Random Thoughts (and potentially a Paradigm Shift), on ‘Championship Eve’ of a Wonderful Battlebots Season

I’m too tired to do full columns for recaps or go into detail discussing whatever else is noteworthy right now. Building the Bettlebots site really took a lot out of me. I’m just going to dump all my “relevant” thoughts here, while the season is still live.

The Drums Unite (This is the Big Story)

  • Minotaur
  • Riptide
  • Copperhead

It takes a while to recognize a pattern.

In two of those cases the drum spinner went against a disk spinner and prevailed. Hypershock and End Game discussed it after their losses to the weapon type. “No-nonsense fronts” are in. Knockouts are in. The ability to have forks, or be low, or do anything besides non-stop attack, might be less important right now? I mean lol, Riptide essentially has no self-righter, they have to drive into a wall at great expense, and I think the other two recover by driving technique. Now: Minotaur is certainly versatile and has a lot of different things going for it, certainly not one-dimensional. But Copperhead and Riptide kind of are. And it’s working right now. It won’t work forever, tho…

So regardless of the outcome tomorrow it’s a moment for the drums. I do wonder – is this also a moment for the vertical disks? Left are 3 non-verts, 3 drum spinners, and two vertical disks – Witch Doctor and…someone else…hm…ah haha Ribbot. Yeah, I dunno! It certainly seems like a moment to reflect on End Game and wonder if the “moment” has somehow already passed this robot by? The vertical disks went 2-4 this past weekend (Ribbot/WD won, Monsoon/Hypershock/End Game/Madcatter lost, I’m removing Lock-Jaw for facing another vertical that was clearly their superior). In the first round of the playoffs the two biggest/most powerful (probably) disk both lost, Cobalt and Ripperoni (to either another vertical disk or a vertical eggbeater, sure).

Are single wins or losses blips, or turning points? In a sport that is always about microscopic sample sizes, it is always tough to say.

On End Game

Yeah, End Game kinda has a different legacy after today

I’m not sure how much to separate them individually from the ‘Vertical Disk versus Vertical Drum’ narrative we are now digesting, because yeah, End Game’s last two significant losses, both in the tournament, were to drums – Minotaur and Copperhead.

And yet…I don’t know, there’s been a cloud over End Game since they were 2-0 in their rookie season and faced Bite Force. They were kicking the former and future Champion’s butt. Bite Force literally stopped moving! And then…this happened, it got weird and confusing, and then BF came back to life…

Now, End Game was a champion once, and the runaway number one seed last season…and yet, I feel like the losses are the fights that stand out? Minotaur’s victory over them felt bigger than anything I can recall. Outside of beating Tantrum twice (their only two losses over…something like a 15 span?) and Witch Doctor twice last year…I don’t know. They got a ton of good breaks during their title run, and even last year they were lucky against both Hydra and Sawblaze to get to the one seed. This season was less lucky (luck literally ruined them against Rip and their spinner failed against Blip) and less impressive as well. It’s a weird time for their legacy, losing two straight years in the Sweet 16 hurts! And now the spinner keeps failing, and they seem very susceptible to the New Drum Wave hitting the sport.

Minotaur and Malice

Man, that was a lot closer than the tournament-favorite could possibly want it to be? Malice was looking very Tombstone-esque and completely knocking him around. He needed that countershot on the screws when he was upside down, and then he really, really needed a good Flutter Save to right himself. He needed it bad. And he got it.

(Article coming on Minotaur’s incredible Flutter Saves very soon!)

I think this is the first match I ever watched where…I wanted another 3 minutes? Maybe more? How would both bots have been moving at the 9 minute mark?

What a great season for Malice. In a world where horizontal spinners are being marginalized more each year, they went 3-1, winning two matches against vertical weapons (Emulsifier, Switchback) and going 2-2 overall. Durability is real! And I also think the horizontal game is at its nadir right now, it will recover to an extent. They’re right in the thick of things.

A Thought about Hypershock

This, this, this is the Hypershock we know and love.

Win Loss patterns for the departed and other notables

Black Dragon: WLWLWL

Hypershock: LWLWWL

Lucky and Claw Viper: WWWLL

Whiplash: LLWWWL

Skorpios: WWLLL

Ribbot (still active): LLLWWW

Fusion: WLLLL

Big Dill: LLLW

Malice: LWWWWL

Rotator Theory

Rotator Theory tells us Copperhead is going all the way.

Last two years they lost in the Round of 16 to End Game and Tantrum, in order. Both were lost by the skin-of-their-teeth, on coin flips, especially End Game which went to the judges.

Now – Rotator didn’t suffer quite so close a loss against Copperhead, but it went to the judges. It was another epic brawl. So good enough! Copperhead, you have been blessed. Also you beat End Game before I even remembered to consider this theory, so you seem to be doing well on your own.

The Avengers

(Ribbot, Hydra, Sawblaze)

Like with the movies, the sequels just weren’t as good.

That’s ok. The first versions of these (Black Dragon-Ribbot and Hydra-Whiplash in 2020 Elite Eight) were like the greatest fights of that entire season. I still consider Whiplash-Hydra to be one of the greatest fights the sport has ever produced. These ones were certainly more definitive with two knockouts. Good to see some old grudges avenged.

I don’t remember Sawblaze vs Monsoon P1, but this fight was t-riffic, probably the best of the night. And more revenge had. Good! Balance is a good thing!

Oh Huge

Huge just rains down death and destruction and it’s like you’re on an egg timer where the sand is rapidly running out. You have fifty seconds to do…something…before he’s hit you enough that you’re crippled. It’s a brutal challenge.

Toughest Regular Season Schedules


  • Ripperoni (3-1)
  • Quantum (4-0)
  • Witch Dr (3-1)
  • Malice (3-1)

(seeding: in order – 12, 5, 3, 17)

(Cries for a while)

Good god. Come on! What the heck! Two of them won one playoff match (and one of those won a second and is still going), a third was Ripperoni who got “Dragoned” in a very good performance. And then Quantum was unstoppable until the playoffs. Goddamnit! Argh!!!

Black Dragon

  • Monsoon (2-2)
  • Quantum (4-0)
  • Beta (3-1)
  • Riptide (4-0)

That’s four playoff teams (seeded 24, 5, 13, 2), three playoff wins and counting, Monsoon’s amazing upset…yikes. At least BD made the playoffs and such. Poor Gruff though.

Also I’m pretty sure all these teams were undefeated when BD faced them. Crazy!

Ok, one more, for a really good robot


  • Tantrum (1-3)
  • Free Shipping (1-3)
  • Cobalt (3-1)
  • Witch Doctor (3-1)

Ok, record-wise this is probably inferior, but good lord. They caught the defending champs fresh off the title. And then the other two were monsters this year and dominated all other fights. This is the hardest schedule and Minotaur had the best regular season anyone has had since…Bite Force maybe, in 2015? (The last two seasons were three matches or less so nobody could go 4-0, sure, but nobody looked like this, against such elite competition).

(Maybe I’ll dig deeper and say it’s the most incredible regular season since Bronco in 2018. That’s the greatest ever, nothing will measure up to that. But this was really something, thank you Minotaur. Tribute Post about the “Flutter Save” is coming soon)

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