights. Victor Soto’s plan was to primarily use the high spinner at first to try and damage the hammer.
Blacksmith didn’t go full box rush as RotatoR got its top going, and used what I call the 13 Black move (where the double spinner also goes into a full-body spin) to try and swipe at the hammer, or the chain. But Blacksmith stayed with them and started to push. And Blacksmith was bullying RotatoR around and had it cornered, but the hammer wasn’t firing, which meant that RotatoR sniped the chain with the 13 Black spin. Which meant Blacksmith had to continue to bully while RotatoR slowed down the top disk to start spinning the bottom one—they still can’t spin both simultaneously without quickly burning out the motor. And this worked for one hit, spinning Blacksmith.
But Blacksmith stayed with RotatoR, getting it stuck by the screws but Blacksmith freed it, and pushed, and actually flipped RotatoR. And on a second look, RotatoR’s drive may have been incapacitated from the bull rush flurry, either by the pushes or from the pulverizer blows that also incurred, but we couldn’t see the drive clearly die because Blacksmith was busy bashing it. But it went to the judges who turned a unanimous decision… for Blacksmith and a very surprised Al Kindle.
Damage: At first I thought it was cut and dry 3-0 RotatoR for the hammer chain. But if the drive was damaged that swings the damage, 2-1 Blacksmith.
Control: This is the easy one, 2-0 Blacksmith
Aggression: Either 1-1 or 2-0 Blacksmith. RotatoR used its disk a couple times, but Blacksmith repeatedly charged and attacked, even if firing the hammer zero times.
So yeah, I guess I can see how, I just didn’t know if the points would show it. Al Kindle can’t believe it, but Blacksmith is in the Top 16! Either as 15 or 16, let’s be real here. If it were a 24-bot bracket it would have been facing one of the stronger 3-1 bots. But in is in!
Son of Whyachi vs. Copperhead
Son of Whyachi: 3-1 (W, KO 1:36 vs. HUGE; L, KO 1:46 vs. Whiplash; W, KO 0:49 vs. Texas Twister; W, KO 1:01 vs. Kraken)
Copperhead: 2-2 (L, KO 2:37 vs. Skorpios; W, JD 2-1 vs. Gruff; L, KO 1:04 vs. Chronos; W, KO 1:19 vs. WAR Hawk)
Team Whyachi already has one bot in the 16 with Hydra, and is looking for a second. I figure Son of Whyachi might have been the 9 or 10 seed if there was a standard 16. Copperhead would be one of the bots that I would have considered on the bubble of the top 25, but this becomes a rematch of Son of Whyachi vs. Poison Arrow. Roll the clip!
If we remember it, this is the fight that sent Son of Whyachi 10 feet in the air and then it just died. It’s had similar stuff happen since then but its internals have been better protected since it hasn’t had that problem happen.
Copperhead’s original plan was to box rush, but then it didn’t, as it was a bit slow off the blocks. Could it have been a traction or a radio issue? Either way it meant Son of Whyachi could spin up and head to the center of the Box, which meant when it made contact with Copperhead it didn’t immediately carom into a wall or three. Meanwhile, Copperhead was holding up to the naked eye, but it had flipped over and had to re-right. Son of Whyachi was leading with the rear rather than the wedge and I’m not sure if that was due to internal stuff or angles. Neither bot was moving particularly fast, but Son of Whyachi was the faster one compared to the bordering on crabwalking Copperhead and tried to hit the wheels. It caught more of the drum and popped up, but nowhere near as much as the Poison Arrow fight. And it was unaffected. Copperhead was more towards the screws, though it got out. But Zach Goff was goading Son of Whyachi, even though it was definitely ahead on points. Especially after Son of Whyachi got around the wheel enough to take a chunk of wheel out, as Copperhead was spinning the wheels but going nowhere.
Son of Whyachi dealt one more blow, sending itself skidding, but Copperhead bounded on top of the inner wall behind the screws. Whether due to the traction issues or just where Copperhead was, it wasn’t coming back from this. Son of Whyachi wins by KO in 2:33. If you’re scoring at home I had RotatoR and Son of Whyachi so I’m 4-3.
Cobalt vs. Minotaur
Cobalt: 2-2 (W, 1:08 vs. SubZero; L, KO 2:18 vs. DUCK!; W, KO 1:03 vs. Bombshell; L, KO 1:42 vs. End Game)
Minotaur: 3-3 (L, JD 3-0 vs. Whiplash; L, JD 3-0 vs. Gigabyte; W, KO 1:59 vs. Lucky–Desperado QF; W, KO 2:36 vs. End Game–Desperado SF; L, JD 3-0 vs. Black Dragon–Desperado Final; W, KO 2:34 vs. Shatter!)
If you told me way back when we started this season this was a semifinal or the championship, I would’ve believed you. Two of the premier teams in the world squaring off sounds like a championship-worthy fight, but instead it’s just to get in the field. These two bots have had somewhat mirror seasons. Cobalt started off strong in its demolition of SubZero, but after floor problems led to one of the upsets of the year against DUCK!, Team Carbide’s had difficulties finding a middle ground, going to things like bigger tires but getting the front wedge in trouble as a result. Meanwhile, Minotaur started off slowly, with losses to Whiplash and Gigabyte because a new drum hadn’t been quite tuned. But they got it figured out for the Desperado tournament, but lost to their fellow countrymen in the excellent fight against Black Dragon. The win against Shatter! was necessary to get into this play-in.
Both bots have modifications for this fight. Cobalt actually went with a new disk to be able to withstand weapon to weapon strikes. It looks similar to Witch Doctor’s, and nowhere near as cool but at this point if it works, who cares? Meanwhile Minotaur had its chisel wedgelets to try and get under Cobalt’s hinged wedge. It worked immediately because on the first hit Cobalt’s hinged wedge came off. And went back into the lights, as that light’s remnants came raining down. The two bots then took a mutual hit, and both bots went flying back, as Minotaur flipped and gyrodanced back over, and someone was down a belt.
From here it was front on front, not quite weapon on weapon due to the wedge on Cobalt. Minotaur was winning the push battle and able to grind away. Until it didn’t just grind but get that toss. And wow did it get that toss. Cobalt was definitely tossed 15 feet into the air. It could have been 18 feet, but either way it must have been awfully close to roofing it. The Smash Bros. up smash jokes were on point. And somehow Cobalt survived that! And tried to keep coming after Minotaur afterwards.
I say try because Minotaur was winning the pushing match. Even with the drum down, and the drum was down from trying to send Cobalt to space. There were some little grindings here and there, but for much of the close of the match it was the Brazilian Bull refusing to budge, and pushing Cobalt into the wall to kill the clock. It went to the judges who went for Minotaur by unanimous decision.
And with that we have our field. This is the part where I’d show seedings but instead I get to project my own. So with that, Senor’s seed projections
1. Bite Force
3. Witch Doctor
4. Death Roll
7. Black Dragon
10. Son of Whyachi
15. Upper Cut
Again, take this with a block of salt, but looking at the matchups that I’m projecting, there’s a rematch of a 2016 semifinal in the 6-11 matchup (Tombstone vs. Yeti), and I would be intrigued to see what the Vasquez family would do with Whiplash against HUGE in my 5-12. Sure, Al Kindle has to fight Bite Force and that’s unlikely to go well, but it’s not like you’re going to seed Blacksmith 9th, sorry.
For me, the 9/10/11 were close together, with HUGE under them as the 12, and then Minotaur and Quantum I had together due to the types of seasons they had. Upper Cut and Blacksmith are definitely 15 and 16 in some way, shape, or form, I can tell you that much will be certain.
So how wrong was I? Well we’ll find out this afternoon. As for the full column, that will see you next week.
SLIGHTLY AFTER POST TIME UPDATE: WE HAVE BRACKET.
(1) Bite Force vs. (16) Upper Cut
(8) Black Dragon vs. (9) Lock-Jaw
(4) Tombstone vs. (13) Quantum
(5) Whiplash vs. (12) HUGE
(2) Witch Doctor vs. (15) Blacksmith
(7) SawBlaze vs. (10) Son of Whyachi
(3) Hydra vs. (14) Minotaur
(6) Death Roll vs. (11) Yeti
-Looking forward to Tombstone-Quantum and Whiplash-HUGE
-I got the lower seeds almost totally right, but I had Death Roll much higher than 6th.
-Potential Bite Force-Tombstone semi (and that would be chalk); potential Team Whyachi semi (that would not be chalk)
-Bite Force avoiding HUGE until possibly the semis is a huge deal. HUGE was winning that fight last year until the toll from the Icewave fight reared its head.
First round fights, give me Bite Force, Lock-Jaw, Tombstone, HUGE, Witch Doctor, Son of Whyachi, Minotaur, and Death Roll. We’ll work from there. Now definitely see you next week!