Here I will make my pick for the Champion of the 2021* Battlebots season.
This year it’s more than just a pick. It’s part of an overall larger statement for the current season, a prediction about the state of the robot fighting ecosystem and what trait might be most desirable in the present.
Traditionally it seems the implicit channels by which one can improve their robot have been along two specific vectors.
1) Make the weapon more powerful/deadlier
2) Make the robot’s design better (lower to the ground, different wedges, armor, etc)
But -> what if there was another way? Can the robot’s weapon and design lose their significance if the robot itself simply CANNOT BE KILLED?
There were a few key trends that emerged at the end of last season as several bots attained success not expected or previously realized before, (perhaps) as part of a larger trend
- (The Big One) Gigabyte captures the SOW Bounty. Also worth mentioning is how they sustained 13 flips in a playoff matchup with Hydra with hardly a scratch and only lost because they could not hit him with their weapon.
- Tantrum goes on a run to the Final Four. (The lowness they attain was certainly a factor too)
- Black Dragon also makes the Final Four in part by surviving a 2 MINUTE fire while winning their match against Ribbot.
- Ribbot beat Uppercut basically by being skinned alive and still being able to move afterwards, while the exhaustion resulting from the skinning put poor little Uppercut to bed.
(Also worth mentioning as a notable moment for this trend was when 2 seed Bloodsport broke their weapon five seconds into a match with 31 seed Gruff. Gruff of course became the Tombstone Bounty Hunter but lost the matchup with the King)
Anyhow, here’s the take and prediction: Durability has quietly risen in importance and will have an outsized effect on Battlebots Season 6. The end of last season showcased a number of highly durable bots finding success and going on playoff runs. Extreme durability has the ability to be a silver bullet against anything an opponent can deliver (again, see the SOW Bounty if you have any remaining questions about this). It’s like the Homer Simpson Boxing strategy except it can actually work against anyone. Following that up, for my pick for Champion this coming season I am selecting the most successful (to date) of the Durables. I predict that Black Dragon will win the Giant Nut this year.
Beyond Durability, Black Dragon seems to be in the middle of their rapid development and ascension up the tiers of established robots. In two seasons they have accomplished the following:
2019 (4-2 overall record):
- Opening loss to Texas Twister on a split decision (I blame the old scoring system and think he would win with the new one, whatever, it was close. Most robots lose their opening fight)
- Domination of a nascent Bloodsport
- Champion of the Desperado Tournament with resounding victories over: Captain Shrederator, War Hawk and Minotaur(!).
- Loss a split decicion to Lock Jaw in the opening round of the playoffs. (It was close, probably the right call. I don’t consider losing your first playoff fight to be a bad thing)
2020 (5-2 overall record):
- Split Decision win against Kraken. (Man that one was close! I actually thought Kraken won but whatever, BD got the job done)
- Dominant win over Claw Viper. (Claw Viper is not very good but it is extremely fast!)
- Judges decision loss against Copperhead. (Tough, he got rocked early on. BD dominated the last two minutes and probably wins if he broke Copperhead’s weapon but couldn’t get it done)
- Dominant tournament win over SlamMow
- Very impressive win over Tombstone
- The ‘Fire Match’ win over Ribbot
- Tough loss to Whiplash in the SemiFinals. (I thought the strategy was poorly conceived, should have used the disk spinner weapon instead of the egg-beater. Should have used the Witch Doctor strategy against Whiplash. Alas)
That’s a pretty impressive run in a team’s first two seasons, especially since there is definite learning curve in this sport, teams almost always have major flaws in their first season. They have beaten a lot of different teams and a lot of good teams, what’s more is that I don’t see a common weakness in their defeats. Texas Twister, Lock Jaw, Copperhead, Whiplash…I guess the playoff losses were to teams with better drivers, but those guys beat everyone anyhow. Point is – Black Dragon has no substantial weaknesses, has beaten all varieties of foes, he’s NEVER been knocked out, an underreported and incredibly impressive fact, and this is only his third year. That looks like a meteoric rise to me, so I’m getting on the bandwagon now while there’s still plenty of space.
And sure, it’s almost an afterthought following my durability spiel, but Black Dragon has a punishing weapon, incredible speed driving and maneuverability, and a flexible configuration allowing for different weapons and wedges depending on the opponent. It’s a great machine, it checks all the boxes and shouldn’t find itself in a bad matchup against anyone.
– BLACK DRAGON (and Pato)
Battleblog Official 2021* Giant Nut Winner Prediction
Second: Gigabyte (not really, but putting it down here just in case. I still don’t fully understand what I saw in that SOW Bounty episode…that deserves its own post)
We’ll see what happens!