[BattleBots: S10 E4 is available via streaming on Discovery+.]
Welcome back to BattleBots Update. Took a quick break because I have the freedom to do so on account of being the only moron chasing pavement now that the season is over and I’m late. I’m also basically begging you to rewatch things you’ve probably long since deleted off of your DVR not because you dislike BattleBots but because your TV provider’s DVR is a piece of shit that can save maybe six episodes at most before you have to start pruning out the old ones. Besides, I’ve still got time to catch up until the next hopeful season starts. (*He says smugly, not realizing that he’s sealed his fate of condemning himself to “crunch time” inadvertently due to a miscalculation.*)
Last episode saw some spectacular fights and some very rare circumstances. For starters Copperhead turned Gigabyte into nothing more than a shitty candy dish that can’t sit evenly and Uppercut lived up to its namesake and uppercutted both of the Gemini robots and killed them in a single blow apiece. We also saw Valkyrie and Jackpot advance on after their opponents spontaneously broke down, and Gruff got to use its 3,000+ degree flamethrower to full effect on Hypershock. But of course, we have to recap “the Beta fight”. You know, the one where one judge wrote on their scorecard “Beta dominated” except while that’s true Beta didn’t fire its hammer once; in fact it got ripped off by its opponent Rotator. I just like my application of the rules how I like my cake icing: unevenly applied. Oh wait a minute, no I don’t. I feel like I’m forgetting a fight but whatever it probably sucked.
This week we’re starting to see some bots come back for Round 2. Tombstone, for example, has been demoted to “regular ass fight” status after being expertly sniped by End Game earlier in the season. End Game is also back, main event again of course, to do battle with Bloodsport who wiped out Skorpios a few episodes ago. And speak of the devil Skorpios is back battling Perfect Phoenix whom we saw “defeat” Extinguisher in a single blow. Thankfully this combo ends here because I don’t want to see Extinguisher ever again. We’ve also got some new blood trickling in too however; Pain Train, Gamma 9, and Slap Box all make their debuts along with the much anticipated Chomp – the only walking robot this year.
SLAP BOX vs. TOMBSTONE
A robot that basically epitomizes the “we have X at home” meme, Slap Box is what you would get if you did that tired old gag with Duck. We don’t have Duck this year because of COVID concerns so we get the next best thing: a 4WD lifter whose paint job was handled by some cavemen from the 90’s. Consequently “Cavemen from the 90’s” is one of my favorite prog rock bands and I have tickets to see them this weekend so if this article seems a little bit rushed now you know why. Before the fight 14-year-old Bryce Yankauskas, whose name sounds like a dinosaur but like not a cool dinosaur, asked “why me?” Bryce, you’re about to learn one of life’s harsh lessons: the universe don’t give a fuck about you and in actuality probably actively hates you and everyone else. Good luck, Not Duck.
Tombstone is rolling into this match at a disadvantage because it’s 0-1 thanks to End Game spanking it on the ass so hard that a chunk got ripped off of it which, if you look closely, you’ll notice is still gone. Apparently not enough damage was done to this frame for Ray Billings to consider it a write-off, or maybe he just doesn’t see Slap Box as enough of a threat to warrant migrating everything into a new frame, but whatever the case Tombstone enters this battle with a scar reminding us all of the fucking awesome time it was thrown behind the lights. Tombstone again has swapped blades, this time going for one with longer reach rather than the shorter one with bolted on teeth. This was done presumably to reach around Slap Box’s “Tombstone lifter” and hit the front tires.
Slap Box’s extended lifter is not unlike what we’ve seen Bronco ride into battle with in seasons gone by; the goal is to reach all the way under Tombstone’s blade and then lift up bypassing the weapon and ideally causing Tombstone to fall off to the side, destabilize, and damage itself. Slap Box floors it and catches Tombstone wide. The sloped lifting arm works as intended, but Slap Box catches a blow and loses its entire front left section of the extender. In case you’re wondering how and why this entire fucking chunk of armor came off in one piece this is what Peter Abrahamson meant when he said “the armor is rubber-mounted on, but not bolted all the way through” before the fight. In other words, Slap Box is fucked six ways to Sunday now.
The slapper achieves exactly one destabilization of Tombstone and it comes at the cost of what’s left of its corner panels. Tombstone reels up onto one tire, weapon blazing, and then knocks itself back onto its tires upside-down. Now that Tombstone is inverted its weapon will be striking a few inches higher than it was before. This is the position Slap Box wanted to get Tombstone into but now because it’s missing its corner panels when Slap Box slides its McGriddle spatula under Tombstone rather than lift its opponent up the whole robot pitches forward and raises itself off the ground; no panels means nothing to brace against the ground with, and nothing to brace against the ground with means Slap Box is probably about to die within the next 30 seconds. Give or take approximately 30 seconds.
A stray blow as Slap Box comes down results in its pink tire being torn off. Tombstone pivots around and catches the green wheel too effectively destroying both of Slap Box’s front wheels. Cameras cut to Bryce’s mom who is reacting exactly how you’d imagine as she watches her son’s robot get obliterated by a man whose robot is older than her fucking kid. Technically as long as Slap Box can still maneuver around this “rear wheels only” situation isn’t ideal, but manageable because what’s left for Tombstone to grab up front except for what’s left of the lifter? Slap Box can turn the entire front two-thirds of itself into a battering ram and try to bust Tombstone’s spinner, but as Tombstone rides atop Slap Box one more time its blade catches the yellow wheel and shreds it apart. Bryce’s mom is still freaking the fuck out in case you were curious.
Slap Box might be able to drift a bit, but it’s not controlled movement so the officials start to count the robot out. Meanwhile Ray attacks stray pieces of armor and at one point puts the fear of fucking God into Bryce’s little sister by threatening to destroy the minibot she’s driving. He couldn’t even if he wanted to – Tombstone’s blade is riding too high – but props to the kid for essentially hiding under the spike strip to avoid the grim reaper. This whole scene, voices and all, played out like some shit from The Land Before Time where Ducky won’t shut the fuck up about the sharptooth that’s chasing them.
We all know Tombstone likes to cause carnage but this may very well be the battle where the most damage in terms of monetary value has been done. Not to Slap Box, fuck Slap Box, I’m talking about the camera lens that gets smashed by shrapnel. There are some simple HD cameras mounted in the arena ceiling in various corners, but atop the driver’s booth there’s a single studio camera that’s remotely operated. These cameras aren’t very expensive, maybe a few thousand dollars at most, but that glass lens on the front? Almost a quarter of a million dollars. You heard me right, approximately $200,000. That’s probably more money than what’s ever been spent on Tombstone since its first fucking fight 20 years ago.
WINNER: Tombstone, KO
SLAMMOW vs. PAIN TRAIN
Surely you’ve seen the sponsor graphics for Mowbot by now this season, they’re a company who create autonomous robots for mowing your lawn. An outside Roomba, in other words. Honestly I don’t think you should automate something that’s usually the first lesson of responsibility for maturing children but what do I know I’m just some dickhead with a riding lawnmower with an oil leak that costs more to fix than just buying quart after quart of replacement oil at the hardware store. The EPA hates me. (Update: This exact lawnmower literally caught fire and burned to death in a field between me starting and finishing this article. Mowbot, please send me a thing. Now the city hates me because my grass is too tall.) Slammow is Craig Danby’s new robot and Mowbot is the team’s exclusive sponsor. Craig renamed his team to Team Mowbot, gave naming rights of both of his currently active heavyweights to the Mowbot company, and is now weighed down with the monumental task of making Mowbot’s investment not a waste of resources. May God have mercy on your soul, Craig. Slammow, assuming it works, is a grappler/lifter robot that can take hold of an opponent, lift them up, and suplex them backwards. Kenny Florian is on the edge of his seat.
Pain Train is less like a train and more like half of a bigger robot that’s been busted apart. I don’t know how to describe that, the robot just looks like it belongs on a bigger machine; like this is the minibot that fires out from the chest of a Transformer toy or something. Minotaur, and more recently Copperhead, have taught us that big things can come in small packages however and Pain Train is here to change up the game with its “egg beater” style spinner, a cross between a traditional drum and a vertical weapon bar. It’s something we’ve only seen in the heavyweight class with Rail Gun Max last season and that was a so-so affair. The less said about Hobgoblin from Robot Wars the better. The efficacy of the design is riding on Pain Train now. No pressure.
Slammow comes out arms raised ready to grab hold of Pain Train. Pain Train leaves its square driving like a fucking Scrap Daddy robot. This wobbly driving exposes its vulnerable ass to Slammow who’s not shy about burying its face in some booty crack if it means there’s a suplex involved. Slammow almost lands a flip within the first few seconds of the fight but Pain Train falls out of its grip and instead Pain Train just gets rolled around by Slammow. Still, good control from Craig’s robot; already this thing has performed better than both Predator and Foxtrot combined. Yes, the bar is set that low. Pain Train gets dropped onto the screws which flip the robot back over. Normally I’d say that’s a net loss for Slammow because drivers often have issues controlling their robots when they’re upside-down, but Evan Arias barely has a grip on this fucking thing right ways up. Also it appears as though a belt of some sort comes out of Pain Train as it lands on the screws so that’s probably not good either.
For once I think Craig Danby just might have the upper hand in a fight, then as Slammow backs away from Pain Train it loses a shaft collar from its left lifting arm. God damn it, Craig. Pain Train gets shoved into the corner of the arena but because of its short stature it keeps getting hung up on the spike strip when Slammow tries to lift it. The people in charge of the Discovery Channel broadcast think now is a good time to let us know that “Moonshiners: Master Distiller” is coming on this Tuesday at 9PM Eastern. Look, I’m already pissed off that the little overlay thing for Discovery+ has prevented me from getting good B-roll shots of bots to use in these posts, but this is the first time one of these graphics has appeared during a fight. Fuck off. I literally only watch Discovery Channel for BattleBots and that’s it. If I could put into words how little of a fuck I give regarding a show about cousin-fucking rednecks “making” illegal “moonshine” I guess it would go a little something like “you motherfuckers better not do this again or else I’m telling the person who’s giving me all these episodes to cancel his Discovery+ subscription”.
Pain Train is eventually dragged out of one corner and brought to another one as Slammow tries to get some better travel with its plow attachment. It goes for another nab after pushing Pain Train into the wall, hooks the claws in just the right place, and oh my god he’s done it. The crazy son of a bitch has done it. Craig Danby has just built a robot that can do what he said it should be able to do. Kenny Florian shouts “SUPLEX”, just off camera he ascends to SSJ4. Pain Train tumbles backwards as Slammow unleashes its finishing move. The reason why Slammow has been having issues with its grappler this whole fight is simply because Craig overestimated Pain Train’s damage output; the plow is there to be a spinner deterrent, but honestly he probably could’ve run with the forks. Anyways immediately after doing the impossible Slammow flips itself over somehow, but it’s able to get back onto its wheels and continue the fight. Meanwhile Pain Train has been on its wheels this whole time and apparently thinks you score points by spinning around in circles.
Slammow goes for another across the box shove and as Pain Train gets jettisoned into the spike strip it sheds a weapon belt. Pain Train’s egg beater is now dead in the water, though Slammow has also apparently lost its left lifting arm in this transaction because you can see it’s bitten down on the loose belt and I guess there’s so little clearance that the rubber of the belt has actually jammed the lifter. Craig, don’t. If you watch closely you can see the arms flexing on Slammow and the gears of the left arm trying to turn but the arm is gummed up something fierce. The ref starts counting Pain Train down because I just realized it’s not moving anymore. I was too busy staring in awe at Slammow. Pain Train moves just enough to dodge a countdown once, but after getting knocked back into the wall by Slammow the robot becomes fully immobile and can’t avoid the second KO count.
WINNER: Slammow, KO
SKORPIOS vs. PERFECT PHOENIX
Observation about Zach Lytle. He either fucks around with a yo-yo when he’s confident or when he’s anxious. Considering he calls Tyler Nguyen a “monster” I’m going to go with the latter. Either that or he’s trying to keep Duncan, one of his sponsors, happy. Zach’s already been outclassed by Alex Hittori in the yo-yo department so not wanting to live in the shadows of not one but two children, Zach knows that a loss here would be a major ego blow and basically dooms Skorpios to a 2-1 record in a best case scenario. Skorpios has already lost to a robot essentially just like Perfect Phoenix – Bloodsport – so hopefully he’s learned a thing or two from that loss, otherwise Tyler “The Bakugan Bandit” Nguyen has a blank check with his name written on it. No cutting disc for this match, Skorpios is using its full-on “hammer saw” attachment.
But it might not be that simple for Tyler and Perfect Phoenix. Yeah, he won his previous fight, but that was because Extinguisher attempted a box rush, missed, slammed itself into the fucking wall, and died. Nothing Perfect Phoenix did in that fight aside from getting out of the way contributed to Extinguisher being KO’d, hence why I ruled it a “TKO” on this blog (a KO victory with zero input from the winner whatsoever). Even though it has a “win”, we’re kind of still in the dark on what this heavyweight version of Hazard is all about. One thing’s for certain though, the motors running Perfect Phoenix’s blade are exposed and known targets for Skorpios so if that blade ever slows down for any reason Skorpios has its hammer saw ready, it’s out for blood. Then again we know Skorpios’ front plow is vulnerable when struck from the side, so if the Phoenix has the reach it too can peel those armor layers back and take a peek at Skorpios’ no-no.
Skorpios almost performs the same exact move as Extinguisher at the start of this match, however Zach knows where the brakes are on his robot so he pulls back when he realizes he’s about to collide with the wall. As hilarious as it would’ve been to see Skorpios come full circle and die from crashing straight into the screws again I’m glad we still get a fight at least. Crash or no crash this affords Perfect Phoenix the ability to squeeze away and rev its weapon up to top speed. Perfect Phoenix lands a blow in a hit initiated by Skorpios and violently sends its opponent twisting around and flying, catching one of Skorpios’ wheels in the process. Tyler said he wanted to wait for Skorpios to “do a wheelie” before attacking, well buddy now’s the time because while I don’t think whatever the hell Skorpios is doing right now is “a wheelie” it’s certainly wide open for attack that’s for goddamned sure.
Skorpios recovers and expertly takes control of Perfect Phoenix and with a few glancing blows manages to slow its spinning bar down until it stops. This is exactly what Perfect Phoenix doesn’t want because as I mentioned earlier those weapon motors are literally just out in the open. It’s like being attacked by a wild animal; if you can just get around and punch it square in the balls you’ll take all the bite out of that tiger. Or maybe you’ll give it more bite because you’ve pissed it off. I’ve never been attacked by a wild tiger before but if I was I’d personally bank on punching it in the nuts as a viable strategy. (Please note that this approach doesn’t work on all animals such as alligators and sharks.) Perfect Phoenix gets slammed into the wall and a wisp of smoke emits from the middle of the robot. Skorpios can’t quite reach the weapon motors but it can still karate chop the fuck out of its opponent and something is clearly wrong. Perhaps a motor has seized and Tyler is still gunning the throttle; it’s hard to say, but when the robots part Perfect Phoenix no longer has a functioning weapon.
Zach shouts out a “hell yeah” as he beats up on an 11-year-old’s robot and more smoke visibly pours out from Perfect Phoenix’s weapon array. Normally I’d say Zach is a little too excited to be beating up on a kid but you heard what he said before the fight: Tyler is like an ancient robot combat demon who’s assumed the body of a small boy or something. It’s an anime thing, fuck I don’t know. This is now Skorpios’ fight to win and the robot wastes no time landing whatever chops it can muster. Perfect Phoenix still has a wedge but with Skorpios’ massive wheel base there aren’t many positions Skorpios can get stuck on where one or both of its tires won’t be on the ground; every time Perfect Phoenix wins the ground clearance battle with Skorpios, Skorpios is able to get away easily.
The battle drifts toward the screws across from the drivers’ booth and Perfect Phoenix gets sucked up onto the left set of them. Skorpios cruises in and lands some more blows that appear to do absolutely nothing to the armor of Perfect Phoenix, though what’s more important is that the spinner is being hoisted up by its own blade and the screws aren’t turning in the opposite direction. Again, I don’t know if they’re busted or what because they aren’t turning period but with zero of its four wheels making contact with the ground Perfect Phoenix is immobilized and counted down sending both robots into a tied 1-1 territory.
WINNER: Skorpios, KO
MAD CATTER vs. RIBBOT
When you have two robots who are modular what usually winds up happening is an “arms race” of sorts where the robots’ weapon arrays are constantly being swapped in and out in the pits until the very last minute because obviously you want to counter-pick what your opponent has finalized. It turns out for this match Mad Catter has gone with a vertical spinner and two lifting arms, kinda like a much more malicious version of Slammow. Mad Catter has also brought along a minibot, though I doubt that thing’s pissant blade is going to do any significant tire damage to Ribbot; I’m convinced most of these annoyance bots are just there to plug the sponsors and let’s take a look at who sponsors Mad Catter: BotKits. Wow, color me shocked. I can’t believe that they’ve brought a shitty little minibot into this fight to promote the great deals and good parts offered by BotKits. If you want your own miniature spinner hit up BotKits. BotKits, for all your homogenized robot combat needs. BotKits. BotKits. Fucking BotKits. Have you ordered your D2 kit yet? No? Well I’ll wait. Fuck you.
So Mad Catter is rolling deep with a vertical spinner and two lifters, how does Ribbot counter? With another vertical spinner. After all that, you guys. Jesus. They even hauled this robot into the arena with a sheet covering it as if Mad Catter could still swap parts out while they waited for their introduction. Guys, we don’t need a gender reveal party if your robot’s gender is “another goddamned vertical spinner”. This is what late term abortions are meant for. In any case Ribbot’s shell is decorated like a cat as a bit of psychological warfare, and earlier in the episode we got to see some of the tech running inside of this robot; one of the operators of Ribbot has a little Game Boy thing that reads back the robot’s internal temperatures and current power draws in real time. This is to aid the team in not blowing up speed controllers. Personally I’d just say “buy bigger speed controllers than you need” but that’s just me being a know-nothing asshole.
Ribbot takes the upper hand almost immediately with a much faster spin-up time on its weapon, that’s Magmotor quality for you. Magmotor’s not paying me to say this but if they want to then hopefully a company rep will click that “DONATE” link at the top of the page. Mad Catter’s disc is slow to warm up, but this whole time it’s getting going and grazing the front of Ribbot. Ribbot sheds one of its front wedgelets, sparks are ground from Ribbot’s face, points are being scored here. Maybe not a lot, but Mad Catter is responding with hits of its own. Mad Catter gets presented with an opportunity to charge into Ribbot, however its stupid minibot is in the way. Not wanting to trash its teammate, Mad Catter hesitates. This is all Ribbot needs to fire up its spinner and land a shot that tears away one of the small protective panels guarding Mad Catter’s framework. Dazed, Mad Catter pauses for a few moments just long enough for Ribbot to think that it can attack the minibot. Bad move, bro.
Mad Catter capitalizes on the distracted frog and slams into Ribbot with the biggest hit of the fight sending the frog reeling into the Lexan walls and bouncing down. Had this hit happened in the middle of the floor Ribbot would be upside-down now. Whatever power was in that hit was something fierce because Ribbot comes down smoking to high heaven. Hey, Ribbot team, what’s your Game Boy say about that? Mad Catter slides in to finish the job and rips away another wedgelet and topples Ribbot over. Destroying the wedgelets is just icing on the cake by this point because it looks like Ribbot’s spinner is out of commission and now the robot is upside-down and its wheels are rubbing against its decorative plastic chassis. Ribbot’s eventually able to get free of its own debris and it becomes a sad state of affairs. More smoke pours out from any available gap in the armor and it’s hard to tell if this is battery smoke or what because it’s thick and white and if I’m not careful I’m about to start writing slash fanfiction again.
There’s a jump cut to the device that the guy on the Ribbot team is holding and you can see like half the fucking icons on it are bright red. Look, I know that’s a fancy device and all but your fucking bot is upside-down, smoking, and missing parts. You don’t need a goddamned Pixter with a check engine light to tell you something is very very wrong. Mad Catter is slowing down as well though, and one of its lifting arms appears to be stuck. Not sure if that’s damage from Ribbot’s spinner or if a chunk of debris has just gotten lodged in it, but that’s disabling damage from Ribbot as well. Mad Catter’s disc isn’t moving, but a few moments later it spins back up. Mad Catter’s team doesn’t need a fancy thermo-tracking device because Martin Mason actually sees like the Predator and he can tell when the weapon’s getting too hot and he’ll cut power to it.
A wisp of smoke comes out from the back left corner of Mad Catter but I’m guessing that’s just a hot drive motor because the robot has been locking heads with the carcass of Ribbot trying to push back against it. Mad Catter’s still fully mobile though, and now its disc is revving back up for Round 2. The first blow actually helps Ribbot out by throwing it back onto all four of its wheels… except that goddamned minibot was waiting right behind Ribbot and now it has the privilege of getting a deep whiff of the frog’s jock sweat. Again, too close to fanfic territory. I’ve gotta stop this. Ribbot’s high centered for a bit and there’s actually a chain of some sort on the ground. It’s hard to tell who that’s from because Mad Catter seems to have both of its lifting chains intact, and Ribbot’s weapon uses a belt. I want to say this might be a thrown drive chain from Ribbot and the replays show that yes this is indeed the drive chain from Ribbot’s front right wheel.
Ribbot shoves Mad Catter back into the corner near the hosts and just lays on the accelerator. You can see more smoke emitting from the back of the frog while this is happening demonstrating that this is clearly a desperation attack from the Ribbot team. “Good pin,” says the guy with the GPS on Ribbot’s team. Yeah dude, that’s gonna make all the difference. A unanimous decision is on the horizon for y’all now. In fact, that unanimous decision is being delivered as we speak! And… actually guys it’s for Mad Catter. Thanks for playing. Buy a BotKit.
WINNER: Mad Catter, Judges’ Decision (3-0)
GAMMA 9 vs. CHOMP
It’s been a while since we’ve seen Gamma 9 but that probably has to do with the fact that this robot has and always will be a “garage build”. Curt Nemeth is no stranger to BattleBots, in fact he holds the distinction of being one of the competitors whose participation stretches back into the era before BattleBots even existed. His robot Namreko competed at the original US Robot Wars events. Just because you’ve probably never heard of him doesn’t mean he isn’t one of the greats. His robots though… well if I were on a date with one I’d say they had a “good personality”. Namreko looked like a Dalek, and Gamma 9’s predecessor Gammatron was quite ironically a walking robot with a rotating hammer turret. The more things change, the more things stay the same. Gammatron evolved into Gammacide, a big fuck off plow, and Gammacide begat Gamma 9 the lifting robot we see today. Curt is now tasked with facing down the ghosts of his past. A 500 pound ghost.
Five (or six, because I’m late with this article) years ago Chomp debuted in season six looking like a chunk of the Aggro Crag from GUTS. The best way I could describe it to you is a “low poly Sergeant Bash”, the house robot from Robot Wars; gripping jaw on the front, flamethrower, you get the point. When that robot failed Zoe Stephenson went back to the drawing board, drew a circle, and then came back with the “Suitcase Chomp” that armchair roboteers and smelly misogynists loved to sneer at and claim spent more than half of its fights on its side (which, for the record, was a myth that was mathematically busted). Suitcase Chomp was not in Zoe’s future, so while she was thinking of something new to build I guess she took a year off and played Final Fantasy VIII because Chomp 2020 is a giant fucking robot spider thing with a rotating hammer turret. It’s Gammatron II. Hell, it’s fucking Pressure Drop II from the glory days of BattleBots. Let’s see if this hellspawn demon spends “half of every fight on its side”, hmm?
Like a game of Hollywood Squares, Chomp immediately goes for Gilbert Gottfried and tries to control the center of the floor. Meanwhile in keeping with this analogy I guess Gamma 9 is cruising around Penn & Teller and Whoppi Goldberg and shit because the only thing Gamma 9 can do is attempt to coax a shot out of Chomp and then retaliate before Chomp has a chance to get reloaded and ready to swing again. Gamma 9 cruises all over the place and eventually bangs into the wall and bends up the edge of its lifter. Finally sensing that the only way under Chomp is through Chomp, Gamma 9 flies in and holds its breath. Chomp swings early and Gamma 9 is able to use Chomp’s “hop” to its advantage and get underneath the walker and hook its lifting forks into Chomp’s perimeter armor. This is a 500 fucking pound robot and Gamma 9 is still able to give it the ol’ heave ho. I know we live in an era where even Bronco could throw Chomp ten feet in the air but I’m still impressed that Gamma 9 has such a powerful motor and gear ratio to raise this monstrosity up. Huge points to Gamma 9 for getting in there and nearly toppling the beast.
Gamma 9 starts getting a little too comfortable with its speed and Jascha Little’s reaction time with Chomp’s weaponry; the robot goes for another kamikaze run and this time catches a shot on its lid where the “9” decal is and it almost looks like a dent is made in the top armor of Gamma 9. Another swing from Chomp seems to strike the robot closer to its iconic dome. Chomp is now hung up on the back corner of Gamma 9 and with all 500 pounds pushing down on that one corner Gamma 9’s drivetrain seems to struggle. Curt waves Gamma 9’s lifter around to see if that can jostle the robot free but all that does is give Chomp a target. Chomp swings its axe and connects with Gamma 9’s lifter and essentially twists it to the point where it’s no longer useful in a traditional sense; maybe if Curt can jam that thing in between the tank and turret he can still use it, but I think Gamma 9’s weaponry is trashed.
Chomp swings again, this time connecting with Gamma 9’s dome, and dents the top of the robot quite impressively. A second swing and hop catches the rear “hoop” armor of Gamma 9 and pulls part of it up on one side making Gamma 9 look more and more like the Batmobile after a NASCAR crash where it flipped and rolled over forty times. Chomp is right there on top of Gamma 9’s lifter, but Curt says “I can’t lift ’em”. Immediately after this Chomp hits Gamma 9’s dome again and fucks up the other side of it. This hit exposes some of Gamma 9’s innards and we get clued in as to why Gamma 9 can no longer lift Chomp: that dome actually covers the giant sprocket for Gamma 9’s lifter, and Chomp has clearly damaged it with that first strike that dented it in. The second hit just exposed it to us so those of us paying attention can put 2 and 2 together. But still, hats off to Gamma 9 for being able to shove all 500 pounds of Chomp around plus its own 250 pound chassis at a reasonable speed. There’s definitely some monster torque under Gamma 9’s hood and that’s nothing to sneeze at.
But let’s be real here, Gamma 9 is on the ropes because its primary weapon has now been disabled. Its front lifting rake thing is also all bent up so it can’t quite fight as a wedge either unless it raises its bent lifter out of the way which it can’t do anymore. Chomp swings two more times, each one landing right on Gamma 9’s chrome dome, and Gamma 9 just fruitlessly spins around trying to throw the behemoth off of its back because as Zoe just said that’s the perfect angle to land free hits. The third of these “free hits” hooks Chomp’s hammer down into Gamma 9 proper instead of just whacking its busted lifting sprocket again. Whatever this attack managed to hit was clearly important because Gamma 9 just straight up dies as a result. My guess is something radio or power related because if you look closely you’ll see those stickers denoting where Gamma 9’s master power switches are located and that’s the one place you really don’t want to get hit.
There’s not enough time left in the fight for Gamma 9 to be counted out so it goes to the judges who rule unanimously in favor of Chomp. Somewhere, the sounds of Cheeto-covered fingers mashing on a keyboard can be heard ready to insult Chomp “for spending half the fight on top of Gamma 9”. Nobody fucking cares, bud. Hoes mad.
WINNER: Chomp, Judges’ Decision (3-0)
SHATTER vs. MALICE
I didn’t mention it when it happened but Mad Catter vs. Ribbot was a match-up where somebody’s 1-0 record was about to get tarnished to 1-1. Here we are at another example of that with two solid mid-tier robots each coming off of KO’s over not-so-solid-mid-tier robots. In Shatter’s case that win came from Ghost Raptor who returned from retirement just to catch fire and stop working. Shatter ain’t afraid to jam its spike in places where it doesn’t belong and after bopping the sabertooth cat square on the spinning noggin fates were sealed. (And fire was released.) Aside from inadvertently shedding nearly all of its ablative armor during the twitch test Shatter looked to be in top form in that fight; the robot was cruising with its Mecanum-style wheels and the hammer was firing on all cylinders. It was a convincing KO over and opponent with multiple methods of attack. I don’t doubt the power Shatter’s axe has, and for this fight the team is going with a shorter axe so they can stay in close and hit a smaller target.
Malice is here after sending Axe Backwards back to the shadow realm and lowering the robot’s win percentage to what has to be something like -74% by now. Consequently this fight also ended with a blaze as Axey B’s flamethrowers were damaged and then malfunctioned causing the whole robot to basically detonate all while Bunny Sauriol stood on the sidelines teasing the driver. Shatter won’t be as easy of a battle as Axe Backwards though, and Bunny knows this. That’s why she’s replaced the “thicc disc” with a lighter cage-style spinning weapon so she can add extra armor to her robot, especially near the weapon motor. Take a look at that sandwich of titanium and UHMW plastic ready to absorb any stray blows that try to catch where the motor is mounted. That E-Tek / Motenergy motor is Malice’s moneymaker and the team is doing whatever it takes to protect it. Smart move. Also, those are hella expensive so they probably would’ve protected it anyways.
Despite looking substantially weaker I still wouldn’t want any part of Malice’s purple spinner. Knowing the kind of horsepower behind that thing is frightening and right away Malice wastes no time digging into the front plastic armor and shiny paneling of Shatter. This is all superficial stuff that’s supposed to come off so in order to really do damage Malice is going to have to do a little digging. Shatter, not one to let that happen, fires its hammer. We’ve seen Shatter jam its dick into a number of spinning devices in the two years we’ve seen it in action. Most of the time this “any hole’s a goal” approach works in Shatter’s favor; Kingpin fucking blew up last season and earlier this season we saw the same strategy cause Ghost Raptor to melt down too… but not Malice. Shatter calls the shot – Malice’s disc, corner pocket – and throws its axe head directly into the purple cage spinner. The resulting impact fucking destroys Shatter’s axe and rips the head clean off. You’d think this would be perfect for Malice, but by jamming a stick into Malice’s bike tire that sudden jerking stop caused the robot to immediately eat its weapon belt and eject it out into the arena.
Now we know Adam Wrigley has absolutely zero qualms with karate chopping the fuck out of someone with a busted weapon, and that’s exactly what he gets to work doing. Beta, take notes because this is the shit you should’ve pulled against Rotator. The reason why Shatter has to use so much plastic armor is to make weight allocation for its massive fucking balls. In an instant the fight is reduced to a pushing match and that’s just simply something Malice isn’t cut out for; Shatter has a plow-style front end, Mecanum wheels for extra maneuverability, and what’s left of its hammer is still an active threat. No matter how Malice tries to ram and slam into Shatter it’s gonna get whacked by Lil’ Stubbins or whatever the fuck Shatter’s team nicknamed their weapon. “Penile Fracture” sounds like a better name right now. (Yes, that’s a real thing. No, don’t look it up.)
There’s two minutes left in this fight and to be completely honest with you there’s not much I can do to drag this fight recap out beyond “Shatter swats at Malice a lot with its stump”. At one point Shatter starts visibly smoking presumably because that’s its weapon motor overheating from overuse; even though it’s not swinging a full mass that constant back-and-forth and reversal of polarity can’t be good for the equipment. Shatter’s axe stalls out for a significant portion of the fight until it’s able to swing a few more times. The bigger question is what constitutes “damage” in this fight? Who initiated it? Does Shatter still have a “primary weapon” that it’s beating on Malice with, or is the chopping all a waste of time? Do you know the Muffin Man? Thankfully the judges know the answers to all these questions, and by that I mean it’s a split decision in favor of Malice on the grounds that Malice tore the entire weapon head off of Shatter where as all Malice suffered was a belt failure. I’d argue the contrary, but I’m not a judge. Probably for the best.
WINNER: Malice, Judges’ Decision (2-1)
BLOODSPORT vs. END GAME
Earlier this episode we discovered that Skorpios isn’t necessarily weak to overhead spinners, but it sure as shit was weak to Bloodsport a few episodes ago because coming in at 1-0 this thing is fresh off of a KO victory over that robot that saw entire chunks of Skorpios blown away. Bloodsport was playing that round safe with a big platter blade that had shorter reach because a traditional bar would potentially allow an overhead weapon such as Skorpios the ability to bust Bloodsport’s face in, but that’s not the case here. Coming in with what looks like a Batarang except less shitty Bloodsport is armed with a long-reaching upper bar presumably with the other thing added on for additional weight to put some more muscle behind its swings. They’re running fewer wedgelets so they’ve probably sacrificed other things to bulk up the weapon for this fight.
End Game is still riding high from decommissioning Tombstone in about two hits. Without a Bite Force to lurk around in the shadows taking down Tombstone is about as high as you can reach this season seeing as how Tombstone is the only other champion robot from the reboot seasons. Bizarrely, before this fight starts Peter Abrahamson talks tech and mentions that End Game’s team hasn’t yet had a chance to “upgrade” their self-righting mechanism? Uh, how? Isn’t that something you just do on your own time and not at the event? Also why are we talking hypotheticals regarding End Game getting flipped over? It’s fighting Bloodsport, not a flipper or another vertical spinner. This makes as much damn sense as if this same conversation were happening with the Tombstone fight. The team has their sunglasses on – indoors – so let’s just hope it’s not their downfall.
Does End Game start a split second early here or is it just me? Who cares. Both robots waste no time spinning up their weapons and Bloodsport starts dancing around End Game presumably to try and land a hit while avoiding a straight head-on collision. These weapons are spinning fast enough that it’s likely Bloodsport’s will slice through a gap in End Game’s, and vice versa, but there’s also about a 50% chance that they’ll catch that blade too. Not a gamble you want to take when you’ve just seen this weapon rip Tombstone’s ass open and heave the robot in front of the judges like a cat bringing home a dead bird. End Game gets the head-on collision they want, and it looks like Bloodsport’s weapon starts to spin down. I don’t think Bloodsport’s blade was actually knocked perpendicular (we would’ve seen some airtime if so), I think End Game just put the fear of God into its opponent.
Bloodsport kicks it into reverse gear and runs away immediately and if you look at the front of the bot you’ll notice it’s missing both of its wedgelets. It lost one in the impact and the second one came off when the robots bumped into each other afterward. Kenny says End Game is “hung up on something” right as it flicks one of Bloodsport’s wedgelets at the drivers’ booth. Kenny’s impeccable ADR timing is incredible, but that “thing” that End Game is stuck on actually appears to be its back right tire which comes off entirely. No idea what impact caused this to happen – nothing ever hit the wheels as far as I know – so I’m assuming perhaps gunning the throttle a little too hard caused the rubber to literally split on the wheel hub and tear away. End Game has four wheels so this seems like it would be only a minor issue but it has such a low profile that losing just one wheel has seriously affected its ability to maneuver around. It’s stuck near the Killsaws and as it crabwalks around its weapon belt gets thrown up.
But perhaps worst of all for End Game is that Bloodsport’s blade wasn’t dead at all. Nope, Justin Marples was just doing that thing where he lets the weapon system cool down before he considers redlining it and smashing the fuck out of End Game. Bloodsport’s team eyes the situation, ask each other if they’re going in for the kill, but ultimately back off when they see a bit of white smoke choof out from End Game’s damaged corner. After five fucking seasons Chris and Kenny haven’t learned how to tell motor smoke apart from electrical and battery smoke, and what you see here ain’t motor smoke; this is toxic battery fumes pluming out of the Kiwi’s robot. Whatever hit jarred loose a tire also seems to have slammed some batteries to the side too because like Christmas lights as one pack goes out the next one follows and soon what started out as a light wisp becomes a full on fucking cloud of death.
As End Game is counted down Jack Barker finally asks the important question: “Is that our wheel?”
WINNER: Bloodsport, KO
With a slightly truncated Fight Night preseason we’re already seeing some bots coming back for fight #2 and this episode was packed with them. More importantly half of the fights in this episode were between 1-0 competitors where someone’s budding perfect record was going to get tarnished. I don’t know if anyone was banking on Malice, Mad Catter, and Bloodsport having perfect 2-0’s but I can tell you I sure as hell wasn’t. These aren’t bad robots, but they’re not ones I’d expect to see rise up to being one fight away from a perfect Fight Night. Will any of them make it? That’s the bigger question, and does two impressive wins guarantee at least a spot in the lower fourth of the Round of 32? If I had to pick one of these three robots to potentially go 3-0 my money’s riding on Bloodsport. After stopping End Game, who previously knocked out Tombstone, I think that mojo has now rubbed off on them.
And wow, End Game falling to 1-1. I think as long as they don’t fuck up their last qualifier their victory over Tombstone will still let them get into the Round of 32. That’s a big win and it shouldn’t be undersold. Perfect Phoenix however, I’m not so sure that this dinosaur from 2009 has what it takes to maintain its competitive edge over a decade later. I know there have been enhancements and modernizations to bring it into the current threshold of the sport but that first win was a fluke and in this second fight we really got to see the spinner’s weakness on full display. To advance onward I think Tyler and his crew will need a more impressive win. Same goes with Shatter for that matter, and Ribbot. But honestly, the real story here was Chomp. I was just so damned excited to see that behemoth take its first steps and for a walker it’s not as slow as that class of robots has historically proven to be. Will Chomp win the title? Probably not, but it’s hella cool.
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