[BattleBots: S9 E10 is available through the Discovery GO app with a cable subscription package. Season is also available on iTunes and Amazon.]
Well, we’re officially in the double digits in episode count for the season. Can you believe it? Already? It feels like only a few weeks ago I sat down to write the article for episode one… though if you define “a few” as “exactly 10” then I guess I did actually sit down “a few weeks ago” to start the season’s articles. Also I’m aware the opening sentence of this article started with the word “well” and every one of my teachers told me you’re never supposed to do that. And they also told me never to start a sentence with “and” either. Luckily I don’t fancy myself a professional writer so I kind of don’t care; this is a website for fart jokes and observational humor that barely passes for the definition of “humor”, not a term paper. Suck it, Mrs. Weatherly.
Like I’ve mentioned before this season has only 16 episodes in it and now that we’re at #10 it’s probably a safe bet that within the next couple of weeks the Fight Night qualifiers are going to wrap up and we’ll get into the main tournament everyone’s been working toward. Some teams are probably already out of the running, like Bombshell at 0-3, but this week’s fighters all seem to still be in that limbo where anything can happen if they play their cards right. For most of these bots they’ll be going through their third (of four) qualification rounds so their placements in the main tournament are still up for grabs. Hydra is looking to keep its rookie winning streak going as it fights Petunia, Bronco hopes to recover from its bad start when it battles Free Shipping, and in the main event Bite Force and Hypershock meet each other for the third goddamned time in four seasons. Yes, you read that right, this will be the third time these bots have fought. We’ve also got Rainbow, Chronos, and Tantrum showing back up to make a late effort to keep (or start) their seasons, but first here’s Kenny Florian saying he’s never been in a fist fight with a robot before!
Chris Rose also makes a joke about blowing the roof off of the arena because of how exciting the fights will be. He knows Hydra is in this episode, right? The roof coming off of the Battlebox is a legitimate concern by this point.
HYDRA vs. PETUNIA
Here’s a fun game, see if you can guess the gimmick behind this match-up. You probably already noticed it before you even got to this part of the article; both Hydra and Petunia are armed with hydraulic weaponry except they each use the forces generated by their hydraulic systems very differently. Petunia is a slow and steady crusher whereas Hydra can impart so much energy when it throws you into the air that your robot might actually break into pieces in the process. Just ask War Hawk because that’s exactly what happened the last time Hydra was in the box. Granted, War Hawk’s chassis probably fell apart because it was modular, but we still got to see Jake Ewert treat an opponent like a cheap Lego set for a few seconds. Free Shipping also fell to Hydra in the flipper’s debut fight where being thrown 15 feet into the air and landing hard on its corners caused Free Shipping’s lifting arm to stop working. These are KO wins by a flipper who is doing more than just rolling pussy opponents over and letting them die. When someone says “it’s the landing that causes all the damage” you probably ought to believe them. Your robot is an expensive smartphone and Hydra is a careless fifth grader.
Petunia is kind of a relic of another era, and probably also a symbol of a different style of robot combat completely. You don’t really see a whole lot of crushers from American teams but over in Europe it’s a different story; crushers have long since been one of the staples of their circuit and most of the robots considered to be the best crushers of all time came from across the pond. Razer as well as its contemporary counterpart Quantum are both European, and Petunia also hails from the same continent. It’s not on that list of “best crushers ever” but like any biter bot if you wave it away and treat it like a cakewalk it’ll still sneak around and bite you in the ass. A few tons of crushing power sucks no matter who’s imparting it on you. Petunia stumbled out of the gate this season by losing to War Hawk, though it didn’t seem to really be fully functional at any point of that fight. It came around and defeated Marvin with a couple of impressive bites that pierced Marvin’s thick aluminum shell but this came at the cost of Petunia biting down so hard that it apparently popped an artery and had a stroke. You can only bite as hard as your own robot can handle, and against Hydra hopefully Mischa de Graaf has made the preparations to crank it up to 11.
Hydra’s biggest issue — and something I fear might come back to bite it in the ass (pun intended) — is how Jake gets a big dick behind the wheel very easily. In all of Hydra’s battles up to this point the robot fires its flipper just a second or two too soon and opens itself up for a counterattack in the process. So far Hydra’s opponents haven’t really had the weaponry or muscle to land a meaningful counter, but War Hawk came pretty fucking close. Petunia does nothing with the opportunity and as Hydra comes in for a proper hit obviously its weaponry hasn’t had enough time to fully recharge because rather than heaving Petunia into the scaffolding instead the crusher gets gently tossed onto its head. Petunia stays in close and quite clearly has its sights set on any side of Hydra other than its front end, though it almost seems like its crusher is half-deployed in anticipation of potentially biting onto the front of Hydra anyways. I don’t think that would be a wise decision because if Hydra fired its flipper into Petunia’s crusher the difference in forces could cancel each other out and both robots could very well vanish from existence.
Eventually Hydra swings around and Petunia’s right wheel rides onto Hydra’s front wedge. The result is a generous flip that causes Petunia to twist and writhe through the air, followed by another, and finally one more where Hydra spikes its opponent hard enough at the wall to break the fucking clock. I assume the plan now is to disable all of the clocks in the arena so that Hydra can spend the next four hours getting some hard data on how shitty Dutch crushing bots respond to landing on all of their various angles. We’ll know if this is the case if we see Jake take the ref’s stopwatch and stomp on it. Getting thrown at the clock not only stopped the concept of time itself but also appears to have disabled Petunia because the robot seems dead… and if it wasn’t dead before then it probably is once Hydra flips it so fucking hard sparks come off of Petunia when it collides with the spike strip. Twice. Hydra has clearly won the fight and it can afford to just back away and take the win, but Jake isn’t taking any “WINNER” pogs from Kenny Florian unless he’s defeated his opponent in an incredibly improbable way. Petunia gets flipped one more time and gets stuck behind the Pulverizer hazard in the corner very nearly giving it an awkward hoverhand with its beak. That’s good enough for Jake, good enough for the refs, “Good Enough” by Cyndi Lauper, and good enough for me.
WINNER: Hydra, KO
RAINBOW vs. YETI
Right off the bat as the hosts talk about the robots in this next fight you might notice something awry with Rainbow. It starts out subtle at first, Kenny says the robots “wins” weren’t very impressive, but then the cat is let out of the bag when the robot’s name card appears on the screen and it says “2-0”. Thus far we’ve only seen Rainbow chop part of Nelly’s face off so the second win seems a bit strange especially considering how it isn’t directly mentioned nor is any footage of it shown. Kenny goes on to explain that it was a decision in a rumble, which is correct, and my best guess is that this rumble was probably supposed to have aired by now as a bonus on Science Channel… but we all know how that clusterfuck is working out. Anyways Rainbow is basically a crappier version of Robot Wars champion Carbide and while its blade can hit with some respectable force it’s also prone to losing its belt if kinked at an odd angle, something that’s happened a couple of times now. It goes without saying Yeti has the power to do that and then some. I did write down all of the fights as they happened at the event but I’m not sure if I’m allowed to tell you who else Rainbow beat but I will say holy fuck was that fight a race to the bottom.
Yeti might be coming into this fight with the slightly worse record, 1-1, but every single fight Yeti has been in — win or lose — has been a riot to watch. Yeti was paired up with Bite Force in its first battle of the season which probably meant it was going to be starting things off at 0-1 but rather than give up Greg Gibson brought his robot to its absolute limits and made sure Bite Force had to work its ass off for the decision it wound up winning. Kenny generally can’t go more than a minute without calling Yeti a “bar brawler” and now you know why. Normally this robot has a couple of lifting forks on either side of its drum but Greg said he was fed up with them after they broke in the Bite Force fight and possibly costed him the match. Against Free Shipping the spinner came out with a supercharged drum (3 fucking motors instead of 2) and basically tore the forklift to shreds in an absolutely brutal match. Pound for pound Yeti’s drum hits the absolute hardest out of all of the robots with similar weapons competing this year. A word of advice for Rainbow: Do you see Yeti’s forks? No? You’re gonna die.As the fight begins Chris starts playing this match up as an epic “USA vs. Russia” battle but gets into some dark shit right away… like nuclear warfare. Dude just say it’s like Rocky IV, Kenny would probably piss himself with glee. I guarantee everyone would get that joke and the idiots who didn’t would at least know who “Rocky” is (he’s that guy who’s friends with the moose). Yeti has tires for days and Greg knows they’re probably his robot’s biggest weakness. All Rainbow needs to do is spin up its blade and hit Yeti anywhere from the front. That’s literally it. Instead, there is no action whatsoever from Rainbow’s weapon. Rainbow has no backup strategy to speak of, without a working weapon the robot is reduced to a shitty box whose geometry is inexplicably the perfect height to get whammied by Yeti and with a single shot that just begs Kenny to call it a “huge” one Rainbow gets blasted into the air and starts smoking before it even touches the goddamned floor.
And Rainbow goes up fast, too. Literally only a second or two passes and the robot has turned into a cloud of thick white battery smoke and about a second later the smoke turns black when I assume the fire or heat inside of the robot starts eating up everything else. Petr Kravchenko doesn’t even try to steer the robot around because he knows it’s toast and when the cameras cut to the ref counting him out you can’t even fucking see into that corner of the arena because of how well his pony robot works as an improvised fog machine. Meanwhile Chris happily makes Chernobyl jokes as the Battlebox slowly turns into a graveyard set from a low budget horror film. And to think, this all happened because Greg got tired of Yeti’s crappy lifting forks. Imagine what could’ve happened had the robot came at Bite Force like this from the start.
WINNER: Yeti, KO
SKORPIOS vs. TANTRUM
Ever since the team got their shit together Skorpios has been one of the surprise stars of the sport. I’d say the robot’s 2018 run was pretty memorable and so far I think we’re on track to see another one in 2019. Whether or not you see the utility in the “hammer saw” style weapon the robot is sporting you can’t deny the fact that there’s some serious muscle behind it. At first it seemed like maybe it was a dud because the spinner just couldn’t get through the armor of Copperhead but after a few choice karate chops that whole robot broke down and died because I assume the internal shocks of being whacked by that spinning disc was too much to handle. And of course we all saw what happened to Sidewinder, good fucking lord. More pieces came off of that robot than it took to build the sonofabitch. That just goes to show you that no matter if the opponent is armored to the 9’s or just a piece of hokey shit in general Skorpios has the power to bring down the hammer and end it. It’s also important to keep in mind that Skorpios won both of its exhibition battles at that Amazon re:MARS thing. 2019’s Skorpios is a far cry from the piece of shit that jammed its dick into the screws and died in 2016.
Tantrum probably falls into that category of robots like Copperhead that are armored to the point where critically damaging them externally is highly unlikely. Last year this thing took a few shots to the face from Tombstone and all that really happened was it lost its decorative fists and I feel like Tombstone is probably the gold standard in determining whether or not a given robot can hold up to retarded levels of punishment. Tantrum is a slightly different robot this year though and so far its performance has been questionable at best. Technically the robot has only one win, which was a shut out against Gemini to the surprise of no one, but like I mentioned in Tantrum’s “debut” fight fans were wise to the fact that there’s been a rumble featuring this robot too. Nobody knows how that rumble went however, just that Tantrum was in it, so the robot could technically be 2-0 or 1-1, but for sure it’s at least 1-0. It’s “punching disc” weapon seems a little too complicated to be practical and in Tantrum’s fight with Gemini the weapon was nowhere near as powerful as promised. It still snapped a few shaft collars off but the majority of the damage in that fight was done by repeatedly throwing Gemini at the wall.
Skorpios pops something off of the floor in the first few seconds of the fight but I have no idea what it was aside from maybe a piece of something welded down to try and cover up a spot of damage from a previous fight. Whatever it was, Skorpios undid all that hard work. Thanks, dick. The big flat plow on Skorpios seems to have an okay time getting underneath Tantrum, but Tantrum’s low profile and relatively long leading wedges means Skorpios doesn’t have the proper weapon reach to actually hit its opponent from the front. The inverse also applies though, since Tantrum is losing the ground clearance battle right now all its weapon is doing is failing to justify the cost of building the fucking thing. It soon becomes apparent that the only way Skorpios is going to score any points is by controlling Tantrum from the sides and a few quick jabs are landed, one of them causing the two bots’ weapons to meet each other. No apparent damage is done, but Skorpios finally takes the early lead.
Before the fight Zach Lytle discussed his battle strategy as essentially just attacking whatever the fuck Skorpios is able to hit. In the interview Zach says he wants to go after the wheels, but before the fight Kenny says he was told the plan was to attack the wings on top of Tantrum which would prevent it from self-righting. Considering Skorpios has no method of flipping someone over short of ramming them into the walls and hoping for the best I honestly can’t see why this was even considered as an option. A few more solid blows are landed by Skorpios and it looks like Tantrum is definitely in that class of robots that don’t seem to be “damage-able” by Skorpios’ disc which means that the robot is just going to keep hacking at its opponent until something interesting happens. After a few more shots Tantrum looks to be having some issues with its left side of drive and I’m not sure it’s because the wheels were actually hit, I’m thinking this is another instance of what happened when Skorpios fought Copperhead; the robot just landed so many blows that by the law of probability something was bound to either break or come loose. (Upon closer review of the fight if you watch closely right as Zach tells his teammate to fire the weapon there’s a brief shot of Skorpios pulling away while Tantrum starts to smoke, this is probably what led to its obvious drive problems. Either that or it was painted too bright of a shade of orange to fucking work properly.)
Tantrum starts to slow down and for a period of a few seconds even its disc comes to a halt. It spins up again but it looks stuck in the center of its sliding track. The puncher rapidly firing in succession lends credence to this so it’s possible Skorpios bent the track inward and now Tantrum is armed with the equivalent of every sliding closet door in every shitty low rent apartment that’s ever been built. As this happens Tantrum is corralled into the corner of the arena dangerously close to one of the Pulverizers and even if you can’t see the future you know this piece of shit is about to get pushed underneath it. Hilariously though as the Pulverizer comes down on Tantrum it briefly connects with the puncher’s disc and this is enough to pop the lid off of the hammer. I really kind of thought the whole “coffee can on a stick” thing ended with the Comedy Central seasons but I guess I was a dumbass for assuming that. Chris thinks the part is a wheel and sounds surprised in a bad way when Kenny tells him it’s part of the hazard. Kenny volunteers to stand in the corner and punch robots that come close to him but before he can finish that thought the clock runs down on this fight.
With nary a shot to its name in this fight, Tantrum loses by a unanimous decision. Skorpios is now 3-0 for the second season in a row. For some reason the editors thought this battle needed a commercial break before its verdict was delivered. I assume the people unable to tell that Skorpios won this battle would also be the type to think that trading in their iPhone 9 for an iPhone X is a good idea even though their first fucking phone hasn’t been paid off yet. I also assume there was a commercial for the iPhone X that aired. I don’t know these things.
WINNER: Skorpios, Judges’ Decision (3-0)
TYCO! THAT’S HOW YOU SPELL “RC”!
Coming up in the main event fight of this episode Hypershock will be facing off against Bite Force for the third time. Surprisingly this isn’t the angle that’s being played up in this episode nor does anyone seem to care what happened the last time these two robots met (hint: Bite Force reenacted Fist of the North Star). What is being focused on however is how in 2016 Will Bales, driver of Hypershock, was recognized with the season’s “Best Driver” award. That probably had more to do with the fact that he’d yanked a drone out of the sky with a rake and throatfucked it to death than actually demonstrating impeccable driving that year, but I’ll still give credit where due Will knows what he’s doing behind the wheel. I can’t say the same for whoever made that “I <3 ROBOTS” bracelet though because the “B” was put on the wrong way. Knowing my fucking luck some kid probably made that and now I look like an asshole.
Will gets into the philosophy of his preferences in transmitters with Jenny Taft and shows her the two most common kinds used in the sport. His preferred is the “pistol grip” style which a few others teams make use of, but only Will is going to compare it to the kind of thing you’d drive an RC car with considering his robot looks like what you’d bring home from Target and only get to play with for 10 minutes at a time because the included battery pack keeps running out. The comparisons are apt, Hypershock looks like the most dangerous fucking toy on the planet. But Will says the pistol grip transmitter suits his driving style better because it means he can lay on the gas with one hand and focus on steering with the other. Personally I prefer tank-style controls but I’ve only got a career win ratio of 0.33 so what the fuck do I know.
To demonstrate his oneness with Hypershock, Will travels with Jenny to a part of the production hangar that I assume was either previously occupied by Discount Tire or the world’s shadiest indoor go kart track. The course is shaped somewhat like a triangle on a bad day and as Will slams on the gas his precision drifting brings him back around to the finish line in about 17 seconds. Paul Ventimiglia, thinking he heard what sounded like someone playing with a Tyco Rebound, came over to investigate. He left a couple minutes later to inform his crew that he thinks Will is planning on filling the arena with tires during their fight. After logging his time Will hands the controls to Jenny so she can take Hypershock for a spin. The results, as I’m sure you probably guessed, were disastrous. In the time it takes Jenny to reach the first turn of the course Will could’ve already run a lap and a half and when she finally crosses the finish line she makes it there barely in time to stop her attempt from going to the goddamned judges.
Will gets a medal for his accomplishment and his supportive demeanor toward Jenny running into every single tire lining the course makes him the first (and only) candidate for this season’s “Best Sportsmanship” award.
BRONCO vs. FREE SHIPPING
Bronco is introduced into this fight (and played up as) a “winless” robot. Motherfuckers, it’s 0-1 and it lost to Bite Force. I’m not trying to suck Bite Force’s dick and add fuel to the tired fire that this robot is invincible but let’s be real here Bite Force isn’t an easy opponent for anyone much less a robot covered in metal spider legs that’s only fully maneuverable when it has 20 feet of fucking clearance in front of it to drift. That was going to be an uphill battle for Bronco any way you slice it. Bronco’s not wearing its “pwanger” attachments for this battle but strangely it’s equipped with its full suite of rear armor. Free Shipping doesn’t really have the means to damage Bronco’s tires and if anything those wheel guards just look like extra real estate for Free Shipping’s lifting forks to get hooked into. Then again we’ve seen these robots fight before at the Amazon demo event and Bronco wrapped it up pretty quickly by throwing Free Shipping into the screws so there’s a fair chance we’ll see a repeat of that here. Bronco is still the only robot capable of making a 12-point turn fast enough to kill an opponent.
When it comes to the aforementioned “winless” thing, Free Shipping nails it. Unfortunately. Free Shipping isn’t a bad robot when it’s able to compete as Original Sin (the wedge) and Gary Gin doesn’t have to worry about running a lifting arm or flamethrowers or anything else. We just got out of a mini segment about comparing combat robots to RC cars but before he built bots Gary literally raced RC cars. When he can focus 100% on driving his bots can (and have) come out of left field to make some surprise upsets. Instead the robot is 0-2 this year after being drop kicked by Hydra until its heart stopped and demolished by Yeti. You can still see remnants of Yeti’s bitch slap on the orange case that protects Free Shipping’s flamethrower parts. In both of those fights Free Shipping’s lifting mechanism was disabled in some way and since we’ve already seen Hydra throw this robot around until something came loose we might see the same thing happen again. Hopefully Gary took advantage of his Amazon Prime subscription to get better zip ties overnighted to the venue.
You might recall Bronco’s flipping arm had its tip torn off by Bite Force in the robot’s previous battle. It’s been fixed and reinforced but it appears Bite Force may have done more damage than everyone previously thought; Bronco fires its flipper a couple of times and gets some near misses on Free Shipping but when the robot fires its arm for the third time the entire fucking thing crumples at its angle and turns into the shittiest looking throwback to Toro that I’ve ever seen. I’m not sure what caused the arm to buckle at its stress point but discussion among the bot’s crew seems to point toward Inertia Labs receiving a “bad batch” of titanium for their robot. If that’s the case we may very well see Bronco’s ass literally disintegrate at some point and the whole robot could turn into an elaborate joke about buying a used car. Zander Rose realizes what’s happened and drops an “oh shit” on television, meanwhile Gary’s teammate nudges him and points out that Bronco is choking on a pretzel. Free Shipping, now with absolutely nothing to be afraid of, floors it into Bronco and slams it into the wall in a fiery blaze. The hit causes what’s left of Bronco’s flipper to come off and prompts Chris Rose to make a reference that, depending on how old you are, you’ll either think is about The Brady Bunch or Michael Jackson.
It looks like even though the front of the arm is gone Bronco can still do what it tried to do against Bite Force and spin around 180 degrees to come at its opponent backwards. Like last time I assume the plan here is to catch Free Shipping with the backside of the arm but Free Shipping isn’t going to let us figure out if that’s the case because it’s winning the ground clearance battle every time the two robots meet. A full minute passes before Bronco gets even the slightest opportunity to try its backup plan and misses the shot. Free Shipping retaliates with another smash into the wall and going by the audio of the fight Bronco presumably catches its nuts on the Killsaws off camera. Before the fight started Gary said he was expecting this one to go the full three minutes and he wasn’t wrong, though I doubt he was anticipating a win being served to him on a silver platter just seconds into the battle. Bronco, having landed no shots of its own, gets shoved into the wall in the final seconds and as the buzzer sounds Free Shipping lets loose a celebratory ball of fire that I’m absolutely convinced is actually some kind of dragon mating ritual. Also, apparently this fireball pissed off the safety crew but how many of those guys do you think have beaten Bronco? That’s what I thought. They don’t get it.
WINNER: Free Shipping, Judges’ Decision (3-0)
VALKYRIE vs. MONSOON
So far a lot of the fights we’ve seen this week have had weird circumstances surrounding them. Hydra and Petunia were two takes on the same weapon power, Free Shipping and Bronco’s teams basically live down the street from each other, and Hypershock and Bite Force can’t seem to not keep crossing paths every year. In this case there’s a weird love triangle (or square, I guess) between each of these robots defeating Ragnarok but losing to Hypershock, all by KO. Big think. In the case of Valkyrie its opening fight was against Hypershock and if it only took Will 17 seconds to cruise around a bunch of tires then you probably wont be surprised to hear that he was able to floor it across the arena and smash into Valkyrie in literally two fucking seconds. Valkyrie was never really able to get going after that first blow and after getting flipped over the robot was unable to get enough purchase on the ground to keep moving and it was counted out. Because of this, Leanne Cushing and her team have coated Valkyrie’s tires in urethane to make them extra grippy… assuming it doesn’t peel off the minute the robot tries to drive forward. Shoutouts to the team member who tries to press the button without looking, double shoutouts to the editor who saw it and said “that’s making it in”.
Valkyrie has KO power though, and we saw a taste of this when it threw a hook at Ragnarok and just absolutely killed it in one hit. Monsoon can pretty much say it’s done the same thing because it too delivered one mega hit to Ragnarok that left the axe bot tits up in the middle of the Battlebox. Like Valkyrie, Monsoon also wound up losing to Hypershock by KO in one of the most brutal defeats of the season so far. With one decisive charge Hypershock cleaved into the ass of Monsoon and did enough damage that the robot’s entire weapon assembly fell off of its pivot and tumbled forward out of the robot’s face. The hit also damaged Monsoon’s chassis so badly that we got a mini segment about it where Jenny Taft tried to help Tom Brewster and his team hammer it back into place. Tom says he eventually gave up and was able to procure a piece of replacement steel from Bombshell’s team because they sure as fuck ain’t making any use of it. And now? These two peers are about to settle the score with each other. The Hypershock Survivors Forward-Slash Ragnarok Murderers Support Group is about to turn real ugly.
Every time there’s a killer spinner in the ring someone says their strategy is going to be a box rush. Every. Single. Time. Except this time, because Tom says his strategy is going to be something a lot more ambitious: wait for Valkyrie to spin up to speed, spin his own bot’s weapon up to speed, and catch Valkyrie’s spinner perpendicularly. That is astronomically harder to do than “just plow into them head on before they get their weapon up to speed and hope for the best” but it has the highest potential payoff. This is the type of shit you pull out when you fight someone like Tombstone because if you dink your opponent’s weapon just right you can cause the whole fucking thing to blow up. Tom goes for it, the weapon on Monsoon gets going, the robot cruises around… then I think it gets stuck on one of the shitty little Ramrods next to the saws and the robot immediately high centers itself. Yes, those tiny nipples hidden in the floor do still pop up and yes robots still get fucked by them. Monsoon, snagged, gets T-boned by Valkyrie. The ensuing hit kills Monsoon’s weapon on the first go leaving Tom with no other choice than to spend the next two minutes and fifty seconds crashing into Valkyrie’s “Sweet Caroline” blade.
At first it appears as though Monsoon might have the upper hand when it comes to driving and pushing Valkyrie around because the spinner gets shoved into the wall and its deadly Bill Nye bow tie slows down long enough for the drivers to wonder if something broke. Nothing’s broken, but they know if they stay close to the wall then there’s the possibility that Valkyrie’s weapon motor will get damaged so they back away and put some distance between their robot and Monsoon to get it going again. I believe the little wedge attachment on Monsoon was meant to play into the strategy of deflecting Valkyrie upward but since that stupid idea has gone out the window Monsoon starts using it as the world’s tiniest battering ram and after two major hits, both of which send Monsoon spinning and spiraling out of control, the wedge piece falls off. Valkyrie lands another hit to the front of Monsoon and connects with its weapon bracket and although the piece doesn’t fall out of the robot again you can tell this thing’s turned to fucking dust. Ironically before the fight Tom was super eager to show off the new reinforced titanium bolt he’d made to keep Monsoon’s weapon bracket in place. Unfortunately for him Valkyrie was also super eager to tell Tom he could shove the whole thing up his ass.
Even if Monsoon’s blade still worked it wouldn’t be wise to spin it up now anyways, so the robot is forced to spend the remainder of this fight driving into Valkyrie in the vain hope that the spinner blows up somehow. I applaud Tom’s persistence and ability to keep Monsoon in Valkyrie’s face with very little interruption but when the cameras zoom in and you can see Monsoon’s framework literally being eaten away by Valkyrie there’s just no way Monsoon is going to win this. I don’t know if these are Aggression points or goddamned Suicide points. Valkyrie eventually gets hold of Monsoon’s left wheel and tears the rubber open so it can start pulling blue foam out of it and Tom Brewster must be a fucking magician in his spare time because more and more foam gets yanked out of this tire and all I’m seeing is that dumb trick where the guy pulls out the handkerchief that never ends. By the end of the fight Monsoon is visibly crippled but still mobile enough to avoid being counted out. I can’t exactly praise this robot for its overall durability because its weapon died immediately but holy shit can this thing take a beating. Also let this be a lesson never to borrow things from Bombshell because apparently the curse is not only real but also highly contagious. Valkyrie might want to think about getting tested after eating all that ass.
WINNER: Valkyrie, Judges’ Decision (3-0)
COPPERHEAD vs. CHRONOS
Zach Goff is nothing if not confident in every fight he shows up to, even the ones he loses. He was here two seasons ago with Poison Arrow, a robot that upset Son of Whyachi and put Hypershock’s dream run to an end. Copperhead comes from a solid pedigree but even though it’s 1-1 right now it’s not really on the “good side” 1-1 assuming something that stupid actually exists. Copperhead’s debut fight against Skorpios was filled with confidence until Skorpios banged Copperhead on its noggin enough times to finally give it an aneurysm. The blue on Copperhead’s tires is actually paint that rubbed off of Skorpios during that fight. I guess no one thought to color over it with a Sharpie or something. Copperhead rebounded and beat Gruff in a battle that went the distance and the decision was a lot closer than Zach was expecting because once again there was a bit of underestimation in his opponent. Like clockwork (heh) Zach was confident coming into this fight and if you watch closely during the inlay of the pre-fight interview you’ll see his teammates betray his collectiveness by engaging in fucking prop comedy with the robot.
Every season of this show has a team whose gimmick is that they dress like they just got done filming their Matrix fan film and Chronos belongs to that team this year. We’ve only seen this robot fight once so far and that was way back at the beginning of the season; Chronos was fed to Gigabyte and if the “0-1” that appears as this robot is introduced isn’t enough of an indicator that fight didn’t go so well for this team. Chronos isn’t one to be counted out just yet though because that was the robot’s first (and only) fight and having a ring spinner drawn to fight a shell spinner is kind of a shitty hand to be dealt. They’re basically the same fucking thing. This time around we might get to see what this clock can do and the “minibot” that Chronos has brought along with it is as intriguing as it is stupid. I don’t even think “minibot” is the right word to use because this damn thing is wider than the blue square and when I saw it laying on the floor I legitimately thought it was the pole from the “CHRONOS” sign that the team carries around. No, that there is Timeline and its intended purpose is to stand between Chronos and its opponent so the robot can get its spinner up to speed.
Timeline speeds away and doesn’t seem to do that good of a job acting as a distance pole but it does successfully lure Copperhead into attacking it so I guess that’s just as good because it still buys Chronos the time it needs to spin up. Last time Chronos tried to spin its outer ring up the robot employed a strategy of turning its center in the opposite direction of its weapon to get it going faster. That didn’t work and Gigabyte killed it because of it, but this time it seems to work out as planned. After just a few seconds of revving up Chronos is up to speed and clips a few sparks off of Copperhead as it goes in on the attack. It’s not an impressive hit… but the second one is to say the least. Let’s break this down because I have a feeling this is going to be the only hit we get. Chronos’ outer ring catches on the left prong of Copperhead’s chassis. The ensuing blow sends Chronos flying into the air high enough to remind Kenny that he sometimes used to say “huge hit there”. This hit was so massive that it actually bent the front part of Copperhead’s frame causing the robot’s drum to simply fall out of place. The moment this hit was landed every single clock on the planet stopped and every VCR, microwave, and stove started flashing “12:00” again.
Chronos’ weapon is also out of commission, and Timeline spins around fast enough to kill itself I guess, but the important takeaway is that Chronos is still fully mobile while the entire left side of Copperhead is completely fucked. The bent frame is likely just one manifestation of damage because if this hit was enough to kill everything on the left side of the robot then for all I know there could be busted gearboxes or motor casings or anything else under the hood that would cause a robot’s drive to seize up like that. It probably looks like someone threw up in a centrifuge and then shit their pants to death in there. Sensing an imminent potato fight the ref starts to count down Copperhead while Chris explains how “crab walking” isn’t good enough to satisfy the definition of “translational movement”… except for all the occasions when it sometimes is. Anyways I’m not going to bitch about that here because it’s going to let us avoid seeing two crippled robots bump into each other for another two minutes and I don’t think I have enough jokes for that kind of bullshit this week.
WINNER: Chronos, KO
BITE FORCE vs. HYPERSHOCK
Earlier in this article I mentioned how this fight has happened twice already and nobody seems to have noticed it, but Chris finally points it out a few minutes before the bots are wheeled into the arena. Bite Force is a robot who needs little introduction. This robot is a two-time BattleBots champion with 17 goddamned wins (20 if you count exhibition matches). All Paul Ventimiglia has to do is show up and whip his dick out and the party is over. Amusingly, the only robot who’s been able to stop this fucking madness is Chomp. Bite Force’s single loss from 2016 came as a result of an expert shot from Chomp’s hammer that killed Bite Force’s spinner. Paul’s response? He stuck a piece of metal over the weapon chain as a stopgap and then went ahead and later replaced his robot’s single weapon motor with fucking four motors. He’s run the same robot ever since and entering this fight Bite Force is on a 10 battle winning streak, Hypershock of course being among those wins. The other two are Yeti and Bronco who sustained enough structural damage that the teams had to rethink their whole shit.
“This will probably be the first time we’ve fought where [Hypershock] is working at full capacity,” says Paul. Owch, but I don’t think that was meant to be as savage as it sounded. Yeah Hypershock and Bite Force have butted heads in the past but each time this has happened Hypershock wound up losing the battle due to some kind of electrical or mechanical issues. Back in 2015 when these robots first encountered each other Hypershock arguably had the advantage during the fight until it suddenly began to smoke and broke down against the arena wall. In 2018, the second time these bots fought, I joked about how Hypershock was shitting out sparks during the twitch test and with a single uppercut Bite Force gutted the robot and somehow managed to avoid triggering the battery fire to end all battery fires. Paul is right when he says Hypershock is actually firing on all cylinders this time and he’s got every right to be worried about it because we all know what Hypershock can do on a good day, just ask Valkyrie and Monsoon.
So what exactly happens when Hypershock meets Bite Force when it’s running at full blast? Well, I guess it means Hypershock can land a blow savage enough to flip itself over… and then get smashed into the fucking wall hard enough to rip a chunk out of the Lexan and screw up the “BATTLEBOTS” sign under the drivers’ booth. Make no mistake though, these first few hits are significant enough to jack up Bite Force’s drivetrain in the opening seconds of the battle. Pay close enough attention and you’ll notice Bite Force immediately reverts back to what happened at the end of its fight with Yeti where the bot had clearly lost some amount of mobility on one side and had to use the forces generated in its weapon to help pull it around in a straight line. We’re about 15 seconds into this fight and Hypershock has already managed to achieve that. Hypershock has also managed to shed a drive belt in the process so it’s not an exchange completely in favor of the killer RC car. Getting spiked at the goddamned wall tends to do things like that.
Right now Hypershock is still fully mobile and the robot gets a golden opening to charge straight into Bite Force’s ass and turn it into the three car garage that Will Bales has always dreamed of having, but Will flinches at the controls and doesn’t go for it. A consolation opportunity arises and Hypershock stabs Bite Force on its bad corner and lines up a subsequent run at the arena wall with the champ but Bite Force’s last minute extended wedges negate Hypershock’s reach and it’s actually Hypershock that gets socked in the face as it pulls away from the wall. Arguably this fight had Hypershock’s name written all over it (or at least on most of it) until this hit because as Hypershock rebounds backwards onto its ass it starts to smoke and its spinner dies. Hypershock still seems okay to drive but this is a situation where losing your PRIMARY WEAPON can only spell certain doom. Bite Force is crippled but it’s own weapon is still going and as long as that’s active the robot can shimmy around to be “fully” mobile and still kick your ass. That’s exactly what happens because Bite Force starts taking control of the fight and rips part of Hypershock’s leading wedge off.
With a crumpled up face Hypershock’s mobility becomes limited and I’m pretty sure the belt and parts it lost earlier aren’t making it any easier to drive. This thing is banged the fuck up but so is Bite Force and now that there’s some distance between the robots you can get a better look at how incredible of a driver Paul is because he’s got a robot with maybe 75% of a working drive system and he’s still able to mostly cruise around like there’s nothing wrong with it. This guy is the fucking Franklin Delano Roosevelt of bot drivers. Hypershock gets its front right wheel ripped clean off and that’s a good thing for Bite Force because that was one of the few wheels on the robot that were still actually working. Paul taunts Will with that hit because he’s apparently the kind of gangster who can get shot in the lung and still have enough breath to diss your crew.
Neither robot is completely dead but Hypershock is basically at death’s door. Bite Force doesn’t have to keep hitting it but since the fight is still on it goes in for another shot and rips what’s left of Hypershock’s plow off, ruining that same set of goddamned screws behind the blue square. Hilariously this actually restores some mobility to Hypershock because I guess that plow was catching on the ground or fucking up the distribution of weight but there’s really nothing Will can do with his robot to reclaim the fight. He manages to get Hypershock to pin Bite Force against the wall in the final few seconds of the battle and in the process the robot burns up what’s left of its drive motors. The clock runs down and sends the battle to the judges for the second time this year for Bite Force. This is also the second time Bite Force has been substantially damaged in one of its qualifying battles. At this point last year Paul was busy helping himself to the catered sandwiches in the green room because he was getting KO after KO but this battle and the one with Yeti might be a wake up call. Other competitors are starting to get really close to dethroning the king. Enjoy the sandwiches while they last, Paul.
WINNER: Bite Force, Judges’ Decision (3-0)
Bite Force moves up the charts to 3-0 and muscles its way into the ranks of some surprise robots who are already there: Death Roll and Witch Doctor. And Bite Force isn’t the only robot reaching 3-0 this week either, Skorpios is making a big comeback and for the second year in a row it’s made it to 3-0 territory. Hydra has also come out of left field and looks be the next big Whyachi robot. Three wins, no losses, and all of those wins by increasingly impressive KO’s. Lots of other robots have fallen short and went the route of 2-1 in their third fights, but these five or so competitors are the ones to keep your eye on because the qualification rounds are almost over and they’ve pulled ahead of the pack. Falling toward the back however is Bronco who is now 0-2 after the robot’s iconic flipping arm blew the fuck up. This is the worst that Bronco has ever performed in the four seasons it’s participated in and if the best the team can hope for now is a 2-2 finish that doesn’t really instill much confidence that fucking Bronco will make it into the Top 16. Time will tell, though.
That’s gonna do it for The Update this week, thank you everyone who’s hopped along for the ride! I apologize for the kind of rocky content release schedule as we approach the end of the season, I’ve been dealing with a lot of things blindsiding me in my personal life. Things that aren’t fun to talk about and less fun (and probably inappropriate) to joke about, but it’s nice to know that there’s a community of people out there who genuinely care about my well being and support the things I do. I enjoy every minute of working on this website even if sometimes those minutes are among the most stressful and time-crunchy in recent memory.
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