All roads lead to gold in BattleBots: Champions. For the past five weeks we’ve seen a veritable slam fest of carnage where some of the robots who took an early exit in the main tournament have tried to rise again in the Golden Bolt qualifiers. Hypershock, Ribbot, and Glitch who were all eliminated early on said they weren’t done yet and straight up fucking murdered the gatekeeper bots standing in their way, last season’s Bounty Hunters winners. Skorpios and Witch Doctor are two gatekeepers who held their positions against their challengers and also made it into the special event. Waiting for them are BattleBots champions of yore: Tombstone, End Game, and Tantrum. It’s a shame that Bite Force is no more because having the whole gang of champs in the fray would’ve been a real treat. Thanks Paul, you blew it.
The bracket for the Golden Bolt finale wasn’t revealed at the end of the previous episode like they did for the standard qualifiers so our first glimpse into the carnage ahead is shown a couple minutes into this episode. It’s an absolute rematch bonanza here with Skorpios and Hypershock, Ribbot and End Game, and Tombstone and Tantrum all facing off against each other one more time to see if the tables will be turned or if the winners can make lightning strike twice. Rounding out the rematches is newcomer Glitch facing off against runner-up Witch Doctor in a battle that’ll see two big hitters tear each other apart.
When all is said and done the winner of this “Super Desperado” event will hoist the newest piece of BattleBots hardware high, the Golden Bolt!
RIBBOT vs. END GAME
Up first is a rematch from season 9, Ribbot versus End Game. When Ribbot was a brand new robot it managed to knock out End Game in its second ever BattleBots fight. Ribbot used its vertical disc configuration for that match however rather than go back to it for the second time around David Jin has instead elected to go with Ribbot’s undercutter setup. Will this prove to be a fatal mistake? We’ll have to find out. Ribbot took an early exit from the main tournament this year after Hydra defeated it but the frog came back and sliced through its Champions bracket. Double Jeopardy didn’t stand a chance against the frog’s heavy spinning disc and Malice was taken out with a conservative lighter vertical spinner and plow combination. Deep Six proved to be a tough surprise but after clipping off a wheel Ribbot was able to let the massive spinner die on its own. Finally Ribbot met the bracket gatekeeper Lock-Jaw and in a matter of seconds Lock-Jaw’s tires were flattened and the robot was left for dead.
End Game was the Giant Nut winner in season 10 of BattleBots. It came back into this season as the reigning champion with an axe to grind and aspirations to double down and win the title again. End Game got off to a good start early on with a nasty KO of Hydra right out of the gate in a match that was a lot shorter than everyone was expecting. Witch Doctor was End Game’s second opponent and End Game shut that shit down as well with yet another KO win. End Game’s final qualifier match was against Sawblaze in a match that literally lasted one hit because Sawblaze was chucked out of the arena and that was it, End Game qualified for the main tournament with a 3-0 record and all of those wins being knock outs. End Game does not fuck around. In the Round of 32 Skorpios tried to stop End Game’s run but End Game responded by demolishing the control bot and letting it die by the Upper Deck. Minotaur was next in line and in a fight that went the distance, and became one of the best fights of all time in BattleBots (both my opinion and a straight up fact), End Game was silenced as Minotaur savagely destroyed the former champion and won by a unanimous decision.
End Game enters the arena with forks welded onto its front plow meaning Jack Barker and Nick Mabey were assuming Ribbot would go with its vertical spinner again just like the first time they fought. When this proves to not be the case End Game literally rams itself into the spike strip during the robot control test to snap its forks off. Okay first that’s baller, but second were those just glued on? Because if they were used in battle would they have broken off at first impact? The fuck is going on? Ribbot opens the fight by going wide to get a better angle on End Game who so far is only creeping out of its starting square. Both of these robots have weapons that can absolutely demolish the other but when it comes time to make contact Ribbot just charges in to hit End Game weapon on weapon. This might’ve been a stupid ass idea however because Ribbot gets launched into the air high enough for the remote controlled camera on top of the drivers’ booth to shit itself. Ribbot lands upside down with its undercutter on top and while that’s bad news in it’s own right the robot appears to have a bigger problem: that disc is dead.
Ribbot’s weapon is out of commission after just one massive horse kick from End Game. End Game follows up the attack with another that hits Ribbot’s dead spinner and hurls the robot into the air. Ribbot literally flies half way across the Battlebox to land in the short corner near the red square. End Game is so surgical with its blows that as it charges in for round three it flosses its disc between Ribbot’s tires ripping away the piece of armor that protects its drive chains and snapping both chains behind the panel. Ribbot immediately loses drive on one side and lands under the Pulverizer. Whoever is running the hazards for End Game wastes no time at all bringing the 100 pound sledge down. The frog gets squished and while its tires are spinning on one side End Game comes in and shreds one of them causing it to lock up.
Ribbot is pretty much dead by this point but End Game wants to send a fucking message after losing its first match back in 2019. End Game slices into Ribbot again this time hard enough to throw the frog into the arena glass. Ribbot lands directly in front of one of the bumpers next to the screws but because no one gives a shit about operating the hazards properly the bumper doesn’t fire off to shove Ribbot out of the way. End Game says this is enough and that its message is clear. The former champ leaves Ribbot to die and the score is settled.
WINNER: End Game, KO
SKORPIOS vs. HYPERSHOCK
The previous fight was a rematch, this one’s a re-rematch because this battle is the third time these two robots have met in the arena. So far Skorpios has had the upper hand the entire time and is 2-0 against Hypershock. For this fight Zach Lytle has attached some heavy duty twin forks to the front of Skorpios and his plan is to smash into Hypershock until it’s able to flip Hypershock over. Then presumably the next step is to slice up the robot’s vulnerable underside. Skorpios is one of the gatekeeper bots that qualified after defeating its challenger in the Champions qualifier bracket. Bloodsport was the bot that rose to the occasion and Skorpios’ armored plow made short work of the spinner. Of note however is Skorpios’ weapon didn’t seem to be functioning properly in that fight. Skorpios better have its shit together because if it comes out swinging a limp dick hammer saw Hypershock will filet this thing alive.
Hypershock is a robot that swings back and forth between having good years and bad years. I’d say this year is a good one. The robot was eliminated in the Round of 32 by P1 after Will Bales got a little too big of a dick over Hypershock’s newly functioning weaponry and wound up flipping itself over on P1’s wedge. Will learned his lesson though and Hypershock returned in Champions and has just been destroying everything in its path. Duck had a bad year and Hypershock made it even worse by sinking the water fowl to 0-4 for the season… and tearing a wheel and Duck’s weapon off in the process. Hypershock literally disarmed Valkyrie and threw its weapon into the fucking ceiling and proceeded to carve entire chunks of armor off of the unarmed robot until Valkyrie just died. Against Mad Catter we saw Hypershock rip and tear its opponent apart until Mad Catter was a smoking mess burning itself out on top of the Upper Deck. And of course we can’t forget Hypershock’s battle with the gatekeeper Gigabyte where Gigabyte was separated from its shell and the whole thing was thrown into the back wall of the arena smashing the goddamned BattleBots logo sign in the process. Hypershock may have lost to Skorpios twice in the past but I wouldn’t count it out in this fight just yet.
Skorpios goes for the box rush because just as Zach said he’s attempting to use Skorpios’ big ass plow to absorb hits from Hypershock with the intent to destabilize the neon nightmare and flip it over; Skorpios even has a new hammer saw blade for this fight that we’ve never seen before, a double-ended bar spinner. Hypershock dodges the incoming box rush and whips around to bring its spinner to bear in Skorpios’ face. Hypershock’s long forks are actually able to defeat Skorpios’ and the robot delivers a hit that flips Skorpios over. The kinetic energy stored in Skorpios’ blade is expended into the floor and the robot flips and spazzes out as it rights itself. Hypershock comes in for a follow-up attack and heaves Skorpios at the Pulverizer right next to that pocket of the arena wall where the bots are loaded in. The forbidden “out of the arena” zone.
It’s obvious what’s about to happen. Hypershock was just throwing punches to see what connected but now Skorpios is in the danger zone. Hypershock’s forks are the superior ones and it seems every hit is going to connect. Hypershock tees up Skorpios, swings its club, and sinks Skorpios outside of the arena. For some stupid reason the ref counts out Skorpios as if the robot can get out of the fucking pocket. Perhaps one of these days a flipper will get tossed into there upside down and will be able to right itself and get out but Skorpios’ doesn’t have that ability. Hypershock’s kill streak continues and the tables have finally turned. Hypershock 1, Skorpios 2.
WINNER: Hypershock, KO
WITCH DOCTOR vs. GLITCH
This next fight isn’t a juicy rematch but it is unique in its own way. Back in the main tournament Witch Doctor was supposed to fight Glitch in the Round of 32, however Glitch had to drop out and was replaced with Mammoth (who Witch Doctor very happily destroyed just the same). Now that Glitch is in working order, and Witch Doctor also qualified for the Golden Bolt event, it makes sense that these two would be destined to meet to give us the Round of 32 fight that never was. We’ll finally get to know how that fight would’ve panned out and that’s great because it means I won’t have to read stupid BattleBots fanfiction on Reddit for the next ten years by people who won’t shut the fuck up about stupid shit in this sport. Witch Doctor, like Skorpios, was a gatekeeper who qualified by stopping its challenger. In Witch Doctor’s case that was Whiplash in a heated battle that very nearly went the distance until Whiplash showed a brief moment of weakness and Witch Doctor jumped in. One particularly gnarly shot made Whiplash cough up its master power switch and understandably the robot got pretty quiet after that.
Glitch is being hailed as some miracle newcomer with a “7-0” record but I guess we’re treating forfeits differently these days than we did in years gone by. If you ask me Glitch is 7-1 but whatever I’ll play along. This robot has had nothing but trouble with its unique drivetrain this whole season but its weapon has been nothing short of spectacular. Glitch famously defeated Hydra when the producers tried to feed it to the flipper as an easy win. In the Champions qualifier Glitch first fought Gruff and in the last second of the fight landed a huge blow that stuck with the judges and gave Glitch the win. Glitch then fought Retrograde and was behind for most of the fight until a couple of fortuitous shots presented themselves and Glitch was able to pull off Retrograde’s external wheels. This again impressed the judges and Glitch won the decision. Against Uppercut people thought surely Glitch would lose but no, Glitch hit Uppercut where it hurt and disabled the spinner’s drive on one side to win yet again. In the qualifier finals Glitch fought Rotator and again everyone thought Glitch was doomed but Glitch sucker punched Rotator right in its side causing Rotator’s bottom panel to come loose and its parts fall out like a sick pinata.
Of importance for this fight is that Witch Doctor is actually using forks. The team didn’t even do that for the goddamned Giant Nut championship this year. That’s how serious they’re taking this fight with an opponent who can rip portals into other dimensions and make you shit your guts out. You can tell right away Mike Gellatly is not having fun driving Witch Doctor because he’s very carefully dodging every Killsaw slot and cautiously stepping around the floor seams because you never know when you’ll hit one. Meanwhile Glitch cruises into the center of the box and starts controlling it not letting Witch Doctor in. Witch Doctor continues to drive around the outside of the middle looking for a way in and as it drives perpendicularly over the Killsaws sure enough the fucking forks get stuck in there and trip up the robot. That’s why Kyle Miller took the forks off of Glitch, he was tired of that happening.
Witch Doctor starts getting a little more bold with its attempts to dart into Glitch’s center area and Glitch goes on the attack and misses. Now that Glitch is out of the center Witch Doctor drives into it and tries to chase Glitch down. Glitch drives sideways back into the center of the arena and very nearly clips Witch Doctor’s back right tire in the process. I’ve got the feeling this is going to be one of those fights that comes down to one massive ass destroying hit. Witch Doctor is able to get around to one of the angled front sides of Glitch and shed some sparks. The robot floors it forward headed toward the wall to pummel Glitch into it and connect with its spinning disc but instead Witch Doctor hits the fucking Killsaws on the way to the spike strip and loses Glitch. You can just tell Witch Doctor hates this fork shit because this is soooo not how the robot usually fights.
Glitch starts having its usual drive problems in the corner of the arena and Witch Doctor comes in for another slam however much like we’ve seen before Glitch gets away at the last possible second. The robot starts to swing and strafe its way back into the center of the arena but Witch Doctor finally stops it and lands a blow to Glitch’s side that very obviously fucks up one of the omniwheel drive pods in the back of the robot because you can see the one on the right just stop turning completely. Unlike robots with standard wheels – who might be able to lose one and still keep fighting – a robot with omnidirectional wheels needs all of their wheels functional in order to actually drive. Just ask Shatter whose frame got warped by Deep Six resulting in its wheels not sitting on the ground correctly. Shatter got counted out. With one of its wheels dead Glitch is pretty much fucked. Witch Doctor takes its opening and starts attacking the backside of Glitch and shoves it into the screws of the blue square.
Glitch still isn’t moving and Mike Gellatly is asking what’s up because this bullshit about not counting robots out has fucked him in the past. The ref threatens to count out Glitch and while this is happening Witch Doctor punts the immobile robot onto the screws while the ref continues to count. Now I know Glitch is dead but this seems kind of shitty. Don’t the refs stop counting when an opponent engages? Glitch is stuck on the screws and it’s still being counted down. It couldn’t move even if it wanted to. I’m just saying wait until the robot is dead on the floor before you start counting it out, I’ve never seen someone get counted out on the screws before unless they were literally jammed under them. (Hi, Skorpios!)
Glitch was lucky to make it this far, but its luck has run out. We got the Glitch versus Witch Doctor fight we were denied in the main tournament and it turns out Witch Doctor is the winner.
WINNER: Witch Doctor, KO
TOMBSTONE vs. TANTRUM
The King of Kinetic Energy is finally here. The editors were sitting on this fight and are showing this quarterfinals match-up last for a reason. Nobody hits like Tombstone. Straight up. Literally nobody. This is a robot whose killer signature blade has led it to thirty-four fucking wins in its BattleBots career, most of those wins by knock out. When you fight Tombstone, you die. Tombstone automatically qualified for the Golden Bolt event as the champion of season 7. That was a long time ago though and Tombstone has been aging not so gracefully. It started its season off with a loss (yes, a loss) to Captain fucking Shrederator when Tombstone’s new blade lost a tooth and the whole thing destabilized and caught fire. Tombstone won a special double KO decision over Mammoth after one massive hit took out one side of drive on the former champ. Tombstone also defeated Free Shipping in a highly anticipated fight wherein Tombstone’s weapon eventually stopped working. Tombstone still qualified for the main tournament but lost in the Round of 32 to Jackpot when Tombstone again hit its opponent so hard that it lost a side of drive. If Ray Billings has been able to fix these issues he might stand a chance here, otherwise the new reigning champion might get its revenge.
Tantrum is your season 11 champion. Love it or hate it this tiny little tank did what no one thought it could and stomped out all opposition to claim the Giant Nut for itself making history in the process as co-captain Ginger Schmidt became the first female champion in BattleBots history. But Tantrum’s beef with Tombstone goes way back and we have to rewind the clock a bit to get there. Way back in season 8 when Tantrum was a brand new robot armed with a spring-loaded flipping arm instead of a spinning disc it fought Tombstone in an exhibition fight that was so incredible it made it to air in the final episode of the season. Tombstone basically obliterated Tantrum but one hit in particular made its mark in the history of the sport; Tombstone ripped away one of Tantrum’s decorative side fists and threw it at the wall so hard that the fist embedded itself in the main power conduit for the arena. Tombstone was literally mere centimeters away from killing power to the entire fucking Battlebox with this amazing one in a billion shot. Tantrum has grown and changed a lot since those halcyon days and it’s only gotten tougher and more hardened since. Now it’s ready to step up to the rematch and score one against the king.
Tantrum charges at Tombstone right from the start because the team is confident that their frontal wedge attachment will succeed in helping to stop Tombstone’s blade. Well it’s not but what it does do is deflect Tombstone away and cause it to reel up onto one wheel almost immediately. When this happens Tombstone is at the mercy of its own weapon’s gyroscopic energy because the force of the weapon is keeping it reeled up onto its side. Ray Billings powers down the weapon but there’s enough residual energy left in the thing to keep the robot stuck in its upward state until it inevitably hits the floor and then bounces off into the wall. This brings Tombstone to a stand still and it has to spin back up from nothing. Tantrum tries to dive into its opponent but Tombstone is able to get away. Unfortunately, Tombstone can’t spin around fast enough as it tries to put some distance between it and Tantrum and Tantrum catches Tombstone by the ass and starts pushing it across the floor.
Tombstone slides off of Tantrum’s wedge and lands in the short corner near the blue square which is obviously bad news for Tombstone because this pocket contains nothing but walls and that’ll kill Tombstone’s weapon in an instant. Tombstone is able to get away for now by just backing up and as it hits Tantrum’s armor I want you all to appreciate the gashes that this solid chunk of S7 tool steel is making in Tantrum’s face. You can literally see where the blade is digging into Tantrum and although none of these gashes are deep enough to breach the armor it’s only a matter of time until something bad happens to Tantrum at this rate. Tombstone hits Tantrum’s front wedge again and reels up onto its right tire. Tombstone is headed straight for the wall with no brakes and the weapon bar digs hard into the spike strip spinning Tombstone around. As the killer spinner continues to reel up it starts shooting sparks out of its face like it tried deepthroating some sparklers as a fucking Jackass prank or something.
When Tombstone eventually hits the wall enough times to spin down and get back onto its wheels we discover the worst has happened: Tombstone’s left wheel is locked up. For the third fucking time this season Tombstone has hit something hard enough to either strip a gearbox or shatter the magnets in its motor or something I have no fucking clue but whatever it is that’s three strikes Tombstone, you’re out. Tombstone continues to crabwalk in the corner but it’s not going anywhere and the robot is still coughing up copious amounts of sparks. Sparks eventually turn to smoke as Tombstone’s batteries give out and the beast threatens to burst into flames yet again. Tombstone slides across the floor a couple of feet and dings its blade on the side of the Upper Deck causing a chunk of steel to fly off of the weapon. Now Tombstone is violently shaking as it spins its heavy mass around. Real good Ray I’m sure those melting batteries really appreciate being fucked in the ass even harder now.
Tantrum sees its opening and lunges at Tombstone shoving it into the wall and stopping its blade in the process. As Tantrum backs away there’s no further motion from Tombstone’s weaponry. The ref starts his countdown and Tantrum valiantly raises its fists into the air (well, one fist, the other one fell off and is over by Tombstone). The reigning champion stares down Tombstone and utters only one final thing:
“The future is now, old man.”
WINNER: Tantrum, KO
WITCH DOCTOR vs. HYPERSHOCK
We’re now in the semifinals of the Golden Bolt tournament and nobody is showing any signs of stopping. Everyone thus far has had dominant wins over their quarterfinals opponents. Witch Doctor and Glitch finally gave us the Round of 32 that never was and when the green light dropped Witch Doctor fought aggressively to take Glitch out of the center of the box. Glitch’s drive problems eventually came back and Witch Doctor saw its opening landing a hit that ruined a side of drive on the omnidirectional robot and killing it. Meanwhile Hypershock rematched against Skorpios for the second time and finally settled the score by grabbing Skorpios by the throat and tossing it out of the arena. Despite the event organizers’ best attempts yes that is still possible in only two specific spots of the arena and Hypershock claimed one of them. Despite sharing a common workshop in Miami – and competing in every single season of the BattleBots reboot – these two teams have never crossed paths before.
As this fight starts it’s like night and day for Witch Doctor’s driving. Without those stupid forks on the front to get caught in literally everything Mike Gellatly is just tearing ass around the box with Hypershock close behind. Hypershock starts slowly gaining on Witch Doctor until Witch Doctor turns hard presumably to try and catch Hypershock’s side. This attack fails though and Hypershock strikes Witch Doctor on its front corner and tosses it aside. Hypershock lands a follow-up attack on Witch Doctor’s front plow and kicks the robot backwards but thus far no major damage has been sustained. Witch Doctor gets in Hypershock’s face and Hypershock tries to spin away to dart off and regroup. This maneuver also fails because the centrifugal force of Hypershock’s weapon is too strong and it pulls the robot up and over onto its lid. Thankfully for Hypershock the twist undoes itself and the robot starts to land right ways up but not before Witch Doctor comes in for its retaliation.
Witch Doctor digs into the backside of Hypershock and its spinning disc grabs hold of its back tire and just rips the shit out of it. The tire immediately shits out all of its foam filling as the rubber is yanked off of the hub. An impressive hit for Witch Doctor because as we all know wheel damage is second only to primary weapon damage in the eyes of the judges. Unfortunately for Witch Doctor though the rubber wheel gets sucked straight into the cavity behind its spinning disc and jams the weapon up. Now we have a fight between a fully mobile robot with a jammed weapon and a robot with a working weapon but limited mobility. Cripple fight? Cripple fight. Witch Doctor backs away and starts flicking its srimech back and forth to see if it’ll catch on the lip of the wheel to pull it out but no dice. Meanwhile Hypershock claws its way out of the corner of the arena with its double blades spinning at top speed. Andrea laughs. Mike says a no-no word.
Hypershock is trying to figure out how it can stay mobile in this fight and winds up spinning around in place and flipping over. This happens right as Witch Doctor is passing close by and Hypershock lands a hit to Witch Doctor’s lid. Hypershock’s blades dig into the arena floor and stop and it looks like this might be the end for Will Bales and his crew. Witch Doctor starts pummeling Hypershock against the wall using itself like a battering ram because that’s about all it can do while choking on a goddamned wheel. Out of nowhere Hypershock’s weaponry comes back to life and again the forces generated by the spinning mass help flip the robot back over. It’s still not very mobile, and I think it’s even starting to smoke, but at least Hypershock poses a threat again. Funny how the refs haven’t seemed to say anything about Hypershock’s obvious crabwalking though.
Witch Doctor continues to drive circles around Hypershock and Hypershock proves that even in its crippled state it’s still not to be fucked with because Hypershock catches Witch Doctor by the lip of its top armor and throws it upside down. Another power play from Hypershock but this comes with the added cost of knocking loose that tire that Witch Doctor has had stuffed up its butt this whole time. As Witch Doctor rights itself that hellacious zombie disc starts spinning back up to speed. Right away the robot resumes running around Hypershock trying to find an opening for a kill shot but Hypershock is just pivoting endlessly in place always turning to face Witch Doctor like a possessed Jesus painting. Witch Doctor predictably gets too close to Hypershock again and its corner catches on Hypershock’s spinner resulting in Witch Doctor doing a massive bunny hop into the drivers’ booth. It’s hard to gauge distance when robots fly into the air because they rarely have a shadow under them thanks to all the lights; I was hoping Witch Doctor would land directly on the BattleBots sign and smash it because that’d be fucking metal but it missed it by a few inches.
There’s one minute left in this fight and Hypershock has its ass planted firmly in the center of the arena. Witch Doctor catches it from the corner and the two robots lock heads again and as Hypershock spins away this maneuver again causes it to tip up and flip onto its lid. That’s like two or three times now Will stop doing that. With Hypershock upside down Witch Doctor comes in and the two bots meet weapon to weapon however because Hypershock’s blades are spinning downward the robot is propelled into the air where it lands hard on its face and Witch Doctor comes in to punch it in the kidney. Witch Doctor lands a hit to Hypershock’s side and this looks to be the god shot that lays Hypershock to rest. Will should not have tempted fate in the pits by saying “no one has scratched this robot yet”. I believe Witch Doctor has done more than scratch it, it’s keyed “Will Bales sux the big 1” into its paint.
WINNER: Witch Doctor, KO
TANTRUM vs. END GAME
Tantrum has disposed of one former champion so far, can it do it a second time? We’ve had a lot of rematches in this episode so here’s another one for the pile; these two robots met in the semifinals of season 10 and End Game came out ahead after Tantrum’s speed controller burned up and the robot was flipped over. Tantrum sustained heavy armor damage in its brief fight with Tombstone showing that even though we didn’t see a kill shot from the king it still did enough damage to Tantrum to raise concerns among the team, namely that their weapon died for unknown reasons. End Game defeated Ribbot in its first round in a rematch that swung in End Game’s favor this time. One direct blow to Ribbot’s spinner was enough to kill the weapon completely and a volley of power attacks that followed ruined the robot’s drive system. Jack Barker says Tantrum didn’t fight End Game on its way to the Giant Nut this year and he wants this fight to show that End Game could’ve kicked Tantrum’s ass if given the chance. Better nut up or shut up, Tantrum might make you eat those words.
Both of these robots have ground-scraping forks on their front end and End Game’s gone a step further and even included their hinged wedgelets behind the forks. Within seconds of this fight starting the robots demonstrate why forks are fucking lame: they stab each other in the face and no one wins the ground game. Eventually someone’s going to stop scissoring with their opponent but until then the robots are deadlocked and End Game isn’t showing any signs of letting up the pressure. Tantrum is the robot to break loose and duck away and as it does so End Game sees an opening and tries to seize it. Instead End Game’s forks snag on the floor saving Tantrum’s ass in the process. Gee whiz, forks sure are great. I hate that I predicted that forks were going to become a design staple last season. The robots lock heads again and Tantrum keeps throwing punches with its shitty little weapon that don’t land on End Game because the robot is too far away. Eventually End Game gets Tantrum into the side wall and lands a hit that throws the reigning champ through the air and this is the shit I’m talking about. This is End Game, baby.
Tantrum lands upside down and immediately gets to work righting itself while someone on Tantrum’s team starts dropping the Pulverizer on End Game. End Game doesn’t give a fuck though and shrugs off the hazard like nothing is there. The bots lock heads once again and Tantrum’s goofy weapon is again spinning and firing off but it’s getting no purchase on End Game. I assume the aim here is to lock heads and then punch End Game on its weapon to potentially dislodge it or tweak it but that plan is working out, uh, not so well for Tantrum. End Game gets Tantrum into the other corner of the Battlebox and lands a hit that flips Tantrum over again. Tantrum flips back over but End Game is on its ass the entire time looking for a second attack that it can land. It finds this attack and rolls Tantrum over yet again. End Game momentarily gets stuck in the stupid Killsaws before decking Tantrum and flipping it back onto its head. Kenny Florian acts like an apologist for Tantrum saying “considering Tantrum came into this fight beat up blah blah blah” whatever Kenny stop sucking the champion’s dick. This is End Game’s fight just sit back and enjoy the ride.
End Game lands a few glancing shots to Tantrum and as the orange robot gets away it’s apparent that Tantrum’s forks are slightly bent up from the onslaught. This means Tantrum’s chances of getting underneath End Game are fucking zero now. Tantrum’s taken a lot of damage but it’s still cruising around the arena and End Game is still beholden to the forces of physics that its weapon generates. Case in point End Game does a judo kick over Tantrum that very nearly opens its ass up to a shot from Tantrum’s top-mounted disc. This doesn’t mean anything though because Tantrum’s weapon looks dead but if this happened like a minute ago you might be reading a different paragraph on this website. Tantrum gets stuck in the corner dangerously close to an out of bounds area and End Game flips the robot over. There’s not quite enough height to kick the champ out of the arena but End Game comes close.
As Tantrum tries to get away and regroup it takes another hit and sheds one of its front forks leaving only one behind. The second fork is ripped away almost immediately after leaving Tantrum as nothing more than a bulletproof brick of metal for End Game to take its frustrations out on. End Game lines up Tantrum and charges in face first colliding with Tantrum’s front end and tossing the robot over. As Tantrum flips around and rights itself it throws out a chain from somewhere. As the thirty second mark approaches on the clock End Game’s weapon spins down. Kenny thinks this is a strategic play to prevent Tantrum from somehow breaking it. Whether or not that’s true I have no idea but turning the weapon off is functionally identical to it “breaking” so even if that’s the idea End Game is still signaling to the judges that its weapon doesn’t work anymore. Whatever. Tantrum is rolled over one last time with the help of the shelf in the waning seconds of this fight.
The match goes to the judges who rule unanimously in End Game’s favor. Tantrum landed a staggering zero hits that entire fight. End Game moves on for a rematch with Witch Doctor in the Golden Bolt finals meanwhile Tantrum fans are left to cry about it.
WINNER: End Game, Judges’ Decision (3-0)
THE OTHER GIANT BOLTS
Because there are only seven fights as opposed to eight in this episode the editors needed to fill some time. We can’t just barge into the finals without something else to sit through first and that obligation goes to the awards ceremony for this season’s Giant Bolts. Er, the other Giant Bolts rather. These are handed out each year to teams for various categories and this season’s are:
BEST ROOKIE: Glitch & Riptide
There actually doesn’t appear to be a proper Giant Bolt for this award so in lieu of that the winners receive a retired Pulverizer head from the arena to commemorate the occasion. That’s cool I guess. This year’s breakout newbies were Glitch and Riptide and yeah I can kind of see why. Glitch had its miracle run of seven straight goddamned wins that ended only when its run bled over into the Champions miniseries and Witch Doctor stepped in to stop it. Nobody else can touch that. However Glitch had some technical problems that resulted in its forfeit from the main tournament so that’s a mark against it. Meanwhile Riptide was also new this year and really shook the house with its impressive streak of KO victories of which there were four. Riptide reached all the way to the quarterfinals in its rookie year being the only rookie this year to achieve that and as such Ethan Kurtz and his team received a Best Rookie award alongside Kyle Miller and Glitch.
MOST DESTRUCTIVE ROBOT: Hypershock
Come on, who else this season could’ve won this award? Hypershock clearly won this Giant Bolt largely from its run in Champions because that’s where Will Bales turned off his internal limiter and just let Hypershock speak for itself. There were a lot of gruesome KO’s from Hypershock this year but for me nothing beats the smackdown Hypershock laid onto Mad Catter during the Golden Bolt qualifiers a few weeks ago. Mad Catter entered that fight looking mostly brand new thanks to Triple Crown breaking down and Claw Viper being unable to damage it whatsoever. It left that fight in a fucking garbage bag. Hypershock was peeling off parts left and right and yet Mad Catter refused to give up. It hung on for dear life despite vomiting up parts that had to have been fucking important for something but I don’t know what. The only reason it died was because it got flipped over otherwise that thing would’ve kept fighting.
GRANT IMAHARA AWARD FOR BEST DESIGN: Blip
When it comes to unique robots you’d be hard pressed to find someone more ingenious than Aren Hill. He’s the engineer that brought us this season’s Giant Nut winner Tantrum and he’s also the mastermind behind newcomer Blip. Whereas Hydra paved the way for a new breed of flipper a couple of seasons ago Blip has done exactly the same. Compressed air gave way to hydraulics which in turn gave way to a mechanical flipper that uses elastic cords to rapidly charge up and unleash enough flipping force to send a robot flying just as high as its counterparts. Blip burst onto the scene this year and turned a lot of heads with its theoretically infinite flipper limited only by battery power. As a bonus Aren takes his Giant Bolt and screws on Tantrum’s Giant Nut to demonstrate that yes the nut and bolt thread together now can we please shut the fuck up about this and stop asking it every other day?
FOUNDER’S AWARD: Sawblaze
And last but not least is the Founder’s Award which is a special award given to a builder or team who the BattleBots founders (Trey Roski and Greg Munson) feel best embodies the spirit of the sport of robot combat. Previous winners run the gamut from the noble Zoe Stephenson (Chomp) to the villainous Jake Ewert (Hydra). This year the honor goes to Jamison Go of Team Sawblaze. The segment doesn’t go into why the organizers selected Jamison but it has to be his sportsmanlike conduct both in and out of the arena and how well he manages his team and his robot. Sawblaze is a robot that has perpetually been on the verge of greatness since its debut in season 7 and although Sawblaze itself hasn’t won any accolades or hardware at least Jamison has this big ass bolt to decorate his workshop with. Few builders are as humble and outgoing as Jamison and going by the interactions I’ve had with him I can definitely agree that he deserves the award.
WITCH DOCTOR vs. END GAME
It’s time. The battle for the Golden Bolt is upon us. This is what the past six weeks of content has been leading up to, this one final epic battle that’s a showdown between a two time runner-up and a former champion. It’s not just a showdown, either. It’s a rematch. Witch Doctor and End Game met in the qualification rounds this season and considering End Game went 3-0 in its qualifiers you know how their first fight went; End Game dominated Witch Doctor and didn’t give it an inch for a decisive win by KO. Strangely End Game is using its longest forks again despite using them the first time around resulting in them getting bent up. You’d think that would’ve been a learning experience but I guess not, Jack and Nick are confident that their forks won’t get thrashed a second time. Meanwhile Witch Doctor is using no forks and will be reliant solely upon Mike’s driving ability and the punch its massive single disc weapon imparts.
As the fight begins Witch Doctor goes wide to spin up whereas End Game shoots for the center of the arena to claim the position. This matches up with how End Game likes to fight as well as how Witch Doctor likes to fight. Witch Doctor immediately gets to work driving circles around End Game waiting for a fuck up and as soon as that opportunity presents itself Witch Doctor just dives right in. This is for all the marbles, the time for holding back is over. Witch Doctor draws first blood when its opening hit dislocates the entire left chunk of wedgelets on End Game leaving them twisted upward and held on by a single bolt. Witch Doctor gets in End Game’s face and starts splaying out the left leading fork on End Game similar to what happened in their first fight. However Witch Doctor is in End Game’s face meaning End Game is able to tee up for one of its signature moves. End Game floors it across the box, sparks shooting out of its face thanks to Witch Doctor, and slams Witch Doctor into the wall. The impact leads its spinning disc into Witch Doctor sending it flying into the air and landing awkwardly against the Upper Deck.
End Game grabs its spoon and digs right in. Witch Doctor needs to right itself but End Game is in there to prevent that from happening by constantly attacking Witch Doctor and causing it to twist around in the air and just generally keep it destabilized. Witch Doctor is able to recover and finish off the wedgelets it knocked loose at the start of the fight but if you look closely at Witch Doctor you’ll see something flapping loose right above its ass. I believe this is a piece of impact absorbing foam or rubber inserted into the robot to help protect its insides from getting absolutely fucked when things like “being thrown through the goddamned air ass over head” happen. If that’s been knocked loose that means there’s some kind of structural damage done to Witch Doctor for that to be ejected out the back.
Witch Doctor is engaging with End Game in a desperate attempt to even the scorecard out but End Game responds to this assault by turning into it to face its aggressor and in doing so it connects with Witch Doctor’s lip of rib cage armor. This is the same thing that Hypershock snagged Witch Doctor by in their battle earlier in the episode. The difference here is End Game is firing on all cylinders so that lip of armor winds up causing the entire fucking side of the rib cage to be torn away revealing the plate metal under it. This top plate is also damaged in the process however and you can see inside of Witch Doctor and see wires and important shit just exposed to the air. End Game follows through and slams Witch Doctor into the spike strip for a hit that sends the doc doing a goddamned corkscrew through the air only to land completely and utterly just dead. The hit rocked Witch Doctor so savagely that its back left wheel is fucked up. End Game didn’t even hit that.
This is it. Jack Barker celebrates a bit preemptively with his team while Witch Doctor starts to get counted out. Also I just now noticed that Witch Doctor’s ref is wearing a referee suit jacket. They make those? My man’s got the drip!
WINNER: End Game, KO
And so, a champion is crowned. End Game, “the champion of champions”. You know when the bracket was revealed and posted to Reddit I made the prediction that Ribbot could go all the way. I didn’t realize David Jin would make the stupid decision to not use his robot’s vertical spinner configuration however and that’s what my prediction was based upon. However I did also say at the end of my post that if Ribbot didn’t make it all the way that I saw End Game taking the championship in its place, and I was dead on with that one. You guys just think I’m some dickhead who writes fight reviews that are passably entertaining. I’ve been involved with this sport for 21 fucking years I’ve learned a thing or two!
It’s gotta sting for Andrea and Mike Gellatly though because this Golden Bolt event is just yet another second place finish. They were doing some good damage to End Game too, those wedgelets they tore off exposed a nice flat surface for their robot’s weapon to dig right in and wreak some havoc. Hopefully Team Witch Doctor don’t fold after this loss because they are a true force within BattleBots and I personally enjoy seeing them every year. I think a lot of you would say the same thing. One thing that has always impressed me about Witch Doctor is its evolution to change whatever causes it to lose in the previous season. After End Game caught Witch Doctor by the outside lip of its top armor I’d say keep your eyes on Witch Doctor to change that facet of its design by the time the next season rolls around. I bet Andrea and Mike get rid of the lip. I’d bet money on it.
And speaking of “next season” it’s literally right around the corner. BattleBots has hinted at October being the month where taping will take place at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas again and if that’s the case then I better get my ass in gear because that leaves me with like a month and a half to get ready. On top of that by the time I get home I’ll only have a couple days of turnaround before I have to get ready for this year’s annual Extra Life charity marathon. It’s my tenth year helping out so I’m hoping it’s a good one! I’ll post something about it as we get closer to the date in case anyone wants to contribute to this year’s fundraising goal.
Now that the Golden Bolt tournament is over you might be wondering what that means for BattleBots Update. Well, I’ve left Comedy Central season 1 incomplete for half a decade so I ought to fix that. I also held a poll on Facebook and you guys asked for Robotica season one so I’ll be starting that up soon. I will also have an event report from this upcoming season to write up. And finally I have some more articles from my personal archive that I can add to the website too. Between now and taping expect to see more archival content going up and afterward I’ll need some time to work on the videos recorded from the Extra Life event. Don’t worry though things will return to some semblance of “normal” around here soon!
That’s it for BattleBots Update this week! Thank you for taking this journey to the Golden Bolt with me, it was a hell of a ride. If you’d like to show your support for this project you can do so with a monthly pledge on Patreon or a one-time donation with Ko-Fi. Additionally there’s stuff on Redbubble that I should add to sooner rather than later. Lastly be sure to follow BattleBots Update on Facebook for everything else.
See you next week?