[BattleBots: S10 E3 is available via streaming on Discovery+.]
I’ve been warned that BattleBots wants to film their next season “this fall”. Well, it’s May right now – the end of May at that – so that gives me June, July, and at least August to finish this season. Also I was reassured that there were only “six” Bounty Hunters… but I’ve got eight of them in my season video archive, so either I accidentally let the cat out of the bag on something or I’ve got repeats somewhere, I have no idea. Maybe these other two are Discovery+ exclusives. At this point I don’t know. I’m just trying to say I’ve inadvertently started a race against time and I hate this; it’s like being back in college and trying to do an entire research paper the week before it’s due. Don’t get me wrong, I can do it and make an A- on it, but I just don’t like flexing those muscles because it actually hurts. Also I’m in my thirties now and on more medication than I can count on one hand.
Last episode’s show was a real mixed bag. Hydra returned and slam dunked Witch Doctor until all of Witch Doctor’s batteries gave up the ghost, but speaking of ghosts we also finally got to see the return of Ghost Raptor… and it’s just as awful as I remembered it, you guys. It’s such an easy robot to like and an even easier one to get disappointed by. Last season Black Dragon was robbed of a victory they should’ve won, this time the blade was flipped and they did the robbing. And finally we got to see the new Extinguisher which just might be as bad as the old one if not worse. It’s a good thing it’s a firefighter-themed robot and not a police one because otherwise I might get “accidentally” shot the next time I’m pulled over.
This episode we finally get to see Beta return to the arena; the last time we saw this machine it was obliterated by Tombstone, but it made Ray Billings work for that win by dragging the fight to the buzzer and very nearly winning by decision. Remember back in episode one when Chris introduced Tombstone as having “20 wins, 17 by KO”? Beta is one of the three exceptions to the rule, it’s a big deal. And speaking of we’ve got newbie Big Dill! It’s fighting fellow newcomers Atom 94 who are the first Indian team to compete in BattleBots. Gemini is back to probably waste some time and in our main event Gruff has earned the right to step up to the plate where it will take on Hypershock. Those of you watching the “Hypershock pendulum” should know that this season we’re swinging in the direction of Hypershock having a “bad season”, I think. Anyways our first fight is between two veterans with different deadly spinners: Copperhead and Gigabyte:
COPPERHEAD vs. GIGABYTE
Both of the robots coming into this first fight have close to even win/loss records, Copperhead in this case has 2-3 and is the worse of the two in terms of win percentage. This is a bit of a misnomer however because Copperhead technically began its life way back in season 7 as “Poison Arrow” where it finished 3-1 so when you work those numbers around you actually have a robot with a winning 5-4 record. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is a textbook lesson in cooking data to make it say whatever the fuck you want. Copperhead looks mostly the same from last year so I’m guessing most of the upgrades have been done to the internals; with a spin-up time that’s been halved I think it’s a safe bet that I’m correct. Because Minotaur isn’t present this season, Copperhead will have to make do as the stunt double. Don’t let us down or else we’re not making any more offerings to that stupid snake totem staff.
Before I fudged some numbers, Gigabye actually had the better record here at an 4-4. Let’s jerk some numbers around again because as we all know Gigabyte also appeared in season 7 as “Invader” where it went 0-1, so technically Gigabyte has a losing record of 4-5. Would you look at that, it came into this match with more wins and with a little bit of media bias magic I’ve painted Gigabyte as a turd and made you rethink your stances on both of these robots. Stay noided out there, you guys. Of all the shell spinners present at BattleBots these past few seasons Gigabyte is the one you want to avoid. Captain Shrederator keeps breaking down and never wins, Chronos is too unpredictable, and nobody remembers Escape Velocity. But Gigabyte? Man when this thing hits you holy hell you’ll feel it. Remember last episode when I said Perfect Phoenix was actually Brutality, the robot responsible for destroying Biohazard in 2005? Well Gigabyte was the one who softened Biohazard up in that particular double-elimination tournament. This is the real deal.
Gigabyte makes an attempt to get up to speed as quickly as possible and if you watch closely you’ll see the robot’s base already start to destabilize. Gigabyte’s going nowhere until this fixes itself, which it usually does, but here comes Copperhead eager to perform the tried and true box rush resulting in Gigabyte flipping the fuck out and flying over into the corner of the arena shedding its self-righting pole in the process. To this day I have no idea how the fuck they bolt this onto the robot because you’d think after nearly 20 years of piloting this particular shell spinner John Mladenik would’ve figured out how to get that piece of shit to stay on, but whatever. Of all the pieces to lose in a battle against a robot like Copperhead, who can flip you over, that was the worst one. The hosts mistakenly refer to the pipe as a directional indicator, which isn’t fully incorrect, but much like Captain Shrederator there are strips of LED lights inside of Gigabyte that serve as actual directional indicators. Nobody’s flying blind… even if that’s exactly what it looks like.
Reeling like a spun quarter, Gigabyte finally simmers down and tries spinning up to speed again. The force generated by its weapon sends the bot into the arena screws over by the fight clocks. Twice. The cameras cut to John who shrugs and says “the floor is ice”. No John, the floor is steel. Nice assessment though, that probably explains why the righting pole on Gigabyte can’t stay on. It’s probably made of Lego or something. Gigabyte absolutely cannot get out of the corner and this is Copperhead’s time to go in for the kill but for some stupid fucking reason Copperhead always seems to spontaneously have one side of drive that works better than the other resulting in a robot that can’t just drive in a straight goddamned line. Copperhead nearly rolls itself over twice with the gyroscopic forces of its drum before finally attempting an attack and missing. If that weren’t embarrassing enough one of Copperhead’s goofy ass mini snake bots is able to cruise in and hit Gigabyte before the main bot can. It loses its head in the process with a satisfying “plink”, which is funny.
Gigabyte hits the same fucking screw control box two more times before Copperhead finally floors it forward and connects with the shell spinner, and Jesus fucking Christ that’s a hit I am definitely okay with waiting for. Gigabyte immediately sheds its shell which rockets straight up into the lights on top of the Pulverizer hazard in the corner and destroys them. Broken glass and a ~100 pound steel shell rain down from the heavens while Gigabyte’s inner drive pod is hurled at the glass where Chris and Kenny are sitting. The drive pod rebounds backwards, flips over, and crushes one of Copperhead’s snake friends to death. Before this fight Zach Goff said he was confused as to why Gigabyte’s teeth were raised pretty much to the perfect height for his robot to hit them. From my computer chair I spoke to my monitor as if Zach could hear me calling him a doofus and saying “because it’s obviously a trap you dumb snakefucker”. My assumption was the teeth were raised to try and strike at Copperhead’s side bracketing, but it looks like that plan backfired on Gigabyte in the most impressive manner possible.
Nice job John, are you guys gonna blame China for this one too?
WINNER: Copperhead, KO
SUBZERO vs. JACKPOT
Logan Davis has been driving SubZero for some time now, approximately 15 years, but the bot itself was always spearheaded by Jerry Clarkin. Team Hammertime and Team XD probably had one of the longest running partnerships in the history of the sport but when Jerry decided to call it quits it was Logan & Co who stepped up to purchase the bot from Jerry and “keep it in the family” so to speak. So really this is nothing new for Logan, he’s just the guy in charge now and while that has him on the ropes that doesn’t take away from the fact that he’s got a powerful underdog flipper in the running here. Everyone talks about Bronco and Hydra but SubZero is always left in the shadows. With Bronco delegated only to an appearance in “Bounty Hunters” this could be SubZero’s opportunity to rise to the occasion as the new premiere pneumatic flipper at BattleBots. Or… it’ll just get shredded again in its first fight like what happened last season. Either way.
Jackpot was built on a budget. Four large, to be exact. Jeff Waters is taking a gamble on his low-tech approach but honestly what do you expect from a robot hailing from Las Vegas? That place is the mecca of gambling! (And STD’s.) I just want to know where the cheap buffet is because I’m fucking starving and I really want to eat a whole lot of food that I will surely later regret. Peter Abrahamson says there are a lot of teams in the pits who are genuinely afraid of this robot because it could be “the next Death Roll” and you know what? It kinda looks like Death Roll now that you’ve said that: big ass red spinner, sideways mounted self-righter, uhh, it’s green? In the text box Jackpot spun its weapon up and accidentally collided with the wall damaging the inner steel plating in the process. Anyone accidentally fucking up the test box seems to be someone that the rest of the competition fears because if it can chew a hole in the test box’s steel plate armor then it can probably fucking eradicate your robot.
When I made my season predictions for the year I said Jackpot’s long front forks had the potential to be the robot’s undoing. It seems right off the bat as Jackpot cruises into the middle of the arena one of the far prongs gets hung up on something on the floor, like a seam or other imperfection. With not a lot of experience under his belt I think Jeff Waters just tries driving against the snag which isn’t helping and affords SubZero the ability to slip right in, slam Jackpot into the wall, and fire off its flipper resulting in a perfect backflip from the
one two-armed bandit. Also this hits seems to have ruined all of Jackpot’s front forks; we’ll see if any of them get bent up under the robot like I hypothesized.
Jeff’s inexperience is really showing here as he opens himself up for another slam from SubZero, this time being taken all the way across the box. Jackpot gets slammed into the wall so fucking hard that its weapon digs into the spike strip and causes one of the blades to slip against their fucking axle resulting in an uneven spinner. It’s not unbalanced – and it won’t blow up if Jackpot spins it up to speed – but it looks like shit now. I’m allowed to say that, but Jeff isn’t because the editors bleep out his no-no word. What’s blowing my mind right now is how come SubZero isn’t just flipping non-stop. Jackpot is in the corner, they are on the ropes. This is exactly where you want someone if you’re a bot like SubZero; Jackpot has such a low profile that it’s simply begging to get stuck behind the inner glass or hell even behind the goddamned Pulverizer. SubZero’s getting a lot of rams and slams in right now, but no flips. Even all seven people in the audience can be heard chanting “flip flip flip”. Something’s gotta be wrong with SubZero’s flipper, that’s all I can come up with.
And I’m probably correct because after pinning and slamming Jackpot into the wall SubZero backs up like it’s lining up for another go… only for it to completely crap out and stop working. Jackpot is visibly shaken up from being treated like a fucking pinata because its drivetrain is twitching and its self-righter is fully extended, but against all odds it looks like it’s winning this fight. Always bet on black, I guess.
Or green, I mean. Because the robot is green.
Or no wait, blue. Because it started in the blue squa– you know what fuck this I’m putting all my chips on 00 and you all can just kiss my ass.
WINNER: Jackpot, KO
GEMINI vs. UPPERCUT
Oh Gemini. Fucking… Gemini. You know, I really don’t hate the idea of a multibot; if done correctly you could have a competitor that’s a real handful for an opponent to deal with. But do I think a multibot could ever take the Giant Nut? No. Not when there are Tombstones and Valkyries out there whose spinning weapons weigh almost as much as the fucking individual robots themselves do. For all the shit I give Ace Schelander and his team Gemini is probably as close to a “good” cluster bot as you can get. Each robot is the exact same weight, meaning both need to be KO’d for the whole bot to be considered knocked out, and they both have a decent spinning blade on them. Gemini even has a 4-7 record, so it has won fights, and against other cluster bots we’ve seen this robot actually do well. That’s probably because there’s more than one target though, and this brings me to Gemini’s biggest weakness: itself. These drivers just cannot come up with a formation or an attack pattern that doesn’t result in them hitting each other. They have new drivers this year so we’ll see how it goes, but I’m not expecting greatness here because we just sat through five minutes’ worth of Uppercut getting its dick sucked. Unless that was an epic bait and switch, goodbye Gemini.
The nineteenth robot to come out of MIT in these past few years of BattleBots, Uppercut was designed and is driven by Alex Hattori. In his spare time when he isn’t building robots Alex is the second-best yo-yo guy in the world, so he’s not getting laid twice as fast. (By the way the #1 yo-yo guy is me in case you were wondering. Prove me wrong.) Also I’ve probably already used that joke about getting laid before but I’ve written more than 100 fucking articles for this website so I’m allowed to reuse jokes that have been on “cooldown”. If I forgot about them you probably did as well. Think of it like “hand-me-down-new-to-you comedy”. Uppercut is a vertical spinner except unlike most spinners Uppercut’s weapon is shaped like a penis. Most of you might be quick to say “Draco it’s a fist” but to that I bring you Exhibit A: an entire scene from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia that tackles this exact argument. Checkmate.
Gemini splits, as per their usual strategy, and Uppercut goes for the black one. It’s been longer than two seconds so Uppercut’s fister is now roaring full blast. Uppercut calls the shot: black Gemini robot, center blue square pocket. There’s a line up, and then from fucking downtown Uppercut blasts this stupid dinky robot in the ass and punts it all the way across the floor perfectly into that section behind the inner Lexan glass. One shot, one kill. Lisa Winter recoils backwards seeing as how that robot was launched directly at the goddamned face which just goes to show you how terrifying these hits can truly be. You know the arena walls are going to protect you but there’s always still that primal fear in the back of your head that tells you to fucking duck. Plus I’m pretty sure nobody wants to add to Gemini’s win/loss record by getting clocked in the face by a crappy 125 pound robot.
Meanwhile there’s actually still a fight going on because as I said before, and as Chris Rose mentioned a second ago, you have to knock out both Geminis to win by KO. It was conveyed to us that Gemini has never lost via KO so I guess that’s the hosts telegraphing to us Gemini is about to lose by KO. Uppercut lines up a second shot and thrashes the red Gemini robot so badly that it flips and contorts through the air while shedding a wheel and an entire gearbox assembly. The kid driving one half of Gemini just looks over to his dad and mutters, “well we’re screwed thanks”. Chris says the word “hell”. Is he allowed to do that? Anyways that’s two shots and two kills from Uppercut. Had this robot not been seeded 16th last year, and thus doomed to lose to Bite Force, I dare say it might’ve made a deeper tournament run than being eliminated in the Round of 16. Somebody go get Alex Hattori one of those “WINNER” medals, and bring the Gemini team a fishing rod because they’ve gotta go get one of their robots out from behind the light panels.
WINNER: Uppercut, KO
ROTATOR vs. BETA
Okay, so we’re halfway through the fight card for this episode but I’m not halfway through the episode recording I’m watching so I’m going to assume that means these next fights are probably all going to go to the buzzer because how the fuck else are we going to fill 70 more minutes? I can only see so many commercials for Discovery Plus before I find out who’s in charge of Discovery Networks and tell them to knock it off. Rotator’s gimmick when it debuted in 2016 was that it was palindromic, and I’ve defined this enough times on this blog that I’m going to assume you know what that means by now. If not, fucking Google it. Ask Alexa you lazy bastard. Give Jiff Bizwad even more of your personal info. Rotator for the past several seasons has become modular. Yeah, it’s the official death of a once cool design but that’s just how it goes sometimes. Rotator is running this match with its upper disc instead of a lower one because obviously against a hammer bot they’re going to have to swing and hit from the top. Beta’s team member Gabe Stroud already said you’d have to be “mental” to do that, so we know they’re not going to try it unless Rotator’s weapon gets stopped or slows down. A definite power play from Rotator who’s still riding high from causing Tombstone to blow the fuck up last year.
It’s been a hot minute since we’ve seen Beta, but speaking of Tombstone the last time we saw this robot was when it took a fight with the legend to the buzzer but ultimately lost. Beta’s undoing was inadvertently flipping Tombstone over which meant Tombstone’s blade would be striking higher up on Beta and this resulted in its weapon being destroyed. Beta has always been one of two robots builder John Reid has competed with, the other being Terrorhurtz in the UK. Terrorhurtz was always the pneumatic robot whereas Beta was purely electric, swinging its comically large suppository hammer with the exact same E-Tek motor that bots like, well, Tombstone use to spin their massive blades with. Beta is no longer electric, however; John has swapped out the electric clutch for a pneumatic piston and the resulting hammer is three times as powerful. This was already a hammer strong enough to pound parts of armor off of Lucky and whack Overhaul so hard that it stopped working. Holy shit.
Beta goes in for a textbook box rush but catches something on the floor in the middle of the blue “B” in the BattleBots logo, which fucks that plan right up. This gives Rotator ample time to rev its disc up to maximum speed and right away some glancing blows are landed to Beta’s armored front end. All the armor on Beta is up front, so if Rotator can whip into the back and land a hit there’s very little to prevent disaster. Unfortunately for Victor Soto this is a maneuver he must pull off against one of the greatest drivers in the history of the sport so, you know, we’ll just keep you posted on how that goes. Rotator’s hinged rear spikes get underneath Beta for a split second but Beta quickly backs away before anything bad can happen and gets to work shoving Rotator all around the arena.
This whole time Rotator’s blade is going and Beta’s not about to swing its hammer down onto that hot mess of bullshit so while this stalemate is playing out I invite you to marvel at the driving skills of John Reid. Not sarcasm by the way, if you’ve ever wanted to see what a truly methodical veteran looks like behind the sticks here you go. Chris says nearly a minute has passed and we’ve see no action from the hammer. Here’s the part where I remind you all of the meme from Robot Wars of John Reid constantly telling his weapons operator to “wait for a good hit”, the operator not listening, and then John telling him “no more axe” as if his teammate was a goddamned seven year old. (His teammate was basically smiling and taking the piss the entire time too, it’s brilliant.) John will wait for a good hit even if it takes the entire fucking fight.
Rotator gets taken into the wall all the way across the arena for a mega slam. Rotator gets away, spins back up, but Beta’s already on its ass and Rotator is corralled up onto the wedge again for a trip to the screws. Now, I don’t know about you, but Rotator’s weaponry is taking a pounding here. Victor is obviously not going to allow his robot to be smashed into the wall while he’s gunning the throttle and you can see the weapon is clearly slowed down to the point where Beta could fire its hammer if it wanted to. Even a miss would be a good showing because I’m looking at the clock here and time is ticking down on this one. You guys know how big a boner the judges get for “aggression with a primary weapon”. Right now the judges are about as horny as a bunch of nuns stuck in the desert because their missionary bus sprung an oil leak. Not horny, that’s the point I’m trying to make here.
At this point the hosts are showing concern for Beta’s lack of BIG TIME HAMMER and all while this is happening John is expertly steering his robot around and taking Rotator with it. That is… until Beta goes too fast, loses Rotator, and then smashes into the wall. This is Rotator’s moment, Beta’s ass is exposed, the only unarmored part of the robot. It’s like a Dark Souls boss, the weakness is exposed. The target graphics have appeared. Rotator fucking backs up and that’s all it takes. Rotator’s disc cleaves the entire fucking hammer head straight off of Beta signaling that we will see a staggering 0 shots from it because I don’t think John Reid is going to take the Shatter approach and swing a broken weapon arm around. This hit also comes dangerously close to destroying Beta’s left side of drive as well because if you look closely there’s a chunk taken out of the rear armor, if you can call it that, just inches from where the left wheel is. Beta got supremely unlucky in this exchange, but it could’ve been so much worse.
Kenny praises the durability of Rotator’s weaponry, and I’ve gotta agree with the man. Can’t sing the praises about Beta now, can we? Beta’s strategy doesn’t change, it just keeps shoving Rotator around, but now that there’s been real damage dealt – something that disabled a primary weapon – this has to be Rotator’s fight to win, right? Well… it’s a split decision, but not one that favors Rotator. Yeah, Rotator loses.
But why? Yeah yeah, I know what you’re about to say: “aggression and control, Draco”. Okay smart ass, I know that damage is worth five points and your “aggression and control” are worth six”, but it ain’t that simple. I think we can all agree that Rotator skated away with all five damage points; it was the only robot to have done any damage whatsoever and what damage it did do effectively took out a primary weapon completely. That means you’re going to have to argue that Beta could rightfully lay claim to all of the remaining points on the scorecard. And I disagree. “Aggression” as of late has been defined as “aggression with a primary weapon”. Beta never once fired the hammer. I’m dubbing this new phenomenon “The John Reid Conundrum”, where you wait so long for a good hit that you not only land zero hits but also make zero attempts at a fucking hit. Control? Yeah Beta mopped the floor, but aggression? I don’t think so, and definitely not how we’ve had the word’s very specific definition shoved down our throats these past few seasons. Beta did not win that fight. John was too much of a pussy. The fucking Killsaws scraped the bottom of John’s robot because even those dickless hazards had more balls to show up in this fight than Beta’s hammer.
Later on in the episode there was a spot where the judges all broke down the fight and one of them touched on the topic of primary weapons. They said “the rules state you must enter the arena with a functional primary weapon, but there are no rules against having to use it”. Oh fuck right off. Yeah there isn’t a rule saying you have to use your primary weapon but if you want to win a goddamned fight then yeah you might want to swing that hammer a couple of times. With that logic I could build “Armageddon 9001”, arm it with a 80 pound disc powered by a fucking competition chainsaw engine, and then fight like a wedge for every single match and expect to still win if I drove really good even if the robot caught fire and parts fell off left and right. Unless the rules were jumbled up for the Nth time again “aggression” has always been defined specifically as “aggression with a primary weapon” and doing things like wedging people around with inactive parts of armor will hurt a competitor’s overall aggression score. That’s in the fucking rulebook. Or it was as recently as last season. Look I like Beta, but Beta didn’t win that fight.
Also, I’ve never seen Will Bales that pissed off before, holy shit. This is a dude who laughed off the time Bite Force busted the lid off of his robot and threw Hypershock’s batteries all over the fucking place. Don’t get me wrong, he’s not only rightfully pissed off, he’s also right in what he’s pissed off about. Just… wow. Consider me, uh, hyper shocked.
“WINNER”: Beta, Judges’ Decision (2-1)
TANTRUM vs. VALKYRIE
Tantrum is a robot with an objectively cool weapon and design; it’s got a vertical spinning disc, which is boring as fuck, however the disc is mounted on a sliding track meaning Tantrum can get its disc up to speed in its retracted state, lock heads with an opponent, and then let ’em have it. Like I said, objectively a cool weapon and lightyears better than the time Tantrum showed up with a spring-loaded flipper that did fuck all. The problem is the last time we saw this weapon in practice it didn’t seem to work that well; the best hits we got were against Gemini and those were two shitty robots that weighed only 125 pounds apiece; we didn’t get any “huge hits there” against bigger bots and in fact most of those “bigger bots” just stomped Tantrum out of the contest like how Yeti ripped it to shreds. Tantrum’s had a lot of improvements for this season, such as a self-righting mechanism, so we’ll see if those flexing arms and finger guns are more than just for show.
Before Valkyrie is introduced Chris Rose lets us know that he was harassing builder Leanne Cushing about how her team has failed to reach the top 16 in the past two seasons. Look man, it’s not for lack of trying. Valkyrie stumbled out of the gate in 2018 when it managed to find a way to lose to Ultimo Destructo, but you also gotta realize in that same season Valkyrie failed to qualify after seven fucking fights. Seven. Whereas most teams got four Fight Night rounds Valkyrie took the aforementioned four fights plus every single other play-in opportunity presented to it to try and make it in. That’s tenacity, and at the very least we know Valkyrie has the firepower to obliterate mid-tier robots. I’d peg Tantrum as “mid-tier”, so my money’s on seeing Valkyrie’s 65-pound “Sweet Caroline” blade rip Tantrum’s arm off and beat him silly with it.
It seems we’ve got another box rush scenario on our hands, but Tantrum flinches right at the last minute and this lets Valkyrie’s deadly bowtie pasta blade achieve full speed. Tantrum’s leading wedge does what it’s designed to do and destabilizes Valkyrie a bit and bounces it up, but all this manages to achieve is allow Valkyrie’s blade to strike the top of Tantrum and rip up the robot’s fists. Those things you see flailing around on Tantrum? Flamethrowers. Real smart move incorporating those into your robots, guys. Somewhere in that robot is a butane tank just begging to get hit with a stray fucking spark. I swear to god those things are more trouble than they are worth.
Tantrum’s fists are forfeit so the robot just goes whole hog shoving Valkyrie around and manages to secure some impressive blows at the cost of a shower of parts being torn off of the top of the robot. Valkyrie gets shoved into the wall, into the screws, and after a particularly gnarly blow Valkyrie’s weapon straight up stops working. Against the odds, Tantrum has disabled Valkyrie’s weapon and now stands to win this fight. White hot titanium sparks are chewed off of the right side of Valkyrie as its wheel guard meets Tantrum’s retracted spinning disc. “This is what Beta was trying to do against Rotator,” Kenny says. I’m going to go ahead and say that while I see the analogy he’s trying to make, now’s not the time. Somewhere Will Bales is standing in the crowd refusing to clap because he’s still angery.
Valkyrie is getting taken for a ride, another light blow is dealt, and as Tantrum cruises past one of the Pulverizers its team controls they’re slow on the draw and drop the hammer directly onto Tantrum’s disc. Consequently, said disc is now no longer spinning. Valkyrie is stuck under the hammer, now’s the time to be revving that stupid French tickler of a weapon up to speed so you can sock Valkyrie in one of its tires and do some real immobilizing damage. Instead Tantrum is just sitting there doing fuck all. When Valkyrie finally gets away from the Pulverizer we can hear Tantrum’s disc spinning up. Nice job boys, you’re like fifteen seconds late on that but whatever. Despite being equipped with a leading wedge, and a spinning disc mounted on a sliding goddamned track, Tantrum can’t seem to connect with its weapon. I’m assuming all that early upper damage from Valkyrie tweaked the sliding track so Tantrum’s weapon is now a dresser drawer in a shitty piece of IKEA furniture that won’t open.
Tantrum does its best “STEVE HOLT” and raises its fists, presumably because the team is trying to get the damaged items out of the way so that only their wedge is touching Valkyrie. They’re trying to land a hit but they just can’t because their weapon is a fucking joke. A respectable sweep across the floor is made by Tantrum resulting in some sparks firing off of its disc as Valkyrie finally rides high enough up onto the robot to take a shot. Kenny says Tantrum is turning into Beta by not attacking with its primary weapon. I’m going to assume he was looking away three seconds ago when Tantrum did exactly that. Chris also gets in on downplaying the amount of damage Tantrum has potentially done. Guys, this is my job. You’re taking my job, y’all are just supposed to say “huge hit there” and “right you are, Ken”.
Winning apparently wasn’t in Tantrum’s tarot card reading because although its held up remarkably well (I guess) the robot just sorta craps out in the middle of the arena and lets Valkyrie not only get away from its spinner, but get away with a free win.
WINNER: Valkyrie, KO
THE BIG DILL vs. ATOM #94
“The Big Dill” sounds less like the name of a combat robot and more like the name of an overpriced sandwich at Firehouse Subs, but no it’s an actual robot designed by Emmanuel Carrillo. The bot itself is kind of a Frankenstein piece made from multiple previous creations of Emmanuel’s which is why it looks exactly the way it does, but hey if Emmanuel took only the good parts of those robots then Big Dill might be a “dream team” scenario. Or it could just look like an old War Hawk frame with a big ass lifter bolted onto the front of it. One or the other. At least in this scenario Big Dill’s massive lifting forks look like they’re in a prime position to yank out all of Atom 94’s belts. By the way if you want one of those “spicy meatball” minibots of your own just head on over to BotKits and you too can contribute to the slow erosion and subsequent homogenization of the beetleweight combat class! Wow!!!
Named after Plutonium, Atom 94 is the first BattleBots competitor to hail from India. It’s a first for the sport, and I wish I could say the same for their design but sadly it’s “another goddamned vertical spinner”. For the third episode in a row however Ray Billings is making a weird appearance because he helped mentor Yash Deshmukh and his team when they were building Atom 94; Ray felt that Yash and his guys knew enough about robotics that they could use his help and advice. Very kind of Ray, especially considering that (according to the hosts) no one else responded to Yash on social media. People are fucking fake, I swear. Now, excuse me while I also ignore everyone on social media because I’m a nervous fucking wreck. Someone remind me to get my clonazepam refilled after this article is done.
Atom 94 is using Colson tires for drive and right away proudly shows off their utility by spinning donuts in its fucking starting square because the minute you try and put those wheels through any kind of stress test they fail and do stupid shit like this. Equipped with the same wheels as the overhead projector cart from your elementary school, Atom 94 is doomed from the get-go; it’s trying to spin its weapon up but manages to bump into the screws which stops it. Big Dill stabs Atom 94 sideways and this too prevents the spinner’s weapon from getting going. You’ve got four fucking belts powering this thing, what the fuck are they attached to? Fucking horses? Big Dill’s minibot manages to snag itself underneath the front corner of Atom 94 and this provides just enough clearance for Big Dill to slip under and overturn its opponent. This means that Atom 94 is not working except now it’s not working upside-down!
Big Dill’s teammates say the minibot can still “get under there”. Buddy, Atom 94 is ground clearance city right now, the minibot has done its job it can go fuck off and get stuck in the Killsaw slots for all I care. Big Dill locks heads with Atom 94 and it appears as though we’re about to see a perfect deadlift here… but Big Dill just can’t deliver. Atom 94 is definitely locked into the back end of Big Dill’s forks, and Big Dill is trying, but the robot just craps out and drops Atom 94 back on the floor so it can slide around like its wheels are made of ice. What the fuck is powering Big Dill’s lifter? A fucking horse? Big Dill gets another golden opportunity to lift its opponent straight up perpendicular to the floor and fails. Chris Rose says Big Dill is a “big deal” and puts money in the cliché jar. Kenny later pantomimes doing so because there’s a CoronaShield™ separating him and Chris and the cameras catch this.
Big Dill lets its opponent get away and Atom 94 spins around and around as it aimlessly drifts across the floor and starts smoking. At this point I think I’d just rather watch some horses fight. Do horses do that? Fight, I mean. Like in the wild? How do they do that? Do they just kick each other or ram heads or something? They don’t have horns or antlers so I’d imagine they don’t headbutt each other too ofte– oh hey Big Dill caught up with Atom 94 again, this time ramming one of its pickle slices all the way down Atom 94’s throat. Usually they make you pay extra for that at the Firehouse Subs. It seems now’s the time that Big Dill is able to get a full lift on Atom 94 so it slams it into the wall in front of the hosts and then again over by the screws. You can really get a good appreciation for how fucked Atom 94 is but since Big Dill turned out to be a shitty lifter it can’t actually let its opponent go. Apparently with Atom 94 hanging off at such an awkward angle Big Dill’s wheels – which are mounted allllllll the way in the back of the robot – are either raised off the floor or just can’t get enough grip. And Atom 94, well, is off the fucking ground period.
The battle is stopped in order for the robots to be separated… but then Chris throws to commercial and when we come back we find out that they just decided to end the fight? What the fuck? I mean I know this battle was a shit show but at least let the robots duke it out to the buzzer. We literally just saw a fight where someone was dominating their opponent and spontaneously broke down giving up the win in the process. I’m not saying Big Dill was going to do the same thing but we don’t not know that, right? Don’t tell me they couldn’t unstick these robots because doing so is literally just a matter of picking up Atom 94 and setting it back down. Quantum and Blacksmith were stuck, that was two kinds of metal that basically fucking fused together. This is just two crap-tier robots with drivetrains on par with pedal karts and weapons powered by unicorn shit that nobody wants to put up with anymore. Whatever, I guess my work here is done too.
WINNER: The Big Dill, Special Judges’ Decision (3-0)
HYPERSHOCK vs. GRUFF
“Hypershock has never made the Round of 16,” Chris says. Politifact says that’s 100% bullshit twice over. In seasons 6 and 7 Hypershock reached, and lost in, the Round of 16. (To Bite Force and Poison Arrow respectively.) In regards to this “Fight Night” business that makes less and less sense as time goes on? Yes, Hypershock has failed to reach the Round of 16, but don’t undersell a great bot. While it’s true Hypershock has been on a downward trend everyone has a lull in their career. Will Bales can at least smile knowing that he will never have another season as bad as the one where his only win was against that fucking cheeseburger robot. That’s literally impossible. Hypershock is the deadliest 1990’s RC car you’ve ever seen, and it’s bringing two vertical discs into the ring in the vain hopes that they can do something to Gruff’s goddamned tank armor.
Gruff is a robot who was robbed of a win over Tombstone last year, that’s pretty much the best introduction I can give you for this low-slung wedge. Oh right, and it has two jet-style flamethrowers spitting out a blaze in excess of 3,000 degrees. There are flamethrowers, and then there’s whatever the fuck Gruff is armed with. I didn’t even think you could have something that hot in the arena, like there’d be rules against it. How you can achieve 3,000+ degrees using butane is beyond my comprehension unless their weapon reserve tank is filled with dragon piss. Gruff seems to be outfitted with a heavy battering ram on its front end for this battle, no doubt to absorb the hits from Hypershock’s spinners, but I imagine we’ll still see a tactical battle with their lifting/clamping arm as well.
Right from the start Gruff makes a near-fatal tactical flaw by performing a maneuver called “aiming the side of the robot at your opponent”. A blow from Hypershock very nearly topples Gruff over, but Gruff lands on its wheels and continues to spin around and try and find an opening. Well, it gets one. Hypershock slams into the front of Gruff and acts like it wants to slam it all the way across the floor into the wall, but Gruff fires off both flamethrowers straight down Hypershock’s exposed center and Will Bales knows enough about losing to know that’s not something he wants to fuck around with. Hypershock bails on Gruff to spin its discs back up to speed. Thankfully Gruff performs another fantastic maneuver called “drive into the corner and bump into it so your opponent can hit you”.
Gruff is thrown completely upside-down and self-rights into the arena wall. A few waggles of its lifting arm later and the robot is back on its wheels. Gruff catches a stray blow from Hypershock’s spinner and its front left corner gets torn open, but a second and more purposeful blow from Hypershock causes its discs to seize. I’m guessing this is the magic of TV editing, but Gruff’s drivers seem privy to this almost a little too immediately. Now’s the part of the fight where Hypershock usually just does donuts and drifts around, but Gruff manages to catch Hypershock with its lifting arm up, slams it down, and fire blasts Hypershock all the way into the arena screws. It was mentioned before the fight that Hypershock is more modular this year with the robot being serviceable from its bottom side. I’m guessing this means there’s a lot of open space down there because after catching the fucking blue part of Gruff’s weapon Hypershock is, quite literally, toast. It rolls down from the screws but it ain’t moving.
Hypershock gets nudged around a bit by Gruff presumably for the team to gauge if there’s any life left in their opponent, but nope. Hypershock is dead, the fight is called, and Will Bales just falls onto his ass right there in the red drivers’ booth saying he wants a goddamned nap. I’m not going to say that Hypershock had the upper hand and lost it because this was a close fight all the way, but I’ll be damned if I don’t feel bad for the guy. I’d go get him a hot pretzel or something from one of the food trucks as a token of sympathy. A seven dollar token of sympathy because fuck that food is expensive.
WINNER: Gruff, KO
Line ’em up and knock ’em down that’s a wrap on episode three! I’ve gotta say from a webmaster standpoint one thing I really appreciate about all these fights are how there’s at least one good shot with fire in it in every episode thus far; it makes creating an eye-catching link for Facebook really simple. So thanks Gruff for being armed with massive fucking flamethrowers, and thank you Axe Backwards and Ghost Raptor for sucking.
But how about that Gigabyte fight? Turns out the postmortem on that one was that the team was somehow still using those “Chinesium” axles that killed them a couple years ago back when Tombstone popped the top off of the robot too. How the fuck do you keep one of those accursed things kicking around let alone in your box of bot parts? I’d have immediately pulled all of those Wang Chung parts and fired them across the Pacific Ocean mortar-style back to where they fucking came. (Also don’t get on my case for saying “Wang Chung” is racist. It’s not. The band’s original name “Huang Chung” translates to “yellow bell”, the first note in the Chinese music scale. So fuck off I did my research before cracking my jokes. Everybody Wang Chung tonight.)
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See you next episode!