It’s time to start a new category here on BattleBots Update! Last season gave us the “between seasons hiatus” spin-off Bounty Hunters where aspiring challengers set their sights on some of the legends of the reboot era for a chance at sharing a large cash prize purse. This most recent season (#11 if you’re keeping track) has given us something called Champions, a miniseries similar in vein to Bounty Hunters with one major difference: the winners of the miniature brackets all advance onward to an eight-player tournament filled with reigning and former champions to see who’s really the best and who gets to take home the newest BattleBots trophy… The Giant Golden Bolt.
Yeah, there’s already a Giant Bolt award – several of them – so in order to differentiate this new one from the others BattleBots had to make it gold and sparkly. It reminds me of the golden Giant Nut prop from the Comedy Central era of BattleBots, the one you’d occasionally see in B-roll when the hosts would throw to commercial break. According to BattleBots themselves that prop nut has been lost to time and no one knows what happened to it. Someone at First Television (the show’s original production company) probably walked off with it. To a collector that would be worth a fortune. Anyways there’s already a Giant Nut and a Giant Bolt, and I laid claim to the Giant Washer, so BattleBots had to dust off a spare bolt and spray paint it gold for this television event.
The way this works is simple. We’re going to have five episodes of mini tournaments similar to Bounty Hunters where the winners face off against a “boss” robot. These bosses are the Bounty Hunter winners from last season. Whoever wins the “boss” battle moves into a pool of eight competitors to fight for the Golden Bolt. Right now there are already three robots who’ve qualified for the Golden Bolt brackets: Tombstone, End Game, and Tantrum. These are all BattleBots champions. Bite Force isn’t present because Paul Ventimiglia took his robot and fucked off to a yacht somewhere. That leaves five open spots to battle for. Five open spots means five episodes of action with the sixth and final episode being the Golden Bolt event proper. Easy.
For this opening episode we’ve got heavy hitters in the form of Hypershock, Valkyrie, and Mad Catter. There are also some control bots in the field such as Duck, Claw Viper, and Defender. Finally rounding off the brackets are a couple of odd ball designs, SMEE and Triple Crown. The robot they’re all vying for a chance to battle is Gigabyte, the deadly shell spinner that exterminated Son of Whyachi in the Bounty Hunter event last season. Gigabyte hit Whyachi hard enough to flip it over. That’s the kind of muscle we’re dealing with here.
DUCK vs. HYPERSHOCK
Up first is a battle between Duck and Hypershock, two robots whose season 11 tournaments panned out way differently. Duck was initially built to be a fucking tank with a big ass steel plow that could rotate a full 360 degrees around the robot. For some reason Hal Rucker decided to “fix” what wasn’t broken and replaced that massive plow with a shitty little duck bill thing that could open and shut. I don’t think it’s intended to work as a clamper; it’s purely a lifter robot. Duck’s ship sank with an 0-3 record this past season after losing to veteran Witch Doctor in a battle where Duck’s front end was mangled and the robot was heaved around the box. Newbies Dragon Slayer and Riptide then took turns exacting their bound of flesh from the waterfowl. In each of these fights Duck’s dumb lifter was splayed open and blown apart by its opponents’ spinning weapons. Hypershock is armed with a spinner of its own. This looks bad for the ducky.
Hypershock is a robot that swings between having good years and bad years. In a good year the robot qualifies for the Round of 32; in a bad year the only win this robot gets is against the fucking hamburger robot. This year was a mixed bag for the deadly highlighter because it exterminated Slammo and Lock-Jaw with extreme prejudice and that was all it took for the team to advance into the Round of 32. Hypershock met P1, a robot who possibly deserved to take Hypershock’s low seeding in season 10, and this is where the tides shifted. Hypershock had the upper hand here but Will Bales got a big dick about the whole fight and accidentally floored it a little too hard sending Hypershock flying off of P1’s wedge only to land upside down rendering its weapon useless in the process. Hypershock would lose this fight and be eliminated from the tournament. However Hypershock showed up to the recent exhibition at Amazon’s re:MARS event and beat Tombstone, Blip, and Hydra to take home the Giant Bolt so who knows what to expect from Hypershock in BattleBots: Champions?
Duck enters this fight with only one of its front “swords”. You might recall it originally had two of them at the start of the season but Witch Doctor snapped one of them off in mere seconds. Looks like that damage never got fixed. This is not the resiliency we know from Duck. Duck comes out crippled but Hypershock has its blades going and it looks like right from the start the teeth aren’t engaging with Duck in a way that does damage. Hypershock attempts three shots on Duck but only one of them seems to have some muscle behind it. Luckily lightning strikes on the fourth attempt as Duck comes cruising in to jam its face into Hypershock’s weaponry; the spinning blades of Hypershock bust a chunk off of Duck’s pathetic lifting wedge and I’ll give you three fucking guesses as to where the weak point on Duck’s bill was. Go on. Guess. Do it. Did you guess “on that weird part that sorta looks like a seam”? If so you’re correct. We are four for four on Duck’s lifting arm snapping in that exact location. How hard is it to just CNC something out of a solid piece of metal? Doesn’t SendCutSend sponsor like 90% of the fucking robots who compete? I think they’d be willing to mill something for Duck on the cheap. You know Hal’s good for it.
So Duck’s mouth has blown apart and that’s probably it for us getting to potentially see anything offensive from the bot. Hypershock backs away and gets its blades spinning again and connects with Duck this time on its heavily armored front end tossing the robot into the air and giving it a light spin. As Hypershock backs away it very nearly fucks this whole fight up because one of its wheels catches the corner of Duck’s chassis and this bumps Hypershock up into a two-wheeled stunt move that very nearly tips the robot over. Luckily Hypershock lands right ways up and is able to continue the assault. Hypershock goes for another retreat to rev up its weapon and comes back in to cleave off the only front fork of Duck. This hit also has a follow through that ends at what’s left of Duck’s bill and blows some more orange shards off of it so now there’s even less of that “weapon” for Duck to work with.
Hypershock continues to bully its opponent around in the blue square and manages to slam Duck into the screws where the robot gets stuck for a few seconds flapping its mouth open and quacking several times. Giving Duck a voice box is both the greatest and stupidest thing Hal decided to do with this machine. Duck wriggles loose from the hazard and tries to stay in the center of the box but Hypershock has some choice words for Duck. I will now quote them: “no”. Hypershock lets loose with an attack on Duck that sends the robot flying into the air as if Hydra were in here trashing shit and when Duck finally lands it’s upside down and one of its wheels are visibly kinked. The wheel hasn’t seized up so it’s not going to be causing any drag but it’s starting to look like Duck might not last to the buzzer of this fight if Hypershock keeps this massacre up.
Despite losing its weapon and having its drive system damaged Duck is still muscling for control of the box. As the two robots dance in the middle of the arena Duck’s gimpy wheel starts to come loose from its mount taking its motor with it. Hypershock lands a shot that spikes Duck across the floor and into one of the spires of the Upper Deck and this is enough to knock the dead wheel loose. Chris Rose thinks Duck has potentially lost two wheels but that’s because he can’t see on account of the dumbest fucking hazard being directly in his line of sight obscuring his view of the action. Hypershock lands another blow that sends Duck spiraling into the red square screws before it starts to smoke from its front end. Hypershock’s weapon continues to spin but it’s lost all muscle now. The weapon motor is cooked with only a minute left in the fight.
Still, Hypershock has easily done enough to win a decision as long as the rest of the robot remains operational. Will Bales starts risking it by continuing to try and spin the weapon if only to show the judges that it still “works”. This is to avoid giving Duck any damage points whatsoever. Hypershock shifts gears into control mode by using its front forks to easily slip underneath Duck and take hold of it for some quality slams into the arena spike strip. The hosts starting talking about needing to conserve your robot for the fights ahead while simultaneously mentioning that Duck might be able to outlast Hypershock. Yeah, in this fucking condition? With ten seconds left on the clock Hypershock takes Duck into the wall one last time and manages to add a little insult to injury by way of the Pulverizer. To the surprise of no one Hypershock is ruled the victor.
WINNER: Hypershock, Judges’ Decision (3-0)
SMEE vs. VALKYRIE
Here to shake up the competition is SMEE, a wedge-like robot with a flexible chassis that allows it to envelop opponents and hit them with its twin spinning discs. Or rather, that’s what SMEE does on a regular day. For this match the robot is entering battle with its locked-down plow configuration because otherwise Valkyrie would snap this thing in two like a fucking Pixy Stick. Ironically this is the same configuration SMEE used to unsuccessfully fight Gigabyte with and that just so happens to be the boss of this tournament bracket so I doubt SMEE’s going to be winning any finals anytime soon. SMEE did have a decent showing against Deep Six earlier in the qualifiers though; Deep Six wound up getting itself caught in the Killsaw slots but this was after SMEE wrapped around Deep Six and hacked off one of its wheels so Deep Six was probably out regardless. SMEE was meant to fight Mad Catter but it couldn’t be repaired in time after fighting Gigabyte so the team had to forfeit the match.
Valkyrie is a robot kind of like Hypershock earlier in that it seems to bounce between having good years and bad years. That’s the emerging pattern. Always a team to try to qualify by any means necessary Valkyrie was actually able to make it into the Round of 32 if only because the robot was given a couple of underhanded pitches to soften the blows. Valkyrie first fought P1 in a match that many had the spinner pegged to win though things took a turn when Valkyrie’s weapon broke down and the robot caught fire. Despite suffering heavy damage P1 was declared the winner. Valkyrie then fought the unfinished Triple Crown in a match that was a complete cakewalk because Triple Crown was immobilized in seconds after Valkyrie fucked up Triple Crown’s expensive looking “swerve drive” wheels. Finally Valkyrie was given Pardon My French as a final qualifier and this match ended in just a few shots when Pardon My French lost drive after taking a massive blow to the face. Valkyrie was tournament bound but was stopped by Blip who threw it into the stratosphere for three full minutes.
Much like Duck before it SMEE enters this fight wearing the battle scars of its previous fights; SMEE is equipped with its more rigid plate steel plow but if you look closely it’s still slightly bent from Gigabyte landing its killer shot that wound up flipping SMEE over. Valkyrie spins up and goes for the kill immediately but for some reason just drives into the middle of SMEE doing absolutely no damage. Guys, you know there’s nothing there, right? Valkyrie’s blade just slips under SMEE’s plow and starts throwing some tasty sparks off of it but there’s literally no damage being done. This is ideal for SMEE I guess because it should be using this time to push back against Valkyrie and shove it into the wall but it’s just not able to control the fight; SMEE’s drivetrain doesn’t have the muscle and even if it did the robot is too floppy even with its rigid plow to be able to cohesively push against another robot’s driving.
Valkyrie might not be doing any damage but neither is SMEE. I know SMEE’s blades aren’t really designed to chop up the steel armor on a robot like Valkyrie but god damn they could at least do something. They were spinning at the start of this fight but now not so much. It’s not like Valkyrie hit something that killed the weapons they’re just not even turned on. Valkyrie is operating on the monkeys and typewriters philosophy here because eventually it’s going to strike gold and when that happens SMEE is fucked. Valkyrie starts sliding around in front of SMEE angling its spinning disc wherever it’ll fit and you know that thing is reaching far enough under SMEE to at least hit the front wheels. Valkyrie lands a hit to the left drive pod of SMEE and if you pay close attention you’ll see the baseplate come loose. Or maybe that’s the top plate since the robot is intentionally inverted for this fight, fuck I don’t know. Point is Valkyrie kicks a panel loose and with a follow up attack knocks it clean off of SMEE meaning its drive motors, batteries, and everything else are exposed on that one side.
During this maneuver Valkyrie also is able to get behind SMEE and start striking the back of the robot absolutely shredding the back left tire on the wobbly plow. SMEE is just taking this punishment like a bitch because it’s basically unresponsive. The robot is still moving around but only barely as Valkyrie continues to pile on the damage. Valkyrie strikes again this time knocking loose the left disc on SMEE which is a predictable outcome since we just saw the anchor plate come loose a second ago. Unless I’m mistaken this is exactly what happened to SMEE last season when Pain Train landed all of one good hit on it before Pain Train’s drum was coughed up out of its mount in the process. Leanne Cushing is seen jovially laughing and encouraging Valkyrie’s driver Fred Moore to just keep hitting SMEE because the robot isn’t technically incapacitated. Valkyrie hopes to change that.
SMEE rolls into the corner of the box and Joe Fabiani has the audacity to try and drop the Pulverizer on Valkyrie as his robot is being slain before his eyes. Bro that’s only going to make Valkyrie madder, don’t do that. Valkyrie continues to have absolutely no chill and swerves around to SMEE’s backside once again and gets ready to jam the knife in. SMEE’s left drive pod takes the brunt of the punishment; this thing has been beaten up so badly that it’s almost come loose from its mount on the fucking plow. There are literally only a few bolts keeping this thing in place now. Valkyrie whips around to SMEE’s right side and destroys the wheels ripping one of them off in the process. SMEE continues to twitch and tries to move but I think Valkyrie’s run at its left side finally knocked it out completely because only the right half of SMEE is responsive and that side is also missing a whole ass wheel so it’s not looking like this robot will be freeing itself from the corner any time soon.
Valkyrie moves on to face Hypershock in a long awaited rematch.
WINNER: Valkyrie, KO
MAD CATTER vs. TRIPLE CROWN
Mad Catter is a robot where the reputation of its builder kind of precedes the robot. Martin Mason is an energetic competitor who adopts a sort of late 1980’s style wrestling kayfabe in interviews and pit segments. The man is perpetually trapped doing a Macho Man Randy Savage impression. His robot was something of a pushover until a season ago when it surprised audiences by going 3-0 in the qualifiers. This season Mad Catter wasn’t as fortunate but it still had a strong showing. Right out of the gate it trampled Yeti leading many to believe we’d be in for another 3-0 season, however SawBlaze was Mad Catter’s second opponent and SawBlaze wasted no time at all hacking the cat apart and ripping its top armor panel off ensuring that the guy who was making that dumb horse sculpture would have plenty of parts for his art project. Mad Catter was supposed to fight SMEE but SMEE dropped out and was replaced by Rampage, a robot that has yet to win a fight in BattleBots. Fortune didn’t shine on Rampage, needless to say. This put Mad Catter through to the tournament… where it lost in the first round to Black Dragon. Are you beginning to see a pattern emerge with these competitors yet?
Todd Mendenhall is a man after one thing: the Giant Nut. He’s won events in both Robot Wars and Robotica so all he needs to complete his literal triple crown is a win at BattleBots to tie things up nicely. That’s also the name of his robot, too: Triple Crown. It’s an ambitious machine that kind of looks like a fidget spinner with blades attached to it. The design might not make much sense but that’s because it has a nonstandard method of locomotion, something called “swerve drive”. Each of its wheels can rotate in place allowing the robot to strafe around or drive in tight circles; think of it as a more complex version of omni-directional wheels like what Shatter has. Triple Crown wasn’t exactly ready for BattleBots but Greg Munson encouraged Todd to compete anyways if only for the experience. You can tell this robot needed a little more time in the oven because in its first and only fight it lost to Valkyrie when one of its wheel pods was splayed open rendering the whole robot immobile.
This fight gets glazed over by the hosts because it was cut for time. It was also cut because there was no fight to be had; Triple Crown died in its starting square much to the dismay of its operator. Mad Catter charged in for an early shot at the start of the fight but when the team realized their opponent was DOA they held off and allowed the referee to count out Triple Crown. Triple Crown arrived to this event underweight and incomplete, a recipe for disaster. It’s also a miracle that Todd was able to put the robot’s drivetrain back together after Valkyrie scrambled it the fuck up. I guess there was still some lingering damage though because the robot must’ve functioned during that “robots activate” twitch test otherwise Triple Crown’s team would’ve known something wasn’t right. Better luck next time. Also next time bring a working robot.
And don’t tempt fate by naming your robot Triple fucking Crown.
WINNER: Mad Catter, TKO
CLAW VIPER vs. DEFENDER
If you remember Complete Control from the early years of BattleBots (or at least the first reboot season) you’ll probably like Claw Viper. It’s not as successful as Complete Control was but it’s pretty much the same design; the robot features two leading wedge forks at its front end and has a grappling arm that it bites down with and then the whole apparatus lifts upwards to raise opponents off of the ground. A few robots have designs like this, actually. The robot is surprisingly fast but this hasn’t translated into success. Claw Viper opened its season with a win over Pardon My French in an untelevised match that was over in seconds just about because Pardon My French can’t drive upside down. The robot had a harder time against Black Dragon when after a stray blow clipped Claw Viper’s back tire the robot lost mobility and smoked itself out. The robot tried to dominate its match with Bloodsport and did a good job of mopping the floor with the spinner but because its weapon was totally destroyed the judges gave the win to Bloodsport. This put Claw Viper at 1-2 and it failed to qualify. Now it’s here to see if it has better luck fighting… uh, fucking Gigabyte potentially.
Defender is in a lot of ways pretty similar to Claw Viper. While introducing Claw Viper I said there were a few robots with that design and as it just so happens here’s another one. Defender is a little different though because its whole chassis pivots upward rather than just the lifting arrangement. Defender actually had four fights this season and still failed to qualify so even though this is from the same team as Whiplash we’re not exactly looking at a real winner here. Defender lost its opening match to Ribbot when the lifter caught a bad angle from the spinner and was thrown up against the arena wall. It rebounded for judges’ decision wins over both Riptide and Retrograde in fights that seemed to go on for what felt like a goddamned eternity and I guess because of the “quality” of these wins the robot didn’t quite make it into the Top 32 so it went into a play-in bout against fellow struggling robot Hydra. Needless to say Hydra slam dunked Defender onto the stupid deck in the arena for a knock out. This eliminated Defender from the competition and allowed Hydra to go on to do such great things as lose to Tantrum in a controversial decision that people still won’t shut the fuck up about to this very day.
Both robots make a dash toward each other almost as if they’re playing a game of chicken. Both robots lose because they wind up smashing head first in the center of the box. This first exchange gives Defender the early upper hand though because Claw Viper loses the ground clearance battle and gets tossed onto its back. Another not as obvious result of this clash is that one of the sides of Claw Viper’s UHMW lifting forks gets deformed in such a way that it makes the forks ride unevenly on the floor. You’ll notice it later but here’s where it happened. Claw Viper is able to right itself by bracing its lifter against the floor and driving backwards but it’s still vulnerable and Defender shoves it into the Upper Deck and its screws. Claw Viper gets away and retreats with Defender in pursuit and Defender almost gets another lift on Claw Viper but hits the Killsaw slots and loses its prey. The two robots dance a bit before Claw Viper winds up snagged on Defender’s forks perpendicularly and the bots start driving against each other’s influence.
Claw Viper floors it and spins Defender around who starts pulling Claw Viper back toward the red square and as Defender slams into the wall its forks get stuck under the spike strip leaving the robot’s bare ass open to a free attack. Claw Viper tries to set up a grapple but dicks it up and instead the edge of its snake head thing barely clips onto Defender’s ass and the robot gets a measly lift before the weight of Defender causes it to slip out of Claw Viper’s grasp. Great fight so far, guys. Really enjoying this one. This isn’t tedious at all. Defender starts hobbling around like it’s got a bad wheel and Claw Viper is still unable to get any purchase on its opponent. It’s almost like Claw Viper’s grappler just doesn’t have the reach necessary to open up wide enough and bite down proper. Either that or the robot just sucks. Defender’s got clearance for days on its clamping jaw and I think it’s a little too open; there’s no reason for it to be ratcheted that far back. This is Claw Viper, not a fucking refrigerator.
Defender gets slammed into the wall by Claw Viper and Defender’s right wheel just sorta pops off. I don’t know how the hubs work on Defender’s seemingly all rubber wheels so I’m going to go out on a limb here and suggest that maybe they don’t work because otherwise the robot would still be fully mobile. Claw Viper finally starts acting like it wants to win this fight and rams Defender into the screws prompting all the judges to stand up and watch because it’s not like they can just infer what’s happening based upon where Defender’s just been stuffed. Defender is pretty much hopeless at this point despite taking the early lead. Claw Viper manages to tip it over backwards in the waning seconds of the fight and the fight ends with Defender not looking so sharp. Chris Rose acts like we don’t know who just won because I guess his job is to be a TV presenter not someone who’s just straight with us.
The judges of course side with Claw Viper. Maybe if Defender’s wheels weren’t shit it could’ve mustered a win but instead it’s the snake bot getting the little “WINNER” medallion.
WINNER: Claw Viper, Judges’ Decision (3-0)
HYPERSHOCK vs. VALKYRIE
The great thing about these self contained “mini tournament” episodes is that I don’t have to do a lot of retreading when it comes to introductory paragraphs because past the first four fights we’re doubling back to bots we’ve already seen. Did I just admit to liking the easy way out? Did I say the quiet part out loud just now? Oh no, I’ve torpedoed my blog! Anyways Hypershock is here after suitably dismantling Duck in a manner similar to what we saw Riptide do back in the main season. Valkyrie crossed paths with SMEE and ripped a few of those letter E’s off of SMEE’s name. You can’t tell in text form though because I refuse to write SMEE’s name with twenty goddamned E’s. This match is actually a rematch from a couple seasons back; Hypershock lunged at Valkyrie right away and tore into the spinner’s face and dug deep into its armor for a decisive quick KO. Can Valkyrie get retribution for this humiliating past loss?
Hypershock goes for the box rush strategy again because it was so effective last time. Valkyrie bounces up into the air and does a twist as its weapon is still spinning up to speed. The gyroscopic force of Valkyrie’s weapon causes the robot to hold in a wheelie pose and Hypershock comes in for the follow-up. Hypershock’s sporting its single blade as opposed to the double we saw in its match with Duck and that’s because Valkyrie is covered in armor panels and other bits that can be knocked loose. Case in point Hypershock just digs right into its opponent and rips a massive gash into the top of Valkyrie near its right wheel. As Valkyrie lands Hypershock is waiting and the two bots meet weapon to weapon. This is where hits that you can only dream of happen and sure enough we get some fucking gold. Valkyrie’s entire spinning blade comes loose and ricochets across the box over near the red square, still spinning like a goddamned top.
Leanne Cushing can’t believe what she’s seeing, this is even worse than the last time Valkyrie met Hypershock. Hypershock comes in for another blow on the weaponless Valkyrie and destroys the entire left wheel guard sending parts and chunks of armor flying all over the place. Amazingly Valkyrie is holding up to the punishment but with absolutely no weapon there’s not much the robot can do. Hypershock attacks indiscriminately and the backside of Valkyrie starts to come loose on the right side. Valkyrie’s weapon has been spinning around on the arena floor this whole time and Hypershock decides to attack that too and kicks the blade up into the fucking arena scaffolding causing some of it to break loose and come crashing down into the Battlebox. Will Bales just absolutely does not give a fuck. Period.
Valkyrie is hanging in there although it looks like the damage is rapidly stacking up; the robot is kind of aimlessly spinning around near the blue square until Hypershock comes in and blows off the other wheel guard and sends the dying robot onto the screws. Valkyrie gets stuck on the hazard until the screws reverse. Valkyrie gets down but Hypershock is literally right fucking there and kicks Valkyrie in the teeth causing a piece of plate armor to come off of the front of the robot and also starts to dislodge the entire front end of the robot on the right side. This hit also tilts Valkyrie up onto the screw control box where Hypershock is content to just let its opponent die. The editors snap back to a wideshot from one of the ceiling mounted cameras and there are just parts of Valkyrie all over the fucking place. This fight was an absolute bloodbath and was way more violent than the quick KO Hypershock claimed over Valkyrie a couple seasons ago.
Hypershock claims a statement win and has probably earned a new permanent rival in the process. You know Leanne is going to want to avenge this loss if she ever gets the chance.
WINNER: Hypershock, KO
CLAW VIPER vs. MAD CATTER
Claw Viper is a hard bot to root for. It’s tough and you know it can do a suplex but it just seems like it’s missing something. It’s hard to explain. There’s an operator missing from the equation to this robot’s success. That said it did manage to win its first fight in the episode against Defender so again we know Claw Viper isn’t just a complete write-off. It struggled to gain the upper hand on Defender until Defender spontaneously lost a wheel though without that happening I still think Claw Viper would’ve won on a close split decision. Mad Catter on the other hand is a proven contender but this is technically its first proper fight here in the Champions challenge; in round one Mad Catter was scheduled to fight Triple Crown who died on the starting platform leaving Mad Catter a literal free win. All Martin Mason had to do with his robot after that fight was charge up the batteries. Claw Viper is going with a metal upper jaw for this match in the hopes of biting down on Mad Catter’s weapon belts. We’ll see if that plays out.
For some reason Mad Catter starts the fight facing sideways and backs into the screws when the match begins. Something tells me this wasn’t part of the plan. Was Mad Catter hoping to duck into the short corner of the shelf, spin up its weapon, and then come out at Claw Viper? Who knows but so far Mad Catter’s plan is shit. Claw Viper cruises across the box and starts trying to stick its forks under Mad Catter but fails to do so when Mad Catter’s pontoons deflect the lifter’s weaponry away and allow it to seize control instead. Of note however is that Mad Catter’s “knock out” weapon doesn’t appear to be working correctly. This is only momentary though because after shoving Claw Viper around for a bit Mad Catter’s weapon finally gets going and the cat lands a shot on the snake that sends the robot flying through the fucking air and crashing down on the edge of the Upper Deck. Holy fuck.
Claw Viper is able to get down from the corner of the Upper Deck but the right side of its front armor is visibly distorted and bent upward meaning Mad Catter will have no problems getting underneath its opponent from that side from here on out. Claw Viper’s front claw has also been fucked up so I guess we’re not going to see any suplex action in this fight. It’s downhill for Claw Viper now and Mad Catter knows this as it gets underneath Claw Viper and starts chewing up its underside. While this is going on I also noticed that Claw Viper’s upper jaw has somehow been blown back so I think the entire goddamned robot is just totaled at this point. The two robots bump and grind near the shelf and Claw Viper sheds a drive belt from its damaged right side. This was probably knocked loose when the robot was sent into orbit but it’s only just now falling out of the chassis.
Mad Catter eventually lines up a perfect shot behind Claw Viper and rides its ass all the way into the corner of the arena ending with a heavy slam into the side wall. Somehow Mad Catter’s weapon doesn’t engage with Claw Viper’s backside to send the robot back into outer space. What does happen however is Claw Viper pops up and lands on Mad Catter’s minibot “Gassy Cat” because the little guy was taken along for the ride across the box. Claw Viper becomes high centered on the minibot and can’t get down. Mad Catter backs up and lines up another kill shot but manages to swing wide to the left and misses. Mad Catter retreats to try again and this time connects with Claw Viper’s butthole popping the robot into the air and freeing it from being stranded on top of Gassy Cat.
Claw Viper spins free and you can see the damage sustained to its drive system. The robot can’t even drive in a straight line anymore it just sorta does donuts. Mad Catter lands a couple of glancing blows to its opponent before using its lifting arm to raise Claw Viper up and dropping it down onto its spinning bar to chew at its underside another time. Another drive belt comes loose from Claw Viper and the whole robot just looks dead. The lifting arms futilely raise up and down a couple of times but there’s zero motion from the bot and the ref says he’s seen enough and begins his countdown. Claw Viper is eliminated and Mad Catter advances onward to the bracket finals where it will face Hypershock.
WINNER: Mad Catter, KO
HYPERSHOCK vs. MAD CATTER
Hypershock has been having a great run to the Gigabyte match in this event; we saw it shred Duck to bits and then absolutely thrash Valkyrie so hard that Valkyrie’s weapon flew off and wound up in the fucking arena ceiling. Hypershock’s double blades have come back out for this fight meaning the robot has a wider range of effectiveness on its front end. It’s also brought back the front forks instead of the plow because Mad Catter is a vertical spinner and this is Hypershock’s counter for that design. Mad Catter on the other hand has also had a pretty spectacular route to get here. It’s only had one fight technically but that one fight against Claw Viper was full of air time and missing parts so you know Mad Catter is ready to do some damage. Both of these robots have exposed parts that can be torn off so really it comes down to the question of who’s going to start picking off shit first.
As Hypershock goes for the charge Mad Catter veers to the side slightly causing Hypershock’s wheel to hit Mad Catter’s front plows. Hypershock reels up onto two tires but is able to get back down and not flip over. It responds with some hits of its own that flip Mad Catter over. Curiously it seems like Hypershock is intentionally trying to avoid the minibot because it’s basically a doorstop and without its plow Hypershock seems susceptible to crawling on top of it and getting disoriented. This aversion causes Hypershock to miss out on a perfectly lined up shot that would have seen Mad Catter get thoroughly neutered on national television. Instead Mad Catter ends up on the wall and one of its front pontoons gets stuck in the upright position. As Mad Catter gets away black smoke begins to pour out from the top of the robot followed by a full on fire erupting. This looks to be Mad Catter’s weapon motor shitting the bed because there’s now no action from that bar whatsoever.
Despite losing its weapon Mad Catter pushes against Hypershock’s advances and manages to destabilize the robot and flip it over. I’ve rewatched the moment like ten times to figure out what happens but Hypershock literally just sorta flips up onto its side and rolls over. Getting off of its wide wheelbase literally affects it that badly. Before the fight started Kenny Florian pointed out how Will Bales removed Hypershock’s self-righting mechanism so I guess that was their way of telegraphing Hypershock getting flipped over. Remember, if one of those two boneheads of a host mention something “hypothetically” chances are it’s going to happen and this is their way of explaining it in advance to all the morons watching who don’t know any better. Hypershock starts peeling out and doing wheelies but it can’t flip itself over until it crashes into Mad Catter with its weapon roaring and climbs up onto its back wheels to roll back over.
Hypershock peels a piece of something off of Mad Catter and tosses it away. It looks like something from the front that helps hold down one side of Mad Catter’s top armor because I noticed a panel is starting to come loose from the front due to all the punishment Mad Catter is taking. Hypershock gets flipped over a second time but is righted in seconds by Mad Catter and then returns the favor by flipping Mad Catter over. Mad Catter is able to right itself with its lifting arm but maybe it’s been damaged because it’s not moving and as Hypershock comes in for another hit some bright green sparks shoot out from Mad Catter’s weapon cavity meaning there’s a motor or something in there that’s in the process of dying. Emboldened, Hypershock throws Gassy Cat out of the way and attacks Mad Catter again sending the robot rolling up onto the shelf and prompting the editors to slip in another one of Kenny’s “geez” sound bites. There was one of them earlier in this episode but I’m trying to train myself not to hear the fucking things because they annoy me.
Mad Catter gets down from the shelf but Hypershock is waiting right there to kick it back up onto the hazard. Mad Catter goes for the front of the deck and leaps off over the screws. Hypershock continues its pursuit and cleaves through Gassy Cat sending it flying into the roof of the arena killing it. The two robots lock heads and Hypershock chops off Mad Catter’s right pontoon. Mad Catter continues to stay in Hypershock’s face however and this results in the cat getting tossed and flipped around and eventually what winds up happening is Mad Catter’s ass gets exposed to Hypershock for the fortieth time this match and Hypershock finally digs in fucking up the baseplate of the robot. Mad Catter is flipped back over and more parts tumble out of it as we see that it is now missing part of its top armor plating.
Wires and shit are just exposed and hanging out of Mad Catter now but the robot refuses to die. It’s flipped over yet again by Hypershock and so Mad Catter tries to right itself by flooring it backwards into the screws. This doesn’t work and Hypershock comes in to kick it causing another plume of black smoke to rise out of the dying kitty cat. Mad Catter is flipped back over by this hit and the robot tries to get away but it’s no use; Hypershock is literally right fucking there and slices back into its opponent to flip it upside down again. Finally with one last push Hypershock drop kicks Mad Catter up onto the deck completely destroyed and unable to right itself. As Mad Catter is counted down I want you to just look at this thing and appreciate just how much damage Hypershock was able to do. This is what Supreme Commander Charles Tilford would call “real gourmet damage”. Hypershock has dominated this event and it is now moving on to face Gigabyte.
WINNER: Hypershock, KO
HYPERSHOCK vs. GIGABYTE
Hypershock has been on a roll this episode with brutal victories over Duck, Valkyrie, and Mad Catter. Seriously this thing has been tearing shit up left and right. Valkyrie and Mad Catter were violently disassembled and even though there’s really nothing to tear up on Duck we still saw Hypershock rip a whole ass wheel and motor out as well as blow Duck’s stupid quacker arm up. Valkyrie’s weapon flew off. Mad Catter caught on fire. Will Bales looks unstoppable. Gigabyte on the other hand has had no fights so far because it’s the qualifier “boss” robot; Gigabyte has been waiting for a worthy challenger and now it’s got one. Gigabyte qualified for the main tournament but lost in the first round to eventual champion Tantrum in a close fight that saw Gigabyte do a fucking elbow drop onto Tantrum from the Upper Deck, taking one of Tantrum’s heavily guarded wheels off in the process. Gigabyte is here after knocking out Son of Whyachi in last season’s Bounty Hunters event.
Gigabyte darts forward slightly and parks in front of the closest spire of the Upper Deck. This is to dodge Hypershock’s initial ram and allow its shell to get up to as close to top speed as it can given how fast Hypershock moves around. Hypershock already has its special heavy duty blade going full blast as it dashes forward and misses, but it catches Gigabyte on the backswing and pivots around to hit the spinner. This is supposed to be Gigabyte’s shell for fighting vertical spinners and I don’t think it’s working as intended because Hypershock rails Gigabyte and sends it fucking flying through the air. Gigabyte literally flies across the whole goddamned box and jumps over the length of the shelf to land in the opposite far corner spinning and twisting around in the air. Amazingly Gigabyte recovers from this hit and starts trying to spin up to speed again.
We’ve seen Gigabyte take some hits like this before, namely against Uppercut and Tantrum, so really this should come as no surprise. It’s still impressive though because you know a lesser bot would’ve had its fucking brains scrambled by that killer blast. Gigabyte tries to duck out of the short corner but winds up hitting the bumpers next to the screws which stops its shell allowing Hypershock to come in for a risk free hit. Gigabyte lands leaning up against the spike strip so Hypershock claims free hit #2. Gigabyte lands in the corner this time and seems to be stuck momentarily so Hypershock claims free hit #3. Gigabyte is finally able to juke around Hypershock and get away spinning its shell all the while. Hypershock is in pursuit because Will Bales knows that if Gigabyte gets up to its top speed “that could be the ball game”. I know he’s making a baseball analogy but really this motherfucker is out here playing soccer because Hypershock shunts Gigabyte away with nothing more than its front plow and sends the spinner reeling into the blue square’s screws. Goal.
Now Gigabyte is stuck in the other short corner and Hypershock is on its ass immediately. Hypershock lands some glancing blows to the underside of Gigabyte before the spinner gets free of the wall. Gigabyte suffers another hit and is knocked underneath one of Hypershock’s Pulverizers so the hammer comes down on the shell of Gigabyte doing no real damage to speak of. Hypershock is killing it out there but after this rush of hits the robot starts having visible drive problems. Gigabyte is able to dodge Hypershock to get out of the shelf’s corner and start getting up to top speed. This is exactly what Hypershock doesn’t want because at full blast we’ve seen the type of shit Gigabyte can do. I’m just thinking about the time Gigabyte got up onto the Upper Deck, revved up, and then dive bombed Tantrum. I mentioned it already in the introduction to this fight but god damn was that hit insane.
Will eventually realizes the problem is with a setting on his transmitter and slowly but surely Hypershock wriggles out of the corner of the Battlebox and into the center of it. There’s still some problems with the drive but the robot is mobile and its spinner is still going. Kenny Florian suggests Gigabyte should consider attacking and I’m with the UFC meathead; Hypershock is clearly leading this fight in all categories. Easy. Gigabyte should think about taking advantage of this situation and ripping some tires off of Hypershock because those are the easiest and most exposed targets on its opponent. Once you start picking them off Hypershock will start driving unevenly and then from there you’ve got a road map to turning this fight around. Come the fuck on Gigabyte, the Golden Bolt is on the line here.
Gigabyte holds off on attacking the stunned Hypershock and this proves to be its downfall. Hypershock is facing the arena wall with its ass exposed but it’s able to spin around and charge forward at the slightly unstable Gigabyte. This hit absolutely fucking obliterates the shell spinner. We’ve seen Gigabyte get de-shelled before but take a look at this fucking gore fest; Gigabyte is flung up into the air as its shell separates and travels the entire length of the self-righting mast bend and all. Gigabyte’s shell flies off of the robot and collides with the back wall of the arena above the Upper Deck absolutely wrecking the BattleBots sign while pieces and parts that look like mounting plates and shit fly off in all directions. The inner drive pod of Gigabyte is spun around and jerked all over the place as the lid separates and is eventually tossed aside into the corner of the box upside down missing wheels and all sorts of things.
The look on Will’s face is priceless. He looks like he just won the goddamned Powerball lottery. John Mladenik shakes his head and turns off his transmitter because he knows it’s over for Gigabyte. As the dust settles you can look at Gigabyte’s discarded shell and see that a whole ass tooth has been sheared off of it from Hypershock’s earlier attacks. The fight’s over. The ref counts out Gigabyte as a humiliating courtesy.
WINNER: Hypershock, KO
Gigabyte may have won last year’s Bounty Hunters event to claim a spot as a gatekeeper for the Golden Bolt but much like how Gigabyte climbed the ranks to take out Son of Whyachi so too did Hypershock scale the brackets to demolish a legend. Hypershock was on point for the entire episode. I personally don’t think we’ve ever seen carnage of this caliber from Hypershock since the time it pulled off Ultraviolent’s entire baseplate back in 2016. The robot has had middling success off and on but this episode was a collection of four statement victories all strung in a row. Does this mean Hypershock has what it takes to potentially upturn the greats like Tombstone and End Game? I have no idea, but we’ll find out in the final episode of Champions when the grand finals are underway. As it stands right now I think we’ve seen a side of Hypershock that we haven’t for at least half a decade. Props to Will Bales and his team for putting on a killer performance. Literally.
Before the credits roll on this episode the hosts reveal who’s participating in next week’s tournament. Ribbot, Double Jeopardy, Malice, Slammo, Shatter, Pain Train, Deep Six, and Huge are all up next with some interesting match-ups. Double Jeopardy was absent for the main season but it’s here for the Champions special armed with a three-shot air cannon. Is that enough to disable the spinner of Ribbot? We’ll find out I guess! Deep Six is one of the few robots with weaponry that can hit Huge so that battle ought to be interesting. Perhaps we’ll see Huge get chopped in half again? Slammo better watch its wheels against Malice and Pain Train better put a hard hat on against Shatter because these are two fights were there’s a clear advantage. But I’ve got Ribbot pegged to win the brackets. As for who the guardian of this bracket is? I have no idea, but my prediction is that Ribbot will at least make it to the final bout.
That’s a wrap on BattleBots Update this week! I’m glad Champions is finally on the air because I spoiled this first episode to myself way ahead of its release and knew this was some good shit. Apparently BattleBots also spoiled in a trailer somewhere that Hypershock would be facing off against Gigabyte so that ruined the whole bracket for everyone. Smooth, real smooth. Oh well, we all do dumb shit sometimes. I’ve got 153 articles on this blog that stand as a testament to that notion. BattleBots Update is largely supported through crowdfunding however so if you’d like to lend a hand with paying for software and hosting and all of that you can make a contribution monthly with Patreon or just once with Ko-Fi. My goal for the remainder of this year is to grow the Patreon to over $100 so any and all help is appreciated, even just a pledge of $1. If you want that BBU drip I’ve got shirts (and stickers) on Redbubble. You can also follow BattleBots Update on Facebook for everything else.
See you next week!