[BattleBots: S11 E12 is available via streaming on Discovery+.]
Welcome back to BattleBots Update. I know people obsess over the fight cards and dig up countless pieces of information slivers to try and predict or guess who’s going to be in the upcoming Fight Night episodes but I’ve gotta say it’s nice seeing a tournament bracket and know what we’re getting in for. I guess maybe part of the “fun” of being a BattleBots fan is cyberstalking every team’s social media feeds for hints and clues but that doesn’t sound fun to me. That sounds fucking creepy. People better not be doing that to my Facebook feed looking for the inside scoop; they’re bound to find a boot in their ass instead.
Anyways last week saw the completion of the “left side” of the Round of 32; we got to see reigning champion End Game defend its title, Minotaur obliterate Bloodsport, and Sawblaze hack Hijinx to pieces. This week we’re looking at some sure to be killer fights with the likes of Gigabyte vs. Tantrum, Tombstone vs. Jackpot, Cobalt vs. Yeti, and of course Ribbot versus the winner of the 31st seed play-in between Defender and Hydra. Yeah, Hydra’s technically not out of the contest yet. Could that be the X factor of the tournament? We’ll see.
Speaking of that play-in match that’s actually what’s up first so let’s see if Hydra can hold on. Er, I mean flip out. You know what fuck it.
DEFENDER vs. HYDRA
Of all the robots to go 2-1 and still have a shot at the main tournament, even by way of a goofy play-in match, Defender probably wasn’t on a lot of peoples’ lists. It’s yet another case of the folly in “it worked as an antweight, let’s scale it up into a heavyweight”. Peter Abrahamson even had the baby antweight version of Defender at his desk in the unaired match with Retrograde. Defender fought Ribbot, lost horribly by KO, and then went on to win a rough judges’ decision over Riptide. Defender was able to beat the aforementioned Retrograde too (by decision) but this robot just doesn’t “do” what it was made to do. This is a robot who’s supposed to bite down onto opponents with its clamping jaw and then lift them up off of the ground with its blue fork that braces against the floor. In the three times we’ve seen this robot in the ring it’s managed to achieve this a staggering zero fucking times.
Hydra is fucking dogging it badly this season. Did anyone expect to see last year’s #1 seed fighting for its life in a 31st place play-off? If Hydra wins this it’ll be the new bottom of the pack on account of End Game exterminating the 32nd seed Skorpios with extreme prejudice last week. Hydra performed well for the past two seasons but something happened this year and this thing just stunk. Immediately against End Game the robot shit its pants and was DOA with a busted hydraulic pump. It regrouped and warded off Gruff to win by KO but the hydraulics were still having issues. It wasn’t until Hydra’s match with Glitch that the flipper was running at “FULL POWER BABY” and that was fine and dandy until Glitch came in and ripped Hydra’s flipping arm off and tossed the robot at the wall. Hydra at 1-2 is unexpected, more so than its weird yellow pencils it’s using for forks in this match.
Right as the battle starts this one’s already looking to be a shit show because Defender hits a seam in the floor with its front wedge and Hydra sheds a pencil as soon as Defender drives up and over it. Defender makes another sweet jump but this time the other “fork” on Hydra stays on. Defender goes for a third attack and this time Hydra finally catches the damn thing and hits Defender on the backswing sending the grappler flipping through the air and landing on its wheels. I almost want to say this impact messes up the left wheel of Defender because as it tries to scurry away it’s clearly driving like there’s something up its ass but Defender landed hard on its right wheel, not the left. For some reason the hosts are claiming Hydra’s mobility “appears to be compromised” completely ignoring the aimless spinning and lifting of Defender happening front and center in the shot.
Defender drives up on top of Hydra again and gets hurled through the air as a result. Defender lands upside down but for the first time in forever we get to see it successfully right itself. For reasons unknown Defender keeps bracing its lower lifting arm at the floor. It doesn’t seem to be hitting any cracks or imperfections in the floor, this is just the equivalent of Defender reaching around and spreading its butt cheeks open to give Hydra a running start at its asshole. Hydra goes for it and very nearly throws Defender up onto the drivers’ booth with an incredible flip. Defender looks limp and Hydra pins it against the wall going for another flip that breaks the BattleBots sign. I was worried we weren’t going to see that sign take any damage but thankfully it’s been smashed like twice per episode for the last four episodes so I guess all the action was backloaded.
Kenny suspects Defender’s grappling claw is out of commission and yeah I think he’s probably right; that thing is yawning open just a little too far for that to be its resting position. Hydra again comes in with its flipper and you can see Jake Ewert intentionally trying to throw Defender out of the arena. I’ll buy that Gruff was accidental but this time he’s specifically trying to see how far he can go with this stupid new rule. Unfortunately for Jake, Defender bounces off of the wall early and flies back toward the middle of the arena. Defender is still driving around like it took a shot to the nuts and Hydra lands another flip that snaps its remaining pencil off and lands Defender on the shelf upside down. Defender actually busts the corner off of the other BattleBots sign meaning this is the first time both of them have been broken in a single fight. Nice work Hydra. Defender’s also dead because it can’t self right with its busted grappling claw.
Jake talks some straight up shit to the camera and dumps on the shelf and says it sucks because now he can’t continue to pursue Defender and throw it around. For once I agree with the man. BattleBots actually posted a public poll to their Twitter account asking for feedback on the Upper Deck; the options were “Love it”, “Hate it”, and “Needs improvement”. “Love it” received the least amount of overall votes I believe. I’d have voted for “Hate it” but the only thing I hate more than the BattleBots Danger Patio is Twitter so I didn’t have an account with which to vote and I wasn’t about to make one.
Hydra claims the #31 slot and advances into the main tournament; it’ll be fighting Ribbot in the last match of the episode.
WINNER: Hydra, KO
ROUND OF 32
YETI vs. COBALT
As Brent Reiker of Cobalt’s team says this is going to come down to a ground game. Knowing this Yeti comes into this fight with its lifting forks already deployed and pointed forward. It’s going to need to trip Cobalt up with those forks and land a big blow with its killer drum to hopefully destabilize Cobalt and let physics do the rest. Yeti’s season got off to a bad start with an immediate loss to Mad Catter that saw the abominable snow beast lose a tire and lose entire chunks out of its drum. Yeti course corrected by blowing Pain Train to smithereens before following that up with a split decision victory over Skorpios. Yeti can unleash the carnage if you let it and Greg Gibson drives like bad AI from a 90’s demolition derby game. By that I mean he’s going to come crash into you head-on whether you’re ready for it or not.
Cobalt is the robot I’ve pegged to win this battle solely because Yeti’s wheels are exposed, Cobalt’s aren’t, and Cobalt’s weapon is perfect for just shredding the fuck out of anything exposed on a robot. Much like Yeti this robot also had a crappy start to its season when it somehow managed to lose to Fusion. Don’t ask me how because I recapped that fight and it still makes no sense to me. Cobalt then fought Ghost Raptor and basically erased that robot from existence entirely. Legend has it that Ghost Raptor turned into an actual fucking ghost after that battle. Gruff was Cobalt’s last opponent and Gruff’s soft underbelly proved to be its weak point because Cobalt slice through it, hit the propane tank inside, and lit Gruff the fuck up. Both of these robots have weapons that will ruin your day. It’s a shame one of them has to go out in this round.
The fight starts and neither Yeti nor Cobalt charge at each other. Both drivers know someone has to lose the ground game and neither one wants it to be them. Instead both robots creep forward and feel each other out. Yeti’s forks actually start to go up Cobalt’s leading wedge pieces and Yeti backs the fuck outta there because we now know who was going to lose the ground game in that hypothetical opening exchange. Cobalt goes in pursuit of Yeti but we see Cobalt’s main weakness start coming into play and that’s the gyro forces its weapon creates; Cobalt pulls up on one side if it turns too sharp and these are the openings where Yeti needs to stab its forks in and deliver a slam. It’s going to come down to who fucks up first and it looks like it might be Yeti because for some stupid reason it braces against the ground and lifts itself all the way up.
The hosts think this is a defensive maneuver but I think it’s Yeti asking Cobalt to collide with the side of it and rip its kidneys out. Cobalt dances with Yeti and nicks the tip of Yeti’s left fork breaking it off meaning Yeti is now on the back step when it comes to getting under its opponent. Still, it somehow manages to roll Cobalt with a hit from its drum and snipe Cobalt from the back while it’s retreating. Cobalt gets away and tries to broadside Yeti but instead hits its fork and just shoves the beast around without doing any damage. It looks like Yeti tries to line up a charge for once but Cobalt cruises in, slips under its opponent, and hits Yeti right on the corner of its chassis. Yeti pulls off a quick and dangerous self right in the middle of the fray but immediately after this happens Cobalt hits Yeti’s left fork again and this time blows it backward and breaks it.
Yeti freezes for a moment and you can see it try to lift its right fork to gauge what kind of damage just happened to it. The fork jerkily moves up a few clicks and while this is happening Cobalt swings around and slams into the front of Yeti sending the entire machine sky fucking high. Yeti lands upside down and if you look closely you’ll see that part of its entire goddamned chassis has separated from the frame and is now pressing up against its front wheel. Yeti loses drive on one side with this hit and moments later its other side of drive gives out as well. One of Yeti’s back wheels are still spinning but it’s not doing shit to propel the robot forward and all the once great slammer can do is just raise and lower itself with its one good fork while Cobalt taunts it from afar.
I would’ve liked to have seen these two robots spread further out in the tournament because they’re both heavy hitters, but due to the shape of Yeti’s front end I knew Cobalt would have no problems diving right under the ground clearance and basically doing exactly what just happened.
WINNER: Cobalt, KO
ROUND OF 32
TOMBSTONE vs. JACKPOT
People are quick to shit on Tombstone whenever it loses a fight. I think this is the only robot subjected to arguments of “X should retire it’s past its prime now” the minute something goes wrong. Shut the fuck up. Ray Billings has been slaughtering opponents with Tombstone since most of these armchair “experts” were in diapers. (And I’m sure some of them still are, and I shudder at that thought.) Tombstone is “old BattleBots”. This murderous horizontal spinner is about 20 years old and Ray’s got the formula down pat. Chris Rose says it best, the field has changed. Materials like AR500 steel are easier to come by these days and Tombstone just can’t do meaningful damage to parts like that without repeated shots. No KO’s for Tombstone in the qualifiers, just some real rocky fights where it lost to Captain Shrederator, almost lost to Mammoth, and at least toughed out a decision over Free Shipping.
Jackpot on the other hand is one of the robots who had only two qualifiers and was rubber stamped into the main tournament for time constraints. How fun. Jackpot came out swinging in the first unaired fight of the season by chopping up Deadlift for a quick win. Jackpot then switched gears and attached its “heartbreaker” weapon to face Malice head on in a fight that was full of “huge hits there” with Jackpot again coming out on top. Jackpot is sporting the heartbreaker one more time for this hail mary shot against Tombstone because this battle will essentially be a repeat of their Malice fight… just on the nightmare difficulty mode. Both robots I think have the power to end this match in one hit; it’s going to come down to who gets the short straw when these weapons meet because you know that’s what this is heading toward.
Two hits. That’s all this fight takes. Close enough to a OHKO for me to just come out and say it but we haven’t seen one of those in a while. Both robots spin up and charge at each other head on. Jackpot’s Jason Woods knows they’ve got to aim for the bar on Tombstone and either destabilize it or break it. Tombstone’s Ray Billings knows that there’s going to be weapon-on-weapon violence and he’s anticipating it. The first blow serves to spin both robots away from each other and Jackpot is his so hard that the adhesive on its decorative roulette wheel plow thing fails and entire pieces of it just fly off. Imagine hitting something with enough force that the fucking stickers come off.
But it’s the second hit that steals the show and seals the fate for someone. Jackpot spins up again, Tombstone spins up again, and Jackpot charges in. The bots meet in the middle of the floor. Jackpot is sent hurtling toward the red square and an entire upper panel comes off of it. Tombstone didn’t even hit that but the force of impact was strong enough to just shear the bolts completely. Ruining stickers is one thing, now imagine that force it must take to rocket through an opponent and shear off bolts. Jackpot’s weapon is dead and now there’s batteries hanging out from the right side where the missing panel is. Tombstone is spun off in the other direction, flips over, and its right wheel smashes into the control box of the blue square screws. This hit visibly distorts and dents in Tombstone’s motor mount for that drive wheel and kills it. It also knocks out the robot’s weapon.
About an entire fight’s worth of damage was just done in a single fucking hit. Jackpot comes out clean in this transaction because even though its intestines are hanging out of its ass it’s still fully mobile; Tombstone on the other hand can only pivot in place and we know that’s not “controlled movement”. Jackpot waves goodbye to the former champ with its still functional srimech and Tombstone is surprisingly shot down in the first round. It seems the trouble with Tombstone this year was reliability; if Ray can figure out how to situate his drive motors so they don’t crumple and warp like they did in this fight he might be able to still make it further just yet. As it stands, Tombstone’s not outdated. I dare anyone to say they’re not afraid of Tombstone’s 70 pound bar coming at them at blistering speeds. Fuck that noise.
WINNER: Jackpot, KO
ROUND OF 32
BLACK DRAGON vs. MAD CATTER
Last week we saw Minotaur and Bloodsport duke it out and they were the proper “middle of the line” seeds. Now we have the next pairing that’s one step removed from that middle ground and this time I think the combatants are a lot more evenly matched. Black Dragon is a damn near bulletproof robot that uses its quick drivetrain to swing around and surprise opponents with blows from its weapon. It was enough to tank a shot from Icewave which caused the spinner to throw its chain and from there Black Dragon was all-in. Rotator had some choice words for Black Dragon, most of which I cannot repeat on this blog, but in the end Black Dragon’s front end got busted open and the robot caught fire and lost. Celebrations resumed however when a fortunate retaliatory shot on Claw Viper screwed up the snake’s drive system and allowed Black Dragon an easy victory. At 2-1 it was bound to qualify for the tournament just like it’s opponent, Mad Catter.
When Martin Mason isn’t breaking people through desks or ordering ten cheese pizzas to be delivered to BattleBots HQ he’s always working on prepping Mad Catter for its next fight. Like Black Dragon this is a robot that won its first fight (against Yeti by sending it flying and ripping a wheel off), lost its second one (after being brutalized and buttfucked to death by Sawblaze), and then turned its fortunes around in its third fight (by destroying all of Rampage’s motors in two hits). Same trajectory for both of these robots, same ups and downs, same midseason 1-1 pressure, same everything. Mad Catter comes into this fight equipped with a bizarre combination of a front plow and a spatula the idea being that the spatula will help them with the ground game. To quote an overquoted and honestly not that funny movie, “it’s a bold strategy, let’s see how it plays out”.
Mad Catter is confident enough in its goofy asymmetrical front end that it just charges straight at Black Dragon. The result is a hop and a flop as the cat lands hard on its backside. Black Dragon takes advantage of the moment and lands some glancing shots until Mad Catter is able to use its lifting arm to right itself and get back in the fight. Someone’s got a death hum going and I think it might actually be Mad Catter because Black Dragon lands another hit with no bite to it stopping its weapon but not stopping the echoing noise of a spinning mass eager to obliterate someone’s asshole. Mad Catter evades long so it can get a proper drive on Black Dragon but all that amounts from this is Mad Catter’s spatula getting stuck under the side corner of Black Dragon and neither robot being able to capitalize on the jam.
Both bots are spinning their wheels against each other and rotating in a locked formation until Mad Catter finally slips and its weapon disc meets one of Black Dragon’s front wedgelets adorned with paw prints. The left paw of Black Dragon gets torn off and thrown aside meaning Black Dragon now has to come at the cat from an awkward angle to seize an opportunity and deal some damage. There’s a light weapon-on-weapon collision and Mad Catter gets redirected into the screws which flip it over. Black Dragon fails to make a dent on Mad Catter this time as the robot has a clear path to back up and right itself. More weapon-on-weapon sparks are generated until Mad Catter swings wide and grinds off the right paw plow thing on Black Dragon reducing it to a wedge. Black Dragon is now essentially in the same configuration it fought Rotator with: a steep wedge with its weapon nestled in the middle. Not good for the dragon.
I say it’s “not good” but Black Dragon lights up its flamethrower for some reason and gets in Mad Catter’s face and sides and actually manages to take the upper hand here. Mad Catter is backing away but every time it tries to turn its weapon has so much goddamned energy stored in it that the gyro forces pull it up to the side and Black Dragon is actually able to take advantage of this. Mad Catter isn’t one to be outdone however and as soon as Chris Rose announces the halfway point of the fight Mad Catter lands a shot to Black Dragon’s face that flips the robot one complete turn in the air. Mad Catter then rails Black Dragon into the screw box behind the blue square and gets some more points for air time as once again the dragon gets its shit wrecked and flips through the air. Both times Black Dragon lands on its wheels right ways up though so this doesn’t afford Mad Catter an easy follow-up attack to catch Black Dragon’s inverted wedge.
There’s a minute left in this fight and Mad Catter starts driving like it might be running low on batteries for its drivetrain. I say this because in my experience with driving bots you can still move forward and backward with relative ease on low batteries but turning becomes a real problem and Mad Catter’s turning speed has slowed down considerably. I don’t know if this is from dying batteries or an intentional slow turn by the driver to avoid gyroing around but it’s affording Black Dragon a lot of glancing blows in the last 60 seconds of the battle. Mad Catter’s slow but it’s not out however because with less than 10 seconds to go it lands a shot that finally flips Black Dragon over. Unfortunately there’s not enough time for the cat to follow through on this and land a second devastating blow to pick up some last minute points with the judges.
The fight is scored as a split decision and honestly I can see that, there was no clear winner at the end of the fight. The match is scored favorably toward Black Dragon in the end and I do kind of disagree with that. Yeah Mad Catter’s drive sucked in the last minute of the fight but Mad Catter’s still got all of its major components attached to it meanwhile Black Dragon lost both of its front plow attachments and it ended the fight upside down. Mad Catter took a couple tumbles of its own but one of them was due to aggression on Mad Catter’s part and the other was bad driving by crashing into the screws on the deck. I agree with the split, but I don’t agree with the winner. Even though I believe I predicted Black Dragon to win this fight I think Mad Catter really went all out. But what do I know I just write shitty jokes and fight analyses on the internet.
WINNER: Black Dragon, Judges’ Decision (2-1)
ROUND OF 32
VALKYRIE vs. BLIP
As Valkyrie is introduced by the hosts Chris Rose says the robot has a “low seeding” because of Valkyrie’s poor strength of schedule; it lost to P1 and then scraped up a couple of wins over “lower tier” robots like Triple Crown and Pardon My French. Okay, well who’s fault is that, Chris? It’s certainly not Leanne Cushing’s fault because it’s not like she pulled up to the BattleBots drive thru and said “uhhhh lemme get a Triple Crown value meal” or whatever the fuck. Valkyrie hits hard with its massive weapon disc and no matter what imaginary number the “selection committee” gives it Valkyrie’s opponents ought to be wary of what this machine can do. You’re looking at the recipient of 2020’s “Most Destructive Robot” award here. Valkyrie doesn’t fuck around.
Blip is a newcomer this year but its team isn’t new themselves. Blip is the latest brainchild of Aren Hill who also designed Tantrum, a semifinalist last season. Blip arrived with flipper technology that was untested in battle and when push came to shove Blip picked up opponents and threw them to heights rivaled only by fucking Hydra. No one was really sure what to make of this robot so it was paired up with Rusty and anyone with a functioning brain knew that barring a complete and total meltdown of Blip’s internals Rusty was going to get some airtime. Blip moved on to face Overhaul and using nothing more than the power of gravity managed to rip two tires off of the four-wheeled machine. It also won by KO because Overhaul also blew up and caught fire. The producers decided to turn up the heat on the rookie and give it Lock-Jaw as an opponent but as soon as the fight started Lock-Jaw’s weapon exploded and we were treated to three minutes of Blip throwing the veteran around. Blip might look cute but it’s fierce.
Aren says he’s not going to pop off the flipper until Valkyrie’s blade has stopped. Good plan considering a sideways shot to that thing would potentially rip it off and unleash god knows what kind of chaos with the rotary system that controls it. Because of this the fight begins with Blip getting in Valkyrie’s face and not relenting because it’s trying to just knock the spinner around until the spinner either slows down or Valkyrie gets smashed into a wall and it stops. Christmas comes early for Aren because it looks like after about 10 seconds of grinding Valkyrie’s spinner just dies on its own. Most Destructive Robot my ass.
Blip fires off a light test flip that rolls Valkyrie over and gets it part ways onto the screws in front of the shelf. A second flip with a little more muscle behind it sends Valkyrie twisting through the air and landing upside down on the hazard. Valkyrie dives to the right of the deck to get off and Blip is waiting there for the dead spinner to come down. Blip doesn’t fire off its arm again but there’s enough inertia in Valkyrie’s forward push for the robot to drive up Blip’s wedge and flip back down into its standard orientation. This really achieves nothing though because the robot is still without a weapon. Kenny says Valkyrie will have to find a way to score some points by way of the Battlebox. That’s not going to happen and we all know it because Valkyrie gets chased down by Blip who lets loose another flip and rolls Valkyrie right back onto its lid.
Blip fires off another flip and this one is so precise that for a split second Valkyrie’s back end actually gets wedged into the spike strip. The stick only lasts for a moment but this could’ve been the end of Valkyrie by way of getting its ass jammed into an airplane seat that was too small. Blip continues to just assault Valkyrie in this corner pocket and very nearly throws it behind the Pulverizer. At some point someone’s going to get stuck back there and the arena safety crew is going to get pissed the fuck off because I have no idea how you’d get a robot unstuck from back there. Is there even a process for that? Who the fuck knows. As I write this Valkyrie gets back into the center of the arena but again it’s not like it can do anything.
I don’t know how to describe this fight. All Blip does for the next minute straight is just throw Valkyrie around. That’s it. Free throws, slam dunks, that thing you do when you whack a tetherball all the way around the pole in one go, you name it. At one point Valkyrie winds up in the corner and now the robot has lost control of its drive on one side. The ref notes this and says his line about controlled movement but before the countdown can start Blip interferes with the call and continues to throw Valkyrie around. The end result of these volleys is Valkyrie ending up wedged into the Upper Deck right about where End Game left Skorpios to die; Valkyrie is positioned in such a way so that neither of its wheels are touching anything because its side armor is resting on both the floor and the shelf at the same time. A lucky shot but you know, monkeys and typewriters and all that. Jake Ewert likes to talk mad shit about “getting 30 flips” in a single fight well buddy I think Blip may have just showed you the fuck up.
WINNER: Blip, KO
WHAT GOT CUT
Yeah just like last week thanks to the inclusion of the play-in fight and some other fluff that couldn’t be cut there were two matches that were left mostly on the cutting room floor. I know, I know. It sucks. But hey what are you going to do? Write a sternly worded letter?
CAPTAIN SHREDERATOR (27) vs. ROTATOR (6)
Yeah, Captain Shrederator made it into the tournament. First time, too. With a win over Tombstone and Jager that put the Captain at 2-1 and basically every single 2-1 robot qualified for the main tournament so here we are. Rotator took off its forks and came at Captain Shrederator with its heavily armored rear end. This is about what I was expecting from Victor Soto and his team because that rear plow can stand up to more punishment than Captain Shrederator can dish out. The best the spin bot was able to do was nick some dings in the wedge.
Disaster struck when Rotator, with its blade down just as I predicted, came at Captain Shrederator and Rotator’s disc met one of the Captain’s shell teeth. One tooth was just busted clean off of Captain Shrederator but the robot continued to spin. Now I talk a lot of shit on Captain Shrederator but watch the fight closely here; Shrederator bumps into the middle spire of the Upper Deck and completely dislodges that chunk of the goddamned spike strip. You can see the sheared bolts come off of it. That’s a hell of a hit, such a hit that Captain Shrederator loses its other tooth and dies in the corner. When the shell stops just look at the fucking chunks missing in the shell. That whole thing is absolutely ruined.
ICEWAVE (30) vs. WHIPLASH (3)
Wow, you know this one must’ve sucked if the fight featuring the number 3 seed gets the “what got cut” treatment. As predicted Icewave is able to do fuck all to Whiplash and once again Whiplash just isn’t using its spinning disc. I can understand why – Icewave would probably kink it sideways and wipe it out – but god damn that’s like three fights now that the robot has just fought purely as a lifter.
The good news is it doesn’t look like Icewave’s blade stalled out in this fight, so I was incorrect on that assumption, but it still didn’t matter because the spinner got ping ponged into the deck’s screws again and this time the hazard succeeded in turning the robot over. Icewave has no method of getting back down onto its wheels with that big ass engine in the way so that’s all she wrote for the once legendary spinner. I know I stood up for Icewave in the past but I just couldn’t see a path for this robot where it defeated Whiplash. Simple as that.
ROUND OF 32
GIGABYTE vs. TANTRUM
Gigabyte and Captain Shrederator are two sides of the same coin; they’re both shell spinners. But Gigabyte has been considered to be the better of the two of them and that’s not just because Gigabyte defeated Shrederator in like two hits; Gigabyte just hits harder, it’s more durable, and apparently it’s compatible with goofy ass attachments like these little forks that John Mladenik has put at the front of Gigabyte to negate Tantrum’s leading wedge. You know these are going to work because one of them falls off during the robot twitch test. This might be the last we see of the spinner if that’s the case. Gigabyte made it here after a bad start losing to Uppercut but coming back to stomp out Captain Shrederator and SMEE both by KO.
Tantrum is one of those robots who only had to fight two rounds to make it into the tournament. Now that we’re a couple weeks into knowing what the brackets are can I just say that the discussion over this is a total shit show? Like, for real. I’m of the volition that “everyone gets three fights”. If you say “three fights” that means three fucking fights. If you can’t deliver on that either change production or change the format. Easy. But god damn does everyone else think they’ve got it figured out too, or they think two fights is fine. Everyone is stupid. Including me. Tantrum defeated Malice with extreme prejudice and tore up Lucky after Lucky was dumb enough to free it from the wall it was stuck on. That was good enough to advance onward I guess. Is that biased treatment toward former semifinalists I smell? Can’t be.
Tantrum goes for a box rush and for a robot that’s been so calculated this season it manages to miss and fuck it all up and Gigabyte gets a free shot at it. No major damage, but easy points to start the fight off with. Tantrum lines up another shot and for all the bad things I could say about Gigabyte’s attachment – like how it sucks or looks brittle as hell – it actually does its job and traps Tantrum on top of it. Unfortunately Gigabyte’s spinner isn’t going when this happens but it’s still doing what it was designed to do and that’s at least a little impressive considering we don’t really see attachments on shell spinners. Gigabyte starts getting pushed into one of the back corners of the Battlebox and fights its way out only to smash into Tantrum on the way out and violently flip at the arena wall, the impact of which blows the fork attachment thing clean off of the spinner. Well it was good while it lasted I guess. Now Gigabyte gets to fight like it always does.
With Gigabyte dangerously close to the red square screws the robot tries to spin its shell up to speed and stay pointed in the correct direction but Tantrum is on the prowl and manages to destabilize the shell spinner and get the robot to start spinning its inner drive pod around resulting in Gigabyte flipping over and self righting all in the span of like three seconds. Tantrum pins Gigabyte back into the short corner of the box, drum at the ready, but pussies out. I assume there’s got to be something wrong with Tantrum’s spinner. Again. Gigabyte lands a respectable blow as it gets away from the corner again and gets its weapon going but Tantrum is still on its ass making the robot flip out of control constantly. Gigabyte is shunted over onto the deck’s screws and gets pulled up on there and now Tantrum can’t touch Gigabyte, so what does Gigabyte do? It starts spinning its shell up to maximum fucking speed.
But Gigabyte still has to get down from the shelf and to do this it decides to give Tantrum a fucking Peoples’ Elbow and this goddamned hit is so massive that not only does it send Gigabyte spinning like a fucking quarter off of the deck but Gigabyte’s teeth slice into Tantrum’s front plow and almost chop an entire “ear” off of it. Also this hit somehow reaches down inside of Tantrum and blows a fucking wheel off. Tantrum’s face is all kinds of fucked up after this blow and I’m impressed that Gigabyte’s self righting mast survived the chaos. Gigabyte avoids the crippled Tantrum and starts spinning again before delivering another choice blow that kicks both robots backwards. This hit, sadly, is the one that knocks out Gigabyte’s spinner. After all the absolute literal chaos that has transpired this seemingly run of the mill shot is what halts the spinner. God damn it.
Tantrum decides now is the time to start using its sliding track and throw some punches with its weapon. Now. When it’s lost a wheel and is currently smoking, now’s the best time to maybe land some hits with the ol’ primary weapon. Gigabyte gets knocked loose from being hung up on Tantrum’s scoop and you can see Tantrum kind of “scoot drive” back over to Gigabyte to try and land another hit. Props to Tantrum’s driver for pulling this out of their ass because that clearly takes some skill, that’s a play from the Bite Force strategy book. Gigabyte can do nothing but ram into Tantrum to show aggression because that’s what dead spinners do and in the last second of the fight the shell spinner shits out a belt while Tantrum flexes its self righter all the way back for no reason.
The fight goes to the judges who give the fight to Tantrum I assume based upon some combination of damage and control. Yeah Gigabyte’s spinner stopped working and that’s “disabling a primary weapon” but show me in the fight where Tantrum did literally anything with its own weapon. Whatever. I had Tantrum pegged to win this fight anyways but Gigabyte put up a much bigger fight than I expected. That shot from the deck was legendary.
WINNER: Tantrum, Judges’ Decision (3-0)
ROUND OF 32
HYDRA vs. RIBBOT
Because Hydra is basically royalty at this point the producers couldn’t just let the robot go by the wayside and not qualify for the tournament. I wholly believe the 1-2 vs. 1-2 play-in fights were concocted specifically so Hydra would have a
second third chance at making it into the tournament. This time the trick worked because Hydra dunked on Defender earlier in the episode to the surprise of literally no one. I’ve already recapped Hydra’s less than stellar Fight Night performance so go reread the introductions for the Defender fight if you forgot it already. Hydra’s never fought a horizontal spinner before however and that’s exactly what Ribbot has planned for it.
Whereas Hydra had to have its tournament participation spoonfed to it Ribbot made it here purely on the merits of its engineering. David Jin and his team have been at BattleBots for a few seasons now and Ribbot has evolved into a beast of a competitor that uses its cutesy face to lure opponents into underestimating it. Ribbot’s first match was ironically Defender and that ended by KO when Defender’s front end was split open and the robot was left to die next to the wall. Ribbot cleaned up to face Overhaul and sank that ship in like two hits before the real challenge came: P1. P1 was quick and all over the box but all it took was a couple opportune hits from Ribbot’s vertical spinner configuration and P1 was as good as dead being thrown at the BattleBots sign on the Upper Deck.
Ribbot holds back at the start of the match to get its undercutter spinning up to speed. Meanwhile Hydra does the best box rush it can manage with its more defensive drive system and just cruises on in, takes a massive shot to the face, and heaves Ribbot into the air. You know some shit’s about to go down when they start the fight with the wide shot from the camera sitting on top of the drivers’ booth. Ribbot’s decorative top shell goes flying off and the robot lands hard on its spinner on top of the screws. A lesser robot would’ve died right then and there but Ribbot is a mutant freak and gets right back up only to be thrown again. Amazingly the robot continues to land right ways up so its blade is level with the floor.
Kenny’s impressed with Ribbot’s durability but let’s be real here I think we’re all expecting Hydra to be missing some teeth and that has yet to happen. I think Hydra has welded them all in place for this fight because stray wedgelets are the perfect thing for Ribbot to eat up. Ribbot continues to assault the front of Hydra and gets flipped again but pay close attention and you’ll see the titanium “spatula” part of Hydra’s lifting arm come off. The same piece that Glitch busted off. Is this disaster for Hydra? What about Ribbot climbing on top of the flipper and hitting the extended arm sideways? Also just look at all the fucking sparks Jesus Christ. Ribbot continues shaving titanium sparks off of Hydra and in case you were wondering what was up (or down) with that flipping arm Hydra demonstrates that it still works by sliding all the way underneath Ribbot to hit it with the upper part of the flipping arm that still remains.
Ribbot takes a massive amount of punishment near the blue square screws but every single fucking time it lands on its feet with the blade pointed at the ground. Statistically this is incredibly unlikely holy shit. Hydra goes in for another chaos dunk and when Ribbot stops twisting and glitching the fuck out it’s finally apparent that all this hopping and flipping has bent the front left wheel. The wheel cannot freely spin anymore so it’s jammed in place meaning it’s fighting against the other three wheels that are still spinning. Ribbot fights for control while a visibly fucked up Hydra ducks away and avoids contact. What happened to “30 flips” Jake? Ribbot to scary for you? Has shit gotten a little too real?
The ref says Ribbot’s movement isn’t controlled movement. Ribbot has been able to shuffle itself almost all the way across the box over toward Hydra but no, this is not “movement”. Hydra evades and Ribbot course corrects and starts chasing it in the other direction. The ref starts counting down Ribbot. “That’s not movement?” Asks David Jin. No, David. Tonight’s one of the nights where the rules will be applied inconsistently. Can’t you see? You were destined to lose this fight. It’s rigged in favor of Hydra. It always has been. Welcome to BattleBots where the points don’t matter and everything’s a goddamned joke.
WINNER: Hydra, KO
Wow. I got pretty cynical toward the end there. I was expecting Hydra to make it this far but I wasn’t expecting it to make it past Ribbot; I assumed Ribbot and its horizontal spinner configuration would be too much for Hydra to handle… and I was technically kind of correct about that; Hydra’s flipping arm came out of that match looking like it’d just taken some serious shit from something. But alas, we may never know what goes on behind the scenes of BattleBots. We can only speculate. Hopefully everyone here knows that I’m just fucking around when I get cynical like that. Doing things like never not having “selection committee” in quotation marks, etc. Jake Ewert says by beating the #2 seed that technically makes him “the #2 seed”. No Jake, that’s not how it works. You’re the #31 seed and don’t forget that; you showed up to this event with a robot that was half way broken down in its first fight. You’ve only made it this far because of your performance in previous seasons. Don’t think the producers didn’t try and think up a way to get Lock-Jaw into the tournament too.
Fight of the week for me I’d say easily was Tantrum vs. Gigabyte. I know by the halfway point both robots were beaten and collapsing on each other but the first half of the fight more than made up for it. The attack from the top of the deck was a game changer. It’s the first time anyone’s done damage getting down from that stupid thing instead of shamefully crawling off of it into the waiting arms of their opponent. I still think the Upper Deck is a massive waste of time but it’s uncanny how prevalent of a role it’s played since the tournament started. Worst fight was probably Blip vs. Valkyrie. Valkyrie’s disc died after ten seconds and from there it was just Blip throwing it around with no real action. Yeah it’s objectively impressive I guess but I just wasn’t really entertained by it.
That’s going to do it for BattleBots Update this week. Next week is the entire Round of 16 which is shown at the end of this episode. Lots of interesting match-ups ahead like End Game & Minotaur, Uppercut & Riptide, Whiplash & Cobalt, and of course Hydra & Black Dragon. If you’d like to support this project you can do so with a monthly donation via Patreon or a one-time donation via Ko-Fi. Additionally you can spend money on things at Redbubble. Be sure to follow BattleBots Update on Facebook for everything else.
See you next week!