[BattleBots: S11 E10 is available via streaming on Discovery+.]
Welcome back to a very special edition of BattleBots Update. I say “special” because like I predicted there are 10 “Fight Night” qualification episodes this season much like there was last year. This was never confirmed by production but I took a shot in the dark and guessed based upon how the season was structured and how many robots were competing. I assumed there would be 10 qualifiers and then 4 episodes for the main tournament. Looks like I was correct. Don’t mess with the maestro, I know what I am doing. When you’ve been meticulously following something for seven years with an accompanying unfunny comedy blog you start to notice patterns in the chaos.
This is the final installment of Fight Night for the season. Tournament qualification is on the line for all of the bots competing in this week’s episode. Claw Viper comes back from the dead to face Bloodsport. Mad Catter returns from earlier in the season to face Rampage who’s making its TV debut a little late in the game. Huge stares down Switchback. Rusty returns only to get fed to Witch Doctor. And in the main event Team Whyachi’s Fusion sees if it can muster a better record than Hydra as it fights the deadly gasoline-powered weapon of Icewave.
Curiously, however, I’ve noticed some glaring omissions to the fight card. Lots of 2-0 robots are missing their third fights. Rotator, Copperhead, and Hypershock are just a few robots to name who should be wrapping up their seasons alongside all of these other competitors but they’re missing in action. I know there’s not an eleventh fight night episode because the hosts literally just said this is do or die time so I’m left wondering… is the “selection committee” just going to let people in at 2-0? There can’t be that many untelevised fights. Not with robots that are this consistent when it comes to winning.
I guess we’ll get to the bottom of this later on in the episode. For now it’s time for Fight #1.
BLOODSPORT vs. CLAW VIPER
Up first is a match between a nasty spinner and a quick lifter. Bloodsport was one of the top seeds last season after an undefeated run in the qualifiers, though this year that won’t be the case even if the team wins this fight because in its first outing Bloodsport was dominated by Whiplash who flipped the robot over and left it on the Upper Deck to die. The spinner bounced back in round two however when it equipped the same blade it’s using for this fight to dispatch the pneumatic flipper SubZero. We were back to classic Bloodsport ripping off tires and busting shit up old school style. This robot is essentially a heavyweight version of middleweight champion Hazard and the team’s not afraid to show it.
Bloodsport is 1-1 but so is its opponent Claw Viper; that means the winner of this fight is moving on to the tournament while the loser has to hope for the best. On the subject of middleweight competitors being scaled up to heavyweights Claw Viper is a lot like Complete Control in that it has two front forks, an upper grappling jaw, and the entire mechanism pivots backward to grab and lift opponents up. This worked to great success against Pardon My French who seemed slow out of the gate (and had no goddamned way of righting itself). Claw Viper was the early aggressor against Black Dragon too but after one suplex Black Dragon fell off of Claw Viper and landed in such a way so that its spinning weapon kinked one of Claw Viper’s back tires and that just fucked the whole thing up.
Claw Viper tries to go in for a quick grab on Bloodsport but the spinner is able to find an escape and gets its blade spinning up to speed. Kevin Milczewski stated before the battle that all of Claw Viper’s armor is shock mounted and that’s a good thing because Bloodsport lands a shot to Claw Viper’s side that doesn’t just immediately cause the entire thing to fucking detonate. The same cannot be said for Claw Viper’s minibot, Hatchling however. Bloodsport reels up a bit in recoil from that hit and its blade points downward and catches the little robot throwing it at the deck’s screws. Kevin was planning on that minibot being his ace in the hole because it was heavily magnetized to the floor and was supposed to hit Bloodsport from the side and trip it up. When will you people learn that meddling minibots are the most ineffective fucking things? That was like four seasons ago when those were useful and the “in” thing to do. It’s all about forks now. Did you not get the goddamned memo?
So Claw Viper is without its helper bot leaving just the main robot to do its thing. Claw Viper continues to pursue Bloodsport relentlessly and actually lines up a great rush at the spinner that sees Claw Viper’s lower forks successfully get underneath the spinner. That’s step one, step two is to utilize the upper half of the clamp to bite down for the grapple. Claw Viper doesn’t make it to step two because Bloodsport’s weapon is spinning so fucking fast that it rides up Claw Viper’s front forks and just blows the upper half of the weapon clean the fuck off. Claw Viper is now riding around the arena looking like season six Bite Force with just the low slung lifting forks. I actually don’t even know if the forks are still functional as lifters because there’s no telling what kind of havoc that blow wreaked on Claw Viper’s mechanism.
Still, Claw Viper refuses to give up. Its minibot even comes back to life only to be lightly swatted away again by a throttling Bloodsport. For a while it looks like the weaponless Claw Viper might have the upper hand on control because Bloodsport gets dangerously close to the wall and its weapon slows to a non-threatening crawl, but then Bloodsport gets its Batman blade roaring again and cleaves one half of Claw Viper’s front forks straight off. Like a hot knife through butter. Claw Viper refuses to give up the battle and continues its pursuit even as Bloodsport lands another blow that finishes the job and splinters Claw Viper’s plastic lifting forks heaving the entangled mess of parts at the drivers’ booth and sniping the BattleBots sign in the process. So far that gets my pick for best destruction of the arena sign this season.
This hit comes with the penalty of Bloodsport being shoved into the wall and its weapon stopping completely, but Claw Viper runs away to line up another box rush to smash heads again. In doing so it catches its whole fucking plow on the Lexan cover to one of the Killsaws on its way out. Claw Viper evades, pulls a 180, and charges back in at Bloodsport barreling through its minibot in the process and unintentionally feeds its teammate right into its opponent’s fucking spinner. This finishes off the minibot because its batteries get damaged and the robot starts smoking in the middle of the box. Claw Viper gives no shits because in the fray it catches Bloodsport, rams it into the back corner of the arena, and even manages to drop the Pulverizer on it for added flair.
Bloodsport escapes the punishment and holds its ground as it once again lets its weapon get up to top speed before ripping into Claw Viper’s oncoming face. This hit is so spectacular that it reminds me of the time Bloodsport was in that stupid 3-way rumble for 16th place a couple seasons ago. You know, the one where Bloodsport opened up a whole keg of whoop ass on Rail Gun Max and beat that robot so savagely that the kickback sent Bloodsport spiraling out of control and over the arena wall? Yeah, it reminds me of that because it almost god damn happens again. Bloodsport was on its way over the arena barrier and Claw Viper very nearly won this fight except Bloodsport’s self righting mast wrapped around the edge of the arena and helped pull the robot back down onto its wheels on the clear side of things. Holy shit.
The 90 second timer appears on screen to let us know that by the good grace of god we’re only half way through this smash fest. Bloodsport clears away the LiPo smoke of the dead minibot with its whirring blade and Claw Viper jumps right back up its ass and throws Bloodsport into the wall. I’m starting to see some slowdown with Bloodsport’s weapon. Perhaps it can’t handle an off the chains Claw Viper? Kenny Florian hypothesizes that Claw Viper is intentionally allowing Bloodsport to get up to speed so it can use that inertia against its opponent and I think for once he might be onto something here; Claw Viper seems like it could be on Bloodsport like white on rice, but it’s holding back. Bloodsport gets going again and Claw Viper charges forward once more and the impact causes part of Claw Viper’s upper armor to finally give way exposing the juicy parts inside. Bloodsport’s blade however looks even worse for wear because it can spin but we’re rapidly approaching the “spin but with no bite” phase of the battle.
Bloodsport’s blade has stalled out and Claw Viper uses this opportunity to throw its opponent across the box; Claw Viper gets underneath Bloodsport and plows it all the way through the arena knocking the corpse of its minibot aside as Bloodsport gets slammed into the wall. Bloodsport gets away, spins up, and its weapon immediately loses all speed when the robot hits the wall. Claw Viper, sensing weakness, goes in for another ram and carries Bloodsport across the floor again this time to the blue square where the spinner is smashed into the spike strip. Kevin Milczewski starts losing his goddamned mind in the drivers’ booth shouting at Bloodsport to give him more.
Call me insane but when it comes down to “5 points for damage, 6 points for everything else we’re obligated to give points out for so we don’t look like complete frauds”… I think Claw Viper might’ve just cinched the “6 points for everything else”. Unfortunately however I am not a judge and this fight doesn’t even go to a split decision. Bloodsport is deemed the winner even though in my opinion Claw Viper mopped the fucking floor with it.
WINNER: Bloodsport, Judges’ Decision (3-0)
MAD CATTER vs. RAMPAGE
Mad Catter was all over the early episodes of the season and then it just straight up vanished. I think I might know why, but we’ll get into that in a second. Mad Catter was one of the breakout stars of the previous season as it managed to go 3-0 in the qualifiers, a strong comeback from a robot that just two seasons prior couldn’t hold itself together and fell apart like a busted Nintendo Switch. The deadly cat is at 1-1 right now after a slammer of a win against Yeti where entire chunks of the drum rolling beast were torn off by Mad Catter culminating in a wheel getting ripped off and Yeti being left for dead. Mad Catter tried to make lightning strike twice against Sawblaze but the dragon proved too much for the little cat and Mad Catter was violently disassembled and lost. That’s why we haven’t seen this robot for a while; I’d imagine those repairs were a goddamned nightmare.
Rampage is making its TV debut after a couple of lackluster seasons, this one included. This robot was designed and built by Daniel Knox and his family out of Florida and despite its dubious record and avoidance of all TV cameras it’s nice to see that garage bots still have a place in BattleBots, even if they get upended and torn apart by things drawn in CAD with parts milled by a CNC machine… because that’s exactly what went down in Rampage’s first and only fight against Retrograde; Retrograde flipped the robot over and then using its rear spinning disc cut a wheel off of Rampage. Rampage can’t drive upside down nor can it right itself so that seems like a glaring oversight but hey, these people are just out here to have fun. It’s too bad they’re being fed to Mad Catter purely to bolster Mad Catter’s preseason ranking though. They kinda don’t stand a chance.
In a season where we constantly see spinners dive toward the drivers’ booth because it’s the only open spot for them to get some extra distance to spin their weapons up Rampage dares to be different and faces the fucking deck in order to try and dodge the oncoming Mad Catter while getting its golden spinner up to speed. This kind of works because Rampage gets up to speed but Mad Catter also hits Rampage’s front wedge and just completely blows it the fuck apart; Rampage will not be landing any hits with that weapon in this condition. Mad Catter follows the attack up with another that sends Rampage hurtling on top of the screw control box for the Upper Deck but the sophomore robot is able to get down and avoid being high centered by its wide wheel base.
The hits from Mad Catter look to already be taking their toll on Rampage as the robot seems stuck in the far corner unable to do anything but pivot around in place. Mad Catter pins Rampage against the side wall of the shelf, spins around, and unleashes Hell on Earth into Rampage’s stupid face. Rampage’s front wedge attachments go flying off as a twisted hunk of utter shit and the robot flips ass over head before coming to rest on top of the deck upside down. Again, Rampage has no way of righting itself nor can it drive upside down. A couple of bunny ears on either side of the weapon seem like they’d be enough to prop the robot up and at least put its back tires in contact with the ground but nope, that’s too hard to do apparently. Rampage is dead in the water on top of the shelf and Mad Catter has this easy fight in the bag. The team can go back into the pits and just charge their batteries because at 2-1 they’re making it back into the tournament for the second season in a row.
Rampage, better luck next time. Figure out a way to prevent, uh, all of this from happening again and maybe you’ll get that win you’re looking for next year. The stars will eventually align for you, especially if they give you an opponent of equal stature rather than using your robot for someone else’s gain.
WINNER: Mad Catter, KO
HUGE vs. SWITCHBACK
Up next is another clash of 1-1’s; Kenny said there were 10 of them at the beginning of the episode and there’s only 14 competitors in this week’s show so most of them are going to be 1-1. Get used to it. Stay on the edge of your seats. Huge is introduced first and it seems like the team has just decided that the big white UHMW wheels are out of style and the “in” look right now are massive black Tegris wheels. For their rigidity I can’t blame them, they’ve faced some potentially nasty spinners and Tegris gives even less than UHMW. After being sucker punched by Riptide this robot was able to come back and cleave into Retrograde so deeply that Retrograde caught fire and straight up fucking died. Jonathan Schultz said that Huge needed “room to spread its legs” and now that it’s done it and we’ve seen what this season’s Huge is made of it’s safe to say I’m officially scared of it. Huge has managed to remain a fighting force in BattleBots long after its newness and novelty has worn off. Not many can stake this claim.
Switchback debuted toward the beginning of the season and lost to Gruff when the robot had some difficulties with its articulating drum spinner. The weapon doubles as a self-righting mechanism but for some reason, possibly Pulverizer damage, Switchback’s weapon pivot was DOA. This meant when the robot was tipped over it lost by KO. Switchback returned to the arena and made a formidable showing for itself in an unaired fight against Slammo where it successfully used its spinning drum to deal damage to the grappling suplex machine and take it out. It wasn’t an exhilarating fight but a win is a win. Switchback is uniquely dangerous to Huge though because unlike pretty much everyone else it can raise and lower its spinning drum. All Switchback needs to do is slow down Huge’s blade and then raise its own weaponry up into Huge’s underside and rip out its guts like some kind of sick pinata.
Switchback’s main problem this season has been is seeming lack of control. The robot just looks like it does whatever the fuck it wants to and I don’t know if that’s a direct result of the robot swinging approximately 100 pounds of weapon around above its head. Maybe in doing so the robot is just sitting weirdly on the floor and it causes it to just cruise around aimlessly because at the start of the fight both robots get their spinning weapons going but Switchback misses its mark and winds up parked near the red square screws. This affords Huge a free hit which it unleashes onto Switchback’s weapon system and cracks the side of it open. I don’t know whether that’s the left or the right side of the weapon because every time Switchback swings its weapon or changes its driving orientation left and right switch. It’s a confusing goddamned mess. Switchback seems to just be parked in place after this hit which allows Huge to come in and strike with its blade flipping Switchback completely over in the process. Switchback’s ratcheting weapon system is still working though so the robot flips back down onto its wheels.
Switchback starts moving and begins crashing into every conceivable wall in the far corner it’s stuck in. It first expends all of its weapon energy on the arena bumper panel, then backs into the other yellow spike strip, and finally rams into the side of the deck. Meanwhile Huge is surprisingly navigable in this tight corner and lands another killer shot. This hit doesn’t seem to faze Switchback as badly as the others and Switchback raises its weapon up into Huge to try and grab at whatever dangly bits it can get its hands on. Huge mistakenly strikes the far spire of the Upper Deck and loses some weapon power but gets it going again and blasts Switchback weapon-on-weapon. Switchback’s spinner seems surprisingly resilient to be taking these hits and in response to this the orange spinner comes in and starts clipping some pieces off of Huge’s wheels.
Huge responds with the robot equivalent of that quote from the Mortal Kombat movie where Johnny Cage says “those were $300 sunglasses, asshole” and slashes into Switchback’s weapon brace. This hit busts open one of the sides of the weapon and actually knocks the spinning drum off of its mount on this side yet Switchback continues to keep it spinning. The damage only becomes apparent when Switchback tries to hit Huge again and its weapon stops completely and you can see it just hanging down to one side. Amazingly this weapon is somehow still fucking functional and Switchback revs it right back up to try and get at Huge again. This fails and Huge hits the same crippled point on Switchback’s weapon and tears into it deep enough that a weapon belt starts hanging off. I know there’s probably two weapon belts inside the machine but I think this damage combined with the fact that the drum is just hanging on by a thread has left Switchback with no active weapon.
This is about the time when Kenny defaults to saying “Switchback needs to try and break the primary weapon of Huge” and yep we’re right on schedule for that. You can set a fucking clock to this man. I’m more impressed that Switchback has taken all these hits and not a single one has clipped either chain responsible for pivoting its weapon. Those sprockets are just hanging out in the open air begging to be blasted by Huge and Huge has missed them time and time again. Huge goes in for some more damage and only manages to further destroy the same side of Switchback’s weapon that has already been wrecked. No real damage has been done to Switchback’s base but for some unknown reason the robot just decides to die off to the center of the box and can only pivot its destroyed weapon back and forth while the referee counts it out. No idea where that damage came from but Switchback is out and Huge is moving on with two wins and one loss.
Since this is the last we’ll probably be seeing of Switchback I’ll say my piece now. It’s an interesting design but it just doesn’t seem feasible. I’m all for new blood in the sport and fresh designs make the world go ’round as far as I’m concerned, but Switchback was cursed from the get go. Switchback is essentially a middleweight robot with another middleweight attached to its top that it can swing around back and forth. The resulting imbalance in weight seems to have hindered Switchback on multiple occasions. I think if the team can reduce the weight of their weapon system they might be onto something but as it currently stands this version of Switchback belongs in the junkyard.
WINNER: Huge, KO
KRAKEN vs. GLITCH
Here’s a bit of a wildcard match, an 0-2 versus an unlikely 2-0. Kraken is usually good for at least one win because its combination of textbook aggression and strong grappling jaw usually proves to be too much for many robots to handle. You’re looking at a robot that in the past has managed to bite off a victory against the likes of Witch Doctor and Ribbot, two of the deadliest spinners in the field. This season hasn’t been the best for Kraken and it’s looking a bit long in the tooth after back to back losses from Rotator and Hijinx, both horizontal spinners and both of which absolutely thrashed Kraken something fierce. We’ve known since the Hijinx fight that Kraken has two frames: one for horizontal spinners and one for vertical spinners. Both have been wrecked but now they’ve been frankensteined together into one frame that seems to have kept the mouth clearance of the vertical spinner frame. This could prove decisive against Glitch, a vertical spinner.
Glitch didn’t ask to be 2-0 and by all accounts I think it should probably have traded places with Kraken when it comes to fight records this season. This is a rookie robot from a 19 year old college student with high aspirations. Glitch features omni wheels that allow it to strafe and drift about and this combined with a heavy front end was its downfall against Ghost Raptor because it kept getting stuck on the floor. Ghost Raptor kept freeing it to keep the fight going however and this sportsmanlike conduct eventually resulted in Glitch landing just enough hits to scrape by with a win. Designer Kyle Miller opted to remove the front nosecone of Glitch because it was fucking up the robot’s maneuverability and go for some spiked forks because its next battle was against Hydra. The producers tried to feed this newcomer to the beast because Hydra was 1-1 but rather than roll over and die to give Hydra an easy win this motherfucker knocked Hydra the fuck out. For a moment the whole goddamned world stopped as Glitch became a giant killer.
When the fight starts Glitch scurries away while keeping its front end pointed at Kraken at all times. Kraken goes on the pursuit not caring about Glitch’s paltry 60-ish pound weapon because all Kraken does is bite directly down on whatever it can get its teeth on to break it. Kraken finally makes a lunge but Glitch successfully deflects it by striking the side of Kraken’s leading tongue. Immediately after landing this shot Glitch turns in place and Kraken’s right wheel rolls right up on Glitch’s front little teeth and gets blasted by its spinner. The ensuing hit sends the sea monster rolling through the air only to land upside down on top of the Upper Deck’s screws. Those of you who know the screws know they’re good at one thing: breaking down. Well, that and also pulling robots up on top of them before they break down. Kraken gets yanked up onto the deck still upside down and starts rocking back and forth trying to right itself.
With the help of the BattleBots sign to brace itself against Kraken is able to get back onto its wheels successfully and immediately it becomes apparent why Kraken was having such a hard time self-righting: one of its wheels are dead, specifically the right one that Glitch put the whammy on to send Kraken flying onto everyone’s least favorite hazard. Kraken’s right wheel is seized up but are the refs going to count it out for crabwalking? No, of course they aren’t. Even though this “isn’t controlled movement” and last week we saw bots get counted out while still sorta mobile in this specific occasion apparently this kind of movement is A-O-fucking-K. Rewrite the rules to either ban this shit or allow it. Anyways it doesn’t matter because while swinging around back and forth Kraken opens up its ass to Glitch who wastes no time landing an expert shot to Kraken’s left side and this kills the motor on that side as well meaning the robot has no drive functionality left whatsoever.
Glitch throws one more punch on its dead opponent that shunts it over into the red square screws and now the ref is finally counting Kraken out. This means Glitch has just gone 3-0 in the preseason. Glitch. The robot we made fun of for barely moving around in its Ghost Raptor fight joins the likes of fucking Ribbot and End Game to have a perfect qualification record. Jesus Christ.
WINNER: Glitch, KO
MAMMOTH vs. LUCKY
Alright, back to 1-1’s. Mammoth technically ought to be 2-0 because the refs can’t seem to fucking decide what “controlled movement” is but hang tight and I’ll elaborate on that momentarily. Mammoth, much like Huge, used to be predominately made of UHMW plastic until the flexibility of this material became its undoing. Mammoth’s weapon – which is strong enough to heave a refrigerator – just couldn’t get the right purchase on opponents in the heat of battle. Mammoth now sports a Tegris rotary lifting arm just like how Huge has Tegris wheels. Same material. Same rigidity. Mammoth was able to take down Hijinx via KO by flipping the spinner over and knocking a wheel off but when that same fight was drawn again and Mammoth was given another horizontal spinner, Tombstone, the fight went way out of control. A “double KO” was ruled despite Mammoth still being mobile and Mammoth lost the fight by decision. It’s now do or die time for the great beast because 1-2 isn’t good enough to make it any further.
Lucky is probably the superior pneumatic flipper here compared to SubZero and its 1-1 status confirms that. Lucky was first paired up with Tantrum and right out of the gate Lucky’s new driver Matt Olson was all over Tantrum throwing it around and getting it stuck on the wall. Lucky made the mistake of wanting to keep the fight going however and freed the orange puncher from the wall and this was the beginning of the end for the mighty flipper. Tantrum proceeded to destroy Lucky’s side guards and tore off a whole fucking side of wheels before leaving the robot for dead. Lucky bounced back against South Korea’s Blade by once again expertly sticking its opponent onto the wall. This time Lucky left Blade the fuck alone and allowed it to be counted out. Smart move. I don’t think you’ll get Mammoth stuck on the wall though so hopefully there’s another battle plan in the books for this flipper.
Going into this fight Ricky Willems says he’ll need to bait Lucky into firing its flipper prematurely. Right out of the gate that’s what Lucky does and Mammoth almost capitalizes on it by snagging Lucky’s flipping arm but Lucky can retract it before that happens. Lucky is approached and nearly smothered by Mammoth and just goes for a hail mary flip right away. Whatever Lucky was able to get a hold of it got it damn good because Mammoth is thrown into the air and lands partially on the Upper Deck. As Mammoth tries to get off the deck its left front stabilizing fork gets sucked into the screws and immobilizes the robot. The screws do eventually turn the other way and Mammoth gets free but not before Matt lines up an expert shot on Mammoth, calls his pocket, and punches Mammoth’s right wheel so fucking hard that it snaps off at the axle.
Lucky goes in for another punch on its crippled opponent and inadvertently knocks its own lifting wedge off meaning Lucky has been reduced to its “puncher” configuration. We usually only see this config against spinners so this could potentially hurt Lucky in the long run for this fight. Mammoth can only swing widely around in place and as it tries to find its bearings Lucky sneaks up behind it and throws the massive swing set onto its back. Lucky repeatedly goes in for punch after punch until it backs away to see what Mammoth is going to do. Mammoth is theoretically capable of self-righting but it has to be resting at just the right angle for that to work. We almost see a self right as Mammoth hops itself into the air but it comes crashing back down onto its lid once again. Ricky cries out that his robot is “so close” to flipping back over and eventually Mammoth catches a lucky break and lands back down onto its one wheel. Mind you, the ref hasn’t counted Mammoth out yet for “lack of controlled movement” despite doing exactly this in Mammoth’s previous fucking fight.
I almost didn’t even notice this but the flip that sent Mammoth onto its lid also bent Lucky’s lifting arm slightly. Maybe it caught a piece of steel piping or something and that kinked it just right but Lucky’s flipper looks like it’s toast. This doesn’t stop Lucky from cruising in and punching Mammoth square on its control box however. Lucky’s lifting arm gets jammed even further up on its track meaning it’s becoming more and more useless with each punch it throws. And speaking of “becoming useless” Mammoth succeeds in clipping Lucky’s flipping arm but in doing so throws a chain from its rotary lifter. Thankfully this is the season where the team stuck a backup chain onto this thing so Mammoth isn’t completely fucked.
Sorry, I take that back. With only one motor doing all the work in trying to move this 250 pound machine around Mammoth’s only good wheel starts smoking from its control box because the motor inside is in the process of just fucking giving up. Even worse for Mammoth is that Lucky comes in and still manages to punch it in the dick to flip it over despite its flipping arm having maybe four inches of travel because it’s so bent up. The ref finally asks to see controlled movement from Mammoth literally like a whole fucking minute after it lost a wheel and Mammoth struggles to right itself with just its one remaining weapon chain. This ultimately is a failed effort and Mammoth is mercifully counted out giving the win to Lucky who moves up to 2-1 for the season. But I digress, in an ideal world both of these robots would be 2-1 right now but because the rules on mobility are about as clear as mud that someone took a dump in Mammoth is out.
WINNER: Lucky, KO
RUSTY vs. WITCH DOCTOR
Hey look, it’s the meme robot that everyone loves. A meme so strong that when Hexbug announced its two new RC toys it was Hypershock and this fucking guy. Rusty, a robot that defines “built in a garage” gets its very own RC Hexbug toy. The meme has gone too far you guys, fucking knock it off. If you’re gonna meme something into existence then make the next Hexbug toys Rampage and SMEE. Rusty showed up at the beginning of the season and was slam dunked into oblivion by Blip. Now it’s back for round two to face off against Witch Doctor because Witch Doctor is 1-1 right now and the producers don’t want 2019’s runner up to fail to qualify at 1-2 so they’re feeding a low tier robot to them. Rusty’s not going down without a fight though. Donald Hutson has given Lock-Jaw’s plow to Dave Eaton to slap on Rusty’s front end to hopefully keep Witch Doctor at bay. As much as I love Witch Doctor I’m also a complete and total fucking cynic when it comes to meddling with the match-ups for the sake of “making good TV”. Rusty. Kill Witch Doctor. Please.
Andrea Gellatly says she dreads this next fight because her team is Rusty’s #1 fan but you know on the inside she’s relieved because she knows this is going to be a cakewalk. Rusty was drawn to fight Witch Doctor for the same reason why we just saw Mad Catter lariat throw Rampage onto the fucking deck and why Glitch was destined to be devoured by Hydra. Yeah maybe that’s me just being a cynical asshole but I’ve been writing this blog for 7 years and I know what’s up. Don’t tell me I’m wrong because the writing is on the walls and you’re just choosing to not read it. Anyways Witch Doctor started this season out strong with a win over the new Duck. Things went south fast for the voodoo child however when Witch Doctor met End Game and End Game blew Witch Doctor’s asshole wide open for the KO. There are no changes necessary for Witch Doctor to make for this fight. Rusty is a dead bot walking.
The fight starts and just, goddamn. Rusty’s new plow doesn’t even touch the ground. It’s really not winning this fight unless God himself strikes Witch Doctor dead with a bolt of lightning. At least Rusty is the aggressor for this fight, for now. Witch Doctor eventually tires of running circles around Rusty and just decides to connect with Rusty head-on and smashes into the farm robot throwing it onto its side. Rusty’s whole setup has been changed for this battle but apparently the sides of the plow stick out far enough to still act as “wings” to help the robot self right so Rusty’s good to go with a flex of its weapon. Rusty catches another blow from Witch Doctor though and this splits the plow right up the fucking middle. I mean technically Rusty didn’t even have a “weapon” coming into this fight but now it really doesn’t.
Witch Doctor drifts in sideways and nails Rusty’s left side and the one thing that we all saw coming finally happens: Rusty’s tread gets destroyed and the robot is rolled over onto its side. Rusty tries to flex its broken plow back and forth but now with each side of it just flapping in the goddamned breeze it lacks the ability to brace against the floor and put the robot back down right ways up. Even if Rusty could get back onto its treads it’s missing one whole set of them and I don’t think Rusty would be able to drive around on its exposed sprockets. For all the “we love Rusty we don’t want to kill it” talk before the fight the Gellatly’s seem completely fine with obliterating the tread that fell off of their opponent. Yeah the rubber was literally rotting off of Rusty’s treads this whole season but they could’ve left the snapped tread intact as-is. Instead it got shattered and shredded all over the arena.
The ref counts down Rusty and just like that Witch Doctor suddenly has a winning record going into the tournament. Fancy that.
WINNER: Witch Doctor, KO
FUSION vs. ICEWAVE
This is a weird main event. Fusion and Icewave? Not that I necessarily disagree but… I feel like we’re missing a lot of robots here who haven’t had fight #3. Now that Hydra has been staked out for Thread at 1-2 it’s up to Fusion to carry the Whyachi name into the main tournament. Fusion absolutely demolished an ill-equipped Cobalt in its opening fight and after seeing what Cobalt later did to Ghost Raptor I think we can safely say Fusion dodged a real bullet by coming out ahead in the ground game there. Fusion would not have survived Cobalt otherwise, I guarantee it. Fusion then went on to face Copperhead and for some reason Fusion’s front spinner was just dead on arrival meaning it had to fight a nasty big ass drum spinner with its weird triangle blade. Reese Ewert insisted that blade hits harder than Son of Whyachi… but we’ve seen Son of Whyachi face Copperhead and the hits from Fusion were nothing compared to that battle.
Icewave is an old robot. Very old. I’m talking like nearly 20 years old. Much like the 0-3 SubZero this robot began life as a middleweight before stepping up into the heavyweight division for the 2015 reboot of BattleBots. It’s always had a gasoline-powered weapon and it’s always been an utter nightmare to fight. The hosts are spinning Icewave as a fading star but it was only a couple of seasons ago when we saw this robot split not one but two robots in half. Icewave still has “it”, it just needs its engine to be as reliable as possible. Icewave stumbled out of the gate with a quick loss to Black Dragon but it immediately turned its favor around against Deadlift and knocked that robot out cold. Is a gasoline engine “outdated” in modern BattleBots? Yes. But is it also hella fucking cool? You’re goddamned right it is. Fly your freak flag, Icewave. Bust some heads.
Both robots start revving up their blades and once again it looks like Fusion’s front spinners are doing what we in the biz call “fuck all”. It’s going to be back to the rear blade in order to attack Icewave and in that case Fusion’s lost the reach game. Icewave’s blade meets with Fusion’s face and to give you an idea of how tough Fusion’s outer armor is this barely leaves a nick on the front of the Whyachi bot. Even worse just like the Black Dragon battle Icewave has lost the use of its spinning bar after just one fucking shot. God damn it, Icewave. Even worse it looks like Fusion’s front discs being “dead” was just an act because now that Icewave’s weapon is down those two twin discs are roaring at maximum speed and trying to bite at Icewave’s front wedges to get through to the chassis.
Fusion’s rear spinner has slowed down after delivering a low powered hit to Icewave because I guess Reese is focusing on the front spinners instead of the rear. The blade gets going again but as Fusion is backed into the front spire of the shelf the triangular blade powers down again and stops. Icewave also fucks up and gets its weapon bar caught on the Upper Deck’s screws which start yanking the robot up opening its left side up to some free hits from Fusion. The screws eventually stop spinning and reverse the other way just as Kenny says the bad word “simultaneous knock out”. He’s not wrong though because Fusion has been suspiciously quiet this whole time. It’s only as Icewave gets down from the screws that Fusion’s batteries decide to experience a complete and total meltdown and the robot goes up in smoke.
My best guess, and the hosts’ best guess, is that the one opening hit from Icewave imparted enough force through Fusion’s chassis to damage the batteries and from there the robot simply became a ticking time bomb. I noticed right before Fusion burned out it tried spinning both of its weapons at the same time. This might’ve put too much draw on the damaged batteries and pushed them over the edge. I’m not an expert, sorta, but this is just my best guess by simply going over what happened in the fight. Icewave advances onward at 2-1 but if it wants to stand any chance at all in the main tournament it’s going to need to get this reliability problem it has fixed. Pronto.
WINNER: Icewave, KO
Well, we’re at the end of the Fight Night qualifiers and that can mean only one thing: it’s bracket time! Apparently my guess at the beginning of the article was correct, they’re just going to allow several robots in at 2-0. My best guess as to why is because “it’s easier that way” and also because even if a 2-0 robot lost a fight it’s still going to be 2-1 and it’s still making it into the tournament anyways so I guess a third fight is somehow redundant? Then what was the fucking point of making P1 and Ribbot fight? Or Sawblaze and End Game? “They’re going to make it in anyways” is a bullshit excuse for not letting teams have their third fights and I hope that’s not the logic. Everybody gets three. Either everyone is on the same level or you wind up with some tilted nonsense like this where robots who work their ass off to complete three fights still get ranked below veterans who are privileged enough to just coast by on two. Nuh uh. This sucks.
Anyways seeds 31 and 32 are “undecided” because there are going to be two play-in matches for these spots featuring robots that went 1-2 in the qualifiers. Before you say it yes that means Hydra is lurking in the depths. What, did you think BattleBots’ producers were just going to let last season’s #1 seed go out with a whimper? No. They tried stacking the deck in Hydra’s favor with Glitch as an opponent and when that backfired now it’s time for plan B. Here are my predictions for the Round of 32 alongside the two play-in matches. Bear in mind that this time around I don’t know who wins the Giant Nut so these are all genuine predictions that I’m coming up with right now.
Play-off (#32) Skorpios vs. Malice: Malice will try another full on attack like it did with Blacksmith but Skorpios’ plow will hold steadfast and entrap Malice for easy attacks. Skorpios by JD.
Play-off (#31) Hydra vs. Defender: Defender just doesn’t have the weaponry to deal with Hydra. Hydra may very well finally get those “30 flips” Jake keeps talking about. Hydra by JD.
Ro32 End Game vs. Skorpios: Skorpios will have no real counter to End Game and we’ll see the robot tossed around just like Yeti was able to do. End Game by JD.
Ro32 Minotaur vs. Bloodsport: Bloodsport’s horizontal spinner is at the perfect height for Minotaur to come in and whack it with its drum. I expect Bloodsport’s weapon to break down and Minotaur to come in for the kill. Minotaur by KO.
Ro32 Copperhead vs. Lucky: Lucky will probably come out strong once again but Copperhead’s relentless attacks will overwhelm it. Lucky will probably lose a wheel and sustain damage to its flipping arm. Copperhead by JD.
Ro32 Glitch vs. Witch Doctor: Glitch has been impressive up to this point but I feel that Witch Doctor’s weaponry will be the real test for this newbie and it won’t survive the onslaught. Witch Doctor by JD.
Ro32 Sawblaze vs. Hijinx: Sawblaze, no contest. Hijinx just doesn’t have the firepower necessary to tackle an opponent like Sawblaze and we know Sawblaze has special attachments for horizontal spinners. Sawblaze by KO.
Ro32 Hypershock vs. P1: P1’s been having a great season so far but Hypershock has been having a better one. Some brutal KO’s have come from Hypershock and I don’t think P1 is prepared to deal with yet another vicious vertical spinner. Hypershock by KO.
Ro32 Uppercut vs. Huge: Uppercut, I believe, is capable of striking Huge’s chassis. This will spell certain doom for Huge who won’t be able to do much other than maybe knock off Uppercut’s stabilizing poles. Uppercut by KO.
Ro32 Shatter vs. Riptide: Shatter had that “Mary Special” weapon to snipe the belt and chain of Blacksmith but Riptide has no real apparent weak points that are dangerously exposed like that. There’s a lot of flat real estate for Riptide to hit and Riptide will wear Shatter down. Riptide by JD.
Ro32 Ribbot vs. Hydra: Expect Ribbot to go with its vertical spinner for this fight plus its forks. Ribbot is more nimble than Hydra is and I fully expect to see side attacks from Ribbot and possibly even a head-to-head hit where Hydra’s forks are negated. Ribbot by KO.
Ro32 Mad Catter vs. Black Dragon: Mad Catter is tough but I don’t think it’s “Black Dragon tough”. Black Dragon will come at Mad Catter early on with its heavier eggbeater spinner and damage Mad Catter’s sides. Black Dragon by KO.
Ro32 Blip vs. Valkyrie: We’ve kinda seen a preview of this with Valkyrie vs. P1 and I expect this to play out the same way. Blip will wear Valkyrie down and get its spinner to stop before letting loose with the flips. Blip by JD.
Ro32 Jackpot vs. Tombstone: Tombstone has been struggling this season but Jackpot seems like an easier target for the king. Even though Jackpot went undefeated I still think the team doesn’t have the finesse to pull an upset here. Tombstone by KO.
Ro32 Whiplash vs. Icewave: As much as I love Icewave I just don’t see a universe where the robot will even be able to get its blade spinning up to speed. Whiplash will be all over Icewave and shoving it all around the arena. Whiplash by JD.
Ro32 Cobalt vs. Yeti: Yeti is the perfect shape to drive right up Cobalt’s wedge and right into its blade. This one will be brutal but also over quick. Cobalt by KO.
Ro32 Rotator vs. Captain Shrederator: Holy shit they let the Captain in? Still, Rotator is one tough beast and Shrederator will not be able to crack it. I expect to see Rotator come in with its blade facing down to act as an undercutter. Rotator by KO.
Ro32 Tantrum vs. Gigabyte: Remember when Copperhead popped Gigabyte so hard that its lid came off? Tantrum remembers, and I think we’re going to see something to that extent again. Tantrum is too tough for Gigabyte to damage so it’s only a matter of time before the uppercut is unleashed. Tantrum by KO.
Ro16 End Game vs. Minotaur: As much as I want Minotaur to win this season I just have a bad hunch that End Game will be able to use Minotaur’s gyroscopic force against it to land some killer blows. Minotaur will leave it all on the floor but still not come out with a win. End Game by KO.
Ro16 Copperhead vs. Witch Doctor: Copperhead fights a mean battle but Witch Doctor will prove to be too robust for the drum spinner to take down. Lots of weapon-on-weapon hits but eventually Copperhead will be worn down by the end of the fight. Witch Doctor by JD.
Ro16 Sawblaze vs. Hypershock: Sawblaze has long forks specifically to negate the likes of robots such as Hypershock. I expect Hypershock to be fast on the draw but to ultimately get stuck on Sawblaze’s forks and hacked apart. Sawblaze by KO.
Ro16 Uppercut vs. Riptide: Riptide hits hard, but Uppercut hits harder. Riptide might actually use their lifting forks for this battle to try and keep Uppercut at bay until they can line up a hit, but this won’t matter and the arms will be thrashed. Uppercut by KO.
Ro16 Ribbot vs. Black Dragon: I’m anticipating perhaps the undercutter for Ribbot in this fight because of how badly Rotator smashed Black Dragon up with a low blade. Black Dragon will try its thick wedge again but Ribbot will still be able to dig in and spin the dragon away. Ribbot by JD.
Ro16 Blip vs. Tombstone: Blip basically has the same armor as Tantrum and I doubt Tombstone will be able to suitably get through it. Blip will bide its time until it can land a flip and when it does Tombstone’s weapon chain won’t survive. Blip by JD.
Ro16 Whiplash vs. Cobalt: For all the control in the world that Whiplash has I think Cobalt will be able to pull wheels off and shred the aspiring champion. It’s a long shot prediction but I think Cobalt comes out of this one ahead. Cobalt by JD.
Ro16 Rotator vs. Tantrum: Rotator just doesn’t die. There’s nothing Tantrum can do to it to stop it. No matter which way is up Rotator will still be able to strike Tantrum even if I predict Rotator to start with a low blade. Rotator by JD.
QF End Game vs. Witch Doctor: A rematch. This time Witch Doctor will be privy to End Game’s bullshit and will have brought a counter for it. Perhaps Witch Doctor will finally cave and use forks of its own. Witch Doctor by KO.
QF Sawblaze vs. Uppercut: Expect Sawblaze’s flamethrower to be removed for this fight for obvious reasons. Because of this foresight Sawblaze will be ready coming into this battle and will finally have a counter for Uppercut. Sawblaze will take damage, but will come out ahead. Sawblaze by JD.
QF Ribbot vs. Blip: Blip has a powerful flipper but Ribbot can either drive upside down or self right. I’m thinking Ribbot will go with the vertical spinner and forks for this match and consistently keep Blip on its back and attack while Blip is trying to self right to just damage whatever it can reach. Ribbot by JD.
QF Cobalt vs. Rotator: Rotator can take a beating but I don’t foresee it being able to ward off a charging Cobalt. Cobalt will stay on Rotator and just not let Rotator get any momentum going whatsoever. Cobalt by JD.
SF Witch Doctor vs. Sawblaze: Sawblaze might take an early upper hand but its weapon will be ineffective against Witch Doctor’s upper armor. Witch Doctor will eventually maneuver around to attack Sawblaze’s tires and damage one of them leaving the robot crabwalking. Witch Doctor by JD. (KO if the ref counts out for crabwalking.)
SF Ribbot vs. Cobalt: Another fight where Ribbot will probably use its vertical spinner and forks. Ribbot’s drawback are is massively exposed wheels and I think these will be easy targets for Cobalt to chew right off. Cobalt by JD.
FINALS Witch Doctor vs. Cobalt: Witch Doctor will probably test the waters with forks again but will lack the experience necessary to use them well. Cobalt will take advantage of Witch Doctor doing things like tripping on the Killsaws to come in for the kill. Cobalt by JD.
So yeah, my predictions have Cobalt as the potential winner of the Giant Nut this year with reigning champion End Game going down in the quarterfinals via a rematch with Witch Doctor. These brackets are weird though and the seedings seem “off” because so many robots are in here with just two wins and a 2-0 record. Rotator is in at #6 with a 2-0 record… but Hypershock is #13 with the same record? Meanwhile Sawblaze gets slot #4 with a 2-1 record? How the fuck does any of this make any sense whatsoever? I guess it doesn’t. It makes sense “for TV”, that’s how.
Fight Night has come to an end and the tournament bracket has been unveiled. I always look forward to this because I genuinely enjoy writing out the predictions because it’s fun to see if I am right. Cobalt is the 14th seed so marking that robot to win it all is definitely a long shot but after what that robot did to Ghost Raptor, plus what we’ve seen Cobalt do in previous seasons, I think there’s some credence to the prediction. It had a dumb loss to Fusion so what; it looks like Matt Maxham has found his groove and the team has found a configuration that works for the robot so as long as they don’t try any funny shit I firmly believe Cobalt has what it takes to win the gold. Those of you who were at the taping of this event can either laugh at how “bad” my prediction is or stare in awe that I managed to get it right. Either or, but probably the former.
Fight of the week for me is going to be Bloodsport vs Claw Viper. That battle had a little bit of everything in it. Lots of high speed crashes, a weapon getting completely destroyed, battery smoke, box rushes, and just lots of fucking action. Kevin Milczewski may not have won the fight in the eyes of the judges but to me he was the real winner here for putting on such an amazing performance in spite of losing his weapon and minibot and everything else. Worst fight of the week is Rusty and Witch Doctor. Sorry. I know what the deal is behind this fight and it’s a pretty lame thing to do. Rusty went down in three hits and that’s probably two more hits than we all assumed.
That’s going to do it for BattleBots Update this week. What an article. The predictions always take the longest for me because I actually sit down and try to literally predict how these fights are going to go. Like I envision them in my head and everything. Anyways, if you’d like to support this project you can do so with a monthly pledge on Patreon or a one-time donation with Ko-Fi. If stickers are more you thing you can load up at Redbubble. And be sure to follow BattleBots Update on Facebook for everything else.
See you next time when the tournament is officially underway!