Well, that’s the end of that.
I experienced a sudden moment of trepidation right as the fight was starting. After picking Tombstone to win without giving the matchup more than ten second’s of thought (and even now I think my analysis was correct!), something about the editing and framing of the match, along with Mr Tombstone’s blatant taunting of his opponent, gave me the heebie jeebies. I didn’t make a last second pick change, how could you? How could you pick against the KING of Kinetic Energy? Going against Captain Shrederator, coming off a 3-10 stretch the last 3 seasons? The REAL Tombstone would have won, and even a diminshed version should have. Yet there, as the lights flashed, suddenly I was uneasy. And I said “man, if he somehow loses this match, we can really close the book on the ‘Tombstone Era’”.
Let’s lay out the history here, for the uninformed.
|Season 1||1 Seed||Lost Finals (Bite Force)|
|Season 2||1 Seed||Won Finals|
|Season 3||1 Seed |
|…we’ll talk about this in a minute|
|Season 4||4 seed |
|Lost Semifinals (Bite Force)|
That is a ridiculous run of dominance. Sure he didn’t win the title every year, but Peyton Manning didn’t win the title every year. And Tombstone was always going to be Manning instead of Tom Brady. And, just so there’s no confusion – Tombstone played the best. They played a top or above average robot every week as the Selection Committee did their best to test their mettle. Here is their regular season schedule in 2018 and 2019 (7-1)
(The only bot Tombstone faced who didn’t make the playoffs or lose a playoff play-in match that season was Gruff. And Gruff rules.)
Anyhow, here’s how things have gone since losing to 3 time Champion Bite Force (BRADY) in the 2019 Final Four:
- Lost to End Game (forgivable)
- Knockout of Slap Box (good, I guess, I don’t know who that is)
- Lost to Skorpios (yeesh…)
- Playoffs: Knocked out MadCatter (good!)
- Playoffs: Lost to Black Dragon (I mean, fine, but this certainly looked like a winnable match going in. So not good)
- Lost to Captain Shrederator (ok, that’s enough, I can’t bury my hand in the sand anymore)
It’s over. The party’s over. The guarantee of robot carnage and a highly entertaining match EVERY TIME is gone. I’m cutting the cord here, only a Deep playoff run can return Tombstone to glory. The craziest thing is how weird and almost…cosmic his downfall has been. In Season 3 he was the defending champ and looked completely unstoppable in the regular in the regular season. At that point he had lost 1 match (a Championship Final) in his career, his record was something like 14-0. In three seasons, all of modern Battlebots history, there was never a moment when Tombstone WASN’T the consensus Number One Seed. Almost every match was a knockout. And he was facing the number 16 seed, a robot that did have some pedigree but was in the middle of a 0-8 regular season stretch and only made the playoffs on a fluke.
Tombstone lost that match.
That was the tipping point. It was inexplicable, it still is, it seemed to break Tombstone’s invulnerability. The next blow came next year when he finally lost a regular season match. It was against Rotator, not an embarassment, but Mr Tomstone had requested this match specifically! He was mad Rotator had won the Most Destructive Bot award the previous seaon and was seeking to “settle” the score. One loss later (maybe the greatest fight of all time) and he was bumped down to the 4 seed, and then his season ended on a bizarre strike by Bite Force. Somehow Bite Force’s vertical spinner caught the very end of Tombstone’s blade and it sent him flying wildly in a very strange manner. I’m no physicist but everyone said it was an extremely lucky blow (million to one shot according to TS) so I’m trusting them. Since then it’s been a free fall down the ranks (21 seed last year in the tournament) and I’m starting to think the 15 seconds that Tombstone lasted against End Game to begin last season was not an unlucky match but a fair measure of their respective talents at this point in time. The sport has moved on, or Tombstone has fallen behind, either way the result is the same.
So yeah, pour one out for a legend, becoming ordinary now does not erase 4 seasons of greatness where he was the most exciting robot in the world. Ultimately we’re just being fair, just as he earned the accolades in seasons 1-4 he has thoroughly earned this demotion. Tombstone will not be found on the Power Rankings again this season. It’s over. We’ll always have Season 2 Baby.
(Part 2 of the Recap will actually recap week 1, stay tuned!)