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Welcome back to the Beat! Last time out, we reminded ourselves that the Montreal Screwjob is not good for your business. Especially if it wasn’t scripted in the first place!
This week it’s the BattleBots Beaties, the part where I try to get these out before BattleBots Update so I at least have a moral victory, because I’m not going to beat the Bad Dragon “Iron Sphincter” Award, because that is our friendly neighborhood Balls’s job. All I know is to never Google that shit at work. Possibly ever. In fairness, there are also the Science Channel fights to recap, which I may do at a later date. But if they’re on the Science Channel, they’re probably not all that amazing or else they’d be on the Discovery telecast. Except for Shatter! vs. Kingpin, that probably should have made something instead of only seeing it on the Discovery Facebook page.
But I have the awards I have, and they attempt to be funny, clever, or more likely neither. But first, the real official awards.
Best Design: Team RoboChallenge, Quantum
All you need to do is Google the robot for a picture. You will at least have a technology boner, if not an actual one. That is all I need to say.
Most Destructive: Team Carbide, Cobalt
Cobalt won this Giant Bolt for Most Destructive and it still feels like a disappointment this season. But the fights against SubZero and DUCK! (even in a loss) solidified the award. That was the best loss you could possibly have, dominating the fight until the floor caught it the wrong way. The fight against Bombshell was nice, but nowhere near as impressive, and then because of the larger wheels the wedge couldn’t do as well, leading to the losses against End Game and the play-in against Minotaur.
I feel like there could be an honorable mention for Deep Six on principle, for its opponents, itself, the floor. But that’s for another time. Plus, it’s big enough that most bots can avoid it by moving in a serpentine pattern.
Sterling Archer, robot combat tactician.
Founder’s Award: Team Whyachi Robots, Hydra
The Founder’s Award is for things. Honestly I feel like it can be for whatever Greg and Trey feel like. For Chomp it was for creative use of lidar technology, but for Monsoon it was because they were very spirited. For this one it’s a little closer to the Chomp award, as Hydra took a time-tested championship-caliber design, the flipper/launcher, and put a spin on it by adding hydraulics instead of the standard pneumatics or electronics. What resulted was actually pretty good, as Hydra went 4-0 with 4 KOs, including all sorts of fun and interesting ways to get a robot out of the arena, and beat its flipper rival Bronco. The armor needs some work, as apparently that budget was spent on paint that’s apparently $500 a pint. Why is it that much? Did Anish Kapoor license that shit? (Hmm, a Vantablack or Black 2.0 robot would probably look really cool. Or weird. Probably weird.) But the robot showed that the hydraulic flipper is very viable. Could Team Whyachi get back on top of the mountain after all these years? Who knows.
And now, the unofficial/defunct awards. As we get more to my own calls.
Best Driver: Paul Ventimiglia, Aptyx Designs, Bite Force
I was going back and forth between Paul and Matt Vasquez, but it’s almost like Bite Force the robot is so good we forget how good of a driver Paul is. That hit on Witch Doctor that essentially made the rest of the fight academic is a great example of that, expertly timed, expertly placed. We saw Paul mitigate what could have been drive damage against Yeti and HyperShock, fights that tested Bite Force, which could have made it a closer decision if not swung it. And it doesn’t count, but we saw it in the fight against Whiplash in the re:MARS event, where Bite Force was relentless on finding the damaged spot and hitting it again. And since it’s not an official award anymore, there’s no rule on “You can’t win the Giant Nut and another award,” so there.
Giant Screw, single fight: Son of Whyachi (vs. SawBlaze)
The Giant Screw is for a robot that took a massive amount of damage but still made it to a decision. Where it lost. I guess you could sort of give it to Nelly, because the fight against Deep Six went to a decision, but apart from the plastic shell apparently all that got damaged was the battery wires getting cut. Hell, otherwise they might have won that fight. Hell, you could give it to DUCK! for the Cobalt fight, but it won that one. Or Blacksmith against Quantum, because Blacksmith against Quantum. So we’re going to go with Son of Whyachi for its first round fight. It was well-driven by Jamison Go, but once one of the bracers went it went downhill fast for the former champ. The smoking I’ve seen, that happens to the best of bots that aren’t Bite Force or Original Sin. But that kind of damage to the bracers we’ve never seen, in part because we’ve never had a strong overhead saw robot take on Son of Whyachi. But after one went, so did the other. At the least, it’s going to be a new frame for Son of Whyachi. Unless the long-rumored Death Walker comes in its place.
Giant Screw, season award: DUCK!
I feel like it’s really difficult to do this nowadays in the Fight Card format, because a robot that takes a lot of damage will more than likely lose a fight by KO. Unless the robot in question is DUCK!, which will only get counted out if it is out of the arena. It took a ton of damage in the win against Cobalt, considering the plow got ripped off, and then the Quantum fight was just target practice for the crusher, especially once it could get a puncture on DUCK!’s top. And there were a few punctures.
Honorable mention to Blacksmith just for the Quantum fight. That shit’s gonna get something.
Stripped Screw: Cobalt
The Stripped Screw award goes to the robot that probably had the most egregious thing go against them, whether by fluke or by judges’ decision. And there’s not much more of a fluke than Cobalt getting stuck in the floor and losing to DUCK! because of it. And then getting stuck against Bombshell, and they apparently reset or something where we got what we saw. And that led to them using bigger wheels, fucking up the ground clearance, and leading to the End Game fight and the Minotaur fight, when the magnet-lowered wedge wasn’t getting under anything.
Brass Ball Bearings: Blacksmith
Just assume it’s always Blacksmith, because Al Kinder gives a grand total of zero fucks. And in Blacksmith’s case, it’s things like the fight against Quantum, where it was a bit outgunned, AR500 top or not, and led to them having to pry the two bots apart with a hydraulic press or something. Like, an hour later. Or the fight against RotatoR, where the weapon chain was lost from nearly the get-go. And Blacksmith slammed and pushed and shoved and managed to win the fight. Weaponless. We didn’t think that was possible, especially considering the nonexistent luck Al Kindle has with the judges. But Blacksmith made the Top 16, and that’s something we can all support, even if Witch Doctor managed the nigh impossible and got the KO, and not the “we’re going to call it a KO but really it did technically go to the judges.” That’s impressive too.
Mismatch of the Year: Bite Force vs. Upper Cut, first round
Zero disrespect meant to Alex Hattori and the rest of the MIT Combat Robotics Club, but they’re a bit of a while away from Paul Ventimiglia in combat robots, and the fight showed it. I’m impressed they made it as far as they did, however, and next year we’ll get to see what happens with a year of experience. There’s probably some things they’d want to change about Upper Cut, unless Alex and co. want to go with a new bot design taking what they’ve learned with Upper Cut into account.
Upset of the Year: RotatoR vs. Tombstone
Well, it doesn’t get anymore straightforward than this one. If you beat Tombstone and you’re not Bite Force it counts as a major upset. I think there was a tactical error on Ray’s part when he went with the bar he went with, which had some damage that they welded up. The weld didn’t hold well enough, which considering the kind of energy Tombstone stores and unleashes I understand. But that unbalanced Tombstone enough to shake everything, and combined with being sent into the wall killed the bar and led to the fire starting, and continuing, and growing. At that point it moved from “Can RotatoR make it to the buzzer since Tombstone took its bars off?” to “Can RotatoR hold on?” to “Can Tombstone make it to the buzzer because the fire?” as it became more certain that RotatoR could hold on. That last one did become no.
House of Pain Award: Tombstone
Yes, for the fight above. Essentially the entire robot was written off, and that’s saying something. After hearing something like that, it’s kind of impressive how it almost lasted the length of the fight. Kind of meaning not impressive enough, as it didn’t.
Lock-Jaw smoking seemingly every fight is close, but not cigar.
James May Memorial Award: Kingpin
No, James May is not dead. But he does have the power to get lost on a racetrack, and the TopGear Awards all but died when Jeremy Clarkson punched a producer in the face and they all went to join Amazon and make The Grand Tour. Which is good, but it’s not the same because there’s car adventures but their single car videos were also pretty hilarious. Anyway, the original James May Award was for managing to get lost on a racetrack, and this one is for getting lost in the BattleBox. And we give it to Kingpin for immediately turning right into the screw casing behind it in its fight against Shatter!.
The Angry Physics Award: Tombstone
I was originally going to call this award after one of my favorite YouTube channels, or the creator of the channel, but decided against it for reasons such as “nobody cares.” But I will show a GIF of what I mean.
This was basically Tombstone in its fights against RotatoR, Gruff, and Bite Force. An angry ball of physics rotating in all possible axes, where doing a free-body diagram would have been a physicist’s nightmares. Those also happened to be its three toughest fights—the two losses and the close decision.
“Break the Internet” Moment of the Year: Jerry Clarkin, SubZero
I could’ve given this to Will Bales for his “first you spend all your money, then you spend your friends’ money, then you get sponsors and spend their money” speech after HyperShock’s win over Valkyrie, but Will’s getting another award so I can feel less bad about this.
SubZero has not had a great time on BattleBots in its three seasons. That did not get helped by being on Cobalt’s highlight reel like the Orioles against Gleyber Torres, or the Generals against the Globetrotters. Now, this happened because originally the fight was planned to be Cobalt vs. Captain Shrederator. But since the Naves were the super-last-second replacement for Chomp, the good captain wasn’t totally in fighting shape, as they were getting ready for King of Bots II with Shrederator Tiger Claw. So they didn’t really have spares of much at this point, and they let the producers know that if shit went sideways against Cobalt that they could very well be sidelined for much if not all of the rest of the competition. So if they were able to swap with someone, they could potentially survive the fight to fight again. Originally nobody asked took the fight, but eventually Team Hammertime took the swap.
And Jerry Clarkin was not happy about it after the fact and after his robot was on the ass end of the kicking, launching a tirade against Team Logicom (though not mentioning them by name) and throwing his driver under the bus. It has since been deleted, along with the entire SubZero page, but you can find it on the Internets if you Google it. (As in, on Reddit.) We also know that Jerry has since sold the robot.
Quote of the Year: “If it works, it isn’t stupid. If if doesn’t, we’re just idiots.” -Will Bales, HyperShock
You can argue there are two contenders for Quote of the Year by Will Bales. The first is the previously mentioned your/friends’/sponsors’ money speech. The second, and our winner, is Will Bales’s take on Rakening 2: Electric Boogaloo. And remember, it nearly worked and gave Whiplash the strategy to beat HUGE in the next round, so the answer ends up being somewhere in between. I expect a probably overengineered carbon fiber rake handle for next year, sir, or failing that, a metal that can actually withstand 250 lbs. of HUGE on it.
Spinner-Killer of the Year: Bite Force
Hey, we never said that the spinner-killer of the year has to be a non-spinner! And think about Bite Force’s resumé just from this season. Yeti, HyperShock, Monsoon, Upper Cut, Lock-Jaw, Tombstone, and Witch Doctor. That’s a pretty stout line-up. Add Icewave from the re:MARS event—Whiplash considers itself a lifter first so I won’t count it. But in one calendar year that’s two of the most powerful horizontals, where it broke BOTH their weapon bars, one of the top drums, and another top vertical. Doesn’t matter the type of spinner, Bite Force took them all on.
BattleBots Rookie of the Year: Team Uai!rrior, Black Dragon
Those following RoboGames knew Brazilian Team Uai!rrior’s exploits in lighter weight classes, where they’ve won championships. Well, now everyone knows who they are, after winning the Desperado tournament and beating last season’s runner-up and fellow countrybot Minotaur to do it. Sure, they lost to Lock-Jaw in the first round, but it was a big year for the Brazilian egg-beater, and hopefully they’ll be back with more to do.
Break-Out Bot of the Year: Team Death Roll, Death Roll
Why break-out and not comeback? Because to have a comeback season you have to come back to something. Death Roll started as a robot that got beaten to a pulp against Captain Shrederator way back in Season 2. That was its only competition fight, later having an exhibition with Skorpios and Bucktooth Burl. Hey, remember Bucktooth Burl? No? That’s fine.
Three years later Death Roll returns, goes 4-0, and makes it to the semifinals, losing in a split decision. It is a tank, only losing its weapon function in that fight against Witch Doctor, and due to having the reach could give Bite Force some problems, because the wedgelets won’t do as much as it will against others. When you get to that top tier it can very well depend on matchups, so why not the Aussies at some point?
Comeback Bot of the Year: Shenanigans & Co., HyperShock
Last year was not a good year for HyperShock. It had expectations after making the second round in Season 2 and after Will Bales won Best Driver. Season 3 did not live up to those. But Season 4 brought a bit of redemption, as HyperShock went 3-1 in the regular season, only losing to Bite Force. And that’s fine, everyone does that. Everyone has done that. Getting stuck in a killsaw hole against Breaker Box with a busted srimech cost it a top 8 seed in my eyes, and then it got a rough matchup against HUGE. An unfortunate end to the season, but that means expectations will return for the Miami squad. Will they be able to meet them?
KO of the Year: Hydra vs. WAR Hawk
No poll this year, too much work. I’m busy. There are a lot of contenders for this one. There’s RailGun Max vs. Mad-Catter, or Deep Six vs. Axe Backwards, or Deep Six vs. Nelly, two KOs for the price of one. Or Mammoth yeeting Axe Backwards, as the kids would say.
But a spinner breaking a robot into pieces is old hat. Now, a flipper doing that? That’s new and creative. So Hydra wins by breaking WAR Hawk into three. Modular bots and pods help the robot with repairs, but stuff like this might happen.
Hits of the Year: Vertical spinners sending robots skyward
There were many impressive hits that did not lead to KOs that should get a special mention. Fortunately they’re all of the “vertical spinner hits something and it goes way up in the air” variety, such as:
-Cobalt repeatedly sending DUCK! 6 feet up and completely removing the plow
-Witch Doctor pog-slamming Gigabyte 13 feet up
-The several times Cobalt’s wedge got sent up into the lights, by Bombshell, End Game, and Minotaur
-Minotaur sending Cobalt even higher than Gigabyte, looking like 15 feet up
They might want to raise the roof on the BattleBox. A robot’s going to land there at some point.
Fight of the Year: Minotaur vs. Black Dragon, Desperado Tournament final
This was a tough one to determine, but it’s 2:15 local time and I’m supposed to wake up in under 5 hours to get ready to go teach. So with the proverbial gun against my head I go with this one.
Why this one, and not Tombstone vs. Gruff, my other choice? I think the stakes help, where this one is for an automatic spot. I think the foreign pride helps, the battle of the two Brazilian squads. And mostly because it was a great fight, with no inch given, even as Black Dragon’s weapon went first it controlled the fight. I reserve the right to change my decision after press time, considering the latter you didn’t know who was going to win until the judges gave their verdict.
Shit, I just talked myself into it. Dammit, Senor.
Fight of the Year:
Minotaur vs. Black Dragon, Desperado Tournament final Tombstone vs. Gruff
And with that, this season of the BattleBots Beat comes to a formal end. I may still do the remaining Science Channel fights (provided I watch them with my new schedule) in a special bonus post, but I’m pretty happy. If the bonus fights get posted and you think I need more silly awards to dole out, come up with an idea and if it’s any good I’ll consider it. As for now, I shall sleep. And we all sleep for now, until probably summer 2020, because Discovery will probably renew. And with that, we are over and out!