[BattleBots: S9 E8 is available through the Discovery GO app with a cable subscription package. Season is also available on iTunes and Amazon.]
It’s Desperado time! Are you guys ready for the Desperado? The Desperado is finally here! Eight robots enter the Desperado but only one leaves! Are y’all as tired of hearing the word “Desperado” as I am? Good god. BattleBots better trademark that name before I start using it to describe a gnarly dump. I don’t hate the Desperado, I think it’s a neat concept, I’m just done hearing that word until next season rolls around; for the past 4 or 5 episodes this has been one of the main talking points of the hosts because the event marks the official midway point of the season. Naturally this is a big thing to work up to especially because it denotes the mid-season break.
If you’re just now coming into BattleBots and BattleBots Update I’ll briefly go over how this episode is going to work. So far everyone has been competing in what’s called “Fight Night” to rack up as many wins as they can in order to qualify for the main tournament when the rankings are eventually unveiled. Naturally not everyone is going to show up and perform like Bite Force or Death Roll who are both undefeated as of this post. The robots that start to quite obviously struggle and falter are invited to participate in a miniature event called the Desperado. Eight teams are allowed to enter this single-elimination tournament and the winner automatically qualifies for the main tournament. It’s a hell of a prize so this isn’t some kind of “bottle episode” or gimmick, these teams really do go through the Desperado over the course of one day of taping.
Last season Lock-Jaw won and while it didn’t go on to ultimately win the championship the robot still put on an impressive run and hopefully whoever wins the mini-event this year will do the same. Out of the eight robots competing I have Minotaur pegged to win the automatic qualification. I made my predictions in last week’s article but, in short, I’m also expecting Black Dragon to make it to the Desperado finals where Minotaur wins on what might be a split decision knowing how tenacious and vicious both of these teams can be. We’ll see if I was right about that and in the meantime we can be entertained with Ragnarok and Captain Shrederator whom I’m almost positive are just going to break down again.
MINOTAUR vs. LUCKY
Right out of the gate BattleBots isn’t going to go cheap on us. They know we’re here to see Minotaur rip someone’s face off so they’ve gone ahead and matched it up with one of the few robots that has a face to actually rip off. I don’t know who does the seedings for these Desperado events, but I’m going to have to disagree with putting Minotaur at #1 when, surprisingly, it has zero wins right now. War Hawk is at #2 and at least it has one victory. Alongside Gruff and Black Dragon they’re the only participants with any wins so I feel like ranks 1 through 3 should’ve been these guys and Minotaur can have fourth place for sucking but still having name recognition. Minotaur is an incredible robot that can end a fight in just a couple of decisive blows and its sister robot from the same team, Touro Maximus, was able to breach the arena at Robogames when it drop kicked Whoops (“Not Duck”) at the wall hard enough to knock a panel loose. That’s probably not going to happen here but I bring that up to illustrate my point that even though Minotaur is 0-2 it was last season’s finalist for a damn good reason.
Speaking of bots whose Desperado seedings I disagree with, here’s Lucky. Lucky’s battles have actually not been aired in order but it was still 0-1 by the time the Desperado rolled around and its performance up to this point was pretty lackluster as far as things go. I don’t think Lucky is deserving of rank #8, though. That should be fucking Ragnarok who’s managed to lose two fights by what amounts to a one hit KO on a technicality. Lucky just never got going in its first battle and because it only has one loss maybe 6th or 7th would’ve been a better seeding for it depending on whether or not the person doing the seedings gives a shit about Captain Shrederator. The way seedings work you’ll always get your #1 going up against your #8 (or whoever is at the bottom, #16, #32, etc). You could argue that’s probably a one-sided thing to do and I’d agree with you because it’s like letting the best boxer punch a toddler to death, but Lucky is a BIG BOY and it’s showing up outfitted with as much extra armor as Mark Demers could cram onto it while still making weight.
Minotaur spins up to speed crazy fast, so fast that you’ll probably only get one shot at a box rush if that’s the battle plan you’ve drawn up. Lucky charges forward at its opponent and fires its flipper too soon which results in a miss. Mark said he wanted to get in quick and have this fight over as soon as possible “with not a lot of damage” and now that he’s missed his mark Minotaur is ready to tell Lucky what its favorite Flex Tape meme is. With what appears to be absolutely no effort at all Minotaur pivots around and pops the rear right wheel off of Lucky and thrashes the exposed axle for good measure. Lucky turns better when it can “drift”. It also turns better when it has all of its goddamned wheels. Right now with Minotaur in so close Lucky isn’t able to make the tight turns it needs in order to keep its flipper pointed at its opponent which results in Minotaur catching Lucky’s ass and tossing it into the air. At 0-2 any hit is a good hit for Minotaur right now because it’s making up for so much lost time it might as well have been in a fucking coma for the first half of this season.
Lucky is taking the punishment a lot better than I think anyone probably expected. So far the only thing Minotaur has ripped off was a shitty little wheel that had no protection whatsoever, Lucky’s armor is just tanking the rest of the damage. Minotaur starts smoking from its weapon and I’m guessing this is just residual heat dissipating from it because it’s kicking too much ass too quickly because the smoke clears and Minotaur seems to still be fully functional. I know there’s literally like four belts running Minotaur’s weapon so maybe what we saw was one of them getting kinked and eating itself up but whatever the case this is bad news for Lucky if it was hoping for a freak accident to kill Minotaur. Even worse for our Canadian flipping friend it looks like losing that rear wheel and getting slammed from the side may have just killed the whole right side of drive. Lucky better watch out, if the refs get bored there’s a chance it’ll be counted out even if it can still sorta scoot around. For now Lucky is still in the fight, but after a second hook from Minotaur that sends the robot flipping through the air I really have to wonder for how long.
Even though Lucky has been dragged out into the middle of the arena Minotaur is still right back in its face to the point where its drum starts smoking a second time. The first time was a fluke and a bit of a joke, but the second time? You guys might want to think about checking that out after the fight because chances are you’re probably breaking lots of expensive shit. Or maybe Marco Meggiolaro and his team have gone the El Toro Loco route and just stuck a fucking smoke machine inside the robot for dramatic effect, hell I don’t know. Lucky pivots around to face Minotaur who’s spent the past few seconds staring it down from afar. There’s a brief moment of awkward silence where Minotaur tries to quietly rev its drum up and when it lunges forward at Lucky… Lucky fires its flipper too soon again, but this time the whole robot gets thrown onto its backside. Lucky is definitely able to right itself when its flipping arm retracts in just the right way and it takes a few pops for the arm to fall into place. When it does, however, Minotaur is waiting right there to catch Lucky as it falls and when the robot comes down from its flip the front of its arm gets sucked into Minotaur’s fucking face. I was expecting Lucky’s whole arm to just get ripped off and shoved up its ass but instead it actually survives the hit. Minotaur starts puking smoke again though.
Lucky twitches back and forth a couple of times but I guess Minotaur has done enough damage to it where Lucky just cannot move anymore. Either that or Mark Demers has conceded that he probably isn’t going to win this shitshow so he’s allowing the robot to be counted out. In any case, it’s good to finally see Minotaur put a win on the board because holy shit was it awkward seeing this thing at 0-2. I legitimately thought there was such a thing as a goddamned “Bombshell curse” for a while. Daniel Freitas pounds on the glass of the drivers’ booth hard enough that if this were any other event he’d probably have shattered it, then spends the next few moments walking around hyping up the crowd while Kenny tries to talk to Marco. God damn it’s good to see this robot back.
WINNER: Minotaur, KO
BLACK DRAGON vs. CAPTAIN SHREDERATOR
Seeded at #3 Black Dragon is living proof that this ranking system is a total joke. Black Dragon is 1-1, and as one of the robots with a win it should’ve been above Minotaur. But it’s also ranked below War Hawk? Yeah okay, Black Dragon may have blown up and caught fire while fighting Texas Twisted but it spent the remainder of that fight producing the most elaborate video tutorial possible on how to effectively use a wedge design. Then, after the team put the fire out and rebuilt the damn thing, it uppercutted Bloodsport to the fucking moon. Meanwhile War Hawk picked on a nearly dead on arrival Petunia and landed a staggering one blow against Hydra before the robot was literally busted into three pieces. But yeah, Black Dragon is third. Anyways the team behind this new (to BattleBots) robot got off on a bad foot but I felt like they were doing just fine afterward? Still, you never know what’s going to happen so signing up for special events like the Desperado is never that bad of an idea. Sometimes you’ll get an easy opponent, like Captain Shrederator!
“Captain Shrederator needs to make shell spinners great again,” says Kenny Florian. No, Kenny, that isn’t Captain Shrederator’s destiny. The only robot who can make shell spinners great again is Mauler and until we see the legend return we will instead be stuck with this monstrosity that was once known as Phrizbee. Some of you might be wondering how I can get through so many articles without spelling “Captain Shrederator” wrong at least once. My secret is that I can’t actually do that at all and I have to copy the robot’s name onto my computer’s clipboard because god damn is it hard to type out a couple dozen times over the course of an article. Captain Shrederator is also 0-2, like Minotaur, except unlike Minotaur this robot has mostly been the equivalent of a hockey puck for the fights it’s had. Witch Doctor pummeled this thing into oblivion without so much as a single sweat drop and although the spinner was doing well against Wan Hoo it just spontaneously died and led to a few dumbasses on social media thinking the fight was intentionally thrown as a way of “forced diversity” from the producers. Yeah, Captain Shrederator sucks so bad people think it’s a fucking conspiracy.
Almost every time we see a fight that features a shell spinner, and even some where it’s just a normal spinner, the opponent will slam down the accelerator and try to just barrel into the spinner to prevent it from getting going. Not Black Dragon. The robot hangs back presumably to get its own spinner up to speed but in the process this allows Captain Shrederator to get that 120+ pound shell spinning too. Kenny immediately expresses concern that this might not be the smartest move and I’m inclined to agree. As tough as we know Black Dragon’s wedge is there’s still that slot cut in the front for its weapon and that’s just asking for something like one of Captain Shrederator’s teeth to hook right in and fuck everything up. When the two robots finally hit each other that might be what actually happens too because the machines separate so violently that each of them are thrown in opposite directions into the wall hard enough to probably break something. Amazingly, Black Dragon drives away from this impact and somehow the screws it was thrown into also managed to not break. Guess there’s a first time for everything.
Captain Shrederator, on the other hand, isn’t as lucky. As Black Dragon spins around and uses the forces generated by its spinner to right itself Captain Shrederator just kinda sits there in the corner shifting slowly side to side because somehow this thing’s been busted and made unbalanced in such a special way that the robot moves perpendicular to its fucking wheels. What the hell did you do, Black Dragon? There’s no movement coming from the American spinner and with one follow-up slam Captain Shrederator is put into the wall in such a way that at least two or three more teeth get blown off of its shell. These days Captain Shrederator is less of a combat robot and more of a re-imagining of that Chuck E. Cheese game where you shoot the teeth out from the monster’s mouth. I am almost certain I’ve used this stupidly specific analogy before but Captain Shrederator has lost enough fights that I’m out of fucking material to describe it. Black Dragon grinds a few easy sparks off of the motionless Captain Shrederator until the team realizes they’ve won the fight and back off to let the KO count happen.
After the fight Joao Cavalheiro tells Kenny his team’s goofy duck mascot is a prize they won from a claw machine here in the US. If Joao doesn’t win this year’s “Best Driver” award for this alone then we know this whole show is a sham.
WINNER: Black Dragon, KO
END GAME vs. GRUFF
End Game is another one of those robots who had a “breakout” season last year and then just kinda fizzled out. Brutus didn’t come back for this season but if it did it wouldn’t surprise me in the least to see Brutus, End Game, and War Hawk — the three participants in the “15th place playoff rumble” last year — in this year’s Desperado. They all just seem like maybe they peaked when they debuted and now that there’s a new season afoot that means there are other robots to have “breakout” seasons of their own, like Ribbot possibly who KO’d End Game and is probably the reason why End Game is in the Desperado. The same can be said of Hydra and the effect it had on the aforementioned War Hawk. End Game isn’t that bad of a machine, it can hit like nobody’s business, but the kicker is that it’s had a hard time making itself stand out from the rest of the field. It’s lost to Death Roll and Ribbot in two fights that could’ve definitely gone End Game’s way had it not been for the fact that End Game’s opponents managed to outlive it. Jack Barker is correct when he says if End Game flunks out of the Desperado that he’s probably done for the year.
Gruff, though, seems like it’s in the same category of robots as Black Dragon? New to BattleBots this year but not that bad of a competitor. Gruff might be 1-1 right now but its two fights have been stellar. It debuted in one of the dreaded “we don’t know who any of these fucking robots are so apologies in advance because they might turn out to be shitty” rumbles and came out respectably on top. It didn’t win against Copperhead but it stayed on the snake for almost the whole fight and demonstrated some great control of the match. In the end I’m assuming Gruff lost because of the damage it sustained, which appears to still be affecting the robot because there’s a massive divot in Gruff’s wedge when it’s introduced before this battle. Guys, End Game has one hinged fork for every Fosters it’s going to shotgun if it kicks your ass and that little notch that was banged into the front of your wedge is the textbook definition of “Achilles heel”. Get with it.
The first hit of the fight is dealt by End Game and I’ll give you three guesses as to how this hit is landed. After looking at the replays I’ll acknowledge that End Game didn’t catch Gruff inside the divot on its wedge but it came close enough where I feel like I ought to get partial credit (and at least a sip of one of those Fosters). This hit, while impressive, ruins the whole fucking fight. The impact looks to have damaged a drive chain or something in Gruff because it starts swinging around like it’s lost power in one of the wheels on its right side. End Game, even though it gets points for this hit, doesn’t seem to have fared much better either because it’s stumbling around in the exact same way. We’re 10 seconds into this battle and already at risk of a potato fight because Gruff’s wedge sucks and End Game is a glass cannon. Gruff fires up (heh) its flamethrower to try and damage the exposed parts on End Game’s lid but all this manages to achieve is getting Chris Rose to talk about his dinner.
Gruff musters a lift and somehow gets End Game backed into the screws and I feel like my initial assessment of Gruff losing a chain might be incorrect. This thing is wobbling around like it’s uneven so there’s actually a chance that hit from End Game could’ve warped the entire goddamned chassis of Gruff and if that’s the case my hat goes off to End Game because Gruff is built like a brick. Where was that kind of damage when you were getting fucked to death by a frog? A chain is visible on the ground but for all I know that might actually be from End Game’s drive system, though I don’t know what that robot looks like under the hood. End Game’s about to lose something for real though and that happens as Gruff stabs its lifting forks into the spinner’s face and pops one of End Game’s two weapon belts off of its pulley. This is actually even worse than the belt just breaking because at least if it breaks it’ll probably fall off of the robot, with the belt simply dislodged End Game runs the risk of getting it sucked into its weapon axle or into the track of its remaining pulley which would probably fuck it all up. You can tell End Game’s driver knows this is a serious issue because he suddenly becomes reluctant to step on the gas.
Despite being crippled within seconds Gruff has done a decent job turning this match around. End Game has really only landed that one initial hit and after that Gruff has managed to push End Game into the screws a couple of times and even pop off a weapon belt. This fight sucks but if I had to pick a leader I’d probably say it was Gruff. Arguably in the lead, all Gruff has to do now is survive the fight and it’ll probably get the nod in a split decision. Instead, Gruff drives into the Killsaws and gets its lifting fork stuck in the slot. Gruff has a hell of a drivetrain but because its chassis might be warped and getting stuck in the floor has raised even more wheels off of the ground it can’t actually get out of the hazard. I guess unsticks really aren’t a thing anymore these days so the ref counts out Gruff and the robot does its best impression of Tombstone by dying at 2:58 except unlike the former champ Gruff was actually probably winning. Nice work.
WINNER: End Game, KO
WAR HAWK vs. RAGNAROK
I’m not sure I know how to describe War Hawk’s season so far because we really haven’t had a chance to see this robot live up to whatever potential it might have and that could be the reason why Rob Farrow decided to throw his hat into the Desperado ring this year. By making it to two fights and the only thing people are remembering your robot for is Hydra playing too roughly with it to the point where it broke apart probably isn’t a good thing. War Hawk does have one win to its name this season but it was against Petunia who was barely functional and the one “highlight” shot that the editors played before this fight is really the only hit from that fight before Petunia died and was counted out. I know I say things like “bad wins” are stupid barometers to judge robots with but if such a thing really does exist then that fight was its literal definition. Somehow this robot was still seeded higher than Black Dragon.
Tim Rackley is pissed off and depressed because at no point has his robot performed anywhere close to what he knows it’s capable of. We’re looking at an 0-2 robot whose losses not only came by way of KO but were pretty close to being one hit KO’s in under a minute apiece. If the Desperado event is intended for robots who are struggling then this piece of shit is overqualified for the position. That’s a shame too because Ragnarok looks like a solid machine; this bot looks like something that could hack into an opponent hard enough to knock something loose. It’s no Beta, but it’s definitely still up there. Probably. The only reason this robot was seeded 7th instead of 8th is because I’m sure someone felt like making this sad pile of parts fight fucking Minotaur was a guaranteed way to get sent to hell when they died. For all the damage it’s sustained, which isn’t technically all that much but was still enough to disable it, Ragnarok is back and it’s sporting some snaggletoothed prongs at its front to prevent someone from driving up onto the massive goddamned wedge designed into the robot’s chassis. That’s like buying a muscle car and intentionally filling the tank with the cheapest and dirtiest Chinese gas on the planet.
The green light flashes and as Ragnarok maneuvers around War Hawk, who is visibly having some issues getting its weapon going, I’m thinking this just might be it. Ragnarok is going to finally be able to swing that axe and even if it connects with the UHMW plastic War Hawk’s team slapped onto the top of their robot at least we’ll get to see a “good hit” that would make John Reid proud. Ragnarok lines up, fires the axe, and… the fucking axe jams up halfway through its swing. When it finally connects with War Hawk it hits with so little force that Chris and Kenny start talking shit about it. After an obvious jump cut Ragnarok realigns itself and finally gets a good chop right down onto War Hawk’s front wedge. The nick that gets cut into War Hawk’s armor is so large you can see it without a freaking closeup. Ragnarok also swings its axe hard enough to rip out the rubber stopper from its ass that presumably stops its own weapon from damaging its chassis, so there’s a chance this might be all we’re going to see. Was it an impressive shot? Yes. Was it worth the wait? Not really.
Stopper or no stopper, Ragnarok seems ready to go. It swings again and cleaves into War Hawk’s plow and in the ensuing chaos also manages to trick War Hawk into pulling a wheel off of its helper. The two bots lock heads a couple of times and take turns getting under each other’s little front wedge forks until one of War Hawk’s operators notices why Ragnarok’s weapon has been suspiciously quiet these past few moments: it’s dead. How does he know? He can see the removable safety link that controls power to the weapon system. Normally this would be plugged into the robot for obvious reasons except Ragnarok’s is sitting on the goddamned floor. I’m guessing this guy is the one who’s driving the minibot because he’s parked it right next to the link to demonstrate his point. War Hawk no longer needs to worry about a retaliatory blow from Ragnarok because the only way that axe is going to swing now is if War Hawk clips it from the back and blows it the fuck off.
I think Tim knows his robot’s weapon is dead because it’s managed to fail in a brand new way because he jinxed this whole fight by saying that’s how he’s been losing. His only option is to go all in so with War Hawk riding atop Ragnarok’s wedge he slams both robots into the screws. It’s an impressive run, but because this is Ragnarok we’re talking about something bad is bound to happen. That “something” is War Hawk’s spinning blade catching the underside of Ragnarok’s big ass wedge and bending the middle of it upward. More impressively this hit also sends the axe-wielding machine flipping through the air high enough that when it comes down the whole thing is just fucking toast. Tim jokingly counts along with the ref during the KO countdown but at least he can hold his head high as he wheels what’s left of Ragnarok out of the arena; this time his robot lasted two minutes instead of one!
WINNER: War Hawk, KO
MINOTAUR vs. END GAME
As usual since the remainder of these Desperado matches will be between robots we’ve already seen these introductory segments are going to be a lot more brief because we already know who these bots are in the context of this episode. I will say it’s amusing that the top four ranked competitors in the Desperado are the ones who won their opening battles though. Minotaur has moved from 0-2 to 1-2 after it slapped Lucky on the ass enough times for the robot to wear itself out and stop working. 1-2 is a horrible record to open with but if you win the Desperado event records don’t really matter because you’ve got a guaranteed qualification with your name on it. You could finish 3-3 and shoot the crowd a middle finger because you still won the Desperado. But a loss? Sinking to 1-3 kinda sucks, and one of these robots is going to do exactly that because End Game is also now 1-2 after hitting Gruff once and lucking out when the robot stumbled into the Killsaws and died. They’ve both shed their “whatever the one word opposite of undefeated is” performances this year, so that’s at least a consolation to whoever winds up losing.
To give you an idea of how significant the time crunch is for the Desperado participants Jack Barker’s pre-fight strategy interview happens somewhere outside while a couple of his buddies work on the robot. Whatever it is they’re doing (probably electrical work) it mandated that they had to wheel their bot into the parking lot to do it and the camera crew still found them. Jack says a box rush is the only way to go. When the fight starts End Game’s weapon is quite clearly experiencing some problems getting running so in order to make sure the first hit they land is as good as it can be Jack changes his strategy on the fly. I don’t know if you can really call this a “mistake”, but Minotaur’s fine with doing so because it smashes into End Game head on and begins the process of prying off End Game’s front wedglets because Daniel Freitas wants to bring home a lot of souvenirs this year and nothing is more humiliating than beating the shit out of someone and making them sign the piece of their robot that you ripped off and discarded like a half-eaten Fig Newton. Nobody eats those fucking things.
Minotaur kicks End Game in the face again and manages to blow off the wedglets on the far left and far right edges of the robot’s chassis. Minotaur’s drum isn’t even wide enough to hit both of these at the same time so there’s a little demonstration for you regarding how hard this thing can hit; it’s knocking off parts it’s not even touching. Now that three of End Game’s four wedglets have been knocked off this raises the obvious question: Can Minotaur go for all four? Yes, yes it can. Minotaur blasts End Game one more time and not only does it remove the straggling wedge piece it also shears off one of the goddamned aluminum blocks they get mounted to. End Game also sheds a belt again but like we saw in its previous fight it’s got two of them so it’s still able to spin albeit at 50% power now. There is nothing protecting the front of End Game’s chassis from Minotaur’s drum and now every time these robots meet face to face there’s bound to be a painful blow on End Game’s side. Case in point, End Game gets rolled over and it spends the remaining half of its weapon energy skittering itself into the fucking screws.
The screws chew on End Game and almost knock the robot back onto its wheels but once again when that happens Minotaur is already sitting there waiting to eat that ass. Minotaur is the perfect height so that when End Game gets toppled down onto it Minotaur can just wait for the screws to pull End Game forward for the kill. Minotaur is completely okay with killing its opponents like a goddamned Bond villain. The screws that End Game gets stuck on stop spinning and I assumed the load of a whole robot on top of them compounded with the fact that End Game just got done crashing into them broke the hazard but they do start spinning in the opposite direction like they’re supposed to. End Game stays there for what has got to be long enough for the ref to count it out but I think by this point everyone involved with the show just wanted to see how far Minotaur would be willing to take this in the event that End Game eventually got down from the hazard. This eventually happens and End Game proceeds to spend the next 15 seconds trying to drive about a dozen feet to get over to where Minotaur is hanging out.
Surprisingly, End Game lands a clip onto the side of Minotaur that rolls the drum spinner over but we all know Minotaur can just dance its way back onto its right side. If End Game’s drive system wasn’t so obviously crippled it just might have been able to start taking some pot shots at Minotaur in the vain hope that one of them was a crit. Instead, End Game just sorta sits there and when Minotaur inevitably gets back onto its wheels the first thing it does it careen into End Game and kick it into the corner in an imitation of every other fight End Game’s been in this year. Much like every other fight End Game has been in, this is the shot that knocks it out cold. Whatever problems flared up at the start for End Game weren’t something the robot could recover from and the moment ALL of its protective wedges were torn off I think it was pretty clear who was going to come out on top. The only question by that point was how many nut shots End Game was going to need to receive before it tapped out.
WINNER: Minotaur, KO
BLACK DRAGON vs. WAR HAWK
When these robots are introduced Chris asks if we might see a “Desperado upset”. Uhh, how dude? These robots are seeded 3rd and 2nd respectively. This isn’t Lucky somehow managing to kick Minotaur to the moon or something, this is a fight between two robots whose ranks literally come one right after the other. If I had to bet money on this fight though, I’d go with Black Dragon. So far my predictions have turned out to be correct, though the specific methods of how the fights have been won aren’t. I still pegged Black Dragon to win this battle and the reason for that is because its weapon, when it hits, just fucking murders things. It misfired and blew up against Texas Twister but we saw what was up when the robot went against Bloodsport and Captain Shrederator. War Hawk’s got a strong blade too but I just can’t see this thing winning the fight, not when I know if Black Dragon hits its opponent hard enough there’s a chance it’ll snap in two. No amount of extra ablative armor will prevent that from happening.
As War Hawk charges out of its square its weapon starts to spin. Then it doesn’t. Then the whole robot stops moving. Then… Black Dragon rams into War Hawk and knocks it into the screws at such an awkward angle that the robot gets jammed and because End Game’s fat ass was just on it a second ago the hazard seems to finally give up the ghost and doesn’t spin the other way which might free War Hawk. With War Hawk seemingly incapacitated, Black Dragon turns its sights on War Stop and it comes as no surprise that when a tiny little robot is hit with a drum that’s probably equal in weight the thing just fucking explodes. The fight’s over, by the way; War Hawk doesn’t get down. After War Hawk’s previous fight Rob Farrow mentioned briefly that he was having radio trouble with the robot and I can’t think of any other reason why a robot would just roll out into battle and then completely die like that. I can write a lot of stupid jokes about War Hawk getting so scared that it shit its pants so hard that all of its internal organs came out with the shit but let’s step away from the hyperbole for a second and just… take this in.
This sucks. I’ll make so many jokes about War Hawk when it’s fully functional that your head will spin, but this really sucks. I feel so badly for Rob right now because just try and put yourself in his shoes. These robots cost as much as a new fucking car and then some and that’s just the parts themselves. Think of all the time and effort and labor that’s gone into this thing and how everyone in the robot’s team photo had to get time off from work or make arrangements to be here because they were ready to take their robot all the way to the championship. All of this had to happen and then when the green flag drops the fucking radio does whatever the hell it just did. I’m sorry, but that’s bullshit. Black Dragon did nothing wrong but if shit like this happens I almost want to say there should be a mulligan and everything gets reset. Nobody enjoyed this fight. Everyone who saw it was scratching their head afterward wondering why War Hawk just quit working. “But Draco that’s just the sport sometimes this happens.” I get that. Sometimes you install a battery upside down and when you turn your weapon on everybody sitting behind the blue square is instantly vaporized in a LiPo explosion but this feels somehow different. This doesn’t feel like a win or a lose, it just sucks.
WINNER: Black Dragon, TKO
FIGHT NIGHT QUALIFIER
DEEP SIX vs. AXE BACKWARDS
In an effort to give the two teams in the Desperado finals as much time as possible to prepare the production crew continued to run standard Fight Night qualifier rounds throughout the taping sessions and the inclusion of this fight prior to the finals is meant to represent that process. The Desperado was filmed over the course of one full day of taping (two sessions) so the quarterfinals were done first thing in the morning, the semifinals happened right after lunch, and the Desperado finals were taped at the very end of the day. This fight is one of the many that were carried out between those points.
Way back in episode one we were teased with some footage of the robot Deep Six doing a spin-up test in the test box. I’m sure you remember this because Deep Six wound up losing the battle with its own gyroscopic forces and its blade dug a gash into the floor at least six goddamned inches long. That was both the first and last time we saw Deep Six and it looks like the team kind of learned their lesson because the robot now features a whole bunch of what appear to be UHMW meter sticks to help stabilize the robot. This was more of a way for the builders to cover their own asses and not so much out of respect for the Battlebox floor because that thing is already beat to hell and if Deep Six carved a dick into it no one would even be able to tell by this point. Deep Six’s weapon is its spinning vertical blade that weighs approximately 100 pounds. It’s been the talk of the pits since day one but really I think people should be more afraid of Dustin Esswein’s arms because he looks like he could accidentally punch someone to death by waving to them.
For the third time this season here’s Axe Backwards. In this robot’s previous two battles it showed up sporting wheels that were covered in fucking duct tape (seriously) because its center drum was too big and its teeth prevented the wheels from touching the ground. Also, the drum didn’t even fucking work. Axe Backwards was KO’d by Mammoth when Mammoth’s “too stupid to work but this is a perfect storm” design took advantage of Axey B’s weird geometry and threw it behind the light panels in the arena. It was also brutally KO’d by Texas Twister in a battle that saw the robot’s entire inner assembly become dislodged and partially ejected out of the drum chassis. Now, Axe Backwards has been drawn to fight Deep fucking Six. At this point I feel like Axe Backwards is just being punished for showing up to this event in an incomplete state and so long as Kurt Durjan keeps putting this stupid thing back together it’s just going to keep getting fed to more and more ridiculous opponents. I fully expect Axe Backwards’ fourth and final Fight Night match to be against Tombstone where the producers have told Ray Billings that Kurt said some nasty things about his mom or something.
I neglected to point this out in the above paragraph, but Axey B is sporting noticeably larger tires for this match. If you guys had these the whole fucking time then what was the point of wasting all that tape? Anyways it’s a Christmas miracle because the robot’s drum is finally working for the first time since last goddamned season but as luck would have it by the time Kurt finally got it running he was scheduled to fight Deep Six whose 100 pound blade is already roaring. Obviously Deep Six is weak from the sides and theoretically for all the shit talking I’ve done Axe Backwards might be the perfect robot to rip those last minute stabilizers off but unfortunately for Axe Backwards it’s not getting any chances to attack them. Deep Six is so fucking massive with those added arms that in order to even try to maneuver around to its sides you have to give the machine a very wide berth or else you risk getting tangled up in it. Axe Backwards decides to go for it and comes at Deep Six diagonally. It misses its mark and takes an awkward shot in the process but the robot seems okay for now.
Axey B retreats and starts getting its drum going again to try this strategy one more time. As goofy as they look the robot’s giant tires look a hell of a lot more rigid than the shitty little ones it’s been using. I’m not sure if the team equipped them for this fight intentionally or it was because they had to since Texas Twister ruined the smaller ones but whatever the case when Axe Backwards takes a hit to one of its wheels the rubber absorbs the blow and it looks like no damage is actually delivered. Axey B gets popped in the air high enough for one of the Deep Six guys to get a little rowdy and when the robot lands on the floor Deep Six cleaves into its opponent’s outer drum and the whole thing just fucking dies. As it turns out maybe those early blows really did weaken Axe Backwards or maybe Deep Six is just a motherfucker. Regardless, Axe Backwards gets one of its entire wheel and motor assemblies ripped off — again — and its outer drum shell splits perfectly along one of its seams. Immediately the ref watching Axe Backwards just straight up asks Kurt if that stupid thing is even still alive. He doesn’t even wait to see how this plays out.
Kenny says “now that’s an uppercut”. Chris corrects him and says “no that’s a different robot”. This is the best piece of fight commentary we are ever going to hear on this show. Axey B gets counted out but I’m almost positive we’re going to see this deadly toilet paper roll come back from the grave again. In the meantime it appears that the force of ripping someone in half caused Deep Six to overexert itself and the robot catches fire. Kurt points it out and laughs. If only his robot didn’t turn into a pipe bomb he could’ve had an actual victory instead of the pyhrric one this fight turned into.
WINNER: Deep Six, KO
MINOTAUR vs. BLACK DRAGON
I feel like this is the Desperado final that the showrunners were praying would happen. The fact that we’ve heard the phrase “The Battle of Brazil” uttered no less than a dozen goddamned times in just the last few minutes lends credence to the notion that they had this one in their back pocket the minute the brackets were drawn up. Not trying to insinuate that there’s foul play afoot though because each of these robots had two opportunities where they could’ve been stopped dead in their tracks before making it to this point. Minotaur and Black Dragon fought hard to make it here and their respective teams ought to be proud of themselves for it even if the match is being played up in a silly way. The heaving lifting to reach the finals fell upon Minotaur who had to beat the life out of Lucky and End Game but at least we got proof that Minotaur was still at the top of its game and just needed some extra time to warm up. Black Dragon is impressive and has given us some killer blows in just the few fights we’ve seen from it this year… but c’mon, Captain Shrederator? And War Hawk’s radio just crapped out in the semifinals. Black Dragon still definitely had the upper hand in that battle but in a parallel universe where Rob Farrow used Duracell batteries instead of those ghetto “Dynacell” ones you can get from AliExpress it had to work a little harder for that win.
Each of these bots have come into this battle with special wedge-style attachments made specifically for each other. In Minotaur’s case it’s using those things that look like giant flat screwdriver heads but Black Dragon is using a unique wedge with two flat teeth. The intent behind both of these wedge attachments is to negate the other’s wedge but when the two robots meet face to face Black Dragon’s wedges fit between Minotaur’s and the two robots just start shaving sparks off of their weapons with nary a big hit in sight. Minotaur finally scores the first point of the match when it catches Black Dragon’s front end and pops its left fork off. Marco Meggiolaro said that was his plan before the fight and I didn’t think it was possible to target something that specific on another robot but fuck me Minotaur did it. Black Dragon recovers but only because Minotaur kicks it a second time to knock it back onto its wheels. Black Dragon’s drum starts to rev up and when it lands its first shot Minotaur topples over, so it’s a good hit, but there was a distinct lack of “oomph” behind it. It’s not the kind of hit that kicks Bloodsport at the fucking wall in other words. The drum dies after this hit and Black Dragon starts to ramp up its aggression in an effort to control the fight with its wedge.
Black Dragon’s first order of business is to feed Minotaur into the screws in a manner similar to how Minotaur did the same thing to End Game in the semifinals. Minotaur’s dick is too big to get stuck in the screws though so the robot falls off of the hazard relatively quickly. Black Dragon tries spinning its drum up again while its opponent was flossing its buttcrack with the hazards but again there’s just no bite behind the drum. Minotaur gets a brief nibble on one of Black Dragon’s wheels but because they appear to just be solid fucking rubber no damage is done. Minotaur lands a great hit to the front of Black Dragon but the dragon is able to brace itself on the floor so it’s Minotaur that gets thrown backward and lands upside-down. This bash is followed up by Black Dragon shoving Minotaur into the wall in the first of what turns into many such plays we’re probably going to see. Minotaur’s drum is still spinning just fine but somehow even with only one of its forks left Black Dragon is negating it and has no trouble mopping the floor with its opponent. The 90 second timer shows up to note the start of the second half of the fight and Kenny just now notices Black Dragon’s drum seems to not be doing anything.
The drum on Black Dragon starts to slowly spin once more and when nothing happens the driver just says “fuck it” and shuts it off for good to focus his attention on making sure Minotaur’s ass touches every single fucking screw in the arena. At one point Minotaur even gets corralled into the wall face first and its drum chews off the tip of one of the steel spikes lining the Battlebox. Back in the Comedy Central days it wasn’t uncommon for robots to damage the spike strip because it was built like a fucking joke but seeing that kind of damage happen to this new arena is impressive. In the waning seconds of the fight Minotaur gets rolled over when Black Dragon uses its opponent’s gyroscopic forces against it. Minotaur rights itself at the last possible second and the fight is sent to the judges.
Up to this point in the Desperado I was correct with my predictions. I had pegged Minotaur and Black Dragon to make it this far and over the course of the past 90 or so minutes you’ve seen several reasons why I felt that way. I may have gotten the specific win conditions of the battles wrong, but I still got the winners right. I had Minotaur winning this fight by a split decision because I felt neither robot would be able to be knocked out because just look at these fucking beasts. I came so close to predicting the winner but the verdict returned is a unanimous one… and it’s for Black Dragon. I’ve gotta say after seeing that fight I agree with the judges 100% because despite losing its PRIMARY WEAPON Black Dragon dominated the entire fight and for at least two minutes if not longer it prevented Minotaur from landing any meaningful hits. Absolutely amazing driving from Black Dragon and that’s saying a lot because we know how well Minotaur is handled. But… Black Dragon did this same exact shit when fighting Texas Twister. Were you doofuses not paying attention to that one or something? Black Dragon did catch fire in that fight, but so did Texas Twister. They were even. Black Dragon spent the entire second half of that battle forcing Texas Twister to read the foundry markings on the wall and it still lost. If Black Dragon had gotten the win it deserved in that fight it would’ve been 2-0 before the Desperado and would not have had any reason to show up to this fucking thing.
But, saltiness aside, Black Dragon still gets the last laugh in the end because as Joao Cavalheiro and his team hold the Giant Bolt aloft to the cheering of the crowd they officially become the first team to qualify for the main tournament. Their final seeding for the event isn’t revealed in this episode but if last year is anything to go by I’d assume Black Dragon will take the 9th seed because that’s where Lock-Jaw was placed in the rankings after winning the same event last season. “The top of the bottom half.”
WINNER: Black Dragon, Judges’ Decision (3-0)
So Black Dragon is officially out of the season for now. We’ll see it again once we reach the main tournament but that’s probably going to be in a few weeks because this is only episode 8 out of 16 for the season so chances are there’s probably another four or five Fight Night episodes to go. You might be wondering what happens to the seven robots who didn’t win the Desperado. As Chris Rose explains, they just go straight back into the Fight Night meat grinder. “Competing in the Desperado event” counted as the equivalent of one fight last year. I don’t know if that’s how it works again this season but if it does everybody who lost should have at least one more battle ahead of them because counting the Desperado as one fight doesn’t put anyone at four. Honestly though for a few of these robots we’ve probably seen the end of their runs for the year. We might see them again in their last Fight Night bouts but I don’t think someone like End Game or Captain Shrederator is going to qualify even if they destroy their opponents so badly that they become unrecognizable corpses. Lucky still has two fights to go so anything can happen there, but I don’t have high hopes for it either. The only robot who might stand a chance if it wins its fourth fight is Minotaur.
You may have noticed this article is lacking the usual “Science Channel Exclusive” section. Yeah, about that… Science Channel’s broadcasting schedule has been about a week behind Discovery’s for most of the season so far because of programming changes stemming from July 4th weekend. BattleBots Update follows the Science Channel airings of the show because they are the “complete” editions when you factor in those bonus battles. By proxy, I’ve technically been a week behind because Science Channel is a week behind. Unfortunately the “mid-season break” that we were supposed to get only applies to Science Channel so the version of this episode that includes the extra fight isn’t going to air for quite some time. I really don’t want BattleBots Update to fall that far behind the Discovery Channel airings so from this point onward these articles will be dropping their extra sections. Since I am already planning on writing “What Got Cut” articles for unaired battles I’m just going to go ahead and have an extra article consisting only of the Science Channel bonus fights for episodes 8 through 16. Don’t worry, nothing is going to slip through the cracks. I will still be able to let you know that Extinguisher is a piece of shit.
Thank you for hanging out this week! It’s all downhill from here, except it really isn’t because even when the season wraps there are still a few articles for me to write. Be sure to follow BattleBots Update on Facebook to know when those are posted, and if you’d like to help support this project I have a Patreon page for monthly pledges and a PayPal link for one-off donations. Thank you all so much for your support over the years!