[BattleBots: Bounty Hunters is available on Discovery+.]
Boy did I sure pick a bad time to rewind the clock and revisit Bounty Hunters! BattleBots has been posting some teasers of the 2021 season’s post-season content and meanwhile I’m over here writing about last year’s post-season stuff. My apologies if I got your hopes up initially with the episode 1 article. Had I done this when these episodes were new we wouldn’t be dealing with this confusion. However what’s done is done and at least we’re working through the episodes now rather than later. Or never. (I know I still missed the Robot Wars “world championship” that happened after series 10. Don’t think I forgot about that. That shit keeps me up at night.)
So we’re getting into the thick of Bounty Hunters and thus far all of the bounties have been taken down. Rotator battled its way up to Bronco and with a god shot managed to fuck up Bronco’s mighty flipping arm so we never got to see any flips during the whole fight. Skorpios brawled through the bracket to reach Icewave and although its weapon did fuck all for the entire episode its mighty plow once again proved to be Icewave’s detriment because the gasoline menace couldn’t land a killing blow and was pushed around to all the Pulverizers which smashed its engine. But now it’s time for Tombstone and if there’s anyone who can hold its bounty it’s the King of Kinetic Energy, Ray Billings.
We’ve got eight robots on deck to try and go for a shot at the king. Those robots include Gemini (for some reason), Jackpot, SMEE, Claw Viper, Kraken, and Mammoth. Gruff is also in the fray and we know Gruff has what it takes to tackle the king so if Gruff can make a line drive for the bounty hunter title we might see a repeat of the last time these two robots fought except the opposite might happen when it comes to the victor. Deadlift is also back for some reason despite losing in the Bronco bracket. Guess the team patched up that hunk of crap and think they can fight Tombstone.
GRUFF vs. GEMINI
As Kenny Florian introduces Gruff he points out that Gruff’s flamethrowers output at 3,600 degrees. Just in case you guys thought I was fucking with you when I said those booty blasters were putting out 3,000+ on the Fahrenheit scale now you have official confirmation from Kenny that Gruff is, in fact, a motherfucker. Everyone else’s flamethrowers are shit compared to Gruff’s but the problem with a flamethrower weapon is you have to pin someone for it to be effective. We know Gruff can take the hits but it’s going to come down to control of the fight. Also it’s nice to see that even though we’re in the post-season Gruff’s team never fixed their fucking lifting forks and one of them is still bent up and not riding on the floor. I definitely think Gruff has what it takes to win this match but god damn it you guys are going a great job of undermining that.
Gemini is a robot that can’t win fights. I guess on paper it’s a nice idea and we’ve been over it a dozen times because despite this robot’s atrocious win/loss record it still gets a lot of camera time. It’s two robots that fight together except they can’t stop hitting each other and knocking each other out. Ace Schelander’s solution for this is simple: just make Gemini one robot. Yes, there is only one part of this multibot participating in the battle. Gemini has an armor configuration the team has named “big boy pants” that effectively takes one robot and beefs it up from a middleweight to a heavyweight. Normally this is what I’d expect to see when fighting a robot with a devastating spinning weapon. Not Gruff. But… whatever. You do you, Gemini.
The arena light goes green and both bots sit in their squares for a couple of seconds before starting the fight. Come on, it’s Gruff and Gemini; there’s nothing substantial on the line here. Just fight. Gemini eventually gets its blade going while Gruff raises up its forks to plow into Gemini head on and slow its weapon down. I assume this is because Gruff doesn’t want Gemini thrashing its lifting arms but if that’s the case we’re a little late to that party considering the state of Gruff’s fucking lifter coming into this fight. Again, no replacements in the pits? Y’all get hours to work on these bots and you can’t just take the forks off and at least whack it with a hammer? Park a truck on top of them? Gruff isn’t so much driving around as it is permanently drifting. Someone on the transmitter needs to make sure they’re not holding the “R” button down. This ain’t Mario Kart.
Gruff finally gets underneath Gemini proper and goes for a line drive into the wall with the flames going full blast. Afterwards Sam McAmis tells his teammate in control of the lifter to “watch the forks”. Like I said, it’s a little late for that bub. Gruff gets one fiery pin and then another, both times Gemini is left smoking after the fire shuts off. 125 pounds of extra armor but it’s not worth shit if Gruff’s flamethrowers can still get into the cracks and heat things up. Also again I ask why the fuck did Gemini bulk up for this fight? Gruff’s a fucking tank the proper response would’ve been to run both robots and just cross your fingers that they don’t smash into each other.
Anyways, Gruff lines up another wall shot on Gemini and the robot flips through the air and lands on top of the Pulverizer because the guy operating it was like four seconds too early on the draw. This is Gruff’s Pulverizer so it just stays down either because there’s a 250 pound robot sitting on top of it or because the operator is holding the button down. Whatever the case Gemini is completely high centered on the hammer and it’s not coming down from there. Curiously Kenny says Gruff’s team has “no obligation to move the Pulverizer”. This must’ve changed because in the 2021 season when we saw Minotaur blow End Game to fucking pieces Minotaur’s team used the Pulverizer to pin End Game to the ground and they were told to let off on the hammer beyond a certain point. We’re watching BattleBots evolve before our very eyes!
Also Gemini loses!
WINNER: Gruff, KO
SMEE vs. MAMMOTH
Up next is a battle of gimmick versus gimmick. We have the biggest robot versus the widest one. Mammoth is a design that’s a handful to deal with. It’s weapon is a large rotary lifting arm powered by the same kind of motor that runs Tombstone’s weaponry so you know what kind of muscle we’re dealing with here. It’s been responsible for some surprise victories, including several this season, but usually most of the time a Mammoth fight ends with the robot’s wheels getting pulled off or it throws its weapon chain or whatever. It lost to Hypershock by getting flipped over and had its battery box sliced into and destroyed so it’s a miracle that Mammoth is even here to begin with. Does Mammoth have what it takes to beat Tombstone? I think the bigger question is does Mammoth even have what it takes to beat SMEE?
SMEE is a newcomer this season and you’ve gotta appreciate the balls on Joe Fabiani to basically weaponize a jump rope and throw it into the arena. SMEE is fourteen goddamned feet wide and features the ability to wrap around opponents and then hit them with the spinners mounted on SMEE’s front corners. The robot “worked” against Sharko earlier in the season though that battle was one where both robots were working out their new kinks. Pain Train smashed SMEE to pieces and then P1 manhandled this thing and slung it around the fucking Battlebox. It’s hard to say who stands to claim the upper hand in this fight because both of these robots are basically “wouldn’t it be cool if” entries so I’m not even going to hypothesize a winner. Surprise me.
The first thing that happens in this fight is Mammoth’s front prong things stab the giant decal wrap on SMEE and fuck it up. That’s par for the course. Wherever you got those wraps made Joe you paid way too much. SMEE is attempting to control the center of the box so it can swing itself around wide and wrap around Mammoth. It gets an early hit on Mammoth’s left wheel and if you look at the tire you’ll see the inner foam core exposed so SMEE’s already doing damage with those paltry little discs; they pack more of a punch than you might assume. Every once in a while Mammoth lands a decent shot on SMEE that either ejects the robot or tosses it away but SMEE’s so fucking big that Mammoth can’t really do anything to it except peel more of the decal off.
It takes about a minute into the fight but Mammoth finally somehow lands the hit it needs and rolls SMEE backwards as the robot comes at it straight on. This hit throws SMEE back and causes it to land upside down. All this really does it make SMEE’s discs hit higher up and maybe that inverse slope on SMEE’s front end will act as a foothold for Mammoth’s weapon but that’s yet to be determined. SMEE wraps around Mammoth again and Mammoth goes for the flip but given SMEE’s awkward displacement of weight Mammoth winds up flipping itself over causing Joe Fabiani to lose his shit in the drivers’ booth. Mammoth rights itself but in a matter of seconds goes for another flip and winds right back up on its ass.
Mammoth can self right, we’ve seen it do it once already, but if you pay attention to Mammoth’s weapon you’ll notice one side of it has had one of the pipes come loose from the end cap. Even worse is either from stress or SMEE hitting it there’s a ding in one of the other parts of the arm’s tubing so as Mammoth spins its weapon against the ground it just starts falling apart and throwing pipes and shit all over the arena. Ricky Willems is convinced he can show “controlled movement” by riding on the remains of his robot’s weapon and one of its wheels and I guess this is fine for a while but the refs conveniently notice that Mammoth is “knocked out” with about 12 seconds left on the clock so rather than let the fight go to the judges, where SMEE probably would’ve won anyways, the ref counts out Mammoth and sends it packing.
Let’s be real here, neither of these robots have what it takes to face Tombstone. We know with the gift of future sight that Mammoth and Tombstone meet in 2021 and thanks to shitty application of the rules Mammoth loses, but still this particular version of Mammoth with the plastic covering its motors and all that is just asking for a massacre.
WINNER: SMEE, KO
DEADLIFT vs. JACKPOT
Gee Deadlift, how come mom lets you be in two bounty brackets? Deadlift is a robot we’ve already seen this season as well as in these special bounty episodes. Deadlift was in last week’s post where the target was Icewave and the robot performed respectably well against its opponent Ghost Raptor. I’d even go as far as to say Deadlift was the clear winner… until the robot shit the bed and broke down with less than a minute to go on the clock. Deadlift was out but we got to see a little bit of what this robot was capable of on a moderately good day. Last time around Deadlift’s lifting arm got all bent up by Ghost Raptor so if the team isn’t careful I can see Jackpot doing exactly that again.
Jackpot isn’t someone you want to fuck with. This is a robot that managed to run undefeated in the Fight Night qualifiers this season after wins over SubZero, Ghost Raptor, and Lock-Jaw. Yeah, when it comes to Ghost Raptor this robot was able to do what Deadlift couldn’t follow through on; Jackpot busted Ghost Raptor’s chassis wide open and caused the robot to do the splits and flash its balls on national television. Even more impressive is the robot’s win over Lock-Jaw because even though that robot has been on a downward trend Donald Hutson’s machine is still no push over. Both of these robots are rookies this year but Jackpot definitely had the better showing.
Jackpot’s weapon is up to near top speed before the bots can even collide in the center of the arena, however when the robots do wind up smacking into each other Jackpot’s ground clearance is taken advantage of and Deadlift sends it for a ride. At the start of the season Jackpot had four really long forks on its front end but they got torn up while fighting SubZero and wound up becoming a potential liability so the team just ditched them for the rest of the season; that’s why they’re gone for this fight too. I’m not saying the forks would’ve made a world of difference but there’s a chance they could’ve prevented Jackpot from doing a monster truck jump over Deadlift and landing hard on its ass. Deadlift swings around wide and comes at Jackpot again this time getting its lifting arm involved but failing to really do much with it as Jackpot slides off the arm and lands back on the ground again.
Jackpot manages to gyro turn into Deadlift’s front end and start chewing at the lifting arm but all this accomplishes is knocking loose a chunk of the center panel, there’s no twisting or contorting of the arm like we saw with Ghost Raptor even though you know Jackpot probably hits a lot fucking harder. Deadlift sweeps under Jackpot again and delivers the robot straight to the screws weapon first and the impact visibly fucks up one of the screw control boxes. Like, the box is warped and it looks like the thick polycarbonate cracks and splits apart. I don’t think Ghost Raptor can damage the arena like that so yeah Jackpot is definitely packing more heat than Deadlift’s last opponent. But speaking of packing heat it looks like this detour into the side of the goddamned arena has caused Jackpot to make like Ghost Raptor and lose its stupid weapon.
Now a sitting duck Jackpot has no recourse for toughing out a win in this fight. In fact the robot is completely screwed seconds after its weapon is killed when Deadlift throws Jackpot onto its back and then sits there roasting the slot machine spinner for a solid ten seconds. Jackpot has a srimech but it seems to only work from one direction meaning it’s a piece of shit and it just so happens Jackpot is tipped onto the side that the device doesn’t work from. That blast of dragon’s breath from Deadlift has also left the weapon belts or something on Jackpot burning because the robot is visibly on fire so if the spinners weren’t already dead they’d sure as shit be toast now. Pun not intended but pointed out.
Deadlift finally manages to see a fight through to a proper end and score one of those sweet BattleBots “WINNER” medallions. Well done… just like Jackpot.
WINNER: Deadlift, KO
KRAKEN vs. CLAW VIPER
Here’s a battle between two robots with similar designs: Kraken and Claw Viper. Kraken opened this season with a bullshit split decision loss to Black Dragon. Matt Spurk was unwilling to accept that nonsense so he dialed his robot up to 11 for his next match which was against Witch Doctor. Kraken just straight up bit down on Witch Doctor’s weaponry and was formidable enough to win a unanimous decision. Then Kraken moved on to fight Huge and basically got decapitated when Huge’s blade just absolutely Kurt Cobain’d Kraken’s upper head. Despite losing the fight Kraken still qualified for the main tournament however Sawblaze was waiting there to finish what Huge started. Amazingly Kraken was able to be put back together for Bounty Hunters and now here it is.
Claw Viper is alleged to be the fastest robot in the field because builder Kevin Milczewski essentially dumped all his available stat points into “agility” and saved nothing for anything else. The result is a robot that can make it across the box at top speed in like two seconds flat though it came with the cost of not being the most durable machine on the planet. Claw Viper lost the use of its weapon while fighting Hijinx but was able to do enough sweet kickflips off of its opponent to knock it out but Black Dragon was another story altogether; Black Dragon smashed the fuck out of this thing until it literally caught fire and died in the corner. Because the producers like setting up hilarious mismatches Claw Viper’s final qualifier was against shell spinner Gigabyte and, well, let’s just appreciate the fact that Kevin and his crew were able to pull off a Kraken and fix their robot for Bounty Hunters.
Peter Abrahamson geeks out for thirty seconds, his words, about Claw Viper’s weapon before the fight starts and showcases how all with one motor and motion the robot can clamp down and lift up. Okay. Impressive, but when the fight starts and Claw Viper starts missing these clamps it almost seems like the weapon is engineered to follow through even when the shot’s a dud, like there’s no way to just stop mid-clamp and just reverse the motion and reset. Each miss wastes about a second for Claw Viper which doesn’t sound like a whole lot of time but when your robot is all about being the fastest shitbox in the arena you’re going to spend a lot of time in your opponents’ faces so being able to reset on a flop is paramount. Regardless Claw Viper whiffs the first couple grapples before smashing head on into Kraken and getting the grapple on Kraken’s face that Kevin said he wanted. The unfortunate other side to this coin is that Kraken also gets to bite down on Claw Viper’s face with all 60,000 pounds of force and hold it there while breathing fire onto it.
Claw Viper is stuck; all it can do at this point is swat at Kraken’s face with its upper grappling arm and that’s not doing any damage it’s just letting Kenny Florian make more jokes about having his food served well done. Too late Kenny I already made that pun in this article. The two bots stay locked together for the full allocated 30 seconds it seems because when you’re Kraken this is how you win fights. I don’t profess myself to be an expert in metallurgy but when you’ve got 30 tons of crushing power behind that jaw how do you NOT pierce or at the very least warp the chassis of your opponent? That’s four and a half fully grown African elephants sitting on your robot. You’d think that would at least buckle a fucking axle or something. Kraken has to let go but before it does so it tries to throw Claw Viper under the arena hammer for a cheap shot but it misses because Claw Viper is too fast and the hammer takes like a minute to wind up.
Claw Viper gets a nice reversal on Kraken as soon as it’s free by flipping the beast over but these are minor points scored and Kraken is immediately back on its wheels and right on Claw Viper’s ass to even the playing field. Even worse Claw Viper manages to hit Kraken at such an awkward angle that it busts off its left stabilizing strut meaning now Claw Viper can’t ground itself while lifting. Surely this won’t come back to bite the snake in the ass later. Wait, correct that, it does come back to bite Claw Viper in the ass because Claw Viper goes for a suplex grab and flips forward right on that corner where it lost its brace. Kevin still cheers from the drivers’ booth even though his attack effectively did fuck all. Claw Viper goes in for round 2 and again the snake topples forward after lifting Kraken a little ways into the air. This second attempt also opens Claw Viper up to yet another bite from Kraken who digs right in and goes for the fire attack. It also appears that one of the cross bars from Claw Viper’s lifting forks has come loose.
Kraken again goes for the Pulverizer strat but manages to whack itself instead which dents in the front of the robot’s face. Nice work Matt what’s next driving over the Killsaws to flatten your tires? Claw Viper is literally burning rubber at this point as it drives against Kraken’s influence and tips the robot forward with the one lifting claw it has left that isn’t all bent backward or just straight up fucking missing. Props to Claw Viper for hanging in there but with a weapon that’s in the process of falling apart I can’t see these tables turning any time soon. Kraken gets a side shot on Claw Viper and bites down into the robot’s right side of drive and it looks like one of Claw Viper’s drive belts comes loose over near its dead minibot. That’s just all damage from Kraken’s tooth just flossing down inside that cavity in Claw Viper’s chassis.
The ten count appears on screen to note the end of this fight and as Kraken continues to blow fire out onto Claw Viper it leaves a dominant image with the judges who score the fight favorably for the crusher. Good luck fighting SMEE.
WINNER: Kraken, Judges’ Decision (3-0)
DEADLIFT vs. GRUFF
You ever play Street Fighter against a buddy and you both pick the same dude? Yeah that’s kind of what’s happening here because this is “lifter with a flamethrower” versus “lifter with a flamethrower”. The big difference here is that one of these bots is toting the flamethrower to end all fire-based weapons in BattleBots and the other is just a BBQ lighter fluid spitter. Deadlift managed to upset the favored Jackpot in a quick and dominant knock out that saw the Las Vegas spin bot smashed, crashed, and left in the trash. Gruff on the other hand managed to eliminate Gemini in the weirdest way possible: getting it stuck behind the Pulverizer. I should also point out Gemini was fighting as one robot wearing a heavy ass suit of armor for some reason and not its usual two part multibot configuration. Gemini just finds the most creative ways to lose I swear.
Deadlift appears to be good at one thing and one thing only and that’s making opponents bounce off of its front end and jump in the air. Gruff gets deflected probably because it’s still using bent fucking lifting forks and its wedge is recessed much further back than Deadlift’s is. Deadlift goes for a lift and misses, Gruff goes for a lift but doesn’t have any purchase on its opponent. Gruff is also still driving like its entire underside is coated in Pam cooking spray. Deadlift pins Gruff against the wall and with a tight maneuver gets Gruff flipped onto its side and very nearly out of the arena. Gruff’s plastic underbelly is exposed and if Deadlift knew what was good for it it’d light this fight the fuck up and attack Gruff’s baseplate with fire. This is Gruff’s only real weak point and mashing a lifting arm down onto it’s not going to achieve anything of merit.
Gruff gets out of a bad situation and spins away to try and dominate the center of the box. Deadlift follows in pursuit and gets another glancing lift in. Gruff lights one of its flamethrowers marking the first time we’re seeing fire in this fight and Gruff doesn’t even have Deadlift in its grasp yet. I’m assuming this is being done to prime the flamethrowers because the team’s getting ready for a big play but their plans are foiled by the Killsaws popping up out of the floor randomly. At first I thought this was Gruff’s fork sinking into the slot and hitting the saws in their retracted state (they’re always spinning even when they’re not popping up) but then I see the saws coming up out of the floor elsewhere. Chris Rose tries to pass it off as another “malfunction” of the hazard. Once is a malfunction, Chris. Twice is a problem. Either turn the saws on for all fights or make sure whoever is supposed to start them with a minute left on the clock isn’t an incompetent moron.
Deadlift smashes into Gruff and lifts its arm all the way back as far as it’ll go and gets another good lift on its opponent. The arm stays pointed backward when Gruff gets away however which doesn’t bode well for Deadlift. Deadlift continues to be the aggressor though and pushes against Gruff sideways while blowing fire at it. Guys, your chance for fire damage was like a minute ago and you fucked it up. This isn’t going to do anything. Both robots break and Deadlift goes in for the ram thinking its front wedge will still negate Gruff’s crappy bent up forks. Not this time. Gruff gets underneath Deadlift for the first time this match and slams the robot into the wall in such a way that causes Deadlift to flip over and the editors to drop in Kenny’s “geez!” voice clip.
There’s clearly something wrong with Deadlift’s lifting arm otherwise it would’ve retracted like 15 seconds ago so whatever’s wrong with it has left it stuck open. Deadlift is also capable of righting itself with its arm but not when said arm is busted open and not moving. Gruff stays alert even while Deadlift is counted down, but the fight is called and Gruff advances on buckled forks and all.
WINNER: Gruff, KO
SMEE vs. KRAKEN
This is the semifinals of the bounty bracket and one robot I wasn’t exactly expecting to see here is SMEE. Nothing against Joe Fabiani or anything, I just don’t see a real contender in this robot. This is a bot that’s good at breaking design conventions but ultimately “just hitting it” is enough to score a win against it. Tell that to Mammoth though, who lost a fight with this robot after SMEE’s cutting wheels ripped out a chunk of Mammoth’s tire and banged up its rotary lifting arm to the point of failure. If SMEE can get those discs running at a good speed and keep them there it might stand a chance. Kraken seems to be the bot to beat coming into this round; Kraken is coming down from its high of beating Claw Viper and it really didn’t sustain much damage in that match. I don’t foresee it sustaining much damage here either unless SMEE whips out some crazy bullshit no one’s yet to see.
Kraken knows there’s really no use in trying to get around to the sides of SMEE because the robot is basically a bigger version of one of those Skip-It toys from the 90’s and no matter what either end of it is going to be out of reach. Kraken instead just sorta goes for the middle and SMEE whips around and whacks Kraken on the ass a couple of times. Neither hit seemed like it did any damage at all to Kraken but there are some sparks thrown around when Kraken finally takes one too many ass shots and spins around in place to bite at SMEE. SMEE keeps spinning around in center court because its game plan is to just get its opponent to ride along its side and get whacked. I see the Killsaws pop up. I assume that just “another malfunction”. Look, are they just “on” for bounty hunter fights or something? Is that a modification to the rules? I haven’t been paying that close of attention to the Killsaws because I literally never see them ever so forgive me for not knowing this.
SMEE eventually whips around and throws one of its drive pods straight into Kraken’s mouth. There’s a hell of a racket as the spinning disc collides with Kraken’s armor and as Kraken bites down it rips the 3D printed sloped chunk of armor right off of SMEE’s side. All that’s left is what looks like a block of fucking wood that this was mounted to. Kraken is now behind SMEE and this is where it wants to be because SMEE only flexes one way; it’s rigid from the back. The best Kraken can muster from this attack is peeling like the entire goddamned “SMEEEEEEEEE” decal of off the front of the robot. Did you know it was an inverse cutout decal? Me either! SMEE continues to spin around in the center of the Battlebox deflecting all blows that come its way until Kraken finally gets a hold on SMEE’s left side and just lets loose with the teeth.
There’s an audible pop as SMEE’s top armor flexes under Kraken’s crushing force and one tooth stays on the AR500 steel armor that Joe mentioned before the fight and the other hits behind the plate of armor and digs into the robot. Kraken is now in the middle of the box swinging SMEE around like a fucking lariat and eventually bashes the right drive pod of SMEE into the screws where SMEE’s weapon takes a blow and stops working. Matt Spurk tells his teammate to get ready on the hammer assuming he’s going to be able to eyeball exactly how far away he needs to be to slingshot SMEE’s drive pod under the fucking hazard. As I’m sure you’re surprised to see, Kraken misses. But Kraken has to let go of SMEE as per the rules on holding so SMEE is free to go until Kraken comes in and bites down between the tires of the awkward robot. We’ve seen from previous fights like SMEE vs. P1 that there are some shitty 3D printed gears or whatever running this robot’s drive system so Kraken may very well chew through these if it’s lucky.
Kraken seems to have not pinched a drive gear so SMEE is able to get away fully mobile but it doesn’t stay mobile for long because Kraken has had enough of this shit. It backs up and then floors it forward and shoves SMEE into its maw right in the center of the robot. Kraken bites down and doesn’t know what to do with SMEE so it just drives all over the place trying to get the drive pods into the screws and even backing into the corner at one point to see if forcing SMEE to flex in the other direction could break it. SMEE holds firm though and the fight goes to the judges.
Believe it or not this one’s a split decision despite Kraken’s dominance in the ring. I guess all those deflections and hits from SMEE were enough to impress one judge, but not two because the match is scored for Kraken.
WINNER: Kraken, Judges’ Decision (2-1)
GRUFF vs. KRAKEN
We’re now at the bounty bracket finals. The winner of this match will advance onward to face Tombstone for a chance at a chunk of change from the $25,000 prize purse. Gruff has gotten here with back to back knock outs which seems somehow implausible for a robot with no real way of disabling opponents. That’s because Gemini wound up stuck behind one of the arena hammers and Deadlift’s weapon died and it got flipped over. A win is a win. Meanwhile coming into this match looking like a dollar store Warhead is Kraken whose aluminum foil outfit is supposed to be a “fire suit” the joke of course being Gruff’s flamethrowers can output heat in excess of 3,000 degrees so you’d need a suit to get close to it. Kraken out-grappled Claw Viper in its first fight and we just saw it defeat SMEE in a close heated battle a second ago so there’s no point in really recapping that one.
For as stupid as Kraken looks in this fight it’s still Kraken so we know what those teeth can do. Gruff finds out in the opening seconds of the fight when Kraken bites down on Gruff’s left flamethrower and doesn’t let go. There’s nothing in the way of the flamethrower that’ll take damage if Gruff cranks it up so we don’t see any flames yet just Gruff thwacking its lifting arm back and forth in a fruitless effort to break free of Kraken’s grip. All this lifting arm swinging does sort of pay off in a funny way though because Gruff smashes the crap out of Kraken’s little narwhal buddy. We hardly ever see that minibot do anything in the arena so to see it get trashed is amusing and also gives the team something to work on in the pits since Kraken seems so impervious to damage. The ref tells Kraken to release and Kraken complies and literally as soon as this happens Gruff stabs the upper jaw of Kraken and tries to heave it over.
Gruff eventually gets underneath Kraken and does one of its trademark “drive your sorry ass across the box while torching you” moves that ends with Kraken nearly getting its skull caved in by the Pulverizer. Gruff is firing its lifting arm lightning fast and it seems like as long as the forks hit Kraken’s upper jaw there’s a good chance the robot will tip over. Case in point Kraken falls onto its backside and Gruff continues the assault by rolling Kraken over sideways. Usually Kraken can self right from this position but for some reason the robot is stuck and is just rolling around on one wheel. Even the hosts are confused. Gruff torches Kraken for a second but it looks like it’s really trying to draw a count out. Eventually the ref obliges and manages to get to “10” before Kraken gets back onto its wheels and the countdown stops.
Kraken tries to make up for lost ground by smashing Gruff into the red square screws but Gruff quickly course corrects and takes Kraken into the wall before lighting it on fire. This time Gruff holds the flame steady long enough for Kraken to start visibly fucking smoking from the heat. Amazingly Kraken still seems like it’s working. Maybe the jaw is dead because I’m not seeing much action from it but the robot itself is still fully mobile. Gruff catches Kraken by the upper jaw and parades it around for a few seconds before slamming it into the wall again with another fiery crash. Kraken tries to get a bite in the waning seconds of this fight but nothing happens from it and as the clock winds down you can see how warped and distorted the plastic armor of Kraken’s upper head is from that sustained blow it took from Gruff near the end of the fight. This is the kind of damage Deadlift could’ve done to Gruff’s underside if it just activated its flamethrower when it had the chance in the semifinals.
This is another match that goes to the judges though unlike the previous one it’s not a split and there’s a pretty clear winner here.
WINNER: Gruff, Judges’ Decision (3-0)
TOMBSTONE vs. GRUFF
This was an awkward year for Ray Billings and Tombstone. Often seen as a dying star in BattleBots this season was perhaps one of its worst with an immediate KO loss to eventual champions End Game. Tombstone was then fed Slap Box to bolster its score in the qualifiers but when Skorpios came knocking it was out for blood and Skorpios managed to rip a fucking wheel off of Tombstone and shove it up the robot’s ass. Still, Tombstone qualified for the main tournament and was able to take down Mad Catter before being stopped dead in its tracks by Black Dragon. There’s no denying that Tombstone is one of the kings; after all this is the 2016 champion here. But does Tombstone have enough gas in its tank to defend its title in a bounty fight? Gruff doesn’t think so; the team enters this battle without their forks and in their place is a massive chain-cutting sword attachment. Gruff is through fucking around. These robots met in the 2019 season and it ended poorly for Gruff, it’s time to correct the record.
Surprisingly Gruff is coming at Tombstone with its sword lowered. My assumption was it was going to lead in with the heavy plow, slow Tombstone down, and then drop the blade and see if it can jam it down Tombstone’s throat to yank its guts out but no Sam McAmis is going whole hog with this thing and he’s using it like a literal fucking broadsword even though it looks like some shit from World of Warcraft. Gruff is taking every shot to the face like a champ and Tombstone is happy to dole out blow after blow. Look at the sparks that come off of these hits and you’ll see how so many of them linger on the floor for a moment. These are literal shavings of metal that have become super heated by these impacts. That’s how balls out fucking insane this fight already is and Gruff’s fantasy sword is still looking mostly straight. Kinda like me I guess.
Gruff slams into Tombstone and clamps down with its sword and takes the killer spinner into the wall. Now here’s where I’d be expecting Gruff to try and position itself with the sword to slip into Tombstone’s weapon cavity and yank out the chain but unfortunately this blow has left Gruff with a bad case of Peyronie’s disease because that sword is bent the fuck up now. (Also I just want to point out that my word processor thinks “Peyronie’s” is spelled wrong and wants to replace it with “Pepperoni’s disease” and that’s fucking hilarious.) Another power shot seems to finish off the sword and wraps it completely around meaning Gruff will have to fight as a massive immovable object. Right now though it’s taking cheap shots to its sides which isn’t good because although the robot is armored like a goddamned tank its wheels are still relatively close to the outside of the robot and there’s an entire drive system there that can be damaged by Tombstone’s hellacious blade.
Long before Uppercut made it cool to blow up your opponents’ fuel tanks Tombstone was doing it first because Gruff takes a hit to its front corner and its flamethrower lets loose one massive fireball which consisted of all of its fuel all at once. That’s the flamethrowers out and the sword thing out so now Gruff really does have no choice but to fight like the world’s nastiest wedge in an event where fighting like a wedge doesn’t impress the judges one bit. Tombstone needs to self-destruct and kill itself. It looks like Gruff might get that wish because smoke does start to come up out of Tombstone but I’m not sure what’s cooking because both the drive and weapon are still running so it’s not immediately obvious.
Tombstone needs to wrap this one up quick and mercifully Gruff is starting to peter out. It’s struggling to move and all those hits to its side are adding up. Ray asks if they’re going to count Gruff out showing that yes the rules on movement have always been a trash fire. Tombstone cruises in for a few more blows and rips a chunk of tire off of one of Gruff’s back wheels before the ref finally starts to count the floundering lifter out. It’s just sad to watch. Gruff is still trying to move and it coughs up a drive chain and everything. These are the effects of taking too many side shots from Tombstone like I said earlier; all that fragile shit is right at Gruff’s sides and Tombstone nailed it. The whole robot is just a write-off by this point. The ref finishes his KO count and Gruff is eliminated, failing to get revenge in its rematch against the king and failing to win part of the bounty prize.
WINNER: Tombstone, KO
So because Tombstone won – the first robot to successfully defend its bounty – does that mean Ray gets some of the pot? Or no? Because we wouldn’t even have Bounty Hunters if it weren’t for Tombstone. Back in the 2019 season when the producers were trying all sorts of special and exhibition fights one of the match-ups that was listed on the fight cards was a “bounty” match with Tombstone. The other participant wasn’t filled in because I assume production was thinking someone would take the offer so the fight was listed with only one bot (Tombstone) as a placeholder. Back then it was $1,000 to fight Tombstone and win. No one accepted the offer and the special bout never happened. I guess they just needed to dial up the prize money and I suppose making a miniature Desperado-style event out of it wasn’t a bad idea either.
We’re now half way through the inaugural season of Bounty Hunters. So far we’ve seen two bounties claimed and one bounty defended. If no one else wins then I’m guessing that means Rotator and Skorpios each walk away with $12,500 which would be pretty rad. But we’ll see. Future bounties up for grabs are Beta, Son of Whyachi, and Witch Doctor. Yeah I don’t really know why Beta is a bounty either it seems kind of weird. I mean Beta’s not a bad robot… but to make a bounty out of it? Oh well, we’ll find out who’s on the wanted poster next week so stick around for that.
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See you next week!