No freaking idea. End Game bowing out sent the last shred of predictability to the scrapyard. Any fan who thinks they have any idea what’s going to happen is a fool.
Would be completely awesome sauce if Blip actually ran the table, though, wouldn’t it?
FINAL DAY 4/7/22
Riptide (4-1) vs. Sawblaze (4-1)
Riptide advances a few feet and pauses, seemingly looking for an opening. Sawblaze denies it one, charging full tilt with its forks. Riptide is flipped straight up…that’s certainly unusual…and lands inverted. It can move like that but its spinner is not in any position to attack. Sawblaze lunges in and cheerfully rams away; it’s winning the control battle but not doing damage. Riptide hits the corner of the upper deck and gets right-sided…and promptly gets scooped up from the side and thrown into the wall. Now it has Riptide’s back. The saw fires!..bit of noise, no more. Sawblaze disengages, and there’s a little head on shot which knocks it back. It drives with the forks again, and once again Riptide is head over heels. Sawblaze pushes, and now Riptide is balance precariously on its right side and against the wall…and it can’t free itself! Jameson Go wisely backs off…
Oh…no…no, no, no, no, no, this cannot be happening. Riptide’s driver: “Get us off!” In a practically demanding tone, too. A driver just yelled for a free lunch IN THE FREAKING QUARTERS.
I mentioned this before, didn’t I? Uh huh. Riptide loses. Come back when you grow up, brat.
Cobalt (4-1) vs. Tantrum (4-0)
Two bots with similar designs, a sloping wedge leading to a mid-mounted mangler. The difference being that Cobalt’s parts are rigid and designed for pure power, while Tantrum is agile and can adjust its spinner. Whichever bot can make the other fight its fight is going to win.
Tantrum begins in its usual style, maneuvering, circling, looking for the right opportunity to strike. Alex Grant has a brain in his head; he’s not going to go barreling in and launch his bot into that deadly spinner. They meet, and Tantrum chips away at Cobalt’s wedges. Disengage, more maneuvering. More wedge tenderizing. Cobalt seems to be having trouble staying grounded. We saw control issues nearly cost it the Whiplash fight; will it spell doom here? Another right side lift, and Tantrum zips to that side. Cobalt looks shaky. Tantrum backs Cobalt against the wall. The front lifts off. Now Cobalt’s vulnerable underside…
…just got sent packing. Arena out, Tantrum wins. Wow. A perfect fight from the little guy.
Not much to say about Cobalt. I never pegged it as a Giant Nut winner. It’s simply too limited, and in the tournament these bots always run into exactly the kind of opponent they can’t handle. It was a very good run, all things considered, and props for coming back from that loss to Fusion. Don’t be a stranger, all right?
Alex Grant and Ginger Schmidt are overwhelmed by the moment.
Hydra (4-2) vs. Blip (5-0)
Battle of the flippers! Man, it just struck me how rare that is. Both teams are having unbelievable runs. I honestly don’t even know what the keys to victory are; this is completely new territory for me.
They get within sniffing distance and shuffle around, both, looking for an angle. Hydra commits first, gets its flipper forks under, and gets the first blow. Blip is inverted, and the only way it can get righted is with its weapon. Hydra tosses it before it can do so, and it’s still inverted. Two quick righting attempts lead to nothing. A third, still inverted. A fourth, still inverted. Hydra goes on the attack but Blip sidesteps. A fifth right-flip! Still no good! A bot that’s made it this far should not look this stupid. Righting attempt #6, still nothing. COME ON! Finally, finally Hydra obliges by putting it on the upper deck, which finally gets its wheels under it. The lights go on, meaning that it can’t take a nap there…uh oh. It’s stuck on one of the rightmost of the upper deck’s three raised wedges. Trying to get off. Flip, flip, flip. It finally drops back on the deck…but it can’t move! Florian says that there are magnets on the underbelly keeping it pinned to the deck’s steel railing. And now the left rear wheel is damaged. It flailing like crazy but still can’t move! It’s stuck on the deck! The count starts! The count ends!
Well, Brian Nabe and Ricky Willems can rest easy now, because Blip has just completely iced what is, without a doubt, the most humiliating defeat I have ever seen on Battlebots. It’s easy to forget, but it was in this situation earlier this season, struggling to put weapon on target against Overhaul and needing three attempts to get righted, but Overhaul was so weak that it didn’t make a difference. There was absolutely no way it was getting away with that kind of ineptitude against Jake Ewert: The Revenge. And so, much like the Las Vegas Golden Knights I mentioned earlier, one crashing defeat sends the miracle rookie season down in flames. It was only to be expected; most teams need at least a couple of seasons before they’re fully dialed in and ready to contend for the prize. The question is if Aren Hill can make the adjustment and fix Blip’s shortcomings. It looks plenty durable, so as long as it can find a way to get its wheels under it more efficiently and get better leverage on its flips, it should be a strong contender for years to come.
Jake Ewert is really struggling with his bogus artificial forced heel role.
Witch Doctor (4-1) vs. Minotaur (4-1)
Minotaur attacks from the flank, carving a bit of white steel from WD, which responds with a wepper which flips Minotaur over. Minotaur is side-wheeling again and having trouble facing its foe. Two more weppers, and WD is launched. It’s the bulkier machine, so it’s not winning this 50/50 game. Minotaur lunges in and sends WD rattling all over the short corner like a die. And uh oh, a chain came off; the spinner still works but WD is hurting. Minotaur pins WD into the short corner for a few seconds (CONTROL POINTS, YO! ) before releasing. Retreat to open floor, then another wepper, boom, and WD is sent flying. Another head on shot which knocks WD back. WD now has lost a wedge. It’s not seriously banged up yet but needs to start finding an opening somewhere…
…and there it is. All those weppers have rattled Minotaur, which lurches onto the upper deck screws for no apparent reason. WD gives two ridiculously gentle love taps which only put Minotaur on the upper deck, but now WD can anticipate where it’s coming down and nail it hard. And…it might not come to that! Minotaur is struggling with drive issues! It finally goes over the edge, and WD…plows right into the railing and gets stuck. Did I mention that this is the blippin’ QUARTEFINALS?? Now Minotaur has a gonzo free shot if it can get under control…and…and…aaaaaaannnnnndddd… …its left tire fell off! Both bots are helpless!
All right, here’s the deal! If both bots are dead, that’s a saimin, and it goes to the judges. But in the case of a sticking, if it can’t get unstuck by any means after a few seconds (including the opponent taking a free shot), the match is paused while both bots get freed, then it restarts. Only if the crew is unable to safely get both machines unstuck is the match called (which is what happened in Whiplash/Cobalt). “Time out.” The white shirts get to work…crowbars in…and they’re clear. Man, this does not look good for Team Minotaur. They were already struggling with control, and now they’re down to one wheel; meanwhile, WD’s taken some lumps but both its weapon and wheels are operational. I have to believe that their hopes are going to end up as dead as Mom.
Restart. Minotaur’s in trouble. Real trouble. With one wheel, it can do little more than lurch around and move in sloppy arcs. There’s no way it can get weapon on target now. It’s over. All WD needs to do is find the angle and either take out the other wheel or just hammer Minotaur until it’s scrap. WD circles around. It’s over. Someone in the Minotaur camp barks “It’s showing control!” That won’t last much longer. WD keeps circling. It’s over. One big hit. Just one big hit. Please, one big…
“Are they going to count them out or not?”
NO!! NO!! NO!! NO!! NO!! NO!!
Ladies and gentlemen, the unthinkable has happened. Mike Galately, faced with a golden opportunity to take out the #1 Acceptable Story favorite, just turned his nose in the air and went full on whiny snivelling obnoxious snobby pompous prima donna. And then “Junior” on the Minotaur side continues arguing with the ref. WD still does nothing. Mike snarls “Are they going to count them out?” YO, MIKE! YOU HAVE YOUR ANSWER! FINISH IT!
Nothing. Minotaur can still barely move forward, but it can’t reach the still-functional WD. Mike absolutely refuses to fight anymore, which means that the remaining 45 seconds are…oh joy…a spirited bout of RULES LAWYERING, with Mike crying “Count ‘em out! Count ‘em out! Waaaaaah!” and Minotaur’s captain crying “Don’t count us out! Don’t count us out! Waaaaaah!”
Crap. Useless chant. Yooner WD.
Andrea Galately steps up to face the music. All right, you have one very simple job here: DISAGREE WITH WHAT MIKE DID. “I wanted to destroy Minotaur! He was a wimp! I think he had too much oatmeal for breakfast!” Never freaking mind what you really think! You are in the midst of a wholesale PR meltdown and you need to slam the brakes on it now before you lose all your fans! So what does she say? “Blah blah showing aggression blah blah no chance of regaining control blah blah whyyyyy wasn’t there a countdown??” And naturally Mike proceeds to dive the rest of the way into the sewer; he sounds downright offended that anyone should expect him to do more than the absolute rock-bottom bare minimum. You know…I’ve seen some hatred directed toward the Galatelys, and it all seemed like a bunch of pettiness and cherry picking to me. Now I get it. The arrogance, the callousness, the snobbery, the elitism, the absolute scathing contempt for the fans. An absolutely disgusting display.
On to Junior, who tries to brush it off…“We saw a different thing. It’s all good, all good”…but you know they’re dying inside. I’d be feeling more sympathetic if he didn’t flush away every bit of his goodwill in the span of about a minute. Look, It’s very simple: Don’t tell the ref how to do his job. If you don’t go the distance, you don’t go the distance. You have no say in that matter. You get counted out, take the loss and get on with your life! Sheesh!
[deep sigh] Must…keep…going…
Hydra (5-2) vs. Tantrum (5-0)
Jake Ewert, after being on the very edge of oblivion, has taken that edge and decapitated the field with it. Hydra very clearly had serious mechanical problems in its first two matches but looks unstoppable now. But Tantrum isn’t an easy target for anybody, and it’s shown surprising resilience. This one’s going to be really tight no matter what.
Early trouble for Tantrum, getting a fork stuck in a saw slot. It quickly frees itself, but Hydra rushes in and oh, it’s under Tantrum…little hop, ho hum. Tantrum is inverted but rights immediately. A second flip which misses. Tantrum weaves back and forth, waiting for an opening. Another miss. Tantrum is dodging and weaving, trying to get at Hydra’s vulnerable back, but Hydra refuses to give an opening. Something has to give. Another missed flip. Tantrum rushes in; Hydra flips it a decent distance but also knocks itself back. (Doncha just love Newton’s Third Law? ) More juking. Hydra finally times the flipper right and Tantrum is sent flying. And another! No damage yet, but that was pretty! And a third spinning flip. Tantrum isn’t in danger yet but it needs to start finding some responses; running around and taking shots isn’t helping its cause. More maneuvering. Finally, Tantrum gets under Hydra’s right and sparks fly. A little bitty counter shot. Halfway mark. Hydra misses a flip, but hits on the second try. It seems like Alex Grant has finally hand enough and shoves Hydra all the way to the short corner. This was where it stuck the dagger into Cobalt; will history repeat itself? Tantrum pins Hydra in the corner, waiting, waiting for the opportunity. Nothing doing, and Tantrum backs off to the center. Another little flip…
…and the flipper is stuck! And Tantrum immediately rushes in and gets under the flipper! That’s what’s known as a “Pro Gamer Move” (I think; I’m doing just fine without any stupid “PS” or “Box” right now, thank you). It’s hard to imagine a less nimble bot or a less skilled driver pulling that off. Tantrum gleefully grinds away at Hydra’s currently-useless weapon. Someone in the Tantrum camp jumps and yells incoherently. Hydra flips Tantrum away again, but there’s not much power behind it. And bits of metal fly off of Hydra! One more big flip to end it.
Oh man. Tantrum the edge on damage. Hydra the edge on airtime. Who the hell knows the rest. Judges are earning their keep now. Splitter, natch. Jason Bardis, Tantrum. Lisa Winter, Hydra. Derek Young…oh man, this is just too intense…Tantrum!
Man. I have just won a lot of respect for Alex Grant and Ginger Schmidt. You hear it all the time: “Yudunwannigodajujez! Yudunwannigodajujez!” (Geez, I knew that I’d be making up words when writing about these shows, but I didn’t think I’d be making up that many words.) Do you know what a smart team realizes? That they’re not going to clobber every opponent, that somewhere along the road there’s going to be a really tough opponent, and it will go to the judges, and it will be extremely close, and if they want the Nut they need to know how to win that match. They knew exactly what it was going to take to beat Hydra, and they knew that they’d have to execute the plan and stick to it, and they did. These are the kind of wins that define champions.
Hydra…well, Jake Ewert’s luck had to run out sometime. Hopefully it’s been a fun experience for him.
Ginger Schmidt looks overwhelmed in a “Did we really do that?” kind of way. Her attitude is downright refreshing. Ewert is critical of his opponent’s strategy but not too critical. A rare look at the scorecards. In damage, aggression, and control, respectively, Young has it 3-2 2-1 1-2/6-5 Tantrum, Bardis was 3-2 2-1 1-2/6-5 Tantrum, and Young was 2-3 2-1 2-1/6-5 Hydra. So yeah, it was close! Like the final day is supposed to be! Look, I’ll make it really simple: You give me HARD PROOF of favoritism or corruption and I’ll condemn the judges. Until then, bother someone else.
Witch Doctor (5-1) vs. Sawblaze (5-1)
Sawblaze gets briefly hung up on the floor but recovers. Maneuvering battle. WD gets Sawblaze’s left side and knocks it over. A second hit…oh dear. That was not a very hard-looking shot, and it just knocked Sawblaze’s left wheel clean off. It’s over. (Yes, already.) WD gets a whole bunch of free hits which remove chunks of steel and most of the other tire before Sawblaze bursts into flames and stops all movement.
Behold, Jameson Go’s first ever semis exit. It seems that I was sadly on the money with my assessment of Sawblaze after the End Game match. It actually seems to be in the same boat Tantrum was last year; it can’t end matches quickly, it takes too much of a pounding and can’t survive a whole tournament. At this point the only remaining question is if that’s good enough for him. Definitely some decisions to make in the offseason.
The Galatelys seem to be in a somewhat better mood.
And then there were two. Drumroll please!
-Tantrum- Beat: Malice, Lucky, Gigabyte, Rotator, Cobalt, Hydra
-Witch Doctor- Beat: Duck, Rusty, Mammoth, Copperhead, Minotaur, Sawblaze / Lost to: End Game
Umm… I honestly don’t know what to say here. How did they make it? I was serious when I said that Tantrum didn’t have what it took to win the Giant Nut…too underpowered, too few options. Tons of fun but always runs out of magic at some point. And here it is now, unbowed and unbeaten. Meanwhile Witch Doctor was a sleeper at best going in, and the near-glory of ’19 may as well have been a century ago. Nobody took it seriously when it dispatched those schmucks Duck, Rusty, and Mammoth. But then it got faced with the ferocious pitbull Copperhead. And won. Then it got thrown to the bull, literally, the devastating Minotaur riding a tidal wave of emotion and gyroscopic force. And won. Then Sawblaze, the perennial favorite. And won. The fact that these two machines are here just illustrates how completely unpredictable this sport is. Can be draining sometimes, but at least it’s never going to turn into America’s Got Talent.
===CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH=== Witch Doctor (6-1) vs. Tantrum (6-0)
Maneuvering; Tantrum’s superior mobility on display. Tantrum suddenly goes straight for one of WD’s wedges and goes under; a little scrape, nothing more. WD…looks a little out of it, spinning aimlessly? Tantrum immediately shoots for the left side and gets under again. WD gets briefly upended but lands on its wheels. Tantrum teases a wepper, then backs off. Oh…remember the durability problem Sawblaze had? Well, we’re a little less than half a minute in, and WD’s right side drive is failing. Tantrum seizes the opportunity and undercuts from the left, into the wall. Release, back off, again avoiding the still-powerful spinner. That right side drive is nearly dead. Tantrum moves back and forth, waiting for the right moment to deal more damage…waiting…waiting…waiANDTHEREITIS! Upended from the left again. These aren’t big hits, but they’re definitely adding up. Rose thinks a belt came off of WD. More maneuvering. Tantrum continues to refuse all weppers and scores a hit to the back. And then…whoa…drove straight to the upper deck and flipped it over! Alex Grant can smell blood now. Tantrum catches WD’s back again. WD escapes, but Tantrum catches its side…weapon can’t quite reach, but WD is helpless. The ref is now talking to Andrea Galately…seemed like that last push was the final straw. The ref is patient…but not that patient! With 7 seconds to go, this one is history!
There is an old saying that victory has a hundred fathers, which is pretty close to what I’m seeing in the Tantrum camp right now. It looks like it taking a while for this to fully sink in for some of them. Did I mention that Grant and Schmidt are really classy, much unlike a lot of reality TV winners I’ve known?
And on a related note…damn, how much must it suck to be Team Witch Doctor right now? Two second places! Two! In three seasons! It may not seem that big a deal to you, but these kind of oh-so-closes have wrecked careers. I have the feeling we’re going to find out just how strong the Galatelys’ relationship is.
Tantrum’s the champ. Hoo boy. They’re going to be talking about this one for a while. It’s been two days and it still doesn’t seem real to me. If nothing else, it’s opened the door for bot designs that aren’t just Vertical Disk #5 or Flipper #12. Tantrum proved that small, quick, tough, and smart could win it all, as far as I’m concerned, that can only be a positive for the future of the sport.