[BattleBots: S10 E9 is available via streaming on Discovery+.]
Whoa. In between now and the last article going up BattleBots has announced that the next season (reboot season six, legacy season eleven) will be taking place next month in Las Vegas! The last time the bots clashed in Sin City was way back in season two of the show on Comedy Central so this will be a great return to form. Also if you want to place bets on fights I am almost positive there’s going to be some underground gambling going on… I just can’t tell you where or with whom. Exciting! Tickets are on sale right now, though if you’re reading this article way late then you probably missed out and now this sentence and corresponding link are worthless.
Obligatory “Vegas, baby!” out of the way, this episode is going to see the conclusion of even more Fight Nights. Many of the robots I questioned at the end of the previous article are here, along with some I admittedly forgot about. Shatter, for example, is back to see if it can turn Captain Shrederator into a big “off” button, Claw Viper slithers back into the ring to fight Gigabyte, HiJinx returns to see if it can pull the legs off of Chomp, and Extinguisher, Gruff, Perfect Phoenix, and Atom #94 are all also back. But I’ve got my eyes on Witch Doctor vs. Slammow; Slammow has broken “the Danby curse” by winning two of its fights so far. Meanwhile Witch Doctor is hurting badly. If there’s anyone who can reinstate a curse it’s the voodoo child.
And in the main event we’ve got the two deadliest drum spinners locking heads to see which one really is the “replacement Minotaur” for this season: Copperhead and Black Dragon. There’s some desperation in the air with a few of these matches but I think in several cases we’re seeing a lot of robots who won’t qualify getting an opportunity to possibly either take someone else out of the running or at the very least disrupt their qualification seeding substantially.
SHATTER vs. CAPTAIN SHREDERATOR
One of the robots I highlighted at the end of the previous article was Shatter, Adam Wrigley’s omni-directional hammer bot of the apocalypse. It’s at 1-1 right now after stabbing Ghost Raptor to death. Adam straight up fired his axe straight into Ghost Raptor’s blade and this ballsy move paid off in spades because Ghost Raptor… gave up the ghost. He tried pulling the same stunt against Malice and got a completely different result, however. Yeah he disabled Malice’s weapon but in the process Shatter’s entire axe head was torn away and thrown at the fucking wall. Shatter tried to stay aggressive by thwacking Malice with what was left of its hammer but that was apparently no longer “aggression with a primary weapon” in the eyes of the judges. Most of the judges have to wear corrective lenses. I’m just saying…
Meanwhile Captain Shrederator finally has a win! It came down to the robot being paired up with Axe fucking Backwards to see who could race to the bottom the fastest and for once Captain Shrederator came out ahead by ripping a wheel off of Axey B and leaving it to die. This win managed to break an eight fight losing streak spanning four goddamned seasons of the show which included a loss to Lock-Jaw earlier this season when Captain Shrederator was jammed into the screws. Brian Nave says he’s actually rolled back a lot of Captain Shrederator’s technology to turn it back into an older version of the robot “that was winning”. I can almost see the logic in that except for one tiny problem: everyone else would have to roll their designs back too, and I don’t see Donald Hutson saying “hey let’s throw this thing back to 2007” anytime soon.
“Spin to LOSE,” says Adam Wrigley moments before the fight starts. Bruh if this was anyone other than Captain “Automatic Points” Shrederator that would’ve been a top tier burn. Speaking of getting top tier burned you probably noticed Shatter looks a lot less… flashy… than it usually does. That’s because Adam has decided that losing all of the little triangles on his robot upon every hit was probably scoring against him in the “damage” category with the judges. That’s not how that works, but okay. There are still some kind of ablative panels on Shatter though, because Captain Shrederator pops one loose in the first goddamned hit of the fight. Unless of course that wasn’t an ablative panel in which case that’s actual “damage” points being scored by the Captain. Congratulations Adam, you played yourself.
About a minute happens in this fight and all I can say for it is Shatter drives sideways, never fires its hammer, and allows Captain Shrederator to discharge kinetic energy in its face several times with more of Shatter’s panels popping loose. I’m fairly certain those are just strips of plastic with endorsement stickers on them but it wouldn’t surprise me if they were being counted against Shatter now with how slim pickings things are for damage. Yeah Shatter’s face is torn up but it entered this fight looking that way, that’s just the team’s big fuck off plow they use for horizontal spinners. Captain Shrederator is getting someone else’s sloppy seconds. Probably Malice’s.
Finally after a minute it happens, Captain Shrederator hits Shatter hard enough to ricochet itself into the wall which stops it from spinning entirely. Normally this is the part where Captain Shrederator starts smoking and Brian Nave says something that has to be bleeped but I’ll be damned if this robot doesn’t just keep spinning right back up like nothing happened at all. Shatter even tries to land a hit and misses so badly that it flips itself over. That speaks volumes for the amount of energy stored in that hammer and if I were Captain Shrederator I’d probably keep spinning because getting hit with that would hurt like a son of a bitch. While Shatter takes a dozen seconds to reorient itself this is time where Captain Shrederator should be capitalizing on the situation and throwing some low blows, maybe try to knock that axe loose on Shatter. But it can’t because… the smoke.
Yeah like an episode of fucking Lost the smoke monster starts pouring out of Captain Shrederator and the robot’s spinning shell craps out and stops working. Shatter motion tweens itself into position and misses a couple of times with its pick axe before finally landing a shot to the lid of the spinner. A follow-up hit is landed and this one is a little more gnarly because it straight up punches a hole in the plexiglass armor on Captain Shrederator’s top. In case you were wondering who had the stronger hammer, Suitcase Chomp or Shatter, the answer is Shatter; Chomp wasn’t able to puncture Captain Shrederator’s lid like that, and Shatter continues to connect with its swings visibly chipping away at even more of the plastic sections of Captain Shrederator’s armor.
Eventually Captain Shrederator gets corralled into a corner and Brian Nave’s worst nightmare is realized: his robot gets double dicked by the Pulverizer, which is controlled by Shatter’s team, and Shatter’s own axe. Two very visible holes have been smashed into Captain Shrederator’s noggin meanwhile the Pulverizer isn’t doing the dead spinner any favors either. Captain Shrederator almost seems like it’s had its drive damaged because it looks like it’s unable to get out of that area and when it tries to drive away it pulls to one side. It wouldn’t surprise me if this were the case because Shatter breached the shell, most shell spinners have little to no armor underneath said shells because that’s both their offense and defense. There’s some aluminum plating underneath Captain Shrederator’s shell but it’s probably not rated to withstand the kind of ass kicking Shatter’s axe can dole out.
Captain Shrederator survives to the buzzer but only just barely. Another minute and this would’ve been a KO for Shatter, but Shatter wins nonetheless. After demonstrating a wonderful analogy for the current state of America right now Captain Shrederator’s team better get their shit packed up because at 1-2 they’re headed home. No one is impressed that you beat Axe Backwards. Also during the post fight interviews Adam Wrigley lets his hair down to reveal that this whole time he has actually been notorious Donkey Kong cheater Billy Mitchell!
WINNER: Shatter, Judges’ Decision (3-0)
CLAW VIPER vs. GIGABYTE
Up next on the docket is another battle between two 1-1 bots one of which also being a shell spinner. The robot who isn’t the shell spinner in this case is Claw Viper, a sort of “we have Complete Control at home” design to fill the void left when Derek Young officially retired from the sport to become a judge instead. Claw Viper is perhaps the fastest motherfucker in the arena but we’ve yet to see its weapon function like Complete Control’s. It defeated HiJinx because HiJinx just sorta broke down; Claw Viper spent most of that fight doing kickflips and shit off of its opponent. When given a real match, such as was the case with Black Dragon, the snake didn’t perform so well. After one particularly badass hit sent Claw Viper flipping through the air the robot just didn’t work right and eventually caught fire after Black Dragon horse-kicked its fucking teeth in.
But when it comes to humiliating losses, Gigabyte took that cake right out of the gate. Paired up against Copperhead the shell spinner managed to lose its head again because somehow “the Chinese weapon axle” made its way back into this robot. One from the same set as the one that caused the shell to pop off when Tombstone looked at it funny back in 2018. I would say Gigabyte got its redemption by defeating Extinguisher but we all know that’s not the case, Extinguisher is like a C-class robot and the only way Gigabyte would’ve lost that match is if they were stupid enough to use the Chinesium axles a third time. Honestly if it came down to that they’d deserve to lose. So Claw Viper hasn’t really had a chance to show what it’s made of, and neither has Gigabyte. This is both robots’ final qualifier so if you lot were fans of waiting until the last minute… well this is the last minute.
Before the fight started Claw Viper’s builder Kevin Milczewski said he wanted to box rush Gigabyte and not let them get up to speed. The dude was surprisingly lucid about the physics of fighting massive horizontal spinners such as Gigabyte even noting that they tend to bounce upward and that he did not want to drive underneath a rebounding Gigabyte because that would spell disaster for his robot. It’s too bad he can’t seem to drive worth a shit though because Gigabyte uncharacteristically takes its jolly ol’ fucking time spinning its shell up to speed while Claw Viper smashes face first into the screws and Chris Rose says “whiffed it” again. I feel like I’m in a fucking Bottom Gear meme video with all this talk of whiffing.
As you might imagine Gigabyte is able to get up to full speed. Claw Viper very cautiously approaches it and nudges the spinner in such a way that, as Kevin stated would happen, causes its opponent to hop into the air. This is the only good hit Claw Viper lands with its front wedge because the very next one might seem like a solid wedge-to-shell blow but pay close attention to Claw Viper’s front right corner and you’ll see the shock of that impact bust an entire chunk of armor loose. Claw Viper immediately starts driving around erratically and I can’t tell if this hit caused any damage to the drive or not because this robot’s entire 2020 career has consisted of being squirrely as fuck. Yes, Claw Viper has managed to drive in such a way that I can never tell if it’s broken or if Kevin just sucks behind the wheel. It’s probably both.
I didn’t draw much attention to it like the hosts did before the fight, but Matt Maxham is on Gigabyte’s team this year. Long time fans of BattleBots will recognize him as the driver of Stinger. The American robot, not the British one. Stinger has been MIA from BattleBots but it’s good to see Matt is still around. He’s in charge of operating Gigabyte’s weaponry and with Claw Viper’s sphincter exposed and ready for a boot he defers to John Mladenik “his backside, his backside!” Gigabyte cruises in and lands the killer blow of the fight. It might not look like much but that’s camera trickery. You can’t see it now, but you will in a second. Claw Viper’s asshole has literally been torn open and its back left wheel and axle have been completely ejected from the robot. This has also caused the chain to eventually come loose on the left side as well, rendering the entire robot inoperable. The Pulverizer continues to land some hits but this one was over before it ever began for Claw Viper. Rest in rip.
Gigabyte claims a 2-1 finish and given that both of those wins were relatively quick and decisive KO’s with little drama I’d say the robot stands to qualify somewhere in the bottom half of the Top 32.
WINNER: Gigabyte, KO
HIJINX vs. CHOMP
Oh look, more 1-1 bots. I think that might be the theme of this episode. In another case of similar track records each of these machines have had one battle go untelevised. In HiJinx’s case that happened to be its only win which was against Tracer; HiJinx caught Tracer from the back and this dinky hit was enough to roll Tracer onto its back. We know from experience that while Tracer looks like it can drive upside-down… it can’t. HiJinx’s loss to Claw Viper was televised however and unfortunately since we just saw Claw Viper get its butt blasted I already sort of gave a summary of that match, but to reiterate HiJinx just didn’t do anything and broke down on its own. Against a walker like Chomp I’d say HiJinx has the advantage, especially if it can hit Chomp’s fragile legs, but who’s to say that perimeter armor on Chomp isn’t impenetrable and that HiJinx is about to get whacked?
HiJinx’s Jen Herchenroeder introduces Chomp as “the Bite Force killer”, which is true. Of all the one times Bite Force has lost, it lost to Chomp. It’s for that reason why I feel like Zoe Stephenson just gets a free pass to do whatever the hell she wants to with her robot. Turn it into a suitcase that flips around? Do it. Make it into a massive walking behemoth that managed to lose to Ghost Raptor? You go, girl. Also yes “Pressure Drop 2.0 Chomp” did manage to lose to Ghost Raptor in an untelevised match meaning Ghost Raptor ended its pre-tournament qualifiers at 1-2. That puts Chomp at 1-1 with its previous win over Gamma 9 whom I’m guessing wound up getting damaged badly enough that it’s gone because it’s been like seven episodes now and I’m wondering where the fuck that robot went.
As expected Chomp slooowly tip-toes out of its starting square. HiJinx has nothing to worry about in the realm of box rushing so it has ample time to get its blade up to speed. Hell, HiJinx could allow itself to just get counted out in the red square for shits n’ giggles and Chomp will have barely crossed the middle of the arena. HiJinx flies in closely to Chomp but keeps backing up when its flamethrowers go off. It’s not the fire that HiJinx is trying to avoid, its Chomp’s big ass mallet; HiJinx is trying to coax a miss from the walker so it can come in and counterattack. Eventually HiJinx just says “fuck it” and comes in for a hit to Chomp’s front end that seems to breach the steel skirting around Chomp’s legs. Nothing seems to have been damaged yet, but Chomp would be wise not to let another one of those happen again.
Jen coaches Orion Beach, the guy driving HiJinx, to “get around” Chomp. Honey there ain’t a thing like “getting around Chomp”. That turret is locked onto you with fucking LIDAR and can spin around faster than Orion can drive. Also shouldn’t he be hosting Internet Comment Etiquette? He looks an awful lot like that dude. (Yeah I’m still dropping that reference.) Chris says this is giving him anxiety because it’s like a nature documentary. I mean Chomp is magnificent and all and it stalks its prey… and this is on Discovery Channel. Fair point. HiJinx comes in and cleaves into Chomp’s front one more time and this time you can see some distortion to the perimeter armor. The bend in the armor is so significant that it causes the robot to sit unevenly on the floor when it retracts its legs meaning HiJinx might be on its way to enjoying a crab boil in a second here.
HiJinx attempts another go at Chomp and this time Chomp finally tries to swing its hammer. Just in case you wanted another barometer for how much heat Chomp is packing the robot misses but the force of the swing causes the entire fucking machine to jump over HiJinx. This is a 500 pound behemoth of a robot swinging a mass that can’t be more than 70 or so pounds. For it to be able to hop high enough into the air to completely avoid the clearance of HiJinx is, to make a shitty BattleBots pun, a marvel of engineering. Unfortunately all the strength in the world doesn’t matter if the swing was a miss and HiJinx uses the split second of vulnerability to slide its blade under Chomp and nick one of the walker’s corner legs. It looks like it may have already been slightly damaged from the hit that bent up the armor, but this hit finishes it off for sure.
Chomp still has five legs left but I don’t know what that means in the context of a walker. If Chomp were a six-wheeled robot then five wheels would be a slight impediment but nothing to worry about, but on a walker this could mean the whole machine is knocked out. While I’m trying to figure this out HiJinx comes in again and this time takes a shot straight onto its lid courtesy of Chomp’s pick axe, though Jascha Little (Chomp’s weapon operator) says this hit came with a cost because he’s lost control of the robot’s turret. Without the mobility afforded by wheels Chomp has no way to stay competitive and keep its dead turret pointed at HiJinx. The fact that the robot has one broken ankle just further fucks everything up. Sadly this isn’t the first time the turret has died either because that’s part of the reason why it lost to Ghost Raptor (even though Ghost Raptor’s blade also broke down for the third time in a fucking row).
HiJinx comes in for the kill shot, breaks yet another leg, and leaves Chomp to be counted out in the corner of the Battlebox. Chomp falls to 1-2 while HiJinx finishes 2-1. It’s a safe bet that Chomp won’t qualify for the primary tournament now which is a shame, but honestly given how slow walkers tend to be I’m not surprised that all it took was a few brazen attacks and a complete disregard of Chomp’s weaponry to knock it out. Better luck next time Zoe; I can’t wait to see “Nuclear Bomb Disposal Unit Chomp”.
WINNER: HiJinx, KO
SLAMMOW vs. WITCH DOCTOR
One of these two robots is 0-2, and it’s not the one you think it is. For once in Craig Danby’s life his heavyweight robot didn’t arbitrarily die on the starting platform multiple times; Slammow is everything that Predator, Foxtrot, and Foxic couldn’t be. Three times this man has graced the annals of BattleBots Update, and three times he’s been lambasted for building robots that I could defeat myself with a sledgehammer and some work boots. But not Slammow. Slammow suplexed both Pain Train and WAR-EZ into oblivion, that’s two KO’s with a robot who isn’t even really armed with a weapon that has conventional KO power. Witch Doctor will be the ultimate test for this robot. Will Craig make it a hat trick? Will he wreck last season’s runner-up??? Or will the Mowbot money run dry and leave Craig with a pile of parts that used to be “THE” Suplex Machine?
Witch Doctor has yet to win a fight this season. Things got off to a rocky start with an impressive loss to Hydra wherein Witch Doctor landed some solid blows but managed to blow its own weapon to pieces and destabilize itself. This allowed Hydra to slam dunk the fuck out of this machine until it started coughing up smoke. Witch Doctor rebounded to fight Kraken but again busted its only set of replacement discs. It took nothing short of a fucking miracle to get Witch Doctor armed and ready for this fight. Say what you want about Al Kindle, but the entire reason Andrea and Mike Gellatly made it back into the box starts with this man who was able to source a sheet of AR600 steel at the last minute. Lilith Sprecht of Team PRIDE coordinated the pick-up of this metal with her team’s truck, and Zoe Stephenson facilitated the water jet cutting of the replacement discs with her team’s own water jet. That’s three teams – one of whom isn’t even fucking competing this season – to get Witch Doctor back in the ring. That’s fuckin’ teamwork.
Witch Doctor’s team says they can’t afford to let this one go to the judges, but at the same time they’re unsure of how hard they can push these untested replacement discs. Remember, Witch Doctor’s original weapons were made of S7 steel which you can tell is different from AR400 because of the numbers and letters. The happy medium in all this is Witch Doctor smashing face first into Slammow with the hopes that it wins the reach game and I’m not so sure it does. No serious damage is done to Slammow but at the same time Slammow isn’t able to drop its claws onto Witch Doctor. Witch Doctor starts shaving some sparks off of the right side of Slammow and after some pushback lands a shot to Slammow’s grapplers that shears the tip off of the right one.
More importantly however is that this hit seems to incapacitate Slammow’s weaponry completely. The grappling arms slowly descend downward which obviously affords the robot no offensive or defensive advantages. In fact, this just puts the grappling arms directly into harm’s way. Case in point, one particularly nasty hit blows the arms backwards and splits the right one down the side. The best case scenario for Slammow would’ve been for the arms to seize up and get stuck in their open position but unfortunately they fall back down. While this is going on Witch Doctor takes another shot at Slammow and busts open its right armor panel exposing the front wheel behind the metal. I’ve gotta hand it to Craig though, despite the fact that it looks like his winning streak is about to come to an end he’s staying aggressive and even in its damaged state Slammow’s center wedge could still spell trouble for Witch Doctor with some Hail Mary leverage.
Witch Doctor’s not about to let that happen. Another punch is thrown and this time Slammow’s entire right side of drive just fucking blows apart. Most of the remaining armor flies off and the front wheel that was previously exposed snaps off taking the drive chain with it leaving the exposed rear wheel behind. Given Slammow’s shape it’s a safe bet that its drive motors are connected to the rear wheels first which explains how the robot can still drive around despite shedding a chain. I mean, I say “drive” but you get what I mean. Slammow is kind of fucked but it’s still controllable. Probably not for much longer though because Witch Doctor slams into its opponent’s left side and starts grinding metal off of it all the way into the wall. Literally. Slammow falls away from Witch Doctor’s weapon and Witch Doctor takes a chunk out of the fucking wall. Looks like those new discs just passed the test.
Slammow is now floundering in the corner near the Pulverizer. I have no idea which team controls that one because for some stupid reason the colored dots that correspond to the teams haven’t been painted on the arena floor for this season. If the hazards just had one operator then surely we’d be seeing the hammer ominously drop a couple of times to let Slammow know its cervical vertebrate are looking mighty tasty. Kenny Florian says Witch Doctor’s lining up the “kill shot” and with Witch Doctor’s discs roaring full blast I think he’s right. Mike Gellatly slams on the gas and Witch Doctor lands a devastating blow… to the arena wall. Mike shakes his head and says that was stupid. Yes it was, Mike. But hey that’s two stress tests in the course of like 10 seconds so I think Al Kindle hooked y’all up with some killer fucking steel.
Eventually Slammow quits moving when its battered Colsons stop getting any purchase on the arena floor. The bumper panel that Witch Doctor took its frustrations out on whacks Slammow as if to say “c’mon, do something” but Slammow’s taken too much damage for one fight and is counted out with just 20 seconds left on the clock. It’s not the surgical and concise KO that Andrea Gellatly wanted, but it’s still a win and it prevented Slammow from going 3-0. Props.
WINNER: Witch Doctor, KO
GRUFF vs. EXTINGUISHER
Gruff is a stout robot that has competed outside of BattleBots for quite some time. Sam McAmis has thus had ample time to iron out his robot’s kinks outside of the view of the TV cameras and when it came time to bring this robot to BattleBots he took the Free Shipping approach of “let’s just stick a big fucking flamethrower on it and all it a day”. Gruff’s claim to fame is not one but a set of two big ass roasters and if that weren’t bad enough its secondary weapon is a grappling arm. Yes, the grappling arm is secondary to the flamethrowers. Sam’s churning out 3000+ degrees with these things. I don’t know how many BTU’s that is but I know it’s enough to ruin Thanksgiving. Gruff dominated Hypershock in its debut fight of the season but for some reason the team just didn’t fix their lifting arm and wound up losing to Whiplash because of it. The forks are still fucked up coming into this battle.
Ironically the biggest flamethrowers in the biz are paired up with Extinguisher for both robots’ final qualification match, and fuck me Extinguisher is actually using its fabled vertical spinner attachment for this battle. Don’t get me wrong the last thing BattleBots needs is “another goddamned vertical spinner” but I just never thought we’d see the day when John Flaacke would make the executive decision to “send out the dalmatian”. Extinguisher has little chance of making it into the tournament after back to back KO losses to Perfect Phoenix and Gigabyte so at best Extinguisher is looking to disrupt Gruff’s 1-1 record and drop it to 1-2 to potentially keep it from qualifying. Normally I’d say Gruff has the literal firepower to melt this stupid truck but with fucked up lifting forks all I’m seeing is an easy target for Extinguisher’s spinner to pick at.
“It looks like an anime puppy.”
Extinguisher wastes no time taking the first shot of the match and bites a chunk out of Gruff’s corner while Gruff’s flamethrowers immediately go off. Extinguisher backs away from the flames, uncharacteristic for a fire truck, and flees in order to get its weapon going again. Gruff catches the truck as it approaches for attack #2 and manages to use its broken forks to upend Extinguisher. 250 pounds of firehouse dog fall upon the two little caster wheels propping Extinguisher’s weapon off the ground and one of them instantly gives up and pops off. Extinguisher is slammed in the screws and if Gruff would just back the fuck away for a few seconds it could take a win right here because Extinguisher balances on its face and there’s definitely not enough power in the robot’s weapon to knock it down from there, spinners aren’t usually designed that way.
Unable to leave well enough alone Gruff wants to try something it saw in a Big Dill fight so it jams one of its lifting forks down Extinguisher’s gullet to start throat-fucking the dog. I really, really, hope the previous sentence doesn’t make this website show up in unmentionable Google search results. Gruff’s fork is jammed into Extinguisher pretty fucking good because no amount of retracting the lifter seems to be able to separate the bots or at least hurl Extinguisher forward. Gruff keeps popping wheelies and flipping itself over while Extinguisher just takes it and doesn’t even try to floor it backwards to pull away from Gruff. Chris Rose says the word “suplex” and you can hear the change in pitch of Kenny Florian’s voice. This is what Kenny sounds like when he is aroused, just an FYI.
With a little bit of help from the screws on the far side of the arena Gruff manages to one-up Big Dill and actually complete the body slam and Extinguisher comes crashing down onto the floor upside-down. I’m impressed with this move because given Extinguisher’s distance from the fulcrum of the lifting arms it took a fuckton more lifting power than just 250 pounds to complete that slam. Gruff struggled with it – visibly – but in the end was able to bring down the house and I’ve gotta say that’s easily one of the top ten attacks of the season. The cameras cut away to show Gruff’s team and when they cut back Extinguisher has righted itself so I’m guessing the bots were probably stuck and needed separation and this was cleverly hidden with the jump cut. I’m hip to shit like that. Gruff probably just flipped Extinguisher back over as soon as the fight resumed.
Gruff tries to go for the pin and burn like it did against Hypershock but isn’t able to fire up its blasters and Extinguisher manages to get away. Though speaking of weapons Extinguisher’s spinner has done fuck all for at least a minute now. I realize for about half that time the robot had a steel fork jammed down its esophagus but the bots are separated now and Extinguisher’s weapon belt is still attached, it didn’t lose it in the fray so I’m not sure what’s broken down but I guess this is a case of Extinguisher being Extinguisher. The fire truck keeps trying to stay aggressive but every time it gets close to Gruff it winds up getting its face singed instead. John Flaacke said he covered Extinguisher’s internals with kevlar to protect them from the flames but you can never be too careful, he’s smart not to just take shots to the face like that and blow it off. He’s not winning, yeah, but he’s also not causing undue damage to his machine.
As Gruff is backed into the screw box of the red square however faint wisps of smoke start coming out of the top of the bot near its lifter pivot point. The smoke isn’t white or thick enough to be LiPoly (battery) smoke so it’s either electronics or motors that are being cooked right now. The lifter is still working but Gruff’s drive is dying so I think we can put 2 and 2 together on this one and figure out what the problem is. It takes the hosts a stupid amount of time to notice the smoke and by this point Gruff is belching out thicker clouds of the stuff and has pretty much quit moving. The right side of drive dies first followed quickly by the left and no amount of waving and slamming its lifting arm around is able to jostle the robot back to life. You’d think it’d be the lifter that would smoke out and die given the hellacious trial it was just put through but no, the drive is what goes.
I can only speculate as to what happened but it looks like Extinguisher is going to legitimately disrupt Gruff’s shot at qualification. Both bots finish 1-2 as Gruff is formally counted out and I’m not so sure either one performed well enough to advance on so this could very well be the last we see each of these machines this season. Congratulations Extinguisher, you ruined everything.
WINNER: Extinguisher, KO
ATOM #94 vs. PERFECT PHOENIX
Come on, this was bound to happen. Tombstone’s Ray Billings has mentored both Yash Deshmukh and Tyler Nguyen so naturally their two corresponding robots were going to cross paths. For both of these bots’ last qualifier… they fight each other. Similar to Extinguisher in the previous fight Atom 94 is down by two meaning the best it can hope for is a win to ensure Perfect Phoenix, who is 1-1, does not qualify. Atom 94 falls into the category of “another goddamned vertical spinner” and man is this one bad. It holds the distinction, along with Big Dill, of being the only robot part of a “special judges’ decision” when it was losing so badly to Big Dill that the two competitors became inseparable and the fight was called. After that it landed one respectable blow on Tantrum before being flipped over and dying. I mean props to the team for being the first BattleBots competitors from India, but maybe Atom 95 will be your golden ticket because this ain’t it chief.
Meanwhile Perfect Phoenix is over here acting like a heavyweight clone of former BattleBots champion Hazard because that’s exactly what it is. Originally Paul Ventimiglia’s robot, Perfect Phoenix lived a life under the name “Brutality” where it’s claim to fame is winning one BattleBots event and being the final nail in the casket of the legendary Biohazard. This is a robot that killed a legend. And now it’s being driven by an 11 year old who really likes Beyblades because as I only recently discovered Perfect Phoenix is named after a fucking Beyblade. That would be like if somebody bought Bigfoot the monster truck and renamed it to “Blue Eyes White Dragon”. I even called Tyler “The Beyblade Bandit” without knowing this information. Anyways Perfect Phoenix claimed a free win over Extinguisher, but when push came to shove and the robot had to put up or shut up Skorpios made damn sure the phoenix shut up.
Sporting a new blue blade and following the same color coordination of Tombstone, Perfect Phoenix immediately gets going and is clearly aiming for Atom 94’s sides or back; those massive traction-less wheels on Atom 94 look to be the perfect height to get clipped in half by Perfect Phoenix’s helicopter blade. This plan is foiled, if only temporarily, by the one time in Atom 94’s futile existence that it’s able to do anything impressive. Perfect Phoenix catches a shot to its spinner from Atom 94’s blades. This pops the phoenix in the air and as it comes down Atom 94 delivers a blow that sends both robots spinning across the floor in opposite directions. Atom 94 does a burn out while Perfect Phoenix is thrown at Chris & Kenny and if you watch closely you’ll see Atom 94’s weapon belts transform into a tangled mess of fucking Christmas lights.
That’s it for Atom 94’s weapon. It’s dead. That major blow literally bent one of the discs and they now don’t have the clearance needed to rotate. Also some of the belts slacked hard on the spinner so my guess is a motor mount or something broke inside of Atom 94 because I can’t see many other scenarios that would cause weapon belts to do whatever the fuck we just saw Atom 94’s do. All Atom 94 can do now is ram into Perfect Phoenix and hope that it can slow the spinner down and shove its opponent into the spike strip. Given what we know about Atom 94’s drivetrain however, this is going to be a naff fucking effort. Perfect Phoenix recovers from being beybladed into the wall and goes right back to kinking up Atom 94’s dead weaponry, though it looks like its wedge is getting in the way of its reach. I know why Perfect Phoenix isn’t backing into Atom 94 but Tyler’s gotta know that Atom 94 would struggle to push a fucking lightweight around. If he’d just spin Phoenix around and come at Atom 94 backwards he’d be landing a lot more shots further in on Atom 94’s frame.
The hosts start doing that thing where they telegraph what’s about to happen because they bring up the subject of Perfect Phoenix throttling down its weaponry. This means something’s about to happen to the blade. Sure enough as soon as Chris finishes his sentence Perfect Phoenix socks Atom 94 in the face for the 94th time this match and its blade immediately seizes up. Smoke starts pouring out from the exposed weapon motors of Perfect Phoenix signaling we’ve got a fucking potato fight on our hands now. Good job Ray, you really know how to pick your proteges. We’ve got a robot from India with butter-coated wheels and you somehow managed to fuck up Paul Ventimiglia’s former champion robot. This is good television and totally not a good time for me to get up and take a piss. The 90 second countdown appears on screen noting that we’re only halfway through this fight. Fuck me.
Perfect Phoenix reverts to a wedge bot, something Atom 94 has been trying to do but failing at it because it barely has the traction to move itself around. Chris & Kenny take some time to reiterate how the judges score “damage” because just like me they’ve got time to fill now too. They emphasize “damage done with a primary weapon” but I feel like that’s kind of a shitty metric. Atom 94 might be a 250 pound garden decoration only slightly more dangerous that slamming your fingers in a refrigerator door, but by virtue of being a goddamned brick it broke Perfect Phoenix’s weapon. That’s damage. Likewise if Atom 94 didn’t have the shittiest tires on the fucking planet and slammed Perfect Phoenix into the wall to break its weapon that’s still damage. Same with theoretically dropping the Pulverizer on Phoenix. There’s all these scenarios where genuine damage can be done but it’s almost like if you lose control of your own weapon your only strategy is to just pray your opponent dies completely because you’re never coming back from that discrepancy.
This fight is such a lackluster snoozefest that Atom 94 manages to get hit by the fucking Killsaws. It’s that dire, folks. The robots continue to lock heads and all that happens is Atom 94 spins its tires fruitlessly while Perfect Phoenix stands its ground and holds steady; neither robot is able to fully take advantage of the other in these stand-offs. Kenny says they have to be careful because they don’t want to “burn out their motors”. Guess that means someone is gonn– yep Perfect Phoenix starts smoking again in the twilight seconds of this battle and with one second left on the clock actually catches fire.
Yash looks excited that his opponent ended the battle on fire, Tyler looks to his Beyblade buddy and says he doesn’t know who the judges will give this fight to. I can almost see where Tyler is coming from but at the same time I can’t see a scenario where a judge would score the match in favor of Atom 94, it just failed to meet the criteria of control and aggression. Perfect Phoenix makes it to 2-1, meanwhile Atom 94 becomes the first robot with an inverse perfect record of 0-3. Nice work.
WINNER: Perfect Phoenix, Judges’ Decision (3-0)
BLACK DRAGON vs. COPPERHEAD
For this episode’s main event we have two robots at 2-0 meaning only one of them will have the privilege of finishing with a perfect record in the qualifiers. The loser will probably still advance anyways, so this is purely a play-in for a higher seeding. In Copperhead’s last fight Zach Goff called out Black Dragon and wouldn’t you know the forces that be made it happen and summoned the deadly draconic spinner to test the serpent’s mettle. Whether you agreed with the decision or not, Black Dragon started its season with a win over Kraken that went the distance and saw the sea beast losing some teeth in the process. Black Dragon then stepped up and smashed Claw Viper to fucking pieces. In case you missed that fight Claw Viper ended that battle on fucking fire. Depending on how you define a “kraken” Black Dragon has had a trial by serpents for its Fight Night bouts and Copperhead is the last one.
Zach Goff said “bring me Black Dragon” and Black Dragon said “I heard you were talkin’ shit”. Also at 2-0 Copperhead has been nothing short of devastating this year. A distant evolution of 2016’s Poison Arrow this robot pulled the same “just go right at the son of a bitch” strategy against Gigabyte that it employed against Son of Whyachi all those years ago. When the dust settled after the one huge hit that ended the battle Gigabyte came crashing down in two goddamned pieces: a candy dish, and the rest of the robot. Copperhead then met up with the Formula One-esque P1 and settled that match in nearly one shot. One hit sent P1 flipping through the air and quite nearly knocked it out. It took a follow up hit to blow the race car to kingdom come but hey that just means we got two impressive hits instead of one. Black Dragon eats away at opponents, Copperhead just blows you to bits. Two different drums are about to collide and my guess is someone’s going super-fucking-nova.
Copperhead hesitates as the fight starts in order to spin its drum up to speed but Black Dragon is the opposite; Black Dragon powers forward while spinning its weapon up and the end result sees both of Copperhead’s little snake minions being eaten alive by the spinning weapons of both robots. Not sure what those were going to feasibly accomplish in this battle but I guess the honest answer is “fuck all”. As repayment for killing its babies Copperhead takes Black Dragon, kicks it in the shin to soften it up and then reams it in the testicles to heave the entire fucking machine at the BattleBots sign in the arena. Black Dragon winds up on its back after this exchange but we all know the robot is invertible so it goes right back to work trying to grab whatever it can on Copperhead. Not willing to stand down Copperhead punts Black Dragon in the face and manages to clip not one but both of Black Dragon’s weapon belts. All the redundancies in the world can’t help you if you lose all of your fucking belts at the same time.
So that’s it, right? Black Dragon has been neutered on national television and Copperhead stands to win this thing. The attack by Copperhead managed to right Black Dragon and reorient it but Black Dragon’s leading wedge is so chewed up that Copperhead has absolutely no problems at all getting right back underneath it and chucking its opponent upward. Props to Black Dragon for being so aggressive, but it’s failing to fight as a wedge this time because it has no wedge; case in point Copperhead gets underneath it again and smashes the dragon into the screws and knocks a piece off of something in the exchange. Copperhead is doling out so many goddamned hits that I can’t even keep track of them. Black Dragon is flipped back over and another hit sends the beast hurtling through the air again only to land right back upside-down.
After the 90 second mark Copperhead’s right side of drive seems visibly slower than the left. The bot gets backed into one of the corners of the arena and its weapon spins down momentarily. Too much ass kicking, surely. Copperhead’s drum eventually gets running again but it looks like it has speed but no bite to it. Also Copperhead parks on top of the Killsaws as it struggles to drive because it knows they probably won’t pop up… until seconds later when Black Dragon shoves Copperhead over another set of saws and for once we actually get to see some smoke from the rubber and sparks from the armor. I think this is the most we’ve seen the saws do in like three damn seasons. Make no mistake though that was friction smoke from the rubber of Copperhead’s wheel hitting the Killsaws, Copperhead’s internals are still presumably intact.
The two machines end the battle with their heads locked together, neither one’s weapon working and neither one able to outmatch the other in terms of torque. The fight ends but thanks to all the air time and massive work done to Black Dragon’s face the judges unanimously go for Copperhead. Copperhead reaches the prestigious 3-0 to join Mad Catter, Bloodsport, and Jackpot. Black Dragon falls to 2-1 but like I said at the start of the fight whoever loses is still probably advancing onward anyways, so we’ll see both of these competitors in the Round of 32.
WINNER: Copperhead, Judges’ Decision (3-0)
Before the main event the hosts filled us in on one untelevised match, Mammoth vs. Deadlift. Deadlift already had one win under its belt over Bale Spear but Mammoth proved to be a tougher opponent and won by decision. Chris Rose then said “thank you” to all of the participants over some B-roll of both Black Widow and Rampage, the only other robots we’ve yet to see anything from. I’m guessing these shots were chosen because all of their fights are going to go unaired. I can’t say I’m surprised really, both of these robots were scored as an “F” in my preseason predictions article. It would’ve been nice to at least see them fight, though. I guess the Curse of Parallax had to eventually move on to someone else in the end.
I can think of a few more robots sitting at only two fights. The aforementioned Deadlift comes to mind as does Sporkinok, Axe Backwards, and Hypershock. End Game has also only shown up a couple of times. Other robots such as Aegis and Gemini were so badly destroyed that it wouldn’t surprise me if they’re gone for the rest of the season; nobody’s even mentioned them since their debuts. There’s only 14 episodes in this season however and next week’s puts us on #10 so either we’re going to have a slew of untelevised fights with some upper tier robots or there’s only like one more Fight Night episode left. The main tournament has to start at some point, it’s not like we can just invent new episodes. That’s what Bounty Hunters is for.
That’s a wrap on this installment of BattleBots Update. This one came out later than the schedule I sorta fell into because I just needed to take more “mental health time” than usual. I’m really sluggish and tired all the time and even though my doctor says I’m fine I think I probably have some unknown thyroid condition because it’s kicking my ass like Copperhead after snorting a line of cocaine. Anyways thank you for checking out the article. If you’d like to support this project you can do so with a monthly pledge on Patreon, a one time donation with Ko-Fi, or by grabbing some BBU stickers on Redbubble. Additionally you can also follow BattleBots Update on Facebook so you’ll be notified when new content goes live!
See you next time!