[BattleBots: S8 E19 is available online through Science Channel with a cable subscription.]
I suppose we’re past the point of humor on BattleBots now that the main tournament has started because this episode doesn’t have an opening skit either. I was just getting used to those things, too. In the speedrunning biz we’re in what we call “serious time”, I guess. Last week’s episode followed the left side of the tournament bracket from the Round of 16 through the quarterfinals; the same process applies to this week’s episode except we’ll be seeing the right side of the bracket this time around. Previously we saw Lock-Jaw and Minotaur rise to the occasion and beat their way through to the semis. On today’s episode the other half of the bracket includes old favorites like Bronco, Yeti, and former champion Bite Force. New favorites such as Huge and Whiplash are also represented here, and I guess if you don’t like robot combat you can file War Hawk into that category too or something. Again, we’ll be seeing fights up through the quarterfinals; next week’s episode (#20) is the last one of the season wherein we’ll start from the semis and a new champion will be crowned.
For now, I think Huge is pretending it can beat Bite Force. But first, by popular demand we’re going to rewind time a bit and catch back up with a battle from last week whose coverage here got a meme treatment that not everyone was happy with: Tombstone vs. Bombshell. If you’ve already deleted last week’s episode from your DVR then just skip ahead or something, and stop recording so much trash on your DVR that you need to delete BattleBots to make room. I can assure you there is absolutely nothing else on TV worth watching and if you feel the need to argue a counterpoint here then congratulations you’ve already lost the battle.
(ROUND OF 16 — EPISODE 18)
TOMBSTONE (1) vs. BOMBSHELL (16)
Totally True Trivia™: Writing comedy is a lot like designing a robot. Sometimes you gotta trim things to save weight, and sometimes every joke you tell turns out like Bombshell’s entire season so far.
“Hey Dracophile didn’t we already do this fight last week?” Yep we sure did, however except rather than doing a proper write-up of this battle I just replaced the entirety of it with a single photograph of a framed and autographed Tombstone team photo with the personal message “Sorry I fucked it up!”. I’d been sitting on this poster all season long just waiting for the 18th fucking episode to roll around so I could use it in an article, and when all was said and done most of you got the gag and thought it was hilarious but there was a not-insignificant portion of this website’s reader base that were let down by it. I’ve done this type of thing before (replacing an entire fight with a joke picture or some unrelated story) but usually it’s done with a battle that isn’t all that “important”. Doing it for this one was kind of a dick move, I’ll admit. Basically what you need to know about these two robots is that Tombstone is 4-0 all by KO, and Bombshell is 0-4… all by KO. I think Bombshell was saved by the bell when it lost to Yeti, but let’s be honest that thing was fucking toast and would’ve been counted out so miss me with that “technicality” bullshit. It’s obvious why Tombstone is here, but Bombshell dragged its ass into the Round of 16 by way of surviving the “Last Chance Rumble” and by virtue of being the only robot remaining who had (and used) an active PRIMARY WEAPON it won.
This is the one fight Bombshell was designed for. I know this thing has lost every single fucking battle it’s been in this season, but this is the one and as the late Billy Mays would cheerfully say “the secret is in the low wedge technology”. Bombshell’s wedge feeds Tombstone right up into its weapon, which is inexplicably working for once, and the champ gets a few nibbles taken out of its blade. This is also one of those fights where the hosts start to fucking telegraph the result of the battle because we’re not even seven seconds in and Chris Rose says Tombstone’s drive looks “gimpy”. Uh, no? It looks fine to me. Yeah Tombstone has taken some major hits and a lot of unseen damage is rapidly catching up to it this year, but of the 10 seconds I’ve seen of this battle so far Tombstone looks fine. It’s been yanked and jerked away after every hit this season, this is nothing new… unless there’s something you’re not telling us. There probably is.
Before the fight Ray said that his goal was to hit Bombshell anywhere other than the front, because Bombshell’s crappy wedge is only effective in this specific scenario. The front corners of the wedge — the ones that don’t even touch the ground and seem to serve no practical purpose — are actually there to deflect Tombstone’s blade upward. In other words, Bombshell’s entire fucking face is the equivalent of the side of Duck’s plow. Tombstone would be wise to avoid it and aim for what Yeti did and pop Bombshell on one of its wheels to screw it up, but try as he might Ray can’t finagle a hit that doesn’t immediately get shunted upward by Bombshell’s slopes. There’s a lot more glancing blows than there are solid shots, and I’m not even certain Bombshell’s weapon is what’s making contact here because it could very well just be the sides of its weapon bracket, but whatever the case every once in a while there’s a pop that separates the two bots. One hit that was certainly dealt by Bombshell’s spinner catches the underside of Tombstone’s blade and tweaks the robot’s frame violently enough to snap its weapon chain apart at its weakest point: a half link that Ray installed in the chain to make up for the slack in his chain caused by his robot’s frame deforming. Bombshell caught Tombstone right in the jugular. That just happened.
As Tombstone shits out its weapon chain and the hosts lose their fucking minds, Bombshell’s weapon operator reveals that the thing he’s in charge of is also not working anymore. Mike Jeffries says it’s probably the belt that’s come off and he seems remarkably cool about it, probably because in the potato fight that’s about to ensue he has the upper hand for the first goddamned time this season. When Bombshell loses its weapon (which it has often) it still has a wedge to stay both offensive and defensive with. When Tombstone loses its weapon? Tombstone’s got fuck all. The entire robot was built around the idea that the weapon never stops spinning. Tombstone has no “plan B” other than “hope we did enough damage to win over the judges otherwise we have some explaining to do to our sponsors”. In this new battle of leverage, Bombshell is the winner. Somehow Tombstone catches a bad angle and gets tipped onto its back, something Bombshell then follows up with a box rush that had it not been captured on tape I’d swear to you never happened because we’re taking about a robot that has previously died in one hit. Twice. In the same fucking fight.
Tombstone’s on the ropes in a figurative sense, but then it gets on its own chain in a literal sense. As it gets away from Bombshell, Tombstone drives straight over its candy necklace of a weapon chain and this is enough to high center the entire robot, knocking it out. I know that Tombstone’s weapon chain is some heavy duty shit — just look at the weapon it has to power — but losing a chain and then driving over it and dying is the kind of shit I’d expect from fucking Ginsu, not the reigning champion. In its flipped over state Tombstone’s chassis has even less ground clearance and sitting atop its chain is just enough to take it out. The perfect storm of fuck that was this battle is now over, and Bombshell receives its first proper win of the entire season. Ray futilely pounds on the glass and mutters an obscenity while Bombshell starts smoking in the middle of the Battlebox having survived literally just long enough to achieve this win. Fuck me.
WINNER: Bombshell, KO
BITE FORCE (3) vs. HUGE (14)
Totally True Trivia™: There are as many motors running Bite Force’s weapon as some other competitors have in their entire goddamned drive system.
This week’s first proper match pits Bite Force against Huge. Bite Force, the 2015 champion, comes in as the third seed hot on the tails of both Tombstone and Bronco. It’s the lowest-seeded robot with a perfect record, making Bite Force the underdog of the elite. Bite Force arrived this year pretty much identical to its 2016 design because Paul Vermont wholly believes his loss to Chomp that year was bullshit. Bite Force showed up as the same design, but has evolved since it’s been here. For its first three fights Bite Force took down Blacksmith, HyperShock, and End Game with a weapon powered by a bog standard Etek/Motenergy motor, however when it came time for Bite Force’s fourth Fight Night battle (against Bombshell) Paul decided to crank his robot up to 11. He took the Etek out of Bite Force and in its place dropped in the fucking Lament Configuration of weapon motors: an array of four Magmotors all linked in unison around a central output sprocket attached to the chain that powers the spinning blade. Firstly, that’s the same size as an Etek? Secondly, let’s not overlook the fact that this man has replaced one weapon motor with four. Magmotors are the kinds of things commonly found in the drive system of Biohazard, or one of them gets used to power a spinning weapon on a lightweight. This motherfucker jammed 4 of them together like this was some shit out of a video game. (And it worked too, because Bombshell fucking lost hardcore.)
Huge is new this year, as a heavyweight at least. Jonathan Schultz played with the design in lighter weight classes and saw success so obviously the next order of business was to jack it up to a heavyweight. The result is a robot with a hellacious spinning bar that’s incredibly hard to hit because its chassis is like two feet off the ground. Huge has seen success this year because a lot of the robots that would conventionally be able to attack it such as Nightmare and Beta were absent giving it free reign to beat the piss out of pretty much everyone. Chomp was among the robots who fell to Huge and was probably the only one who stood a chance of being dangerous in the manner that Huge’s builders assumed (e.g. being able to hit its chassis with a hammer). Everything else? Easy. SubZero was hacked apart and Free Shipping exploded. Huge rolled into its final Fight Night battle at 3-0, looking to join the likes of Bite Force & Co., but was felled by Icewave when the spinner beat Huge hard enough to make it the second poor sap that it’s cut in half this year. Icewave revealed a major flaw in Huge’s design: the fragility of its wheels. The whole “breaking in half” thing is also one aspect of it, but that only happened once Icewave busted Huge’s wheels apart to the point where its chassis was reachable by its blade. If Huge had more durable wheels there’s a chance that battle could’ve gone very differently, but as it stands Huge takes the 14th seed after a great rookie showing. Now it just has to contend with a former champion. Whoops.
In its previous battle Huge ran with a stockier blade that was shorter but still the perfect size to hit Icewave’s engine. That obviously didn’t work. It’s gone back to its normal blade for this battle likely because Bite Force is so low to the ground that Huge’s shorter blade could very well not be long enough to hit anything significant. Bite Force spends the first few seconds of this fight doing exactly what Icewave tried, and failed, to do: hit Huge from the side. Huge is just too big and too maneuverable (in place, at least) to get from that way so Bite Force just says “fuck it” and dives right in. A solid blow is landed by Huge and if you’re curious to know what kind of damage that thing can do to something like Bite Force I implore you to take a look at Bite Force’s front left wedge and admire the candy bar-sized dent that’s now on it. Huge catches Bite Force again, this time on the other wedge, and dings the robot upward. While Bite Force is in the air its right weapon bracket connects with Huge’s bar and the whole thing gets bent inward. We’re at the point now where if Bite Force were to be flipped over there’s a non-zero chance that the robot would be inoperable and wouldn’t sit right, sorta like War Hawk’s battle with Brutus where losing one dinky ass little wheel from its weapon bracket resulted in War Hawk being immobilized when upside-down. For all the motors in Bite Force’s weapon they don’t mean jack shit unless you can actually USE them, and right now Bite Force is easily behind on points in a battle against an opponent whose tires are just oversized macaroni.
Bite Force charges forward to try and cleave at whatever it can reach on Huge, which turns out to be Huge’s weapon. Huge must be like Mega Man or something because after it destroyed Chomp this year it must’ve learned Chomp’s secret ability because if you pay very close attention to this hit and look near Huge’s right wheel you’ll see a chain has come loose from something in the arena. Moments later you’ll probably also notice Bite Force’s weapon is no longer working and the black cover piece that protects its chain is all jacked up. Yep, Huge just reached into the tiny crack between Bite Force’s killer weapon and its chain guard and plucked the chain right the fuck outta there. Bite Force is now at a disadvantage so obvious that I don’t even need to put it into words. For a brief moment it also looks like something might be wrong with Bite Force’s drive but it gets back into the battle and starts pushing Huge around. Huge stands to win this one as long as it doesn’t fuck things up, but as this fight has gone on I’ve noticed the center of the robot starting to sag more and more as the robot bounces around and flips over. Bite Force careens Huge into the wall and as the robot gets away and shifts direction its chassis pivots around and when Huge’s legs make contact with the floor… the robot just falls apart. Huge still “works”… but it’s quite obviously not driveable in the least. It’s no Red Devil, that’s for sure. Whatever the fuck Huge is doing right now doesn’t satisfy the definition of “controlled translational movement” as per the BattleBots rules, so Huge is counted out.
Clearly the damage that Icewave did to this machine was so severe that it could not be appropriately repaired and that’s what happened here, because for all the energy stored in Bite Force’s weapon I didn’t see it to a goddamned thing aside from break. Even though I had Bite Force pegged to win this one you can’t deny how effective Huge’s unique design was this year. The only robot to properly beat it did so because of Huge’s flawed wheel design, something that’s very easily fixable with better weight allocation. Make no mistake, had Huge not busted out into a spontaneous impression of my life it would’ve won this battle. Prospective competitors for 2019 better be taking notes because if Huge returns next year there’s a pretty good chance this “breaking in half” business won’t be happening again. For now, Bite Force rebounds from its closest battle of the season and advances into the quarterfinals.
WINNER: Bite Force, KO
ICEWAVE (6) vs. ROTATOR (11)
Totally True Trivia™: These two drivers are actually best friends. Or were best friends I guess, because someone’s gotta lose.
Both of the robots in this next battle have 3-1 records with each of their losses coming about from matches where each robot’s weaknesses were expertly used against them. In the case of Icewave, who’s had a season full of bludgeoning people into oblivion, this came about from Skoprios (of all fucking robots) mopping the floor with the spinner and never letting Icewave get its weapon up to speed. Aside from that, like I said Icewave’s season has been probably its best one to date. 2016 wasn’t kind to the robot whose weapon is “made of gas”, but this year started off with a literal bang as Icewave busted Vanquish over its knee and split the robot in two. We’re 19 episodes deep into the season and you’ve probably seen the clip at least fifty goddamned times, it’s that good. A modern day “Nightmare vs. Slam Job“, if you will. Icewave did the same shit to Huge and the only reason we haven’t seen that clip a million fucking times too is because it happened too deep in the season for the editors to jam it down our throats for the past three months. Hell Icewave even has a little bit of controversy behind it too when it threw a “cheap shot” as Yeti was being counted out. That wasn’t even Mark DeVidtz’s fault, he painted the tips of his weapon gray so his opponents couldn’t see it when it’s spinning but his dumb ass forgot that he wouldn’t be able to see it either. Despite the loss, this year Icewave is riding the highest it’s ever been.
Rotator’s another robot who’s having a good year this season. Rotator’s got a great design with a spinner in front and one in the back so no matter what it’ll have something coming at you. It’s like a better version of Counter Revolution, a robot who lost so badly in 2015 that we haven’t seen it since. Rotator’s 2016 season consisted of Witch Doctor ripping its tire off and leaving it to die and that’s it. It had a pretty bad start this year when Petunia absorbed all of Rotator’s hits and pinned it on top of the Killsaws to shred its tires, but all it took was a free win from Predator breaking down and generally being a piece of junk and Rotator started acting like it wanted to actually win this fucking thing this year. Rotator went on to defeat both Warrior Dragon and Skorpios, however both of those wins came about from judges’ decisions rather than KO. It’s a robot capable of throwing some mean blows but that comes with the caveat that the robot has to actually be fucking working right for that to happen. Rotator’s not perfect, but its builder Victor Soto has the right idea when it comes to design modularity. For example this whole time we’ve known Rotator as the palindromic robot whose halves are identical and the most we’ve seen in the way of changes is whether or not the robot uses discs or bars, but just for this fight Victor has whipped out an angled plow for Rotator’s front end while keeping one disc on the back. Does it mess up the theme of the robot and ruin its name? Sure. But when you’re dealing with a robot who’s looking to make you the third victim he’s torn in two I think it’s okay to give up on stupid themes and motifs in the name of keeping your spine attached to your ass.
The first hit of the fight is landed by Icewave as it cleaves into Rotator’s face, but Rotator’s added armor serves its purpose and absorbs the shot. A second hit shunts Icewave away as the leading point of Rotator dives under the blade and deflects it upward. Icewave’s engine falls silent, but its remote ignition kicks in again a moment later. A third blow is landed by Icewave but this one’s noticeably weaker which prompts Mark DeVidtz to start asking his teammate operating the weapon what the fuck is up. He wants his partner to explain the situation, but before the guy can open his mouth Rotator gives him the CliffsNotes as its upper disc collides with Icewave’s engine and slices right into it. The summary works because Mark immediately knows that his robot just got thrown into a German fetish porn because Icewave is getting shit on big time. Mark drops a no-no word as Rotator comes in and busts the front of Icewave’s head open some more. Chris Rose starts saying some dumb shit while Kenny Florian keeps things grounded and suggests that Icewave is going to be spending the remainder of this fight as a wedge. He also says there’s two minutes left in this fight, implying that anything could happen, but unless he’s telegraphing that Rotator is going to sink into the floor or something the only thing I foresee happening is Icewave’s entire engine block getting removed with one more gnarly blow.
Kenny mentions there could be fire too but I think that’s just something to keep people from changing the channel, though I don’t know what on fucking Earth would cause someone to switch off from damage of this caliber. Maybe the person watching has Keeping Up with the Kardashians recording on another channel, but if that’s the case then I don’t want those people in the robot combat community anyways. You gotta put your foot down somewhere. Rotator keeps landing shots and each one of them causes random junk to eject from what’s left of Icewave’s engine. I don’t know what any of this shit is nor do I know where the hell it keeps coming from because Icewave’s back alley brain surgery eventually causes the arena to become so full of debris you’d think there was a rumble or something. No, all that shit just came out of one robot. What ends up happening is every single goddamned component of Icewave’s weapon engine gets disassembled and thrown onto the floor. Every. Last. Part. There’s so little left in Icewave’s noggin that you can see its red LED power indicator straight through the gash in the front of the robot. There’s simply nothing there, and yet Rotator keeps finding more parts to dispose of. It’s like an episode of American Pickers with diarrhea.
For all the carnage and destruction Icewave looks a lot worse than it actually is. After that first hit disabled its weapon there was really nothing left upstairs on Icewave that was worth a shit so it’s spent this battle fighting as a wedge. It’s been surprisingly effective but I think we’re operating on the Skorpios principle here. Skorpios also pushed Rotator around but in the end because Rotator took its opponent’s weapon out the judges sided with it. That’s what happens here too because the clock runs down on this battle and sends it to adjudication. Rotator was able to turn Icewave and the Battlebox into Kurt Cobain’s bedroom but worryingly the robot was unable to seize the win by KO again. It still wins by a predictable unanimous decision, but without that extra “oomph” there’s a lot left to be desired especially because Rotator is moving on to battle Bite Force in the quarterfinals. Victor better get his head in the game and come up with a solid plan because you’re not going to be able to eek out a victory over Bite Force by relying on the judges. Bite Force is the judge, and the four motors that run its weapon are the jury and executioner.
WINNER: Rotator, Judges’ Decision (3-0)
BRONCO (2) vs. WAR HAWK (15)
Totally True Trivia™: Bronco is the only robot in the Top 16 that isn’t a spinner. Don’t believe me? I’ll wait while you check.
In a field that seems to be dominated by spinners Bronco stands tall as not just the lone flipper, but the lone “literally anything other than another goddamned spinner” competitor. There’s nothing wrong with spinners, but this year’s top robots all seem to fit into one category of robot with the exception of the perennial flipper from Inertia Labs. That’s fine though, because Bronco has been defeating spinners all season long and doesn’t show any signs of stopping. Bombshell was DOA as expected, and Lock-Jaw seemed to not be at 100%, but Bronco go to show its form against SawBlaze when one particularly nasty flip broke SawBlaze’s weapon and a second one bent the robot’s entire chassis. Bronco also beat Duck and while Duck isn’t one of the aforementioned spinners Bronco was still able to do the deed and even managed to bend Duck’s plow by hurling it through the air and getting it to land badly. Flippers are interesting like that because they just rely on gravity to do their dirty work. Icewave and Tombstone will carve into you and do immediately visible damage, but Bronco will stick its leg out to trip you on the sidewalk and laugh when you break your ankle. Lately Bronco has been all about goofy accessories and this year the robot unveiled some seriously ridiculous-looking things called “twangers” that are meant to keep vertical spinners at bay. I think they look like creepy spider legs and I’m still not so sure they’re going to work as intended the minute Bronco faces a real spinner. (War Hawk is not that “real spinner”, though.)
Much like Bombshell from the previous episode, it took a special bout for War Hawk to make it into the Top 16. The only difference is War Hawk didn’t have a 0-4 record; it actually had an unbelievable 3-1 record and was put into a 3-way melee with two other similarly designed robots each with 2-2 records (Brutus and End Game). The hosts describe Rob Farrow, War Hawk’s driver, as “opportunistic” and they’re not wrong. War Hawk did not throw the first punches in that rumble and instead waited for End Game and Brutus to start damaging each other before it came in and cleaned up the mess. Throughout the season this robot was plagued with drive issues but still managed to win its battles because it was just controllable enough to avoid being counted out, its opponents were shit like Overhaul & Axe Backwards, and admittedly War Hawk’s weapon isn’t a total piece of garbage. War Hawk is armed with Brutus’ disc from 2016 and the whole thing is powered by an Etek so you know this thing has the potential to split some heads if the stupid thing can drive in a straight line to make contact with another robot. It took until War Hawk’s last Fight Night battle but mercifully this robot’s drive problems seem to have been fixed… and when it actually works War Hawk isn’t that bad. But that might be too little too late because it’s fighting Bronco here and I don’t think a swarm of stupid minibots is going to be able to save this Native American-themed robot from Bronco’s Trail of Pneumatic Tears.
Obviously, Bronco isn’t going to lunge forward into War Hawk. Even if Reason Bradley knew with 99% confidence that Bronco would win the ground clearance battle there’s still that one tiny percentage point where War Hawk wins instead and Bronco gets blasted point blank in the face. If Lock-Jaw’s shitty half-busted spinner was able to pop the tip of Bronco’s flipper off then I sure as shit know War Hawk can do it. Like I said, when War Hawk works it’s a very deadly robot. No doubt about that. With neither robot able to draw first blood, War Hawk’s minibots start swarming Bronco’s sides in an effort to wedge themselves between the anti-spinner attachments or potentially even get sucked in between Bronco’s wheels. Anything to try and slow the beast down. Predictably this has no effect and the two robots continue to posture with each other until War Hawk finally lands a shot to Bronco’s front right corner that knocks the flipper away. No real damage seems to be done here, but that hit immediately puts War Hawk ahead on points and when this happens time and time again we see Bronco come to life and start erratically throwing punches that rarely land. Case in point, Bronco fires its flipper nowhere close to being under War Hawk and misses its mark completely.
War Hawk very nearly flosses its disc between two of Bronco’s twanger things, but gets knocked away as Bronco spins around and finally lands a flip. War Hawk lands right on its disc and blows all of its kinetic energy into the fucking floor. Bronco attempts to go in for the double-double but naturally misses and ends up rolling itself over sideways near a corner. One of War Hawk’s minibots senses the opportunity to channel the late Shaman and dive right in, but it looks like as the little wedge drives over it hits a seam or something in the arena floor and gets whipped around so violently that one of its goddamned wheels come off. At first I thought the robot was damaged by Bronco contorting around while trying to suck its own dick, but no that wheel was busted off before the mini robot was anywhere close to its target. The wedge’s run ends up being a failed attempt and Bronco gets back onto its wheels. While this is going on War Hawk has managed to run away and rams itself into the screws in order to flip right ways up. It’s a great play and I’m surprised War Hawk gets it on its first try, but before the spinner can even put together its next move Bronco is already there. As punishment for not rolling over and dying as directed Bronco banishes War Hawk to the dark realm behind the hazards.
The screws immediately seize up as War Hawk’s chassis jams the hazard from behind and Bronco assumes that’s it. War Hawk’s surviving minibot gets in Bronco’s face and the bull lets loose a full pressure flip that imbues so many fucking G’s into the tiny robot that it immediately vaporizes. But as Bronco turns its back on War Hawk, who’s presumed dead, the screws start to turn the opposite direction to try and dislodge the robot stuck behind them. War Hawk gets vomited out of the hazard and immediately gets back to work to try and make up for lost ground. This whole season I’ve been talking shit about War Hawk and its exposed drive components and at one point I’m positive I pointed out its drive chains and said “if I can see your fucking chain then that’s a problem”. If I can see it, so can your opponent. Or the hazards too, I guess. As War Hawk gets away it loses its left drive chain in a matter of seconds and the robot ends up getting corned into driving right over it and I assume what’s happened here is identical to what took out Tombstone last week. War Hawk is now high centered on one of its missing parts and is incapacitated. Bronco lays in wait to see if its opponent comes back to life, but War Hawk is out cold. Hopefully Rob and his crew have better luck in the casino biz.
WINNER: Bronco, KO
YETI (7) vs. WHIPLASH (10)
Totally True Trivia™: Greg Gibson is one of the lost crew members of Alaskan Bush People.
As Yeti is introduced Chris says Greg Gibson is here to prove that his surprise 2016 run that ended in the semifinals wasn’t a fluke. I think he’s already done that, dude. Right out of the gate Yeti beat Witch Doctor so badly that the fucking thing caught fire. It also socked Petunia in the face and knocked it the fuck out and somewhere in there also found the time to bang up Bombshell’s drive system and shove it around until it too burst into flames. Yeti’s only loss came from Icewave when it was dealt a blow so violent that it messed up the wiring of the robot’s receiver and caused a power failure, otherwise if Yeti’s heavy duty wedge worked as planned I could definitely see it winning that fight too.Yeti’s tough, but it’s not invincible. It took a blow from Icewave to bring it back down to reality and that’s a level of power that I don’t think Whiplash can match. Whiplash is all about driving, and Greg himself said he’s more about being aggressive and coming out swinging, He believes that unpredictability will work in his favor and give him a slight edge. There’s really only one way to find out and that’s to see if Yeti can break all of Whiplash’s teeth in one go and kick the robot into a corner where it blows up and dies.
Some of the fights we’ve seen so far talk about how the participants both have 3-1 records. Well yeah, unless you went 4-0 in Fight Night you sorta needed to be at least 3-1 to make it in and even then not everyone who had that record qualified for the main tournament, so it’s really not some magical coincidence that Whiplash has the same record as Yeti. Everyone with the exception of Bite Force, Bronco, Tombstone, Bombshell, and I guess Lock-Jaw showed up to this fucking thing with the same record. Everyone’s on even footing for the most part. We’ve seen Whiplash all season long and thus far the robot has proven that on its own it doesn’t really have “knock out power”, but with Matt Vasquez behind the wheel the robot becomes a straight up killing machine and is able to use its smaller weapon with surgical precision to go for the pressure points that cause your heart to disappear or turn inside out or whatever. Whiplash’s first battle pitted it against Hypothermia and Whiplash drove circles around its opponent and only hit ’em where it hurt most. It went on to find a way to KO Mecha Rampage, a robot that normally would be able to drive upside down and right itself, before rolling Warhead over in such a way that it too could not self-right. Whiplash’s only loss was to Tombstone but who gives a fuck, most people lose to Tombstone. Whiplash is the textbook definition of that thing that men with tiny dicks say when they try to tell women that they can still show them a good time.
Jeff Vasquez, Whiplash’s builder, says that Yeti is weak pretty much anywhere other than its front end and that their plan is to attack it somewhere other than head-on. He also says that his team’s not afraid to lock heads with Yeti if that’s what it comes down to, and five seconds into this match that’s what it’s come down to. We’re dealing with two stocky robots that can pivot and twitch at a moment’s notice so chances are we probably weren’t going to see any side attacks anyways, but god damn at least try. Whiplash and Yeti meet weapon to weapon and Yeti comes out ahead as the little feeder wedge on Whiplash’s lifting arm gets ripped off and tossed aside. The lead is shortlived because moments later Whiplash has Yeti lifted up and pinned against the wall not one but two times. Yeti breaks free and does its body slam wrestling move that we’ve seen so many times before but it doesn’t seem to really do anything. In fact, aside from the piece that Yeti broke off of Whiplash a few seconds into this fight neither robot seems to really be capable of damaging its opponent. Whiplash’s front scoops are a little too robust for Yeti to grab onto and shred, and Whiplash’s disc is kind of a piece of shit in this fight. It doesn’t help that the two bots keep hitting each other’s weapons which appears to cancel out any damage they’d normally be doing. So far it’s a stalemate and this one’s coming down to driving skill of which Whiplash has the advantage.
Yeti is very nimble and bouncy, something that allows the robot to speed around and throw punches without a lot of kickback going straight into the robot’s frame. It also means that it’s apparently very easy to roll over because Greg Gibson made the executive decision to fill his tires with fucking Flubber or something. Yeti is basically getting manhandled in the arena and Whiplash once more uses its lifting arm as a makeshift clamp and takes “the Alaskan assassin” into the spike strip near the drivers’ booth. Yeti responds by using its single lifting fork to rip the BattleBots logo banner off of the wall and break it. Somewhere, an art department intern sighs. Whiplash continues to shove Yeti around and bumps into the little black wedge thing that used to be on its front end. Chris Rose points it out for the third time thinking it’s still a new piece of something that’s come off of one of the robots. From where? Nothing on Yeti aside from its rear tires are black, and the only black parts on Whiplash are its lifting arm parts. Put two and two together dude, come on. Speaking of lifting arm parts, Yeti has managed to chew up the forks on Whiplash’s arm (that were previously guarded by the wedge attachment that was torn off) but this doesn’t appear to have hindered Whiplash’s ability to grope and fondle Yeti in the slightest. Whiplash still has its hand wrapped firmly around Yeti’s nuts.
Kenny chimes in that there’s a minute left and if you watch Whiplash you’ll see wisps of smoke start to come out from the back of the robot where its lifting arm pivots. I’m not sure what’s burning up here because as far as I can tell every part of Whiplash is still operational, but as this is going on smoke also starts coming out of Yeti’s face and since its drum stops working right around this time I think it’s a safe bet that Yeti’s cooked its own weapon. Moments later Whiplash starts smoking again and this time the whole robot just slows down and dies completely. This actually kills the robot’s drivetrain and had there been more than 10 seconds left in the fight Whiplash would definitely be counted out, but because the robot breaks down so close to the end of the three minutes it’s saved by the bell and the match goes to the judges. The fact that not one but both robots started breaking down by the end of the fight just goes to show you how hard both teams were driving their machines and how much juice they were pulling through their parts just to try and get the edge here. Yeti obviously was going for the all out aggression route and destroyed its own weapon, but Whiplash showed itself to be the more controlled and methodical robot and as such its drive system shit the bed. Dying at the end of a battle is never a high note to end on, but it seems the judges agree that 2:50 worth of repeatedly kicking your opponent in the teeth can more than make up for it because Whiplash gets the win on a unanimous call.
WINNER: Whiplash, Judges’ Decision (3-0)
BITE FORCE (3) vs. ROTATOR (11)
Totally True Trivia™: The reason why I don’t go through the trouble of spelling Rotator as “RotatoЯ” is because it’s bad SEO and I don’t want to blow my cover as a Russian operativ– I mean, comedian.
Believe it or not, Bite Force probably shouldn’t be here right now. The robot sustained some serious hits that resulted in its weapon being taken out before it could do any meaningful damage to Huge, however because Huge was thrashed so badly by Icewave earlier in the tournament the robot still fell apart after a couple of bumps into the wall. The weaponless Bite Force advanced onward largely due to this residual damage, so Paul Vercingetorix would probably be wise to give Icewave’s builder a free hat or something for his troubles. Rotator hits hard, Rotator hits often, and now Rotator is somehow in the quarterfinals of the 2018 season. As unreliable as this robot is, when it works it fucking works. Not all of its wins are super impressive but I’ll eat the hat that Paul should’ve given Icewave’s builder if Rotator’s cranial evisceration of that robot doesn’t make it into some “top 10 ‘holy shit’ moments MLG montage” collection at the end of the season. That shit was like that scene from Scanners. I don’t even need to elaborate on that sentence any further because you know damn well which one I’m talking about. Rotator aims to keep that momentum going and comes into this battle armed with its dual blades as opposed to its discs hoping that it can strike the sides of Bite Force and bent its armor into its wheels.
Rotator hesitates for a few seconds at the start of the fight and doesn’t start spinning its weapons up right away. This is a mistake that it will pay for with its life. Bite Force whacks Rotator so fucking hard that I can’t even tell if the goddamned robot lands right ways up or upside down. Rotator lands and its weapons are just dead. The bottom one is spinning, but I don’t even know if that’s the bottom blade or if the robot is flipped over and that’s the upper one. One of them is “working”, the other one isn’t. Bite Force shunts Rotator into the corner under the Pulverizer and when it finally gets away and starts spinning its upper bar it starts shooting sparks all over the place so yeah this thing is fucking broken. Rotator takes a shot to its chassis near
its upper blade the blade currently in the upper position and bends part of Rotator’s frame into the weapon which disables it. This leaves only the lower spinner functional, and I use that term extremely generously. Rotator starts having some pretty obvious driving problems because lo and fucking behold when you get thrown around for 30 solid seconds stuff starts to break. Bite Force peels off the plate armor from Rotator’s right wheel and it seems like this is the hit that bends the axle or causes something to separate because that’s the wheel that isn’t working anymore.
Bite Force lands another blow that perfectly splits one of Rotator’s pointed wedges in two and sends both parts flying in opposite directions. It is as this time that Paul stops hitting Rotator and asks Victor if he’s “good”. Motherfucker this dude has landed a grand total of zero hits so far and right now you’ve busted both of his weapons, fucked up a wheel, ripped the front armor off, and warped his robot’s chassis to the point where it doesn’t even ride evenly on the ground anymore. The appropriate time to ask this question was about 40 hits ago, bro. The guy standing next to Victor coaches him on and says “keep going” though, so I guess there’s your answer. Rotator thinks it can still win this one so just to be a dick Bite Force cracks open its binder of battle strategies from Witch Doctor, goes to the “R” section to look up Rotator, reads how that fight went… and then rips Rotator’s only working wheel off to leave it for dead.
WINNER: Bite Force, KO
BRONCO (2) vs. WHIPLASH (10)
Totally True Trivia™: Use coupon code “BRONCO” at Bad Dragon and get 15% off the purchase of an XXL Chance toy!
As far as fights go, this one’s pretty stellar in terms of history within the sport. Zander Rose and Reason Bradley have been competing in robot combat for so long that there’s a picture of Whiplash’s driver Matt Vasquez checking out their old middleweight T-Minus in the pits at a previous BattleBots event from the Comedy Central era of the show. That’s how long ago this was, and that’s how long this sport has been around. Look how young everyone looks, and I’m not just talking about the fucking kid. This was a time before Zander started spelling his name with a Z or whatever. Hey, some guys buy motorcycles. Others chop their names in half and spell it all cool-like. Me? I just compulsively rip out all of my gray hairs and then stream Atari 2600 games on Twitch because I’ve completely missed the fucking point. But Bronco’s the last non-spinner in the field and it’s made it into the final 8 robots after knocking out War Hawk by throwing it behind the screws to damage its drive system. Whiplash on the other hand is coming back from a win where its internals blew up because the guy behind the wheel, Matt Vasquez, was driving his robot so goddamned hard that it just went “no more plz” and crapped itself. That’s telling, and not in a good way either, because if you had to dial it up to 11 just for Yeti — fucking Yeti — then I don’t have a clue where you go from there because Bronco is like ten times the threat.
I mentioned earlier in this article that Whiplash’s arm isn’t really meant to be used as a grabber, but Matt will take any opportunity he can get in order to take control of a match. Chris and Kenny said War Hawk’s guy was “opportunistic”, but Matt’s mantra when he’s behind the wheel of Whiplash goes beyond that into “any hole’s a goal” territory. He swipes right on fucking everything, and right now Whiplash gets the first hit and awkwardly scoops up Bronco and shoves it into the wall. Whiplash’s disc isn’t in the right spot to hit from this angle, but its driver doesn’t care; Whiplash’s arm comes down and gives Bronco a nice squeeze and the disc makes contact with the top of the flipper and starts shaving sparks off of it. Bronco is stuck pretty good and its only option is to pop its arm to try and knock Whiplash away, which doesn’t really work that well. Bronco gets on the ropes bad here once Whiplash gets underneath it proper and starts rolling it over, but Bronco waits until the moment is right and like a tree frog hopped up on crack it flings itself across the arena by launching off of the wall. Bronco gets away but spends so long righting itself that Whiplash has enough time to power walk over there and make a couple phone calls in the process.
Chris Rose keeps saying “ARE YOU KIDDING ME” and I swear it’s like the fifth fucking time in just this episode alone. I feel like on the BattleBots Update homepage I should be keeping track of every time he says this instead of Kenny’s “huge hit there” soundbite. Anyways, nobody is kidding Chris but Bronco is being used as a makeshift mop by Whiplash because it just cannot get the fuck away and land a shot of its own. Bronco gets shoved into the corner of the Battlebox right under one of Whiplash’s Pulverizers and the team starts going to town dropping the hazard and scoring points. I’m pretty positive if Bronco fired its flipper at the exact right moment it could break the fucking hammer, but I think Inertia Labs might get a bill for that because intentionally breaking the arena is kind of a dick move and you know it’s premeditated because before this very fight these assholes said they wanted to throw someone into the lights. Bronco eventually gets out of the corner but at no point does Whiplash ever actually stop touching it; Whiplash is right at Bronco’s side. It’s not able to land a hit because of Bronco’s goofy spider legs, so I guess they are working in that regard, but the inverse here is that these dumb attachments have increased the size of Bronco’s “hitbox” to ridiculous proportions. It’s so easy for Whiplash to reach any part of Bronco and with these attachments Bronco’s sides are completely safe to handle.
Bronco fires its flipper to try and get away but it doesn’t work because Whiplash is right there. It finally gets a flip — halfway into the goddamned fight — but Whiplash recovers and is again right on Bronco’s ass. Or side, I guess. It’s pretty damned obvious that Whiplash is scoring all the points here (because just look at this fucking battle, seriously), but here’s something to think about: Is this “aggression with a PRIMARY WEAPON“? Whiplash is trying to land a punch, but Bronco’s armor is preventing that from happening. The robot is still shoving Bronco all over the fucking place though. Are any points being scored here, and if so who’s getting them? That’s just a thought experiment, by the way, because it looks like this one’s not going to the judges. No, Bronco doesn’t get a lucky shot that flips Whiplash into a Shooting Stars meme, Whiplash actually catches Bronco and starts banging against it with the underside of its spinning disc. Like I said earlier, on its own this weapon really doesn’t have much potential but it’s how the thing is wielded that makes the difference. Bronco’s chassis starts getting visibly dinged up and I’m guessing something important gets broken here because Bronco starts to smoke. Not venting CO2 or whatever, actual fucking “uh oh” smoke. Bronco swings a few times to get itself loose and it sorta crawls away, but the robot dies in the middle of the floor and continues to burn up. Its arm is still working, but everything else is toast it seems.
And that’s it, the #2 seed has been eliminated. In previous tournaments it’s taken the likes of Tombstone and Minotaur to take out Bronco on sheer damage alone. That’s something Inertia Labs prepared for, given all of the crazy armor attachments they made for Bronco, but the one thing they didn’t expect was something like Whiplash to come in and use driving skill to claim a victory. Let’s be honest here, Bronco is the exact same size as the fucking trailer it was hauled in on. This thing has a turning radius as big as the sun. We were all laughing at Ultimo Destructo because it looked like a goddamned limousine in the arena but Bronco is equally as long and also sports a stupidly long wheelbase. You can beat on the 2018 Bronco in its full armor configuration all damn day and probably not kill it, but I’m thinking for 2019 we’re going to see one of two things from Reason and Zander. Either Bronco is going to come back with a completely different and more maneuverable design, or the team is going to scrap it completely and enter a totally new robot instead. They’ve taken Bronco to its illogical extreme this year and I think they now know that entering a robot that’s as big as a house isn’t the way to win.
WINNER: Whiplash, KO
Next week’s episode is the season finale, can you believe it? When we started this season and I wrote the article for episode one I genuinely thought to myself “fuck me there’s 19 more of these things”, but here we are at 19 deep and we’re about to see who takes home the Giant Nut. We started with
56 55 robots and now we are left with only the top four, and depending upon how you made your bracket predictions they might not be the four you expected. Lock-Jaw, the winner of the Desperado tournament, came in on a wing and a prayer… or one lifting arm and a plow, I don’t know. It’s had the most battles this year by far and it’s now just one step away from the championship match. It’s opponent is Minotaur though, a robot that I personally picked to win it all. However Minotaur is the only one of the final four who’s matched my predictions so who the fuck knows how this is going to pan out. Born from the ashes of Splatter is Whiplash who’s shown that its second place finish at Robogames 2017 was no joke, but its toughest challenge yet is going to be Bite Force. The disgraced champion from 2015 who caught a bad blow from Chomp has something to prove, and as the last remaining undefeated robot of the season it wouldn’t surprise me to see Bite Force catch a bad case of bloodlust this close to its comeback.
As we approach the end of the season a lot of fans have turned their attention back to the show’s ratings. When we first kicked off the 2018 season everyone excitedly watched BattleBots rise to the top and then stick around as one of the best shows on Discovery Networks. Not every week has been a good week because we’ve had 20 of the fuckers and it would be silly to expect solid gold across the board, but if you obsess over numbers don’t be freaking out about the show “dipping” recently. BattleBots still has the same numbers it’s always had, it’s just that right now Donald Trump is trying to fill a seat on the Supreme Court and all of the Democrats in our government are fervently fighting against it because their idea of a “good Supreme Court justice” is a smartphone with only the Twitter app installed on it. Obviously that’s causing some fuckery with TV viewership numbers and there’s a lot of people watching the news. Don’t worry about it, Discovery has been treating us right and they’re not about to do some dumb shit like pull the show for preseason football or whatever. Chill and take a deep breath, because you’re going to need it when the championship rolls around.
One more episode is ahead of us followed of course by the much anticipated Giant Washer Awards of 2018. I’ve gotta be honest with you, I’ve done a bad job taking notes all year so I might need to rewatch the whole season again to come up with a complete list but rest assured yes we will be doing one this year. Make sure you follow BattleBots Update on Facebook if you haven’t already, and if you’d like to support this project you can do so monthly through Patreon or one time through PayPal. I would like to thank and welcome Ginger D. aboard the Patreon support crew, and Gears4131 again as well — he’s pledged at the tier that puts a graphic at the top of every article on the site so please show him some love!