Hypershock: F. F F F F F F F.
So here’s the deal, after years of mostly a middling clown, Hypershock seemed to arrive last season and emerge as highly dangerous robot (that earned Most Destructive for his efforts). He went 2-0 in the qualifiers with two knockouts (against middling competition but still) and then during the Slugfest tournaments he started off 5-0, all knockouts, with some absolute Ruthian blasts (that went on to earn more awards). The combination of speed, weapon power and aggression seemed to be in balance. Hypershock had bloomed.
There was just ooooonnnneeeee little blemish on the season – a terrible, laughable, completely bonkers loss in the playoffs. This was a match where Hypershock got flipped early and then seemingly forgot how to drive, bouncing and hopping aimlessly around the arena like a beached whale, or something. It was kinda mind-blowing. Now, overall the body of work last season overshadowed that “bad day at the track” for Hypershock. And yet…
Ok, so we got that Hypershock again, the Mr Hyde showed up. And it was largely the same as the playoff match last March. Man oh man. I’m not going to dig deeper, I’ll just say, Hyper buddy, you gotta get this figured out. You gotta. This can’t keep happening.
Ok, on the other hand, Sawblaze looks like an absolute studmuffin, and like, “yawn, another victory over a vertical spinner (that the rest of the field can barely beat once), put it on the fridge, I guess…”. I feared that Sawblaze would struggle to get the lower ground against Hyper’s very effective forks. I was wrong. He got control, he took a few shots, and once Hypershock backed up at a “slightly weird angle” and self-flipped himself (sighhhh) it was pretty much over.
How about the work on those tires?
Ok, gotta keep moving, plenty to say about these two, but we got all season. Next.
The Fight of the Week!
An absolute war.
So Emulsifier is a big vertical spinner with little else going on, at a glance it could be Uppercut’s replacement. Ah, but here’s the kicker – it’s apparently the most durable robot of all time. It would take a powerful knock from Fusion, then land backwards on its own running weapon, which kicked it across the arena and into a wall. That happened a bunch of times. And it was fine! Uppercut lost a self-righter arm just watching the fight (lol). So Emuls might be very good, and if not they look poised to provide some wonderful, wonderful matches this year. Maybe they’ll lose every match in 3 minute death brawls that go to the judges. That would be splendid.
Umm, I don’t want to jinx it – Fusion looked really good? Of course he flamed up for a while (classic) but the robot seemed highly dangerous and effective. What I was always looking for, and hoping for, was some back-and-forth moves between the horizontal and vertical weapons, Rotator-style if you will. He seems to have learned some tricks! He was swiping the horizontal weapon pretty good at times and described a thoughtful gameplan before it started. We’re going to keep an eye on Fusion. And if not good, they could still be fun, like I just said about their opponent.
I don’t know what is up with the schedule this year. Through 3 weeks the 2nd fight has lasted an epic three minutes each time, twice with control bots surprisingly flexing their muscles and putting on a clinic, and the other was the instant classic of Fusion Versus Emulsifier. And then immediately following that each time has been a silly farce, the third fight has basically served as a punchline and palette clenser for the bigger bouts around it.
Anyhow, I love it!
Now, I was excited on the last fight to have a chance to award the top grade to BOTH robots, the winner and the loser. This was immediately chased by the exact inverse scenario, where NEITHER robot earned the top grade. Least of all the winner!
No, that’s not fair, the winner was better. But good lord what a mess! What an absolute debacle of a fight!
Stage 1: Valkyrie gets stuck on Mammoth’s flap…thing? And can’t free itself, so the two are tethered together and Mammoth lands shot after shot. Finally Mammoth figures out how to free them(?) and Stage 1 ends.
Stage 2: There is a brief exchange of blows before 1) Mammoth officially can’t move on one side, and 2) Valkyrie gets something stuck in their spinner, so they can’t help advance the action. One robot immobile, one toothless. Neither is approaching the other.
Stage 3: Valkyrie slowly swoops towards Mammoth but curves to avoid contact – Mammoth takes an aggressive swing with their weapon in Valkyrie direct and completely self-implodes. They flip, and as it happens the pressure of the flip takes its toll and Mammoth starts just falling apart, pieces are coming off. A few beats later the machine is lying on the ground in tatters. It was a little Wil E Coyote-ish, if you will.
And we have a match!
I, umm, don’t have high hopes for either one of these teams this season.
Ho boy. As a self-proclaimed “Big Whiplash Fan”, that was rough. That was bad. That was a bad one.
The whole Whiplash saga and where they are now, that deserves its own post. It will be called “Whiplash has a Vertical Spinner Problem”. Coming up soon. But like, the fight was all about what they couldn’t do. They couldn’t flip Madcatter. They couldn’t push them around, nor could they get under them (bit of a standstill on that front) They get their vertical weapon to hit the opponent (and was it even spinning?). They couldn’t do anything! Madcatter was patient, felt things out, then made a great strategic decision to retract the lifting arm, which served as an extra wedge and was keeping Whiplash at a distance. With the gap closed Catter started landing shots, then started pushing him around…that’s not supposed to happen! Ugh! Anyhow it ended with a now-standard Cateclysmic Madcatter blow, and that was that.
(I also thought Whiplash missing some opportunities early with either sloppy driving or robot getting stuck on the floor? It was a disappointing showing through and through)
Kind of a meh fight. I like Switchback overall but it seems like they’re still finding their groove. I can see the ideas behind the redesign…I don’t know, in principle I like the concept of exposed “giant drum spinner” over what they’ve shifted too, kind of a protected eggbeater weapon. The old one was easier to make contact with. Still, the weapon did well and landed shots, the forehand/backhand thing is a really cool option. Can the backhand get low enough to hit a real short robot?
We’ll see, probably, at some point. Unless they suck against poor competition. Banshee was ok, their durability was the biggest strength here. Flipper was ok but not super powerful. Need to see more.
Big Dill: D
Big Dill avoids an F for withstanding some body shots early on, taking control a couple of times, and definitely being able to push them around. Hijinx avoids an A for again easily ceding control of the fight to their opponent, letting them flip them, push them around a bit, etc. Hijinx actually has a stunningly effective low wedge now, but they have no self-righter, so they keep ending up in helicopter-mode and don’t rectify. I do like how their personality changes on the flip, they seemed shocked and very slow to move and react. Still, the weapon is fully exposed there, at an odd height, and in this case (against this lifter design) it paid off.
End Game: A
On the rewatch, damn! Blip had two or three openings to drive under EG and fire a flip early on, in a matchup against a definitive great I think you have to be aggressive and pounce whenever there’s a chance. Driving seemed a little nervy, a little frantic. Similar thing happened to Whip earlier, you (control bots, I’m talking to) have to seize every chance you have against powerful spinners because the margin of error is thin. It’s tough out there, I don’t disagree. But you have to be perfect, or close to it, and I didn’t think either Blip nor Whip (ha) had a good driving day, au contraire.
Man, I don’t spend a ton of time waxing about End Game on here, despite their very evident greatness. They’re kind of a normal robot design that does everything (and of course, they are Bite Force’s son). Still their flexibility is very impressive, and is their diversity of skills, and it has shown off in certain wins here and there. This was one of them, because for the first time since probably the Rotator fight they lost their weapon. So they had to rely on the “other stuff”. Well, when you are glued to the floor and have a perfect wedge design, and it DID NOT get messed up by your opponent in the early going, then you can still beat a very good flipper no sweat.
Usually End Game by blasting their opponent to pieces. On occasion they win by outdriving and outbodying their opponent (Rotator). And on occasion they win by…well, however you’d describe this. Snow-plowing, or something. I’m tired.
As for Blip – what are you gonna do, EG is great and all. But I wish they had a backup plan for losing those very breakable piano teeth. Cobalt struggled mightily with this back in 2019. What do you do when your ‘weapon’ is on your back, and you lose your wedge that leads them up there? What is a plan B? Now again, EG is possibly the best robot out there and probably this gameplan plotted out. But still! Lots of robots out there that could break Blip’s front. They’re obviously a very good robot but Blip seems to still have some design items to iron out. (They are super durable, apparently! Few have withstood so many shots from EG and lived to talk about it!)
The other thing here I’ll point out, and it’s more negative I guess – one thing I harp on about Battlebots is the incredible variety of “battles” that you get, the result of the diverse field of robots and weapons and the forever combinations of different matchups. You get fights that are over in seconds, you get fights that are nothing but brutal hits, you get fights that are technical or tactical, and you also get fights that are like two race cars chasing each other (Hypershock and Witch Doctor). You get all kinds of stuff, it’s great to be surprised, and most of it is organically entertaining!
But not all of it. Some fights are kind of a bore, because of the elements at play. Here was definitely one of them. Who wants to see two robots rub heads for two minutes and get nowhere! It’s like WW1 wartime strategy happening. Anyhow, no fault to anyone for that, it’s just a good example of the unpredictabilty of these machines and their talents when they are mixed together. Life is Box of Chocolates, Baby.