[BattleBots: S10 E14 is available via streaming on Discovery+.]
This is it. Three episodes of primary tournament and forty episodes of Fight Night have been leading up to this moment. Beginning with the quarterfinals we will crown a new BattleBots champion by the time the credits roll on this episode. With Bite Force on hiatus a power void was left behind to be filled by all sorts of bots raring to claim the title without needing to worry about potentially having to face down the reigning champion at some point.
And of those eight robots that remain we’re seeing perhaps our most varied tournament end game ever. There’s Hydra the flipper, Whiplash the lifter, Ribbot the Swiss Army bot, Black Dragon the drum spinner, Tantrum the sliding-track vertical spinner, Sawblaze the hammer saw, Shatter the axe bot, and End Game the vertical spinner. No two designs are of the same class or style. I must say in a time where “another goddamned vertical spinner” has become a meme to bemoan the lack of diversity in design it’s incredible to see eight robots that have advanced this far while all remaining distinct enough to be their own beasts. It’s going to be an arms race for the Giant Nut, and possibly in a literal sense for Tantrum.
As I said Bite Force is MIA, so who’s going to step up and take the Nut? Will Hydra the #1 seed fulfill its ranking and win it all? Will former Desperado winners Black Dragon beat the absent Minotaur to the Giant Nut? Will the Vasquez family finally reach the championship with Whiplash after coming so close in every previous season? Or maybe we’ll see another Massachusetts showdown between Ribbot (WPI) and Sawblaze (MIT) where the Giant Nut is at stake. I don’t know about you but I’m excited as fuck so let’s cut to the chase and get to the first fight.
BLACK DRAGON vs. RIBBOT
Hot off the heels of bringing down Tombstone, Black Dragon is the only surviving competitor this season to defeat a former champion (Tombstone, 2016). It also defeated Slammow to get here but whatever, I actually had this robot pegged to lose that fight but sometimes you get proven wrong and made a fool of for your longshot predictions. I will never get over the internet harassment I never experienced for guessing that fight wrong. With the ability to take down a king Black Dragon certainly has the intimidation factor going for it; after all, how many Tombstones has Ribbot beaten? Exactly. None. For this fight Black Dragon is using its double disc spinner reminiscent of Witch Doctor’s weaponry to hopefully cut Ribbot down to size.
Ribbot might not have defeated Tombstone, but it did take down #4 seed Uppercut in an amazingly intense battle in the Round of 16. Ribbot was pretty much wrecked by the time Uppercut was counted down so the team had their work cut out for them in the pits, but Ribbot is back in one piece and is sporting its own vertical spinner configuration because it knows an upside down Black Dragon has “free points” written all over it. Prior to sniping Uppercut this robot defeated an awkwardly armored Beta so it’s a giant killer no doubt. And again, I had Ribbot selected to lose to Beta. Shows how much I know. Who’s the professional here again?
Both of these robots are beaten up from their previous fights. Black Dragon has had a rough season and we just saw Ribbot get dismantled by Uppercut in the previous round, but it’s easy to forget that the arena has to contain all of this bullshit too. Every once in a while we’ll get a fight where it’s obvious that the floor has had a new coat of paint applied to it, but the steel floor itself is still battered. Ribbot drives circles around Black Dragon and hits a snag in the floor and sheds one of its wedgelets. If these things can’t take a hit from the floor, what hope does this robot have that Black Dragon isn’t going to just slice them all off and shove them up Ribbot’s ass? The two bots meet in the center of the arena and Ribbot loses the reach battle with its wedgelets, riding up atop Black Dragon who slices into the frog’s underbelly and throws it onto its head. You can see the massive gouge in the underside of Ribbot just behind the reinforced frame that holds the weaponry.
Ribbot’s flipped again and we can see it’s already missing another wedgelet and after another attack from Black Dragon it sheds its third one. Ribbot gets rolled around a couple more times but ends up right back on its head and thrown into the arena’s BattleBots sign. It’s hilarious how that sign has just sat there for the entire season and we are only now seeing it get attacked seemingly in every episode. Having been to production I can tell you that behind the stage area where Chris and Kenny welcome viewers there’s literally an entire stack of spare signs for exactly this goddamned reason. I even have a chunk of one along with a bolt from Minotaur from a previous season where the sign was thrashed during a particularly heated battle; they make great souvenirs!
But this hit that sends Ribbot flying into the sign isn’t just your run of the mill slam, no this hit causes something to go very wrong inside of Black Dragon. Gabriel Tellez joked that Black Dragon will eat frog for lunch, but you gotta cook that shit past 170 degrees and without their flamethrower Black Dragon failed to do this. Immediately battery smoke starts pouring out of Black Dragon and this smoke directly corresponds to its double disc weapon coming to a dead halt. Then Black Dragon bursts into fucking flames. Ribbot stands to win this battle by yet again outlasting an opponent and allowing them to destroy themselves, but they have to wait for Black Dragon to come to a halt and get counted out first. So far that’s not happening because Black Dragon shrugs off the fire and puts Ribbot into the screws.
If that wasn’t impressive enough for you Black Dragon then takes control of Ribbot and sends it under a Pulverizer. This is all Black Dragon’s weapon system that’s gone up in flames, mind you. The drivetrain is just fine and in the past we’ve even seen Black Dragon turn into a flaming wedge to take down an opponent (Texas Twister). Black Dragon is so expertly laid out internally that its weapon batteries can literally be fucking melting down into firey gooey ooze and the robot is 100% still driveable. It’s also so expertly laid out that crashing into the Ramrod hazard near the Pulverizer is enough to shear off the dragon’s left wedgelet. Man, I really like that these hazards that people have just ignored are coming back in full force for these last few battles. I mean did you even know there was a fucking hazard there? Or did you just assume there was a dot painted on the floor for decoration?
Ribbot is slammed into the wall yet again. Ribbot’s weapon seems to have lost power because it’s not landing any hits and I’m not seeing any sparks coming from collisions between the robots. In its upside down configuration the robot also seems substantially less maneuverable; if Ribbot were flipped back over it might still be competitive but as it stands the floor is being mopped with the frog by a robot whose blaze is only getting worse as time goes on. There’s a full minute left on the clock and Black Dragon has already been on fire for a minute so far. Perhaps by beating Tombstone the robot learned the secret jitsu of driving around while burning to death. Ribbot has no counter for this because it can’t even right itself.
Ribbot is clearly just waiting for Black Dragon to die… but I’m not so sure that’s going to happen. With ten seconds left on the clock the fight goes to the judges, and the judges side with Black Dragon on the grounds of aggression and control. There might even be some damage points in there given all the wedgelets that came off of Ribbot and the fact that its weapon lost power. Normally I’d say the guy on fire lost, but in this case the “guy on fire” continued to dominate the fucking fight. Black Dragon wins, and I agree with that assessment.
WINNER: Black Dragon, Judges’ Decision (3-0)
END GAME vs. SHATTER
Hold up this might be the first time we’re seeing End Game with something other than its giant “END GAME” plow. That could be because Shatter is its next opponent, or it could be because Rotator did a fucking number on those wedges and they just aren’t ready for another outing just yet. My money is riding on the big sticks coming out so End Game can best keep Shatter at bay and control the fight by raising more of Shatter off the ground because the fanciest Mecanum wheels on the planet don’t mean shit if they aren’t touching the goddamned floor. (Also I went back and checked and yes End Game did use wedgelets against Hypershock, that was this season. I just had to know, it was bothering me.)
You probably also noticed End Game has some extra thick armor plating up top and that’s because Shatter’s hammer is no joke. This is a robot that can swing as hard classic Chomp if not harder and that means it’s got the power to stab holes in fucking everything. Just ask Lock-Jaw who also showed up with extra armor, had it shattered into pieces, flipped over, and was promptly stabbed in the dick to death. Shatter didn’t have as easy of a fight with Mammoth, the Killsaws were literally the saving factor, but with its long axe arm it was able to snatch Mammoth’s chain right out of the sky and stab holes in the beast’s tires. Mammoth’s lucky it was designed to run with flat tires to start with because it would’ve been fucked otherwise.
Apparently Shatter is very heavily magnetized to the floor according to the End Game guys which sort of makes sense considering how hard it swings its axe. The fact of the matter still stands though, once those long forks of End Game get underneath Shatter no amount of fancy “driving sideways” is going to save it, and that’s exactly what happens when End Game digs into the side of Shatter flipping the robot over into the BattleBots sign. This first hit dings Shatter’s left fork and it also visibly distorts the slender forks on End Game. Guess after adding all that armor to the top all they had for weight leftover is whatever the side paneling of food trucks is made from. They stole it when no one was looking. Don’t worry I’m sure the owners will sell enough overpriced $9 hot dogs to make up for all the stolen metal.
Shatter squares up with End Game but refuses to throw the hammer for a very good reason: we’ve seen what happens when Shatter jams its willy into places it doesn’t belong. Instead another opportunity presents itself where Shatter can throw a punch at an angle and goes for it. The “hop” that Shatter does upon firing its weapon is enough to allow End Game to seize control of the fight immediately and throw Shatter onto its back. That’s half of its plan executed, now the other half is to break the hammer mechanism so Shatter can’t self-right. Shatter rebounds back but only barely so. This thing can’t even drive anymore unless it’s strafing diagonally so clearly that major attack from End Game rocked those expensive kicks of Shatter.
Then Shatter does the dumbest goddamned thing it could have. It fires its weapon straight into End Game’s spinning disc and blows it up. To avoid pronoun confusion here the “it” that gets blown to smithereens isn’t End Game’s disc, it’s Shatter’s axe head. The whole damned thing, gone. I know why Shatter was tempted to go for broke here, the bot’s on the ropes it can’t drive well etc, but trying to hit those belts on either side of End Game’s disc is like trying to land on the fucking $1.00 mark on that big ass bonus wheel everyone spins at the end of The Price is Right. Yeah there’s a winner space on that wheel, but you’re more likely to hit the 17 or 49 cents spaces right next to it and fuck everything up and that’s what Shatter just did. Now you don’t get to go to the Showcase Showdown and it’s all your fault.
Shatter’s going to keep swinging its broken axe, though. If we learned anything from its fight with Malice it’s that if there’s even so much as a sliver of metal still connected to that hammer clutch you can expect that son of a bitch to swing forward and backward until the cows come home. Jack Barker very cautiously points out “he can still hit us” referring to the stick of busted metal that now comprises Shatter’s axe so the spinner goes in for a few free hits before leaving Shatter to die in the corner. While being counted down Shatter just doesn’t stop swinging because its wheels are damaged in such a way that it can only go in specific directions. With no seconds left on the clock it almost seems like Shatter gets free of the debris it’s stuck on and slides sideways, but the fight’s already over. Sorry Adam, but a top 8 finish is nothing to scoff at.
WINNER: End Game, KO
SAWBLAZE vs. TANTRUM
It’s crazy saying this, because it feels incorrect, but the quarterfinals is the furthest Sawblaze has ever made it in a BattleBots tournament. It’s qualified for other primary tournaments – except for that one time the rules were written so shittily that it dominated Razorback for three solid minutes and still lost by decision – but it’s always fallen short of the rounds that aren’t defined by numbers. Sawblaze didn’t have an easy trip here, either. The Kraken fight was probably not that hard but the real meat came with Sawblaze’s rematch with Witch Doctor. That’s the kind of shit that gets in your head. “This is a rematch, we gotta get even this time.” That’s where you fuck up on driving and hit the wall and miss attacks, but not Jamison Go. He nailed it and eliminated the robot I thought was going to win the championship. Thanks. Dick.
When Kenny Florian introduces Tantrum he does so by saying “when you see a robot with this low of a seed this late in the game you start to think it’s luck”. He’s both correct and incorrect. I cannot take away from things like Tantrum’s impressive domination over Gamma 9 earlier in the qualifiers. I can, however, say that a malfunctioning Bloodsport and fucking Team Whyachi’s shitty Fusion robot were not exactly the toughest opponents preventing Tantrum from reaching the esteemed air of the quarterfinals. Fusion was more than happy to just fucking self-detonate and Bloodsport managed to shed a wheel despite no apparent damage being directly done to it. Tantrum’s been thrown into the deep end here, we’ll know if this “late in the game / low seed” business is luck or legitimate skill in just a few seconds.
What’s the best way to rev a weapon up to speed when you opponent is Sawblaze? Spin in a circle apparently, because that’s exactly what Tantrum does. Usually when it comes to wedgelets vs. a plow the wedgelets win out, but I think because Sawblaze’s are mounted on pivots that the impacts are causing them to recoil back because right away Tantrum is having no trouble at all spinning around and slipping underneath Sawblaze’s dustpan forks and attacking their front ends. No major damage yet, but it’s looking like Tantrum’s strategy of whipping side to side is defeating Sawblaze’s front defenses by getting around them.
The sliding track is working, things are looking up for Tantrum early on. Ignore the silver chunks you see flying around those are just the decorative mini-fists on Tantrum’s srimech. I still think it’s funny that Valkyrie absolutely trashed the arms that are supposed to be there in Tantrum’s opening qualifier. Do you guys even remember how Tantrum was also supposed to be armed (heh) with flamethrowers? All that, gone. Like tears in the rain. Sawblaze’s flamethrower is working but that thing’s more of an attack deterrent than anything else. It’s set way too far inside and high on the robot to really be of much use other than looking good for the camera, especially when it blows the fuck up. Sawblaze ain’t scoring any points blowing smoke up its own ass, but by getting rolled over by Tantrum it is reminding its opponent which side is the weak one.
Perhaps if Sawblaze’s weapon swung further down than its plow, like if it had four spikes and the disc went through the middle two, it could connect with Tantrum while it’s being carried around but right now dare I say it this is Tantrum’s fight to win; Sawblaze has landed a staggering zero hits. It would have better luck flipping around to drive in reverse and attack with its blade like a vertical spinner at this rate, that’s how dire Sawblaze’s chances are looking. In fact now that the robots have separated you can see all of Tantrum’s chewing and slamming has legitimately bent up the right front fork of Sawblaze. Not the priority target – that’s the middle one – but damage is damage and that’s just going to make attacking Sawblaze head-on from the left that much easier for Tantrum.
Tantrum manages a pin against the drivers’ booth and you know it’s going to burn up the clock until the ref tells Tantrum to back the fuck off. Sawblaze is held against the wall and as soon as Tantrum is told to let it go Tantrum leaves a parting gift by etching its name on Sawblaze’s ass with a swift punch right to the dragon-hole. At some point Tantrum’s sliding track either breaks again or the team just keeps the weapon fired forward to attack like a traditional spinner because Tantrum’s disc locks forward and it just goes into what Kenny Florian would, but doesn’t, call “berserker mode. (Fun science fact: Since I typed out the word “dragon-hole” every future time I started writing the word “dragon” in this article OpenOffice would suggest “dragon-hole”. If I wrote porn this shit would basically be writing itself. Literally.)
Tantrum lunges at Sawblaze and slips underneath that bent up front fork from earlier and its disc connects with the bottom plating of Sawblaze knocking loose the entire right underside panel. There’s nothing attached to this that comes with it, but this is also the side of Sawblaze where the flamethrower is. We are now firmly into the territory of potentially seeing another spinner cause Sawblaze to blow the fuck apart this time from a completely different point of entry. Unluckily for Sawblaze this hit happens in clear sight of the judges who will all have now seen that the missing piece of Sawblaze was from its baseplate – serious damage – so it’s not like Sawblaze popped a wheelie facing the audience and no one got to catch what happened.
Sadly Sawblaze doesn’t blow up a second time, but in the last 15 or so seconds of the match it turns the tables and finally gets a run on Tantrum that results in pretty much nothing. Maybe some points were scored here, but Tantrum just put on a clinic on how to defeat Sawblaze and now I’ll say it, their now-semifinals run isn’t just luck. There’s definitely some skill behind the sticks.
WINNER: Tantrum, Judges’ Decision (3-0)
WHIPLASH vs. HYDRA
So far this episode has been filled with a smattering of lower-seeded robots that maybe you didn’t expect to see make it this far. I think Kenny called it “luck” earlier. But this is a fight between a #8 and the #1 seed. 8’s high, but it’s comparatively low when you’re staring down the top dog and that’s exactly what Whiplash is doing right now. Coming into these brackets with a seeding of 8th allowed it to kind of finagle its way through what might call some “easier” fights. We knew Whiplash was going to give Huge a… huge… pain in the ass with its lifting arm and disc and Whiplash also got to see a rematch from its Fight Night rounds with Valkyrie. That fight played out pretty similar to the first one, namely the part where Whiplash won. But this could potentially be where the road ends.
But the fucking insane bit is the exact same thing is being said about Hydra right now. Whiplash coming in at #8 was a bit of a fluke because right at the start of the season Whiplash stumbled out of the starting gate and was hacked to death by Sawblaze so even if it won its next two fights – which it did – that initial fuck up was going to mar its seeding. Whiplash really isn’t a #8 seed, this is a top shelf bot and its weird seeding has allowed it to sneak into a fight with Hydra. As #1 Hydra was paired up with Hypershock in 32nd place. Let’s be real for a second we all knew how that one was going to turn out. Hydra advanced to face a much tougher opponent in Gigabyte but there’s a roadmap for defeating shell spinners, there’s no such map for Whiplash.
“Those wedges are lookin’ low,” Jake Ewert says to Matt and Jason as he presses the ready button. That’s Whiplash’s secret weapon for this fight: two forks that almost look like big construction pencils jutting out from the front of the bot. Hydra’s gone back to its lei-like frond of wedgelets so all Whiplash has going for it are these two pokers and its flat lifting arm. I will say though, while I know the side titanium pieces on Hydra are technically superficial couldn’t you have fixed the one that was stuck in an upward spot? Actually nevermind, Whiplash has gotten underneath Hydra and slammed it into the wall knocking that particularly annoying side skirt off in the process. Looks like that bite has also taken a chunk of out of one of Hydra’s wedgelets, but that’s why Hydra has like a whole buffet platter of the little fuckers. Jake Ewert had previously thrown out a taunt about “running away”. I guess Matt Vasquez is the “fuck around and find out” kind of driver.
Whiplash manages to slide underneath Hydra once more and go for an across the box rush but this attempt is thwarted by a very common adversary of pushy bots: the motherfucking Killsaws. Props to Whiplash though, it manages to dig into the Killsaw slot with enough force to split the Lexan on top of it, watch carefully and you’ll see Hydra try to go in for another flip but actually get impeded by the shard of plexiglass sticking up out of the floor. That’s right Whiplash, fuck them hazards. Hydra eventually gets Whiplash over near the screws and gets the robot tilted at such a weird angle so that none of Whiplash’s tires are in contact with anything and no amount of waving its arm around can get it any leverage. Hydra’s got one shot to end this fight by getting Whiplash properly stuck and misses.
Chris Rose is convinced that Hydra’s flipper doesn’t have the same amount of “pop” that we’re used to. It does, it’s just that Whiplash hasn’t driven completely on top of Hydra in order to allow it to be thrown 14 feet into the fucking air. Matt knows better than to do that, that’s why the two bots keep locking heads and every once in a while Whiplash gets some sparks from briefly contacting Hydra’s wedges. Hydra gets another little toss and actually does try to go in for the “chaos dunk” move but its flipper digs into a seam in the floor. You’ll notice the seam when Hydra floors it forward and its titanium flipping arm randomly fires off some sparks from the friction of hitting that seam. This is a proper back and forth battle with Whiplash getting a glancing blow and Hydra getting a little flip in. Even the floor is getting in on the action much to Jake’s dismay.
Hydra almost looks like there’s something wrong with its drivetrain that Jake is trying to hide but it’s hard to tell because he drives Hydra into that chunk of the Killsaws that was broken earlier so I don’t know if Hydra is damaged or if it’s just snagged on the aftermath of Whiplash opening this goddamned pit up. Jason even seems to be relaying to his brother Matt to avoid the Killsaw slots because their forks might hit them again. The battle moves into the center of the arena and just a fucking moment is that a Ramrod that comes out of the red “B” in the arena logo? Has that thing been there the whole time and I just now noticed it in the final damn episode? Fuck me there’s another one over by the blue “B” too. They still have points on them as well meaning these haven’t been fired as many times as the other Ramrods, the ones with the circles painted around them.
Whiplash is toppled by Hydra and recovers. Hydra takes a stray blow from the Killsaws. A working set, not the one with the broken polycarbonate from earlier. There’s just 20 seconds left in the fight and Hydra looks beaten and tired. It’s missing all kinds of titanium side skirts, its front wedge array has chips taken out of it, and the robot is very sluggish. So sluggish that in the last ten seconds of the match Whiplash is able to drive completely around Hydra and slam it from the back. Whiplash starts smoking, but this maneuver could be the decisive point. Hydra seems like it might be spec’ed for exactly three minutes’ worth of fighting and having to keep on the sticks to avoid Whiplash may have drained its batteries even faster than a normal slower opponent would.
The fight goes to the judges who deliver a split… in favor of Whiplash. Honestly this was another coin flip match for me, especially the scores being 6-5 across the board, but I’m betting damage was a major player in this round; Whiplash essentially looks like the exact same robot it went into the arena as (not counting the smoke), however Hydra looks liked someone took a baseball bat to it. Whiplash tore away the rear access panel for Hydra’s power system. It literally tore it a new asshole. Or dragon-hole, I guess, since that’s the word of the week it seems. Hydra may have had some of the control of the fight but you gotta remember Whiplash was pushing back just as hard and 3 points doesn’t split very evenly.
WINNER: Whiplash, Judges’ Decision (2-1)
END GAME vs. TANTRUM
We’re now at the part where I’m introducing robots we’ve already seen in this episode so now I get to kick back and just write a little blurb here instead of having to recap everything since we just saw it and unless you weren’t paying attention you already know the other bots these two have beaten. End Game seems to have ditched its plow, that was purely a defensive mechanism for horizontal spinners and because there are none left in the field I think we’ve seen the last of it. In its place are four wedgelets and two long forks coming out of the front to get underneath and destabilize Tantrum. Meanwhile Tantrum has swapped out its plow for forks of its own. This is going to be the fight where Tantrum’s spinner will need to be firing on all cylinders though, because we sure as fuck know End Game’s will be. Unless all the belts break again.
I can’t stop seeing those Ramrods in the BattleBots logo on the floor. I genuinely think the Battlebox supervisors were saving those two Ramrods specifically for the quarterfinals and beyond as a way to throw a wrench into fights. If that’s the case, bravo. If it turns out they were supposed to be on the whole time and someone just noticed they were unplugged well then good job too I guess. Tantrum dodges tightly to the right and whips around End Game landing a punch in the process that doesn’t seem to have any bite to it. The camera angle is too far away for me to tell if Tantrum’s spinner was actually going but at least we know the sliding track works.
End Game’s biggest nightmare is the fact that its weapon is so strong that it gyro dances when it turns and Tantrum doesn’t. I can see the disc spinning on Tantrum now and it delivers another punch. Nick Mabey said he wasn’t afraid of going weapon-to-weapon, well it looks like Aren Hill doesn’t give a fuck either. Tantrum is slamming End Game in to the corner and cruising around on top until with zero provocation thick black smoke starts coming out of the front of the robot. I know motor smoke when I see it. I know battery smoke when I see it. Hell, I even know when a speed controller does a spicy burp but I’ll be fucking damned if I could tell you what in god’s name just burned up on Tantrum right now. Whatever it was clearly is weapon-related because Tantrum’s puncher is now DOA but god damn that’s gonna get the team a California emissions citation.
With no weapon Tantrum seems like a sitting duck, but it’s still coming at End Game pretty ferociously with its forks which somehow keep defeating End Game’s. That’s until End Game rips one of them off and throws it across the floor. That’s fine, Tantrum still has one fork so it goes in for another round and continues to get in End Game’s face regardless of the consequences. Tantrum is armored like a tank. While its inner components might be made of shit its outer shell is damn near bulletproof and we’ve seen it take hits from some of the nastiest weapons and just shrug it off. Valkyrie, End Game, Fusion, you name it Tantrum’s got a scar from them and it just kept on going.
End Game eventually lands a blow so gnarly that Tantrum is flipped onto its back. This is where Tantrum’s STEVE HOLT arms should come into play to self-right the robot but I’m thinking all that smoke we saw was related to the weapons and srimech operator’s things because the weapon is out and it appears the self-righting arms are also out on Tantrum. It threw a fucking fit in this match and had it not smoked out right off the start I think End Game would’ve been on its toes for three solid minutes. Instead Tantrum proved to be too much for its own mortal coil to contain and the sheer force of its own inner tantrum destroyed it. Did I ever think this fucking thing would finish in the top four robots? Fuuuuuck no. What a hell of a run, Tantrum.
WINNER: End Game, KO
BLACK DRAGON vs. WHIPLASH
It is no small feat that Black Dragon is in the arena for this fight because we just saw this thing detonate its weapon batteries and burn for a solid two minutes while fighting Ribbot. I’m not talking little wisps of smoke, you saw the fight you know what I’m talking about I’m talking big ass BBQ pit flames coming out of this thing. But here’s the scoop, Black Dragon is designed for that. Look at the pit shots when the team is working, those batteries are all kept in their own compartment with just a tiny little
slit dragon-hole for the wires to go through. That robot could’ve burned for 20 minutes and kept working. But that did still necessitate an entire robot teardown and rebuild and this is where mistakes are made. Whiplash didn’t suffer any real damage at all while fighting Hydra so it’s just shown right back up with the same fucking setup.
Black Dragon doesn’t get to leave its starting square before Whiplash is already in its face. Black Dragon barely even gets to leave its side of the fucking arena before Whiplash takes the assault a step further and blows Black Dragon’s right wedgelet off. That’s it, Black Dragon’s down to just the one meanwhile Whiplash is fronting two spikes and a lifting arm that the Brazilian bot can’t beat because Black Dragon is slammed into the wall and flipped over. Gabriel Tellez explained how he decided to go back to the egg beater spinner on Black Dragon because it helps with the centrifugal force needed for the robot to gyro dance itself back over but we all know Whiplash ain’t about to let that bullshit happen. Black Dragon flips back over, but that’s because Whiplash socks it right in the dick and flips it back over on its own terms.
Black Dragon is on the ropes the whole fight. It’s flipped again, then it’s flipped back over, then it’s slammed into the screws and to my eye it looks like somehow Black Dragon has shit out an entire battery and it’s high centered but then I realized that’s actually part of Whiplash that has come loose because of all the ass kicking. Guys, I know Hydra didn’t really damage your robot but you could’ve at least checked the fucking bolts on those plows. Black Dragon is stuck though, it’s dead. But Whiplash slams into it and knocks it down to keep the fight going. Hilariously the bots are kind of even now because they’re both missing their right plow/spike but this seems to really only be affecting one robot over the other. Here’s a hint, the robot most affected by their loss of plow is the one being pinned against the wall by Whiplash.
Matt Vasquez does everything by the books and asks how much time he has left in his pin to assert dominance and he backs away without the ref needing to intervene. He has become one with the Whiplash. Matt lets off when he’s supposed to and the immediately goes right back to pinning Black Dragon against every single possible part of the Battlebox that he can drive his robot to. Eventually Whiplash kills Black Dragon by balancing it onto its ass against the BattleBots sign, exactly how it took out Mecha Rampage a couple of seasons ago. Again, Black Dragon is dead. It’s stuck. But this isn’t good enough for Whiplash. Oh and by the way y’all only thought the weapon on Whiplash was dead. Nah, they just turned that shit off for funsies because Whiplash spins around and performs its signature “backhand” move on Black Dragon for maximum disrespect. The BattleBots sign also pops loose again.
15 seconds are left in the fight. Whiplash throws Black Dragon into the screws behind the blue square. Now Black Dragon is dead. The clock still runs down on the battle because there was so little time left on the clock but make no mistake, Whiplash knocked out Black Dragon three fucking times in the same fight. If that’s not championship material then I don’t know what is. Nick and Jack from the End Game team were spotted in the audience for this battle. Mates, you’ve got one hell of an upward fucking climb to get that Giant Nut.
WINNER: Whiplash, Judges’ Decision (3-0)
BEST IN SHOW: THE GIANT BOLTS
Everyone knows about the Giant Nut, the ultimate trophy in BattleBots. But what’s a Giant Nut if there’s no Giant Bolt to go with it? The Giant Bolts aren’t quite consolation prizes, they’re the “best in show” awards for robots who impress with their designs and performances. Historically these categories have been Most Destructive, Best Design, and the Founders’ Award. The winners for this year are:
MOST DESTRUCTIVE ROBOT: Valkyrie
I said it earlier but I’ll repeat myself for the sake of this entry, but you know those fancy arms that Tantrum was supposed to have? The ones that acted as a self-righter and also contained flamethrowers inside of them? Ever wondered what happened to them if by chance you missed an earlier episode of this season? Valkyrie fucking ruined them. In a scene reminiscent of Action League Now the robot gyroed up… and then came down like a lawnmower right on top of Tantrum’s waiting arms shredding them to pieces. There was also Valkyrie’s right with Rotator that was literally just three solid minutes of sparks shooting off of everything until Rotator’s ass eventually caved in, and you can’t forget Valkyrie’s Round of 32 showing against Subzero where it pulled off Subzero’s entire protective plow before ripping into its wheels for the KO. No one else came close to that kind of carnage in the box, not even former award recipient Tombstone.
FOUNDERS’ AWARD: Skorpios
The Founders’ Award is an ambiguous one because it’s given to the team who’s done the most to help advance the sport through innovation and outreach. Previous recipients have included Chomp for its extensive technical documentation and incredible design (“Suitcase Chomp”, the 2016-2018 one by the way). This year the award goes to Zach Lytle and Team Bot Bash Party for Skorpios. Outside of BattleBots they’re the creators of the web series Technical T-Rex, an all-ages show that features a costumed dinosaur talking about various aspects of the sport of robot combat. Additionally Zach is the founder of Bot Bash Parties, a company that provides robot combat-themed birthday party services to children.
BEST NEWCOMER: Rusty
This award is a new one, and kind of a joke because it’s not a Giant Nut, it’s a Little Nut. Actually, it’s a Little Nut spot welded to another Little Nut spot welded to a Giant Washer and last time I checked some hack fraud comedian on the internet had laid claim to the Giant Washers so, you know, I expect the check to be in the mail, BattleBots. But jokes aside Rusty is living proof that you don’t need to have an engineering degree and a big sponsor with deep pockets to make a robot that captures the imaginations and hearts of everyone, and that’s exactly what Rusty and its goofy ass popcorn bowl head did. Godspeed you crazy bastard.
GRANT IMAHARA AWARD FOR BEST DESIGN: Chomp
Formerly known simply as the “Best Design” award this Giant Bolt was renamed in honor of the late Grant Imahara, a legendary BattleBots competitor and active personality within the sport for over 20 years. He passed away in 2020 at the age of 49 just before taping commenced for this season. As the only walker bot in the field, nobody else but Chomp could’ve won this award. Love it or hate it, Chomp is a work of art and engineering prowess. Who could’ve imagined that the shitty robot that killed itself on the screws – a “spirited performance” as they said – and was eviscerated by Icewave in 2015 would evolve into a 500 pound six-legged walking behemoth by 2020? This isn’t even counting the intermediary version of Chomp affectionately (I think) known as “Suitcase Chomp”, which won Zoe Stephenson and her team the Founders’ Award in a previous season.
WHIPLASH vs. END GAME
I think Whiplash really found their groove with their current “flat plow with two spikes” setup because that’s all they’ve been running since the quarterfinals. Hey, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. Except do fix it because I think one of those plows and spikes fell off in Whiplash’s previous fight. Other than that, it’s still the same robot we’ve seen time and time again this episode. End Game on the other hand must’ve been like “how many spikes and wedgelets do we have left in reserve let’s put ALL OF THEM on” because by my count there’s four wedgelets and four spikes. Guys, there’s a limit to what’s reasonable and if there’s eight things that might destroy End Game’s chances for a championship you’re looking at all of them right now.
It should come as no surprise that Whiplash spends the entire first 15-20 seconds of this match driving circles around End Game. Whiplash is waiting for End Game to feint or try and go for something tricky so it can react and attack, but End Game’s not playing that way. It’s sitting right there in the middle of the arena while Whiplash makes a goddamned fool out of itself. Whiplash eventually just collides head-on with End Game to see what happens and catches the short end of that stick because Whiplash is thrown backward into the screws and End Game immediately goes on the attack shoving its spinning disc right inside Whiplash’s gullet and although Whiplash has its lifting arm raised to prevent damage being done to it attacking this area of the robot is exactly how Sawblaze put Whiplash down in Round 1. There are exposed motors inside that slot and if End Game digs deep enough it can destroy Whiplash’s spinning disc from the source.
There’s clearly some damage done internally to Whiplash but its lifting arm is still working, though it looks like a stray blow from End Game takes out the spinner on Whiplash’s lifting arm. Whiplash immediately goes back to driving circles to try and find an opening but there’s none; End Game holds its ground and isn’t giving in. Also the Killsaws pop up and that’s not because a massive chunk of this fight was cut for time it’s because the full arena hazards are on from the get-go in the championship finals, the hosts just didn’t draw any attention to that since for the most part the hazards have done fuck all except screw Mammoth over and bust a tooth off of Black Dragon. Whiplash cuts a corner a little too close to End Game and rolls over, and this will eventually be this robot’s undoing.
End Game attacks the stunned Whiplash and the two bots get stuck on each other. Whiplash locks heads again but you can see that the front of its lifting arm is bent and buckled upward right in End Game’s line of fire. As Whiplash gets shoved backwards its lifting arm catches the spinner on End Game and simple physics takes over from here. Whiplash is flipped over and as it tries to self right End Game slides all the way into those DM’s and manages to clip the rear corner of Whiplash from underneath it throwing it into the arena entrance doorway and out of the Battlebox. There’s no coming back from this, Whiplash is out and the Giant Nut is officially going to its first international winner.
Jack Barker proceeds to absolutely lose his shit and starts speaking New Zealand I think.
CHAMPION: End Game, KO
Holy shit I feel like I should be up there with Jack and Nick holding up that fucking Giant Nut too because I can’t believe I made it through this season. I know I was late, and I know that we’ve collectively known End Game was the winner from the time my very first article for season 10 went live but like I said at the start of the season now you all get to know how I feel when I’ve been to a taping and I know who wins but when I write these fucking diatribes I have to pretend like Copperhead is going to be the longshot upset or that Jackpot will be the left-field newbie that goes all the way in its rookie year. So you get a taste for that, I guess. Sucks, doesn’t it? We all knew these articles were building up to this very moment and am I satisfied with the outcome? I’d say so. I think it’s funny that End Game looks like a Steam Greenlight version of Bite Force but hey that’s the meta right now and that’s what wins. Jack and Nick and their crew earned every victory they had and also proved that a loss in the qualifiers doesn’t mean jack shit. Unless you get three of them, then you’re probably in trouble.
So what did we learn from this latest season of BattleBots? Well, for one the big takeaway for me was just how effective little ground-riding spikes can be. Robots have used plows and spikes and forks for ages but only recently have we seen the advent of the “long hinged fork” and the “offset fork”, both of which we actually saw End Game use to some level of success. The hinged forks were used in this episode and the offset fork came out earlier against Hypershock. This is a design trait I first noticed while watching the show Bugglebots because so many robots like Sir Lance-A-Frog and Limpet utilized these exact kinds of attachments in smaller weight classes to keep spinners at bay, give them something to chew on, or help corral opponents onto a wedge. I think we’re going to see a lot more of this moving forward until a design comes around that successfully trumps it. That’s my big prediction, we’ll see if I was right.
But in the end, congrats to End Game and its team for the championship. We knew the Giant Nut was going to go to someone else because Bite Force left it uncontested and that honestly made this season anyone’s game. Literally. There was no reigning champion waiting in the wings to jump out at prospective winners because Paul Ventimiglia was fighting the good fight by abstaining from BattleBots in the name of every other competitor out there. Paul, and others, aren’t the happiest with BattleBots’ contracts and stipulations for competing and without getting into the gritty details he – the reigning champion – chose to withdraw from competition. This is a man who’s one fight away from tying the record for most consecutive battles won and two fights away from setting a brand new record himself and he made the conscious decision to side with the builders and say “no”. This isn’t a Giant Washers Award article but if I can get off my ass and get caught up with all this mess then you bet your ass Paul isn’t leaving this season without some hardware from BattleBots 2020.
We’re now at the end of this article and I just wanted to thank everyone again so much for your support this season. I know I started this season late and there was talk that BattleBots Update had ended which is how I chose to sign off in the last article for the previous season. Without getting into too much detail (again) I’ve made some stupid fucking choices in my life and I allowed people to use me for my “privileges by proxy” and in my stupid broken autistic mind it make it feel like I lost BattleBots. This is my life’s love. Ever since I watched BattleBots on a hacked cable box on Pay-Per-View (sorry Trey and Greg) in 1999 I knew this was something I wanted to do. This was my dream, and being able to attend the show was a dream come true. I only just wish I didn’t sell my soul to the fucking devil to make it a reality. Will I be at taping in the confirmed 2022 season? Maybe. It just depends on if Greg and the guys are willing to work with me a little bit to ensure my safety at the show. They are like my extended family and I missed them and everyone else both in 2020 because it was a closed taping and again in the most recent 2021 season because I felt I couldn’t show up.
This season would not have been possible without contributions from my supporters on Patreon and Ko-Fi. To put their names in the sky one last time this season thank you to: Adam, Jim H., Jeremy D., Danielle F., Ginger D., Greg H., Colin P., Alex T., Cassandra G., Galvanize_Plus, Andrew B., TaleOfTheToaster, Scorpion_Strike, Neils V., Mystrsyko, Kieran, Ed L., Alex B., Jason G., J.K., and everyone else on Ko-Fi who chose to donate anonymously. A very special thank you goes out to my best friend Goose for helping revive this website and bring it back online on a brand new private host. Additional special thanks also go out to Mystrsyko for ensuring that I had a copy of every single episode of this season, including Bounty Hunters (which I will try and figure something out with). And as always thank you to Trey Roski, Greg Munson, Aaron Caitling, Peter Abrahamson, and the rest of the BattleBots crew for putting on this incredible event.
I’m taking a break for a little while. I’ve earned it, haha. But I will be coming back for the 2021 season that is finishing its taping right this very moment. I’m not sure how things will work out logistically, but I’ll be able to get my hands on the episodes one way or another. You can still continue to support this project on Patreon if you like, or if you want to send off the season with a one-time tip you can do that with Ko-Fi. Likewise if you’re floored and want some BBU logo stickers for your robot or collection you can find the official ones dirt cheap on Redbubble. Finally… Facebook still exists.
And if you want to follow me outside of BattleBots Update I’ll peel back the curtain and say that for the past 10 years I’ve been the host of the Twitch show Gatorbox every Friday night at 9PM (Central), here’s our YouTube channel with over a thousand fucking videos on it. Also I fancy myself a bit of a glitch artist and I’ve recently opened up an Instagram account for my “artwork”, Gatorglitch.
Until next time,
[1980 – 2021]
Since we’ve reached the end of this season I wanted to take some time to step aside from BattleBots and acknowledge a very talented writer and performer who directly inspired me, Trevor Moore. He was one of the founding members of the comedy troupe The Whitest Kids U’ Know and his particular style of edginess while staying intelligent and topical is something that connected with me. Out of all the entertainers I once looked up to as a burgeoning writer Trevor was the only one who didn’t turn out to be a complete deadbeat loser. He was consistently funny, stayed relevant, and was genuine in who he was… even if he was wearing a Hitler costume and rapping about fast cars and tanks. Trevor passed away during my coverage of this season of BattleBots and I knew that the least I could do was speak my piece on the matter. He’s left behind a long legacy of work that will continue to inspire and even though he’s no longer with us the mark he left on me will never fade. Thank you, Trevor.