[BattleBots: S8 E10 is available online through Science Channel with a cable subscription.]
Hey guess what? This is the last episode of BattleBots where its airing dates are skewed. Discovery Channel is doing their Shark Week stuff as we speak and after that everything goes back to normal at the beginning of August. That wasn’t so bad now, was it? I mentioned that there was a Shark Week-themed skit that was taped for this season but unless it’s going to air after the fact I don’t know if it’ll get used. If not I’ll be sure to explain it to you because I watched them do like a dozen takes of it. Speaking of opening skits though, I like this one. Chris Rose starts talking about Bronco, who’s competing tonight, in a voice that doesn’t quite sound like his own. Guess he didn’t get the pipes warmed up before recording that. Anyways over in the far corner of the arena there’s a massive strip of duct tape stretching from the floor to the ceiling with increments every foot. At certain points are marks showing how high Bronco has flipped a given robot. Chris points out Blacksmith, Lock-Jaw, and Bombshell, but there’s also a place for Stinger if you look closely. Stinger may not have made it out this year, but I’m not willing to ignore Matt Maxham’s robot. That flip won him a Giant Washer Award back in 2015! You know, the one that was a joke at the expense of Dale Earnhardt’s death.
Kenny Florian is hanging out on a ladder just out of shot and nervously points out from the Battlebox floor to its ceiling — or the start of the lighting arrays rather — is 16 feet. Bronco’s come close to breaking some shit, so close that crew members are apparently placing bets on it happening this year. Bronco is up against Duck this week, will the feathers fly and send our fowl friend into the rafters? You’re gonna have to wait about 45 minutes because it’s this episode’s main event. Other matches on deck this week feature HyperShock who’s moving on up in the world and takes on Free Shipping, plus Red Devil has apparently been put back together and goes up against SubZero. Monsoon, the robot responsible for destroying Red Devil, is up against Son of Whyachi so I hope they can take what they dish out. Warhead finally makes its debut this season where it faces off against the equally toothy Sharkoprion, and Ultimo “Currently 2-0” Destructo makes its premiere against, uh, Axe Backwards.
Also someone get Kenny down from that ladder, he doesn’t look like he’s having any fun.
HYPERSHOCK vs. FREE SHIPPING
Totally True Trivia™: Gary Gin does not actually have an Amazon Prime subscription.
Up first on the chopping block are two great mid-range bots that got some bad starts and have yet to find a good footing this year. Will Bales’ HyperShock is in the red square for this fight and arguably has the better record. Not “arguably”, more like “literally” because HyperShock is 1-1 and Free Shipping is 0-2, but HyperShock’s only win came about from pummeling Battle Royale with Cheese and let’s face it that’s pretty much a WINNER medallion with your name already on it. It’s a win only in the most literal of terms, but hey a win’s a win! HyperShock was able to do some real damage in that match with its twin ninja star-looking vertical blades, because those weapons didn’t do a goddamned thing against Bite Force except open HyperShock up to a blow that disemboweled the whole fucking thing. This is the robot that made “the rake” the breakout meme of the 2016 season, so it’s always a little saddening to see such a popular robot stumble right out of the gate. But don’t worry, the HyperShock “Hype Team” is out in full force for this fight. Those “Hyper” and “Shock” signs look familiar to you? Those were the exact same ones from 2016 that accompanied the rakes my buddies and I brought (except no rakes because it’s surprisingly hard to get those through airport security). And that sign with the PogChamp face scrawled on it? Totally me. Will loved it.
Over in the blue square is Free Shipping, a robot that should not have the record it has right now: 0-2. This thing is basically Gary Gin’s Original Sin (which is literally a fucking Robogames champion heavyweight) with some extra goofy shit tacked onto it so the BattleBots officials would go “oh yeah that’s totally a PRIMARY WEAPON and not a silly disguise”. This is a trick that will work exactly once and Gary has fucking blown it because he can’t win a single match. I’ll give credit where due, he’s tried, but Free Shipping has been having an extraordinarily hard time in its debut season. Its first match was actually a rumble with Duck and Mecha Rampage where Free Shipping’s flamethrower could’ve possibly contributed to Mecha Rampage turning into a goddamned fire vortex. Honestly that should’ve been worth infinite points, but it wasn’t and Duck won the rumble. Free Shipping was paired up with Huge in its second fight and man was that a fucking disaster. Huge basically cleaved Free Shipping apart and the robot caught fire and died. The orange box on top of Free Shipping that houses its flamethrower components is still jacked up even in this fight. But going back to what I said earlier these are two robots who aren’t the best but are far from the bottom of the pack and they’re about to get their first good fight.
When you have a robot whose weapon system includes a wedge or some kind of leverage-providing device the last thing you want to do is hit a seam in the arena floor. It’s one of the most common unspoken hazards of any arena because they don’t make steel sheets that are as big as the goddamned floor. Everything’s put together from pieces and while Pete Lambertson and his crew do their best to ensure the Battlebox floor is as level as possible nothing is ever 100%. HyperShock finds a sweet spot and immediately digs its only lifting arm into it which causes the robot to stumble and lose all of its forward momentum meaning that the doomsday highlighter doesn’t get to land a hit that Kenny would describe using the words “huge” and “there”. Free Shipping takes advantage of the situation and starts blowing fire in HyperShock’s face. HyperShock does get one shot but it doesn’t seem to do much because Free Shipping absorbs it with its heavily armored front end. HyperShock starts rolling around for what feels like the fortieth time this season and that’s about where I draw the line. I paused this match to go find out what dumb 1990’s RC car this keeps reminding me of and apparently it’s called the Tyco Rebound. I told you guys I wasn’t bullshitting.
HyperShock is doing its best to circle and weave around Free Shipping both in an effort to prevent the lifter from catching it and also so Will has ample time to get his robot’s weapon up to speed, but something is quite clearly wrong with HyperShock because we’ve gone back to the whole “the weapon spins but there’s no bite” problem that we’ve seen with several competitors this season. There’s a small chain laying on the floor close to where HyperShock hit the seam at the start of the fight (it gets pushed into the red square later on and becomes more visible) and going by what I know about the robots from having seen them in the pits this sorta looks like one of HyperShock’s parts so more than likely the robot unintentionally crippled itself within the first three fucking seconds of the battle. Only a minute has passed and it feels like eternity because HyperShock is biding its time for a hit that it’s never going to get. Free Shipping finally bumps into HyperShock and somehow sends it reeling and flipping into the screws. HyperShock’s blades aren’t working right, it’s having some sort of drive problems, and to make matters worse HyperShock is missing its right lifting fork; these forks double as srimechs in the event that HyperShock gets thrown into its ass and with only one of them (because the team needed to make weight) you can just see how this goddamned robot is basically dead now.
Free Shipping seems content to watch HyperShock die, which is never a particularly good strategy. You gotta make damn well sure you’re scoring all the points here. Free Shipping’s weapon is a shitty lifting wedge and that isn’t going to impress the judges. Gary ought to be parked next to HyperShock belching out the nastiest fucking flames his robot can muster because that’s the only way he’s going to secure the points he needs to finally put a win on the board. People keep talking about how good of a driver Gary is but this season we’ve really yet to see some good examples. We finally get one when HyperShock manages to self-right… only to be tipped right back into its lid before the robot can even get its bearings straight. It also started to smoke just before that happened so things aren’t looking too great for the murderous landscaper. I swear to god that reference to the Tyco Rebound was spot on because just look at the stunts HyperShock starts doing. Go back and watch this fight again but mute your TV and listen to the audio from that commercial instead, you can’t tell the two apart. Even the “Maximum Heat” slogan was great because now HyperShock is on fire and fucking dead.
HyperShock loses yet another match due to a complete and total system failure, and Free Shipping finally gets win #1. Both robots now have the exact same record this year — 1-2 — and their fourth and final Fight Night rounds will be paramount in determining whether or not they qualify for the main tournament.
WINNER: Free Shipping, KO
RED DEVIL vs. SUBZERO
Totally True Trivia™: SubZero was originally going to be armed with a freeze cannon and wear a ninja mask, but Team Hammertime was served a cease & desist by Midway Games.
In our last fight we just saw HyperShock and Free Shipping, two robots who at one point this year were totally trashed and needed to be completely rebuilt. It just so happens we’ve got two more examples showcasing the mastery of last minute repairs and fixes. Red Devil is in the red square purely because the colors match. This robot’s trademark look involves a set of biting jaws in conjunction with its articulated saw arm. Up to this point we haven’t seen these jaws because Red Devil’s first two opponents were nasty killer spinners so Ravi Baboolal and his team went with a huge ass plow, but this time since SubZero isn’t capable of ending the world we finally get to see the signature jaws; the same ones that bit down on Witch Doctor in 2016 and gave us one of the most spectacular wins of that year. Red Devil’s durable, but only up to a certain point. It survived Brutus because Brutus killed itself, but Monsoon laid this robot the fuck out and splayed it open like a boiled lobster. Somehow Red Devil and all of its complicated moving parts were put back together. That king who tried to put Humpty Dumpty back together would’ve been wise to call on Ravi because I didn’t think Red Devil was going to come back after its loss to Monsoon. Holy shit.
SubZero’s a good bot from a group of honest guys who’ve been in this sport almost as long as Red Devil’s original builder. Their robot is a big clunky mess but it’s a love letter to the uber powerful flippers of yesteryear; just look at this thing, it looks like how I’d imagine Toro would’ve evolved had the Comedy Central era not ended in 2003. Sort of. SubZero still has that “unpolished” quality to it which gives the robot its charm. It’s a flipper, that’s it, and Jerry Clarkin is excited that for the first time in SubZero’s BattleBots career it isn’t fighting a fucking spinner. He’s legit pissing his pants at the prospect of finally being able to just come at someone with his robot’s flipper and not have to worry about absorbing blows and slowing them down because that’s something SubZero sure as shit can’t do. Like I just mentioned, SubZero’s previous three fights all involved spinners: Icewave (2016), Huge, and Captain Shrederator. Each time SubZero gave it its all and was basically blown the fuck apart, but it did manage to beat Captain Shrederator because that robot’s just become a fucking joke. Jerry’s riding high, and his drone Spitfire is riding even higher. Because it’s a drone, and it can fly.
Red Devil went with its claw configuration for obvious reasons, but once this fight gets underway it becomes apparent that there’s a fair chance that SubZero’s fat ass might be too big for Red Devil to get any purchase on. Red Devil opens wide and from just eyeballing it on my end I don’t think this is going to work, SubZero is like those stupid novelty hamburgers you see on Guy Fieri’s shows where eating them like a normal fucking hamburger is impossible because there’s three meat patties, onion rings, a whole ass pickle, and hot wings or some dumb shit between the buns. Anyways SubZero is in great form here and flips Red Devil. Okay, it’s not really so much a “flip” as it is “knocking Red Devil’s center chassis pod backward”, but you get what I mean. Most robots are not an overcomplicated mess that ruin the definitions of common concepts. Thanks, Red Devil. At this point, I’m cheering for SubZero. It’s come back from some bullshit fights… but fuck me if that thing’s flipper isn’t quite obviously jammed just a few inches off of the ground already. It’s still getting flips because Red Devil is an easy target but what the fuck happened? Literally nobody has touched this thing yet.
Spitfire was trying to blow some flames earlier in the fight but wasn’t accomplishing much, in fact it actually just got out of the way when SubZero came in to start trying to flip Red Devil around. While waiting things out, Spitfire landed. The action gets awfully close to the drone which I guess spooked the driver because holy shit that thing jumped at least 15 feet into the air and rather than land gracefully it just does its best impression of a bored seven-year-old playing Microsoft Flight Simulator and smashes into the ground, flipping over in the process. So that’s how that story ends, and the hosts openly blast teams who still use drones. Red Devil has struggled to get a good bite on SubZero, but because SubZero’s flipper is a busted piece of shit it just so happens to make for a great target that’s right level with Red Devil’s biters. SubZero tries to get free by firing its flipper, an admittedly smart move, but Red Devil holds on tight and starts chewing some titanium sparks off of SubZero’s front end. There’s gotta be some serious force behind those chompers too, because Red Devil manages to get purchase on the sides and corners of SubZero and that’s something that I immediately wrote off as impossible.
I mentioned that Spitfire had crashed and that was the end of it, but it seems nobody really gives a shit about the drone on either side because both robots take turns running into it or very nearly crushing it. Spitfire gets bumped precariously close to the screws and you just know what’s about to happen. HyperShock’s stunt with the rake may have been spectacular, but nothing is going to top the footage of the arena screw hazard just straight up fucking obliterating Spitfire. That poor shitty little drone just gets plinked right in and didn’t stand a chance. Somewhere in the stands Jake and Luke Ewert were watching this and saying to themselves “wow I sure am glad that isn’t us out there”. The camera cuts back and for a few seconds we can really appreciate just how dead Spitfire is. I hope this is the last drone we ever see in the Battlebox, aside from those goofy camera ones that get in the way of the ceiling shots every once in a while. Hey speaking of those, wanna know something funny? Brady Davis of Team XD normally piloted the camera drones and he’s crashed a couple of them by this point in the season. I believe he was also the pilot of Spitfire. Surprising, I know.
Something’s gotta be broken inside of SubZero, and I’m not talking about its heart as the realization of its ass being the reason why its friend was eaten by the screws. I mean that in a serious sense because SubZero just isn’t moving around that well anymore. I’m not sure at what point something, if anything, came loose or whatever but Red Devil takes the reins during the last 90 seconds of this fight, bites down, and doesn’t let up with its saw. It’s enough for a comeback win and as the two teams head back to the pits to await their final Fight Night match-ups Red Devil is sitting at a respectable 2-1 and SubZero is on the verge of elimination at 1-2. Meanwhile, Spitfire found a nice trash can to call home.
WINNER: Red Devil, Judges’ Decision (3-0)
SHARKOPRION vs. WARHEAD
Totally True Trivia™: Things Ed Robinson can swallow: swords, fire, sideshow props. Things Ed Robinson cannot swallow: Robitussin (it’s gross).
I guess for those of you who don’t have Science Channel this is the first time you’re seeing Sharkoprion because the last time we saw this robot was literally in the first fucking episode of the show and its fight was one of the “bonus matches” only on Science. If Ed Robinson’s robot wasn’t colorful and unique — and if he didn’t spend all day posting memes to the /r/BattleBots community on Reddit — most people probably would’ve forgotten he was here this year. Sharkoprion has been in a lot of promotional pictures posted by builders and crew members, but for all the likability and charm this robot has this is only its second ever fight. Not second televised fight, its second fight period. People were quick to write this robot off but when push came to shove Sharky Shark chose to say “fuck pushing” and came out biting instead. Deviled Egg was its first victim whom Sharkoprion was able to sink in a single shot followed by Kraken in the same rumble after its drive system took some damage from the shark’s disc. Sharkoprion might not have the biggest weapon in the field, but it’s got a death hum all its own and I certainly wouldn’t want that thing near my robot. Also I wouldn’t want Ed Robinson near it either because he might try some weird parlor trick with it.
Now, actually making its season debut and not “we haven’t seen this robot for 3 goddamned months so we forgot about it”, here’s Warhead. Originally designed and built in around 2002/2003 Warhead is very nearly tied with Son of Whyachi as the oldest BattleBot still competing this year (sorry Nightmare, you gotta show up to get credit). That’s not to say this robot is straight up a 15 year old piece of shit (that would be Warrior Dragon), Warhead has had some changes and upgrades made to it over the years. Not many, but a few. The biggest change is the massive goofy T-rex head the robot is currently sporting, something the team unveiled in 2016. Normally Warhead is armed with a spinning dome capable of kicking serious ass. Just ask BattleBots judge Derek Young, Warhead kicked his robot’s ass so badly he gave up and just passes judgment on other peoples’ bots now. Back in 2015 I talked a lot of shit about Warhead because it returned to BattleBots and just lost back-to-back, but in 2016 the team really changed my mind. They came back with a machine that despite its age was still a heavy hitter. Plus it’s a dinosaur and it’s hard for me to hate it because sometimes it’s just easier to think with your dick and not your head.
During the twitch test you may have seen Sharkoprion do a little spin maneuver. That’s actually Sharkoprion’s defensive trick where it uses its hinged tail to swat enemies away so the robot can continue spinning inward into its opponent’s side and land a hit with its disc. I’m bringing it up right now as the fight starts because that’s Sharkoprion’s opening move. It kinda works? But not really. Sharkoprion manages to shave some sparks off of Warhead but it becomes apparent almost immediately that Warhead is just too fucking big. Sharkoprion rides up into Warhead’s teeth where it gets stuck and because the shark’s side guards are basically just pipe scaffolding Warhead is able to hook its teeth into them and hold on tight. Sharkoprion is getting an extremely generous amount of fire blown onto its wheels and if it were HyperShock the robot would probably be dead by now, but this isn’t a disgraced 80’s Hot Wheels car we’re talking about here. Warhead is scary but it’s got an awful lot of little pieces and parts tucked right beside its jaws and under its wings, and these are the targets Sharkoprion is trying to go for. Pay close attention and you’ll see some of these little parts have been bent backward or torn off already.
Sharkoprion gets bitten a second time and Ian Lewis very nearly jizzes in his pants. The shark takes another round of torching from the dinosaur while the two bots spin around, but Sharkoprion gets away like nothing’s wrong. Sharkoprion is smoking now but that’s actually just because its decorative upper dorsal fin is smoldering, there is nothing actually on fire inside of the robot built from… propane tanks and wheelchair parts. Somehow. If you need proof just look at Sharkoprion as it gets away, its weapon is spinning powerfully enough to pull the robot up to one side just like famous spinners such as Minotaur. The shark gets a good blow right under Warhead’s right wing where there’s very little armor, but it doesn’t seem like the dinosaur is ticklish. That’s the last hit Sharkoprion is going to get because from this point onward it’s stuck in Warhead’s mouth. Warhead drags the shark to the Killsaws and Pulverizer all while letting loose with its flames. By the end of the fight that fire damage has really taken its toll on Sharkoprion whose left drive wheel has melted to the point that it’s melted off of its fucking hub.
That was just a bad pairing for Sharkoprion; the robot is the perfect size to fit inside of Warhead’s jaw. Hope you guys enjoyed all three minutes of a dinosaur sucking off a very phallic shark. I know I did.
WINNER: Warhead, Judges’ Decision (3-0)
MONSOON vs. SON OF WHYACHI
Totally True Trivia™: “Greg Monsoon” is NOT one of the co-founders of BattleBots, be wary if someone with this name approaches you and claims this.
Tom Brewster is one of those builders that I was ready to write off as probably never building something that was going to reach beyond the first or second round of a given event because his Robot Wars entry Tauron struggled so badly in the two series it competed in, but Monsoon is another beast altogether. “Dream team” isn’t exactly how I’d describe its crew, at least not coming into this season, but with two back to back brutal wins over Red Devil and Petunia they’ve made a believer out of me. Like I’ve said before, Monsoon is sort of like “Tauron 3” because it’s essentially the same design as Tom’s main UK robot; Monsoon just takes it to the next level. Monsoon’s weapon is a vertical bar powered by an Etek motor spinning at just over 240 MPH. I’d convert that to kilometers for our European friends but that’s too much work. It may not weigh a ton, but it hits like it does. Red Devil was blown open and its articulating mechanism was totally stripped in the process which meant that it had to fight as a gigantic pile of barely mobile parts, and Petunia’s ass was cleaved into so deeply that the robot’s hydraulic line was severed and it ended up catching fire and burning to death.
Tom says the strategy against Son of Whyachi is to get in there before the robot’s weapon can start spinning, but let’s be real here you guys. That ain’t gonna happen. Son of Whyachi can get up to a dangerous enough speed in about 2-3 seconds and by that point it’ll just bat you away if you try to box rush it. I don’t even think a robot like Duck is stupid enough to try that. Son of Whyachi might be powerful but it doesn’t have the better record here, Whyachi is only 1-1 after a quick and dirty loss to Brutus. It definitely redeemed itself by disposing of Lucky with extreme prejudice though because holy shit that thing was fucking trashed. Son of Whyachi still has the power to destroy and as long as Richard “The Dick” Stuplich can lull Tom Brewster and his team into a false sense of security by dancing around like a fucking jester Whyachi’s got the potential to strike again. It’s the oldest robot here and someone’s gotta carry that torch.
Look at this, five seconds in and Son of Whyachi is already up to speed. See what I mean? You’re never going to beat the ultimate spinner in a game of “can I get there before it’s spinning”. Son of Whyachi is the Deep fucking Blue of spinning weapons, and by that I mean it’s very good at chess. The only way you’re going to stop Son of Whyachi is to come at it, you’ve gotta have a bot that can take those initial hits because that’s the only way you’ll get through the hammers. Monsoon lands a glancing blow followed up by another that rolls the UK robot over. This means its weapon isn’t spinning in the right direction anymore, which could be bad, but Son of Whyachi lands another blow that rights Monsoon immediately. Monsoon’s feeling the burn though because its weapon bracket is all bent up and its blade is visibly rattling against it and throwing off aluminum sparks. If Tom’s going to win he needs to wrap this one up within the next couple of hits because if his robot had a health meter it’d be blinking red right about now. Monsoon very nearly gets the god shot and pops Son of Whyachi up similar to how Poison Arrow and Brutus did it in… but the spinner recovers. That’s all Monsoon’s got left, that last hit was the Hail Mary because now the vertical blade is out of commission.
This is all Son of Whyachi now. All Luke Ewert has to do is sign on the dotted line and this fight is his. His robot gets charged by a weaponless Monsoon who ends up losing its front left panel in the exchange before a second blow sends both robots violently spinning in opposite directions. I’m sure you all know how these transactions end by this point: someone recovers and someone just fucking blows up. Can you guess who? I’ll give you a hint, it’s the robot whose batteries have all exploded in unison and are now leaking spooky toxic smoke all over the place. Also I totally forgot Son of Whyachi brought in its little doorstop robot for this fight. I’m just now seeing it as it drives into shot at the end. Chris says Monsoon may still have a chance to qualify because it’s at 2-1 right now. Dude, I know you can see Monsoon because it’s right in front of your ringside table, this thing is fucking dead. You’re talking about “making a comeback” while this robot literally burns to death in the form of an aluminum pretzel.
WINNER: Son of Whyachi, KO
SCIENCE CHANNEL EXCLUSIVE
ULTIMO DESTRUCTO vs. AXE BACKWARDS
Totally True Trivia™: Ultimo Destructo avoided the camera for nearly a dozen episodes of the show, so you know it’s gotta be a good robot.
Ah, Ultimo Destructo. Technically the only robot left this season who hasn’t made its TV debut… assuming you count that fucking Jurassic World commercial (which featured Parallax and Double Dutch). You know who else is in the 2-0 club? This guy! Now I’ve already had a faux-argument about “bad wins and good losses” in weeks gone by and holy shit does this thing take that cake. Ultimo Destructo has two wins right now, that much is for certain, but they could not have been any more dreadful; Valkyrie just died and Parallax wasn’t fully functional. And you’d think that because Ultimo Destructo has used a different weapon for each fight that there’d at least be some variety in these wins but you’d be dead fucking wrong. Ultimo Destructo’s horizontal spinner did fuck all and there was clearly something wrong with its flipper. Up to this point Ultimo Destructo’s opponents have been potatoes and that includes Axe Backwards because this piece of shit it sitting at 0-2 right now. I remember one of the guys I attended this event with was fucking livid that Ultimo Destructo kept winning, and nothing brought me more glee than to remind him that Bite Force & Co. were going to have to make space at the 3-0 VIP table for Sean Irvin and Ultimo Destructo. Sean’s weapon of choice for this fight is another new one, it’s the hammer (nicknamed “Bozo Destructo”). I can’t wait to see it not work but for Ultimo Destructo to still win anyways.
In the blue square we’ve got Axe “Axey B” Backwards, a robot whose design is objectively very cool — and was once fairly successful when done by a different team — but has just failed to perform under the KurTrox Robotix banner. Granted, its first fight was against War Hawk who was outfitted with Brutus’ old weapon powered by a fucking Etek so yeah there was probably no winning that, but this thing lost its second match which was a rumble with Basilisk and Deviled Egg. Both of those robots are free fucking points. Axe Backwards was definitely ahead at the beginning of that match but it started having reliability issues and just slowly faded away as the fight went on and was eventually dominated by Deviled Egg. Bad wins and good losses, you say? That’s a “bad loss” right there. I really didn’t know which side to take in this fight because both of these robots are extremely peculiar. Logically I’d say that Axey B is going to break down again and Ultimo Destructo will inexplicably have three fucking wins (and thus essentially be guaranteed a spot in the Round of 16) but you never know.
I forgot to mention that Ultimo Destructo is also coming into this fight with TWISTY ROCKETS. Last season Sean must’ve been stationed next to Brutus or something in the pits and saw their dumb guns and was the only person there who was like “dude that is fucking bad ass”. Ultimo Destructo lets loose with its payload and… hits absolutely nothing. It might be a safe bet to assume that the goal here was not to actually hit Axe Backwards but to confuse its driver, Kurt Durjan. I say this because Axe Backwards seems frozen even though it essentially just had some shitty bottle rockets fired at it and they probably would’ve bounced off. Ultimo Destructo shunts Axey B away and swings its hammer and… oh god. The hammer sucks too. It doesn’t even hit right, Ultimo Destructo whacks its opponent with the neck of the hammer which doesn’t do anything. Chris decides to just start openly shit talking Ultimo Destructo and that’s about the end of it. Once one of the hosts laughs at your weapon and says that it swings “at 1 MPH” you’re done. You’re fucking toast, kiddo.
Axe Backwards, as I’ve said, is not a very good robot. But neither is Ultimo Destructo. Even with two wins. Axey B’s weapon looks to be in good form for this fight and it’s serving the robot well because moments into this fight I could tell something was up with the plow on the front of Ultimo Destructo and with a follow-up hit that nearly blows the whole damn thing off I can safely say “yes there is something wrong with it”. There’s also something wrong with the Bozo hammer too because after that first blow that Axe Backwards landed that sent the hammer back its chain slacked and nearly fell off. To finalize this trifecta of fuck, Ultimo Destructo makes like Witch Doctor and arbitrarily sheds a wheel. Another hit cocks up Ultimo Destructo’s plow and turns it into a stabby thing and as the hammer bot gets backed into the arena wall something shorts out on it. I think it was the right battery of twisty rockets but I can’t be sure. Speaking of things that are sparking and smoking take a look at Axe Backwards who’s about to fuck this whole fight up and make Ultimo Destructo 3-0. There are whole-ass sparks coming out of the back of this thing and that cannot possibly be good… but I also noticed Ultimo Destructo looks to have died first.
The curse has been lifted. Ultimo Destructo has finally been stopped.
WINNER: Axe Backwards, KO
BRONCO vs. DUCK!
Totally True Trivia™: Zander and Reason have allegedly been trying to get Bronco to perfect the Harlem Globetrotters’ 4-point shot during the BattleBots off-season.
We’re in some really strange times these days. So many of these fights have either been between robots who have the same record, or once the dust settles and a winner is declared they then have the same record. This is a case of the former and it might not seem that plausible to you considering who’s participating. One robot that you can absolutely believe being at 2-0 right now is Inertia Labs’ Bronco, the guys who perfected the pneumatic flipper have struck again and this time it’s “30% stronger”. Bronco has yet to win a BattleBots championship but its success is essentially assured and the robot consistently makes it deep into every tournament it’s in. Bronco’s first two fights were against spinners so the robot was deployed with its bizarre “anti-spinner” spider leg attachments but this time around Bronco is going classic… still sporting wheel guards because “reasons” I guess, and not “Reason” as in the guy driving it although he probably did have a say in this now that I think about it. That was a bad lead-out. Anyways Bronco’s wins are back-to-back knock outs and you know this is some serious shit because this episode’s opening skit was based around it, Duck better get ready because there’s a spot on the height chart with its name on it.
Duck is another robot who’s 2-0 right now and that might sound crazy because Duck is such a simple robot, but that’s the beauty of it. Duck doesn’t need to be over-engineered and expensive to win, it just needs to be simple but still expensive because it’s milled from one solid piece of metal and that shit cannot possibly be cheap. Like Bronco, both of Duck’s wins came about from fighting spinners so this match is going to be different for Hal Rucker too. Duck can drive upside down so it’s really not the ideal opponent for Bronco; Bronco usually banks on opponents that get disoriented when inverted because they either have to self-right or are just too clunky to maneuver around when flipped, Duck ain’t like that. Duck is good to go either way up and the fastest way to lose to it is to assume that it’s a free win. Duck cannot be damaged through conventional means, unfortunately for Hal I wouldn’t consider being thrown 15 feet into the air “conventional”. He and he daughter Hannah are going to have their work cut out for them.
Duck’s weapon is its lifting wedge which features a “bill” that’s filed down to a point. This focuses the robot’s inertia to a single spot and in theory should allow the robot to be more effective than a standard wedge or plow. Not in this case, Bronco’s team has “inertia” in its name so you’re basically fucked. Duck gets thrown early on, but the robot lands on its feet and doesn’t seem to suffer any damage. Bronco misses a second flip after stubbing its toe on one of the little nipples that pop out of the floor. I think those are the modern-day Ramrods, and I assumed they deployed, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen them pop up before. Wow. Now all we need is the Hellraisers to come back, and it’s pretty obvious those things are still there because you can see their hinges. By missing its flip Bronco leaps into the air and becomes untouchable for a while, however when it lands a bigger problem becomes clearer for Duck: Duck’s spike cannot reach Bronco if the robot comes at it directly from the side, a combination of Bronco’s front tires and rear wheel guards make that impossible. Bronco misses another flip near the blue square and rolls itself over and as the robot gets back onto its wheels Chris points out that it “lost a part”. No dude, that’s just yet another one of those expensive 360-degree cameras. We’re up to what, 7 or 8 of them now?
Now I know getting into the concepts of how certain weapons work can be kind of boring and dry content, but it serves a purpose on this website. See, had I not explained to you how the physics of Duck’s spike work you would have no idea how or why the robot can hit Bronco hard enough to not only briefly get underneath it but also scrape some fucking sparks off of the flipper. You’d just be here like “holy shit was that magic” and I’d say “no that was science, magic isn’t rea–“. Hang on, somehow Neil deGrasse Tyson got a hold of my website for a moment. Duck can dish it out, but it can also take it. That’s why when Bronco hurls it through the air Duck lands and just skitters away. The G-forces inside that robot must be incredible and for Duck to just shrug it off like it’s nothing is mind-blowing. Duck is also really, really, lucky because even though it can drive upside-down that’s not ideal because it loses the use of its spike. Hal and Hannah are great drivers and they actually lure Bronco over near the wall where I think the front of Bronco’s flipper gets stuck. Duck spins around, lands another spark-filled blow, but takes a shot itself in the process. Watch how Duck lands here; the robot falls straight onto the left point of its plow, which bends it back, but again it still works. That was 250 goddamned pounds of robot landing onto a single point. I should’ve paid more attention in school to be able to quantify how fucking crazy these hits are.
Okay maybe that lifter doesn’t work anymore, I don’t know. It folds downward pretty quickly when Duck gets flipped again, but then again Duck is rolled onto the screws and now there’s too much happening for me to make any calls one way or the other. This isn’t where Duck wants to be, obviously, and Bronco doesn’t let it down. Here I am thinking this is the end of Duck because it’s going to be thrown into that little gap behind the screws and the spike strip, but again that’s not what happens. Apparently there’s like an area behind that too? Because that’s where Duck gets thrown. Yeah, there’s no coming back from that. Bronco is just unfairly inventing new ways to win each of these fights. Reason and Zander are just making a fucking trickshot compilation for YouTube by this point.
WINNER: Bronco, KO
THE “DESPERADO” TOURNAMENT
Before the toss to credits Chris and Kenny start talking about a special mini-event that’s going to kick off episode 11 after the two week break BattleBots is taking on Discovery Channel. It’s called the “Desperado” tournament and it’s essentially an 8-robot tournament that takes place over the course of one episode. It’s open to any struggling robot or team who feel like they can make it through because the prize at stake is a guaranteed spot in the main Round of 16. The catch is that this Desperado event took place over the course of I think two taping sessions. (One day, but both taping sessions for that day in other words.) If you entered into this event you had to be ready to have near back-to-back fights with only a little bit of time to prepare in between. That’s a marathon that not many people can pull off, but apparently at least 8 teams were willing to try. They are: Lock-Jaw, Kraken, Valkyrie, Hypothermia, Lucky (represented by La Machine), Gemini, Gigabyte, and Double Dutch. I don’t know why La Machine is the stand-in for Lucky other than to possibly allow the editors to demonstrate how a tournament bracket works without inadvertently revealing who really wins? I think we “get” how tournaments work you guys.
Since everyone is putting their predictions out there, here’s mine. Now I know that you know that I already know who wins this, I’m sharing with you the predictions that I made at the event on the day this was taped. This could be exactly how the Desperado event goes, or I could be completely wrong. Don’t treat this as gospel in other words.
- (QF) Lock-Jaw vs. Kraken: Kraken’s team is too new to BattleBots to really stand up to Donald Hutson and Lock-Jaw. Even though Lock-Jaw has only won 1 out of 3 fights this year I don’t see this going any other way. Judges’ decision for Lock-Jaw.
- (QF) Valkyrie vs. Hypothermia: Valkyrie is all spinner and while Hypothermia is meant to be able to take big blows it’s proven that it really can’t handle the heat. Valkyrie is going to win by KO after removing one or both of Hypothermia’s wheels.
- (QF) Lucky vs. Gemini: Gemini is fierce, but Lucky is just too stacked in the armor department for the smaller spinners to do much damage. I’m not expecting Lucky to get any flips in, but still win on aggression and control alone.
- (QF) Gigabyte vs. Double Dutch: Gigabyte is just too powerful. I don’t even know why the team entered into this mini-tourney, perhaps a lack of faith because of their shitty Chinese parts? No idea, but Double Dutch won’t last. KO win for Gigabyte.
- (SF) Lock-Jaw vs. Valkyrie: What is Valkyrie but just a horizontal End Game? Lock-Jaw is susceptible to powerful spinners, big time. I think this one is going to go the full 3 minutes but Valkyrie will get a clear victory.
- (SF) Lucky vs. Gigabyte: I think I’ve seen this match before at Robogames or something in the form of Megabyte vs. Ziggy, and I’m pretty sure Ziggy comes out ahead so I’m thinking Lucky will just cause Gigabyte to ricochet everywhere and be unable to attack.
- (F) Valkyrie vs. Lucky: This one’s a coin flip to me because it’s going to come down to who can take the upper hand right away and not give it up. My gut is telling me Lucky will flip Valkyrie near the start of the fight and this will render the spinner ineffective. Lucky will win by decision.
How close was I? We’ll just have to wait and see!
And just like that we’re back on schedule! By the time you guys read this article BattleBots will have already taken one week off on Discovery Channel, but there’s still one more week to go in the hiatus. After that come August we’ll be right back on the horse with the Desperado tournament in episode 11 and from what I can tell it’ll be smooth sailing until a champion is declared on October 5th… and then I write an article about it that goes live on the 11th. I don’t know about you guys, but I could use a fucking break. I originally, and wrongly, thought that the two week hiatus would be the same for both channels but I quickly realized that wasn’t the case and I understood why people were saying “man this is gonna mess up the BattleBots Update guy’s schedule”. It sorta did, but it wasn’t that bad all things considered. Plus like I said it gave me the opportunity to migrate the website over to its new host and god damn I’m happy that happened when it did. Things were getting really dire. The good news is as of this article’s publication BattleBots Update has been on its new host for five days! I don’t know if you’ve noticed a difference (in speed or load times, etc) but I sure as shit have. Not once in the past five days have I had to respond to some bullshit malware detection on this website. Good god does that feel good. Now I can focus on being a shitty comedian instead of trying to tell bad jokes AND pretend that I know what the fuck I’m doing when it comes to webmastering.
The downside of course is that I won’t be able to read the spicy takes from people in the comments of BattleBots’ official social media posts taking pot shots at me because my website says shit like “Resource Limit Reached” or whatever. That — for the record — was never my fault. The site going offline because of “resource limits” was 100% on GoDaddy because their shared hosting environment sucked and sometimes wouldn’t close connections when visitors’ page requests were completed. That said, don’t host your sites with GoDaddy. Buy your domains from them sure, I have for 12 years, but I’m never hosting another website with them for as long as I’m doing dumb projects like this. (Twilightfoundry.com is still on their servers though, that will be migrated to the new environment as well, just at a later time. We focused on this website first because it was more important.)
Anyways thanks for making it to the mid-point of the season with me, and thank you as well for your patience in this migration process. Hopefully this is behind us now and I can revisit it in October when I give myself a Giant Washer Award for “Worst Webmaster” or something. Again. In the meantime you can follow BattleBots Update on Facebook, and if you’d like to help support the site you can do so monthly through Patreon or as a one-time thing through PayPal. Major thanks go out to Alex T. who’s joined up on Patreon with what appears to be a Pepsiman avatar except it says “Bepis”. Noice.