[BattleBots: S8 E20 is available online through Science Channel with a cable subscription.]

Spoilers: Biohazard wins. Saved you 40 minutes.

This is it. Five months and 19 episodes have been leading up to this moment; by the time the credits roll a new champion will be crowned. This season started with a field of 55 robots that was whittled down to just the top 16 competitors and now only four are left: Minotaur, Bite Force, Whiplash, and Lock-Jaw. All the bases are covered here, too: Minotaur is the destroyer from foreign soil, Whiplash is the surprise newcomer, Bite Force is the former champion, and Lock-Jaw comes from one of the sport’s true pedigrees. Three fights from now we’ll see who gets that Nut, but since this is an hour-long episode I’m pretty sure the editors have some surprises and bonuses in store for us to pad things out and keep people watching. You can’t crown a champion in the middle of the goddamned episode unless you’re looking for a textbook example of casual viewers dropping off immediately. That’s why Howie Mandel doesn’t whip his dick out until they’re already rolling the credits on America’s Got Talent.

This tournament so far has already had quite a few shake-ups. Tombstone, the current reigning champion and seeded #1, was blindsided by Bombshell who crawled out of the grave it was put into last year specifically to stop the champ and achieve nothing more. Tombstone threw its weapon chain and when that fight came down to driving Ray, in his own words, “fucked it up” and parked on top of it. Bronco, the only non-spinner in the top 16 and seeded #2, was the obvious shoe-in to win it all after Tombstone was KO’d but it turns out that Whiplash’s expert driving was enough to overpower the flipper and Bronco was sent packing. At least the robot can hurl the team’s luggage back to Sausalito so they can save on checked bag fees at the airport. So Whiplash is still in, could it be the winner? Bite Force is the next highest seed at #3, is it going to cruise on into the championship? I pegged Minotaur to be the winner this year and even though my predictions were mostly incorrect Minotaur is still here.


SEMIFINALS
MINOTAUR (4) vs. LOCK-JAW (9)

MINOTAUR

Team RioBotz

Weapon: Vertical spinning drum

LOCK-JAW

Team Mutant Robots

Weapon: Vertical spinning blades & lifting arms

“Don’t sit too close you’ll hurt your eyes.”

Totally True Trivia™: Minotaur’s drum style for this match is called an “egg beater” because if you hit an egg with it, it will break. Yeah I stole this joke from Dara O’Briain or Harry Hills or something, whatever.

I think we’ve talked about these robot’s qualification round fights enough to the point where they’re kind of irrelevant now. Most of these competitors have now had at least six total battles to make it here so the dumb shit that happened in their very first one, like Minotaur getting hung up on part of the floor and dying, has been done to death on this blog. Let’s focus on these last four robots starting from the Round of 16 that they all qualified for. When Minotaur showed up it was seeded in a manner that pitted it against Witch Doctor, a robot that had struggled for most of its qualification rounds and really only got some respite when it had to battle Ultimo Destructo. Minotaur basically erased Witch Doctor off of the face of the planet in about 60 seconds. Witch Doctor was slammed so hard that it was losing wheels from places that Minotaur wasn’t even fucking hitting and by the end of this fight Witch Doctor was so battered that it returned to the spirit realm by way of self-immolation. I guess Brazil doesn’t fuck with voodoo. Minotaur advanced into the quarterfinals where it met Monsoon who had upset the 5th seed SawBlaze in its prior fight. Monsoon was standing tall, so tall that its driver’s mom and dad came all the way over from the UK to watch the event, but Minotaur settled their dispute diplomatically. By “diplomatically” I of course mean “hit Monsoon hard enough that its weapon stopped working and then shoved it against the wall so it could be counted out”. Minotaur’s out to piss all over the UN this year, worldwide domination.

I can’t even tell what’s happening in this picture other than Lock-Jaw losing.

Donald Hutson has six Giant Nuts, that’s what the hosts keep reminding us every time we see this robot compete in a tournament bout. “But the last one was from 2002,” Chris Rose adds. There wasn’t exactly a lot of activity between 2003 and 2015 so I feel like that’s some sort of exaggeration for the sake of television, but there were a few BattleBots events held during that time that Donald showed up to and didn’t win. Lock-Jaw is his newest robot which first competed in 2015 and it’s been all over the place. 2018 is its best year by far, however. As soon as Lock-Jaw’s prospects began to dip Donald ponied up and entered it into the Desperado mini event which he ended up winning. For his troubles Lock-Jaw automatically qualified for the main tournament in 9th place, the top of the bottom half of competitors. Its first match looked to be the likely end of Lock-Jaw’s run this year because it was against Son of Whyachi, however Lock-Jaw showed up with a heavy plow and bashed Whyachi until it started smoking and that was enough to skate by with a judges’ decision. Lock-Jaw’s quarterfinal battle was a rematch with Bombshell, and because Bombshell was only meant to beat Tombstone this year and literally nothing else this match was over in seconds when a single hit from Lock-Jaw caused Bombshell to fucking blow up.

I don’t know if they’re still an applicable attachment on this version of Lock-Jaw, but I want to say Lock-Jaw’s… er… jaws would’ve been a good way to go for this fight. I know last season they weren’t enough to score a victory over Yeti — who’s kind of just a shittier version of Minotaur — but you gotta remember that Lock-Jaw started smoking during that fight and had begun to break down by the end of it. With a fully functional robot I feel like the open maw of Lock-Jaw’s gripper would work excellently against Minotaur, but like I said maybe that weapon isn’t available for use on this build. In any case, Lock-Jaw rides out with its forks deployed and I guess tries to get them underneath Minotaur. It’s hard to say what the strategy is here because I think Lock-Jaw is just going weapon-to-weapon which isn’t working out by the second hit because a chunk of one of Lock-Jaw’s back tires is visibly ripped off when Minotaur pops the robot backward. This is definitely a battle of ground clearance, and Lock-Jaw is losing that battle simply because it’s too bouncy. Minotaur catches it from the front left corner and lands a serious blow that visibly cocks up the wheel to prove my point.

Daniel does his best impression of the ending scene of Sleepaway Camp.

But Lock-Jaw is still holding steady even though it’s now jostling up and down and its front forks are bent sideways for some reason? I guess given the properties of the material and the way they’re mounted bending sideways is the path of least resistance but you’d think they’d be bent upward from Minotaur bashing them. I guess that’s those bad PlayStation damage models at play again. Damn you, Minotaur! Chris says we’re almost a minute into this fight. God damn. Not even a minute yet and Lock-Jaw already looks like someone rolled it off of a cliff? Three of its wheels already have their hubs bent up, which you don’t need to be an engineer to understand is probably not good, but right when the fight clock in the background finally ticks down to 2:00 Lock-Jaw gets knocked over and has to fight upside-down. Man if you thought this thing sucked right ways up just wait until you see how ineffective its bent up lifting arms are now! Against all odds Lock-Jaw still does its best to throw a punch but any damage its spinners are doing is being immediately cancelled out by Minotaur’s drum; the weapon just bounces off of it and affords Minotaur the opportunity to take an easy follow-up shot as Lock-Jaw recoils. Minotaur does this enough times in the 60 seconds that have transpired to knock something loose inside of its opponent because shortly after rolling Lock-Jaw over Minotaur whacks it one last time for the kill.

Lock-Jaw is eliminated from the tournament, but by having reached the semifinals I say it’s not unreasonable to think that Donald Hutson has perhaps figured out what it takes to make Lock-Jaw a serious contender for the title. After all, the great Diesector had to first die in a single blow from fucking Grendel before it could rise up from the ashes and claim a Giant Nut. Who knows what’s in store for 2019 with some further adjustments to Lock-Jaw’s design?

WINNER: Minotaur, KO


SEMIFINALS
BITE FORCE (3) vs. WHIPLASH (10)

BITE FORCE

Aptyx Designs

Weapon: Vertical spinning blade

WHIPLASH

Team Fast Electric Robots

Weapon: Vertical spinning disc & lifting arm

Tombstone bent it 45 degrees sideways, Bite Force fucked it 45 degrees vertically.

Totally True Trivia™: Whiplash had a minibot for this season called Nae-Nae, but during an opening skit that didn’t make it to air Kenny Florian whipped so hard that the robot exploded.

It’s weird to call Bite Force the “underdog”, especially when it’s in the arena at the same time as Whiplash, but each of these robots are X-factors in their own unique ways this season. Bite Force comes in seeded 3rd, the lowest ranked robot that qualified undefeated. Consequently, it is also now the only surviving undefeated competitor this year. That’s not by virtue of the others being eliminated before Bite Force in the same round, no, Bite Force has legitimately made it further than Tombstone (Ro16) and Bronco (QF). I don’t think Bite Force’s current design was sold on people until it completed its qualification rounds undefeated because this is the same design that was disgraced by a wayward shot from Chomp in 2016 back when Bite Force was the reigning champion. Actually, I’d go one step further and say people may not have been sold until at least the quarterfinals, because had Huge not fallen apart on its own in Bite Force’s Round of 16 match-up there’s a pretty good chance it would’ve lost because Huge knocked out Bite Force’s weapon so early in the fight that Bite Force never landed a single fucking hit. In the quarterfinals Bite Force split Rotator’s face open and thrashed the robot so hard that by the time the refs called off the fight Rotator’s frame was so visibly bent that the robot didn’t sit right and its weapons were rendered useless. That’s the kind of carnage Bite Force can bring to the table post-qualification.

Whiplash of course is the main underdog here though. At 10th it is the robot with the lowest seeding who’s still in the competition and it’s made it all the way to the final four. I had predicted Whiplash to reach the quarterfinals and fight Bronco, but I had Bronco winning that battle by a 2-1 split decision. Instead Whiplash showed up and Matt Vasquez executed his plan of attack with surgical precision so clean that 15 different universities gave him honorary PhD’s afterward. Matt and his team have been to every season of the BattleBots reboot since 2015 but this has been their year. In 2015 they were an alternate with Splatter, a distant relative of Whiplash, but were not selected to battle. They returned in 2016 again with Splatter and made it into the tournament but to give you an idea of how poorly that went they ended up losing to Warrior Dragon by a unanimous decision. That’s like losing to fucking Abbatoir (which no one has ever done). The team transformed Splatter into Whiplash between 2016 and 2018 and their new machine is the definition of “coming out of left field”. When push came to shove Whiplash stomped all over Yeti and made the Inertia Labs team drive Bronco so hard that the robot burned itself up and died. Few have achieved that kind of badassery in the Battlebox and Matt Vasquez officially gets to say he has.

You’re losing too many wheels, better call Geico or something so they can take forever to arrange a tow truck.

Both of these robots have similar front ends in that they each have a vertical spinner with some little feeder wedges in front. The difference here — and the important factor — is that Whiplash’s front plows are mounted in a fixed position while Bite Force’s little blue wedgelets are hinged and ride along the ground. This allows Bite Force to win the battle of ground clearance immediately and an early push by the former champ sees Whiplash shunted into the corner after taking a few blows. No major damage so far, but this puts Whiplash behind on points and in a position where it needs to match those hits with blows of its own to push the needle back toward the center. Whiplash makes an attempt but gets caught on its front left corner by Bite Force which screws up its run. Whiplash tries to back up and realign but in the process opens up its right side to a hit from its opponent that jacks its front right tire up so badly that the motor running it seizes up and the wheel is bent upward so savagely that it doesn’t even touch the goddamned ground anymore. You can actually see the warp in Whiplash’s fucking chassis from this blow. Obviously this reduces Whiplash to only three wheels, but the silver lining here is that Whiplash’s crippled tire isn’t touching the ground and therefore won’t drag and cause friction (like what happened with Witch Doctor, for example). The robot only has three functional tires, but that’s still enough for Matt to control the robot. Mostly.

If Whiplash wasn’t already losing on ground clearance it would be now because the front of the robot isn’t sitting level anymore. Matt’s still trying to land his first blow of the fight but can’t seem to get the purchase he needs now that Bite Force is guaranteed to get underneath Whiplash every time. Bite Force rips off one of Whiplash’s wheels, which in general is a bad thing (no shit), but the wheel Bite Force chews up happens to be the one that was bent to hell so other than getting a few more points for damage this doesn’t actually hinder Whiplash any further. The three follow up blows, though? The ones that flip Whiplash over and kick its lifting arm all the way back and blow it the fuck apart? Yeah those definitely hinder Whiplash. I’m not sure if Whiplash was having problems early on with its disc so I don’t know if it’s been broken this whole time, but if it wasn’t broken before it’s sure as shit dead now because that thing just got the Monsoon vs. Red Devil treatment. Whiplash catches a light blow from the Pulverizer and as it pulls away and rides atop Bite Force it loses its back right wheel. Still, Whiplash refuses to give up. Even in the face of irreconcilable destruction the robot tries to stay mobile and outlast Bite Force. But you gotta remember Bite Force’s weapon was nutted on by the Grim Reaper himself, that four-motor gearbox thing isn’t some kindergarten shit. Bite Force catches Whiplash’s busted weapon as the robot spins around and snaps it back into its retracted position. It’s still broken though. Now it just looks less broken than before.

Pistol-whipped, pussy-whipped, come up with your own “whipped” pun I’m done with this.

Whiplash starts doing what’s referred to as “crab walking” which is what you do when you only have one side of drive that works. The results are what you see currently happening here: Whiplash starts scooting around by shuffling back and forth. Kenny Florian ponders if this satisfies the definition of “controlled movement”. My guess is yes going by everything we’ve seen in the past 19 episodes, but it looks like BattleBots is taking a page from the Robot Wars playbook and starts making shit up on the spot because Whiplash starts getting counted out by the officials. Even though Whiplash is able to jerk itself around and move outside of its own circumference, the robot is “incapacitated”. Now I know the circumference thing was something specific to Robot Wars, but it’s a good barometer to have. BattleBots’ official rules define movement as “controlled translational movement” with no further definition or anything to measure that with. Because of this subjective definition, Whiplash is counted out. I don’t disagree with Whiplash losing this battle — that motherfucker was totally doomed — but this sets an awfully awkward precedent for the sport. Remember how pissed off everyone got when Bombshell magically came back to life and “won” that rumble? Answer me this, what kind of movement did Bombshell come back to life with? In case you’ve forgotten Bombshell was doing exactly what Whiplash is doing right now. This wasn’t enough to consider Bombshell ineligible to win the rumble, but it’s enough to rule out Whiplash right now? So either crab walking is “controlled translational movement”, or it’s not. It cannot be both at the same time and be this bullshit circumstantial thing. That should probably be a little better defined in 2019’s event rules.

WINNER: Bite Force, “KO”


EXHIBITION BATTLE
TOMBSTONE vs. TANTRUM

TOMBSTONE

Hardcore Robotics

Weapon: Horizontal spinning blade

TANTRUM

Team Seems Reasonable

Weapon: Spring-loaded flipping arm

Seriously, were you expecting ANYTHING different to happen???

Totally True Trivia™: Surprise! Whoever wins this fight gets to try and steal the Giant Nut from the shitty IKEA table it’s sitting on backstage!

At the event obviously the robots who just battled 15 minutes ago can’t turn around that fast and be back for the championship fight. During taping, the semifinals were run at the beginning of the morning session and the title bout didn’t happen until the end of the evening session in order to give the teams as much time as possible to prepare for their final matches. So what happens in between the semifinals and the championship? Well, you get stuff like this. This battle is what’s known in the sport as a “whiteboard match” and is presented as an exhibition battle purely for the entertainment of the audience and bragging rights between the teams. These battles get their name from the dry erase board (“whiteboard”) commonly found in the pit area where teams who are out of the competition write down who they want to challenge. In this case Ray Billings asked for any and all comers and the only person dumb enough to raise his hand was Tantrum’s Aren Hill, so Ray responded with “well if you want to lose then I guess I can grant that wish”. As the now former reigning champion Tombstone was looking to be the bot to watch to win a second consecutive championship and join the ranks of robots such as Hazard, Minion, and Biohazard who’ve previously done so. Tombstone proved this year that the love of the audience and all the merchandising in the world can’t save you from fate, and with a rematch against Bombshell in the Round of 16 the champion was violently taken down via KO.

Tombstone breaking bones at speeds fast enough to get slaughterhouses erect.

Tantrum on the other hand… I think Aren just wants to be able to say that he’s “fought Tombstone”. I’m not so sure anyone’s actually told this guy that simply fighting Tombstone isn’t enough to brag about, you have to actually beat it too. There are only four people who get to claim “I beat Tombstone” and about 20 who can say — as Faruq so eloquently put it — “I tried, and I died”. I think Tantrum may have been an alternate or something this year because it only had two Fight Night battles and I can’t really think of a good reason as to why it didn’t get two more. It’s not like this thing was utterly destroyed or something, it just never really worked. “Being an overall piece of shit” isn’t reason enough to get disqualified because Raven set the bar for how badly you have to fuck things up for that to happen. Tantrum clearly surpassed it. For example, Tantrum has a paint job. It fought and defeated Battle Royale with Cheese in a battle so dreadfully boring that I was sure it wouldn’t make it to air, but I guess my dumb ass was proven wrong when the producers decided they really needed that gimmick fight with the cheeseburger bot to be on TV. Okay. Tantrum had its first (and only) “real” battle with Mecha Rampage and it lost by KO after taking one too many hits to the face. Tantrum’s weapon is a flipping arm but rather than operate pneumatically it’s spring-loaded. This requires a few seconds for the robot to arm itself but has the added benefit of not relying on something like CO2 to operate. It also means the robot can take up less space without huge fucking air tanks inside of it, so Tantrum is kind of like Minotaur in that it’s mostly just a solid brick of metal.

!!! MAXIMUM BROFIST !!!

Before the fight Aren says his robot’s “not 100%”. How? Did someone spill a Slurpee on it or something? Nothing has happened to this fucking robot in the two fights it’s been in that would warrant someone to survey the aftermath and quote the Flex Tape guy about how much damage there is. Aren also says his robot’s armor is where it needs to be. Okay, well that’s like the one part of a robot that isn’t mechanical or electrical, or even really mobile for that matter. It’s inert fucking metal of course the armor is kosher. Anyways I guess he’s not lying because Tantrum doesn’t come at Tombstone with its flipper armed (upright is its non-tensioned state) and gets its face erased and its left fist sheared off at the wrist, a lesson on what happens if you masturbate too much. That first hit seems to have upset something in Tantrum because the robot immediately loses most of its mobility which affords Tombstone the ability to land a few glancing blows. As this is happening Chris and Kenny are talking about Ray Billings “taking a fist” or a “double fist” and don’t fucking tell me these jokers are clueless toward the ulterior meanings of what they’re saying here. Look I don’t know if Ray’s a size queen but if he is that’s his business and his alone, but I guess it would explain why something like 60% of his robot is just the fucking weapon. It would also explain why it’s black, too. That said, if you like to take a double fist then head on over to Bad Dragon and order you the biggest goddamned thing off the menu. Use coupon code “RAYDIDNTWINTHISYEAR” and get free shipping! (Note: Not to be confused with the robot of the same name.)

Kenny makes one too many fist jokes so Tombstone cruises over and cleaves off Tantrum’s other one, but to teach the commentators a lesson Tombstone doesn’t just rip Tantrum’s fist off — that would be too easy — Tombstone not only rips it off, it flings the fist across the arena and sticks it into the wall like a throwing knife. All this innuendo about people putting fists in their asses has led the former champion to demonstrate how it’s done: by surprise and with absolutely no lube. Tantrum’s fist hits the power conduit in the corner of the arena and sticks right into it, centimeters away from hitting the cables inside and potentially killing power to the entire set. That’s literally the backbone of the Battlebox and Tombstone’s just made certain that it’s going to have to spend the rest of its life confined to a goddamned wheelchair. Everyone’s attention focuses to the fist jammed into the arena instead of Tantrum so while no one’s looking Ray goes ahead and gets some cheap hits. Tantrum’s flipper finally starts to cock into place but it misfires immediately and very nearly flips itself over. That’s a good demonstration as to how strong a spring-loaded flipper can be, it’s a shame we never really got to see it work. Tombstone doesn’t like the showboating so it clips Tantrum on its back right corner and sends the dead robot spinning into the corner of the arena where the ref counts it out. If you watch closely you’ll see Tantrum’s entire right side panel blast open for a split second as the fasteners keeping it on say “fuck this” and bounce.

Ray gets his fist(s) and Tantrum gets counted out. Sounds like a good day to me.

WINNER: Tombstone, KO


TOP 10 MOMENTS OF 2018

Sorry Bronco, not today.

Look, we’re 31 minutes into a 49 minute minute broadcast. You think they’re just going to run the championship right now? With 18 minutes left to cover? Do you remember what I said about Howie Mandel’s dick at the beginning of this article??? Of course they’re not going to run the finals right now there’s at least 11 or 12 more minutes left to kill, so what better way to achieve this than with a countdown? Earlier this season there were a few countdowns that were run that felt a little bit out of place like the time they had a “top moments” countdown when we were only five episodes into the season. I think it’s because not all of the bonus fights they taped for Science Channel were all that great (hi, Ultimo Destructo) so they just sort of invented these bits out of thin air. But now that we’re literally one fight away from crowning a champion I think we’re at a great point to have one of these. Here’s this year’s top 10 moments: End Game rips off Brutus’ wedge, Red Devil loses its tread pod, Icewave splits Vanquish in two, Monsoon uppercuts Petunia, Son of Whyachi breaks the arena glass, Free Shipping vs. War Hawk, Bite Force disembowels HyperShock, Tombstone vs. Minotaur, Icewave also splits Huge in two — and “Bronco’s entire season”.

I gave this segment a lot of thought because right now my gut instinct is to just throw BattleBots’ list out the window and plop down a bunch of bullshit joke suggestions for my own top 10, but I know that even though all I do is shit on the robots people work so hard on that some of you are probably curious what my actual “top 10 moments” would be. Also when I wrote up my BS “top 10” list I realized I was inadvertently telegraphing some of the things I wanted to include for this season’s Giant Washer Awards article… so I think it’s best if I give you guys a proper list instead. Don’t worry, all 10 joke moments will live on in the article they were ultimately destined to be in!

Brutus’ guns don’t count. Double Jeopardy is the first robot to literally fire a cannon at someone’s sorry ass.

10. Double Jeopardy vs. Gamma 9 vs. The Four Horsemen. This wasn’t a particularly good battle, and no I’m not just throwing it on this list because I’m going to insist that Gamma 9 was robbed because whoever was in charge of paying attention to the multibot fucked up, but I think it’s an important moment in BattleBots history as it’s the debut of the sport’s first proper cannon robot. Double Jeopardy is so far removed from being “perfect” that it actually wraps back around and comes close to it from the wrong direction, but it’s the only robot who gets to say it had a proper pneumatic cannon before anyone else did. I don’t know what can be done to Double Jeopardy to make it not suck, but thankfully I didn’t build it so that’s officially not my problem!
9. Warhead’s dome shears in half. Lots of things were broken in two or split apart this season and while the official list includes Red Devil’s tread coming loose I think Warhead’s spinning dome weapon shearing into two parts is a little more memorable just because of how iconic Warhead’s disc is and also because apparently this is the same disc that Team Razer has used since 2002. Every single crazy fucking thing you’ve seen Warhead do was done with this exact weapon. Destroying Nightmare, doing that headstand and wrecking Complete Control, being uppercutted off by Minotaur, somehow losing to Overkill. All of it, gone in a flash against fucking Warrior Dragon of all bots.
8. Son of Whyachi busts the arena glass. Speaking of Whyachi bots over on the other half of the team’s pit area that isn’t occupied by a piece of shit that they should retire already there’s their flagship creation Son of Whyachi. It had a decent run this year and who knows, someday maybe it’ll win Giant Nut #2. What it did do this year however is smash part of the inner wall of the Battlebox which scared the shit out of me because for a split second I forgot there was an inner wall. I legit thought this thing breached the fucking arena and I ducked. Chrome Fly made a similar achievement last season when one of its weapon bars exploded and shot through the glass, but Son of Whyachi takes the cake because it jumped its whole ass into the air to kick the window out.
7. Bite Force rips HyperShock open. We’ve seen this shot a hundred times now and that’s partly because Bite Force has made it into the championship match so the editors have had plenty of opportunities to remind us of the exact moment in time Paul Vexatious got Will Bales to stop dancing. But you have to give Bite Force credit, it was a damn good hit. HyperShock arrived to this fight shitting out sparks during the twitch test so it was pretty obvious the robot was destined to lose, but like this? Who the fuck saw that one coming?
6. Duck vs. Tombstone. There were many points during this season when the likelihood of Tombstone losing one of its Fight Night battles was a major possibility. (Hint: All of them.) All of Tombstone’s battles were with opponents who could kick its ass in completely different ways and in the case of Duck this came about from being a rock solid brick of metal meant to wear Tombstone’s spinner down and deflect it with its plow to destablize the whole robot. The plan almost worked because Ray Billings had to disable Tombstone’s weapon due to some problems it was causing with radio reception. This would’ve been Duck’s battle to win… except it only had one wheel left by this point. And then it hit the saws and died, but props to Hal Rucker for putting together something capable of taking that kind of punishment.

Trigger warning: Extremely awesome.

5. Tombstone vs. Minotaur. Like I said, there were many points during this season where Tombstone could’ve fucked things up. The first one hit the reigning champion right out of the gate when the main event of the first episode paired it up with Minotaur. Minotaur being the other crazy destructive robot in the field this season (and the other finalist, naturally) meant that this battle was probably going to come down to one or two choice blows that would leave someone dead. Instead we got a fight where both robots acted like someone was tilting a fucking Nintendo 64 cartridge and Tombstone dug up so many parts of the goddamned floor that Minotaur wound up high-centered on one and lost.
4. Gigabyte gets de-shelled. I promise I’m not just putting all these Tombstone fights in a row to piss you off. This one’s not really about Tombstone but rather what happened to Tombstone’s opponent during the fight. Gigabyte arrived this year as a major contender for the title when John Mladenik and Brent Rieker were done pussyfooting around with that Invader shit from last season. Its first battle was, of course, a showdown with the mighty Tombstone. Gigabyte was primed to rip some wheels off and upset the champ… until its entire fucking shell separated from its inner axle and flew off of the robot’s base. The team’s part that failed came from China which should now quell any surprise you had as to how something could fail that spectacularly.
3. Lock-Jaw as the Desperado winner. I think not mentioning the Desperado tournament at all in the official list was kinda dumb because even if the 8 robots who participated in it weren’t that good the event itself was still a unique inclusion. The fact that Lock-Jaw ended up reaching the semifinals before it was eliminated is just icing on the cake. It shows that a robot who deserved to qualify got exactly that. Meanwhile War Hawk was dealt with pretty quickly by Bronco and once Bombshell did what it was made to do it just blew up when Lock-Jaw touched it.
2. Rotator destroys Icewave. I don’t know how this didn’t make the list. Don’t tell me the editors didn’t have enough time to patch this one in at number 10 or some shit because this battle was off the fucking hook. Icewave started out as it always did and landed a couple of shots but the moment Rotator sensed weakness it whipped around, sliced into Icewave, and literally blew its goddamned head off. Rotator spent the entire rest of that fight ripping parts out of Icewave’s destroyed engine and once that shell was empty I guess it just started reaching into a wormhole to find more parts because I don’t know where half that crap came from.
1. Icewave’s two splits together as one spot. I know, I know. It’s “that hit” again. The official list knocked it down to #8 — presumably because they knew we were tired of seeing it — but they also included Huge getting busted apart as its own separate point. I think they should both be put into one spot together and that they should also be at the top of this list. Pretend like you haven’t seen Vanquish forcefully take a dildo that was way too large 500 times this season. Go back to the first time you saw this shit go down and how you felt when you realized Icewave just took some poor dude’s robot and ripped it the fuck in half. Fucking awesome. No one’s robot has ever been broken in two before and not only did Icewave do it a second time, but you can also count Ultimo Destructo and Red Devil as being on that list too. Four times in one season. Icewave did it first though, and that’s what counts.


2018 CHAMPIONSHIP
MINOTAUR (4) vs. BITE FORCE (3)

MINOTAUR

Team RioBotz

Weapon: Vertical spinning drum

BITE FORCE

Aptyx Designs

Weapon: Vertical spinning blade

They literally don’t waste any time trying to rip each other’s heads off.

Totally True Trivia™: Between these two robot’s records this season there is at least one KO.

It’s come down to two, and even though I didn’t peg Bite Force to make it this far I guess in the end I’m not too surprised that it did. Bite Force is here after a staggering 7-0 run this year, a perfect record up to this point. No rocky losses or near misses in its qualification fights, no Desperado tournament Hail Mary, no playoff rumble, nothing. Just wins, and nothing else. Minotaur, as I’ve said before, is whom I expected to be here just because of how its side of the brackets were put together. Minotaur hits like a freight train and there were very few competitors on that half of the fight tree who’d be able to take more than a couple of hits. In the end we’re left with the 2015 champion and the robot with the most watched battle in the history of robot combat — not just BattleBots. This is it, there’s no “next fight” to be mindful of. This is the championship fight. It’s not unreasonable to expect to see both of these robots come out at full blast from the start. Anything they don’t give right now is something the teams may regret later. Daniel Freitas drives like a fucking madman and I already have a screenshot of him mid-transformation into the Hulk from this episode waiting to be memed. Paul Voreaphilia is much more calm and collected but under that goofy hat he always wears is a stone-cold killer. Both of these drivers are guys who get into their own little zones when the heat is on and it wouldn’t surprise me if neither one of them said a single goddamned word until the fight ends.

Apparently neither of these robots are afraid of weapon-to-weapon contact, because that’s the first hit we get. Sort of. Minotaur and Bite Force butt heads in the center of the ring but it’s Minotaur who comes out ahead early on by clipping the inner wedge piece off of Bite Force’s left side. Bite Force still has three of the fuckers left, but if it’s losing parts like that after one hit that doesn’t really instill a whole lot of confidence in the former champ. The editors cut to Bite Force’s team where one dude is screaming “attack” over and over again but just like I predicted Paul’s not saying a damn thing. Bite Force retaliates with a decent shot and while the same guy on Paul’s team starts quoting Teletubbies by repeating “again” a bunch of times Bite Force swings and clips Minotaur’s back right corner, the hit destroys the balancing wheel on that side and sends the drum spinner reeling out of control. Tit for tat, I guess. Bite Force gets a wide open shot at Minotaur’s side but as it charges forward its wedges catch a visible ding in the floor and the robot gets tripped up. Had that raised bit not been there Bite Force would’ve T-boned Minotaur with its weapon going full fucking blast. In a perfect world where this hit was landed Minotaur’s entire side panel got torn off and thrown into the lights.

Okay here’s a proper still of that first blow.

The universe has conspired to save Minotaur this time, and I think Daniel is aware of this because as soon as Bite Force stumbles you can hear Minotaur’s drum start kicking up to full speed. Minotaur doesn’t get to unleash the fury though because Bite Force is on its ass and if you pay careful attention to one of the hits you’ll see that Bite Force cleaves right through Minotaur’s side panel and busts out a chunk equal in thickness to its blade. That’s a level of bullshit that not even Tombstone could pull off earlier in the season. Is this like how people in the Tae-Kwon-Do business make kids feel better about themselves by having them karate chop wood with really bad grain? Does metal do that too? Because that hit is fucking crazy. Minotaur finally gets to throw the Donkey Kong punch it’s been storing energy for and when it lets loose in Bite Force’s face three distinct things happen: Bite Force is knocked back about 10 fucking feet, the rest of Minotaur’s damaged side panel shears off from the impact alone, and the editors splice in that yell that sounds like Chris Rose cumming. That hit destroys Minotaur’s drum, but it wasn’t enough to completely destroy Bite Force. Worryingly it appears as though Bite Force’s weapon may have taken some damage itself because even though its blade is turning it doesn’t seem to be able to “bite” as well anymore. Now the robot is just “Force”.

The hit that explodes Minotaur’s ass and seals the deal for Bite Force.

We get a reminder about the PRIMARY WEAPON thing for what I’ve just realized will probably be the last time this year. Holy shit. Minotaur’s drum is toast and for the first time in forever one of its wheels is literally exposed but despite this adversity the “Brazilian bull” is still going face first into Bite Force to try and shove it around and presumably try to win on control and strategy plus the one damage point I’m sure it has earned by this point. It’s actually sort of working which is incredible because unless some shit has busted loose inside of Bite Force I really thought it would be the robot to win a pushing match. After all, it’s the one with the shitty little wedges. The damaged Minotaur overexerts itself in this tussle and does something to screw up its right wheel. Strangely this isn’t the one that’s exposed, but it’s the one that breaks nonetheless. Magic. Bite Force revs its weapon back up to whatever speed it’s still capable of reaching and blows off Minotaur’s other little rear rolly wheel and whacks it around a few more times. When all is said and done, Minotaur breaks down just as the championship reaches its halfway point. That thing is toast. There isn’t a lot shown in the way of after battle damage but when the camera zooms in you can see a giant crack all the way down Minotaur’s remaining right armor panel (through the “O” letter decal). That’s only what we can see, imagine the shit show that must be Minotaur’s insides. It probably looks like a Lego set someone tripped and fell on.

The “ATTACK AGAIN” dude from Bite Force’s team tells Paul what he already knows in that as long as Minotaur doesn’t spring back to life he’s “five seconds” away from winning his second championship with Bite Force. I guess I could be a dick and say that there’s at least ten seconds there because the other ref hasn’t started counting Minotaur down yet, but whatever. Minotaur is dead, and Bite Force wins its second Giant Nut with a perfect 8-0 run. Paul smiles and pretends like he didn’t know that was going to happen. C’mon dude, don’t tell me you put four motors in your robot’s weapon just because you thought it would be funny. That’s like shooting a deer with a rocket launcher and laughing in surprise when its skin and organs swap places.

CHAMPION: Bite Force, KO


Before I get into this closing part of this article can you give me like one Whiplash bullshit KO countdown so I can just stand back and admire the fact that I somehow managed to complete twenty goddamned articles for BattleBots Update this season? I’ve casually been making jokes about it all year long but to be 100% honest with you all I genuinely expected some stupid nonsense to flare up in my personal life that would prevent me from actually seeing the main season through to completion. To my amazement this did not happen and there is now a complete collection for BattleBots season eight.

LOOK THERE’S THE CREDITS, WHAT DID I SAY ABOUT HOWIE MANDEL’S DICK?!

Now that that’s out of the way let’s address some questions and thoughts I’m sure you probably have by this point. Last season I did a special write-up called “What Got Cut” which featured commentary on many of the battles that did not make it to air but were later posted to BattleBots’ official YouTube channel. I have it on good authority that there is a very high possibility that this will also be the case for this season so if that happens you can expect to see another “What Got Cut” for season eight. Depending upon just how many fights get posted there might even be two of them, but let’s first just see how this all unfolds to start with. Moving on, Giant Washers. Those dumb ass fake awards have consistently been among the most-viewed and best received articles in the history of this website. Yes, there will be an online ceremony for the 2018 GWA’s. Dress is “regular casual”. Don’t bring a tuxedo, a T-shirt with a tux-style print will save you a lot of money. (Or you can bring your favorite team apparel, NOW AVAILABLE IN THE BATTLEBOTS STORE! For some reason if you want a Counter Revolution shirt in the year of our Lord 2018 they got you covered.)

But yeah, we will get to those in the near-ish future. I would like to rewatch the season and compare notes with a couple friends of mine before I set out to start making a list. Until then, keep it locked here and we’ll see how the post-season content works out. I would like to thank executive producer Aaron Catling for all of his support this season in helping me get some gnarly screenshots and stills to use for these articles. 99% of the pictures used in the articles for this season were made possible by this guy. I would also like to thank Dari for his help in migrating BattleBots Update to its new (and current) web host in the face of all those security issues we were having. Seriously, the things he just natively knew how to do in the way of server configurations and all that was phenomenal. Normally I’d say “that stuff is way above my pay grade” but I think I am legitimately retarded because I can’t grasp any of that shit. While we’re here I’d like to thank Trey Roski & Greg Munson for everything they’ve done for the sport and for being great guys to me and my friends at the show, and of course to everyone at Whalerock Industries and 4 Ways Entertainment for helping make it all happen. There’s too many of you to enumerate but I’m very grateful for everyone who’s supported this project over the years either by keeping in touch on social media, sharing the articles, or contributing to keep the lights on. Here’s to 2019.

(There’s still much ground to cover, so make sure to follow BattleBots Update on Facebook for new posts. If you’ve had fun this season and would like to contribute to BBU’s future endeavors the floor is open for monthly pledges via Patreon or one-time tips via PayPal.)

– Dracophile