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[BattleBots: S11 E1 is available via streaming on Discovery+.]

The skies darken. The earth quakes. The ground splits open and a hand emerges, gripping onto the soil. Another hand follows. From the depths of the robot underworld Kenny Florian pulls himself out of the rift dressed in a dapper suit, completely free of dirt stains. A voice calls out for help. Kenny turns around and reaches down into the crevasse to help pull Chris Rose out to join him. In the distance the echoes of Faruq Tauheed can be heard saying something funny. It is time for BattleBots season eleven. Or six, going by the reboot count I don’t fucking know anymore. You all know how I run shop around here.

I can’t be the only person who sees “it”.

It’s robot fighting time once again and that can mean only one thing: the cogs and wheels of BattleBots Update are once again alive with the lifeblood that keeps this website running. Fresh meat. Fresh, metallic, inedible… meat. As Chris and Kenny welcome us to the new season with a stacked audience once again they introduce the newest hazard to the arena, The Shelf. They call it the “Upper Deck” but c’mon we all know what it’s really called. Besides, calling it the Upper Deck just gives me a carte blanche pass to make “upper decker” jokes for the entire season. You all have fucked up and like Hydra with a bike rack I’m about to abuse this power you’ve given me.

This week’s debut fight card looks like one thing: ratings bait. And I mean that in a good way, you’ve gotta kick the season off with something explosive and that’s what’s on the docket for this episode. Right out of the gate Sawblaze faces Minotaur in a skill of driving and deadly weapons. Tombstone returns to probably claim a free win over Captain Shrederator. After taking a year off both Free Shipping and Blacksmith are back and they’re battling each other. Switchback makes its debut as does an improved Deep Six, and in the main event reigning champion End Game squares off against the villain underdog Hydra. Translation: all hell is about to break loose.



Team Sawblaze

Weapon: Hammer saw


Team Riobotz

Weapon: Vertical spinning drum

Welp, looks like another slam dunk season for Minotaur I guess.

Fresh out of the gate to kick this season off is a new and improved Sawblaze. Jamison Go says he’s completely rebuilt the machine but it looks the same to me just with a few improvements. My guess is that after the buttblasting that Sawblaze received last year Jamison decided that particular frame and chassis combo was fucking toast and it was time to make a new one. Sawblaze is still sporting its 30 lb hammer saw and its front end is still one big shovel, though this year there’s even more of a bulldozer scoop shape and the center fork is offset so that Sawblaze’s own weapon doesn’t hit itself. The flamethrower is also still there because Jamison didn’t learn his lesson while fighitng Uppercut apparently.

It took a year off but Minotaur is back to prove that Black Dragon ain’t shit and that it is the real deal from Brazil. It seems little has changed on Minotaur overall, it’s still the two-wheeled compact box with a deadly spinning drum that we’ve come to know and love. The one that – just like Sawblaze – is immortalized in toy form. Perhaps the shape of Minotaur’s drum has changed a bit, it looks like the teeth of it are more pronounced than they used to be but I don’t know if this is an overall change or if the team has multiple drums and this is the one that they use for killing dragons. Both of these robots have some of the most tenacious drivers; we know Daniel Frietas gets heated up because he’s the guy that I memed with “PREPARE YOUR ANUS” and now if you search for that term he pops up. Whoops.


Minotaur draws first blood as Sawblaze promptly gets caught up in the Killsaw slots. A light blow sends the dragon onto its head but Sawblaze recovers immediately and goes back on the attack harassing the arena hazards. Minotaur lands another shot seemingly trying to damage Sawblaze’s forks but the forks don’t budge. A serendipitous opportunity gives Minotaur a free tap on Sawblaze’s right wheel and crumples the hub on it but Sawblaze is still fully mobile, if behind on points. Sawblaze settles the score a bit and scoops Minotaur up, slams it into the wall, and the resulting impact rolls Minotaur onto its back. Minotaur can self-right from this position if it spins its drum up and gyroscopes over, but it’s caught in Sawblaze’s trap and can’t get out.

“Behind on points my fucking ass,” Sawblaze presumably says as it revs up its hammer saw and whacks Minotaur right on its sensitive underside. Minotaur is armored like a brick shithouse everywhere but the bottom and this doesn’t bode well for the mythical beast because Sawblaze takes a second bite and this hit proves near fatal as almost immediately battery smoke starts filling the arena. These fumes are as flammable as Minotaur’s batteries are unstable, so a quick lick of flame from the dragon sends the entirety of Minotaur up in fucking flames. The cameras cut to Daniel Frietas who looks like he just shit his pants because goddamn did this fight take a 180.

Sawblaze literally just climbing up onto the fucking deck.

Sawblaze, with its grip still firmly on its burning opponent, rams into the screws leading up to the Drop Zone or whatever the fuck it’s called and not only does Minotaur get pulled up there but Sawblaze literally drives up the goddamned screws to join its opponent on the platform. They’re not interested in performing on the karaoke stage however and Sawblaze jumps down back into the corner of the ring letting Minotaur go in the process. Minotaur looks dead but all of a sudden it springs back to life fighting off its internal flames. Color me surprised but it looks like Minotaur is still fully fucking functional despite being on fire. No idea what those batteries went to but I guess Minotaur has redundant ones because it’s still driving around and its drum is even still able to spin.

Minotaur takes a couple more karate chops from Sawblaze’s hammer saw but none of these hits seem to strike anything critical because Minotaur is able to get away and start trying to flip itself over using the gyro forces of its drum. Again, I have no idea how this robot is still 100% functional but I guess Minotaur really is here to show Black Dragon that it ain’t shit. Minotaur miraculously rights itself and as Sawblaze comes in for another chop it throws its weapon belt meaning that’s it for the spinning dragon disc, it’s out. Sawblaze still has use of its weapon arm for grappling but its spinner has been reduced to nothing more than a static piece of metal art for us to marvel at.

Jesus Christ we get the point Sawblaze.

Without its spinner Sawblaze is reduced to fighting like a dustpan robot and manages to sweep up Minotaur and land some almost hits with the Pulverizer. Meanwhile the fire is still raging inside of Minotaur and is now flaring up through the left wheel well. Sawblaze takes the opportunity to whack its opponent with its dead spinner for some added flair before dragging Minotaur across the box and into the screws near the shelf. Minotaur starts getting ground up but the hazards don’t suck the heavyweight onto the platform and Minotaur falls off. Minotaur’s drum looks to be out of commission so perhaps we know what some of those burning batteries went to.

The two robots smash together in the middle of the arena and Minotaur wedges itself perfectly into Sawblaze’s maw in such a way that the far left fork on Sawblaze gets kinked upward on its hinge and acts as a pinning device against Minotaur. The Killsaws even briefly get involved in this fight in the last ten seconds as the match winds down. The judges obviously score this one for Sawblaze and if I might add one teeny thing here: don’t try this shit with your Hexbug toys.

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



Team Uppercut

Weapon: Vertical spinning blade


Robotic Death Company

Weapon: Spinning outer shell

pow right in the kisser

Uppercut is a robot that for a while now I’ve been saying “is the best robot to come out of MIT”. It wasn’t the first, but Alex Hattori learned everything he needed to know about robot combat from being on the team for Overhaul and then proceeded to become a robo serial killer with that knowledge. Uppercut is fucking nasty. It looks like an unstable chonker of a robot, and it kind of is, but if you get anywhere near its business end you’re gonna be in some serious shit. This is a robot who’s made a name for itself sinking three pointers from downtown by throwing Gemini and Hijinx behind the glass from center court; it doesn’t get much crazier than that. Hydra might be the robot people are expecting to throw someone into the lights, but Uppercut just might be insane enough to get there first.

Uppercut’s opponent is either the best possible one or worst possible one depending on how you look at the strategies involved. Gigabyte returns this year with a “lip” around the circumference of the robot. This is to prevent opponents from driving up on top of the shell as was what happened when Gigabyte had a slanted shell all the way to the floor. This lip acts as a barrier and also provides a place where its weapon teeth can be bolted on more securely. This all adds up to a shell spinner that can deliver some serious punishment… but that lip also provides the perfect edge for Uppercut to bite into and cause some carnage in the ring. Gigabyte would be wise to avoid Uppercut’s spinner as best as it can and to try and go for Uppercut’s exposed wheels. Let’s see if John Mladenik’s got the magic touch.

This whole fight is a love letter to people who like sparks.

The fight begins and immediately Gigabyte’s horde of minibots disperse. Their presence in this fight is to try and act as doorstops to get Uppercut high centered or tripped up on so Gigabyte can come in for the slam jam but it looks like out of three minibots only one is able to try and get in the way and the plan fails because Uppercut socks Gigabyte and sends it reeling. Watch closely at the directional indicator lights under Gigabyte and you’ll see that this hit renders the robot uncontrollable as its inner chassis starts to spin around and the robot drifts into the screws only to be bounced into one of the corners near the Upper Deck. This is exactly where Gigabyte doesn’t want to be. Hell, this is exactly where nobody wants to be because the shelf has completely ruined the geometry of the arena meaning a full third of the box is a hazard specifically to horizontal spinners.

Gigabyte lands a blow that sends Uppercut flip flopping through the air and actually swaps the positions of the robots around; Gigabyte is now at the entrance to the arena corner and Uppercut is the one knee deep in the bad arena layout. All Gigabyte has to do to pull this fight back out into the open area of the arena is back up. It’s right there. Instead it decides to go for the kill inside this corner and revs its shell up to speed again resulting in a sour shot that flips Gigabyte onto its lid. This is where the giant directional mast comes into play for Gigabyte though; as the shell spins the inner chassis spins the opposite way and this allows the mast to be used as leverage to flip the shell spinner back over. It’s impressive, but Gigabyte is unstable once again as you can tell from its indicator lights spinning wildly around and around.

Count ’em out that’s a bent mast and a broken spinner.

It is at this moment where Gigabyte has fucked up because Uppercut comes in and throws a punch that catches Gigabyte by its mast and bends it downward. Props to John for going for a more solid weld on the mast this year – it didn’t break off – but now the mast is bent and I’ll be damned if it’s still usable as a srimech. Gigabyte looks stunned like its weapon has just been taken out but a couple seconds pass and its shell starts to rotate again. Unfortunately for Gigabyte “a couple seconds” is all it takes for Uppercut’s spinner to become lethal again and a blow is landed that sends Gigabyte onto its ass. You can see how crumpled up the self-righting mast is, and you can see Gigabyte not spinning anymore, so a smart viewer can put two and two together and realize that Gigabyte’s just been taken out by a guy who does yo-yo tricks for fun. For fun.

Also those shitty D2 kit minibots didn’t come into play at all. Big shocker.

WINNER: Uppercut, KO



Team Midnight Invention

Weapon: Vertical spinning drum on articulated arm


Team Gruff

Weapon: Lifting arm & flamethrowers

Don’t be fooled, Gruff is taking 0 damage here.

You’ve seen a hammer saw, now get ready for a hammer drum. I’m not sure if that’s the actual name of Switchback’s weapon but god damn does this thing look like a ham sandwich and a half. Switchback looks like one robot attached to another at a pivot point because you know that weapon is heavy as shit, just look at it. Switchback’s primary weapon is what some builders call a “drisk”, a combination of “drum” and “disc” because it’s a bunch of discs stacked together as a makeshift drum. I’m learning these words as we go, too. Switchback’s main mode of attack is to fight like a traditional drum spinner, but if someone gets behind it then the robot can flip that big ass spinner around 180 degrees and protect its ass from oncoming attacks. It seems like a design that would work better in a rumble setting than a one-on-one fight, but we’ll see if it passes the Gruff test here in just a moment.

Gruff is back looking exactly like it did a year ago. Well, almost exactly; the team has fixed the bent lifting arms. Gruff is a robot who’s been around for a while outside of BattleBots and made a name for itself as a tough nut to crack and a formidable lifting design. Now in the world of BattleBots Gruff comes equipped not just with its nylon strap lifter (to protect against thrown chains and stripped gears) but with dual booty bass flamethrowers outputting about 3,000 degrees of heat apiece. There are a lot of flamethrowers on BattleBots that are just for show or that don’t do anything. Gruff’s do not fall into that category. Gruff is wearing no special attachments for this fight, though builder Sam McAmis does mention he’s a little worried about attacks from the top because Gruff doesn’t have the best armor on its lid.

I wouldn’t fault you for thinking Switchback is winning.

It’s hard to tell who draws first blood in this fight because Switchback shreds some sparks off of Gruff’s front end in a collision that was clearly instigated by Gruff. Gruff swings wide and catches Switchback’s weapon a second time before locking in a line drive and taking some more punishment to its lifting arm. The ends of Gruff’s forks are bent up a little bit now, I’m taking bets from anyone who wants to see if the team ever fixes this throughout the rest of the season. Switchback raises its weapon up a bit presumably to get its spinner out of the range of Gruff’s chassis so it can get spinning up to speed again. Good tactics, though this fucks with Switchback’s center of gravity and makes it easier for Gruff to tip it forward for a moment and cause Switchback to expend all of its kinetic energy into the fucking floor.

Gruff fires up the, uh, fire and goes in for some roasting on Switchback who’s managed to get one of its rear wedgelets stuck in the Killsaw slots. Something tells me these slots are going to be the most popular ones in Vegas this season, not the weird virtual BattleBots slot machine that Konami made. Seriously, fucking Konami. Gruff stays on Switchback and it seems like there’s no “bite” to Switchback’s drum. It’s trying to spin but there’s no muscle to shunt Gruff away from it or anything, the weapon just stops as soon as Gruff bumps into it. Switchback lands a one-two glancing blow onto Gruff in another collision that was initiated by the lifter before getting carried to the Pulverizer for a solid blow right onto one of the sprockets that allows Switchback to ratchet its weapon forward and backward.

Life comes at you fast.

Switchback falls into the corner of the arena and its weapon seems to have given up spinning. Right now is where Switchback needs to get going and flip its weapon around backwards to repel Gruff away from it but dare I say it that blow from the Pulverizer might’ve bent or damaged the shaft that Switchback’s weapon pivots on. Strangely Gruff doesn’t go apeshit with the flamethrowers even though right now is a golden opportunity to just let loose a juicy mixtape. Switchback gets away from the corner but drives directly under the same Pulverizer it just took a hit from a few moments ago. If that pivoting mechanism wasn’t dead before then it’s certainly dead now. Surprisingly however, Switchback’s weapon starts spinning up to speed again.

Switchback lands its biggest hit of the fight and imparts enough oomph into Gruff to flip itself over. With a working weapon pivot I feel like Switchback could get out of this situation but instead it’s dead in the water with absolutely no way to get back onto its wheels. Now’s the time where Gruff decides to turn up the heat and cooks Switchback for a few moments just to add insult to injury as the ref counts it out and calls the battle for Gruff. Switchback is an interesting design, but if this is how it fights I can’t say I see it doing better than maybe a 1-2 in the Fight Night qualifiers.





Weapon: Spinning outer shell


Hardcore Robotics

Weapon: Horizontal spinning blade

Uh, that’s not good.

With a staggering record of what feels like one win and like fifteen goddamned losses Captain Shrederator is not the robot one would immediately associate with “success”, though back before the reboot of BattleBots this robot was tearing up the competition in that awkward in between period after Comedy Central had cancelled the show but before ABC picked it up for renewal. Brian Nave has tried everything in his power to improve Captain Shrederator including going low-tech for a season to see if legacy equipment could see him through (it didn’t) but now it looks like Captain Shrederator has been outfitted for modern times again and even sports a secondary weapon motor in case the first one goes out. I’m surprised to hear there wasn’t already at least two motors running that thing’s shell. Anyways Brian is still keeping his head in the game and he acknowledges the gravity of this upcoming fight even if he’s still joking about it.

Tombstone is a robot that needs no introduction. The 2016 champion has returned to see how far it can get by swinging a big ass chunk of steel around at breakneck speeds and the fact that it’s been paired up with Captain Shrederator seems like a mean joke at the expense of the producers. Tombstone is at the top of the pile meanwhile Captain Shrederator still takes itself out of fights by slamming into the fucking wall going full blast. Tombstone features a new chassis and frame this year with a focus on structural integrity meaning it’s going to take a lot to damage this new Tombstone to the point where it no longer functions. Captain Shrederator has big pronounced weapon teeth jutting out from its shell. Tombstone also has very pronounced teeth on its bar for this fight. Someone’s going to need a dentist when all is said and done.

That’s really not good.

Both robots’ weapons are spinning the same direction so we’re not going to see anything like sticking a pole through a bike tire but these weapon teeth are still going to meet each other. Tombstone lands the first blow and it appears no real damage is done to either bot. Tombstone’s just getting started however, remember this is the robot that busted the lid off of Gigabyte a few years ago so we might be in for another decapitation if we’re lucky. Tombstone lands another blow and this one pops the spinner back a bit resulting in a follow-up hit where Tombstone’s bar lands on top of Captain Shrederator’s shell. The resulting hit from this sends sparks flying and as the bots separate Tombstone starts doing its tell tale “I have to pee” dance meaning it’s just lost a chunk of its weapon.

Even worse for Tombstone however is the fact that it’s shooting sparks out of its ass behind its left wheel. Neither Chris nor Kenny seem to notice this but as soon as these sparks turn into smoke Chris’ commentary is edited in such a way as to be right on the ball. Captain Shrederator doesn’t back down from Tombstone, knowing it’s got the former champ on the ropes. Captain Shrederator comes in for another hit that sends Tombstone twisting through the air and violently back down onto the floor, the smoke coming out of Tombstone now a full on fire. Captain Shrederator has just successfully gone “full Rotator” on Tombstone and it’s showing. Tombstone’s weapon dies but at the same time Captain Shrederator’s shell also comes to a halt.

That’s really REALLY not good.

I don’t know if the shell is out or what but now’s the time to get busy. It seems like any time someone knocks out Tombstone’s weapon by the time the final decisive blow is dealt it always comes at the cost of the robot in question’s weaponry. Captain Shrederator ought to be out here ripping wheels off of Tombstone and shit but instead we have a potato fight between a dead spinner and a dead spinner that’s currently on fucking fire. So much for installing a second redundant weapon motor you jackasses, it looks like both of them are out of commission. Meanwhile Tombstone is out here looking badass with its Ghost Rider flames, shame the weapon is crippled and immobilized. Ray Billings gets cocky when Captain Shrederator slows down and asks if it’s still moving. Yes Ray, your opponent didn’t just spontaneously die. Now’s not the time to throw shade because literally at any moment that NiCd fire in your robot can cook something important and kill the whole thing.

The 90 second timer appears signaling the half way mark in the fight. Tombstone is looking a lot worse for wear, at least when Minotaur went up in smoke the fire seemed to die down after a little while and the robot remained controllable. In Tombstone’s case the entire goddamned robot is on fire, it’s not relegated to just one part of the chassis or anything. A bump from Captain Shrederator is all it takes and I guess some capacitors melt or whatever inside of Tombstone because it just ceases all movement. Even though I’ve just seen this fight I still don’t believe it.

Brian Nave was right, “you lost to Captain Shrederator?!”

WINNER: Captain Shrederator, KO



Team Special Delivery

Weapon: Lifting arm & flamethrowers


Team Half Fast Astronaut

Weapon: Hammer saw w/ flamethrower


2020 was a rough year for the sport in general, and to be honest the lack of European teams just shows that even in 2021 we’re not yet out of the bullshit. These next two robots took the year off for whatever reason and have come back completely rebuilt and redesigned. Up first is Free Shipping, Gary Gin’s fire-breathing forklift of the apocalypse. It’s now an open secret that Free Shipping is really just Gary’s heavyweight Original Sin wearing a wig and Groucho Marx glasses but now the resemblance is like BAM. At first Gary was trying to hide it, remember the first Free Shipping complete with the shitty vertical-oriented lifting forks? Now he doesn’t even give a fuck. Call a spade a spade, he dares. There’s still a lifting arm but this is unmistakably Gary’s supremely successful heavyweight.

Last season there was a distinct lack of BIG TIME HAMMER. This season… I think there’s still going to be a lack of it. Blacksmith is back but it’s been completely redone from the ground up and looks like the aftermath of Witch Doctor letting Sawblaze bust a nut inside of it. Gone is the traditional fire hammer of the past instead replaced with what Al Kindle calls the “Power Hammer”, which is basically just Sawblaze/Skorpios’ weapon. It’s a hammer saw. It might have a funny name but let’s just address the fact that Blacksmith’s weapon is now the third hammer saw in the field. It still spits out fire from a nozzle next to the spinner but I feel like the magic is gone. This isn’t the BIG TIME HAMMER. That’s not a bad thing necessarily – everything changes – but I will just say F’s in chat for the fire hammer.

Here’s some action without a screenful of fire.

Free Shipping still has its flamethrowers. I forgot to mention that but in case you forgot about them the robot reminds us all that they’re there by unleashing enough fire in Blacksmith’s face to clear out half the foliage of fucking Vietnam. Blacksmith takes a few swings with its power hammer but the disc isn’t spinning so there’s likely no real damage being done. Blacksmith is shoved into the spike strip protruding from the shelf hazard and as Free Shipping peels away the entire front end is just on fire. I can’t tell if this is “on fire on fire” or just “on fire”. Blacksmith gets corralled into the corner for a Pulverizer shot and the fire consuming Free Shipping’s front end goes out on its own so I guess that was just par for the course for the forklift.

Blacksmith throws a few punches this time with its disc spinning and blasts the top of Free Shipping. There’s not a lot to hit up there aside from the fuel lines for the robot’s flamethrowers so in an ideal world Blacksmith will throw a punch and Free Shipping will just fucking explode. That doesn’t happen but I’m on the edge of my goddamned seat waiting for it to. Free Shipping locks heads with Blacksmith seemingly unafraid of the power hammer and slams the robot into the wall. This puts Blacksmith at just the right angle for a lift and the robot is raised up and toppled over, blowing its power hammer’s kinetic energy into the arena floor. This is no problem for Blacksmith; I can’t quite think of a time where it’s had to do this (maybe against Bronco) but Blacksmith can use its weapon to self right so the robot rolls back down onto its wheels while the race car bed known as Free Shipping smashes into it once again for some free points.

These hits are visibly digging into the wedges on Free Shipping.

Blacksmith goes for another chop on Free Shipping’s lid, connects with its opponent, but gets rolled over once again by Free Shipping’s forks. Usually these lifting forks are an afterthought but this year they’re really coming out strong as a force to be reckoned with. As the robots dance around near the screws on the Upper Deck there’s some kinda tube hanging off of Free Shipping. That’s probably flamethrower-related and is why we haven’t seen them come back on for about a minute. Free Shipping lines up another run and as it tries to lift Blacksmith it does the robot equivalent of lifting with your back and throws its weapon chain. Blink and you’ll miss it, but the chain that drives Free Shipping’s lifter pops open with some serious force reducing the forklift to a wedge bot. Oh no, what ever will Blacksmith do? Free Shipping? As a wedge bot? It doesn’t stand a chaaaance.

Now in its “Original Sin” configuration, Free Shipping goes for Blacksmith and is able to use its hinged wedges to deflect Blacksmith’s power hammer away from its chassis. Blacksmith tries to swing its weapon but the hammer arm meets Free Shipping’s front left wedge and it stops the hammer dead in its tracks. The robots dance over to the Upper Deck screws again and smoke starts pouring out of Blacksmith. This doesn’t look like battery smoke, this looks like motor smoke. Al’s driving this thing way too fucking hard and now he’s on the verge of throwing this fight like it was a weapon chain on Free Shipping.

Blacksmith makes it even on Free Shipping’s face.

Gary Gin notes that he’s lost not just the primary weapon chain but also the secondary weapon chain on Free Shipping. Guess he bought those off of Amazon or something. There’s a “free shipping” joke in there somewhere but I can’t be assed to dig it out because fuck Jeff Bezos. Blacksmith goes whole hog and slams into Free Shipping’s face getting its front forks entangled in the slots between Free Shipping’s wedges and the smoke inside of Blacksmith turns to fire as a lick of flame comes out of the front of the robot. This is a problem; if there’s fire coming out of Blacksmith anywhere other than the tip of the stupid hammer the robot is in trouble.

Thirty seconds remain in the fight and there’s not much that happens between now and the buzzer because we’re dealing with two robots who are crippled in their own special ways. Blacksmith’s disc has stopped but the hammer part still works meaning it’s got a weapon about as effective as its last one, and Free Shipping has no lifter and is drifting around looking for a good angle to reach Blacksmith from. There’s what I think is a hit from the Killsaws on Blacksmith that we don’t see because the camera’s pointed at Al followed by another Pulverizer shot this time I think to Free Shipping and the match ends with Free Shipping shoving Blacksmith into the screws.

Despite all the fire effects and other nonsense I’d file this one under “too close to call”. Thankfully there’s a panel of judges whose job it is to do exactly that. Meanwhile we just get to sit here on the internet and bitch about said decisions like we know what the fuck we’re talking about. Blacksmith is determined to be the winner by a unanimous decision. Unanimous. You’d think at least one of the judges would’ve gone for Free Shipping given how close that fight was but hey look at that the editors are putting the judges’ scorecards on the screen. It was a 6/5 split across the board with all three of them favoring Blacksmith. I guess that makes more sense now. I can’t see this new feature becoming problematic within the community at all. Nope, not one bit.

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



Team Shreddit

Weapon: Vertical spinning drum


Team Overboard

Weapon: Vertical spinning blade


This next altercation ought to be interesting if only because it’s one of the smallest robots versus one of the largest. Think “Copperhead vs. Mammoth” just with the risk of everyone fucking dying. Pain Train is a returning competitor who brought an egg beater drum as a weapon last year and that just didn’t pan out for it. Pain Train fell apart and at one point in the replays you can see it whack SMEE and its weapon just bounces like it’s got other shit to do. This year the egg beater is gone and replaced with another one of those “drisk” things like what Switchback has, except unlike Switchback this weapon is fixed in place and the discs are a lot smaller. Kenny Florian mentions Evan Arias’ beetleweight “Shreddit Bro” and how good it is on the beetleweight circuit but I’ve watched NHRL and that thing fucking sucks, it just gyro dances everywhere, gets flipped over, and then has trouble moving. Yeah real great bro.

This match just might be more anticipated than the main event because Deep Six is participating in it. Deep Six is the definition of a “glass cannon” and also took a year off to be redesigned. This robot destroyed the arena floor and caused so much damage to the set that there is now a rule called “the Deep Six rule” that puts a limit on the weight of spinning weapons. Deep Six is abiding by its namesake rule now, but will that affect its potency? Will this prevent the robot from delivering the spine-shattering uppercuts that we saw it dish out to Nelly the Ellybot? Will the robot land one hit, flip over, and then catch fire like it did in its debut season? There’s just so many questions I have about this robot and I need them to be answered hurry up and say your thing Faruq times is dimes.

“I learned this trick from Uppercut let’s see if it works.”

I don’t know how long it takes Deep Six to spin up and get deadly. It looks like maybe three or four seconds which is impressive for a weapon that’s at the weight limit. Pain Train goes for the tried and true box rush and goes wide to the right and completely misses its opponent, like to a laughable fucking degree. If this were an archery tournament and Deep Six was the target, Pain Train just shot the ref. There’s an awful lot of posturing between the two robots because Deep Six wants to stay squared up against its opponent but Pain Train wants to come in from the sides and flank Deep Six. Something’s gotta give at some point though and as the robots start to get a little too close for comfort Deep Six lands a blow to Pain Train’s right side and just fucking cleaves into it. I’m talking the entire goddamned side of this robot just vaporizes before our very eyes and the tread gets shredded on the wheel.

The bots meet weapon to weapon as Pain Train tries to get away with its crippled drivetrain and the impact sends Deep Six reeling backwards, a puff of smoke visible. Turns out this smoke was just belt smoke from the weapon belts on Deep Six slipping from the impact so we’re still in business and Deep Six gets that thundercunt of a weapon roaring to top speed once again. Pain Train peels out from where it’s sitting and its right wheel rips apart, tread being thrown all over the place until nothing but the hub remains which isn’t in contact with the floor. Pain Train spins out exposing its left side to Deep Six who comes over to make things even and completely fucking obliterates the left armor panel on Pain Train. Not only that the hit is so gnarly that it rips Pain Train’s top armor off and sends it to goddamned Jupiter.

Densha de FIRE!

Deep Six tries to back away from Pain Train resulting in another weapon on weapon hit this time throwing both bots backwards. Deep Six lands in the middle of the box but Pain Train flips over and shits out a battery while landing on the screws. The battery immediately starts shooting out flames from being so grossly mishandled. In case you were ever curious why people are so worried about LiPo fires take a look at how mean that battery is shooting flames from its ass. Now imagine that happening in your fucking garage. Pain Train is counted out, Trey Roski gets his fire extinguisher ready, and this fight goes to the devastating Deep Six.

WINNER: Deep Six, KO



Team Whyachi

Weapon: Hydraulic flipper


Team End Game

Weapon: Vertical spinning blade


Of course the reigning champion has to be in the first episode of the new season. You gotta get those fucking TV ratings. And of course you’re going to take the reigning champion and pit them against the new “villain” of BattleBots: Hydra. Ray Billings even gave Jake Ewert a trophy to commemorate the occasion. Hydra looks about the same as it did last season which is to say there’s not much to improve upon when you’ve already engineered something that’s damn near perfect. According to the voice over Jake added an oil filtration system to Hydra so that debris doesn’t get sucked into the important parts of the hydraulic system and jam the flipper. This might be my lack of knowledge speaking but if this is a sealed system how is shit getting into the oil? Anyways Hydra is here because it kicked Bronco out of the nest and Bronco fell and broke its neck. There is only room for Hydra now.

There’s a lot of pressure on End Game to perform in this first fight because it’s the reigning champion and it’s been drawn to fight one of the most powerful and deadliest flippers the sport has to offer. Nick Mabey and Jack Barker surely racked their brains over this and they finally came up with a solution to tackle Hydra: forks. A lot of fucking forks. Eight to be exact, all funneling inward to direct ensnared robots to the spinning disc nestled at the front of the machine. I think that’s excessive and looks dumb as all fucking hell, but unfortunately if you go back and read the ending to the last article of the previous season I mentioned that I think forks and fork-like attachments were going to be the wave of the future. I’m not saying I like to be right, I’m just saying I hate when I’m right.

Actually nevermind, it’s not happening.

Hydra immediately does the Bronco thing where it zooms to the open corner of the Battlebox and backs itself against the wall. This limits the number of ways End Game can come at it and ensures Hydra will only be a quarter-turn or so away from being able to swoop in and flip its opponent. Hydra is also smoking right off the bat so I guess that means Will Bales is helping out with Hydra this year. Didn’t see him in the drivers’ booth but then again I wasn’t exactly paying attention. Hydra clips the Killsaw slots before darting to End Game’s side. End Game predictably tries to turn to face its opponent and the gyroscopic forces of its disc pull the robot up off the ground. Hydra slips in, fires off its flipper, and amazingly End Game doesn’t loose a single fork despite its attachments flipping and flopping all over the fucking place.

End Game starts to get in Hydra’s face prompting another flip from Hydra, however this flip causes the robot’s arm to jam in the upright position. What was that about an oil filter? End Game starts to show some more aggression now that its opponent effectively has no weapon and we really see how “effective” those forks are as they slide all over the goddamned place and mostly impede End Game’s reach. Meanwhile Hydra starts shedding side skirt panels like crazy. End Game catches Hydra with its front end and shoves it backwards but it too decides to drop some alms into the fucking Killsaws and the robot comes to an abrupt halt when one of its forty forks catches the hazard. End Game also winds up shedding a fork, though not the one that it hit the hazards with.

…yeah we’re done here.

Hydra seems dazed and motionless and catches a nasty corner blow from End Game resulting in the flipper being tossed into the corner and if you look closely you’ll see Hydra’s been thrown onto the fork that just flew off of End Game a second ago. Hydra might be dead because of whatever was smoking earlier, or it might legitimately be high centered on this piece of arena debris. We may never know. What we do know though is Jake Ewert talked some mad shit in the pits only to show up and lose like a little bitch in this match.

The End Game boys say that’s not how they wanted to win, noting that Hydra was smoking from the beginning and having problems, but still concede that a win is a win. That could’ve gone a lot worse for the reigning champs. They ought to consider themselves lucky that now they’ve ripped the bandage off and won’t have to mess with Hydra again unless they both qualify for the main tournament and meet up that way.

WINNER: End Game, KO

Oh man, we’re really doing this again aren’t we? Like, this is another whole ass season of BattleBots and I’m going to have these things out every Friday until I lose my goddamned mind and start scrawling my name on the wall in crayon. If that’s the price I’ve gotta pay for bringing you all the hard-hitting comedic coverage you expect then so be it. Let’s fucking do this. I’m sure this rigid schedule is teaching me some kind of healthy personal habit or “discipline” or whatever. I’m in my mid-thirties better late than never I guess.



The stand out fight for me this week was definitely Sawblaze vs. Minotaur. I know it was chosen as the first fight because of how gripping and explosive it was and I know this was done purely “because television” but god damn it that fight was badass. You can tell it wasn’t the first fight of the season anyways because the arena floor was already dirtied up. Sorry for spoiling the magic. A close second would be Deep Six’s fight just because Deep Six is a design that I wanted to see work and I think it finally did exactly that. This is a robot who in the past toppled over in a rumble and killed itself after digging a gash in the floor (twice) so to see it just fucking decapitate someone and start a fire was incredible. The dud fight this week was definitely Hydra’s. This could’ve been a heated and intense battle but with Hydra literally DOA End Game was kind of a shoe-in for an easy victory.

And that’s all for BattleBots Update this week! In the off season I wrote six articles about the show Antweight Anarchy and two articles about lost robot combat games that I’d found so if that sounds like it might interest you go check it out. Let’s also see how high we can get this project’s Patreon to. I kinda got fucked on some things in my personal life so the money I make from these projects is now more important than ever, so if you’re a fan of what I do and want to support this Web 1.0 endeavor please mosey on down to Patreon and make a pledge. If that’s not your thing then one-time donations are accepted via Ko-Fi. If you’d like some BBU stickers for your bot or a shirt or something like that then please check out Redbubble. And finally let’s get this page to 4,000 likes on Facebook just because that’s a nice round number and a fun milestone.

See you next week!

– Draco