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[BattleBots: S10 E13 is available via streaming on Discovery+.]

The Round of 32 is dead, long live the Round of 32. Up next is the Round of 16. Quarterfinals and all that jazz comes later but for now we’ve got eight more fights that comprise the entirety of the Round of 16 and since we’ve been seeing eight fights per episode it’s a safe bet that we’re going to hammer out all of this round in this penultimate episode before finally moving onto the final boss of BattleBots where Bite Force surprises everyone and says it was here all along. (Spoilers.)

Ray knows the five dollar footlong is back at Subway.

Before we’re reminded of who’s still in the game Chris Rose upsells casual viewers by saying the Round of 16 is where we’ve seen some of the best fights and upsets in the history of the reboot seasons. To emphasize his point we’re reminded of Death Roll crippling Yeti, Chomp’s one in a million chain snipe on Bite Force, Huge falling apart into two halves, and that time Bombshell lost every single fucking fight just to make it to Tombstone and cause an upset. I still have the autographed Tombstone glamour shot that Ray Billings signed with “sorry I fucked it up”. One of these days that’s going to be worth a lot of money but I’ll never part with it. It’s my inside joke. That’s like getting a game-winning basketball signed by the guy who missed the 3-point buzzer beater with the same sentiment written on it. Fuck yeah I’m keeping that thing.

Of the 16 robots left in the tournament we have some hellacious match-ups. Rematches of both Sawblaze vs. Witch Doctor and Whiplash vs. Valkyrie are coming up, plus some fights featuring heavy hitters like Tombstone vs. Black Dragon and Hydra vs. Gigabyte. There’s also a Massachusetts turf war brewing between Uppercut and Ribbot. We’ve even got a bit of an X-factor match brewing with Mammoth and Shatter because who the hell knows how that one’s going to go?


ROUND OF 16
WITCH DOCTOR vs. SAWBLAZE

WITCH DOCTOR

Team Witch Doctor

Weapon: Vertical spinning discs

SAWBLAZE

Team Sawblaze

Weapon: Vertical spinning disc on articulated arm

Punch, chop, it’s all in the wrist!

And our lead-in fight is one of the two rematches in the Round of 16: Witch Doctor vs. Sawblaze. This isn’t a rematch from earlier in the season or anything, this is a rematch from last season where these two robots met in the quarterfinals and Witch Doctor bent Sawblaze’s weapon arm, threw the robot upside-down, and left it there to die. Witch Doctor’s 2020 season has been anything but smooth sailing if its qualification at 23rd is any indication, however. This is one of the handful of robots who made it through with a 1-2 record, though surprisingly many of them are still around in the Round of 16; Witch Doctor is ranked the lowest, however. Will those replacement discs last long enough to gut Sawblaze one more time?

Meanwhile Sawblaze is holding a respectable 7th seed despite its explosive loss to Uppercut earlier in the tournament. I don’t know how seedings are made but I’m not quite certain it isn’t done by just throwing darts at sticky notes. I stand by my guns that “7 seems high” but what do I know I just write shitty comedy for yuks on the internet. Since we’re in the main tournament now I think I’m done rehashing Fight Night bouts because they are kind of no longer relevant at this point, so I’ll just remind you all that Sawblaze’s karate chop game has been on point this year. Much like Skorpios, whom Witch Doctor just defeated, Sawblaze is also foregoing its grinding disc in favor of its hammer saw (which it used last season too). We’ll see if the strat works this time around.

Witch Doctor’s goal is going to be reducing the reach and efficacy of Sawblaze’s weapon. The easiest way to do this is to redo exactly what it did last season and bend the center fork of Sawblaze’s front dustpan thing so that it can no longer get any leverage on Witch Doctor because right now those forks are proving to be a pain in the ass and leads Sawblaze to an immediate karate chop that visibly slices into Witch Doctor’s side. Remember, this is a weapon disc made out of AR550 steel, a material harder than what most robots are using for armor. This means Sawblaze is going to win the metallurgy game most of the time. Hell, AR550 is even stronger than the metal used to create Witch Doctor’s replacement discs so a head-on collision could spell absolute disaster for Witch Doctor and blow its fucking weapon apart again. If Witch Doctor is going to win this then this needs to be the only rib it allows to be broken.

Sawblaze jumping down from the ropes to deliver the Peoples’ Elbow.

Sawblaze trips on a seam in the floor which affords Witch Doctor the ability to land a side shot that results in Sawblaze twisting and flipping up into the air, but not onto its back. Until someone damages the other’s weapon we’re going to see a fight that just goes back and forth like this. You can tell Witch Doctor is aiming for the center fork because it relentlessly just floors it into Sawblaze’s face completely disregarding its shitty flamethrower. Witch Doctor can’t get the purchase it needs, so Sawblaze drags its opponent into the wall… and then Sawblaze gets whacked by the Pulverizer because like I said this is exactly the shit we’re going to see until someone loses their weapon. Nobody’s winning this fight right now, it’s 50/50. If the clock ran down right now half the judges would quit. Yes, I am aware half of three is one and a half. I am telling you one and a half judges would quit. (The half would be Derek Young’s dumb glasses.)

I don’t know how many bolts held on this plow but it was at least one too few.

As Sawblaze gets away from the Pulverizer its opponent is right there waiting to land a blow, and as soon as Sawblaze lands on its wheels it’s already slipped underneath Witch Doctor and slams it into the far corner where one of its Pulverizers awaits. As Witch Doctor is careened into the wall Sawblaze fires off its chopper and shears every single fucking bolt holding on Witch Doctor’s front left plow. Your strongest parts are only as strong as their weakest link and it just so happens that while the plow itself could sustain the blow no problem the team didn’t account for something to attack it with a downward and outward spinning force, i.e. fucking Sawblaze. Witch Doctor is pinned into the corner with the hammer dropped on it and Sawblaze fires off another shot straight into the pulley of Witch Doctor’s weapon. There are four belts running Witch Doctor’s weapon and by my count I think this literally clips three of the goddamned things.

Sawblaze is doing a number to Witch Doctor’s weapon but when the bots finally separate take a look at Sawblaze’s front prongs; the middle one is bent. Somewhere in those hits that were tossing Sawblaze around Witch Doctor must’ve clipped the center piece because now its tip is all warped and it’s preventing Witch Doctor from fully riding up atop Sawblaze. With only one belt running the weapon Witch Doctor isn’t firing on all cylinders and it strikes at Sawblaze again but there’s no significant bite to its weapon anymore. Sawblaze returns the attack with one of its own to Witch Doctor’s lid prompting Mike Gellatly to panic over in the drivers’ booth.

Despite the lack of belts, Witch Doctor refuses to fuck off.

The panic is well grounded too because wisps of smoke start coming out of Witch Doctor as the robot is bullied into the hammer again. This isn’t a full on meltdown of the batteries or motors but when you see fucking smoke you know that can’t possibly be a good sign. Given the brief nature of the smoke and the lack of movement from Witch Doctor I’m guessing something electronic like a motor controller has cooked itself. Witch Doctor looks to be dead but Sawblaze is still out for blood to set the record straight and as it whips around it uses its hammer saw like a vertical spinner and cleaves into the softer aluminum part of the pulley powering Witch Doctor’s weapon. This is exactly the kind of damage Skorpios was wanting to do to Witch Doctor, and it would have too if Witch Doctor didn’t monster truck all over Skorpios and kink its weapon.

Witch Doctor is dragged around by its jaw as Sawblaze rams it into the screws and wall before its weapon tooth disengages from Witch Doctor’s pulley and the refs finally start the 10 count. The fight ends at 2:59. One second. One fucking second was all Witch Doctor needed to survive to make it to the buzzer. Well, two if KO’s at 3:00 are allowed. But still, that’s how close this came to going to the judges and had this fight done so I still think Sawblaze would’ve edged out Witch Doctor. I concede to the better robot. I had Witch Doctor chosen as my prospective season winner and I had this fight predicted to go exactly as it did last year – and it almost did – but that’s the keyword here: almost.

WINNER: Sawblaze, KO


ROUND OF 16
UPPERCUT vs. RIBBOT

UPPERCUT

Team Uppercut

Weapon: Vertical spinning blade

RIBBOT

Team Ribbot

Weapon: Horizontal spinning disc

It is not Wednesday my dudes.

What is there left to say about Uppercut aside from more stupid ass jokes about yo-yos? Alex Hattori has put together one of the deadliest weapons to grace the arena but the downside is the rest of the robot is kind of awkwardly shaped and doesn’t lend itself well to being kicked and thrown around. Case in point this is the only robot of the top four seeds to have a loss in the qualifiers. Granted, that was to Hydra so what the fuck were you expecting? Uppercut absolutely devastated its other two Fight Night opponents and that trend continued into the main tournament where we saw it blast HiJinx out of the goddamned arena in literally one shot. Not many robots have multiple one-hit KO’s on their record, and in fact Uppercut might be the only one.

Ribbot is not the opponent I predicted would be in this fight but it’s the one we’ve got since Ribbot’s opponent Beta decided to wear “mullet” armor that consisted of who the fuck knows what. All I can tell you is all the fancy engineering in the world couldn’t save Beta from a robot painted like a fucking frog. Had Beta just used normal ass armor I think we’d be seeing a different fight but Ribbot earned that win nonetheless. When it comes to Ribbot and Uppercut however, I just see a whole lotta wheels begging to be ripped off. Ribbot’s drive chains are also exposed meaning a shot from Uppercut literally anywhere on its sides will spell trouble. Ribbot’s going with its horizontal blade because why the hell not? Uppercut is weak to horizontal blows so it’s worth a shot when you’re staring down yo-yo death incarnate.

They added nukes to the Pulverizers for this match.

First hit of the fight sees Ribbot’s front left tire literally shredded into about forty pieces and ejected into the arena scaffolding. I’d say “wow I’m surprised” but really I’m not. I said those wheels were massive targets and I was correct. Ribbot’s spinner is still going because the robot has the ability to still balance on three wheels and spin its undercutter but there’s already a dire disparity in functionality between the two machines. Uppercut somehow manages to tear away Ribbot’s front right tire with a hit that doesn’t seem like it was anywhere close to the wheel but I’m guessing Uppercut’s blade slid off of Ribbot’s and connected with the wheel in a split second, who fucking knows anymore. A shower of parts explode off of Ribbot ranging from side panel parts to wheel chunks to the plastic frog lid revealing a shitty drawing of a frog under it. A+ art.

The two robots lock heads near the Pulverizer and the dude in charge of looking at Ribbot’s real-time vital signs assures David Jin that he’s fine to lock together like this and push against Uppercut. Props to that guy because you just know his little device is sending off red flags left and right with all the shit that’s been torn off of the robot but he knows which alarms to ignore to say “Everything that’s left on the robot right this very moment? It’s good.”

Uppercut’s blade is spinning whereas Ribbot’s seems dead but that’s only because the robot is currently in its opponent’s face and bracing against it for dear fucking life. My guess is there’s some damage to Ribbot’s weapon however because it is clearly missing its left chain if you look at the weapon’s mechanical access panel on Ribbot’s lid. Neither robot wants to back away because for Uppercut that means possibly getting shoved around and for Ribbot that means certain fucking doom. The bots are holding steady until they get too close to the Pulverizer and someone drops it causing Uppercut’s blade to hit the hazard and send both robots flipping backward, Uppercut taking part of the BattleBots sign with it as it goes.

A better look at Surgeon General. I mean Ribbot.

Ribbot floors it toward Uppercut again and catches a blow that flips it over and sends another handful of parts flying off. Now upside-down, Ribbot starts to spin its weapon back up because somehow this fucking thing miraculously hasn’t died. It’s missing parts and yet it still spins up fast enough to slam into Uppercut and send enough shrapnel flying out with the force to snipe the other part of the BattleBots sign. Good job destroying all of the sign except the part with the logo on it, if this were a video game that might be an achievement. This hit has killed Ribbot’s spinner outright but more importantly it’s become apparent that Uppercut only has one side of drive. Since Uppercut apparently falls into the same class of robot as Malice and not Kraken that means it’s going to be counted out for this affront to robotic combat. In all seriousness though, it doesn’t look like Uppercut has the ability to gyro dance its way around and after a few moments it straight up stops working anyways.

Dare I say it, but perhaps Ribbot’s little Game Boy thing came in handy for this fight? Maybe David was able to know exactly how long to hold the line against Uppercut so that its motors were fine while Uppercut was just flying completely blind and potentially burned one out. This fight would’ve been a fucking bloodbath otherwise, more so than it already was. Uppercut might not have gotten up for the 10 count, but this was no cakewalk for Ribbot. They should’ve censored out all the profanities with frog croaks though.

WINNER: Ribbot, KO


ROUND OF 16
BLOODSPORT vs. TANTRUM

BLOODSPORT

Bots N’ Stuff Robotics

Weapon: Horizontal spinning blade

TANTRUM

Team Seems Reasonable

Weapon: Vertical spinning disc on sliding track

Motion blur shots are the best I don’t even care if nothing’s happening in this still.

Currently undefeated, and one of the very few robots left in the running who can say that, Bloodsport is a hellacious horizontal spinner that landed here last year and has been cleaving chunks out of robots left and right ever since. It’s the Hazard clone that Perfect Phoenix wishes it could be, and the giant disparity in seeding between those two bots – plus the fact that Perfect Phoenix has already been eliminated – proves it. Bloodsport was on the ropes in its Round of 32 battle with Gruff and by all accounts it should’ve lost because its weapon detonated right away and reduced Bloodsport to a wedge, but Bloodsport somehow turned this piss poor luck around and roughed up Gruff enough for a split decision win. Now without its tri-tipped spinner Bloodsport is riding into battle with its uh, Batarang.

If Tantrum has proven only one thing this year it’s that it’s a tough nut to crack. It’s not undefeated, and for all the times we’ve seen those neat decorative fists in the robot’s B-roll shots they were literally shredded in fight #1. Tantrum is one of those small robots whose compact design lends it well to being slapped around without sustaining too much damage because its armor makes it a fucking brick. The robot’s weak point however is its weapon, it’s susceptible to horizontal spinners. Tantrum defeated Whyachi’s Fusion to make it here but in that fight a well placed shot from Fusion, whether it was accidental or not, jacked up the dresser drawer track that Tantrum’s weapon depends on to function properly. Bloodsport is touting a huge horizontal blade, it’s possible we can see another scenario where the weapon is knocked sideways.

One of Bloodsport’s few hits this fight. Somehow.

Bloodsport starts the fight with its weapon revving up and looks to dodge diagonally, expecting either a box rush from Tantrum or for Tantrum to juke to one side to spin its own weapon up. When the two collide Bloodsport manages to flick away one of the tiny decorative fists from Tantrum’s self-righter and that’s about the extent of the damage. Tantrum throws its weapon forward for a punch but it looks like there’s no meat to that attack and in fact its disc looks like it gets jammed in its forward position, not spinning. I can’t tell if Bloodsport’s already landed the hit that has disabled Tantrum’s spinner or what but that was fucking fast.

The spinner on Bloodsport looks to be non-functional, though I guess the better term is “selectively functional” because it seems to freeze up for a moment, long enough for the hosts to assume it’s Bloodsport’s bent up wedgelets getting in the way and for Kenny to say “jam up” again. Bloodsport eventually starts spinning again but Tantrum is right there on its ass to absorb the blows with its thick armor and stay on the attack with just its front prongs. Tantrum goes for a pin near the drivers’ booth and Kenny informs us that Aren Hill said his strategy with Tantrum was to pin someone near the arena entrance area and then fire off a blow to presumably win by getting his opponent out of the box. Someone tell Aren that’s not a viable strategy anymore and doing that will get his ass disqualified. Y’all think I’m making this shit up but the rules for the 2021 season are out now and they specifically forbid doing that. (But don’t worry they’ve added a new hazard called “The Shelf” so I’m sure it won’t be a shit show.)

Like a wrestler bending rebar.

Anyways back to this fight and Bloodsport is jammed into the screws a couple more times before Tantrum finagles another pin under the Pulverizer that comes down on Bloodsport and just absolutely wrecks its self-righting mast. Tantrum no longer has the ability to flip Bloodsport over and the team should be thankful for that because that mast bent like it was nothing and I’m positive it’s not going to work as intended now. Bloodsport is able to land some glancing blows with its spinner but it almost seems like the weapon keeps powering down because it’s overheating or something. I could’ve sworn that was fixed but I have no idea why Bloodsport isn’t trying to make up for lost time and just whale on Tantrum damage be damned. Bloodsport is the only robot with a working weapon right now and all we’re seeing is this fight play out exactly like the Bloodsport/Gruff fight where Gruff was the only one with a working weapon and still managed to lose the fucking battle.

With 20 seconds left on the clock Chris Rose asks who will leave the lasting impression on the judges. Bloodsport steps forward, squats, and shits out a drive wheel. That’s the impression it’s leaving with the judges. Tantrum hasn’t had a working fucking weapon at any point how do you just straight up lose a tire like this come the fuck on. Bloodsport gets whacked by the Pulverizer one more time and the judges say they’ve seen enough.

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


ROUND OF 16
HYDRA vs. GIGABYTE

HYDRA

Team Whyachi

Weapon: Hydraulic flipping arm

GIGABYTE

Robotic Death Company

Weapon: Outer spinning shell w/ teeth

You’ve seen Gigabyte but have you seen it S I D E W A Y S?

Hydra’s the last of a dying breed this season, a robot with an undefeated record. With Bloodsport out of the picture Hydra’s the only one left and with good reason. In the BattleBots days of yesteryear Bronco reigned supreme as the flipper bot you didn’t want to get paired up with. This was the status quo for years until Team Whyachi worked on a hydraulic flipper for their new robot Hydra. Hydra defeated Bronco and ushered in a new era for flippers. Yes, the win was that important. This season Hydra’s continued creating chaos and as the #1 seed it received an easy draw against a crippled Hypershock which it flipped 13 times before Hypershock just fucking finally died.

Hydra’s opponent for this match is Gigabyte, a massive shell spinner. The only real way to come at a shell spinner of this caliber is to attach a giant plow to your robot and hope for the best and that’s exactly what Jake Ewert has done with Hydra. Gigabyte hits hard because that shell is so damn heavy the potential energy it stores is ridiculous. A shot to Hydra’s side could cripple the entire drivetrain for that side which is what Gigabyte will be aiming for, otherwise it’s just going to eat wedge and die. There’s a prescribed way to defeat a shell spinner and there’s a good chance we might see it executed to perfection in this match. This won’t be an easier fight like Gigabyte’s Round of 32 match with Malice, Jake knows what he’s doing and he has the hardware to bring it to Gigabyte.

All of these shots are going to be of Gigabyte flying and you know it.

When the fight starts Hydra actually tries to go in for a box rush which was unexpected to say the least. I was anticipating Hydra to allow Gigabyte to get up to speed that way it can ease into the spinner and allow Gigabyte’s own kinetic energy to destroy itself. That’s still kind of what winds up happening anyways because Gigabyte manages to achieve full speed and is promptly launched into the screw box in the far side of the arena sending the shell spinner flying toward the hosts at who the fuck knows how fast. It literally takes like three frames of video for this rebound to occur, it’s that fucking fast. This is like the third or fourth episode in a row where something massive has been kicked at Chris and Kenny. Guys, there’s literally like a whole other perimeter to throw things, maybe try that. It’s been a hot minute since someone’s tried to snipe Lisa Winter with something, or Jason Bardis. Aim for them next time.

Gigabyte eventually flips over and its giant mast allows it to roll back onto its wheels but Hydra is waiting there patiently so it can just throw its flipper up again. Three flips are followed by three successful self-rights from Gigabyte so we know its system works. (This is how Bloodsport would’ve also theoretically self-righted, prior to its own mast being flattened by the fucking hammers.) Gigabyte spends a few seconds on Hydra’s flipper but for some reason Hydra doesn’t pull the flipper and end this battle. As Gigabyte gets away a belt falls out from under it and I can’t quite tell what that’s from because the robot is still driving okay and its shell is still spinning; my best guess is Gigabyte has redundant weapon belts like Witch Doctor and one of them just came loose.

I WANT TO BELIEVE

Hydra throws Gigabyte into the corner near the hazard supervisors (not operators) and bumps the clock, though the clock doesn’t get broken like it did last season. Also the hazard guys don’t even flinch because they’ve put a lot of fucking trust into that Lexan wall. Chris and Kenny have been here for five seasons and they still instinctively duck and move out of the way when shit gets thrown at them, just rewind this battle 40 seconds for proof of that statement. The fight gravitates toward the hosts again and Kenny asks Gigabyte to “please leave” and luckily for him Gigabyte was just passing through on its way to getting jostled around by Hydra again, but pay close attention and you’ll see Hydra’s flipping arm take a direct shot from the Pulverizer. Seconds later it’s revealed that the arm still works flawlessly, but this could’ve been a pivotal moment if that hammer blow ruptured the hydraulic tank.

It takes about two minutes but Gigabyte finally catches an edge somewhere on Hydra and sends it spinning away. This hit may have tweaked something on Hydra because the next time it flips its arm up the arm gets jammed and stays there. It also looks like there’s some burnout or drift happening with Hydra’s left side of drive. This is when Jake dials up the bravado I’ve noticed, and he does that by asking Gigabyte if it’s dead yet. Buddy, you don’t get to say that when your robot is now on death’s door. If there were another minute in this fight Gigabyte would be feasting on that fucking weapon arm and you know it. Instead Gigabyte actually is kinda dead and the potential integrity of Hydra’s flipper is saved by the clock.

WINNER: Hydra, Judges’ Decision (3-0)


ROUND OF 16
BLACK DRAGON vs. TOMBSTONE

BLACK DRAGON

Team Uai!rrior

Weapon: Vertical spinning drum

TOMBSTONE

Hardcore Robotics

Weapon: Horizontal spinning blade

The carnage begins…

Ranked #5, Black Dragon is still terrified of this match-up. I had its previous opponent, Slammow, pegged to take the upset but I was wrong about that and Black Dragon advanced onward. Regardless of who won that battle however, the buck stops here. Tombstone is no pushover and nothing highlights that better than Team Uai!rrior getting the wake-up call to ditch their flamethrower and put together a massive fucking plow just for this battle. Peter Abrahamson also lets us know that they’ve spent a lot of time in the test box perfecting the “Minotaur-style” self-righting of rolling up on one wheel using their robot’s gyroscopic energy and flipping back down. I’m just more tickled by the fact that it took Tombstone for them to ditch the flamethrower, it’s almost like this is “serious time” now or something.

Tombstone is ranked #21 after its rough season but Ray Billings doesn’t give two shits. Like he said to Chris Rose at the end of the tournament you’re either #1 or you lose. Rankings don’t matter, seedings don’t matter, the only thing that matters to Tombstone is how far up its opponent’s ass can it jam its 70+ pound spinning bar of absolute fucking death. There’s little to say about Tombstone that hasn’t already been said, this is a bot that’s been around for all five of the reboot seasons and has stayed mostly the same. It’s here to kill and it’s here to win. Just ask Mad Catter. Tombstone’s weapon for this match is one of its harder blades to prevent potential shattering when making contact with Black Dragon’s steel face.

Tombstone + Wedge = Air Time

Despite being the closest you can be to an actual glass cannon Tombstone does exhibit some amount of strategy. For example, it doesn’t just rev the weapon bar up and smash into Black Dragon; Tombstone drives forward and then jukes to the side a bit as if to anticipate a dodge or to even try and swing wide and catch a wheel. Black Dragon isn’t about to box rush either and instead just keeps its front end facing Tombstone and crosses its fingers that the people in the Lincoln Electric welding booth didn’t fuck this one up. One mistake I see Black Dragon making however is that it’s coming at Tombstone from the wrong side, it’s attacking the side where Tombstone’s weapon swings outward and that’s not where you want to be. It doesn’t really matter though because both robots drift apart with only some sparks shed for now.

That is until Tombstone catches the spinner on Black Dragon and gets tossed into the air. Tombstone’s blade gyro dances the robot until it lands so Tombstone doesn’t flip over, but these are the hits Tombstone wants to avoid. Black Dragon gets dangerously close to pointing both of its drive wheels at Tombstone one right after another and they luck out both times that Tombstone didn’t drive forward because that probably would’ve been the end of Black Dragon. We saw Tombstone clip an edge a second ago, so we know there are edges to grab on Black Dragon, all it takes is one bad clip for Black Dragon and the Brazilians are going home with nothing but a few “WINNER” medals for their troubles.

is someone getting the best the best the best the best of you

Tombstone and Black Dragon hit weapon to weapon again and this time Black Dragon gets the better of Tombstone and slams it into the wall. Tombstone’s blade spins down but it hasn’t thrown the chain, the weapon just dies. Additionally Black Dragon’s weapon also gives out with both of its belts still intact. There’s a little bit of movement from the spinner on Black Dragon but it’s nothing substantial and it’s a safe bet that both weapons were disabled at the same time. This leaves Black Dragon with the upper hand because much like Bite Force vs. Tombstone from years ago the bot with the wedge is going to easily overpower Tombstone. This battle has shifted to one of control and Tombstone just has nothing with which to stay competitive in this scenario.

Tombstone is as I said a glass cannon now, it’s among the last of the “so simple it still works” designs out there, but that breed is dying and fights like this just highlight why. Gone are the days where you could just slap 70 pounds of fuck you behind an E-Tek motor and call it a day. Don’t get me wrong you can still do that but this is about where it gets you: a #21 seed and an embarrassing loss to another robot with a disabled weapon who just so happened to also bring a wedge to the fight. I’m not going to sit here and hyper-analyze two minutes’ worth of Black Dragon shoving Tombstone into every corner of the Battlebox. You know damn well the verdict that’s coming from the judges and so do I even if we hate to admit it.

I don’t know what can be done to Tombstone to make it more reliable than it already is. Tombstone has indeed evolved over time but I feel like this is where its evolutionary lineage ends. There’s nowhere else for Tombstone to go except to be gradually battered and beaten down by other opponents as technology advances. Prove me wrong, Ray. Please.

WINNER: Black Dragon, Judges’ Decision (3-0)


ROUND OF 16
VALKYRIE vs. WHIPLASH

VALKYRIE

Questionable Designs

Weapon: Horizontal spinning disc

WHIPLASH

Team Fast Electric Robots

Weapon: Lifting arm

Here’s a dance I invented called “Raise My Roof”.

Here’s the second of two rematch battles in this episode and this one just so happens to be a rematch from earlier in the season. Whiplash was Valkyrie’s opponent in its third and final Fight Night qualifier, a battle where no matter what Valkyrie was going to advance anyways. The only thing on the line was whether or not Whiplash would have a high seed since it’d already lost one fight up to that point. My prediction was that Valkyrie would come into this battle with a different blade to try and mix it up but no, Leanne Cushing says she believes the “Mr. Cavity” blade is the right choice and that the previous battle was just a snafu because the weapon broke down. Also the weapon has changed names again, get it right Chris.

Matt and Jason Vasquez of Team Fast Electric Robots are playing things straight as well, this will literally just be a repeat of the fight we saw earlier this season. With Valkyrie being such a heavy hitter they have no choice but to default back to their giant plow and lifting arm without the spinning disc. This setup worked wonders for them in their first fight because once they bludgeoned Valkyrie’s spinner into submission their robot’s lifting arm was able to effortlessly roll Valkyrie around and at some points the flat spatula part of Whiplash’s lifting arm was able to poke through the weight holes in Valkyrie’s disc for extra leverage. The only difference I’ve noticed are the stoppers on Whiplash’s plow, meant to prevent Valkyrie from riding up too high and hitting their lifting arm sprocket cover which happened last time. It’s a repeat fight, same setups, so let’s see if the dice roll the same way twice.

A better angle of Raise My Roof.

The fight starts with a near perfect box rush from Whiplash that Valkyrie tries to avoid by spinning around backwards, though the problem with this strategy is Whiplash’s front plow is able to reach underneath Valkyrie and still slow its weapon down. What mostly happens instead is Valkyrie is shoved into the wall and ricochets off of it. Valkyrie is bullied again by Whiplash and this time the robot manages to gyro up and over and lands upside down. This is not ideal for Whiplash since that means its lifting sprocket might be in danger, but as you can see Whiplash’s plow is still high enough to deflect the blows. Matt Vasquez seems to have no qualms whatsoever raising his robot’s lifting arm directly into harm’s way but he might want to reconsider that after one hit from Valkyrie actually shears off one of the two front panels of the lifting arm. Ease up on the trigger, dude. I know it’s a repeat fight but that doesn’t mean you can half-ass it. You gotta whole-ass it.

“Screw you” see what I did there I’m funny.

But I mean I guess Whiplash is putting its whole ass into this. Valkyrie gets shunted all the way across the floor and somehow doesn’t reel up to attack the BattleBots sign. Whiplash is hot on its tail ready to lift it up gyroscopic forces be damned. Valkyrie is spinning and contorting in all kinds of ways but there are two takeaways here: Valkyrie is landing zero hits, and Whiplash is somehow managing to balance Valkyrie on its lifting arm like those toy eagles you can balance on your fingertip. I’m not even going to pretend to understand the physics here. For a moment Valkyrie’s blade dies and the robot is shoved into the screws, which actually managed to cause some real damage to the robot last time around, but as Valkyrie gets down its weapon starts to spin again. Whiplash just continues to pick up and drop Valkyrie onto the screws regardless of what Valkyrie’s weapon is doing. I assume Whiplash has the mindset of “hey if the screws break file that under “A” for ‘ain’t my fuckin’ problem’”.

Valkyrie’s weapon refuses to give out which is making this a much more exciting fight to watch. Get fucked, Tombstone. The gyroscopic forces of Valkyrie combined with Whiplash’s flagrant disregard for its own safety are causing this robot to invert, spin out of control, and expend all of its kinetic energy into the floors and screws. If we’re lucky Valkyrie might even bust another screw control box. Again. After two solid minutes of being thrown around like a goddamned lariat Valkyrie’s spinner finally stops working. Yeah it sucks that the weapon is dead because that means no more of the two minutes of clusterfuck we just bore witness to but that was a much more intense control fight than what we got in their previous go around. Also Valkyrie has managed to get sucked behind the screws thanks to Whiplash’s near surgical precision. I bet Matt Vasquez is really good at Operation, and I bet Jason cheats.

Valkyrie destroys the spike strip.

Bad news for Valkyrie is the screws aren’t broken this time and when they reverse direction they claw Valkyrie out of them and throw it back into the fray. The screws look broken afterward, but I can’t tell if that’s how they always look because since those are pretty much the only real hazards in the arena they take a beating over the course of a season. Kenny Florian notes how dire the situation has become for Valkyrie and suggests Leanne tries “burning out” Whiplash’s motors. Bruh that ain’t ever going to happen. Whiplash might as well have cold fusion generators under the hood, it’s not stopping. Ever. Valkyrie aimlessly drives around the arena as the clock runs down from about 45 seconds and while this is going on I’m just taking in the level of damage absorbed by Whiplash’s front plow. Just look at that fucking thing, it’s nearly every color except for yellow anymore.

Also yes this fight pretty much was a repeat of the other one. Whiplash wins again.

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


ROUND OF 16
SHATTER vs. MAMMOTH

SHATTER

Bots FC

Weapon: Chain-driven hammer

MAMMOTH

Team Mammoth

Weapon: Rotary lifting arm

It works like a train plow except it’s a spinning playground swing.

My tournament predictions didn’t really start falling apart until this ongoing Round of 16 but here’s a fight spawned from two bad Round of 32 calls on my part. This should be Lock-Jaw vs. Copperhead, but I’ll admit not even my analysis is infallible and anything can happen when the green light goes up. Shatter’s hammer was more effective against Lock-Jaw than I imagined and Lock-Jaw going up in fucking smoke for the hundredth time didn’t exactly help its case either. I should’ve known and added in the Marlboro Factor. Shatter’s a big target for Mammoth, unlike Copperhead, but its Mecanum wheels should allow it to strafe and run circles around the mammoth in ways its opponent isn’t expecting. Also both of these robots have ridiculous reach but Shatter has the lateral reach needed to potentially stab Mammoth’s gearboxes or electrical box from the front and sides.

I thought Mammoth went with its flexible defensive arm against Copperhead because the team was “running out of parts” so color me surprised to see the rigid offensive arm in use tonight. I was under the impression that both Huge and Hypershock had sliced those things to bits but fuck me Ricky Willems found another one. Though I’m pretty sure all he had to do was look up “porch swing” under “free” on Facebook Marketplace to get his replacement parts. Mammoth is a fun robot but top 16 material? Are you shitting me? It’s not a bad robot but its weapon is so selectively effective that the fact it’s gotten this far is astounding, and yet if that whacker gets tangled up in Shatter’s axe it might still go further yet.

“Oh no my massive and exposed weapon chain my only weakness!”

Unless Shatter swings its axe right now Mammoth is just able to use its swing set as a “puncher” of sorts that just kinda nudges Shatter away and throws some of its decorative triangles around with it. But the second Shatter swings and misses? Mammoth is in there and chucking the hammer bot onto its backside. That flip seems to give Mammoth some much needed confidence because it proceeds to get Shatter onto one of the screws and it keeps attacking. It looks like Shatter might have whacked one of Mammoth’s wheels in the process, but what damage was done was minor. For what it’s worth Mammoth’s arm has some muscle behind it, you might not be aware of it but the motor that drives Mammoth’s attack arm is the same one that runs things like Tombstone’s weapon; it’s just geared in the opposite direction so it has dummy torque instead of speed.

There’s not much to hit on Mammoth but what is is like paper.

And not a lick of that matters anymore because as Shatter swings its hammer again it does what I was half expecting it to do: it reaches up and yanks Mammoth’s weapon chain straight out of the fucking air. This means Mammoth isn’t going to be punting any more field goals with Shatter and right away Shatter goes on the attack… and is promptly stopped by how fucking ridiculously shaped Mammoth is. Shatter can’t seem to hit anything important because the giant slopes of Mammoth’s front end are snagging its hammer up. Mammoth technically has no armor but in a sense also has a lot of a certain kind of special armor: air. If there’s nothing to hit, there’s nothing to score points against. With no active weapon Mammoth is just a tangled mess of support beams for Shatter’s axe to get stuck in and that’s exactly what’s happening right now. Despite its opponent being able to drive in literally any direction Mammoth is successfully caging up Shatter with its front whatevers and shoving it all over the place.

Shatter eventually crawls down from the screws for the Nth time and gets hung up on Mammoth’s right front prong. Shatter has only one way to shake itself loose and that’s to swing its axe around and as the axe comes down it pierces the thin black plastic armor of Mammoth’s motor casing and a second hit punctures Mammoth’s tire. I think Mammoth’s wheels run flat on purpose for extra traction, but that was still a direct hit onto a wheel. It seems like the tides might be shifting some more but right as Shatter starts scoring some points its hammer just stops working and it doesn’t swing at all. I can’t tell if it’s broken or if Adam Wrigley knows that swinging it while stuck in Mammoth’s face will just result in more flipping and flopping around but whatever the case there’s no action from the axe anymore.

With love, The Killsaws

Pay close attention to the camera cut to Shatter’s team however and you’ll see the dude with the trigger grip transmitter pull on the trigger and then look down at it briefly. When the cameras cut back to the fight Shatter’s not really doing anything so I’m pretty sure the weapon is shot; that trigger pull should’ve been another swing of the hammer because at this angle Shatter looks primed to stab another hole in that motor casing. Shoutouts to Shatter literally ramming into Mammoth sideways though and trying to shove it around from this orientation. Does it drive more strongly from the side than it does moving forward? I don’t know how fucking Mecanum wheels work.

The Killsaws have the last say in this fight and they say “remember my fucking glory days you shitstains”. Mammoth takes a hit to the wheel that Shatter struck earlier in the fight and with milliseconds left on the clock that wheel just straight up falls off. It looks like the drive axle sheared, likely from the impact of Shatter’s axe, but the wheel clung on just long enough to almost make it to the buzzer until the saws disrupted it.

Had it not been for this wheel falling off I’d venture a guess that we’d see maybe a split decision favoring Mammoth and yet another upset, but with the Killsaws finally adding their two cents for the first time in forever a different verdict was turned in. God bless the Killsaws, it was like a return to the BattleBots of yore. Don’t even hit me with that stupid bullshit of “but the hazards shouldn’t determine the outcome of fights”. Hang on let me go get you some clown makeup and a rainbow wig you fucking hack, if you don’t want fights being determined by the hazards maybe try not hitting them. I’m talking to you Mammoth, you goddamned shed-sized sonofabitch.

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


ROUND OF 16
END GAME vs. ROTATOR

END GAME

OYES Robotics

Weapon: Vertical spinning disc

ROTATOR

Team Revolution

Weapon: Horizontal spinning disc

Lesson learned: Don’t try any funny shit with End Game.

Quick, think of a fight where End Game used its wedgelets instead of its big two-part plow! You can’t, because I’m pretty sure it’s run with the plow all fucking season so far. Then again, the team can’t really help the fact that they keep getting thrown shit like Bloodsport, Rotator, and Perfect Phoenix. To quote a famous P1 driver “sometimes it be like that”. End Game’s team stuck those plows on at the start of the season to take on Tombstone and they haven’t come off yet, except I think maybe for Hypershock. Was that this season or last season? I’ve already lost track. Anyways End Game made it here by terrorizing an 11-year-old and kicking Perfect Phoenix to the curb. Tyler seemed amused by the destruction though so he’s probably handling it well. Him and his buddy are likely Beyblading it up as we speak.

End Game actually lost one of its qualifiers and still made it in, but Rotator is coming in as an underdog seed this season by having lost two of its fights. Granted, one of those “losses” was “the Beta fight” so hopefully when the selection committee all gathered around to sniff each other’s farts they basically counted that fight as a win for both Beta and Rotator because given that bullshit judges call that’s the only fair outcome for both teams. Rotator finished with “one and a half” wins. Its lower seeing pitted it against Jackpot who was riding high with a perfect season but Victor Soto was more than happy to cut Jackpot down to size… and also cut apart its wheels and everything else too. Basically Victor was more than happy to kick Jackpot’s ass.

Lesson learned: Don’t fuck with Rotator.

Rotator seems to be missing one of its rear spikes because it’s just wearing two of them but it comes at End Game with both spikes and kinda stabs them into the floor a bit all in the name of letting its bar get up to speed. Rotator whips around in place and strikes with its bar to which End Game responds by nearly shoving the entire goddamned robot into the screws. Rotator misses an attack and opens its ass up to a counterattack and End Game digs right in destroying one of the two hinged spikes on Rotator’s rear. I would imagine these are now useless and Rotator is going to be all business. Rotator swings very wide as its blade gets back up to speed and as it comes around you can see that the “END” plow on End Game is already bent slightly upward. Rotator comes in for another volley and manages to knock all fucking four weapon belts loose on End Game. We’re less than a minute into the fight and End Game’s weapon is toast.

Regardless, this is now Rotator’s fight to win because all End Game can do is shove it around while taking hits from Rotator. End Game expends the last little bit of residual energy in its blade with a hit that knocks Rotator to the side and that’s it, no more spinner. Follow End Game on Instagram or whatever @EndGame_BattleBot, you can read it now that their weapon is doing fuck all. All End Game has to its advantage now are physics, horizontal spinners striking inclined planes tend to deflect upward and Victor gets a nice up close look at his robot when Rotator bounces off of End Game’s wedge and smashes into the windows of the drivers’ booth. A second low speed impact rolls Rotator over, but like its name and design implies the robot can drive either way up. Rotator might even be more deadly to End Game now that it’s going to be striking much higher up on the robot. We’ve seen it when people flip bots like Tombstone over, they think they’ve got ’em on the ropes until that blade starts carving in a few inches higher than it was a second ago.

Lesson learned: If you’re Rotator the judges hate you.

Rotator cares not which way it’s inverted because its bar keeps spinning and the robot keeps blasting End Game in the fucking face. You can set your watch to these impacts. Or maybe not, because after a couple of them Rotator’s bar slows down with about 60 seconds left on the clock. With no active weapon Rotator uses itself to bait End Game into taking a shot from a Pulverizer which is some next level strategy because who the fuck pays attention to the hazards in BattleBots anymore? Ignoring the hazards is precisely how Mammoth lost a goddamned wheel. Rotator eventually takes a hit of its own when it rides up atop End Game’s wedges and gets stuck there but this fight eventually winds down. Rotator disabled its opponent’s weapon and consistently landed hits, though it was shoved around for some of the fight it was still doing all the the damage. It goes to the judges who…

…wait a minute. You’re not going to…

WINNER: End Game, Judges’ Decision (2-1)

you motherfuckers.


OMG FIVE DOLLAR FOOTLONG

Well that’s twice in the same season that Rotator was fucked out of a fight that it won. I could write an entire miniature essay on the subject here but I’ll spare you all the drivel and just reiterate that Rotator drew first blood by disabling End Game’s weapon and then spent nearly a minute hammering on its opponent. Sure the Pulverizer hits cancel each other out but End Game lost that fucking battle god damn it. I don’t even have anything against End Game, I just have a thing against bogus calls. What the fuck did you want Rotator to do in that fight? Shoot fireworks out of its ass?

But I said I wasn’t going to get into it so I won’t, instead let’s talk about what’s going down in the next, and last, episode of the season. Only eight robots are left, the field has been halved once again. Believe it or not there are still some relatively low seeds still remaining; Ribbot is the lowest-seeded robot at #20 but let’s be real here that fight with Uppercut was fucking amazing. Shatter is pulling up the rear right behind Ribbot at #19 with that fluke of a win over Mammoth thanks to the Killsaws. And right behind Shatter is Tantrum at #18 who managed to defeat Bloodsport in the exact same way Bloodsport survived and outlasted Gruff in the Round of 32. Someone was paying attention. The top seeds are out save for Hydra, seeded 1st, but Hydra has its work cut out for it if it wants to progress any further because standing in its way is a bright yellow plow named “Whiplash”.

I can’t believe the season is almost over but it is. It seems like only a couple weeks ago I decided to revive this project and tackle season ten but it’s actually been a little longer than 14 weeks because I’ve had some off periods with no articles, and I think that’s a healthy way to go moving forward. I know that there’s a new season of BattleBots being taped as we speak and I’ll do my best to keep up with it but I think what’s safest for me is to just coast to the finish line even if I fall behind the show by a couple of weeks. It’s bound to happen eventually so I might as well not fight it and put myself through the stress.

Thanks for checking out BattleBots Update this week. If you’d like to support the project you can do so with a monthly pledge on Patreon or a one-time donation via Ko-Fi. Special thanks to the anonymous donor on Ko-Fi recently, your contribution was very much appreciated! If stickers are more your thing you can get some official BBU ones from Redbubble, and be sure to follow BattleBots Update on Facebook for all kinds of other updates. Somehow this website is almost at 4,000 likes. I dunno. Comedy.

– Draco