As I write this I am still ignorant of what happened in Week 1 of the playoffs. St Patty’s Day, man. I’m getting too old for that shift.
Anyhow, I wanted to circle the wagons, review the 10 week regular season and highlight the memorable moments of the year, good and bad. The commendable and the embarrassing alike. This sport really excels at bridging the gambit between serious competition and whimsical fun. Here we go
Three fights against very tough opponents, three knockouts, only one of them was even a contest after the first thirty seconds. Lots of luck, but the greats generally gets lots of luck, because they deserve it. All hail the Kiwis.
Most Improved Player(s)
We’re going to split this award between two robots who both improved from being the 32/33 seeds (essentially) to top 20 seeds that went 2-0 and 2-1. The craziest part is they happen to be playing each other in the first round! Let’s give it up for Hypershock and P1.
Rookie of the Year
With all due respect to Riptide and Glitch, who are both fantastic, the top-seeded rookie went 3-0 and landed a great spot in the bracket as number 7. “Think Tantrum, but as a flipper, and Blue.” Congrats to BLIP
Most Destructive Bot
The season didn’t start well for them (they’ll earn an award for that), but holy moses, this bot puts on a show. All Hail Cobalt.
Best Season to Season Adjustment
This goes out to the robot that made a significant change to its design from last season to this one, and that change turned out to make a huge difference. This one is easy. Rotator has always been one of the more evolving robots, seems to be a long of consideration by the developers each year about how they want to move forward, how they want to accentuate certain features and pull back on others. Once it was a dual-bladed terror and almost all offense, now it’s definitely defense-first even though its weapon remains one of the powerful.
Last year they concluded the problem was getting LOW. The ground game, they weren’t taking part of it. This weakness was exposed in a controversial lost to Beta in the 2020 season that just shouldn’t have happened. So they go home, they do some tinkering, and they could back with this new variety of wedge, wedgelets really, that hang down and scrape the floor like the legs of a spider, yet were incredibly effective in a consequential match against Black Dragon. Black Dragon is pretty low and wins the ground game against plenty a bot, but here when they encountered Rotator’s wedge thingies, this happened. Over and over again. (More on this fight to come)
This adjustment has me and others expecting big things for Rotator (I’ll post my bracket later, but yeah).
Ok, some notable moments of the year.
Fights of the Year
3. Rotator over Black Dragon, Week 6
More on this here. The bottom line – there weren’t a lot of high-profile matchups between top tier bots this season that were also great matches (End Game vs Sawblaze comes to mind…). This match was 3 minutes of very talented and experienced robots (with still plenty to prove) duking it out. A clash of styles, of clash of designs, and one robot managed to assert stylistic dominance and play the fight on their terms. It was Rotator. They won. Great match.
2. Defender over Riptide, Week 6
About an hour and a half after Rotator survived Black Dragon we were treated to the funniest, most chaotic three minute match of the season. Just bonkers. I said plenty about it here, the best part to me was how much happened when the robots WERE SEPARATE. Riptide spent the better part of the first minute on its head, working on this problem in solitude by DRIVING HEADFIRST INTO THE WALL in attempts to flip himself over.
And then…he succeeded! In a weird, beautiful way, although he lost the match. But who cares about that? How is this guy, 15 feet in the air by his own power, not the true winner???
I could have called that the funniest moment of the season but we have another very fine candidate on that front. We’ll get there.
1. Yeti over Skorpios
It was just really great action between two robots that never gave up and never died. I’d estimate there were over twenty good hits. Read about it here.
HIT of the YEAR
We knew it would win this when it happened. Nevertheless, one more time, baby!
Explosion of the Year
Uppercut over Free Shipping
This one was, um, kind of obvious at the time too. In fact the producers scheduled this fight expecting nothing less!
Funniest Moment of the Year
The joke was partly on the viewer – you are expecting the “Match of the Century”, you think about the main event all week, you wait one hour and fifty five minutes to see the big fight, it could be one of the best ever, and instead this happens.
Alright, a few more awards specific to individual fights, before I switch over to the Mean awards.
Comeback of the Year
There really weren’t a ton of contenders for this one, a lot of matches were one-sided and over quick. But man, Lucky blitzed Tantrum and flipped them a few times (still shocked they got under them, enough anyhow) and Tantrum was pinned! They were stuck upside down on the edge! The Final Four Contender, the clearly terrific Tantrum was about to lose a huge upset to Lucky, an average-ish flipper who had missed a season.
And then Lucky drove in and kept hitting them, which resulted in Tantrum being freed from their predicament. They got themselves righted, took a deep breath, and kicked ass from there. I bet Lucky never does that again!
Upsets of the Year
a) P1 over Valkyrie
I discussed this here, probably, that was months ago. This match defined both their seasons really, pushing P1 into the top 20 (if only just barely at the end) while firmly pushing Valkyrie out of the top tier of contenders (they were the 9 seed last year!). It just seemed and continues to seem like a big mismatch because Valk has one of the most powerful weapons around and P1 has nothing. Anyhow, that defined their regular seasons but both have a clean slate in the playoffs.
Also, this is like the only upset I predicted correctly all season! That’s right!
b) The official Upset of the Year: Glitch over Hydra
Covered in depth here. The bottom line – one was a robot that was 8-1 over three regular seasons and 2-2 in their playoff career. They were the #1 seed in the sport last year. The other was a rookie in their second fight who barely, BARELY scraped out a win against Ghost Raptor in their opening match. No offense to anyone, but Ghost Raptor is dreadful. I condemned that first fight here.
Yet the upset happened. It was a series of improbable events but it still happened. Anything can happen, in Battlebots. Maybe.
On a related note…and maybe I want to say something nice about Hydra…
Flip of the Year
Hydra lost, but man, he looked really good in that first 25 seconds! That flip was STUNNING, even from Hydra who gives us plenty of good flips, Kenny thought it was 15 feet and almost hit the ceiling.
Upper Deck Moment of the Year
There were a few good ones, but I think the inagural UD-related KO has to get the nod here. And of course it was to be performed by the greatest control bot in modern BB, the wunderkind, yadda yadda yadda, Whiplash.
Alright, I’m out of nice things to say. Let’s knock out a few ignominious designations in short order.
Every year a robot’s weapon is a little bit different. A robot can win this award one year and then return with a better permutation of the idea in future, it’s very much a season to season thing.
Duck!, baby, this new thing was a complete flop. It had one moment, breaking Witch Doctor’s spinner in a lightning strike; that was really the only positive thing to happen to Duck! all year. He lost that match anyway and ended up 0-3. Please, go back to the original concept, this bad boy
If you come back with the classic setup and go a competitive 1-2, that’d be great, we’d celebrate that. I’m sure Mr Duck is working on it.
Past Winners: Sharko in 2020, Mammoth in 2019
Worst In-Fight Strategic Decision:
Plenty of little ones here and there, Blacksmith leaving his fancy hammer exposed not once but twice, Ghost Raptor driving his flipper right into Glitch’s weapon when Glitch could barely move…but I gotta drag Lucky again for letting Tantrum “off the hook”, described earlier in this post. That would have been such a huge win for them. Alas.
Worst Gameplan for a Single Fight:
I don’t know what episode it was (one of Cobalt’s later fights) where he said that he was attempting a “defensive configuration” in his first fight, a horribly incompetent display and pathetic loss against Fusion. Fusion is not very good, confirmed here.
Again, Cobalt, the robot I have so far awarded Hit of the Year and Most Destructive, went into a fight with his weapon intentionally marginalized because he wanted to go with a DEFENSIVE CONFIGURATION, his words.
Holy moly man, thank god you didn’t get permanently stuck in the screws against Ghost Raptor and miss the playoffs. What a crazy, crazy season they’ve had. All the same, the robot is dangerous enough to do anything (we’ll see them next week).
Most Embarrassing Display of the Year
Sorry Subzero, I like you, but I was dying with laughter when you fought Bloodsport and had basically the worst timing of anyone I’ve ever seen. The thing about a flipper is it’s all timing. It is completely anemic and thoroughly useless if you fire the flipper when the robot is not on top you. Just in case that wasn’t clear! It’s one thing if you never get an opportunity, but Bloodsport drove over Subzero’s front many times, and yet the trigger was not pulled until he had slashed and driven away. Look at this
Not even close my man. Not even close.
That’s it! Maybe we’ll do playoff awards too. Speaking of which, time to watch Week 1. Booya!