In last season’s tournament, Hydra faced Tantrum, leading to a judges’ decision that was less than satisfactory as, under last season’s judging criteria, there was no clear and obvious winner. While I thought Tantrum won based off control and aggression for the back half of the fight, I also thought Hydra won for damage and control across the whole fight. This split in my own mind wasn’t due to different perspectives on the fight as it happened, but from the judging criteria. A big part of the spirit of BattleBots is to put on a good, active show, so Tantrum actively circling Hydra should bias things in favor of Tantrum, but this was not unambiguously stated in the judge’s guide. There was too much room for debate on what counted as control and aggression in how the fight played out. It should not be possible for there to be two winners under the rules as explicitly stated. The only wiggle room is how each judge observes the fight. Ambiguous judging criteria impacts not just the final decision, but how each driver operates during the fight. Fortunately, they improved all that for WCVII.
So, with both teams knowing how the match should be judged, we have a zippy and tanky punching spinner going against an almost-as-zippy and nearly-as-tanky hydraulic flipper. First off, Hydra will most certainly win the ground game. Second, Tantrum’s weapon reach just doesn’t mesh well with Hydra’s shape, and it certainly won’t connect with any of its guts. At best it does a bit of cosmetic damage. Third, as we have seen in the past, Tantrum’s self-righter will fail after the first half dozen flips. I see this as strongly favoring Hydra. The only question, is whether or not it will be a JD or KO. The only saving grace is that Tantrum is tanky. Unless it lands upside down after the srimech is toast, it’s going to keep running. With that in mind, it will probably go to the judges, with Hydra winning with a 7-4 score across the board. Outside of one lucky hit, I just don’t see any path to victory for Tantrum.
edit: One of the little run-up bits early in the broadcast hyping the main event noted that last season’s match was also a big reason they implemented the new appeals process.