Week 2 Main Event: Bloodsport vs Whiplash

(NOTE: I wanted to do just one Picks column each week, but there’s too much material to cover here, so much to say about Whiplash and this excellent matchup. Rest of Picks later, here we handle the MAIN EVENT)

-> Bloodsport

(Discussed in detail HERE)

Very much an offensive robot, with a massive and deadly three-blade horizontal spinner. Blade is mounted atop the robot in contrast to other horizontal spinners Tombstone (mounted in the front) and Valkyrie (mounted underneath as an undercutter)

Four wedgelets on one side (not sure the value of those) and a Gigabyte-style self-righter in place of their crown.

Never knocked out last season (of course they went 4-1) so durability seems to be a strength. More than that is their speed and driving ability – I’d say this is the faster and most maneuverable of any robot featuring this weapon type. It’s definitely a different (better?) body design than Tombstone or Valkyrie. One of the biggest moments of the season last year IMO, and almost certainly the biggest moment of the regular season was when End Game executed a successful box rush after Bloodsport…and Bloodsport managed to evade them. They spun around to get away and avoid contact until their weapon was fully spun up, End Game chased with vigor but it was an incredible (and surprising) display of driving. Once the blade was fully spinning the dance ended and the robots collided – only Bloodsport was still mobile after the impact. Considering what happened to End Game after that this must be considered the pivot point of their season.

-> Whiplash

A control/lifting robot with incredible speed and driving ability.

Lifting arm allows them to flip and push around other robots. The arm has a smaller disk spinner mounted on it. This is a uniquely flexible weapon, Whiplash can use the spinner against robots in front of it but also can perform a “back-hand” by reaching the arm the other way, at which point the spinner is positioned on the bottom. Like so.

Durability seemed greatly improved last year (but of course choosing where to get hit is a key part of taking damage). Whiplash almost never wins by Knockout (I don’t think there were any last year in their 6 victories) and its two losses were by knockout. This robot does not do a lot of damage (it has an articulating disk spinner which is flexible but not very powerful) and wins by disabling opponents and controlling the fight. By its overall win-loss record, and the impressive quality of the opponents it has bested, this is probably the most successful robot in Modern Battlebots History.

Let’s take a look at the robots Whiplash has lost to…

  • Tombstone
  • Bite Force
  • Witch Dr
  • Tombstone (again)
  • Sawblaze
  • End Game

The outlier in that group (in my opinion) is Sawblaze. Put that robot aside, all the other robots on this short and exclusive list a) are elite robots (or used to be) that b) have very hard-hitting weapons.

Here’s the deal with Whiplash – it’s never lost to a speed/driving/control robot with the exception of Sawblaze. Nor has it ever been bested by a unique or unusual design. It’s the Huge killer! It’s bested Huge in two playoff matches and finally realized in the second one that the articulating disk spinner allows him to reach up and hit Huge where no one else can. No, the only thing that reliably beats Whiplash is having one of the most powerful weapons in the sport. It’s usually a large vertical disk spinner that defeats Whip, but also a horizontal spinner has worked on more than one occasion. (And…Bloodsport has a high-powered Horizontal Spinner for a weapon!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)

So that’s what it comes down to – Bloodsport has a chance. That’s really the first process of screening when assessing a Whiplash fight: does the opponent have an opening or are they completely hopeless? Often they are hopeless! Along with maybe its spirit brother Sawblaze (we’ll have to have a column comparing these two at some point) no modern robot has had more consistent sucess and results than Whiplash. They NEVER lose to a bad team. EVER. Of course the flip side to that is the fact that Whiplash hasn’t really had success against the absoulute ELITE tier of robots, the ones that win Giant Nuts and make the finals. In beating End Game Bloodsport has done something that Whiplash has not done, and I’m not optimistic for Whiplash in that eventual rematch whenever it comes. Now, of course anything can happen, it’s a brand new season, but that’s the book on Whiplash to date. Never loses to a lesser robot, and yet has been unable to cross that final frontier, to beat the absolute best in the sport and hoist the Giant Nut.

-> Comparable Fights, in their Histories:

Bloodsport – I don’t think there’s any robot comparable to Whiplash, and it’s not like Bloodsport can really adjust their strategy (Spin to Win), so let’s skip it. The interesting thing is on the flipside.

Whiplash – Other robots faced with horizontal spinning weapon

  • Tombstone, twice: Died quickly, was competitive early in the first match and deflected him a few times with the wedge, then got eaten alive in a brutal manner that became a frequent clip in old Tombstone montages. I don’t really remember the second one in the 2019 playoffs, I think it was bad, quick and anticlimactic.
  • Son of Whyatchi – A great fight from the 2019 regular season. Whip couldn’t prevent SOW from getting up to speed and delivering some massive shots including one that knocked one of the front wedges clean off. Nevertheless Whiplash weathered the storm and SOW’s reliability failed, it slowed down and started smoking and then Whiplash was able to flip them over. One of SOW’s design hand-me-downs from the old Battlebots eras is No Self-Righting Mechanism; this is not a weakness for Bloodsport.
  • Valkyrie – we got this match twice last year and it’s just not competitive enough, there’s nothing Valkyrie can do to keep Whiplash from getting on them and staying on them The blade can’t spin up to a violent degree and Whiplash smothers her until the bell rings. So has Whiplash figured something out here, or is Bloodsport’s design more suited to take on Whip and Valkyrie’s weaknesses are not revelant to the present moment?

Well, Whiplash unveiled a new configuration against Valk – a thicker wedge on the edge of their lifter that has the disk spinner removed. The idea is to use the larger and harder surface to absorb the bit hits and it seemed highly effective. Ultimately, I think Bloodsport is faster and more nimble than Valkyrie, their weapon spins up quicker, and they’re not going to go wildly flying out of control the way Valkyrie does (due to gyroscopic whatsowhosis). I fully expect to see that same setup here, but it does limit Whiplash’s strategy options by removing the vertical spinner. Speaking of which…


// This is a new feature I want to do for very flexible robots, where they have different strengths (weapons, really) to use against their opponent. Right now there are two robots and probably more that have three ways of approaching a fight, three tools/strategies they can employ with equal confidence. The questions becomes in each match what approach to take, based on the makeup of the opponent. We will do this for Whiplash, and for Gruff, and for others that qualify as the season progress

// (Missed chance with Gruff last week, his options would be Armor, Lifting Forks/Scooping Bed or Fire? Last week he faced an offensive robot in Switchback with a powerful weapon and not much else, the correct aspect of Gruff’s character to lean on would be the Armor. Gruff followed this strategy correctly and got an easy win)

Lifter, Driving, or Disk Spinner?

Driving. This robot is fast and Whiplash’s strategy has to be to keep hitting Bloodsport and don’t let him have space to power up the weapon. The lifter might come into play but Bloodsport is generally agile and can reliably self-right. The disk spinner is not useful here because Bloodsport’s spinner is far, far more powerful, and he’s probably removing it anyhow to go with the Valkyrie configuration from last year.

There’s two ways to go here

  • Whiplash will win because they’re Whiplash, and they virtually almost always win, and you can usually just pencil in the W without thinking about the matchup too hard. They’ve possibly figured out this weapon type and it’s something they can handle. They will mitigate BLoodsport’s powerful thrashing hits by suffocating him and running out the clock.
  • Bloodsport will win because they have a powerful weapon that can seriously hurt Whiplash (when few can), and they have the driving skill to generate space and get their weapon up to speed, avoiding what happened to Son of Whyatchi (a similar robot facing this matchup). There are very few robots that have the caliber and formula to beat Whiplash, yet this does appear to be one of them.


The Pick:

(I can’t believe I’m doing this)

It’s crazy to go against Whiplash, ever, and I’m almost certainly wrong in doing so. But all my analysis tells me to go with Bloodsport. Last week I definitely didn’t listen to my own advice at points and being wrong while going against your correct advice is even more embarassing than just being wrong. So we’re doing it! It would be a massive upset and would shake up the ranks, but this same thing happened last year – Bloodsport faced End Game, all smart money was on End Game who had just knocked out Tombstone with ease, and yet I had a weird feeling and took a chance on Bloodsport, this was the Xmas Eve match. End Game hasn’t lost since.

(Deep Breath)

The Pick: Bloodsport by Knockout

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