[BattleBots: S8 E17 is available online through Science Channel with a cable subscription.]
Man, this is it. This is the final Fight Night episode. I can’t believe 16 episodes have come and gone, it certainly does not feel like I’ve been writing this blog for a whole third of a goddamned year. (Actually, it totally does.) Point is there’s been a lot of carnage, if the counters on the homepage are to be believed (and they aren’t, because I am horrible at keeping track of things) then we’ve seen 93 matches thus far. And those are only the ones that were televised. That’s almost a hundred different ways for me to make fun of someone for losing a battle and honestly I’m impressed with myself; I couldn’t think up 100 ways to describe most anything else. Think about all the people who write pornographic stories, how many ways are there to describe someone’s dick in a manner that doesn’t immediately turn someone off? There’s like five or six phrases that come to mind at maximum, and Stormy Daniels’ recent “Donald Trump’s penis looks like Toad from Mario Kart” isn’t on that list. Am I admitting to ghost-writing Stormy Daniels’ “book”? No. Am I admitting to ghost-writing that one specific sentence? Maybe.
At first I wasn’t sure if this episode was going to have a cold open because I don’t consider leading in with Chris Rose screaming to be a particularly funny punchline. We get to see some of the best hits of the season so far such as Bite Force going full-Predator and ripping out HyperShock’s spine, Son of Whyachi helicoptering off of End Game and smashing a window, and of course “that hit”. I don’t even think I need to tell you which one it is by this point. Kenny Florian shows up in the pits surrounded by junked parts, points to Lucky’s titanium mini wedges, and says they’re valued at $1,000. That seems pretty goddamned steep for some chunks of metal, even if they are titanium, and I was about to question Kenny’s figure until he held up an Agni motor and said that was worth $1,500. He ain’t wrong about that one; I joked about that specific motor quite often during the reboot seasons of Robot Wars because of how prevalent it was among the spinners who competed. I don’t know if a box of dead batteries is something that was formerly valued at $2,000 but then again I don’t know what kind of batteries they are or how many are in there. As I tried playing the “guess the jelly beans” game with the batteries Kenny revealed to me that this whole segment was a bit because he ends it with “winning the Giant Nut, priceless”.
It’s a fucking parody of those Mastercard ads from the turn of the goddamned millennium. They quit making those in 2006, but Kenny better watch out. Ralph Nader, whom I found out is still alive, made a parody of the ads earlier this year and got his ass sued off by the credit card company. “Running for President more times than anyone can count and never winning only to be sued over parodying bullshit ‘feel good’ commercials intended to make Americans more comfortable with diving into irrecoverable credit card debt? Priceless.” Come at me, Mastercard. I ain’t got shit. Also I use Visa anyways so fuck you.
ICEWAVE vs. HUGE
Totally True Trivia™: “It’s not the size of the robot in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the robot.” – Mark Beiro
Like last week, everybody battling tonight is doing so in their final qualification rounds. This episode’s first match ought to be a real doozy considering it’s between two of the sport’s deadliest spinners who A) are not Tombstone and B) aren’t that fucking cookie cutter vertical spinner design we’ve seen so much of that they have their own playoff rumble later on. Icewave once again is the only robot with a gasoline-powered weapon. Formerly I gave some insight as to why this was (power-to-weight ratio), but apparently I wasn’t fully correct on that. Or rather, I was correct but only in the context of like 2001. Electric motors and their corresponding equipment has evolved to the point where they can compete with gas-powered engines so really I guess Mark DeVidts is still using a loud ass ICE on his robot just to show how big his dick is. Hey, no harm no foul. A few bots have been split in two this year, but Icewave did it first. Gas or no gas you can’t deny this is some serious shit we’re dealing with here. Believe it or not though, Icewave isn’t the one with a perfect record coming into this fight. After murdering Vanquish and KO’ing Yeti in a couple of hits it was Skorpios — of all competitors — who showed up and mopped the floor with Icewave. That’s not a good look for Icewave, but it looks like everyone can get one bad match and still stay in the game if they finish with a strong 3-1. Icewave can’t afford to screw things up here, not when it’s one step away from the tournament.
Chris Rose says Huge is a robot that many assumed was intended to be a joke, but if you look at Huge and your kneejerk reaction is “lol look at this jokey piece of shit” then I don’t think you “get” robot combat. The cheeseburger robot was a stupid design, but Huge is supposed to be massive (and that’s not just because this is a case of the robot’s name coming first and the design second). Think about it, all of Huge’s important parts are jacked up about two feet off of the ground thanks to its massive plastic wheels which are intended to just absorb hits without any negative impact to the robot. You can’t hit this fucking thing in any meaningful way, but Huge can absolutely whack your sorry ass because right in the middle of its big booty buttcheeks is a big ass spinning blade. For this match specifically however Huge is using a slightly smaller and more robust blade that’s big enough to reach down and smack the shit out of Icewave’s vulnerable engine but not too big as to make contact with Icewave’s weapon. Huge is undefeated as it enters this battle after beating up on Free Shipping, SubZero, and Chomp. Maybe those aren’t the best bots in the game, but hey not many bots can show up to their last Fight Night round and claim to be undefeated. Icewave can’t.
The first hit of the fight isn’t necessarily impressive, but it reveals a very dangerous flaw in Huge’s design. Icewave casually clips out one of the outer sections of Huge’s right wheel and as Huge continues to roll around you can tell this missing segment is causing the wheel to catch on the floor. More importantly it’s also causing the entire wheel to flex and bend inward as it fails to support the weight of the robot. Icewave smells blood in the water and comes in for a second more direct hit that finishes off Huge’s crippled wheel to the point where it’s just not even turning or making any effort to move whatsoever. The left wheel still works, but Huge can’t go anywhere. The robot gets whacked back into the arena by another hit from Icewave and if you watch closely you’ll see some shaft collars or washers or something get ejected from Huge. After seeing nearly 100 fights this season I know for a fact that’s bad news, and it doesn’t take long for Icewave to prove me right.
Icewave comes in for one more hit and snaps Huge like a fucking wishbone, right down the middle. This is something that several fans were worried might happen because in previous battles Huge’s chassis was visibly bending inward by the end of the fight. Well here you go, Huge has just been broken down into two Mediums. Also if you’re keeping track that’s the second time Icewave has won a fight by ripping someone in fucking half. ALL of Icewave’s wins this year have been by KO, and 66% of those wins have been by busting someone’s ass over its knee. Huge is fucking toast, by the way. Nothing’s moving. The whole thing is dead. Mark DeVidts has the audacity to turn to Huge’s team and ask them if they’re done. That is straight up the nastiest fucking thing I think I’ve seen someone do in BattleBots. “Oh hey, your robot just broke in fucking half. Want me to stop hitting you?” Nah dude, Huge is just a multibot now. Gotta make sure more than 60% of it is dead. Keep going.
The ref counts Huge out and says “that’s a knock out”. Again, I know it’s this dude’s job to follow the rulebook to the letter and officially declare fights over by KO, but come on man. What else could that have possibly been other than forced retirement? Icewave and Huge are now tied at 3-1 and normally I’d say both of them still stand a solid chance of qualifying for the main tournament… but now really wasn’t the best time for Huge to get the guillotine treatment. If Huge still advances onward I have no idea how the team is going to put that mess back together so quickly because Vanquish was gone for like the entire fucking tournament. Jessica Chobot and everyone else seemed to think that Huge’s wheels were allegedly “indestructible”, and in theory they were. The problem here was in the execution of the design. You see, Gabriel from Robot Wars was able to put up such an impressive fight against Carbide (a.k.a. “The British Tombstone”) with pretty much the exact same chassis design for one
main huge reason: solid wheels. Gabriel’s wheels did not have holes cut into them to save on weight, they were solid pieces of plastic. This allowed entire chunks to be sliced out of Gabriel without hindering the robot at all, however in Huge’s case once you focus the weight of 250 pounds onto some shitty plastic spokes of course they’re going to warp and fail.
WINNER: Icewave, KO
GEMINI vs. THE FOUR HORSEMEN
Totally True Trivia™: “Gemini” famously refers to twins, where as “The Four Horsemen” are the harbingers of the apocalypse. That means there’s five robots in this match.
This next fight is a battle between two cluster bots because I guess having two rumbles in one episode wasn’t good enough. Even though we’re going to have five robots running loose in the arena technically there are only “two” complete robots competing here. Gemini is in the red square and I’ve gotta say that after a bad 2016 showing I was surprised to see the robot return not as an alternate but a full-fledged competitor. Credit where due, the two bots put up a good fight against Blacksmith that year but that was one hell of a gamble to take on bringing this one back. They showed up and got a win over Mohawk after doing a fair amount of damage and ultimately knocking it out with a lucky shot. From here for some reason Gemini went straight to the Desperado tournament where Lucky kicked them the fuck out. Gemini had a good match with Sharkoprion and did some remodeling to the shark’s face, possibly even screwing up a wheel as well, but ultimately ended up losing for one big reason that’s plagued the cluster bot since their first ever fight: they can’t stop fucking hitting each other. Gemini is capable of doing some significant damage, the problem is that the two bots keep doing it to each other instead of their goddamned opponents. Well now we’ve got a bonafide demolition derby on our hands here so there should be no reason for Gemini to smash into itself and tear its own wheels off.
I like The Four Horsemen as a concept. I’d like it even more if the team did their math correctly so that all four robots could compete at once (as intended). In an ideal scenario, this multibot is three horizontal spinners and one doorstop wedge meant to just throw punches left and right and overwhelm an opponent with a bunch of little hits. Death by 1,000 cuts, in other words. Instead what we get is a “close enough” trio of two spinners and a wedge, but as dumb as this might sound I feel like this robot might actually be more effective if its third spinner were able to compete. That way you’d just have a non-stop flurry of whirling blades coming at you the whole fucking fight with no reprieve. As a concept, The Four Horsemen is sound. In execution, not so much. Right now they only have one “win” from the rumble with Double Jeopardy and Gamma 9, and I threw “win” in quotes there because if the officials were paying attention then The Four Horsemen would’ve been counted out. The trio were bullied into submission by Blacksmith, and in an untelevised fight against Hypothermia from the “USA vs. The World” special The Four Horsemen were again overwhelmed and defeated. As crazy and impossible as it’ll be for me to keep track of two clusterbots this might actually be a pretty fair fight for both competitors.
As you’ve probably guessed, this battle starts off with utter calamity. Black Gemini backs into Pestilence (the white spinner) while Red Gemini takes on War (the red spinner). Both Geminis appear to be ignoring Butter Cup (the wedge) which affords Butter Cup the opportunity to slide underneath Red Gemini and take it across the floor. As this is going on, Pestilence gets slammed into the wall and takes a hit from the other Gemini robot and the belt that drives its spinner comes off of its pulley. That means The Four Horsemen now has a wedge, one spinner, and a makeshift decoy. War gets plowed into the wall by Red Gemini and it’s slowly becoming apparent that Gemini’s drivers must’ve come up with a “divide and conquer” plan because Red Gemini appears to only be focusing on War while Black Gemini is doing the same with Pestilence. As for Butter Cup, I’m guessing that robot was agreed upon as a “if it’s right there then by all means beat the shit out of it, otherwise focus on your target” sort of thing. Butter Cup tries to wrangle its teammate Pestilence free from Black Gemini, but catches Gemini’s spinner in the process and gets flung into the corner of the arena. The hit appears to have killed Butter Cup because who could have guessed that hitting a tiny ass featherweight-tier robot with a disc that probably weighs almost as much as it could do that?
Butter Cup is now out, which is useful but only insofar as it’s an annoyance that has been dealt with. I’ve gone into more detail in previous episodes, but essentially as per BattleBots rules in order to “knock out” a multibot you have to disable 60% or more of the robot by weight. Disabling Butter Cup and one spinner, mathematically, is not enough. Both spinners of The Four Horsemen need to be incapacitated for the clusterbot to be counted down, so right now Gemini has effectively scored a freebie. If BattleBots were an Xbox game killing Butter Cup would be an achievement and nothing more. Pestilence isn’t looking so good though, and some follow-up shots from Black Gemini is enough to take it out. This is more than 60% of The Four Horsemen going by robot count, but it’s only like 55% or something by weight. Yeah, that five percent matters. Both Geminis trade targets as the opportunity arises for them to each grab one of The Four Horsemen’s spinners and slam them against the red side of the Battlebox. I don’t think this move was intentional, but god damn did it look smooth as fuck. Just pretend like you totally meant to do that, Ace and whoever is driving the other Gemini.
Both Gemini robots go back to their original targets. Somehow not only is War still working in general, but its spinner is still as deadly as ever. Make no mistake, even though these are like little pizza roll versions of Tombstone these spinners are nasty. Case in point, Red Gemini gets a little sloppy and loses the wheel guard protecting its left tire when War clips it. Normally it’s Gemini who does this kind of damage to itself, so that just goes to show you the kind of energy stored in those little spinners. Black Gemini seems to be sitting most of this one out now since its target (Pestilence) has been taken care of. My guess is that should one of the Gemini robots knock out their “target” then they’d simply shift gears and focus on Butter Cup, but Black Gemini also managed to destroy it completely on accident. That puts Black Gemini into a very precarious position because now its driver might get an itchy trigger finger and attempt to attack the only remaining robot, the one Red Gemini is focusing on. This can lead to only one thing: Black Gemini clipping its teammate and fucking breaking it. Red Gemini takes a shot on its exposed wheel, loses its back wedge panel, and gets flung into the arena wall — all because the dude driving Black Gemini was getting bored. You guys are going to fuck this up big time at this rate.
Black Gemini is officially tagged in to handle War and with one big shot War gets sent spiraling out of control. The hit appears to temporarily stop the black robot’s spinner, long enough for the hosts to notice, but after a few seconds it starts spinning up to speed again. After very nearly being thrown behind the screws by Black Gemini, War decides to segue into some evasive maneuvers and pick on the crippled Red Gemini. This is probably an effort to try and score some free points, because lord knows The
Four One Horsemen needs it, but this backfires spectacularly as Red Gemini pivots around and catches War’s weapon pulley with its disc. The hit chews through War’s belt and blows the pulley apart. Naturally this means that War is now capable of doing exactly nothing. War takes some shots from the Pulverizer directly onto its fragile wheels and you can tell that just about does it for the last remaining component of The Four Horsemen. War isn’t knocked out, but you can see its wheels spinning and occasionally not making proper contact with the floor. The fight goes to the judges who turn in a decision for the dynamic duo.
WINNER: Gemini, Judges’ Decision (3-0)
SKORPIOS vs. HYPERSHOCK
Totally True Trivia™: You can’t dig a grave with a rake, nor can you dig a grave with an angle grinder either.
Skorpios lost so quickly in the 2016 season that we never had a chance to see what this robot was capable of. Now? It’s 2-1 and it’s the only robot that was able to muster a victory against Icewave so far, and we just saw Icewave split another fucking robot in two a few minutes ago so you know the type of shit this robot was staring down. Skorpios has made a killing this year by toppling both Lucky and Icewave with impressive wins that demonstrated some serious driving skill. Hard to believe this dude was originally on the 2015 team that built Wrecks, a robot that couldn’t drive period. Fancy driving was enough to save Skorpios from Icewave’s fury, but its match against Rotator told a different story. Icewave had only one weapon to keep the pressure on, but Rotator had two. No matter how much you kept on that machine it would always have one disc going, and Rotator pummeled Skorpios for a win that was so brutal it took Skorpios’ weapon completely out of commission. I’m not just talking like “it broke down but they fixed it later”, no this is some full on Ghost Raptor-level shit. Skorpios has no backup weapon, so in order to avoid being disqualified for not having a PRIMARY WEAPON, Orion Beach literally went to a nearby hardware store and paid 40 dolans for a fucking angle grinder which he then proceeded to frankenstein onto his robot. Normally I’d gawk at that, but ironically this is the exact same shit HyperShock pulled against Warrior Dragon last season albeit for different reasons.
HyperShock is kind of the opposite of Skorpios this year. Not counting its 1-1 debut in 2015, this robot made some big waves last season and guaranteed itself a place in the history books by dominating an expensive experimental battle drone with a shitty rake. In case you’ve made it this far into BattleBots and don’t know why Will Bales is always swinging around a rake and why his opponents normally return the favor with some other yard tool, now you know. HyperShock was one of the breakout stars of the 2016 season, but even though it’s returned with ten times the personality and “A E S T H E T I C” as last year the robot has had one hell of a blunder for the season. I’ll put it this way, right now HyperShock’s only win was against Battle Royale With Cheese. You know, the fucking cheeseburger robot. Given the robot’s performance in 2016 HyperShock was matched up with Bite Force right out of the gate this year… and Bite Force straight up disemboweled this goddamned thing. HyperShock’s next match was against the burger, so you know whoever was in charge cranked that shit waaaaay down. HyperShock won, but later struggled to be effective against Free Shipping and ended up rolling onto its back, being unable to self-right, and caught fire. Even though the “USA vs. The World” special had no bearing on the upcoming tournament, HyperShock also lost its fight with Reality. Granted, HyperShock was throwing some serious punches, but the robot still petered out and — you guessed it — started smoking again.
HyperShock’s got the muscle to break shit, remember that. The first hit of this battle is landed by the renegade 90’s RC car and it sends Skorpios flipping almost two complete fucking rotations in the air. Skorpios doesn’t even get hit that high off of the ground and if its arm didn’t catch the ground it would’ve probably done two whole flips. That’s the kind of hit that HyperShock is capable of and hopefully in this fight we’ll see the robot start strong and follow through for once in this miserable season it’s having. Skorpios’ weapon has been reduced to some Dr. Inferno Jr.-level trash, this is almost a blank check for Will and his crew. To demonstrate my point here, after catching itself on the arena floor Skorpios’ emergency weapon is already damaged to the point of being totally useless, the disc is bent and it’s not spinning anymore. Without a functional saw Skorpios immediately returns to its backup plan of just not getting off of its opponent’s ass. HyperShock’s blades are trying to spin but Skorpios is causing too much chaos and is keeping its opponent from riding steady enough on the floor for its blades to get moving properly. Will needs to back the fuck away but you can see that Skorpios isn’t going to let that happen. This is a robot that pissed in the face of Icewave for three solid minutes, it ain’t afraid of some goofy ass vaporwave garbage truck.
Will tries to pull off what I’d argue is his “signature move”, drifting around in a circle while facing his opponent and spinning HyperShock’s weapon up to speed, but it’s just not working. Skorpios is right there, and at some point Kenny notices that HyperShock’s only lifting fork might be stuck in its fully extended position. HyperShock eventually gets the fork unstuck, but by this point Skorpios has shoved it around a few times and attempted to make use of its dead saw arm as a grappling device. I’m not sure if that’s scoring points, but to me it sure as hell is. Finally HyperShock’s blades get going and shave off a few sparks from its opponent, culminating in knocking loose one of Skorpios’ upper panels, but it’s unable to do any meaningful damage to get Skorpios to just fucking stop attacking. As HyperShock ramps across Skorpios’ front end you can see little parts of the casing from Skorpios’ literal goddamned angle grinder just start to fall off, but at this stage of the battle that’s just cosmetic junk. HyperShock is also starting to shed parts, but in this case it’s a drive belt so you know that’s some bad news; if you look closely you’ll see the bare toothed-pulley next to HyperShock’s rear right tire with nary a belt in sight (because it’s on the floor by the BattleBots logo).
Skorpios has whaled on HyperShock with its busted arm so much that the angle grinder has gradually disassembled itself and is now just hanging off like nothing, but that doesn’t matter because the robot manages to shunt HyperShock at an awkward angle and rolls it over. This time Hypershock’s lifter is jammed in its fully retracted state, but I think Will has bigger things to worry about because almost immediately upon being turned turtle HyperShock just starts shitting out sparks internally. Something’s loose and shorting out, or there’s some exposed electronics rubbing against something they shouldn’t. I don’t know, but what I do know is this fight is pretty much over now. HyperShock kicked things off with a bang in that first blow but I think by disabling Skorpios’ weapon so quickly and forcing Orion to default back to his “fuck it I’m a wedge now” strategy HyperShock shot itself in the foot. Its weapon could never really get going and it’s ending this fight sparking and getting its nuts smashed by the Pulverizer. That’s pretty much how most of its fights ended this year. Skorpios finishes its Fight Night rounds at 3-1 — almost undefeated — while HyperShock takes an “L” and finishes with the complete opposite, 1-3 (plus the extra loss from the USA/World special).
I know HyperShock is more than just the hype. When that weapon works, god damn it works. The entire robot was just plagued with reliability issues tip to toe this year though. Hopefully Will and his buddies can put their heads together and bring the neon terror back for a redemption run in 2019, but for now I think it’s safe to say the curtains have closed on HyperShock. As Filthy Frank would say, “you look like a highlighter with Downs syndrome”.
WINNER: Skorpios, Judges’ Decision (2-1)
PLAY-IN MATCH (SEED #15)
END GAME vs. WAR HAWK vs. BRUTUS
Totally True Trivia™: Do not try to adjust your TV set, yes this rumble is comprised of the same robot three times.
Fight Night’s over. That’s it. The rest of this episode consists of special bouts where the winners automatically advance into the Round of 16. Up first is a 3-way rumble for the 15th seed against three robots who are pretty much the same fucking design and wouldn’t you know the “selection committee” was having a hard time telling them apart. Now I know earlier this year I kept hammering on this dumb “another goddamned vertical spinner” catchphrase, but this is what it was leading up to. Each of these three robots are powerful hitters but they have so little that sets them apart aside from their paint jobs that when it comes time to pick the best one you just kinda go “fuck it”. End Game is introduced first and completed its Fight Night rounds with a 2-2 record. Right out of the gate it demolished Lock-Jaw and uppercutted Captain Shrederator for a quick KO win. The hype died down considerably when Bite Force was called in to put this fire out because with one decisive blow End Game was knocked out cold. The robot almost came back against Son of Whyachi and delivered yet another mega hit, but rather than kill Whyachi the force of the impact once again was too much for End Game. This is its last chance to make it into the tournament… and all it has to do is beat two robots almost exactly like it.
Believe it or not War Hawk is the robot with the best record in this rumble, 3-1. Yeah I have no fucking clue how that happened because this piece of shit was only recently able to start driving in a controlled straight line, and by “recently” I mean “literally it’s final Fight Night match”. I guess that makes me the asshole though because I’ve done nothing but shit on this robot and yet it’s the one with the best performance. I think War Hawk’s strength is that up to this point its opponents haven’t been very… good. End Game had to deal with fucking Bite Force and Son of Whyachi whereas War Hawk got to battle shit like Overhaul and Axe Backwards which are two robots that (as War Hawk proved) you can beat with only one and a half sides of drive power. War Hawk was afforded the ability to not run at 100% and during its battle with Free Shipping I think we finally got to see a little bit of what this robot can do when it’s actually working. War Hawk hits hard and it’s also accompanied by its miniature doorstop-style robot which could potentially be decisive here if it’s able to successfully trip up one of the other spinners. Chris says “War Stop” is coming to a store near you, but I’m pretty sure if you wanted your own War Stop you could order one, I’m like 99% certain it’s just a souped-up version of one of those dumb kit robots that people throw together and then think they’re hot shit when they win a beetleweight tournament with it.
War Hawk’s only loss was to Brutus, and look who’s rounding this one out. Kenny claims Brutus is the robot who’s in the worst shape condition-wise out of these three and I’ll believe it. Brutus had a bit of a false start against Red Devil and ended up inadvertently cooking its own electronics when it tried to get things going a little too quickly. No real damage was done, but Adam Bercu needlessly went through quite a few spares that ideally he shouldn’t have had to use. Brutus managed to do what End Game could not and beat Son of Whyachi, but god damn did this thing take a hell of a shot to the face in the process. You might recall Brutus was spun around pretty violently and came to a sudden halt when its wedge caught the slots of one of the Killsaws and dug right in, breaking the hazard. Yeah it won, but it didn’t come out unscathed. Brutus followed up with its aforementioned win over War Hawk, but had some problems when fighting Gigabyte. Brutus suffered major structural damage in that battle and ended up getting rolled over by Gigabyte’s shell to wind up losing by KO. This thing has seen some shit this year, but hey it’s in the play-off for 15th place so at least it’s all been worth it. I guess.
Obviously, no one wants to make the first move here because no one wants to fuck up and take the first blow. These are three robots — yes, even War Hawk — who can and have ended fights in one hit. Clearly they are capable of doing that to each other. Brutus acts like it’s going to go toward War Hawk, presumably because it’s already beat it once before so a second time shouldn’t be that hard, but turns away when it gets close. I think the rationale might be “if I kill War Hawk right now then that definitely leaves End Game, maybe War Hawk and End Game can damage each other so I can come in and clean up”. The problem with that logic is that right now that exact line of thought is probably everyone’s fucking plan. Someone has to throw the first punch. End Game shits on War Hawk’s mini bot but that doesn’t count, someone’s gotta put some real points on the board. It just so happens that this is also going to be End Game. End Game seemed distracted as it attacked the little robot, so Brutus thought it could come in and take advantage of the situation. What Brutus wasn’t expecting was End Game to turn around, clip Brutus right on its face, and tear it’s entire fucking wedge off.
That’s it, Brutus is toast. It’s still mobile but I can see parts hanging out of its front end and sparks are shooting out of its face. This is like the scene in every 1980’s slasher movie where one of the victims gets half their face chopped off but they’re still alive and gushing blood all over the place. It’s important to note however that while End Game is definitely responsible for mortally damaging Brutus, this hit also seems to have done something to its own weapon because all that’s left in End Game’s disc is some residual kinetic energy. Something’s almost certainly wrong with it, and as War Hawk comes in to strike End Game on its exposed ass the robot is tipped forward onto its weapon. Normally this should be a position that End Game could get down from, but because the robot is now visibly smoking from its ass end (where its weapon motors are) I think it’s a safe bet that End Game has reached its conclusion in BattleBots for this season. Hilariously, Brutus outlives the robot responsible for ensuring that it too will not be advancing onward.
Brutus is still mobile of course, but it has absolutely no offensive capabilities and very little in the way of defense. War Hawk shoves it into the wall and Brutus gets stuck at an awkward angle and that’s a wrap on Brutus too. War Hawk’s minibot may have been completely destroyed but by buzzing around like a fly on a horse’s ass it was able to be enough of a distraction to start some shit between Brutus and End Game and all War Hawk had to do was show up to shovel up the mess afterward. I guess I sort of jinxed this match by giving War Hawk so much shit all season, this was bound to happen. This is my fault, and I apologize.
WINNER: War Hawk, KO
16 15 REVEALED
Before we get into the 6-way “last chance rumble” — what is arguably the “main event” of this episode — Chris and Kenny are revealing the robots who’ve qualified for the Round of 16 and their rankings. Everyone is accounted for with the exception of the 16th seed which has yet to be determined (the rumble winner). Other than that? Here are the 16 robots who’ve performed well enough to qualify for the main tournament. I’ll list them in order of rank here instead of making an obtrusive bulleted list that’ll take up 16 lines of text: Tombstone, Bronco, Bite Force, Minotaur, SawBlaze, Icewave, Yeti, Son of Whyachi, Lock-Jaw, Whiplash, Rotator, Monsoon, Witch Doctor, Huge, and War Hawk.
Do I agree with these ranks? For the most part I suppose so. I don’t necessarily think Tombstone should be at #1 this season, though. The top three robots are all 4-0 so be default they should all be in the top three slots, but I feel like Bronco had more consistent and controlled fights. Sure Tombstone broke a lot of shit but in the process it ended up getting quite badly damaged while fighting both Minotaur and Whiplash. I’m guessing this is a matter of Tombstone having won all four of its fights by KO, because Bronco only has three knockouts and a decision. I’m down with keeping Bite Force in third place, but I still think going by the merit of their fights that Bronco and Tombstone should swap places.
After this we’re entirely in the realm of robots with 3-1 records with the only exceptions being Lock-Jaw, who won the Desperado tournament and was seeded 9th, and War Hawk who came out of the fight we just saw and scored 15th place. Those two aside, yeah there’s a lot of questionable placement with these robots. Firstly, I don’t think Icewave should be down at 6th place. This robot busted two fucking robots in half. Nobody else on this list has done that even a single time with the exception of Witch Doctor down in 13th place. Just for its brutal knockouts alone I feel like Icewave should be kicking off the 3-1 list at #4, hands down. Yeah that’s above Minotaur, but Minotaur didn’t really have as spectacular as a run this season. They landed some good hits on SubZero, but their wins against Hypothermia and Blacksmith were a little lackluster compared to what you and I both know this robot can do. Icewave in 4th, Minotaur in 5th, and SawBlaze in 6th.
Getting into the middle of the pack I think Yeti and Son of Whyachi are definitely deserving of advancing, and I suppose 7th and 8th place is fine enough for them. Yeti had some sloppy fights this year but let’s be honest so did Son of Whyachi. Lock-Jaw at #9 is agreeable; because it qualified by way of a special event for teams who were concerned they might not make it I don’t think it needs to be ranked anywhere in the upper half of the final 16. Whiplash in 10th is kind of surprising to me, though. I almost want to say the robot deserves to be higher than 10th place but I don’t know whose place it would take. My gut is telling me Yeti, but I’m not committed to that. Whiplash is so expertly driven that I feel it should have a higher rank just on execution alone, but hey I guess as long as it’s qualifying that’s good enough for me. The rest of the list aside from War Hawk is really hit-or-miss with me. Monsoon did well enough to make it in and my opinion is that it’s a solid 11th place. But Rotator actually being in 11th? I’m not so sure. Rotator’s had a hell of a comeback season but I’m thinking it belongs down around 13th place.
Witch Doctor and Huge I’m on the fence about though, especially Huge. Witch Doctor rebounded very well from its early loss, but it’s had some issues with reliability that almost costed it its fight with Blacksmith and definitely costed it its match with Yeti. Huge on the other hand I know surprised a lot of people, but is it really top 16 material? Especially after its fight with Icewave? Huge can throw some punches but as we saw in its first three fights even though it won Huge was visibly getting tired toward the end. Losing drive on one side, the chassis dipping inward, its weapon not running as strongly, etc. It’s not a bad robot, but Huge has zero KO wins. It needs some refinement before I think it’s at the level of the bots surrounding it here.
I’m a little miffed that Warhead didn’t qualify. Skorpios, too. I know only 16 can make it in, but Skorpios has an excellent driver and it’s a super aggressive and durable robot that just relentlessly comes at its opponents. The obvious caveat here is that Skorpios does not have a weapon anymore and I’m thinking that’s something the selection committee used against it. By the end of its fight with HyperShock there was nothing left of Skorpios’ former saw arm; the angle grinder was just a bandage to get the robot through its last qualification fight. Warhead on the other hand may have lost its “primary” PRIMARY WEAPON, but this season has really shown just how formidable of a weapon that goofy dinosaur head really is. Warhead hasn’t had any wins by KO this year, but neither has Huge. In Warhead’s favor, the robot also hasn’t spectacularly failed by way of breaking in fucking half. Warhead’s backup weapon has proven to be a great control-style weapon and when 14 of the 15 current qualifiers have some sort of spinning weapon that’s some good variety to have. I’ll say it, Warhead was robbed and could easily have taken the place of Huge in this roster. Don’t @ me.
SCIENCE CHANNEL EXCLUSIVE
TOP 5 FIGHTS
It’s been a while since we’ve had a Science Channel bonus segment that wasn’t an extra battle or a “Botopsy Report”. Near the start of the season there was a “top 10 hits” countdown that was received… decently? I guess? I think a lot of people were kind of confused as to why there was a countdown so soon in the season, but you can’t argue with the fact that they still were able to find ten really good blows to feature. This week’s bonus segment is another countdown, however rather than “top hits” it’s “top fights”, and now that the qualification rounds are over and done with I feel like now’s a pretty good time to run one of these. In order of appearance, the “top 5 fights” are:
- 5. Huge vs. Free Shipping
- 4. Overhaul vs. SawBlaze
- 3. HyperShock vs. Bite Force
- 2. Bronco vs. Bombshell
- 1. Tombstone vs. Whiplash
From the looks of it, it seems like the editors are favoring fights that either have some incredible big hits or went the distance with a lot of action. I also get the impression that they only wanted to feature a given robot one time because otherwise pretty much all of Tombstone’s goddamned fights would be on the list. Icewave’s KO against Vanquish is suspiciously absent, probably because I think the producers know we’re tired of seeing it, but I do find it a bit strange that the former “#1 hit” isn’t at least at the bottom here at number five. The actual bottom of the list kicks off with Huge vs. Free Shipping and Overhaul vs. SawBlaze, and while I can appreciate the level of carnage in the former and the sheer amount of sparks in the latter are they really “top 5”? I can commend Free Shipping for surviving (sort of) that fight, but if it’s survivability and chaos then I think Valkyrie vs. Red Devil would be a better option. Red Devil loses a whole damned tread and somehow can still move around? The fuck kind of sorcery is this? Furthermore, let’s not forget Double Dutch’s loss against Gigabyte in the Desperado flash tournament; that was some grade A “gourmet damage”. (None of this flippin’ and shovin’ crap.)
HyperShock’s death at the hands of Bite Force was as spectacular as it was ironic, but as far as those mega one hit KO’s go I want to say End Game vs. Son of Whyachi had the more impressive outcome just by the simple fact that Whyachi smashed part of the fucking arena on its way down from the skies. HyperShock’s guts fell out, sure, but that’s happened a few times this year (Icewave vs. Vanquish, Gigabyte vs. Tombstone, Hypothermia vs. Minotaur, etc.), Son of Whyachi’s hammers smashing the arena was something different from all of that. Plus it scared the shit out of me when it happened at the event. Bronco tossing Bombshell out of the arena was certainly impressive, but if it’s Bronco we’re talking about then I’ve gotta give it to its KO over Duck; the way Duck just sorta tucked into the side of the arena was like a one in a million shot, plus there was an actual battle between the two bots before Bronco won. Bombshell was just DOA as usual and it’s no surprise that it lost.
Tombstone vs. Whiplash in the top spot? I’m game, that was one hell of a match. That’s probably the closest we’ve come to seeing Tombstone on the ropes this whole season. A very close second is Tombstone’s fight with Duck, you could easily replace this fight with that one and I’d still agree. Whiplash ended up getting fucked six ways to Sunday and Duck had almost all of its wheels torn off, but both of them never let up on the reigning champ until they literally just could not continue the fight. Duck was down to one wheel and Whiplash had its face punched in so deep that its nose was coming out of its own ass. Tombstone was rocked, but stayed the course. Fucking awesome.
Overall it’s not a bad countdown and I can agree with it. I feel like it may have done better as another top 10 thought because then the fights I mentioned would probably have made it in. I wasn’t sure where to fit these last two into this list of 5 — or if these even belong in there — but if Icewave vs. Skorpios and Minotaur vs. SubZero aren’t “top 5” material then they’re sure as hell “top 10”.
PLAY-IN MATCH (SEED #16)
LAST CHANCE RUMBLE
LUCKY — BOMBSHELL — VALKYRIE — DUCK — RED DEVIL — GIGABYTE
Totally True Trivia™: This rumble is Lucky’s 50th fight this season.
The previous battle was a special match to determine which one of three virtually identical robots would advance into the 15th seed spot, this match is a little different and its participants are comprised of robots who for whatever reason would fail to qualify on their own. You’ve got robots like Red Devil and Duck who managed to complete their whole Fight Night cards but still ended with a 2-2 record, Lucky and Valkyrie who’ve taken every single opportunity possible to qualify by any means including the Desperado mini event, Gigabyte who was unable to complete its qualification rounds due to having sustained too much damage early on, and Bombshell… who hasn’t won a single goddamned fight this season. It’s fairly obvious why the other five robots were selected — they did “good” but not “good enough” — but Bombshell’s presence apparently raised a lot of questions and complaints. “It’s a waste”, “why didn’t they put Petunia in there instead”, etc. Yeah, Bombshell’s 0-4 record is hilariously embarrassing, but I think it received a special nod here because it finished in second place last season. It’s had a bad time this year, but that runner-up finish has got to be worth something. Also as for why Petunia wasn’t included the answer is simple: Petunia did not apply. Like the Desperado tournament, the “Last Chance Rumble” was an opt-in sort of thing.
I thought keeping track of a 3-way rumble was hard, but doubling the amount of robots increases the difficulty exponentially. Chances are I’m probably going to miss something but whatever, the battle has started and Duck immediately starts going for Red Devil while the bigger spinners Gigabyte and Valkyrie understandably hold back to try and get going. Lucky also hangs back because this whole season it’s strategy has been to remain defensive and see how its opponents come in. Unfortunately, no one appears to give a shit about Lucky so it’s left alone in the corner it started in. Red Devil gets a little bite on Duck but its grip is off to the side in such a way that its saw can’t reach so it’s a worthless shot. Bombshell comes in to try and damage Duck and hits it right on its back left tire. This would’ve been a decisive early blow if Bombshell’s weapon was fucking working. Duck gets pushed into Valkyrie, Gigabyte gets clipped by Valkyrie’s disc, and Gigabyte ends up rebounding off of the disc and across Bombshell into the screws. Surprisingly this does not break the screws. However, moments later Valkyrie cruises in to try and hit Duck, misses, and ends up running its weapon directly under another set of screws and into its control box, destroying it. (This hazard was visibly smoking by the end of the rumble.)
Red Devil has finally let go of Duck and is instead focusing on Bombshell and ends up getting a pretty good grip on it, but I can’t tell if its saw is actually doing anything because the camera operators are too focused on Duck who’s broken free from the devil’s claws and slams into Gigabyte knocking it into another set of screws. Something here has damaged Lucky but I’ve reviewed the tape and I can’t tell what happened. Lucky seems to have lost its left side of drive (again) but from what I can tell it hasn’t actually sustained any hits from the spinners in the ring and was just getting shoved around by Duck. Considering Lucky has been beaten to a pulp all season long I’m just going to assume the robot has taken too much cumulative damage and is out of it, Lucky is the first one to go. Duck has been making great use of the two big spinners in lieu of not having an active weapon of its own and continues to introduce Valkyrie into other robots to do damage on its behalf. Bombshell’s weapon looks to be finally working for once in this robot’s miserable existence and it connects with Red Devil’s right tread pod, ripping the treads right off of it. It’s like a repeat of their fight last season only Bombshell landed a better hit this time around. Like last season though, its fucking weapon goes back to not working immediately afterward.
Red Devil is crippled with only one side of drive but we’ve seen the robot move around with only one set of tracks before. Gigabyte prevents this from happening by striking Red Devil on its left tread pod and I can’t tell what kind of damage this thing just did but if you look closely you can see the robot’s remaining set of treads is all bowed out and fucked up so yeah whatever just happened here has taken Red Devil out of the running too. Bombshell trades some glancing blows with Gigabyte, Duck continues to drive all over Valkyrie, it seems like the remaining four robots have picked targets and we have two individual one-on-one battles going on at the same time. Valkyrie’s weapon looks a little worse for wear and after it takes a shot to the face from Gigabyte it starts spinning again. I can’t tell if it’s working or if Gigabyte just brushed it, but as Valkyrie recoils backward Bombshell tries to get a good run on Gigabyte and ends up getting swatted away into the wall, its left side of drive now out. Lucky is hanging in there but has done fuck all since it started having issues right away, Duck has shifted gears to attack Gigabyte now, and as Gigabyte is pinballed into the corner of the arena it looks like it too has lost its drive system. Its weapon is still working though and that’s a real bad sign because the last time this robot had a working weapon and no drive the team couldn’t turn it off so they just let the batteries die out over the course of 45 fucking minutes.
Kenny declares Duck as the potential last bot standing, and the camera cuts to a wide shot of the whole arena. Red Devil is dead over near the screws, Bombshell is out near the red square, Gigabyte is disabled near the Killsaws, Valkyrie got pushed over into the corner underneath the active camera where we can’t see it but it too seems kinda dead… that’s it really. Lucky is still crabwalking around in the far corner but it’s not doing anything of significance. It gets one weak lift on Duck before giving up. Valkyrie musters the strength to drive back across the arena and try to connect with Duck but its weapon is shot so the best the robot can do is just bump and grind. Duck ends up lifting Valkyrie and shoves it into Gigabyte who’s turned itself into a makeshift hazard. Valkyrie’s right tire lands on Gigabyte’s shell and the impact looks to have been enough to disable Valkyrie to the point where it can no longer show controlled movement. Lucky spontaneously dies and starts emitting smoke from the slot in its chassis where its flipper rests which leaves only Duck and whatever’s left of Valkyrie that still works. Valkyrie gets lifted up by Duck and pushed into the wall and as this happens Duck’s front spike grazes against something important under Valkyrie and shorts it out to cause a few sparks. That’s enough to fully disable Valkyrie.
With just eight seconds left on the clock Bombshell “miraculously” comes back alive to avoid being considered incapacitated and leave Duck as the sole active robot when the buzzer sounds. Duck immediately doubles back to try and get one last hit in on Bombshell but fails to get the purchase it needs and the match ends. This is the moment where all hell breaks loose. You see, you don’t get “counted out” in a rumble. You can get flipped over and be on your ass for a solid minute and if someone bumps you back over and you can move again then you’re right back in the game and can continue participating like nothing happened. That’s been in the BattleBots rules forever. Because Bombshell was technically still mobile at the end of the rumble this meant that both it and Duck were eligible for consideration by the judges as the winner. The judges scored in favor of — wait for it — Bombshell. They cited Bombshell’s successful use of its PRIMARY WEAPON which brings us right back into the shit surrounding that retarded clause. Bombshell’s ruled the winner, and Duck is eliminated from the tournament.
I don’t think I can appropriately convey to you how confused and pissed off the crowd was when this verdict was delivered. There was booing, big time. It’s all been edited out, but Bombshell receiving a unanimous decision was not well received by the audience who just witnessed three minutes of Duck successfully slamming into opponents, lifting them up, and using the arena and other dead bots to its advantage… lose to Bombshell who admittedly landed some good hits early on, but was dead for nearly half of the rumble. This whole thing was a shitshow. Hal Rucker had a one-on-one with BattleBots co-founder Greg Munson about the decision, and Greg himself even chased me down — rulebook in hand — just to make sure the asshole who makes fun of all the bad robots and bad calls knew exactly what just happened. The teams who participated in the rumble were prompted on the full rules of engagement, but the audience was not. I’m sure most of them assumed that Bombshell had to have been considered “knocked out”, not knowing that isn’t how rumbles work. Still, Bombshell received the win based upon the damage it inflicted with its PRIMARY WEAPON, something that Duck simply cannot do. It’s apples and oranges, Duck is a fucking control bot. It doesn’t inflict damage directly, it does exactly what it just did in this rumble to achieve a win. I’ll tell it like it is, the current ruleset is stacked against robots such as Duck who lack the ability to rip opponents apart like someone with a high kinetic energy weapon can. That’s bullshit, “damage with a primary weapon” or “control demonstrated with a primary weapon” should be one and the same. Strategy is just as impressive as outright damage.
Hopefully for the 2019 season the judging criteria will be a little nicer to your Duck’s and Free Shipping’s of the world. Until then, Bombshell is your 16th seed.
WINNER: Bombshell, Judges’ Decision (3-0)
And there you have it. Whether you agree on it or not, Bombshell is the last robot to qualify for the Round of 16. Even if you’re pissed off about it that still means Bombshell gets to fight Tombstone and if you were around in 2016 then I’m sure you remember how that one went the first time it happened (hint: Bombshell did not win). Although they don’t show the bracket on TV they do have it posted on the main BattleBots website HERE. They have a printable version for you to keep track of at home, or to write in your predictions and see how they go. Much like what I did with the Desperado tournament earlier this season I’ve compiled the original predictions I made at the event and am presenting them below:
Again just to clarify: these are not spoilers. As you can see, I’ve got Minotaur as the potential champion here. I’ll briefly go over how I came to this conclusion starting first with the upper left side of the Round of 16 and moving downward. Bombshell has been total shit all season and going straight up against Tombstone right away isn’t something that I can see it coming out ahead in, Tombstone by KO. Lock-Jaw has proven to be just a hair above average this year but Son of Whyachi’s hammers can easily bring the hurt even if Lock-Jaw deploys an armored bumper, Son of Whyachi by KO. SawBlaze has been on a roll and Monsoon is the perfect size and shape to fit into SawBlaze’s grip, I don’t think Monsoon is reliable enough to eek out a win here, SawBlaze by decision. Witch Doctor is a bit of a straggler down near the bottom of the field of 16 and I just don’t see it pulling an upset here, Minotaur by KO. War Hawk might be functional now but Bronco is going to walk all over it in seconds, Bronco by KO. Yeti is notorious for throwing big punches and “having no strategy” and that’s going to come back to bite it in the ass because Whiplash exhibits impeccable driving skill, Whiplash by decision. Rotator has certainly had the comeback season that I think we all hoped to see but Icewave’s blade is top notch this year and Rotator looks like the perfect height for cleaving into, Icewave by KO. Bite Force is on a roll and its new “experimental” weapon motor packs quite a punch, Huge has had a great rookie showing but we’re talking Bite Force here, Bite Force by decision.
So that brings us to the quarterfinals. I have Son of Whyachi beating Tombstone because I see this one as an arms race and Whyachi has the deadlier weapon that can strike from any direction. I expect there to be some big hits, but Tombstone may have some structural problems that get taken advantage of here. Son of Whyachi by KO. Minotaur is also the perfect size to fit into SawBlaze’s dustpan, which I’m guessing gets used here, but the Brazilian bull is going to be too much for SawBlaze and will overwhelm it after the first 30-60 seconds. SawBlaze will start strong, but eventually lose by decision. Bronco vs. Whiplash is basically a coin toss to me because I know Whiplash is going to be running all over the fucking place, it can self-right, and it can drive upside down in case its arm breaks. Bronco isn’t going to get another ring out or even a KO but I’m predicting Bronco to win on a split decision here. I have Icewave beating Bite Force and this is purely because by my guess the only thing Icewave can hit is Bite Force’s weapon bracket so unless Paul Venmo has an ace up is sleeve I’m thinking Bite Force’s weapon is going to get wrecked and Icewave will win on a judges’ decision fueled by the PRIMARY WEAPON argument.
In the semis my gut is telling me that Son of Whyachi vs. Minotaur is going to play out a lot like the Poison Arrow vs. Son of Whyachi fight from last season. Son of Whyachi is going to land a hit so big that the editors will have to fucking bass boost Kenny Florian’s “HUGE HIT THERE”. It’s going to send Minotaur reeling, but Whyachi will helicopter straight up and when it lands it’ll have destroyed itself. One hit KO for Minotaur. Icewave is going to get maybe one good shot on Bronco but I see this one playing out like like T-Minus vs. Hazard from the olden days. Bronco will probably whip out that flipper extension that it used against Tombstone back in 2015 and when it finally gets under Icewave the force of being violently jerked upward will cause the spinner to destabilize and possibly even self destruct in the process. That puts Bronco and Minotaur in the finals together, and I’m all-in on Minotaur by KO on this one. Minotaur has beaten Bronco before by pulling all of its goddamned wheels off and while I don’t think it will be able to achieve that this time I do think Bronco’s “twanger” attachments are going to work against it and be its downfall. Minotaur will be able to easily get underneath Bronco from the side, scrape some sparks off of the baseplate, and ram Bronco into the wall. Expect Bronco to get some flips, but Minotaur will bounce right back every time. Minotaur will finally take a Giant Nut back home to Brazil.
How do your predictions line up? Do you think I’m right? Wrong? 50/50? We’ll find out soon enough because the next episode of BattleBots marks the beginning of the main tournament. The entire left side of the bracket including the Round of 16 and quarterfinals will take place, followed by the right side a week later. If I had to summarize how I feel with one old meme it would be “my body is ready”.
That’s a wrap on this week’s BattleBots Update. This article is one of the longest ones on the website just because of all the content and predictions I had to get through. WordPress is telling me 10,000 words and I’m getting anxious just looking at that number so let’s make this quick. Facebook, Patreon, PayPal — there you go.