We’re in the middle of BattleBots: Champions here on The Update, a miniseries that’s a loose follow-up to last season’s Bounty Hunters. Each episode is like a miniature tournament of its own with eight participants and the winner faces off against a bounty robot to determine qualification for the main Golden Bolt tournament happening a few episodes from now. So far we’ve seen both Hypershock and Ribbot smash their way through the opposition and lay down brutal knock outs over their respective bounty opponents. I’m talking parts flying everywhere, pure carnage. If this week’s bracket is anything to go by we might be in for more.
Newbie Dragon Slayer returns for some more action and is paired up with Uppercut in a match that’s sure to see a lot of nasty punches thrown. Icewave brings the only gasoline powered weapon to bear against Free Shipping who you know is going to be using its armored plow for the occasion. Retrograde has patched itself back up from a previous run-in with Huge and is ready to fight Mammoth to see if its lifting forks can ensnare a jungle gym. Finally, Gruff hopes to light up Glitch in a match that sees the technically undefeated newcomer bounce back into the arena. Staring down the tournament is Rotator who made it to the boss position after humiliating Bronco and forcing it into retirement (again).
Last week when I talked about the brackets I mentioned how I wasn’t sure if there was a clear winner here. I predicted Uppercut and Glitch to make it to the bracket finals. Is my pseudo-professional analysis correct? Only one way to find out.
DRAGON SLAYER vs. UPPERCUT
First in the arena this episode is Dragon Slayer, a new robot designed by Jordan Neal from Texas. When this robot showed up quite a few fans drew comparisons to the former Robogames competitor “Electric Boogaloo” because of its similar design and weaponry. It was later revealed, of course, that Dragon Slayer was from an entirely different team and the similarities were a coincidence. Dragon Slayer sports a ~30 pound spinning bar at its middle and it used this to great effect against Duck in its debut fight. Duck’s design this year was utter shit (and it wound up going 0-4 overall) and Dragon Slayer was the first robot to sock it in the face and break its beak. Dragon Slayer’s weapon lost power but it still won by decision. Then the universe decided to fuck this team by making them fight Minotaur next. Dragon Slayer landed one good hit to the front of Minotaur that dug into the robot’s aluminum armor but it should come as no surprise to hear that Minotaur wrecked this thing. Finally Dragon Slayer met South Korean competitor Blade and wound up shedding an entire armor panel, and radio receiver, in the opening hit. That’s a KO loss for Dragon Slayer and at 1-2 the robot failed to qualify for the main tournament.
Uppercut is a motherfucker. This beast of a machine is a knock out savant. It’s been around for a few seasons now and has never failed to make it into the Giant Nut tournament so that says a lot about the team behind it. This season Uppercut was drawn to fight Gigabyte in round one. Rather than pack up early and cut their losses Alex Hattori and his crew showed up, socked Gigabyte square in the fucking mouth, and won by KO. Uppercut’s second fight was against Free Shipping and those of you who know your BattleBots know that Free Shipping has an onboard fuel tank for its flamethrower. Those of you who know your BattleBots might also know that Uppercut has a unique hatred of flamethrowers having punched Sawblaze in the kidneys through its asshole last season resulting in a massive explosion. Well guess what, they did it again this year and Free Shipping detonated. KO win. Uppercut advanced to the Round of 32 where it faced Huge and in a spat of TV bullshit was victim to the “double KO” despite moving around longer than Huge. The judges still ruled in Uppercut’s favor however. In the Round of 16 Uppercut looked strong against Riptide but a stray shot to its wheel resulted in all the foam filling spilling out and making a goddamned mess. Riptide used this time to hit the other wheel and Uppercut was out.
This match starts with a wide shot on the arena lights that doesn’t quite zoom out in time to catch the two robots approaching each other. Nice angle, I could tell from the slow zoom that there was going to be a problem. They use this shot for the opening of every match you’d think they’d have it down by now. Jordan Neal said he didn’t want to meet weapon-on-weapon with Uppercut but I guess that reservation has gone out the window because the two bots meet head on in the center of the arena and Uppercut’s new spinning disc weapon knocks Dragon Slayer backwards into the spike strip. Dragon Slayer is violently spun around in a manner that we’ve seen kill this robot in the past but it recovers and gets in Uppercut’s face once again and manages to clip off one of the stabilizing bars on the vertical spinner. I think I’m more impressed that Dragon Slayer’s weapon is still working because that thing has a work ethic that makes me look like a star fucking example of an employee.
Uppercut socks Dragon Slayer again and rolls it over exposing its baseplate and backside to the spinner. Uppercut wastes no time scoring some critical damage by tearing off whole chunks of Dragon Slayer’s ass until the robot can get away with a tactical retreat. Uppercut is not as aggressive as we’ve seen in previous fights and I think that has something to do with its new weapon fucking up the robot’s ability to maneuver around; before the fight Peter Abrahamson mentioned the added 30 extra pounds of weapon weight really jacks with Uppercut’s gyroscopic forces. Uppercut is kind of a sitting duck but Dragon Slayer must not be confident enough that it can get around it. Seems like a slam dunk but whatever. Dragon Slayer flips itself back over and spins its blade back up to go in for some more shots.
Dragon Slayer is again shunted away by Uppercut’s disc but it keeps up the attack despite its front plows getting absolutely mangled. At some point in this extended brawl Dragon Slayer’s weapon craps out and stops working. Either the belt is gone or the frame’s been twisted by Uppercut’s big ass disc. Dragon Slayer takes another brutal shot and the whole robot dies, but watch closely and you’ll see the force of impact slam Uppercut into the arena floor. The whole robot kind of slumps downward and when it bounces back its left wheel is out of commission. This is another double knock out situation because Uppercut’s not going fucking anywhere but it looks like the refs aren’t interested in consistent application of the rules with their calls so when the KO count is finished it’s Dragon Slayer who catches the short straw. Even if this was ruled as a double KO Dragon Slayer still would have lost but it’s the principle of the matter that pisses me off. Whatever.
WINNER: Uppercut, KO
ICEWAVE vs. FREE SHIPPING
Icewave is an old standby of BattleBots; it’s been around for a long time – longer than the reboot seasons have been on the air – and has always had its trademark gasoline powered horizontal spinner. There was once a time when Icewave dominated the field but those days are gone; Icewave is here as a fallen bounty after losing to Skorpios in Bounty Hunters last year. Icewave opened its season with a loss to Black Dragon that saw Icewave’s weapon chain fly off after the first hit. Icewave rebounded with a stronger showing against Deadlift and won by KO after destroying much of Deadlift’s top armor. Icewave then met Team Whyachi’s Fusion and in a decisive blow that seemed to do no immediate damage to Fusion it was revealed moments later the force imparted by Icewave’s chopper damaged Fusion’s batteries and caused the robot to burn up. Icewave qualified for the main tournament but its first fight was against Whiplash. There was no way Icewave was going to win that battle… and it didn’t.
Gary Gin saw success in BattleBots a long time ago with his lightweight The Big B which made it to the championship finals of season three. He’s been chasing the dragon ever since. Free Shipping is his latest brainchild and is actually his dominant heavyweight robot Original Sin with some set dressing applied to it. Original Sin ruled Robogames but that hasn’t translated over to BattleBots very well. Free Shipping was the first robot to confront Blacksmith and its new “Power Hammer” this year and it ended badly for Gary, a unanimous call for Blacksmith. Free Shipping was passed along to fight Uppercut and you already know how that shit show panned out because Uppercut is also in this episode and I described it in the previous fight. Finally Free Shipping got a showdown with Tombstone and despite eventually disabling Tombstone’s weapon it was too little too late and Free Shipping had sustained too much damage to turn the fight around via control points. Tombstone won and left Free Shipping with a depressing 0-3 record for the season. Needless to say, Gary and his team didn’t make it to the main tournament. They instead went to the food trucks with Donald Hutson and gorged on expensive hot dogs to eat the pain away.
At the start of the article I predicted Free Shipping to use its bulldozer plow in this fight. Somebody better answer that phone because I fucking called it. Free Shipping has no need to use its wedgelets because that’s sacrificing front armor for functionality the robot doesn’t need in this scenario. Free Shipping box rushes Icewave and slams into it deflecting the spinner into the wall. Icewave darts away and starts revving its blade back up and is again railed by the plow of Free Shipping that sees the spinner twisting across the floor as if it were frictionless. Icewave gets close to the short corner of the box near the Upper Deck and Free Shipping pounces. Icewave is shoved into the corner although since this is a red square Pulverizer the hammer doesn’t drop down. Something something “this is cancer this is why we need Pete Lambertson back as the hazard operator blah blah blah”.
Icewave manages to slip out of the short corner and get back into the center of the arena with Free Shipping on its tail. In case you were wondering how much power is in that blade watch as Icewave tries to juice it; the entire goddamned bottom half of the robot spins around against the force of the engine running its weapon. Icewave successfully bats Free Shipping away and wins the exchange for once but Free Shipping isn’t having any of it and retaliates with a ram that knocks Icewave into the other short corner of the Battlebox. Look closely and you’ll also notice that there’s so much force in these attacks that the engine mount on Icewave is cockeyed. Guess Marc and his team didn’t tighten those bolts as well as they should have. Icewave’s blade is powered down while it’s stuck in the corner and Free Shipping attempts to jam its forklift arm into the gap between the robot’s chassis and engine to either lift Icewave up or to try and pry its fucking head off. The attack is ultimately a failure and Icewave slinks past Free Shipping to get back into the arena.
The helicopter blade gets going again and Icewave deflects a couple more rams before Gary Gin finally pulls the trigger on his robot’s secondary weapon and starts blowing flames all over the place. The fire probably isn’t going to make Icewave explode – we’ve seen Icewave fight flamethrowers in the past – but what it does do is obfuscate where Free Shipping’s front end really is. You can’t see the plow in a massive plume of goddamned fucking fire. Icewave is able to get away and really get going and as Free Shipping comes in for a ram Gary misses his mark and Icewave connects with the side of Free Shipping’s plow. It’s hard to see because of all the fire but the pin that the plow is mounted to is kicked out of the opposite side by several inches. Another attack on this exact spot could possibly dislocate the plow from its mount. Icewave piles on the shots as Free Shipping continues to ram it and by the time this flurry is over with the engine atop Icewave has rotated at least 90 degrees to face in the wrong direction.
Free Shipping eventually knocks Icewave over to the screws of the deck and stays on its opponent until the screws claw at Icewave and drag it up onto the hazard. The red warning lights start to flash but the ref opts not to follow the rules and count Icewave out even though the robot just fucking parks there for several seconds. Icewave eventually jumps off to the left and is met by Free Shipping who floors it over there and tries to get Icewave under its Pulverizer. Icewave gets away and is taken into the far wall by the drivers’ booth. Of note here is that Icewave’s blade has stopped trying to spin up, perhaps its engine being kinked to the side has fucked up the throttle or something? Free Shipping gets a hold of Icewave again and brings it back into the short corner where the Pulverizer successfully comes down on the dead spinner. Free Shipping then pulls an about face and rams Icewave into the opposite corner to try for Pulverizer #2 but all that Free Shipping manages to do is whack itself with the hammer.
As the fight winds down Kenny Florian points out that Free Shipping has been fighting without the use of its primary weapon and “the judges” might not like that when it comes to aggression and control. I thought we were beyond the era of aggression being defined as “aggression with a primary weapon” and control has never been judged in the context of a primary weapon. I guess the judges want to send this one back to 2016 though because this match is actually a split fucking decision. Jason Bardis scores the fight for Icewave because I guess all of those passive hits qualified as “aggression” or some shit who knows. The other two judges have their heads on straight and give the battle to Free Shipping signaling that we’re close to an era of the show where just dominating an opponent by any means – with or without a stupid fucking PRIMARY WEAPON – is grounds for victory. It’s about time.
WINNER: Free Shipping, Judges’ Decision (2-1)
RETROGRADE vs. MAMMOTH
Retrograde is a new robot from an experienced team. Built by some of the same people who worked on Bloodsport you know this robot already has a leg up on the competition with that kind of pedigree. It was given an underhanded pitch in its first fight because its opponent was Rampage, a robot that has yet to win a fight in its miserable BattleBots career. Retrograde showed off both of its weapons by flipping Rampage over with its lifting forks and then whipping around to attack with its rear mounted spinner to chop a wheel off of the immobile Rampage. A quick KO win. Retrograde then fought Huge and the celebrations ended there; Huge mandated extra armor for Retrograde so the team ditched its spinner and armored up. Huge cleaved through this added armor with ease and sliced into the front of Retrograde lighting something on fire in the process after thrashing its lifting forks. Retrograde still had one more fight to go so it was patched up and brought out against Defender in a battle that lasted four fucking hours with neither robot really ever having the upper hand. Defender was given the win because Retrograde started smoking meaning Retrograde did not qualify for the main tournament.
This is a robot I rag on a lot but it’s surprisingly effective when it wants to be. I am of course talking about Mammoth, the killer swing set. Mammoth’s massive vertical spinner is more of a rotary lifting arm than a high speed blaster so because of this its fights are more methodical. Hijinx was up first and Mammoth was predicted to be on the back step because of Hijinx’s ability to get at Mammoth’s wheels. Well it was Hijinx who would wind up losing a wheel because one just popped right off. Mammoth flipped Hijinx over where it high centered itself and was KO’d. Mammoth was then drawn to fight Tombstone, another horizontal spinner. A deadlier one, too. Mammoth charged in and went whole hog on Tombstone and was able to cause Tombstone to spin out into the wall and damage a drive motor. Mammoth also lost a drive motor in the exchange. Mammoth was able to spin away in circles whereas Tombstone was immobile. The fight was considered a double KO and Mammoth got fucked on the decision. Lucky was Mammoth’s third opponent and Mammoth struggled to get a grip on the flipper. Lucky at one point knocked a wheel off of Mammoth and naturally this time the refs counted it as “movement” because fuck them. Mammoth was eventually flipped into the screws where it was KO’d. Mammoth would’ve been out of the tournament had it not been for Glitch withdrawing; Mammoth took its spot and fought Witch Doctor. Witch Doctor just obliterated Mammoth, ripping off the weapon chain, seizing up one wheel, and ripping the other wheel clean off.
This fight didn’t make it to air meaning it shares something in common with the “battle” between Mad Catter and Triple Crown where Triple Crown just straight up didn’t even fucking work. Retrograde leads in with its spinning blade for this fight since trying to lift Mammoth is an absolutely stupid idea. Retrograde stuffs itself into Mammoth’s open arms and gets in where Mammoth’s rotary lifter should be able to reach it. It seems Retrograde is trying to hit Mammoth’s drive and battery pods from inside the robot which I think is a bad idea, however Retrograde is able to deliver enough of a shock to Mammoth that Mammoth’s first stage drive chain for its weapon snaps and comes loose about fifteen seconds into the battle. It’s hard to see but there are three stages to Mammoth’s weapon system. The most obvious one, the absurdly long chains that are visible from afar, are the final stage; there’s a much smaller first stage tucked up underneath the robot and this is what gets severed. Despite having both of its latter stage chains intact Mammoth’s weapon is out of commission.
Mammoth switches gears to attack in corral mode where it tries to just muscle Retrograde around using its two front arms as a catcher of sorts. Retrograde spins up its blade and just keeps ripping into the flexible arms and batting them away. To the surprise of no one Retrograde lacks the firepower to do any serious damage to Mammoth. It also lacks the speed and maneuverability to escape from Mammoth’s grasp and actually hit the tires from the outside. Retrograde spends almost three solid fucking minutes in Mammoth’s arms ultimately breaking the left one with only a few seconds left on the clock. The fight goes to the judges who really only have Retrograde “breaking” Mammoth’s weapon to go by for damage and because damage is weighted so heavily in BattleBots this is enough for Retrograde to skate by with a win. Out of Retrograde’s four fights so far three of them have been truncated from broadcast. Someone fucking end this robot’s misery please.
WINNER: Retrograde, Judges’ Decision (3-0)
GRUFF vs. GLITCH
Gruff is a stout robot armored like a tank and armed with a flamethrower capable of outputting several thousand degree hot fire. It’s easily the most powerful weapon of its kind in BattleBots and is currently the only flamethrower that isn’t just predominately for show. Fight me. Other than the flamethrower the robot also has a lifting arm capable of raising up opponents and flipping them over. Gruff opened its season fighting Switchback and scored a win after a stray blow toppled Switchback over and its weapon malfunctioned causing the robot to be unable to right itself. Hydra was Gruff’s second opponent and this fight didn’t go as well to say the least. Jake Ewert intentionally tried to cross a line in the rules by throwing Gruff out of the arena. Because the refs are cowards Jake wasn’t reprimanded for doing this and Gruff was out. Gruff’s armor stood up to to Cobalt with the exception of its underside which is the robot’s weakest point. Cobalt hit Gruff’s fuel tank and lit the robot up for a hellacious KO. Before the fight however Chris Rose does mention that last year Gruff made it to the bounty finals against Tombstone and ultimately lost, so we know Gruff is capable of running a gauntlet.
Glitch is a bit of a unique case. It qualified for the Round of 32 this year but had to drop out due to some mechanical problems that Kyle Miller and his team could not fix in time. Technically speaking Glitch is “undefeated” if you don’t consider its withdrawal from the tournament to be a forfeit. Glitch had a rocky start against Ghost Raptor where both robots seemed to not be at 100%. Glitch kept getting hung up on the floor because of its omnidirectional wheel design and also struggled to connect with its weapon. It still won the decision however so Glitch got off to a good start. Then the producers tried feeding Glitch to Hydra who was dogging it at 1-1 for the season. Glitch wasn’t supposed to win this fight but rather than take it like a bitch Glitch rose to the occasion and straight up knocked Hydra the fuck out. At this point everyone knew Glitch was not fucking around. Kraken was Glitch’s final opponent and Glitch wrapped this fight up real quick by landing a surgical blow to Kraken’s backside right where its drive motor was located and the force of impact immobilized Kraken. Glitch was all set to go for the Round of 32 but as I said ultimately had to drop out. We will never know how deep of a run Glitch could have made but this Champions event is Glitch’s chance to start the streak anew.
Glitch drifts and floats out of its starting square passing Gruff as it goes for the back corner of the arena, its weapon twitching back and forth indicative of brushless motors that can’t get going. Eventually Glitch’s weapon gets spinning after a few seconds but surely those opening moments were a butt clench considering a lack of a functional weapon is what caused Glitch to drop from the main tournament originally. Gruff fires up its flamethrowers and tries to get in Glitch’s face while Glitch gets its leading forks stuck in the Killsaw slots. Gruff seems unable to really get around to Glitch’s other sides because Glitch is just sort of hovering around and coasting everywhere. Glitch isn’t showing aggression but its weapon is still spinning and as long as that 70 pound chunk of metal is rotating nobody’s going to fuck with Glitch. Everyone saw what that thing did to Hydra and Kraken.
Gruff eventually just tries to go in raw and rams into Glitch’s front end. This proves to be a bad strategy because Glitch’s spinner chews up Gruff’s lifting arm and blows it backwards. You can see the forks visibly distorted and bent as the weapon tries to ratchet back down. Gruff’s lifter might be the mangled mess of someone trying to stick their dick in a wood chipper but its flamethrowers are both going full blast and are shooting fire in Glitch’s face. For the most part Glitch is just taking this punishment as it doesn’t seem particularly mobile but the robot does eventually spin away from the fire and ducks backward. Glitch swings around from its trip to the corner and strafes into the blue square’s screws all the while dancing past Gruff in the center of the box. The spinner eventually swings back around the other way and glides toward Gruff seemingly with the intent to attack. So far the two bots have spent a lot of time in proximity to each other but barely any action has happened.
Glitch changes this dynamic by finally nailing Gruff’s side and popping the robot up. While Gruff is coming down from this hit Glitch delivers a secondary blow to Gruff’s underside, a.k.a. the weakest part of the robot. Gruff’s fuel tank doesn’t blow the fuck up like it did when Cobalt sucker punched Gruff but Glitch does make contact with Gruff’s wheels and as the lifter self rights it’s immediately apparent that its drive system has been cocked up. Glitch drifts backwards to avoid the flames coming out of Gruff and it looks like it’s trying to line up a shot. If this fucking thing would just drive in a straight goddamned line it could make a charge at Gruff and knock it silly but instead Glitch is content to drive around like a leaf caught in a light breeze. The robots lock heads again and Gruff starts firing off its blasters in Glitch’s face but this clearly is not doing anything. Gruff drifts over toward the Upper Deck and rams itself into the screws on it while Glitch backs off.
The driver of Glitch seems to say he wants to get something going with its drive. Good, we’re only two fucking minutes into this fight. Take your time. Glitch catches Gruff as it’s sliding away and connects with its front end sending Gruff flipping backwards onto its ass. This cleave is substantial enough that there’s actually a chunk cut into Gruff’s big ass steel plow. This is the muscle that Glitch is bringing. Now you know why I’m so pissed off that this robot is just fucking around instead of fighting. It’s clearly beating Gruff with only passive attacks. Imagine what this thing could do if it actually tried to fight. Gruff gets itself into the short corner of the deck and with exactly one second left on the clock Glitch connects with another uppercut that sends Gruff very nearly flipping behind the goddamned Pulverizer. Mark my words someone will eventually get stuck back there at some point and getting them out will be a huge ordeal.
The buzzer sounds and this fight goes to the judges. Due largely in part to its few spectacular hits Glitch is unanimously declared the winner and advances onward to fight Retrograde in the next round.
WINNER: Glitch, Judges’ Decision (3-0)
FREE SHIPPING vs. UPPERCUT
We have a rematch on our hands, and probably one that Gary Gin did not want to find himself in considering what happened the last time these two robots met. Free Shipping dominated Icewave in round one but thanks to the judging criteria being stupid that “dominant showing” wound up becoming a split decision. Still, a win is a win and Free Shipping advanced onward to this round. Uppercut on the other hand had a moderately easy first round against Dragon Slayer. Alex Hattori was so sure of his victory in that fight he opted to put a brand new weapon on his robot just to get some hard data on it. The numbers were crunched and it turns out the weapon hits too hard so the team has put their old weapon back on Uppercut for this match. Hey, it worked the first time…
Free Shipping is just full of attachments. Normally the robot sports a three-pronged wedge design. Against Icewave we saw the return of its bulldozer scoop. Now the robot has a steep steel wedge on it. This will hopefully get underneath Uppercut and allow Free Shipping to control the fight much like it did against Icewave. Gary Gin is ready for a second split decision this episode let’s fucking go. This match lasts one hit. Just one. Free Shipping charges out toward Uppercut prompting Uppercut to pirouette around and dance up onto its front forks. This seems dangerous until Uppercut’s weapon is shoved in Free Shipping’s face slicing a massive gash several inches deep into the wedge attachment. So much for that piece of shit. Also speaking of pieces of shit this hit is so powerful it straight up kills Free Shipping. In one blow.
Alex isn’t content to leave the fight at one hit though (and also because fights are so chaotic he probably hasn’t noticed Free Shipping is dead yet). Uppercut cruises in and slams into Free Shipping’s side digging into the robot and yet again hitting the goddamned fuel tank causing gas to spray out of the hole and ignite resulting in another massive fireball. HE CAN’T KEEP GETTING AWAY WITH THIS.
The ref hops on Free Shipping’s ass and counts it out and Uppercut is onto the bracket finals.
WINNER: Uppercut, KO
RETROGRADE vs. GLITCH
Two robots from new teams this year, Retrograde and Glitch. Retrograde has proven to be a somewhat successful design; its main flaw is that its fights generally aren’t entertaining to watch. Aaron Lucas has that hurdle to get over if he wants to see success with this robot or at the very least get accepted back into BattleBots next season. Retrograde faced off against Mammoth in round one in a match that was too boring to make it to television. Mammoth’s weapon chain snapped resulting in a pushfest that Retrograde kinda sorta won thanks to its rear spinning blade actually working for a change. Glitch is still technically “undefeated” thanks to Gruff having a good deal of ground clearance allowing Glitch’s forks to stab underneath it and result in some nasty shots from Glitch’s spinner. We saw a glimpse of Glitch’s true power again in that fight, will this be the battle where we see the whole thing?
Leave it to Glitch to be the only robot that spins around backwards to come at its opponent at the start of a fight. Glitch is armored on all sides with the same thickness of metal so there’s nothing special about its ass that would help it here but it intentionally points its front end away from Retrograde exposing its backside to Retrograde’s lifter. Retrograde wasn’t expecting this kind of maneuver from Glitch so it jukes away and gets its undercutter spinning when in reality it could’ve just plowed forward and gotten a free lift on Glitch. In that sense I guess Glitch’s strategy was so stupid it worked. Retrograde is confident that its lifting forks can get underneath Glitch’s spinner and raise it up and within seconds this myth is put to the test. It’s a shame that Adam Savage isn’t a guest judge for this episode because I’d love to have him come over to the Retrograde team and say “myth busted” just to rub in the fact that their robot’s lifter is now bent sideways. Retrograde attempts a head on lift again with its bent forks and Glitch effortlessly knocks the lifter away and fucks it all kinds of ways up; Retrograde’s lifter is now bent vertically and you can see its brace isn’t even on level anymore so that weapon is kaput.
It’s gotta be all spinner from Retrograde now and thankfully its blade is actually working for this fight too. Retrograde lures Glitch back into the center of the ring and tries to do a fake out where it swings around Glitch and catches its backside. This kind of works except Glitch spins around with Retrograde so all Retrograde is able to hit is Glitch’s front right side. Still, there’s some sparks and there’s an impact so Retrograde is scoring points with the judges. Glitch swings around side to side and takes another shot from Retrograde that kicks the omni-bot into the arena wall. Glitch hovers into the blue square where it proceeds to get stuck on whatever. Kyle Miller, Glitch’s designer, removed the pointed nosecone from Glitch after its first ever fight and that seemed to help with the robot randomly getting stuck on the floor but every once in a while the robot will just hit a rough patch or something and stop moving. Chris Rose comments on it by saying the robot isn’t always mobile but has that major weapon going top speed; this is enough to ward off opponents from scavenging points because that blade will fuck you up if you get close.
Right now Glitch is like a cat laying down. It’s harmless until you try to touch it and then the fucking thing latches onto you with its claws and bites your hand. That’s Glitch as it just sits there and then immediately swings into an opponent with its weapon. Retrograde cautiously approaches and is able to get around to Glitch’s backside landing hits on both of the robot’s flanks. Glitch spins around but it’s too late on the draw. Glitch has now moved onto the blue “B” of the BattleBots logo on the arena floor and it’s still hobbling around. Past a certain point I have to wonder if this shit’s intentional. Nobody could possibly engineer a goddamned machine that’s only “sometimes mobile”. Retrograde snipes Glitch’s backside again and this time Glitch is able to respond by grinding against Retrograde’s side and front end doing additional minor damage to the robot’s already jacked up lifting forks. Retrograde is getting more confident in its ability to take pot shots at Glitch however and comes in again with another attack on the spinner’s rear end; Retrograde connects with Glitch’s back right side and tears an entire armor panel off of the robot. We’re halfway through the fight and I’d say the damage is just about even between these two robots.
Glitch starts trying to “swim” across the floor but it’s not really getting anywhere and Retrograde is able to slam into it full force with its blade where the undercutter starts, uh, undercutting; Retrograde’s blade gets underneath Glitch and this is where it gets dicey for Glitch because if just one of those wacky wheels gets damaged the whole robot could be fucking toast. Shatter’s frame got bent fighting Deep Six last week and that was enough to raise one of its omni wheels off of the floor and we all saw how that basically killed the whole bot. Glitch escapes with a slam into the wall for now but you can see Retrograde’s disc ominously get up to speed again. Glitch seems dead again and the ref is paying attention this time and tells the driver to move his ass. Glitch crawls backwards onto Retrograde’s weapon and Retrograde takes this as an invitation to go in for a hit. You can see little pieces and chunks fly out from under Glitch as this attack happens. I’m not certain if that’s just arena debris from being along the side of the box or if those are little rollers from Glitch’s wheels.
But if you want to talk about wheel damage wait a second because Glitch swings around and catches Retrograde on its left side and absolutely chews up its exposed wheel and shreds it the fuck off. Retrograde flees from the attack and Glitch takes a shot from the Killsaws which remind us of their presence for the first time in fucking months. Retrograde comes back in for a desperation attack and Glitch grabs Retrograde’s right wheel and tears it off too. In case you’re wondering how Retrograde is able to get away from this mess fully mobile I’ll spill the beans; Retrograde has a secondary drive system tucked inside of its armor, there are two smaller wheels behind the lifting forks that are also powered. The big wheels are technically ablative armor but they still serve an important function and we all know wheel damage is second only to weapon damage in the eyes of the judges. Retrograde is now in dire straights and starts grinding its disc against any part of Glitch that it can hit even if that means hitting the front end.
Retrograde can still move with its secret wheels but the robot is noticeably less maneuverable; Retrograde seems to kind of glide across the floor as if its inner wheels don’t get as much traction as the big foam ones that were just torn off. Glitch gets backed into the corner of the arena and Retrograde just goes all out with its spinner shoving its ass into Glitch’s face until the undercutter loses power and needs to spin up again. Retrograde backs off and spins up before colliding with Glitch again. It seems at some point Glitch lost one of its front forks and the others are all bent to hell after these exchanges. Glitch coasts into the blue square where it looks like it gets stuck again but there’s only 10 seconds left on the clock so the fight’s going to go to the judges regardless.
I’d say Retrograde had this fight by a close decision until it lost its wheels. Even though Retrograde has two sets of them the visual of seeing its outer wheels getting shredded and torn off had to mean big points for Glitch. That combined with Glitch damaging Retrograde’s lifting arm means Glitch scored both weapon damage and wheel damage whereas Retrograde only busted off one armor panel from Glitch and didn’t do anything to hinder its mobility (aside from letting Glitch drive like shit on its own). The judges actually turn in a split call so Retrograde didn’t do as bad as you might think, but in the end the win is given to Glitch. Glitch is powerful but until it can lead through a hit of its own these passive attacks aren’t going to cut it past a certain point.
WINNER: Glitch, Judges’ Decision (2-1)
GLITCH vs. UPPERCUT
Here we are at the bracket finals with a match I predicted would happen. It’s too bad there’s no such thing as betting actual money on BattleBots or else I’d be giving Jeff Bezos a run for his fucking money. Faruq messes up the Konami code reference in Glitch’s intro but that’s fine by me, Faruq doesn’t seem like the gaming type he just reads what’s on the card. For all I know the writer fucked it up. Glitch opened this episode with a win over Gruff that saw the massive fire spitting robot crippled by the half way point and slammed against the wall by the end. We just saw Glitch fight Retrograde wherein it won by simply existing and landing more passive attacks, Kyle Miller better have a plan for Uppercut because Uppercut is mobile and destructive and it’s not going to play nicely; Alex Hattori says “the weapon can take it” in regards to a head on collision. Uppercut is here after quick back to back KO’s. Up first was Dragon Slayer who barely was able to put up a fight before its ass was chopped into and its face was torn off. Free Shipping came next and Uppercut won in a single goddamned shot… and then lit Free Shipping up just out of contractual obligation. Uppercut is using its sharpest blade for this match so you know it’s not fucking around.
Despite not having its forks for this match Glitch still hits the corner of the Killsaws and trips itself up as it leaves the red square. Its weapon also takes a few seconds before it starts to spin up as well. Meanwhile Uppercut is already across the floor and looking for blood. It lands a glancing blow to the front of Glitch before stepping on the Killsaw slots itself. Uppercut gets in Glitch’s face and tries to turn to land a hit but the gyroscopic forces of its spinner causes the right side of the robot to pull up off of the ground and the left side to tilt into the floor. Glitch takes this opportunity to pull off one of Uppercut’s stabilizing bars and also lands a shot to the robot’s weapon brace sending it reeling into the corner. Glitch lands a follow-up attack that sheds more sparks and sends Uppercut twisting around. Glitch takes a moment of respite after this hit and leaves its butthole wide open to attack. Uppercut tries to go in for a cheap shot in retaliation but Glitch’s low profile and weirdly shaped backside prevent Uppercut from actually landing a hit. Glitch gets away, spins around, and lands a glancing blow. Uppercut tries to dive forward and hits the fucking Killsaw slots again.
Glitch swings into the corner and Uppercut again sees this as an opportunity to attack so the robot lunges forward with its spinning bar only to be rejected as Glitch whips back around and faces its weapon forward. This hit does a lot more damage to Uppercut than it might appear; Uppercut’s weapon is now slightly tweaked to one side. You can tell this is the case because its spinner is now throwing sparks out of its front end when it turns because the metal is catching on the weapon bracket. Once again Uppercut tries to fuck Glitch in the ass but Glitch’s odd chassis shape prevents this from happening. Glitch spins around to tell Uppercut “no means no” and leaves with a parting blow to the robot’s left side that causes the motor to seize up leaving Uppercut with only one side of drive. I don’t know how Glitch keeps fucking doing this but it does.
Pay close attention to how this goes down. The ref sees that Uppercut is struggling to move. He asks the driver “can you move” to which Uppercut just keeps spinning around in place. The ref is aware that Uppercut is immobilized. Uppercut pulls up onto one side and Glitch slides underneath it catching Uppercut’s chassis as it comes down. This rips the entire fucking bottom plate of armor off of Uppercut. How Uppercut’s guts don’t just spill out from this shot is beyond me; this is like the time Minotaur knocked the armor off of Hypothermia a few years ago. Parts should be coming out. Uppercut is still just spinning in place and Glitch backs onto the Killsaw area where it appears to get high centered on the floor again. Now Glitch’s ref asks the driver “can you move at all”. Notice the discrepancy between these two refs noticing that the robots are immobile. Tell me then, why the fuck do they count them both out and rule this as a double KO? Uppercut was clearly in the hot seat first and wasn’t moving; Uppercut should’ve been counted out first. I swear to fucking god this show sometimes.
Anyways because this is a double KO it goes to the judges. For some reason Jason Bardis thinks Uppercut won the fight despite landing barely a single hit. I guess he didn’t see all the parts Glitch tore off of the robot over the course of the one minute this fight lasted. He was also the judge who was wrong the last time a split happened. The other two judges score the match for Glitch giving Glitch its third win of the night and passage into the Golden Bolt qualifier. That’s three wins all by judges’ decision for a robot that was able to knock out Hydra. This cannot possibly continue into the main event with Rotator. Rotator will eat Glitch alive and spit out the parts.
WINNER: Glitch, Judges’ Decision (2-1)
GLITCH vs. ROTATOR
There’s something to be said about the weapon of Glitch. Kyle Miller has created something truly frightening and it doesn’t even look that gnarly. Somehow this robot just sells itself. It’s had nothing but judges’ decisions up to this point, including two by a split, but it’s still winning. Glitch’s weapon has gotten by with mostly passive attacks but these were enough to defeat Gruff, Retrograde, and even Uppercut. Rotator won’t be an easy win. Rotator is here as a qualifier boss because last season it won the Bounty Hunters event against Bronco where it disabled the legendary flipper’s weapon in the first few hits of the fight. This season Rotator was firing on all cylinders and kicked off the year with an explosive win over Kraken that saw the biter’s airbag detonate mid fight. Black Dragon was Rotator’s second match and Rotator was able to damage the hearty robot’s front plow to win by decision. In the main tournament Rotator rematched with Captain Shrederator and naturally Captain Shrederator had one of its moments where it just absolutely failed. Finally, Rotator met Tantrum in the Round of 16 and was stopped dead in its tracks when the soon to be champion was able to toss Rotator out of the arena.
Rotator’s blade is deadly after about two seconds. Meanwhile Glitch’s weapon has yet to spin up. It’s twitching but there’s no action from it yet meaning the brushless motors are trying to work but aren’t because they’re pieces of shit that are too complicated for their own good. Rotator draws first blood and visibly messes up the right side of Glitch by bending up the edge of its front armor plate and knocking off the same back armor plate that Retrograde was able to hit. It took Retrograde like three runs at that side of Glitch to do that kind of damage and all Rotator needed was one. Glitch finally starts driving like it wants to win a fucking fight while Rotator chases Glitch around and circumcises one of the floor’s Ramrods with its spinning disc. Rotator very nearly meets Glitch head on and backs away from it knowing that attacking from that angle is a bad move. That’s exactly why Uppercut lost.
Rotator drives wide around Glitch ensuring that Glitch can’t just leap forward and strike its side. The spinner then turns around and tries to get in close but only manages to graze the front of Glitch which is not where it wants to be. Rotator again comes in tight on Glitch’s right side but Glitch turns into Rotator and blasts its side with its spinning drum thing. The impact of this single hit is enough to knock loose an entire bottom armor panel from Rotator and dislodge the robot’s internals. Batteries and electronics and shit just rain down from Rotator as the robot crashes down into the red square already a smoking mess before it hits the floor. Glitch’s team goes crazy. Victor Soto just surveys the damage and says “shit”. I’m with Victor on this one. What can I say, when Glitch hits it hits hard. Again that’s a near 70 pound chunk of metal powered by two brushless motors. It delivered enough force to bust off an armor panel it didn’t even fucking touch. Jesus Christ.
WINNER: Glitch, KO
I guess the planets have aligned for Glitch. It is now 7-0 in its debut BattleBots season. Seven fucking wins without a loss. And it’s not even done yet because it’s in the Golden Bolt tournament. I already said Rotator wasn’t going to be easy but apparently my dumb ass was wrong about that statement because Glitch basically ended the fight in one hit, but these other robots in the Golden Bolt event might be too much to handle. Glitch is officially in over its head but crazier things have happened. Maybe there’s enough magic for one more upset but the robot is in the big leagues now. But god damn though, 7-0? No one else has done this in the reboot seasons in a one year span. Period.
As usual the brackets for the next episode are revealed at the end of this one. The two robots that I am looking at here are Bloodsport and Blacksmith. Bloodsport is strong against robots that attack from the top so it’ll have the upper hand if Kraken beats Blade, which it probably will. Meanwhile Blacksmith can hit Deadlift’s weak top armor and win on damage and I think Lucky will beat Switchback. Blacksmith versus Lucky is a real toss-up but my gut tells me Blacksmith wins on decision. That puts Blacksmith and Bloodsport in the bracket finals where I think Bloodsport has the edge. We’ll find out who the bounty boss is soon but for now that’s where my predictions end.
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