This was gonna be the rough one. We knew Sawblaze would be so, so hard, but this was the fight that we knew would hurt. They read off everyone’s first fight in a big meeting and released the rest of the schedule to use a little later that day. We were worried. The last time we fought End Game it was pretty much over in one hit. We lost that first head-to-head and they casually swung back around to finish the job. We didn’t learn much from that experience. They’ve only gotten better since then. Stronger, more reliable, smoother drive. They were still on the path to being champions then, but now they’ve collected a Giant Nut and Golden Bolt. We were sweating, so we came up with a plan to make them sweat a little.
We showed up very prepared for this season. We had two HyperShocks running at all times. The night before this fight, we had two robots under blankets: the fresh one with forks we planned to use and another one with some props set up to look like super long forks. We stashed both in the battery tent with some boxes around them. In the morning, we made a big show of wheeling both robots around, still covered, where they could see it. Safety said we could roll two bots through the tunnel if production said it was ok. Some of the officials told us the same. Eventually, it ran most of the way up the chain but was denied in the end. We didn’t push back, wasn’t worth upsetting anyone for what was mostly a joke. For the couple of hours before the first session, we definitely got under End Game’s skin though. Since Season 5, there have been fairly strict configuration rules about declaring what you’ll be fighting with. That requirement wasn’t in any way infringed upon by us playing mind games. We and production knew exactly what we’d be running and they’d confirmed that we had that robot queued in the tech check.
Tech check didn’t go according to plan. We were ready at about 9 am to get cleared, and we wanted to be fully ready before End Game ever made it down to the battery tent. Unfortunately, no one was available to sign us off for pre-fight check-in until nearly 11 am, so the charade kinda fell apart as the tent got crowded. We roll the bot into a test box and as soon as I turned it on, something blows up. Massive sparks and puffs of smoke started before I’d even pulled the key out. I tried to turn it off, but it felt like there was nothing left of the switch. Good thing we had a whole second robot sitting in the battery tent!
The HyperShock chassis is completely symmetric. Except for the battery box support structure. It’s one piece of steel with a box cut out where the battery box floats. The cut-out is slightly off-center, but the rest of the part is symmetric. This means it can be welded into the chassis backward. We were able to wire it all up without much issue, just had the battery rail on the left instead of the right. Well, we thought so. The battery rail has a positive end and a negative end. When we moved it from the right side of the robot to the left, that gets flipped around, so the whole robot was wired backward. There were several opportunities for one of us to correct this, but no one noticed. Motor controllers don’t work when the power isn’t coming in from the expected direction. Lucky for us, the switch melted enough to stop conducting electricity before everything was on fire. All of the other components were fine except for one motor phase lead which had desoldered.
This is when we realized the wiring was flipped. There wasn’t time to do anything about it, so we stashed it in the pit and went about moving the forks to the other robot we had prepared. This was also when we finally told End Game which robot we’d be running. I think they were more nervous about the fight being delayed than we were. Swapping the front end over only takes about ten minutes; there are just four large bolts to remove. We tensely went through tech check again about half an hour later without further excitement. Now that we had some time, we started pulling apart the ruined robot.
The drive switch was ruined. We have more, they’re easy to swap, and we could always just buy more from End Game. Some wires and connectors melted, oh the horror. Our wonderful sponsor, Multicomp Pro, had us fully kitted out with everything we’d need to fix or replace those parts. After some very careful disassembly, we determined by smell that the ESC was probably fine. A computer and a power supply confirmed what our noses determined. We pulled the motor apart and the windings looked fine, so we soldered a new phase lead in and tested it on the bench. Sure enough, it's also fine.
I needed a vise and a small prybar to get the switch open. There are more pictures at the end, but the above should illustrate the level of devastation. The copper terminal on the high side was just slagged. Fortunately, enough of it melted to break the circuit. When I showed it to End Game later that day, they said no one had ever shown them a switch in such horrible condition. We’ve been using their switches since Season 5, and they’re great. I think we’ve had four different fires (three at re:MARS) since and not once did the switches fail.
As you’ve seen, we made it into the box for our fight and with enough spare time to make silly sunglasses. Copying opponents’ gimmicks seemed to work as a method of stealing mojo in Champions/Golden Bolt last year (should have done spooky fingers against Witch Doctor), so we thought to try it here. We knew we’d need all the help we could get. Watching the episode, we were astonished to see we were rated nearly even in the builder’s poll.
The last time we fought, our box rush failed. We know they have a higher weapon tip speed, so going straight it was pretty much off the table, regardless of their enormous forks. Will took us off wide so we could try to make them drive out into empty space, giving us room to start circling. From our angle, it looked like End Game was spewing confetti as their forks peeled the paint off of the red square. We thought to try to bait them into driving into a saw slot again, but they seem to have fixed that issue. With the closer views the show delivers, we can see they had welded on some wings so they won’t have a repeat of their RIPperoni fight. The first few hits weren’t so bad, it seems they had their weapon running pretty low. When they got us up against the back wall, the only thing that mattered was getting out of that corner. We tried to climb up the shelf, but when that didn’t happen, we ran off to reset the pace. We’d been discussing our general inability to self-right since the Whiplash fight. Will had attempted to do it during that KO count, but it didn’t work then. We also tried a few times in the test box and it looked like it could be possible. Our consensus was to just attack while inverted. If the opportunity presented itself to get back over, we’d try, but it wouldn’t be the focus anymore. Charging in headfirst cost us a wheel, but it did flip us back over, so that’s almost a good trade. We took one of their forks off with the next hit, so maybe our luck was turning around. On three wheels, we should still be able to out-push them, but something started happening to the drive. We later discovered the chain from the removed wheel was wrapped around the jackshaft. It seemed like it wasn’t fully stuck at first, so that's why we could get some rotation out of the wheel, sometimes. It locked up soon after.
We switched from belts to chains on the outer part of the drive train since we kept snapping belts while driving around. They just couldn’t handle the torque demand. Belts tend to fly off when they snap, and they snap when they get jammed. Chain doesn’t break so easily, so it tends to get wrapped around sprockets when only one end gets loose.
We were still mobile, but the positioning couldn’t be worse. With one side dragging, we couldn’t risk trying to make space. We push back in, but get our nose stuck between their remaining fork and the wall. So we bail back to the middle of the arena and get a little stuck. They come in taking free shots at our side as the remaining front wheel walks off its rim. We’re still somewhat able to drive on it, but we’re not getting much useful force transfer to the floor. They flip us over, removing the tire from the remaining front wheel. Will does his best to scamper away, but we get stuck on our side. The jackshaft finally fails on the left side and the chain to the left rear wheel falls out of the robot. End Game, fortunately, notices, stopping their attack before adding further insult to injury. We try to ramp the weapon throttle up and down hoping to wobble back onto the last working wheel, but we’re pretty stable it seems. Funnily enough, End Game stuck themselves to the floor again at the end of this fight, you can hear Jack say “We might just be stuck again” as they line up for their interview. I believe they increased their ground clearance after this.
The damage from this fight was pretty bad, Wheels and such we aren’t bothered about losing. The AR side armor was badly bent, getting that back into usable shape would be a mission. The forks and weapon assembly were mostly fine. The frame was wrecked. The front supports were torn and bent, and some of the top armor mounts were out of alignment. The front piece of top armor was twisted, but we have a bunch of those. We signed a wheel and gave it to End Game.