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Looking to delve into some different tech? The Sumobots Club might scratch that itch

The sumobots group at Mohawk College is one of the school’s many, ever-evolving roster of clubs. But what makes it stand out is its unique premise and its involvement with other schools as well as anyone who has an interest in sumobots.

Sumobots is a tournament-styled sport that faces two robots off against each other in a ring to compete to be the last robot standing. This can be done by ruthlessly defeating the other robot or simply kicking the other robot out of the ring.

Mohawk students Andrew Szajkowski-Miles (left) and Ali Zane (right), are longtime sumobots fans.

The robots are usually built by their owners, who often code the robots to teach them how to evade attacks and other strategic tactics. Pre-built and pre-coded sumobots can also be bought online.

Every Tuesday afternoon, the Sumobots Club features weekly discussions, both in-person and over applications like Teamspeak and Discord. The club holds tournaments and plans to hold competitions against teams from McMaster University and other local clubs.

While the club’s focus may seem like a niche interest, the organizers encourage anyone with an interest to get involved. Newcomers might be surprised by how much they end up enjoying it.

Riley Pavao, the club’s leader, was concerned at first about how many people the club would attract, but after the first meeting, those thoughts disappeared.

“It may be niche for some people,” Pavao said. “Especially when it comes to coding and everything, that may turn people off. That being said, it is open to whoever, and honestly, you don’t need to know anything about robots or coding to do this. You can buy robots pre-built, you can get your code online, and still win with it.”

Vice-president Jacob Bransfield shares a history with Pavao and a passion for the club.

“Riley and I have been friends for almost four years,” Bransfield said. “In that time, we have brainstormed this club for years. I’ve been to a handful of tournaments and coding is a huge passion of mine. It’s like I was put on this Earth to be part of a club like this.”

One major setback has been the same issue that everyone else has faced: the pandemic. The organizers originally wanted to start the club earlier, but Covid-19 dragged everything to a halt and it wasn’t until January 2023 that they could really get the ball rolling.

Club leader Riley Pavao has had a lifetime interest in sumobots and how they work. He set up the club for people who feel the same way.

“My biggest inspiration was to be a part of this club and to get other people involved,” Pavao said. “Because of Covid and everything, we had no choice but to wait it out until it was safe to do so again.”

Club members are invested in the world of sumobots. Some already had their own robots and some were ready to make a purchase after their first meeting.

Ali Zane says they are all ready to start competing.

“I’ve always had an interest in sumobots,” Zane said. “Despite missing out earlier in my college life due to Covid, I am ready to take part and have a ton of fun. I’ve known Riley for a while, and I definitely trust him with this club to make a truly unique experience.”

For more information about the Sumobots Club, email Riley Pavao at riley.pavao@mohawkcollege.ca.

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