Battlebots 2020 episode 1 review End Game vs Tombstone

The first main event of 2020 is between two classic robots. End Game is a basic vertical spinner but with a beefed up front wedge for this fight and Tombstone is a basic horizontal bar spinner. Both of these robots are the simplest form of their respective class of spinner and robots like these two are in every competition. It is very strange then that any horizontal bar spinner with exposed wheels is called a Tombstone clone but vertical spinners are not called a clone of any other vertical spinner. This is probably because Ray Billings has been competing with Last Rites/Tombstone for such a long time and has always made an impression. In fact I still have clear memories of Last Rites from Robogames 2007 and the noise it made. I just don’t like calling robots Tombstone clones and feel that some new builders feel restricted from building a horizontal bar spinner in case they might be accused of making a clone. I think if you see another robot you like and want to copy the design then go ahead. But that doesn’t have anything to do with this fight.

With a classic match like this the tactics used by the drivers is well known. End Game wants to attack Tombstones wheels or rear while Tombstone wants to get to the side of End Games wedge. Both Ray and Jack are known for being good drivers who are confident in their robots so this was a fight I was looking forward to like the Saw Blaze vs Whiplash fight. But unlike Saw Blaze vs Whiplash both End Game and Tombstone are extremely hard hitting so I was predicting this fight to come down to the first hit and was expecting a few seconds of strategic manoeuvring.

This fight was quick, lasting just 10 seconds. It turns out that the first hit was a front on hit by both robots in the centre of the box. No careful manoeuvring or sizing up. Just spin up the weapon and drive straight at the other guy. Tombstone hit the wedge on End Game and was turned around to face away from End Game. Ray tried to spin Tombstone around to hit End Games side (Ray always spins right to do this?) but End Game continues to drive forward. End Game hits Tombstones right wheel and both robots are thrown into different walls of the arena. While End Game immediately recovers and drives straight at Tombstone again Tombstone shudders forwards and backwards but doesn’t get away from the wall which also prevents the weapon from spinning. Perhaps the hit on the wheel damaged something or Tombstone is caught on the wall. We don’t get a chance to find out as End Game hits Tombstone in the side again and flips Tombstone over the wall and out of the arena.

Before and after the match the End Game guys like to explain how much they studied Rey’s driving to develop the best tactics to beat Tombstone. After watching this fight a few times I guess the strategy they developed was to drive straight at Tombstone and hit him fast and often.