Week 1 Recap Part 2: Slash and Burn

The theme of this Week’s Recap is “Everyone Has Bad Days”. Both in past and present.

Hydra is allowed to have a bad day where their flipper breaks by itself(? still waiting on the autopsy for this one) and loses quickly and they are still Hydra, a top seed and obvious contender for the Giant Nut in 2021*. Their greatness remains. In a similar vein, one really bad loss in a big spot (say, the second round of the playoffs last year when you are rolling and look like the odds-on favorite to win the whole thing) does not disqualify Uppercut from being great. I was judging them too harshly and putting too much stock into that playoff upset. Everyone has bad days, and these are all tiny sample sizes we are working with where one fluke match can ruin my analysis. We’re all human, even the robots.

It was NOT the Match of the Century, Hydra performed badly for the first time ever and End Game won easy, it’s very easy when your opponent does not have a weapon or anything they can do to hurt you. It was a deflating end to a very good night of fights. End Game remains on top and yes, it’s a little disappointing that we didn’t get a better showing from the two titans. Alas. It’s also disappointing that I’m so terrible at picking fights, but nobody cares about that, not even me after Gruff has a dominant and worry-free showing. Nevertheless let’s walk through and see where we went wrong.

  • Sawblaze vs Minotaur

Me, last week:

“Sawblaze will fight in the inaugural match of the season, the first fight of the first episode (Win!).”

Minotaur finds itself in a hole early in the year and rallies wildly.”

Also me:

“(S)awblaze didn’t do anything to earn this honor besides being genuinely excellent year and year out (and being excellent in these inaugural matches). In fact yes, he’s won both of them including the absolute (and frankly shocking, especially in hindsight) owning of Whiplash last year.”

“I seem to be talking myself into taking Sawblaze here, who always seems very well prepared to start each season when Minotaur absolutely does not (they were 0-1 in 2018 as well).”

All of that happened, and then here’s my pick:

“Minotaur, Judges Decision”


Sawblaze looked absolutely great, better than ever. However, those first twenty seconds or so unfolded exactly how I predicted: Minotaur was getting low on Sawblaze and landing hard shots. Then things took a dramatic turn, I’ll have to rewatch to properly understand, but once Minotaur was trapped in SB’s clutches it was pretty much over. The saw looks badass, and it’s wonderful to see them win a match like that where things didn’t go their way early, they took some damage, and then they turned it around and didn’t look back. We’ll have to see Minotaur again before we know if they’re a good/great team that lost to a great team, or if something is lacking with that lovable captain now missing (at least the driver is still behind the wheel). As for Sawblaze, maybe this is the year, weapon looked devastating after the driving and wedges set it up for the kill, just how they drew it up. The saw started a battery fire that was pretty serious (close to a Black Dragon fire, I love that this is happening more and more). Sawblaze climbs a notch in the rankings and is probably in the top tier now, at least knocking on the door. A terrific and unique robot in its prime.

  • Uppercut over Gigabyte (I picked Gig)

Uppercut was excellent. Durability looked good, it moved pretty fast across the arena, it’s still steers like a shopping cart at times (there was a moment in the corner where he went by Gig and I thought there was a big opening) but probably the best moving Uppercut we’ve seen. This win (and, if we write off the Ribbot loss as a Very Bad Day, then they’ve otherwise been dominant for over a season now) skyrockets them up the Power Rankings.

Gigabyte – not a great match for them. I’ve seen Gigabyte pull this tactic of running into the corner a couple times now, is this some sort of counter-strategy thing? Like, obviously Gigabyte doesn’t want to be in the corner, so if they go there intentionally it’ll be a happy shock for their opponent…and maybe that will leave them vulnerable somehow? I dunno man, I’ve trying to meet you halfway here. They still survived a truckload of huge hits (a couple of those in the middle, wowie) and could have escaped the corner or charged UC when he drove past him there, he ended up doing neither. Anyhow, Gigabyte, if you’re reading this and somehow still on the fence – being in the corner is not your friend. Walls in general are not your friend. The new arena dealie (it’s awesome) – is it called the porch? – is not your friend either. It kinda sucks that they added something that runs counter to your game, but you can’t respond by willing driving right into the smallest navigatable corner in the Battlebox. Don’t do that, please. If Gig wins their next two matches (or even if they just play really well, depending on the competition) they should make the playoffs, but cracking the top ten in the Ranks is not going to happen soon.

  • Gruff and Blacksmith (Yay!)

Let’s just cover these guys quick, as they both won, both were pretty impressive (and appear to have addressed obvious weaknesses), and together were my only successful picks of the week, I called the outcomes along with the winners. The funny thing is that these were kinda homer picks, I love both these guys, Blacksmith was my favorite until I discovered Gruff and Gruff has been my unwavering fav since. They’re kinda the same robot with a few tweaks: Hammer for BS, Forks for Gruff, Blacksmith is faster and more nimble while Gruff’s flamethrower is better and can actually be a gamechanger, Gruff probably has stronger armor overall (and I think it’s a better robot right now but we’ll see). Blacksmith – man, where has this hammer been all my life? While I expected it to deal a little more damage overall (we’ll keep an eye on this in future matches) it looked absolutely awesome and so much more effective than the standard “rock-hammer” they’ve always had. This is a good sign that this old dog is evolving with the times. I was fairly nervous I was wrong and Free Shipping would be able to outmaneuver him but while FS was certainly faster Blacksmith kept him in front and kept clocking him with the hammer.

Gruff took care of business just like a vet should over a rookie, great start to the season. Looks like Switchback has a bunch of issues to work out. Gruff had a lot of problems burning out their drive in the regular season last year and really needs to make sure they last 3 minutes, if they’re unable to move at the end of these matches then they will lose where they should have won. Like Extinguisher last year. And Bloodsport. If they’ve got that sorted out I really think the sky is the limit for this guy, just a wonderful design built for modern Battlebots. Fingers crossed!

  • Deep Six vs Pain Train (I picked PT)

I mean, like, whatever. Pain Train still has serious mobility issues and is out of control, Deep Six didn’t kill itself and then landed a good shot and that was it. The thing is kind of a supersized Uppercut, it’s absolutely massive and decadently violent and scary and has plenty going for it offensively. I just think it won’t last more than between one and five shots before it destroys itself somehow. The torque is insane. Also doesn’t move well either, and if Pain Train had any ability to focus and drive straight forward for six consecutive feet it could have attacked when Big Six had its back exposed and who knows what happens. Last year I believe I picked the 6th match (generally rookies or novices working out their shite) wrong 8 of 10 weeks in the regular season, and we’re 0-1 this season, so it’s really time to employ the Costanza method going forward for this one slot. That’s it! I will genuinely and honestly make a pick and then reverse it. We’ll see how it goes. These two robots are mediocre, next.

  • Tombstone vs Captain Shrederator (sigh)

Already covered. Who knows, maybe the Cptn drank some of the Gigabyte juice (only works for full-body spinners) and will be impossible to kill now. This one did seem to be more of a case where the angle was bad for TS’s weapon, I dunno why. The weeks to come will tell us what really happened here (both bots are bad now, CS is good now, maybe both are still good? Probably not that last one but again, time will tell).

  • The Main Event (I got this wrong too, don’t worry)

That was not the Match of the Century.

Whatever, I’m fine with this, I guess I didn’t expect a great fight either way. Either End Game would be able to make contact and win quickly (which isn’t how it went, Hydra was getting under him before the breakdown), or Hydra would flip him a whole bunch of times and probably go to the judges. Which yeah, the second option would be a lot of fun, I just didn’t see how this would be competitive for a long stretch, it wasn’t going to be Whiplash-Hydra 2.0. End Game has an established weakness with low robots (Hydra, Tantrum) and thank god there’s some chink in the armor. The inaguaral main event last year was End Game punting Tombstone in seconds, while that outcome wasn’t fishy while this one was, the entertainment value was the same. It was short and anticlimatic. It happens, it does suck when it’s a main event you’ve been looking forward to, and it did tarnish what could have been a historically good fight night, but I don’t have a problem saying that End Game remains on top and is capable making adjustments and getting its weapon to hit something like Hydra. Last year Uppercut had plenty of chances to hit Hydra and simply couldn’t do it, Hydra losing its flipper didn’t automatically give EG the victory, he still had to hit him and he did. I don’t know who they’re throwing on End Game next but man, they better watch out. What a run those Kiwis are on.

P.S. What was with all the Fires? I mean, it was fantastic, you could barely see Minotaur through the smoke it was so thick. Visuals throughout the night were excellent. Like the new arena feature too. But yeah, fires galore, maybe I called it wrong and we’re in the Age of Fire instead. That would be splendid.

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