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[BattleBots: S11 E13 is available via streaming on Discovery+.]

I THINK that’s excitement he’s showing?

The Round of 32 has finally been cut in half to the Round of 16; it took two episodes but we made it there… mostly. Ignoring the fights that were cut because of, well, let’s not immediately jump into ranting about the production of the show in the opening paragraph of an article. It’s bad form. As the single elimination tournament has marched on we’ve seen some upsets and surprises already and given the current state of the tournament bracket we can only expect to see more.

Uppercut has hung in there and destroyed opponents and is now scheduled to fight the equally destructive Riptide. We’ve got a reptilian showdown between Black Dragon and Hydra brewing, and Rotator looks to bring its irresistible spinning blade to Tantrum’s immovable armor. Most importantly of all however is what’s happening in the upper left of the bracket: Minotaur versus End Game. Minotaur has actually defeated End Game before but these two robots have only bulked out since then. Can the raging bull make lightning strike twice? Or will the reigning champion exact its revenge on an old foe?

This entire episode covers the Round of 16 so by the time the credits roll we’ll have the quarterfinals locked in and ready to go for the final episode of the season. Can you believe it? We’re almost there!


ROUND OF 16
RIPTIDE vs. UPPERCUT

RIPTIDE

Team Break32

Weapon: Vertical spinning drum

Seed: 21

UPPERCUT

Team Uppercut

Weapon: Vertical spinning blade

Seed: 5

Not the usual stuff we see coming out of tires…

From here on out I’m going to stop reiterating each robot’s Fight Night performances because we’re past the point where that makes a difference. Instead I’ll be focusing on their tournament fights because we’re one deep for everybody now. Riptide entered the brackets with the low seed of 21 after a 2-1 preseason just like pretty much everybody else. The numbers are either random or set up in such a way as to try and “force” specific battles into happening, who fucking cares. BattleBots is a full-on television show now. Riptide met Shatter in the first round and all of Shatter’s ablative plating wound up being its downfall because it gave Riptide something to bite into and tear up. By the end of the fight Shatter was dead in the corner with its pick axe weapon jammed in the spike strip. Riptide don’t fuck around. “Let’s go!”

But speaking of not fucking around: Uppercut. This is a robot whose mighty vertical spinner has defined the phrase “fuck around and find out”. We don’t have Monsoon from the UK anymore because of COVID bullshit but we do have Uppercut and this robot is a nice analog for it with the same overall design and a similar devastating weapon. This is a robot who’s always capable of making a deep tournament run however that almost came to a halt in its first round match with Huge where Uppercut’s stabilizing bars were hacked off and the robot wound up somehow getting a whole fucking tire stuck in the spike strip. Luckily for Uppercut, Huge was also disabled. Although Huge was KO’d first the refs ruled it as another “double KO” for the sake of TV drama and the judges sided with Uppercut. Dancing with disaster, are we?

Riptide rips open another sand bag.

Before the fight Peter Abrahamson breaks down the advantages unique to Riptide, namely that most vertical spinners aim for a narrow range of efficacy and weapon contact but Riptide has over a goddamned five dollar footlong of contact distance. Riptide’s not the only one, there’s Minotaur and whatever, but this is what we in the biz call “foreshadowing”. This is because in the opening seconds of the fight Uppercut misses with its blade but Riptide has such a big ass two-airplane-seat weapon on it that it’s still able to land a blow to Uppercut’s front corner which destabilizes the spinner and sends it rolling into the drivers’ booth where it fucks up the BattleBots sign. Uppercut gets stuck on its corner and before Alex Hattori can react to the situation Riptide is on his robot’s ass and throws it into the screws.

Uppercut lands behind the blue square screws and if this impact was enough to break the hazard then this would be it for Uppercut, but mercifully the hazards are able to reverse and spit the robot back out into the fray. Riptide is just waiting patiently for this to happen and when it does it lunges at Uppercut once again and slams into Uppercut’s left wheel causing a cascade of what looks like fucking saw dust to come out from the wheel. This is actually granular foam that’s packed inside of Uppercut so the robot can still have the benefit of pneumatic tires without the risk of them going flat. Now Uppercut’s wheel is spinning wildly and throwing handfuls of shit all over the place like a homeless woman in New York City feeding pigeons while having a seizure. Somewhere in this messy interpretive dance Riptide hits Uppercut’s other wheel and splits that bag of sand open too. Somewhere someone on the arena clean-up crew has just walked out.

WHO DO YOU THINK IS GONNA CLEAN ALL THIS?

Technically Uppercut still has pneumatic tires just instead of air they’re filled with foam. Naturally when this foam is let out of the wheels they’ll still go flat and this is exactly what happens to the robot. Uppercut’s hubs are spinning inside of floppy and flat rubber tires and getting no purchase with the wheels anymore ergo the robot is just dead where it sits. Riptide hangs back because Uppercut’s spinner is still working and it doesn’t want to potentially come in for another shot and take a stray blow so it draws the KO countdown and lets Uppercut get eliminated in an arena that looks like a toddler tried to bake a cake in. Just to piss off all the pearl clutchers in the BattleBots Group on Facebook Ethan Kurtz lets loose a no-no word that has to be bleeped that someone is sure to bitch and moan about and complain about how the show isn’t “family friendly” anymore.

To that person: Shut the fuck up, please.

WINNER: Riptide, KO


ROUND OF 16
TANTRUM vs. ROTATOR

TANTRUM

Team Seems Reasonable

Weapon: Vertical spinning disc on sliding track

Seed: 11

ROTATOR

Team Revolution

Weapon: Horizontal spinning disc

Seed: 6

The ol’ Rotator Rope-a-dope

Tantrum and Blip are two robots from the same team that are slowly crawling their way through the brackets with a trajectory set to meet head to head if something’s not done about it. For now however Tantrum has to make it through this fight and that might be a tall order considering it very nearly almost didn’t make it through its previous one. In the opening round of the tournament Tantrum met with Gigabyte and although Gigabyte was dominated early on Tantrum managed to get the spinner onto the deck and that was bad news because when Gigabyte flung itself off of the shelf it landed directly onto Tantrum and just fucking tore it up. Tantrum lost a wheel, lost some mobility, its weapon looked like shit, the whole nine yards. But Tantrum lucked out when a shot from Gigabyte ping ponged the spinner into the wall and killed it. Tantrum barely scraped by with a win by decision.

Of all the dark horses out there in the tournament none are darker than Rotator. This thing is always getting more powerful but it seems no one pays any attention to it as a serious contender. This allowed Rotator to basically destroy its Fight Night opponents in impressive fashion. It reached the Round of 32 only to be given Captain Shrederator to take down and this was a task Rotator accomplished with relative ease. Rotator came in with its rear plow to bump the spinner away but when that wasn’t enough it used its disc to not just bust a tooth off of Captain Shrederator’s shell but an entire fucking chunk of the shell with it. Captain Shrederator spun out into the wall and shed its other tooth in similar fashion and that was it for the Captain’s first ever tournament appearance. Both of these robots got here by fighting shell spinners but only one has the firepower to advance onward.

Rotator doesn’t need control points just look at it.

Rotator leads in with its lucky forks which seem to always negate the ground clearance of whoever it’s fighting probably because these forks literally scrape the ground and aren’t fixed to the chassis like a lot of other robots. This proves to not work against Tantrum who’s able to sweep Rotator up and slam it into the wall to stop Rotator’s spinning blade. I guess Tantrum lands a couple of shots with its spinner too because Rotator hops in an unnatural way and I can only attribute that to getting hit with a vertical spinner. Rotator’s able to pull away and do a couple of its trademark “fake out” moves where it leads in with the forks and then whips around real fast to strike with its disc. Tantrum is armored like a tank but I’d be remiss not to point out the damage done to the robot’s right side by one of these maneuvers.

C’mon… throw a punch you stupid robot.

While I’m distracted by how shiny Rotator is the robot takes a punch from the orange bot and the edge of its chassis catches the Killsaw slots as it soars resulting in Rotator rolling over. Tantrum completes the charge by feeding its opponent into the screws of the Upper Deck for some major control points but again all this does is allow Rotator a few seconds to get its spinner up to dick shredding speeds and when it gets down from there Rotator comes at Tantrum with a vengeance. Rotator is upside down so there’s not a lot of real estate it can hit on Tantrum and those little “wings” by Tantrum’s front wedge are about it. Tantrum takes a serious shot that sends it hurtling into the short corner of the arena and immediately the robot starts to struggle to move around. Is there another wheel damaged perhaps?

Kenny Florian suspects Tantrum might be high centered on a chunk of debris but unless that massive shot from Rotator caused Tantrum to shit out a chain I didn’t see anything over there that Tantrum could get stuck on. This may very well be Tantrum just straight up dying and having a moment of death throes. Tantrum flexes its srimech back and forth to dislodge any potential debris but all this does is allow Rotator to come on in and rip that device to fucking threads. The ref gives Tantrum’s team the warning but Tantrum’s special ability is being able to just swerve around on a damaged drive system so you really “can’t” count it out because it’ll pull off some snakey maneuvers that’ll make it look like it’s still in the fight. Case in point Rotator gets too close and winds up pinned on the rails while Tantrum contemplates throwing its spinning disc into it. For those of you (like me) who doubt the efficacy of Tantrum’s weapon just take a close look at Rotator’s front plow, it’s hanging off on one side presumably because the bolts have been sheared off.

…Rotator doesn’t need control points just look at it.

When Rotator gets away it lands some glancing blows but I’d say Rotator might actually be behind on points for this round. I hate to say it, but I’ll still say it because I believe in journalistic integrity. Yeah, mark that one off on your BattleBots Update bingo, “more reliable than mainstream news”. As Rotator flees Tantrum just magically gets its drivetrain sorted out and pursues the spinner. Rotator runs in the wrong ass direction because it winds up getting pinned at the arena entry gates and when Tantrum throws its last punch of the fight… well, you can guess what happens next. Bye bye, Rotator. Rotator is tossed up and over the arena rails. Amazingly it’s very nearly saved by the buzzer but after being thrown on the Upper Deck and thrown out of the arena (which requires a knockout count for some dumb reason) it’s a safe bet that Rotator would’ve lost on decision anyways.

I still hate to say it, but Rotator is out of the contest.

WINNER: Tantrum, KO


ROUND OF 16
JACKPOT vs. BLIP

JACKPOT

Team Vegas Combat Robotics

Weapon: Vertical spinning blades

Seed: 10

BLIP

Team Seems Reasonable

Weapon: Rotary-powered flipping arm

Seed: 7

Someone’s got titanium somewhere.

Jackpot’s builders must be riding high as they enter this fight because previously they were drawn to battle Tombstone and when it comes to Tombstone you know how the saying goes, “the house always wins”. Well Jeff Waters threw that shit out the window and nailed a blackjack out of the gate and eradicated the former champion with two decisive and huge blows. The hits crippled Jackpot in the process but that’s what pit time is for and now Jackpot is back in the box sporting its classic dual diamond spinners ready to thrash Blip. Joining Jackpot for the first time in a while is its minibot Ace and if that minibot looks familiar that’s Jason Woods’ minibot from his robot Tracer which competed last year. Tracer is absent because Jason teamed up with Jeff to bolster Jackpot and turn it from an on-a-budget breakout to a proper superstar. Also Tracer sucked.

Speaking of superstars Blip is a robot that is rapidly becoming one. After being fed nothing but low tier robots the “selection committee” decided to test this robot by giving it Lock-Jaw and as luck would have it Lock-Jaw fucking exploded as usual… so no intel there. But in the tournament Blip was paired up with Valkyrie in a fight that had the potential to go south real fast for the experimental flipper. Again Blip lucked out however because Valkyrie’s killer spinning disc – which won it the Most Destructive Robot of 2020 award – died after about 10 seconds of grinding on Blip’s armor. No big hits, no nice gashes, nothing that would’ve kicked back a lot of energy into Valkyrie’s weapon. Nothing. It just fucking died. Blip spent the next near three minutes slam dunking Valkyrie in one of the most air-filled but boring matches of the season. Now it’s time to see if luck will strike again against an opponent whose paint job implies it’s all about luck.

Not the choice of words I’d use.

Jackpot is confident enough in its weaponry to just floor it straight at Blip when the lights go green. It’s obvious its spinner isn’t anywhere near top speed but I think the angle here was trying to get underneath Blip and possibly use the power of its spinner at a low speed to start kicking off those “piano key” wedgelets on Blip’s front end. Blip jukes out of the way and this just allows Jackpot to continue to spin its weapon up to speed so when the robots inevitably do make contact it’s a guarantee that Blip starts losing wedgelets. Blip scoops up Jackpot and the robots lock heads. Blip could probably get a flip in here but that would require it to fire its flipper directly into Jackpot’s spinner and that’s something Aren Hill obviously wants to avoid at all costs. Like I said in the Valkyrie battle there’s no telling what kind of kinetic hell will be unleashed if Blip’s weapon is blasted off leaving only part of the high speed rotary system in place. The robot might literally clip into the floor. Fuck I don’t know.

Blip backs away and tries to regroup while the minibot Ace achieves exactly nothing despite being right behind Blip and Blip’s rear end being essentially unguarded. Jackpot eventually rides far enough up Blip’s wedge where a flip is considered safe and Aren pulls the trigger only slightly. This sends Jackpot flipping onto its back, a position which it can get down from thanks to its self-righting brace mounted on its backside. Blip knows this and goes for a strategy that I cannot believe actually works; it goes for another tiny flip after shoving Jackpot under the hammer and when Jackpot lands it does so on its face. For all the power in the world that spinner has there’s not enough starting torque for the motors to move a 250 pound robot. You’d think that Jackpot could just spin up its blades and get down from there but no, the robot in its current orientation is knocked out. Aren says he’s not going to fuck with that mess and steps away.

The ref counts out Jackpot and for once I was kind of hoping Jackpot would make a deeper run in the tournament. Blip seems reasonably defeatable but thus far the only robots thrown at it have either broken down or had exploitable weaknesses, in this case Jackpot’s able to “do the thing” on its face if its weapons have spun down.

WINNER: Blip, KO


ROUND OF 16
HYDRA vs. BLACK DRAGON

HYDRA

Team Whyachi

Weapon: Hydraulic flipping arm

Seed: 31

BLACK DRAGON

Team Uai!rrior

Weapon: Vertical spinning drum

Seed: 18

It’s on, baby!

Hydra. A robot that the producers just won’t let die because that means they won’t have their “villain” Jake Ewert to prop up in B-roll and teasers throughout the episode. When all plans backfired in keeping Hydra in the game it was decided that the 31st and 32nd seeds would be play-in matches and Hydra was drawn to fight Defender in what amounted to a cakewalk of a fight for the flipper to win seed #31. Hydra then advanced into the tournament proper and took down #2 seed Ribbot in a match that was filled with froggy leaps and jumps courtesy of the monstrous flipper. Ribbot eventually broke its ankle and had a dud wheel prohibiting it from effectively moving and the robot was counted out despite being able to translate across the arena to try and stay in the match. Whatever. Just one of “those” calls.

There’s something about the Brazilian teams that just makes their hype infectious. Even if you don’t like Black Dragon or Minotaur there’s a certain charm to seeing the team whooping and hollering behind the scenes as they pump each other up or immediately go to the audience and start cheering with them when they win. Before this fight Black Dragon’s team is clearly confident that they can win because they’re doing their thing backstage before their tunnel entrance. Black Dragon actually had a pretty even match up with Mad Catter in their opening tournament round. Mad Catter was definitely getting ahead on damage points by tearing off both of Black Dragon’s leading wedgelets but had it not been for Mad Catter starting to slow down in the back half of the fight I think Black Dragon would’ve probably lost the battle. They’re here partially on luck but also a whole lot of brute force because they admittedly did shove Mad Catter’s face into its own shit.

Hydra’s flipping mechanism is always good for a light show.

We’re seconds into this fight and two important things happen. One, Hydra continues to be the robot that finds every imperfection in the floor and hits it. Two, Black Dragon drives too far up on Hydra’s wedge and gets thrown through the air. Hydra’s sides are “armored” with these little pieces of titanium that are just slotted into the chassis. They’re meant to be functional but also easily disposable as to not trip the robot up. Somehow Black Dragon comes at Hydra from the side and these thin pieces of shit actually beat Black Dragon’s wedgelets for ground clearance. Black Dragon just slides up Hydra’s side and nothing comes from this attack by the dragon. Black Dragon backs away and gets caught on Hydra’s launcher again and once again the cameras pull out to a wide shot so we can see Black Dragon getting its asshole turned inside out as the robot becomes the essence of a smear frame.

Black Dragon continues to come at Hydra however regardless of what orientation it lands in. Right ways up, upside down, fuck it go in there and get it done. Black Dragon continues to get tossed around and lands on its weapon which only serves to propel the robot across the ground as its kinetic energy is wasted on the arena floor. Hydra meanwhile has been suspiciously defensive of the center of the Battlebox. This is unlike Hydra because we usually see the flipper pursue its victims so it can flip and then flip again and again and again. It was even doing this at the start of the match. Hydra’s holding back and it’s twitching and moving in a manner that leads me to believe it’s already broken its goddamned drive system again. Black Dragon is heaved once more this time getting hung up on the spike strip near one of the bumpers. Jake celebrates while the robot just hangs there. Does the flipper fire off to try and knock Black Dragon free? Of course it doesn’t. (This goes out to all of you assholes who said that the flippers would fire and free Tantrum when Lucky got it stuck on one.)

At this rate Jake’ll get to “30 flips”.

The dragon eventually falls off of the wall and lands upside down, weapon still roaring. It approaches Hydra and connects with its opponent and as you’re probably assuming Hydra throws it to the fucking moon. Black Dragon just cannot land right ways up it seems. The team also is making no effort to try and gyroscope their way back onto their wedge either so I guess this is all just part of the plan. 90 seconds are left in this fight and Hydra has spent over a minute hanging out on the red “B” in the BattleBots logo in the arena. In fact not only this it’s been leaving heavy skid marks all over the floor as well which are made more visible by how much of the graphics on the floor they’re covering. Something’s definitely wrong with Hydra. Looks like it’s just crabwalking. Let’s play a game here called “are the refs going to count Hydra out for not being able to show controlled movement”. We’ll make it a drinking game, too; if Hydra gets shown preferential treatment and isn’t counted out then just find your nearest bottle of liquor, pop the top off, and drink the whole goddamned thing.

Hydra’s drivetrain problems are so dire that the stupid doorstop bot that Black Dragon brought along is able to jump up Hydra’s ass and inhibit it from backing up. It’s literally that bad. How is no one else seeing this? I feel like I’m taking crazy pills. Black Dragon eventually gets flipped and lands in its proper orientation but the robot is unable to capitalize on this; it just keeps getting tossed around and winds up ending the battle upside down. Hydra spent over two minutes on one point in the arena and never moved away from it. And that’s just okay?

Black Dragon attempts a Shoryuken and misses.

The fight goes to the judges and they side with Hydra. Because of course they do. Hey, here’s a thought where’s the fucking scorecard breakdown for this fight? Because I’d love to see it. Hydra should’ve scored zero fucking points for aggression and control because unless my eyes deceived me the robot uhhh sat in the fucking middle of the arena and did jack shit for three minutes. I can’t even see an argument for giving Hydra any damage points either because at the end of the fight Black Dragon was 100% fully functional; it was still driving around and its weapon was still spinning. Meanwhile Hydra’s drive system was fucked up. Jake even says so in the post fight interview. Maybe that’s not damage caused by Black Dragon but that’s self-inflicted damage and even if that’s not worth negative points then Black Dragon as the aggressor was clearly doing “damage” with all the times we saw sparks come off of Hydra. I’m so tired of pretending like this facade doesn’t bother me. I really am. I know we’re in the middle of the article but I’m just going to have my fucking breakdown here. Show me how Hydra could’ve possibly have won this fight fairly and I’ll shut the fuck up but until then I’m believing in the conspiracy that there are hands pulling strings that we cannot see and it’s tugging the show in a specific direction. They wanted Blip versus Hydra by any means, and they got it. Fuck off.

WINNER”: Hydra, “Judges’ Decision” (3-0)


ROUND OF 16
WITCH DOCTOR vs. COPPERHEAD

WITCH DOCTOR

Team Witch Doctor

Weapon: Vertical spinning discs

Seed: 24

COPPERHEAD

Team Caustic Creations

Weapon: Vertical spinning drum

Seed: 8

If you’re looking for a good opening hit well I think you found it.

Witch Doctor is one of my favorite robots but when it came time to fight End Game in the qualifiers the robot was promptly disposed of. Not wanting to let another veteran crowd favorite drop off the face of the planet the robot was fed Rusty to bolster its win/loss record. Sure, okay. Entering the tournament Witch Doctor was originally scheduled to fight Glitch but the team behind Glitch was unable to get their robot ready in time for the match and had to forfeit. Because of this the producers brought in Mammoth at the midnight hour to participate in Glitch’s place. Surely this mixed up Witch Doctor’s plans and arrangements but in the end it really didn’t matter because Mike Gellatly was still able to point Witch Doctor’s weapons where they needed to be and blow Mammoth’s wheels apart. Both of them. Witch Doctor is running some serious firepower and I’ve got them picked to win this fight so let’s see how it pans out.

As much as I like Copperhead I think the robot is going to be on the down slope in this fight. I’ve been entertained by its fights so far including the one with Lucky from a couple weeks ago that got cut because the show is so chock full of immovable fluff that the editors couldn’t fit in a tournament battle. Two of them, actually, but we’re only talking about Copperhead here. Earlier in the episode Riptide was praised and talked about for having 13 inches of dick to fuck other robots with but that’s not exactly special; Copperhead has just about that or more and the team has a real live snake with them. Just saying. I don’t see Riptide’s team coming out here with a shark on a leash or anything. Copperhead obliterated an outmatched Lucky in a fight that saw the Canadian flipper get completely blown out of the water and now it’s time to see if Cuddles the snake can give the team enough luck to undo the voodoo.

The hit that starts a snake mass extinction event.

Robert Cowan says the fight’s going to come down to the opening hit and who’s able to seize the upper hand from it. Well, that looks like Copperhead because the drum bot jumps left to spin its drum up, Witch Doctor goes for a box rush and misses, and when Copperhead turns into Witch Doctor to meet weapon-on-weapon it’s Witch Doctor that gets fucked by doing a complete backflip through the air. Witch Doctor sticks the landing directly down on one of Copperhead’s annoyance bots so if crushing is “your thing” then you can go ahead and pause the video and crank one out real quick. I’ll be here when you get back. Witch Doctor is immediately on the back step and tries to get away from Copperhead who’s in pursuit and keeping in tight with its turns. Copperhead comes close to landing a second blow but Witch Doctor is able to whip around and deliver a shot of its own that flips the snake over.

Despite coming in with the opening booty blast Copperhead is on its back and in dire need of self righting. Witch Doctor comes in and slams into the snake before its drum can get going in the other direction and tosses the robot around. Copperhead starts spinning around in place to try and defend from all angles as its weapon tries to spin but Witch Doctor ain’t having any of it; Copperhead opens up its backside to attack and Witch Doctor takes it. Copperhead is so compact that a lot of its important parts are basically nestled close to the outer walls of its armor and the shock of getting slapped on its ass is enough to upset something inside the snake bot because it immediately kills all power to the drive. The weapon is still roaring at maximum speed but that’s not worth a damn thing if you can’t actually move.

The ref remembers that he has the authority to count robots out after forgetting in the previous fight and Copperhead is eliminated from the tournament.

WINNER: Witch Doctor, KO


ROUND OF 16
P1 vs. SAWBLAZE

P1

Aberrant Robotics

Weapon: Front-hinged lifting arm

Seed: 20

SAWBLAZE

Team Sawblaze

Weapon: Hammer saw

Seed: 4

That’s it. Fight’s over.

Brandon Zalinsky knows he’s about to deal with a motherfucker and we know this because just after the team’s tunnel entrance Peter Abrahamson shows off the plate steel and Tegris sandwich that P1 is sporting on its lid. This is to hopefully make the robot’s upper armor impervious to Sawblaze’s attacks because this whole season we’ve seen that hammer saw come down and just absolutely ruin peoples’ day. P1 was able to “get revenge” over Hypershock in its Round of 32 match when Hypershock mistook P1 for a skateboard ramp, tried to do an ollie, and bailed hard. Because Hypershock spent so much time upside down in that fight the judges sided with P1 presumably because they thought it had a nicer paint job or something. I don’t know, apparently people were really upset with that decision when it happened.

As the number 4 seed there’s not many robots Sawblaze is willing to take bullshit from. Maybe End Game… considering how their altercation went the first time. This is a robot that has systematically destroyed just about everyone that’s come its way for a long time now. In the tournament it was Hijinx who fell first because the universe just felt like shitting on that robot one last time before it was eliminated. Let’s be real here did anyone have Hijinx beating Sawblaze in their little print out brackets? I didn’t think so. If you did you might need to get your head checked. I always keep things open when talking about fights just because I try to be an optimist but even then I was like “this robot needs a one in a million shot at Sawblaze’s tires to win”. Due to P1’s added armor this might be more of a control battle for Jamison Go than an all out carnage fest.

Okay so it’s a miss with the Pulverizers but who cares?

One hit. That’s all it takes to turn the tables on this fight. I feel like I’ve already used this introduction before on a Sawblaze fight but it happens again here. Yeah P1’s got a metric fuckton of armor on its lid but you know what’s still vulnerable? Those little armor cups between the wheels that cover P1’s drive chains. Sawblaze just straight up cleaved into the left one and you know what that means for P1. As soon as the robot is off of Sawblaze’s forks look at how it’s driving. That ain’t controlled movement. Also the hosts haven’t noticed this yet because I’m better at their jobs than they are. P1 is basically stuck in the corner near the hammer and Sawblaze’s team is happy to drop the Pulverizer onto their opponent as many times as they are afforded because fuck P1 that’s why.

Sawblaze hacks into P1’s lid despite the added armor just because it can (and because it should probably start putting points on the board for damage and aggression just to be safe). P1 scoots away and is chased down and very nearly brought all the way back to that same Pulverizer for even more hits. Sawblaze eventually loses interest in the hammer and starts fucking around with the Upper Deck driving loops with P1 stuck on its grille to try and shove the race car into the screws to leave it on the shelf. It doesn’t quite hit the mark and P1 gets away only to be swept back up by Sawblaze and rammed into the screws behind the blue square. Sawblaze seems hesitant to strike with its hammer saw for some reason now and I know it’s not because the team is worried about breaking a goddamned tooth or something. I assume it’s just because they don’t “need” it to win now?

P1’s front bumper finally doing something about three minutes too late.

That’s playing dangerous, but it’s working out for Sawblaze. P1 gets shoved into the far corner in front of the hosts and Sawblaze is really working hard for all three of those control points from the judges. Meanwhile this could be a much more entertaining fight if the robot used its goddamned weapon but whatever. You get what you pay for I guess. There’s about a minute left in this fight and the only reason I know this is because the Killsaws start popping up and affirm their stance against P1 by rising up from the floor to slice into the bottom of the robot. With seconds left on the clock P1 is cast aside so Sawblaze can do its victory spin uninterrupted, Jamison knows he won this from the opening shot. Can you fault him for being so showy?

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


WHAT GOT CUT

Hey don’t think that just because there’s 8 fights on the docket that we’re going to get to see all of them! Much like in the Round of 32 episodes there seems to be a strict “no fun allowed” rule of only having 7 fights per episode and that’s it. That’s the only prescribed amount that the editors can fit in. There’s absolutely nothing that can be removed or downsized on for this most important of episodes to ensure that the tournament experience is complete and people don’t have to chase down random fucking YouTube videos after the fact to see the action.

COBALT (14) vs. WHIPLASH (3)

Cobalt straight up tore Whiplash a new asshole.

Chris Rose tells us that Cobalt was able to land some early blows that “spelled trouble” for Whiplash. Rather than show us any of these hits we’re instead just jumping to the money shot where Whiplash gets its forks stuck on the deck and Cobalt comes in from the back and just absolutely slices into Whiplash. Look at the notch that gets cut into the back of this robot. When I predicted Cobalt to win this fight this is the damage I was talking about. This hit actually knocks out part of the drive for Whiplash’s left side but it’s not all sunshine and rainbows for Cobalt. That chunk that it ripped off of the ass of Whiplash had to go somewhere. It landed in the corner and Cobalt gyro danced up on top of it and that little chunk of shit high centered the killer spinner and knocked it out.

However Whiplash was also deemed incapacitated at the same time and got its forks stuck in the deck a second time. The fight was stopped presumably so the robots could be unstuck. No idea why they’re just now doing shit like this when we could’ve had unsticks multiple times in the past but whatever. Cobalt experienced an electrical failure though and despite being powered down its weapon kept going. Shadows of the Robotic Death Company’s old robot Invader here for sure. Even though it looks like Cobalt’s weapon is slowing down in the footage we’re shown we’re just supposed to take it at face value that it wasn’t stopping. The fight was thrown to the judges who somehow returned a split decision on this one.

It went to Cobalt. And you all mocked me for saying Cobalt could pull off the upset. Just you watch. Cobalt’s going to fucking win and when it does I’ll be wishing I had bet real money on this fucking gig.


ROUND OF 16
MINOTAUR vs. END GAME

MINOTAUR

Team RioBotz

Weapon: Vertical spinning drum

Seed: 16

END GAME

OYES Robotics

Weapon: Vertical spinning disc

Seed: 1

What was that about a #1 seed?

Here’s a rematch many years in the making. Back when End Game was just an embryo of a champion it was smashed to bits by Minotaur in the Desperado event back in 2019. Both of these robots have continued to grow and evolve obviously because one of them is a goddamned champion. Mintoaur is back to remind End Game of the time it got an atomic wedgie at its hands though and Daniel Freitas looks like he’s about to kill a motherfucker for real here. This was a fight that most people believed would happen based upon the bracket layout and also because Minotaur was matched up with Bloodsport and as much as we want to cheer for Bloodsport we kind of all knew in our hearts that Minotaur was going to blast that spinner to kingdom fucking come (and that’s exactly what happened).

I find seedings to be weird. Maybe it’s just me but did anyone think that the outcome of the 32nd playoff mattered in the slightest? Did anyone actually thing Malice or Skorpios stood any fucking chance against this beast? I’d argue that Skorpios would probably fare better than Malice would have but we still got to see how that fight panned out and Skorpios was thrashed, trashed, and smashed and before we knew it the fight was over and Skorpios was laying on its back on the edge of the shelf a smoking heap of its former self. Zach Lytle was enthusiastic about fighting End Game. He thought he had it. He was dead wrong. End Game was going to smash the #32 seed no matter who it was, play-in fight or otherwise. But now it’s up against an old foe. No amount of snarky sticky notes to finish spelling out your robot’s name will prepare you for this.

We got ourselves a Mexican standoff.

Mintoaur’s not even scared to go weapon-on-weapon with End Game. It’s fucking ready for this. It’s so damned ready that even as the force of the weapon impacts bounces the robot away it continues its relentless roll forward. And then… Minotaur catches End Game at just the right angle to send it absolutely reeling flipping and twisting over as its disc tries to stabilize it in the air before bouncing against the ground and self righting the robot. Minotaur is right there in End Game’s face to bring the pain. Before the fight Peter Abrahamson pointed out how End Game’s two outside forks were designed to breakaway when struck sideways, well both of those sonsabitches are gone now. Only the inner forks remain and one of them looks kinked to the side already.

End Game tries to retaliate by shoving Minotaur into the screws of the Upper Deck without its weapon going but this fails and Minotaur gets away. As the robot evades both bots take some time to get their weapons up to speed and Minotaur spins around to face its opponent and just starts climbing all over End Game’s face like a fucking toddler. End Game takes another wallop and spins out into the Killsaws where both of its front forks dig into the slot and high center the robot. Is this it? Is this how the champion dies? Like Donald fucking Hutson? No. End Game shakes loose and backs away only to take a blow to its right side from Minotaur in the process. This hit bangs up the “E” wedgelet and renders it useless. End Game is able to finally land a hit of its own though and pops Minotaur into the air.

AIN’T THAT SOME SHIT

But this only pisses Minotaur off further. Minotaur again goes in for an attack but gets swatted away, this time flipping over. Watch this. Daniel Freitas almost avoids End Game completely using nothing more than the gyroscopic forces of Minotaur’s drum and one fucking wheel. This man is driving this robot with his fucking mind. Minotaur gets righted and chews up the “G” wedgelet on End Game and also visibly bends one of End Game’s remaining inner forks upward and to the inside. The two robots lock heads and neither one is willing to back down. End Game’s weapon is spinning, Mintoaur’s gets going again to full blast. The robots are wriggling and fighting against each other’s drivetrains but neither one is budging until at long last Minotaur shakes loose of the headlock and smashes into the front of End Game sending the robot hurtling back toward the Upper Deck.

Pay close attention and you’ll notice that this hit has damaged End Game’s left side of drive. It’s ever so slightly out of whack and Jack Barker is hiding this by intentionally slowing his driving down so the right side doesn’t overpower the left and spin the robot out. Minotaur gets back in End Game’s face and obliterates what was supposed to be End Game’s two sturdiest forks on either side of its weapon removing their entire assembly and throwing it go knows where in the arena. End Game takes a hit from the Pulverizer and is missing so many wedgelets now that it just spells out “A”. Did you guys know the pinning rule also applies to pinning robots down with the fucking hammers? Because I didn’t but that’s exactly what Team RioBotz does to End Game, they pin the robot to the floor with one of the pneumatic 100 pound hammers. Jesus tapdancing fucking Christ.

I didn’t realize you could show castration on television.

Minotaur circles wide revving its weapon up as it goes before raising the hammer and smashing back into End Game’s face tearing off even more of what’s left of its wedgelets. There are none left aside from some bent up ones on the right half of the robot now. End Game gets its dick shredded off by Minotaur as it attacks the underside of the robot. The champ gets away and lands a glancing shot to Minotaur’s side. Minotaur’s not having any of this bullshit so it responds with a whack that flips End Game into the corner wall and it lands atop Minotaur who backs over into the Pulverizer for another shot before whipping around and grinding away even more of End Game’s nether regions. The clock winds down on this fight and I think it’s obvious who won. Just look at Daniel. He knows. He fucking knows.

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


Aaand there he goes again.

Was that Minotaur victory unexpected? In a sense yes because my bracket had Minotaur’s run ending here; I genuinely thought as the reigning champion End Game would overpower the raging bull to settle the score before ultimately falling to Witch Doctor in the quarterfinals. Looks like I was wrong about that and now we’ve got Minotaur versus Witch Doctor to look forward to. With this win Minotaur’s whole bracket has opened up and whereas I had Witch Doctor pegged to reach the finals and lose to Cobalt… maybe it’ll be Minotaur versus Cobalt in the finals. Another rematch. At this point who knows? A lot of my predictions were correct but of course now that we’re two rounds deep into the tournament the incorrect predictions are starting to really destabilize how I perceived the event to go. Seeing End Game fall to Minotaur has me pumped up though because there’s only one episode left and Minotaur just might have what it takes to go all the way, though I’m still standing behind my initial assessment of Cobalt winning the Nut.

And let’s talk about Cobalt. I said it could be done. A hail mary long shot of a battle against Whiplash because we all knew Whiplash was going to stomp out Icewave. It may not have been a win by conventional means but it’s still a victory and my tournament pick is still in the running! I feel bad for Whiplash though, not a single one of its tournament fights were aired; they’ve all been banished to YouTube where they will be forgotten about and when people in the future watch this season they’re going to either just miss these fights or have to dig through YouTube uploads to find them because it’s not like these battles are being given descriptive or helpful titles.

What is this, ballet practice now?

My favorite fight of the week has to be End Game versus Minotaur. Hands down. I don’t even care if you saw that coming from a mile away. That fight was non-stop edge of your seat carnage and the pendulum could’ve swung in the other direction at any time. All End Game needed was one mega blow to snap Minotaur out of its killing combo attack and the tables could’ve easily turned. But Minotaur toughed it out and just smashed the champion and I think that’s fucking insane. Worst fight of the week I’m giving to Hydra versus Black Dragon because the judges were so eager to count out Ribbot, who was ostensibly more mobile than Hydra in this fight, but Hydra just somehow got a pass. That’s not cool to me and it just shows that BattleBots’ rules on controlled movement need to be completely overhauled and – most importantly – enforced.

Next week is the final episode of the season and a winner will be crowned! At this time next week we know a new champion will take the nut because End Game just got destroyed, Tombstone was knocked out last week, and Bite Force is MIA. The next team to win the Nut will be a brand new champion and there are 8 bots left vying for that title. If you’d like to support BattleBots Update you can do so with a monthly pledge on Patreon or a one-time donation via Ko-Fi. You can also grab some stickers at Redbubble. Be sure to follow BattleBots Update on Facebook for everything else. See you next week for the finals!

– Draco