[BattleBots: S10 E11 is available via streaming on Discovery+.]
The previous 10 episodes of calamity and qualifications have been leading up to this moment; the main tournament of the season is finally about to begin. For those of you new to BattleBots who don’t understand why we just sat through almost a dozen episodes of things called “Fight Night” I’ll spell it out: “Fight Night” is just a big qualifier, everyone is working toward getting a good ranking to make it into the top 32 robots to advance onward. There was a purpose to seeing Atom #94 get demolished over and over again. That purpose was so that Atom #94 wouldn’t advance, but everyone who touched it would. Except for Big Dill.
So out of over 60 competitors half of them just got Thanos’d and were snapped out of existence. At the end of the previous episode Round of 32 seedings were revealed and I was displeased with most of them to put it lightly. But from here on out it’s a single elimination tournament. Lose here, and you’re definitely not getting the Giant Nut. Time to pack up. Kenny has a nice rhyme to explain it, but I’m going to go with “here I sit broken hearted, had to shit but only farted”. With no more lenience for losing and no “selection committee” to save your ass this is the time in the season where teams get a little more daring with their fights because one fuck up and it’s all over.
This episode focuses on the left side of the tournament bracket meaning we’ve got Hydra and Uppercut as the top seeds on show. This also means that Whiplash, Valkyrie, Black Dragon, and even Tombstone are lurking about too. I’m certain y’all can read a tournament bracket so I don’t need to explain for you, but some fights to keep an eye on are Whiplash vs. Huge, Malice vs. Gigabyte, and Mad Catter vs. Tombstone. They’ve all got hints of potential upsets in the making. Speaking of, Chris Rose says we’re starting off with “the biggest name of them all: Tombstone”. Yes hmm hmm, such a big name that it’s seeded, let me check here, twenty-first. Scary.
ROUND OF 32
TOMBSTONE vs. MAD CATTER
Since Fight Night is over with I think I can move on from regurgitating fight histories we’ve already seen and read about at least three times. We know Tombstone lost to End Game and Skorpios, and we know it demolished Slap Box. There, done. Tombstone can’t afford another accident on its record or else its chances of having yet another Hexbug toy released will basically be zero. Ray Billings isn’t fucking around, he’s coming into this battle with a 72 pound weapon. On a robot that weighs only 250 pounds. That leaves just 178 pounds for “the rest of the robot”; Tombstone is effectively a middleweight machine desperately fighting for control over a weapon as heavy as a lightweight spinning god knows how fast. Woe be to anyone who has to deal with that shit.
Mad Catter has an arsenal of weapons at its disposal as well, though unlike Tombstone the arsenal is more varied instead of “blades of different sizes and metals”. Martin Mason saw the End Game fight so naturally Mad Catter is going with its vertical spinner. Will Mad Catter be able to pull off the same epic shot as End Game? Probably not, but crazier things have happened before and Tombstone is having a remarkably poor season this year. Also affixed to the robot is its lifting arm which I’m guessing is going to be retracted for the whole fight until Tombstone’s weapon slows down enough for the lifting arm to get in there without the possibility of it being torn off and shoved up Mad Catter’s ass.
Right away Mad Catter dances around Tombstone and tries going for the robot’s right drive wheel, so yes “the End Game strategy” is in full effect here tonight. The reason the right wheel is the target instead of the left has to do with the direction Tombstone’s blade is spinning. Getting clipped by the blade as it’s coming inward from its spin won’t result in your robot being spun around and thrown away whereas coming at the side of Tombstone where it’s weapon is spinning outward from will. Simple physics, really. Also Mad Catter is missing its mark because Tombstone draws first blood and catches Mad Catter on the backswing sending the robot flying away… but Mad Catter gets right back in there and god damn it these crazy fucks actually manage to land a hit to Tombstone’s right wheel! It doesn’t tear it off or appear to do any immediate damage, but they were able to execute the attack plan successfully at least once.
The two bots hit weapon-to-weapon and this exchange looks to disable Mad Catter’s spinner either by kinking the frame or damaging something else because the weapon slowly spins down to nothing while Tombstone goes ahead and cleaves off one of the plastic armor panels on Mad Catter’s side. I’m thinking now might be the time where we see the lifting arm come in as a desperation move but no, Mad Catter just straight up slams directly into Tombstone face first and the blow sends the horizontal spinner reeling up onto its side. Tombstone stays right ways up but these are the kinds of blows Ray wants to keep the fuck away from. Same goes with the hit where Tombstone bumps into the screws and wipes itself out. You’re winning this fight, Tombstone, don’t fuck it up.
Tombstone continues to wear Mad Catter down but I’m sensing something is potentially wrong with the drive system on the killer spinner because it appears as though its left wheel is a lot more mobile than its right. You know, the one Mad Catter managed to actually hit about a minute ago. Mad Catter is mostly dead in the red square and you can tell Tombstone is trying to come in for the finishing blows but it keeps jerking to one side as if one wheel has more power than the other. When the cameras cut to Ray you can even see him visibly fighting what appears to be a crumbling drive system with how he’s handling the transmitter stick. Meanwhile the referee tells Mad Catter “moving in circles” isn’t movement and threatens to start counting it down. Playing favorites I see.
Mad Catter responds to these allegations by parking its ass and daring to try revving its spinner up again. There’s little to no motion coming from the cat’s spinner and this just invites a blow from Tombstone that sends the former champ spinning right back into the same set of screws it blew up a moment ago. It almost looks like Mad Catter’s back left wheel has seized up and a power shot from Tombstone that hits the back right corner surely is enough to dent the armor inward and inhibit that wheel as well, but fuck me if Mad Catter doesn’t straight up get out of its wheelchair like this was some Peter Popoff shit and strolls forward.
The back wheels are broken, the spinner is crooked, and we’ve seen no action from its lifting arm but against all odds this stupid cat bot has refused to die. Tombstone appears to be gaining and losing mobility seemingly at random with its aforementioned right wheel issues but it’s able to come in for one last shot during Mad Catter’s eventual countdown when the robot almost makes it back to the blue square and dies right outside of it. It’s still trying to move but its back right tire has very clearly been twisted into a fucking pretzel and I think there’s just not enough strength left in the robot itself to move it in the opposite direction. I’m convinced it made it over to the blue square purely on inertia alone.
WINNER: Tombstone, KO
ROUND OF 32
HIJINX vs. UPPERCUT
While it would be nice to see the outcome of the fight that determines who will be fighting Tombstone next the hosts and editors are jumping around the bracket to avoid revealing too much. Well I got news for you, you can do that only two more times before you have to start telling us some Round of 16 match-ups. Hijinx is in this next fight and as Chris Rose points out none of its previous opponents wound up becoming seeded robots, explaining Hijinx’s relatively low seed. This was one of the robots who beat Tracer by accidentally knocking it over; Hijinx’s only real impressive performance was against Chomp. Let that sink in. Coming up against the #4 seed Uppercut is just brutal but what’s really brutal is being exposed to the guy on Hijinx’s team wearing those dangerously short shorts.
“We just set out to make a funny robot, and we made something really powerful and scary.” Words from Alex Hattori, the designer and driver of Uppercut. You know in the Pokemon movie right before everyone in the laboratory fucking died the head scientist said the same thing about Mewtwo, right? In that play-in fight that fucked Bloodsport out of a 16th seed last season Uppercut was there and it’s the robot who actually won and advanced onward to the main rounds. The fact that both Uppercut and Bloodsport have qualified at seeds #4 and #2 respectively are proof enough that those seedings were bullshit and both of these bots should’ve advanced. Sorry, Rail Gun Max. Next time learn some sweet ass yo-yo tricks instead of bringing an industrial egg beater around with you as a gag.
For reasons unknown Hijinx leads in with its rear tail for this fight. I’m assuming this is so that it can get its shorter bar up to speed and then turn around to strike but we all know Uppercut’s weapon is deadly in two seconds so that tail is just dangling out there as something for Uppercut to bite into. Uppercut lands a glancing blow to the tail, but luckily for Hijinx its stabilizer tail doesn’t get absolutely thrashed by its opponent’s spinning blade.
No, that’s for the second hit which sees Uppercut’s spinner connect with Hijinx’s and it sends Hijinx flying out of fucking control and wedging itself behind the light panels near Chris and Kenny’s seats. Jen, Orion, and everyone else on the Hijinx team just stare in awe that this fight is over in literally just one major blow meanwhile off camera Alex Hattori has already set his transmitter down and is performing his signature move, The Flying Asian Dump Truck, with his yo-yos. Uppercut is back in the Round of 16 in just over thirty goddamned seconds.
WINNER: Uppercut, KO
ROUND OF 32
SLAMMOW vs. BLACK DRAGON
Getting back to “who’s going to lose to Tombstone in the next round” we have Slammow and Black Dragon. Slammow is perhaps the best heavyweight that Craig Danby has ever built, namely because it’s actually won some damn fights. This is the same guy who’s been here in previous years with bots that look like foxes and it just so happens that once he traded in his furry shit for a real man’s robot he started winning fights. The facts are right there, you can argue with them all you want I don’t give a shit it’s not like comments are enabled on this website anymore anyways. To counter Black Dragon’s spinners Slammow has gone with a big massive front plow, the same one we saw against Pain Train, and a special good luck charm in the form of a sticker to help them slay a dragon. Surprisingly it doesn’t say “I brake for dragon dick”.
Black Dragon is the much higher seed in this contest coming in at #5 just short of being featured alongside the likes of Hydra and Copperhead. In fact, this robot actually lost to Copperhead right before Fight Night ended so I’m sure the team is still sore from that rebuild. The dragon is coming into this fight with its cutting discs instead of its egg beater mostly for the purchase and slicing capabilities afforded to it by this particular weaponry. There’s also a flamethrower on Black Dragon for some stupid ass reason but chances are we’re probably not going to see much of it here. Slammow says it needs one suplex to upend this fight and we know an upside down Black Dragon is still dangerous, but only barely so.
Slammow scores the first points of the fight when its plow works beautifully and allows it to lift Black Dragon up, however Black Dragon is able to get away before being rolled upside down like Slammow wants. With its plow still raised high Slammow tilts backwards because this has got to be nearly a hundred pounds of metal fucking up the robot’s center of gravity. Understandably this lets Black Dragon take some pot shots at the mow bot and some glancing blows are dealt to Slammow but nothing too major. Black Dragon’s discs actually seem to slow down considerably after these hits are landed which has me concerned for how well that weapon is actually running. Slammow self-rights and Black Dragon choofs a bunch of butane out in front of it that doesn’t ignite because its flamethrower is trash.
Slammow spends another few seconds trying to maneuver around and get a good lift but unfortunately wedgelets tend to win the ground clearance battle against “big fuck off plows” and that’s exactly what happens here; Black Dragon’s wedgelets defeat the plow and Slammow rides up onto Black Dragon far enough for its plow to take a hit from the spinners. This hit bows out Slammow’s plow essentially rendering it mostly useless. It can still get some leverage from the sides or back of Black Dragon but let’s be real here, Black Dragon isn’t going to fuck up driving that badly. Slammow, on the other hand… well, this is a lot slower and more sluggish than we’ve seen the robot perform this year and Black Dragon catches the lifter by the front again and throws it upside down. Slammow rights itself. Slowly.
This battle is a lot less energetic and chaotic than I was expecting because even Black Dragon’s weapon slows down and just sorta turns on and off. This is a poor showing for both robots but Black Dragon clearly has the lead as it shoves Slammow around and shaves off some more sparks. It looks like we’re about to get a box rush into the screws, but Black Dragon falls just short of it. Instead since its discs have had ample time to get up to speed it catches Slammow by the corner and flips it over again causing the drive chain from Slammow’s right side of drive to snap and come loose. Remember, these chains only serve to power the robot’s front wheels which is why Slammow still seems relatively mobile while upside down, its back wheels are still directly powered by the motors running the drive system.
The lifter struggles to right itself almost as if Black Dragon’s hit also disabled Slammow’s lifter like what we saw happen in Slammow’s fight with Witch Doctor. The robot aimlessly spins around near the red square while Black Dragon’s flamethrower finally lights itself and the robot takes some time to burn the rubber off of Slammow’s front wheels. Craig gets exceptionally pissed off at Team Uai!rrior as Black Dragon poises itself near his robot with its weapon going full blast. Chill dude, they’re not going to split Slammow’s ass wide open during the KO count, they’re just assuming you’re going to self-right so that when you do you land on their weapon. It’s the same shit Warrior Dragon was doing to Chomp a few seasons ago. I guess dragons are just massive fucking dicks like that, which is why that sticker really should’ve said “I brake for dragon dicks”, Craig.
WINNER: Black Dragon, KO
ROUND OF 32
RIBBOT vs. BETA
Back with their Pro Action Replay to cheat during fights it’s Ribbot coming in at a moderate 20th seed. One of the many 2-1 robots that qualified for the tournament this is yet another form of “Swiss Army bot”, though that design is gradually falling out of favor. Ribbot has numerous weapon configurations it can use – some of which we haven’t seen yet after two seasons – but by and large the robot is a spinner. Vertical. Horizontal. You name it, it’s got a spinning mass of that orientation. You might remember Ribbot being the bot with all the foam that made a fucking mess of the arena every time it fought last year. The foam was garbage and the team was told to leave it at home this year but this may very well be the one situation where having some impact foam might’ve been worth it. Well, that and a fuckload of extra armor hiding underneath it.
The lowest ranked “perfect 3-0” robot, Beta rides into the arena on its wheelie cart looking noticeably different for this fight. There’s no wedge, Beta has become a boxy hammerbot with vertical walls on all sides. It looks like a less shitty version of Blacksmith, just with twice the ground clearance. As Gabe Stroud puts it before the fight “the vertical spinners always kill Beta when Beta is using its wedge”. Yeah dude, well the vertical spinners are still going to kill you without the wedge when your replacement for it is a foot and a half of fucking clearance from the floor; Ribbot’s front prongs will have no trouble getting under this modified Beta. The only potential wildcard mod to Beta is what’s been done to the hammer. It’s that weird plastic one that we saw in the Rotator fight except now there’s a piercing chisel tip. It looks even more like a condom water balloon, nice work.
Beta gets one opportunity to swing its chisel-tipped hammer down onto Ribbot at the start of the fight when both robots meet head-on and Ribbot’s spinner seems unable to get any significant purchase. John Reid’s middle name might as well be “wait for a good hit” because you know that fucking hammer ain’t moving. Beta gets shoved back into the blue square and its vulnerable backside becomes exposed to Ribbot for a split second. Beta floors it backwards so that it’s facing Ribbot with its armored front end and when it slams back into Ribbot I’ll give you three goddamned guesses as to what happens next. Yeah, the vertical spinner catches the front of Beta. Beta is hurled through the air and lands on its wheels, but Ribbot is waiting for the robot to come down so it can strike again and mule kicks Beta into the red square’s screws.
The screws stall out and Beta falls down from them but before the robot can react to being mobile again Ribbot cruises in and slams Beta right in the ass flipping it over in the process. John has such a vicegrip over when the hammer can be fired that he has to literally tell the weapons operator to fire the hammer and self-right. This takes so goddamned long that the dude keeping track of Ribbot’s stock ticker or whatever the fuck that thing is just yells out for David Jin to “HIT ‘EM” and David obliges, slamming Beta on its backside once again. Beta recovers and tries to fire off a shot but all that happens is the robot does a perfect 360 twist in the air. To steal one of Chris’ jokes from earlier in the show this is sure to impress the judges just not in the way Beta wants.
The right side of Beta’s armor is five kinds of fucked up now. Beta’s armor is all one solid welded piece but the right side has come loose and is just flapping in the breeze. Ribbot throws Beta onto the screws again and as Beta falls back down the true extent of the damage done to this machine can be fully appreciated. Beta’s ass is sitting diagonally on the floor meaning one of the back wheels isn’t even in contact with the ground anymore, the entire frame is twisted. That big ass air tank at Beta’s front has sprung a leak and there’s gas venting out into the arena meaning its hammer is totally shot. “I’m not so sure that armor configuration worked out for Beta,” says Kenny. No shit, ya think?
This isn’t how I pegged this fight to go, but Beta is out of the running and is eliminated in the Round of 32. Ribbot advances on to roll up its sleeves and face Uppercut in the next round in a showdown of Massachusetts teams.
WINNER: Ribbot, KO
ROUND OF 32
HUGE vs. WHIPLASH
We are now moving to the red part of the brackets where #1 seed Hydra is lurking at the top of the tree. Before we get into that however we’ve got a rematch between Huge and Whiplash, two bots that encountered each other in the Round of 16 last year. Huge qualified in 16th place meaning out of all the bots there it was just barely in the upper half of competitors, meanwhile Whiplash had qualified in 5th place and wound up running circles around Huge, literally. Whiplash may have lost a tire but in the end the judges scored the fight against Huge. It was a split, however, so with Huge’s plan to spin its weapon in the opposite direction and attack downward there’s a chance they too can make like Sawblaze and karate chop the shit out of Whiplash for a decisive win.
But we all know Whiplash isn’t going to let that happen. This is a heavily rearmed and upgraded version of the bot from last year and its most apparent upgrade is to its tires; Whiplash is running what appears to be solid rubber wheels as opposed to something on a hub. These wheels can lose chunks, but they can’t be yanked off of a central hub. Huge can take all the swings it wants but in theory Whiplash will still be rolling on all four tires. Whiplash’s disc is back for this fight but its wedges are gone and its lifting arm has been replaced with an homage to Free Shipping, a forklift-styled double prong affair. We know exactly where those pokers are getting shoved. (In Huge’s spokes, not up Huge’s ass, but I can’t exactly fault you for expecting that punchline on this website.)
Whiplash is on Huge the second the fight starts and Huge is teetering up on one side and bouncing around and just generally showing its usual behavior when it’s faced with an aggressive opponent that just rams it without much care or concern. A black piece of something appears to get torn away and at first I thought it was one of Huge’s makeshift tread pieces but all of those seem to be intact. This leads me to believe it’s something from Whiplash but I have no damn clue what it is. Whatever it was clearly wasn’t an integral part of the robot because Whiplash is continuing to bully Huge around and uses its spinning disc to start chewing apart Huge’s rear braces, one of which is already showing signs of splitting and warping.
Huge rolls into the screws and Whiplash manages to catch part of Huge’s exposed right axle but only sparks are drawn from the hit. Huge is again rolled toward the hazards but little damage is being done here and Huge is clumsy enough that it’s not going to get stuck behind them. It takes something stupid like Mammoth to get Huge caught behind the screws. Whiplash parks its ass between Huge’s wheels and raises its arm directly into Huge’s bar, stopping it. Whiplash is now pressing against Huge by bracing on the spinning bar and wheel, but it’s mostly just trying to get its “spinning disc on a stick” to make contact with Huge’s main chassis. I said this last year but I’ll write it again, Whiplash is one of the few uniquely dangerous robots to Huge because its spinner is mounted on that goofy ass lifting arm making it one of the few machines to pose a significant threat to the robot.
The robots separate and Huge is able to maneuver away and get its blade spinning and for the next fifteen seconds Whiplash dares to playing fucking chicken with it dodging side to side or in and out not letting Huge land any shots whatsoever, not even a graze. Whiplash finishes this dance by poking Huge’s wheel which sends the robot flipping over having landed 0 hits. The 1:30 clock graphic appears on screen denoting the middle of the battle and this is where Huge just starts tiring out. Now it’s starting to lose those chunks of bolted on bike tire treads and its rear braces are so jacked up that the robot’s entire central chassis just aimlessly spins around when the robot reverses direction, the braces are no longer serving their intended purpose. In case you were curious what that pissant-looking disc on Whiplash would be able to do to Huge, have a look. We haven’t seen any major blows dealt but this is death by a thousand fucking cuts. All of the yellow scuffs on Huge is where Whiplash has landed a blow, and Huge looks like it was just brutally fucked by a highlighter.
Huge made it this far by scraping by as a 1-2 and all it did was just provide a really good reason why P1, a 2-1, should’ve made it in instead. I’d say Whiplash literally “mopped the floor” with Huge, but mopping implies there was some amount of cleaning going on. Instead the Battlebox is littered with chunks of rubber and UHMW plastic for someone else to clean up.
WINNER: Whiplash, Judges’ Decision (3-0)
ROUND OF 32
SUBZERO vs. VALKYRIE
Picture this. You’re Subzero. You’re fighting a dangerous spinner in the form of Valkyrie and you’ve gotta start pulling shit off and out of your robot to make some extra weight for bulkier armor. Do you A) ditch the stupid fucking drone or B) make your air tanks smaller. If you’re Logan Davis the correct choice is B, apparently. Spitfire is a cool drone and all, but this is serious time now; Spitfire will do fuck all against Valkyrie and while it might not weigh that much ditching the drone is an easy few extra pounds in the bag. Those few pounds could mean the difference between having a standard plow, which is what Subzero has, or a sturdier and more reinforced one. No amount of extra bolts will probably make any real difference, but it’s the attempt that matters. Subzero looks to be leading in with its big ass one more time to slow Valkyrie down.
Meanwhile Valkyrie straight up doxed Subzero by stalking the team’s social media page to find out exactly what’s under the hood and where it all is. A lot of teams share build reports but maybe Subzero’s gone the braggart route and overshared. That’s either the braggart route or the autistic route, neither category has an appropriate social filter. In any case Leanne Cushing knows what her target points are and you can bet she’s passed that intel onto Valkyrie’s driver Frederick Moore. The team’s also still using that huge fucking disc from the Whiplash fight for some reason. Depending on what episode you’re watching Kenny Florian calls it either “Dr. Cavity” or “Dr. Tooth”. This week it’s Tooth.
Subzero leads in with its Lock-Jaw-esque rear plow and tries keeping Valkyrie at bay with it, the idea being to absorb blows and slow the disc down so the bot can do a 180 and land a flip. What happens when Valkyrie’s flipped over and suddenly striking higher than that dumb plow is anyone’s guess, but let’s just see if we make it that far first. Valkyrie gets rear ended into the same screw box that it previously knocked the lid off of and digs into it again tearing off another polycarbonate chunk and sending the robot flying through the air. Subzero immediately tries to whip around and throw its flipper but turns too much and over-corrects resulting in a miss. Back to rear ending Valkyrie, I guess.
After this mess it seems one of Subzero’s back tires might be jammed a bit and that back plow is looking bent to one side. A particularly nasty shot from Valkyrie dislodges the plow by way of pulling off the entire fucking back panel of armor from Subzero. Losing the back panel seems to spring some life back into the flipper’s drivetrain and it starts driving normally again so my guess is the metal was bent into the tire. Valkyrie rides up Subzero’s wedge and starts reeling up vertically so Subzero shrugs and throws caution to the wind and goes for a flip. It’s successful, though distorted due to the gyroscopic forces of Valkyrie’s weapon, and Subzero’s flipping arm gets chewed up in the process.
Valkyrie recovers and decides to end the fight because it comes in and cleaves off Subzero’s entire fucking face. This slice is so dirty that it goes through the armor and rips into Subzero’s front left wheel warping the hub and causing the tire to seize up. Normally this is where you’d go in for a kill shot to end the match on one big epic hit but Valkyrie seems more interested in fucking around with the rear plow that was torn off of Subzero earlier. Valkyrie acts like it’s going to finally put Subzero out of its misery, there’s even a weak little hit landed, but I guess none of those “priority targets” are worth going for if Subzero’s just going to sit there and take it like a bitch. Should’ve left the drone at home.
Valkyrie allows Subzero to be counted out and advances onward where it will rematch against Whiplash in the Round of 16. I predicted Valkyrie to win this fight, but I’m not sensing good news for the impending rematch. Leanne and her team can celebrate with some overpriced food truck grub for now, but that celebration might be short lived.
WINNER: Valkyrie, KO
ROUND OF 32
GIGABYTE vs. MALICE
You’ve probably surmised this by now but when a tournament uses seeded brackets they pair up opposite seeds. For example Hydra is #1 and it’s fighting Hypershock who’s down at #32, from there you just step back. Does this make for hilarious mismatches? The previous six fights would suggest so, but as you approach the middle of the seeds you start to find competitors where a clear favorite to win isn’t as easy to determine. Ladies and gentlemen and everyone in between, welcome to The Middle. Gigabyte is 17th, Malice is 16th. John Mladenik says his robot is solid. Given what happened against Copperhead I beg to differ. He does say “solid now” but still, you don’t get to say that in the season where your shell blew off. Period.
Malice is definitely the more “solid” of the two robots in this fight. Both Gigabyte and Malice qualified at 2-1 but Malice only lost because it managed to get high centered on its own ass and unless my eyes deceive me there’s a little nub in place to prevent that bullshit from happening a second time. Other than that this is a robot whose deep dish pizza of a weapon has been walloping opponents left and right. It split Axe Backwards apart and blew it the fuck up and shattered Shatter’s hammer. We may never know how the Mad Catter fight would’ve went because of the ass balancing act but none of that matters, Malice still made it into the main tournament. The deep dish is still alive and well.
Bunny Sauriol explained that she was worried Gigabyte’s sloped shell would just deflect her robot’s weapon upwards, and that’s something immediately confirmed when this fight starts. Malice’s blade is high enough off the ground to dodge Gigabyte’s weapon teeth meaning the disc is just going to connect with what essentially amounts to an inclined plane; Malice deflects upwards and doesn’t even look like it’s taking out the upper teeth on Gigabyte that are there to prevent opponents from getting on top of it. Malice is the clear aggressor here nonetheless even if none of its hits are doing any serious damage. Bunny hypothesized that maybe she’d get a shell crack out of Gigabyte. Given the sub par metals that Gigabyte’s weapon shaft was once made of there’s a chance the same could happen to the shell, but it’s unlikely. Instead I’ll just draw your attention to the spots where the Ramrod hazards pop up, they’re actually being deployed in this fight if you pay close enough attention.
Rare hazard sighting aside there’s really only one way this fight can end. Malice has one big weakness and that’s its exposed tires. They’re solid rubber so they’ll probably rip apart instead of being torn completely off, but these are Gigabyte’s targets and every time Malice rides up on Gigabyte’s shell you can sometimes see wisps of friction smoke as these wheels take some damage. One of them, the right wheel, looks to have a damaged motor or crunchy gearbox after these exchanges because Malice now has one strong side of drive and a much weaker one. It’s hard to tell if the movement from Malice’s right wheel is powered or just drift from pivoting around so much, but for now the robot is still swinging wide and it takes John and his crew a little while to realize that Malice has lost drive on one side.
Malice’s tires start getting shredded, the robot is kicked around and has its rear end attacked by Gigabyte, and earlier I saw a really long bolt come out of something and I’m assuming that’s a structural component of Malice because it seems to fit the description. Gigabyte goes in for a slam, destroys a screw box, and ricochets across the floor. This is the fuck up Malice was waiting for, but unluckily for Malice the massive Gigabyte recovers from it and keeps spinning whereas this blow has knocked Malice’s weapon out cold.
Malice is dead in the water, but I want to play a game with you all so just humor me. Take note of where Malice is in the arena right now. Let’s call it “up and to the left of the red B in the BattleBots logo”. With only one wheel Malice has no choice but to crabwalk around which it’s still able to do despite losing its disc. The ref says this isn’t good enough and starts to count Malice down. By the time he gets to zero Malice has made it from that starting position to firmly in the center of the blue “B” in the BattleBots logo. Look guys, I don’t know how you’re defining “controlled movement” but this is some insane shit. Robot Wars made it piss easy by asking “is the robot able to move outside of its own circumference”. I even told this to Greg Munson at one of the shows and he responded with a very introspective “hmm” but I guess nothing became of that.
I know Malice isn’t going to win this fight in its current state, but it’s not knocked out. The only way it’s “knocked out” is with some weird language and application of the BattleBots rules, and this definition needs to be looked at because sometimes crabwalking is fine and sometimes it’s not. It needs to either be one or the other 100% of the time. RIP Malice.
WINNER: Gigabyte, KO
ROUND OF 32
HYPERSHOCK vs. HYDRA
“Main events” aren’t really a thing once you enter the tournament brackets… but c’mon, they’re still a thing. What, are you just gonna throw a fight with fucking Hydra into the middle of the episode? Fuck no you’ve gotta keep the mindless droves who don’t know they’re being made fun of on BattleBots Update this very moment watching the show. Hypershock is pulling up the rear as the 32nd seed. Dead last. While I do think there were competitors more deserving of qualification Hypershock is at least a robot that seems to be universally liked. I mean, I don’t have any shit to talk on Hypershock other than the fact that Will Bales never brings a finished robot to a competition but that’s his problem, the robot looks good. Hypershock is introduced with some special wedge plates but Will takes them off at the last second. It’s all about reach, and Hypershock needs every inch it can get.
Jake Ewert is such a tactical person when it comes to BattleBots. Before the fight he spells out his plan and says Hypershock is more dangerous when it’s upside-down because then the robot is able to dig into Hydra and chew up its lid. Jake’s plan is to launch Hypershock, wait for it to self-right, and then come at it again. So… who’s gonna tell him? Who’s gonna tell Jake that Hypershock’s srimech is DOA and when Hypershock is inevitably rolled over it’s going to stay that way until Hydra does something about it? This is the #1 seed we’re talking about here, the flipper that dethroned Bronco. Hell, Xander and Reason even showed up earlier in this episode to praise Team Whyachi and they’re not even competing this year. That’s how hard Hydra fucked them.
Chris Rose says Hydra’s slow out of the gate. That’s because as soon as the green light goes up it’s already hit a seam in the floor. I know Hydra is able to throw robots ten feet into the air but “hitting the seams on the floor all the time” might as well be its signature move now. Hypershock lands a glancing blow to Hydra’s front as it rides up and over the robot narrowly missing the flipper. As Hydra tries to find its footing it gets a few little lifts in on Hypershock but because Hypershock’s weapon is spinning at fuck you speeds the centrifugal forces in just the blades alone are enough to gyro the robot into staying steady. Some more titanium sparks are shaved off of Hydra courtesy of Hypershock but up to this point neither robot has landed any impressive shots, it’s been a do-si-do stand off since the buzzer.
Hypershock is the robot to break the silence and slams into Hydra’s front left corner cleaving into the armor and ripping off the large outer wedgelet from Hydra’s leading wedge. This hit leaves Hypershock vulnerable to attack and Hydra throws the neon menace onto its ass in retaliation. Kenny starts reiterating how dangerous Hypershock is in this drive mode but you can see just as good as I can that Hypershock’s spinners look dead. No motion, not even residual motion. Something has probably seized up internally from that one big blow. Also Hypershock’s srimech still doesn’t work. Someone pick up that phone because I fucking called it.
Richard Stuplich leans in to tell Jake not to burn up Hydra’s drive, telegraphing one hell of a fucking weakness for Hydra. I assume this robot was built to flip and only flip and the second it gets into a pushing match its best bet is to lay off the gas because it’ll destroy itself. Not necessarily a good trait to have and this is the #1 seed. Anyways Hypershock is flipped again and this time lands right ways up but there’s very little Hypershock can do to stay dangerous. Another flip is landed and Hypershock springboards off of its back to land on its wheels again. Look closely at the upper part of Hypershock and you’ll see the little feet that prop it up when upside down are all screwed up and bent in various ways. Hypershock probably won’t be able to drive correctly if it’s flipped again, and it just shit out a belt so things are looking generally bad for the #32 seed. What a shocker.
If this were an audition for a Tyco Rebound commercial Hypershock would be nailing it because it’s flipping all over the goddamned place but sadly this is a BattleBots fight so all this flipping around is only asserting Hydra as the dominant force. Hypershock gets leaned up on the screws and Jake looks over to Will and his team asking if he’s “ready” for this one. He’s not asking if he can hit Hypershock, he’s straight up saying “I’m about to wreck your asshole are you ready for this”. Will mishears the remark and says to go ahead and flip. Buddy, that was happening whether you wanted it to or not. Hypershock is thrown through the air several more times and after landing badly on its backside over and over again none of Hypershock’s wheels are in contact with the floor. That wouldn’t matter though because the belt that came off was from one of Hypershock’s back tires anyways so it would just be spinning circles if it could still drive.
If Hypershock’s little “drive upside-down nubs” can’t handle being thrown around then you know the robot’s innards are just being shaken up like a carton of fucking eggs. Smoke starts seeping out of the robot and Hydra continues its attack by throwing Hypershock into one of the Pulverizers… and then hitting it with that same Pulverizer. This corner of the arena will be Hypershock’s grave because one more well placed flip from Hydra sends the bulky robot into the air and slotting perfectly into the light panel wall. I don’t think that section of the arena was ever intended to be an “out of the arena” area but it’s become one. Embrace the change, BattleBots. And… get someone to fix the lights Hypershock probably broke on the way down.
Hydra advances onward to face Gigabyte in a match that might rival this one in terms of airtime, though that will have to be for another day because the next episode covers the Round of 32 for the other side of the bracket.
WINNER: Hydra, KO
That’s the left half of the brackets done for now. Most of my predictions from the previous article were correct, some even down to how the wins were attained such as Tombstone battering in Mad Catter’s sides and Gigabyte throwing Malice at the wall and breaking a tire. Granted I was talking about ripping a whole wheel completely off but I think I can get a “close enough” award there. Ribbot and Black Dragon were the two odd ones out for me because I wasn’t expecting Beta to show up with the shittiest armor configuration this side of running naked and I was banking on Slammow to come in with the upset. I’m not going to retroactively go in and start changing my predictions to reflect the incorrect ones because that’s just silly, predictions are made when a tournament starts and then you just sit back and laugh as they all fall apart. Depending upon how the next episode goes we might be in for a real shit show.
And speaking of the next episode it’s going to focus on the right side of the bracket, the second half of the Round of 32. After that there’s only two more episodes left and it’s a safe bet that the way this is going to go is all of the Round of 16 will occupy one episode – since that’s also eight battles – and then the final episode will pick up at the quarterfinals and see it through to the championship. Maybe if we’re lucky we’ll get an exhibition match or something thrown in before the title bout. Honestly I’d pay to just see an extra episode made up entirely of grudge matches and whiteboards. I think running that episode after the championship would be awkward, especially for people who just tune in to the last episode to see who wins, but fuck them. Let’s have an episode of goof off fights sometime.
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