So the qualifying heats are now complete and from the 40 that started, we are left with just 5. But that isn’t the full story, no no. We need 6 to complete the line up for the Grand Final and as is the structure of the UK championship these days that 6th machine will be chosen from the losing heat finalists by the judges as a wildcard competitor, another chance to show what they can do. So who has the best chance? Here I’m going to go through each machines performance in their heat and see what there chances are of being that chosen competitor. This is also helps fill the TWO weeks gap we have to endure until the final, because the BBC have decided that the Golf is more important than anything else ever. 7 hours of Golf this coming Sunday starting at about 6. I mean why BBC, why? Nobody cares about Golf, it will probably rain anyway… Anyway focusing on the task at hand, let’s get into it….
Sabretooth (3 points)
The Heat – Sabretooth enter the wildcard battle with the lowest points total of all heat finalists at just 3. This happened because other results seem to go their way but is also proof that getting a win by knockout is invaluable. Sabretooth have been one of the stars of the series so far, finally getting that first win in impressive style and then beating Terrorhurtz in a rematch from many moons ago. That was the highlight for me, that was a huge win. But then things seemed to go downhill somewhat. Damage taken from that fight meant they weren’t at full strength to fight Aftershock who brutally took them apart and then a massive repair job was required. And that massive repair job was performed and it was brilliant to see. It’s what I love about this game, so many other people from other teams helping out to get this machine ready after it had been obliterated. It was never going to be the same but they gave it a damn good go. OK so they lost to Jellyfish and then the heat final to Aftershock but realistically, Sabretooth shouldn’t have even got back into the warzone after all the damage. Once again its testament to everybody involved and that this really is a team game.
Verdict – I’d love to see Sabretooth back for the final in TWO weeks, but maybe it’s all a bit too mashed up. Post Aftershock it was never really going to be 100%. It was a huge rebuilt to just get it back in for those last 2 fights but it would need to be a whole lot more to get it fighting fit like it was in the early rounds, plus every other team in a heat final scored more points. So I think Sabretooth will miss out this time. But to get to the heat final this time around is a massive achievement, and I hope to see them again.
Cherub (4 points)
The Heat – Cherub had one of the more interesting routes to the heat final and was a very underestimated machine. Designed to do a handstand, those lifting forks were rarely seen but they did give Cherub a very low ground clearance which helped it more than once. Couple that with an incredibly tough front wedge and you’ve got a real underdog. An underdog that can cause more problems than you think and that was certainly evident through its Robot Wars campaign. Cherub was relatively quiet in its first round melee, being nudged around a bit by Push To Exit whilst PP3D swept up everything else. Cherub made it through and had 2 wins that were a little controversial, sandwiching a loss to Eruption. They got walloped by PP3D in a hit that broke the sidewall and immobilised both machines. The judges gave the fight to Cherub which, at the time, I found to be a strange call. However after watching the fight over a couple of times it made sense. Cherub was the more controlled and the more aggressive so therefore the rightful winner. Same with Behemoth. They got underneath them regularly and were well on top. The controversy? Getting wedged under the floor flipper mid fight. Again no problems here, it shouldn’t have happened and was unfair. The heat final against Eruption lasted ooh, about as long as this sentence. But they made it to the heat final and deservedly so.
Verdict – Again I think the lack of points here is what will cost Cherub. As good as it was controlled maybe it isn’t as aggressive as the Aftershocks of this world so might not make it. But the team were amazing. Great spirit from those guys at such a young age and Cherub was brilliantly controlled throughout. I missed Gabriel this series and as much as I’d have still like to have seen it I’m glad this family team were still involved and I can’t wait to see an upgraded Cherub (or Gabriel) in the next war.
Thor (6 points)
Looking for the wildcard for the second consecutive year is Thor. A machine that, this time, had a few reliability concerns but can also be considered to have been a bit unlucky. Both fights with Concussion were there for the taking. The first one was a lunge that hit their drum at just the wrong angle and the second fight was such a close call it could have gone either way, plus it was the only heat final to have gone to the judges. Thor was as aggressive and as controlled as ever though in it’s other fights. Tauron didn’t take much to die and Chimera was bludgeoned by the axe. MR Speed Squared had problems but it was great control to finish it off and Heavy Metal lost a wheel after repetitive attacks. It was the Thor we saw in the last war and thats exactly what got it the wildcard last time. I must also say that I think Jason is one of the best drivers in the competition. Thor has got some pace and he keeps it accurately poised making sure the front end is all an opponent sees. Apart from the lunge at Concussion. But nevertheless Thor can make a solid statement for another wildcard. On their day they are more than a match for anybody and they weren’t exactly out done in the final last year. It was a struggle but it was only really Carbide that caused all the issues. Thor would be a worthy Grand Finalist again this time around.
Verdict – It all depends on if anybody did a better job than Thor. Concussion didn’t dominate them in the head to heads like Eruption did to Cherub Or Aftershock to Sabretooth, and their fate would probably depends on if Pulsar is out of A & E yet, because I’d have them infront of Thor. Very tough one here but maybe Thor is the ideal candidate? Is it the only machine actually ready to fight? Either/or it would be great to see Jason and Thor there again and they would definitely be competitive with the bunch already there, they’re one of the favourites for this wildcard.
Pulsar (8 points)
The Heat – It’s not unusual to see robots with 8 points here at the wildcard stage, Thor had it last time and they got the wildcard from it. What is unusual is that Pulsar wasn’t the only machine to score that amount in the heat to heads, owing to their draw with Ironside 3 where both machines got 2 points from that fight. Those who have followed me so far will know that I am a big Pulsar fan and I’m not ashamed to say I think it’s one of the best looking robots in this years contest. 8 points is, for me, a certainty for the wildcard but theres more to it than that. Pulsar started strong in the competition dispatching Apex relatively easily. After the draw with Ironside they sent Supernova into orbit and took the fantastic Wyrm team out too. But none of this was without issue. Pulsar suffered major reliability problems, burning through motors and who knows what else, to the point that for the heat final the self righter was re wired in order to drive the thing. It didn’t last too long in that fight basically because Pulsar was too tired to go on. And there lies the catch. Without trying to be too biased, Pulsar should be in the grand final on performance alone, but would it be ready? Is someone going to pip them to the post because at the moments we see now, they are irreparable? Of course we won’t know for a bit longer because Golf is on this week! Thanks Beeb! Apologies….. Focus….
Verdict – It should be straight forward really. Pulsar scored the most points and was probably the most convincing throughout it’s heat. But I’m not sure that, even if picked, Pulsar could make a fight of it or even make it to the arena. If they can(/did) then I’d put them there all day long. If not then it’s already game over. A shame for such a beautifully made machine.
Apollo (5 points)
The Heat – In times gone by it would be staggering that the current champion goes out in the heat final. In this day and age though it’s probably about right for someone who had a rampant Carbide in their heat. Apollo took a bit of a beating in that last heat but they weren’t completely outclassed. They had probably the most dominant opening melee I’ve seen for a very long time, not just since the reboot and were very impressive against Coyote and Crackers N Smash. The driving was great in the heat final against Carbide as well until the beating just seemed to be too much. For Apollo to come out with just 5 points then seems a little low to me. But hey they had 5 at that stage in the last war and still went onto win. The point is that the performances in those victories were probably the most impressive out of any wildcard which will have a key say in who claims this prize. I know Coyote and Crackers N Smash weren’t exactly Supernova or Terrorhurtz bless them, but you can only play whats infront of you. Once again though like so many other wildcard picks, has Apollo already taken too much damage? And what else can they add to the final? Well they’re not a spinner so theres a plus as we already have 4 of those there. So maybe Apollo are in the front seat with Thor? Question is, who will be in the driving one?
Verdict – I said on Twitter that it didn’t matter who won the heat final between Apollo and Carbide, both would be in the final anyway. I have to stick to my original prediction that Apollo will get the wildcard but Thor now I think wont be that far behind them. And the fact they are still the current champions means they have a strong case and some unfinished business. Probably the most entertaining team in the series too and it would be great to have them back.
So there we go! Those are just my thoughts, what are yours? Who do you think has the best chance on getting back into the competition? No need to rush with your comments, you’ve got 2 weeks after all! Thanks BBC! Why not just switch the Golf to any of your other channels?! ……Excuse me….
On a serious note though it is nice to not know who its going to be. Thor was head and shoulders above every other team in the last war and was a relatively easy choice to make. This time we have a lot of factors to take in, mainly who’s machine is still working? I’ll let you dwell over these thoughts until next week, when my grand final preview piece hits the internet. I’ve got to think what I’m going to do next Sunday night whilst the BBC annoys the roboteering fan base. Try not to cry too much folks, the final will be here before we know it…..