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[BattleBots: S10 E12 is available via streaming on Discovery+.]

Last episode saw the left side of the Round of 32 bracket completed. Technically in terms of a true “bracket” design there is no “left and right” but splitting the tree in half and then flipping one half the either way makes for an easier to digest visual representation. People have widescreen TV’s in the horizontal sense, not vertical. Who would be dumb enough to watch television on something with a vertical screen, like a phone? People don’t do that. At least, reasonable people don’t. Point is half of the Round of 32 is over with and now we move to the latter half.

>tfw andross shows his true form

Previously the #1 and #4 seeds were showcased in the brackets, this time it’s numbers 2 and 3 in the form of Bloodsport and Copperhead respectively. Bloodsport is going to smash Gruff to pieces and Copperhead will probably eat Mammoth’s wheels. In between these big fights however we’ve got some others like Skorpios vs. Witch Doctor which is pretty much anyone’s game, and End Game vs. Perfect Phoenix where I think we’re going to see the big bird fly sky high and right out of the fucking tournament. Newbies Fusion and Jackpot are also hanging on and vets like Sawblaze and Kraken are in the mix as well. In fact… those last two are matched up against each other.

Up first though is the nimble Shatter taking on the marginally higher ranked Lock-Jaw. Much like Malice vs. Gigabyte from the previous episode this is a clash of mid-seeded bots where the outcome is anyone’s guess.


ROUND OF 32
SHATTER vs. LOCK-JAW

SHATTER

Bots FC

Weapon: Chain-driven axe

LOCK-JAW

Team Mutant Robots

Weapon: Vertical spinning blades

1/2″ polycarbonate test: Failure.

In its previous match Shatter went into battle jet black without any of its little decorative triangles because Adam Wrigley thinks the judges are stupid and that when those ablative pieces are knocked away that’s counted against him as damage. No comment from me on that assumption. Adam’s put the triangles back on now that he’s shown the judges “these things are just for style and are held on with scotch tape because the robot’s name is Shatter you goddamned dolts”. Shatter is also rolling into battle with special front forks that are meant to keep vertical spinners at bay and reduce their reach. We’ll see if they work, but chances are there’s gonna be more than triangles for Adam to pick up once the fight’s over.

Donald Hutson is taking this fight seriously. He mentioned that he’s already upgraded Lock-Jaw’s armor to its thicker 1/4” panels – which for the record is fucking ridiculously thick for titanium – but he’s also slapped another 1/2” of polycarbonate on top of that and cut a special band of the plastic to cover Lock-Jaw’s weapon belts to prevent Shatter from sniping them. One question though Donald: do you have the fucking ground clearance for all this? What happens when Lock-Jaw inevitably gets flipped over and you’ve stacked four feet of extra armor panels on top of it? Donald’s the veteran and former champion though, not me, so I guess I trust his judgment until his robot starts smoking.

Lock-Jaw makes a tactical move and runs diagonally along the arena to avoid Shatter and get its weapon up to speed. This takes a couple seconds and then Lock-Jaw spins around to immediately go on the attack, knocking off one little triangle panel. So far Shatter’s spinner catchers are working as intended. The hammer is working too of course, it just doesn’t connect because Lock-Jaw is basically expert mode when it comes to moving targets. Lock-Jaw stabs the floor with its front prongs and this sudden hang up causes Shatter to overshoot its drive and pass Lock-Jaw up. Lock-Jaw takes this opportunity to land a glancing shot to Shatter that rips away some more panels as it digs into the hammer bot’s UHMW armor. Shatter responds to this attack with one of its own.

Don’t be fooled, it only looks like Lock-Jaw is scoring points here.

It looks like the hammer misses because it dips between Lock-Jaw’s tires, and maybe it does, but it first connects with the upper polycarbonate armor that Donald added to his robot and… uh, shatters it. That’s bulletproof glass half an inch thick that’s just been busted apart by Shatter’s pick axe. The next time some dumbass redneck sees BattleBots and says “why dun they just put guns on em” you can show them this fight and tell them to print out the full text of the second amendment and shove it all the way up their stupid ugly ass. Shatter starts swinging its hammer a little more generously and one of the swings actually does miss because it goes between Lock-Jaw’s wheels, but another one connects directly onto the tips of the spinning blades kicking the hammer back into place.

Lock-Jaw is finally able to get back at Shatter’s side but the minute this fight drifts over toward the Pulverizer and Lock-Jaw’s fork dips into the fucking Killsaws again Shatter breaks free, swings its axe, and blows up even more of the polycarb on Lock-Jaw’s lid. Shatter gets so maniacal with its attack that it manages to hit one of Lock-Jaw’s front fork things and get its axe wedged in between where the fork meets Lock-Jaw’s chassis. This is precisely why Lock-Jaw’s weapon belts are covered, though we know from the damage we’ve seen thus far that this will afford Lock-Jaw exactly one hit. Lock-Jaw turns too sharply and rides up on Shatter’s front end rolling onto two wheels and over onto its top. No amount of cambering seems to prevent this would-be stout robot from falling over. Every fucking time.

That’s what, 20 fights in a row Lock-Jaw has started smoking?

This is it. This is where we find out of Lock-Jaw can still drive with nearly an inch of extra armor on top of it (even if most of the polycarbonate has been chipped away). The answer is a surprising yes! But almost immediately Lock-Jaw starts smoking from its back corner and this smoke starts spreading throughout the robot to emit from the front too. Lock-Jaw is still mobile but its weapon is dead and unfortunately for Donald the rest of the robot follows suit when it gives up in the middle of the floor and just straight up dies. Lock-Jaw continues to smoke and even catches fire internally and the ref says he’s tired of this bullshit and just starts counting Lock-Jaw out.

Shatter’s not content to just let Lock-Jaw go without something to remember it by so it swings its hammer one final time and stabs Lock-Jaw right in the heart of where the fire is burning. More of this, please. We need to see more robots just fucking send it and whale on opponents while they’re being counted out especially if their opponents just died on their own with little to no input. Hell, whack Lock-Jaw a second time who fucking cares? Lock-Jaw is going to be eliminated anyways and you know Donald is just going to completely redo the bot. Leave a couple of holes in the underside of his robot so that when he’s dissembling it he looks at them and mumbles “fuckin’ Shatter”.

WINNER: Shatter, KO


ROUND OF 32
ROTATOR vs. JACKPOT

ROTATOR

Team Revolution

Weapon: Horizontal spinning blade

JACKPOT

Vegas Combat Robotics

Weapon: Vertical spinning blades

Jackpot doesn’t know this but its days are numbered.

You guys remember when Rotator used to have double discs? Apparently it’s been confirmed that those are going to just be a distant memory. I don’t know if I’ve broken the bad news to you yet but Rotator is just a one spinner machine from now on. I’m not saying two spinners would’ve helped here but I am saying that Rotator’s now-former signature move of spinning up both discs and then spinning itself around probably would’ve paid off in spades. Card suit pun not intended, but noted. Instead Rotator is going with one 50 pound blade and I guess those spikes in the back again. You know, the ones that never get under anything and just bend downward at their hinge bringing Rotator’s wheels off the ground? Yeah, those.

There is no pre-fight interview from Jeff Waters because he wouldn’t spill the beans to the cameras about what his fight strategy was. Let’s play Blue’s Clues to figure out what it could possibly be. Our clues are: no srimech, a large weapon belt, and a big fuck off plow mounted on the robot’s ass. Do you think the strat could possibly be that Jackpot is going to rear-end Rotator with its massive plow, that it had to sacrifice its srimech for, so that Rotator slows down enough that it’ll be vulnerable to a hit? Wow, that took us all of I don’t know five goddamned seconds to figure out. Unless there’s a secret I’m not aware of this is cut and dry. Also where did that wedge come from because it looks like it doesn’t belong or fit on Jackpot.

HOLY SHIT

At the start of the fight guess what Jackpot does. Just guess. It backs into Rotator with that big wedge. It’s able to get underneath Rotator and maneuver it into the wall a couple of times, even bringing it underneath one of the Pulverizers. Chris Rose has to inform us that the hammer is not dropping because it belongs to Rotator’s team and they’re not going to pound their own robot. Yet another reason why you assholes should just bring the hazard operator back. If this were Old BattleBots then Rotator’s skull would’ve been caved in by now but instead we’re just left with our thumbs up our asses wondering what could’ve been.

Jackpot pins Rotator against the wall long enough for Rotator’s spinner to stop then whips around and lands a shot straight to Rotator’s front end that visibly damages the robot. The fight gravitates toward the center of the box and as Jackpot scoots around its wedge is bouncing up and down because Jeff and his team made one fatal mistake with their spinner killer wedge: they mounted it on a goddamned hinge. This means Rotator’s hinged spikes now have a chance at breaching the ground clearance on Jackpot which they totally do. Rotator swings side to side in front of Jackpot and the smoke you see is friction smoke from Rotator’s spinning blade damaging Jackpot’s wheels. Remember, Jackpot was built on the cheap and when it comes to wheels that can mean just one thing: Colsons.

🍒🍒🍋

The chunks being taken out of Jackpot’s wheels aren’t going to help with its wedge flopping all over the place. Every chunk of plastic and rubber that Rotator tears away is going to make it that much easier for Rotator to defeat the wedge because Jackpot will not be riding smoothly on the floor. This can be most easily seen as Rotator gets under Jackpot’s wedge yet again and carries it around. Jackpot gets cornered, escapes, and is dragged right back. Rotator lands one final massive weapon-to-weapon shot that flings both robots away and Jackpot lands upside-down. You can see its wheels still spinning, the robot is fully functional. Unfortunately there’s one teeny problem here and it has to do with the part that was removed when the team wanted to add that dumb plow.

No self-righting mechanism? No self-righting. Jackpot’s explosive debut season comes to a close when the roulette wheel stops and lands on 00.

WINNER: Rotator, KO


ROUND OF 32
PERFECT PHOENIX vs. END GAME

PERFECT PHOENIX

Team Doom / Hardcore Robotics

Weapon: Horizontal spinning blade

END GAME

OYES Robotics

Weapon: Vertical spinning disc

Should’ve taken that wedge off.

In one of the first episodes of the season we saw End Game dispatch Tombstone in about two hits. I bring this up because Ray Billings is the mentor to Perfect Phoenix’s driver, Tyler Nguyen. You can see Ray hanging around in the drivers’ booth, too. End Game defeated Tombstone. Skorpios defeated Perfect Phoenix. Skorpios also defeated Tombstone. This is Ray’s last chance to get some secondhand vengeance for his early loss to End Game this season. No more Beyblades if Tyler dicks this one up, though if he does you can hardly blame the kid because this is fucking End Game we’re talking about here. Ray and his crew have shown up with a former heavyweight champion. From 2009.

Somehow End Game has “no tournament wins”. That always confuses me because I’m like “no End Game has smashed plenty of robots” but then I remember that’s all Fight Night nonsense and I feel stupid. Somehow whenever End Game qualifies for the main tournament it just chokes immediately. No pressure here guys, your opponent is just a literal former champion whose design is based upon a former three-time champion. Does End Game have what it takes to beat all of Ray’s robots? Probably, considering Perfect Phoenix qualified near the bottom of the pack, but one stray swing that catches End Game’s disc from the wrong way could spell disaster.

“Luckily my neck broke my fall.” – Perfect Phoenix

Right away it’s apparent Perfect Phoenix doesn’t have the edge when it comes to reach advantage. If that stupid bar was just three inches longer on either end this fight would have started very differently but instead Perfect Phoenix is just centimeters away from making contact on End Game. You can see the grazes and scrapes happening but there’s no purchase and not even any deflection because the bar, while definitely scary looking, isn’t hitting a fucking thing. Chris Rose states Ray’s claim that Tyler is a better driver than “80%” of the adult drivers here this season. As this is said End Game’s drivetrain overpowers Perfect Phoenix’s and the robot is on its way to visit the side of the arena until End Game’s spinner clips the blade on Perfect Phoenix and throws it straight at the goddamned hosts.

Chris and Kenny instinctively recoil in fear because that’s just what you do when 250 pounds of shitty former glory is hurled at you. It looks like this hit has potentially bent the shaft that Phoenix’s weapon spins on but more importantly it looks like the hit has just straight up killed the horizontal spinner entirely. A follow-up attack bends the wedge on Perfect Phoenix meaning End Game will have no trouble continuing to win the ground clearance battle and a second follow-up flips the dead spinner on top of the screws. The screws seize up but they do eventually reverse and Perfect Phoenix is still stuck on them unable to get down. I don’t know if Perfect Phoenix can right itself by spinning its blade and chassis while in this pose, but I guess we’ll never find out.

WINNER: End Game, KO


ROUND OF 32
MAMMOTH vs. COPPERHEAD

MAMMOTH

Team Mammoth

Weapon: Rotating lifting arm

COPPERHEAD

Team Caustic Creations

Weapon: Vertical spinning drum

Any fight with Mammoth consists largely of wide shots. Deal with it.

Thanks to BattleBots favoring the blue square over the red for whatever stupid reason this year all of my fight intros have been backwards, but that’s because my setup is coded as such to have the red square shown first… so the red square has to be first. That’s why I’m talking about Mammoth instead of Copperhead as the lead-in when Copperhead is the big seed here. Mammoth is just a giant fucking swing set who had a win that was so cripplingly boring that they didn’t even show it on fucking television. Normally this is where I’d complain about P1 not making it in but I just know one of you assholes is going to be like “P1 had a win like that too”. Yeah well P1 fights better than a porch swing so piss off. Anyways here’s Mammoth.

Copperhead is one of the small handful of competitors with a perfect 3-0 record and that was enough to land it the #3 seeding. Looking like it ought to be a middleweight, or possibly even a lightweight on the chunky side, this monster is legitimately 250 pounds. I know I brought up the difference in size between Gamma 9 and Tantrum a couple episodes ago, but take a look at the size disparity on display in this fight if you really want your mind blown. Copperhead looks like a fucking Tic-Tac. But you can still choke on a Tic-Tac and that’s what Zach Goff is looking to do. He thinks this is going to be a “stick and move” fight whereas I think the strategy should just be to rip up Mammoth’s front prongs and then go for the wheels. Mammoth’s team is running out of parts after Hypershock damn near cut the fucking thing in half.

A better shot of Copperhead getting business done.

As the fight opens Copperhead lands a great first blow that jacks up one of the little inner white forks on Mammoth. I guess those are supposed to be the “tusks” or whatever. God knows what the black legs are though, or the spinner; it’s a robot that just nuzzles you to death. For what it’s worth Mammoth is doing a surprisingly good job of keeping on Copperhead and is able to roll the spinner over with its flexible “defensive” weapon attachment, something I didn’t think would be possible given Copperhead’s low profile and the flexibility of Mammoth’s bar. Credit where due, that was impressive. The cameras cut to Mammoth’s team where Ricky Willems is dealing with some backseat driving and you can tell this guy is laser focused because if I were in his shoes I’d have told my teammate to shut the fuck up because I was busy. Bless him for still being so courteous.

I cannot believe Copperhead was flipped by a fucking pool noodle.

There’s a lot of pushing coming out of Copperhead which is strange because this isn’t a robot that wasn’t necessarily designed to be a brawler in that regard. My suspicions are confirmed when Copperhead backs away from Mammoth and its drum is just sorta twitching back and forth. Some shit has happened to its weapon motor and it has stalled out. It’s not like the titanium claws on Mammoth’s arm scraped up the weapon belts or anything, they’re still there, it’s just that the weapon motor itself is taking a mental health day and doesn’t feel like getting out of fucking bed. Mammoth actually becomes the aggressor chasing down Copperhead and getting its bent up white prongs stuck into every Killsaw slot it comes across.

The 90 second graphic appears on screen. Nothing really happens. The arena lights flashing signals 60 seconds are left in the fight. Again, nothing really happens. Mammoth has managed to flip Copperhead over but Copperhead has spent most of this time running away because there literally is no “plan B” with this machine. This is a suitcase nuke of a robot built around a drum spinner that sends people back to the goddamned shadow realm but the moment that drum stops working the robot has fuck all both offensively and defensively. Copperhead ought to be counting its lucky stars that Mammoth has a non-damaging primary weapon because otherwise the snake would’ve been torn to shreds by this point. Imagine if this were Black Dragon instead of Mammoth, it’d be a massacre.

“We got this fight, on damage.” Famous last words.

Copperhead’s drum finally starts spinning again with probably 45 seconds left on the clock and we get a nice Minotaur-esque self-righting from the spinner. Assuming the drum doesn’t just fucking die again Copperhead has under a minute to do something like grab Mammoth’s right wheel, which is visibly messed up from earlier in the battle, and finish the job. Instead Mammoth manages to swat at Copperhead and bash it into the wall where Copperhead expends all of its stored kinetic energy into the spike strip. The Killsaws even pop up! They just don’t hit anyone. All Copperhead manages to accomplish is pulling off the “tusk” thing that they bent up earlier. Mammoth ends the fight with a massive power play by dunking on Copperhead and flipping it over with only three seconds left on the clock.

Obviously I had Copperhead pegged to win this battle and if its drum didn’t shit the bed I think it probably would have, but by breaking down for over half the fight that just allowed Mammoth to rack up a ton of aggression and especially control points with all the flips and smacks it landed. It’s an upset victory, but I’ll concede that despite the split decision the judges were correct. This time.

WINNER: Mammoth, Judges’ Decision (2-1)


ROUND OF 32
KRAKEN vs. SAWBLAZE

KRAKEN

CE Robotics

Weapon: Pneumatic crushing jaw

SAWBLAZE

Team Sawblaze

Weapon: Vertical spinning disc on articulated arm

he cronch

Coming in as the 26th seed (purely because Black Dragon ripped it off of a win) Kraken is anything but a pushover. This beast cares not about what’s being thrown at it because as long as it fits in its mouth it’s going to bite down on it. I’d imagine you’d get the same result out of throwing logs and rocks into an alligator’s mouth, just don’t do that because that’s mean and I will come find you and stick your head into that same gator’s mouth. That said no amount of tenacity is likely going to be able to save Kraken in this fight; Sawblaze attacks with an overhead weapon and that’s something Kraken just doesn’t have a counter for, like its fight with Huge. Unless Kraken is able to bite down on Sawblaze’s literal weapon arm I think this might be the end of the road for the sea monster this year.

Meanwhile Sawblaze is seed #7. Don’t you think that’s a little high considering we were witness to this robot’s explosive anal devastation at the hands of Uppercut and one of its two wins was over Rusty? I’m not one to favor wins over harder opponents, because it’s not the teams’ fault if they get dealt someone like Rusty, but the “selection committee” sure as shit does and that’s not exactly an impressive victory. Nonetheless, Sawblaze is 7th in line and has gone back to its hammer saw weapon to cleave off Kraken’s face. If you look closely there are reinforced bolts holding Kraken’s upper face on this time but I’m pretty sure Sawblaze will make short work of that in a few hits. Hell there’s still dents and dings all over it from when Huge ripped ass in Kraken’s face earlier this season.

Gee Sawblaze would that be for here or to go?

I’m not sure what Kraken’s battle plan is aside from using smaller teeth to afford it a wider maw but I don’t think “getting shoved into the screws really hard by Sawblaze” is part of it. Kraken loses its wheelie bar again and it’s taken long enough but someone’s finally corrected me in saying that part of Kraken is supposedly disposable as in it’s there to brace against the floor for an initial opening impact and then fall away so Kraken can battle normally. I wasn’t aware shit like that was allowed in the rules but I guess if Black Ice was able to drop a magnetic trip bar on the ground a few seasons ago this should come as no surprise. Also yeah, remember Black Ice?

Kraken gets out of the screws and the first thing it does is just indiscriminately bite down on Sawblaze’s weapon arm, which is exactly how I thought this robot was going to fight. Matt Spurk doesn’t give a fuck and like I said he drives this thing like an alligator behaves; Sawblaze’s disc crossed into Kraken’s mouth, Kraken felt it on its tongue and immediately its jaws snapped shut with 60,000 pounds of force. From the audience I can hear a high school cheerleader chant (“lets go Kraken [clap, clap]”). Really? If you’re older than 14 you shouldn’t even be saying that annoying shit. Mortal robots would crumble under this pressure but Peter Abrahamson let us know that Sawblaze’s disc is AR550 steel which is basically the same thing as unobtainium so all Kraken has done is stall the weapon, but that’s still a valid tactic. So valid that apparently Matt gets a little trigger happy and receives a warning from the ref that he needs to disengage.

nyooom

I’d venture a guess that these two bots are tied on points right now so to tilt the scales Sawblaze whacks Kraken in the face, blows off all of the little scale stickers, and caves in part of Kraken’s head. For now the reinforcements from the Huge battle are holding steady but you can tell Kraken’s head is a little cockeyed. Sawblaze scoops up Kraken and shoves it into the wall and throws a chop. The hit lands but we don’t see the extent of the damage until Sawblaze backs away revealing that it’s just grasshopper’d off Kraken’s entire fucking wheel. There’s a minute-thirty left on the clock but at this point this match is over. Actually it should be. Go on, officials. Count Kraken down, it’s just pirouetting around on one wheel. “That’s not controlled movement that’s just circles.” Oh, what’s this? Y’all are just going to let this one go and allow Kraken to spin aimlessly without throwing out a 10 count?

Malice would like a word with you motherfuckers.

WINNER: Sawblaze, Judges’ Decision (3-0)


ROUND OF 32
GRUFF vs. BLOODSPORT

GRUFF

Team Gruff

Weapon: Lifting arm & flamethrowers

BLOODSPORT

Bots N’ Stuff Robotics

Weapon: Horizontal spinning blade

hey wait a minute we’ve already seen shatter this episode huehuehue

I like Gruff, objectively. I know this robot has a long history outside of BattleBots at events such as Robogames where it’s performed very respectfully. It’s not the greatest robot to grace the Battlebox but it’s certainly got a much stronger pedigree than something like Extinguisher for example, a robot that Gruff managed to lose to and yet it still qualified. I’ve been harping on Sam McAmis and his team for their bizarre lack of repairs to their bot’s lifting arm – which inarguably is what caused it to go 1-2 in the qualifiers this year – but it seems they’ve finally made some changes and rather than have the dual spikes Gruff has just one. This “just one offset spike” strategy is becoming “a thing” in robot combat as of late; End Game even tried it in a previous battle but I just didn’t point it out. I had Bloodsport selected as my bot to win this fight because I assumed Gruff would show up with a busted weapon again, but now I’m not so sure.

Bloodsport at seed #2 could only have made it there by winning all of its qualifiers. This destructive menace is just one click below Hydra in the rankings. Think about it. Copperhead, Tombstone, End Game, Jackpot; all are in this bot’s shadow. Since there’s a flipper occupying seed #1 that makes Bloodsport arguably the most dangerous spinner in the tournament… on paper at least. Everything on Gruff looks to be the perfect height for Bloodsport to just slice apart and that includes Gruff’s flame cannons and its lifting arm pivot point. A straight-on lateral blow to Gruff could very well completely wreck its lifter in one shot and as long as Bloodsport is spinning no amount of nightmarishly hot flames will do anything. Gruff has a lot of ground to make up if it wants to win, but given that it’s seeded 31st that was obvious.

Gruff, torching an opponent while destroying the BattleBots sign.

Gruff comes at Bloodsport with its lifting arm raised. Good plan, because otherwise I just see that thing getting bent sideways and possibly even torn off. If you looked closely during the arena introductions you may have noticed that the bracket on Gruff’s lifting arm that has no spike attached to it is bent almost 45 degrees. Add about another 720 degrees to that if Bloodsport’s weapon is added to the fray, which it wont because fuck me this thing literally detonates the minute it touches Gruff’s face; one of the weapon tips shears off near the rotor leaving the spinning mass with two offset teeth. Way to make me feel like a dumbass for upselling you as the deadliest spinner in the tournament, Bloodsport. #2 seed, huh? I take back what I said about this robot being fucked out of 16th place last season.

The lifting arm comes down, the spinner isn’t going to spin up again and that’s a fucking guarantee. Bloodsport tries it but immediately shuts down when it starts to shake. This is now a fight for the #31 seed to take to the bank and Gruff gets to work trying to alternate between lifting and clamping down on Bloodsport, flames blowing the entire time. Only one side of the robot has working flamethrowers but whatever, fire is fire. Parts are flying, flames are going off, Gruff mistakes this battle for a WWE match and goes for the BattleBots sign turning it into a makeshift weapon as its raised lifting spike stabs through it and rips it down from the wall. In case you were wondering why no sponsors were motion-tracked onto the banner for this battle now you know. Eventually the sign comes loose and breaks in half when Bloodsport drives over it and slams Gruff into the wall.

All of these photos imply Gruff wins this match. That’s how badly y’all screwed up.

The fight’s already half over. Time flies, just like that chunk of Bloodsport’s weapon. Gruff very nearly lifts Bloodsport high enough to flip it over and this might’ve rendered it immobile but we’ll never know because Bloodsport lands on its tires and gets away. Gruff starts noticeably slowing down and Bloodsport continues to be aggressive even though all it has are two pissant wedgelets on its front end. These are enough to get underneath Gruff however so whatever works works. Gruff takes a hit from one of the Pulverizers in front of the drivers’ booth. Then it takes a hit from the other one, signaling that someone on Gruff’s team misfired and smacked their own goddamned robot. Its like Gruff only brought tactics for the first 30 seconds of this fight. Bloodsport has no weapon, just batter it down into scrap parts. It’s not a hard concept.

The Killsaws pop up and strike Gruff. Man, this shit’s getting dire. I’m not going to say the Killsaws just damaged someone but now Gruff is stumbling around even worse than it was a second ago. There is clearly something wrong with its drive system even though we haven’t seen any smoke come out of it. Bloodsport, with no weapon, is taking the upper hand here by slamming Gruff into the far wall all the way across the floor. In the waning seconds of this fight Bloodsport sheds both of its wedgelets, one of them catching on Gruff’s lifting arm and the other hitting a particularly gnarly seam in the floor and giving way. The clock runs down on this fight and when the judges turn in their scorecards it’s a split, but probably not for who you were expecting in the first 10 seconds of this battle.

Here lies Gruff. It never scored.

WINNER: Bloodsport, Judges’ Decision (2-1)


ROUND OF 32
TANTRUM vs. FUSION

TANTRUM

Team Seems Reasonable

Weapon: Vertical spinning disc on sliding track

FUSION

Team Whyachi

Weapon: Horizontal & vertical spinning discs

Judo PUNCH

We haven’t had any pre-fight interviews in a while. Something big must happen at the end of this episode that they’re trying to make room for or something. In the red square for this battle is Tantrum, whom Kenny Florian is more than willing to shower with the phrase “most improved bot” and offering builder Aren Hill a burrito in recognition for. I’m still on the fence about claiming Tantrum gets that title. I don’t know who should actually get it but I’m just saying Tantrum throws one punch and goes 2-1 I don’t think that’s worthy of the title. Maybe give it to Bloodsport, or don’t because considering what just happened. Tantrum’s weapon finally started working as intended in its final qualifier against Gamma 9. There will most likely be some weapon-to-weapon hits in this fight, and Tantrum will probably handle them better than its opposition…

…because its opposition is Team Whyachi’s Fusion. Fusion is an impressive robot sporting two independent sets of drive wheels, a vertical spinner, and a horizontal spinner all in one package. So Fusion is basically the first thing you build when you play Robot Arena 2 for the first time. In reality however all this hardware requires a lot of batteries and electrical parts to function correctly and this robot just immediately shit the bed right out of the gate. It failed to impress against Mad Catter, not exactly a priority target. Fusion was then fed a diet of Aegis (fiberglass) and WAR-EZ (giant exposed wheels) and presto changeo here it is in the Round of 32.

Not the smartest tactical move but okay.

Richard Stuplich nudges Reese Ewert before the fight and advises to get out of the blue square as quickly as possible because Tantrum’s gonna charge at it. His name might be “Dick” but he’s not an idiot because that’s exactly what happens. Fusion revs up both weapons and tries to lead in with its vertical discs but it’s unable to reach Tantrum because of the long forks on Tantrum’s front end. Tantrum wins the ground battle and shoves Fusion into the wall, stalling its rear horizontal spinner. This means Fusion needs to take a few seconds again to get its rear weapon going and in that time Tantrum punches it square in the goddamned face ripping a chunk out of the dual spinner’s armor.

Fusion spins around to try and strike with its rear spinner but misses and the gyroscopic nightmare that is its weapon array causes Fusion to reel upward. Tantrum doesn’t give a fuck and jumps right in socking Fusion’s horizontal spinner in the process. This hit causes incredible damage to Tantrum by way of completely trashing the sliding track that its shitty little disc relies upon for movement. Somehow the disc on Tantrum is still spinning but the robot can now no longer throw a punch. Most improved bot, everyone. Fusion comes out ahead in this transaction because all that happens is it flips over. If anything that’ll just allow it to strike higher on Tantrum and avoid some of its armor.

Tantrum is clearly stunned by the attack and takes a couple of hits to the face that it cannot capitalize on whatsoever since doing so would require Fusion to basically sit on Tantrum’s head and something as unstable as Fusion isn’t going to do that. Well, I say that but that’s kind of exactly what happens next. Tantrum’s drum has spun down because Aren’s written it off as hopeless but Fusion, with no weapons going, crashes into it and rides on up Tantrum’s sloped front and parks on its lid.

Pictured above: The Whyachi Curse

Then explodes.

Yeah, Fusion gets the Chipotle rocket shits and blows chunks immediately leading to fire. Tantrum can do literally nothing but cruise around with its flaming hat unable to shake Fusion loose. It doesn’t have the speed to throw it off with inertia and thanks to that hit about 10 seconds ago it can’t fire off its sliding track weapon to try and knock it loose either. Fusion is just stuck on top of Tantrum having a literal meltdown and Tantrum’s just along for the ride. Curiously the refs just straight up count Fusion out while it’s stuck on Tantrum. The officials make no effort to stop the fight and separate the robots, which is what should’ve happened, presumably because Fusion is actively emitting toxic smoke and there would be no safe way to separate the robots and resume the fight.

Man, we’re just inventing all kinds of new stipulations to fights tonight aren’t we? Good job Fusion, at least you can forever live in the shadow of Hydra.

WINNER: Tantrum, KO


ROUND OF 32
WITCH DOCTOR vs. SKORPIOS

WITCH DOCTOR

Team Witch Doctor

Weapon: Vertical spinning discs

SKORPIOS

Bot Bash Party

Weapon: Vertical spinning disc on articulated arm

GET OUT

Out of these two robots I used to rag on Skorpios for bringing what amounted to a full on stack of blank CD’s when it came to replacement weapons. Then I saw Witch Doctor’s preliminary fights this year and I understood why sometimes it’s acceptable to overdo it. Witch Doctor fought Hydra and blew its weapon up. Then it fought Kraken and its replacement discs sheared too. That was it for replacement parts, the team was out. Just to get a working set of discs for fight #3 it took the competition’s equivalent of an act of fucking God. Three teams banded together to make sure Witch Doctor had replacement parts. Meanwhile Zach Lytle is probably fucking around in his section of the pits playing horseshoes with all of his replacement discs.

Skorpios is having an interesting season. Thus far all it’s managed to do is piss off Ray Billings because it’s won two fights and both of them were against bots that Ray has had a personal hand in dealing with: Tombstone and Perfect Phoenix. The planets aligned to deliver Skorpios on Ray’s doorstep and he made the mistake of taking the animal into his house because now all he has to show for it are shredded mini blinds, broken vases, and shit literally everywhere. The only robot to stop Skorpios dead in its tracks was Bloodsport and that almost seems like a fluke. Skorpios has been seen in its B-roll with a Red Devil-esque grinding wheel. You’d think the robot would be outfitted with that weapon because we all know Witch Doctor has bulky top armor, but nope it’s the hammer saw. Again.

I never realized how awkwardly shaped Skorpios is until just now.

We all know this match is going to be just a flurry of punches thrown from both sides and right out of the gate Witch Doctor draws first blood with a shot that catches Skorpios from one side and chucks it away. Skorpios has added what were called “shark teeth” to its front wedge to help high center the low riding Witch Doctor and these attachments are working flawlessly; Witch Doctor gets snagged on the teeth and slammed into the screws but Witch Doctor evens the score and hits Skorpios again on the retreat, following that up with another hit to Skorpios’ underside. Mike Gellatly is one of the better drivers at BattleBots and he’s so good that he knows how to do attacks like jumping on Skorpios’ face, rebounding off, and then using Witch Doctor’s srimech like a spring board. That hit seemed rash and stupid but take a good look at Skorpios’ hammer saw. I don’t see any action from it now. I’m going to assume this was 100% intentional.

Skorpios manages to shove Witch Doctor into the corner and here’s the moment where a working weapon would come in fucking handy; Witch Doctor’s four belt pulley system is right there. A functioning weapon could easily snipe a belt or two or even dig up the milled aluminum pulley and cause unknown damage in that manner. Instead Skorpios just drops its limp dick of a weapon onto Witch Doctor and scores maybe a third of an aggression point. I say that in jest, but Skorpios is doing a solid job of keeping on Witch Doctor. The robots are taking turns doing this and right now the scales are favoring the blue bot. Tides are fickle however and they can turn in an instant. Case in point Witch Doctor throws a punch and hits Skorpios’ left wheel and hurls the entire robot a respectable distance across the floor. It’s hits like this that are keeping the points gap on aggression and control super narrow.

Losing to Witch Doctor (Any%, No Major Glitches)

Skorpios uses its TASbot sponsorship to dial in a quick LUA script to execute some arbitrary code allowing it to crash into Witch Doctor and flip it over. Witch Doctor bounces back literally immediately but again: tides. Witch Doctor is corralled into the wall and Skorpios bonks it with its ineffective weaponry. No damage points are being scored here this is purely a scrap for the six points the judges have for aggression and control. Damage might come into play if Witch Doctor burns itself out, which I think might be part of the plan here, but “motor reliability” isn’t the problem plaguing Witch Doctor this season. That was last year. Witch Doctor takes some pot shots from the Pulverizer as it gets away from Skorpios, then Skorpios is knocked up and around by Witch Doctor’s blades yet again. Even though it has no active weapon Skorpios is hanging onto some points in this fight, it’s not as one-sided as you might assume. After the Gruff and Bloodsport shit show anything is possible.

Witch Doctor finally lands a blow that I believe sets the tone firmly in its favor. Skorpios takes a shot to the face so severe that the entire robot blows backwards and completes a fucking backflip. With 20-something seconds left on the clock this is the last minute push Witch Doctor needed to securely tilt the scales. Zach bemoans Witch Doctor for “running away” but honestly both robots took turns doing that this entire fight. Surprisingly this was not a split decision, but the judges go in favor of Witch Doctor presumably on damage and aggression.

WINNER: Witch Doctor, Judges’ Decision (3-0)


I didn’t know Matt Spurk was in Savage Garden.

That’s it, the Round of 32 is officially over. Half the field has now been eliminated and among the deceased are some surprises. Beta? Eliminated. Lock-Jaw? Elimiated. Fucking Copperhead, the #3 seed??? Eliminated. A couple more of my predictions went awry during this episode, namely Copperhead, but by and large I still stand by the eventual outcome I jotted down a while back. Witch Doctor came through and that’s the only real prediction that I was banking on because I have that robot pegged to win the whole thing and as it marches on to the Round of 16 that just means I’m that much closer to being right.

Next episode will cover the Round of 16 in its entirety and there are already some interesting matches to look forward to. I’m talking Hydra vs. Gigabyte, a Sawblaze & Witch Doctor rematch, and a Valkyrie & Whiplash rematch. Down in the bottom right of the brackets End Game is meeting Rotator and I’m expecting Rotator to get its ass kicked but for the fight to still go to the buzzer. Remember Rotator vs. Death Roll? That again except on both crack and steroids. Out of my incorrect predictions do I still think Uppercut and Tombstone have what it takes to defeat their new opponents and move on? Sure. As for the newly created match between Mammoth and Shatter… I think I’m going to have to go with Mammoth on that one, believe it or not. Shatter’s just too squirrelly and there’s hardly anything to really hit on Mammoth aside from a big ass pipe frame. We’ll see though, it’s going to be a hell of a goddamned ride.

We’re two episodes away from crowning a champion. Just two. I can’t wait. End quote, Nu Shooz. I know this season has been over for a while but I managed to avoid mostly spoiling the tournament until I got around to writing this so somehow these fights are still new to me. I know, that’s insane. All I had to do was disregard the internet. (It’s really not that hard, you should try it sometime.) That’s it for BattleBots Update this week. If you’d like to support this project please consider a monthly pledge on Patreon or a one-time donation on Ko-Fi. You can always grab some official BBU stickers from Redbubble, and make sure you follow BattleBots Update on Facebook to keep abreast of new things in the world of BBU & Twilight Foundry.

See you next time!

– Draco