[BattleBots: S11 E14 is available via streaming on Discovery+.]
This is it. The past 13 weeks have all been leading up to this singular moment. The 14th and final episode of the season. (Not counting Bounty Hunters but we’ll get into that later.) Every Fight Night round, every tournament match, it’s all down to this. Eight robots remain and End Game is not among them so no matter who steps up to claim the title it will be a brand new champion. Some favorites are left, some surprises are left, but as we begin this episode with the quarterfinals we’re going to start eliminating competitors pretty quickly.
Among the final eight robots are Minotaur who stomped out End Game with a level of determination I’ve never seen from the team before. Sawblaze has very quietly stayed its course and qualified as the 4th seed and remains the highest seeded robot still in the game. Newcomer Blip has been on an undefeated streak since the Fight Night rounds. Hydra slinked back into the brackets after a feisty play-in match for 31st place. So many teams have carved out their own stories to make it here and all but one of them are going to go home with nothing but a battered robot and hopes and dreams for next year.
Let’s crown a new champion.
RIPTIDE vs. SAWBLAZE
Every year we get a breakout newbie star who makes a deep run in the tournament and turns a lot of heads. I’m not counting Blip because Blip’s builder has been around for a few seasons so he doesn’t count. The man of the hour right now is Ethan Kurtz and his robot Riptide, a robot inspired by Yeti who doesn’t take any bullshit from anyone. It’s all business. Qualifying in 21st place Riptide entered the tournament and smashed Shatter to bits who had previously made it to the quarterfinals last year. Riptide then met Uppercut and broke a lot of peoples’ prediction brackets when it sliced open Uppercut’s wheels to let all the foam out to flatten them for an impressive if not messy knock out. Maybe there really is something to the massive spinner on the front of Riptide? Sawblaze will be the ultimate test.
Sawblaze is the #4 seed. End Game, Ribbot, and Whiplash have all fallen meaning Jamison Go’s robot is now the highest seeded machine left in the running. Normally I’d say that’s gotta be worth something but this is just the #4 seed… the top three robots have all been eliminated. It’s almost like seedings don’t matter and what’s more important is focusing on your opponents and not letting them get the best of you. Jamison gets excitable in interviews but behind the wheel he’s totally zen. Sawblaze’s first round battle was against Hijinx and that was such a hilarious mismatch because Sawblaze was essentially given a massive goddamned Kit Kat bar to hack apart and that’s exactly what it did. Sawblaze was poised to have some trouble against a heavily armored P1 but literally on the first shot Sawblaze sniped a drive chain and that left P1 a miserable pile of shit parts just waiting to be scooped up and slammed around for three fucking minutes. Never doubt the precision Jamison has with that weapon; if your robot has a weak point Sawblaze will find it and it will hit it.
Ethan Kurtz says he needs to get that “first hit” on Sawblaze and after that it’s over, but the catch is Sawblaze often doesn’t let opponents get that first hit. Case in point Sawblaze’s trick right out of the gate is to play a fucking Uno reverse card on Riptide who manages to hit Sawblaze’s front end but flips over backwards in the process. Riptide is now upside down but we know from previous fights that all it needs to do is hit the wall with its weapon squared up and it’ll fling itself into the air and possibly back down onto its wheels. Sawblaze isn’t letting that happen and corrals Riptide around with its forks. Sawblaze’s weapon is spinning, because it hits the spike strip accidentally and busts one of the yellow teeth off of it, but it hasn’t thrown any punches yet. You’d think Riptide’s underside would yield results identical to Sawblaze’s battle with Minotaur but maybe the awkward angle of the robot is giving Jamison some reservations about swinging the blade. Riptide gets shoved into one of the side spires of the deck and rights itself.
Riptide might be oriented correctly but it hasn’t gotten off of Sawblaze’s forks so it can spin its weapon all it wants to but it’ll never land “the hit” that it needs to kick off a death combo. Instead Sawblaze repositions itself behind Riptide and lines up a hit that looks like it might very well rip a back wheel off of the drum spinner. Sawblaze lets loose and leaves into the soft blue armor panels of Riptide, digging in proper, but doesn’t seem to hit anything important. Riptide finally gets away and strikes Sawblaze hard enough to pop it into the air. Is this “the hit”? Riptide takes a chance and pursues its opponent but Sawblaze lands and immediately dives forward resulting in another blow that just rolls Riptide onto its back. Sawblaze goes on the attack and slams Riptide into the spike strip by the drivers’ booth and remember what happened when Riptide fought Defender? Remember how the robot got hung up on the side of its weapon bracket? Yeah, it fucking happens again.
In promotional shots for the event Riptide is seen with a pair of lifting forks similar to what Yeti is equipped with but at no point did we ever see these forks come out in a fight. I don’t think they would’ve done a damn thing against Sawblaze but I want to say the forks might’ve prevented Riptide from getting stuck at an angle like this? Either because the forks would change the geometry of the robot’s sides or the action of pivoting the forks around would allow Riptide to either roll onto its back or self right? We may never know because we never got to see the forks in use and unlike Jason Vasquez with Defender, Jamison Go is content to leave Riptide on its side to die. This is the quarterfinals and this is historically as far as Sawblaze has ever made it before so it’s not about to jinx this shit by keeping the fight going. We all saw Riptide’s previous fights, we know what that thing can do.
Sawblaze backs off to draw a KO count to claim a victory over Riptide and advances into the semifinals. (Also I just want to point out that I did notice Riptide’s “Break32” text changing as it advanced through the tournament. Last round it said “Break16” and now it says “Break8”. I get what they’re doing and it’s clever but I just never acknowledged it until now.)
WINNER: Sawblaze, KO
COBALT vs. TANTRUM
I hate to be so gleeful that Cobalt slashed Whiplash’s tires and came out ahead but I mean this is my Nut winner right here so all of these fights I predicted. Now actually I was expecting Rotator to defeat Tantrum so this is all uncharted territory for me but I still think Cobalt has what it takes to at least treat Tantrum like it treated Gruff earlier in the season. Cobalt’s first tournament match was against Yeti in another regrettable battle because I wanted to see more out of both of these robots but as it stands I pegged Cobalt and sure enough Yeti was trashed with one mega blow. That’s when Cobalt advanced onward to face Whiplash and got its “one good hit” in; that’s kind of how I’ve poised Cobalt as the potential winner here, as long as it gets that one good hit it’s won the fight… kinda like Riptide I guess, except not. Tantrum is a brick but I still think the same principle applies here.
Tantrum is no stranger to the quarterfinals, in fact it’s no stranger to the semifinals either because that’s how far it made it last season only for its srimech to smoke out on it and then get dominated by End Game. This time around Tantrum’s faced a much harder path to make it to the Round of 8 but this brick shithouse has stuck to its old guns and has kept delivering. It survived an onslaught from Gigabyte that saw the shell spinner attack from the Upper Deck and obliterate Tantrum’s drivetrain but Tantrum stayed the course and eventually bumped Gigabyte into the wall where the spinner destroyed itself. Tantrum then moved on to the Round of 16 for a much more active battle with Rotator where we saw Rotator pull off all of its usual tricks and attacks. Tantrum again started having mobility issues but in a hail mary shot literally in the final seconds of the fight its punching spinner was able to sock Rotator just right and knock it out of the arena.
Tantrum does one thing and one thing only: drive around opponents in tight circles. There are no box rushes or fancy moves at the start of this fight, just Tantrum perpetually turning left around Cobalt with the assumption that either A) Tantrum will be fast enough to catch Cobalt from the back or B) Cobalt will try and turn too quickly to face Tantrum and this will cause the robot to gyro up on one side allowing Tantrum an easy hit. Eventually Cobalt becomes privy to this plan and just makes a line drive for Tantrum. It’s a miss but it results in a break in Tantrum’s plan. Now Tantrum goes on the attack and dares to go fork to fork with Cobalt. Tantrum’s punchy thing jerkily fires a few times and these hits are absorbed by Cobalt’s front hinged forks.
Except that’s the problem, Cobalt’s forks absorb the impacts. There are two key forks on this robot that absolutely cannot be damaged if Cobalt wants to remain effective: the two middle ones. Well look which fingernails Tantrum peels back like a sadist, the fucking middle ones. Cobalt gets away from this exchange “relatively unharmed” in the grand scheme of things but it’ll never be able to land a hit with its disc for the remainder of the fight. Guys, I think I might’ve predicted my brackets wrong. (Then again I had this piece of shit Tantrum losing to Rotator and this was supposed to be Cobalt versus Rotator which Cobalt would’ve slam dunked.) Anyways the hosts have yet to realize that Cobalt’s primary method of feeding opponents into its weapon has just been dismantled because of course they have; they’re too busy talking about driving and whatever other filler comes to their minds.
The hosts continue to talk about “the ground game” while saying Cobalt’s weapon has the power to end this fight in one hit. Yes, it does. No, we’re not going to see that. Not unless Tantrum starts to gyro dance from its own rinky dink spinning disc but I doubt that’s going to happen. That thing barely spins as it is. Cobalt stays aggressive despite Matt Maxham probably knowing this fight has gone into the shitter and that says a lot about him as a competitor; I’d probably just tap out. I know “there’s no tapping out in BattleBots” but I’d cause a big enough scene to make a tap out possible. I’d punch the ref or something, I don’t know. Instant disqualification, tapping out, what’s the difference?
Tantrum gets Cobalt pinned in one of the corners and starts grinding its disc against the robot’s underside. This is doing minimal damage until the spinning disc catches the “lip” of Cobalt’s armor, then it’s a problem. The hit smacks Cobalt up into the air and much like we saw in its battle with Minotaur a couple seasons ago Cobalt’s disc catches the spike strip on the backswing. This propels the robot upward into the air and because Cobalt was kind of at an angle the robot tumbles out of the arena near the blue team. The fight is over and that’s twice Tantrum has knocked someone out of the arena. I think in general that’s like the fifth or sixth time it’s happened this season and nobody’s been disqualified for it so I assume we can just take that “rule” and add it to the pile of “things that will only be applied if it’ll make for good television”.
Sayonara, Cobalt. I believed in you.
WINNER: Tantrum, KO
HYDRA vs. BLIP
Oh look, more made for TV bullshit. Tantrum just advanced onward and the winner of this fight will face it in the semifinals. I assume the producers are banking on Blip being “the new flipper technology” trumping Hydra much in the same way Hydra trumped Bronco. You get your flipper on flipper dream battle and then you get your “two robots from the same team” battle. Fucking palpable. Thankfully Hydra’s not going to go down without a fight; this is the robot that had a shaky preseason but returned in the Round of 32 to first win a play-in fight where it KO’d Defender and then moved into the tournament proper to also “KO” Ribbot. Hydra then faced Black Dragon in a fight where absolutely nothing came together for Black Dragon and the robot was thrown around for three solid minutes despite Hydra looking a little worse for wear on the drivetrain front. I’m not the biggest fan of this robot but I want to see it spoil the producers’ desire for an all Team Seems Reasonable semifinal. Do it, Hydra. Fucking murder Blip. Murder it in its stupid fucking cutesy face.
Blip has made it this far without really being challenged much. I think if anything the robot faced its hardest battle in just its previous tournament round when Jackpot rode up its flipping wedge and kicked a dent square into it. Before that however Blip fought Valkyrie in a fight that was one of the worst battles of the season. Valkyrie’s spinner died in the first ten seconds so Blip had free reign to just heave and throw the dead spinner all over the place because Valkyrie’s design isn’t conductive to negating wedges. If anything it just invites them in. Blip’s preseason was also a cakewalk as I previously mentioned; Jackpot has been its most dangerous opponent and after a lucky flip that knocked the spinner onto its front Blip backed away and we didn’t see a flip carnival like we have with all of its other shitty opponents. Hydra is next in line and poses a significant threat but if Blip can somehow skirt around Hydra’s defenses and get Hydra upside down we might be in for another fight filled with flips and self-rights.
Pay careful attention to how Chris Rose introduces this fight. “It may also determine the future of flipper technology in this sport.” Deafening echoes of Hydra versus Bronco here. Don’t tell me this fight wasn’t somehow planned and that these two robots weren’t supposed to meet. That’s why Hydra played in for the 31st slot instead of the 32nd. Hydra leaps forward into the main part of the arena, the side not occupied by a stupid red shelf. Blip carries forward as if it were meaning to charge Hydra head-on. Hydra and Blip spend a few moments posturing with one another before Hydra’s flipping tongue wins the ground clearance game and Blip gets flipped off into the protective slanted glass made to ensure robots can’t fall out of the arena back there anymore. Blip tries to use a weak flip to hop back onto its wheels but Hydra has another plan. That plan involves throwing Blip at the shelf so Blip busts its kneecap open on the corner of it.
Blip is out of reach of Hydra now and is desperately trying to get back onto its wheels. Meanwhile Hydra is on the prowl. It wants to get at Blip but it keeps doing that thing where it finds every goddamned imperfection in the floor and bumps into it. Hydra spins around backwards to slide over the floor imperfections and manages to flip Blip onto the Upper Deck in such a way so that Blip’s corner is stuck on part of the screw boxes on the hazard. Jake cheers after performing this trick shot even though right after it he immediately comes down with a “I know he’s gonna get down”. Well, maybe. Blip keeps firing off its flipper but because there’s not as many moving parts and inertia behind the wedge the robot doesn’t “hop” and move about like other flippers do. Blip’s stuck.
The blue flipper does eventually get down from its position but now there are two things working against it. One: Blip has magnets that keep it glued to the floor and now those magnets are being attracted to the top of the red spike strip of the deck. Two: remember how I said Blip busted its kneecap open on the shelf? That hit actually did damage the robot, look at the back left wheel; it’s all jacked up. So the side of drive that does work is being fucked with by the robot’s own magnets and the side of drive that doesn’t work is the only thing that would be able to free Blip if it were actually functional. I don’t think Jake knew any of this when he threw Blip up onto the shelf but this was a perfect storm of “fuck you” surrounding Blip and the lightning bolt finally hit. Guess we won’t be getting that Blip versus Tantrum fight. Boo hoo.
WINNER: Hydra, KO
WITCH DOCTOR vs. MINOTAUR
Minotaur’s run for the title has been filled with the ghosts of its past. When the same robots keep qualifying for the tournament shit like this is bound to happen. Next in line is Witch Doctor, a robot the team battled back in season 8 in the Round of 16. Witch Doctor’s no stranger to the tournament and it’s no stranger to deep runs but last time these two robots met Minotaur got the best of it and trampled the doctor. Up to this point Witch Doctor has had what I’d call some interesting fights, perhaps not “challenging”. Initially this robot was slated to fight Glitch in the Round of 32 but Glitch had to pull out due to weapon malfunction so Mammoth was placed in at the last minute. I don’t consider Mammoth to be a real challenging robot to beat, not when you’re bringing the firepower Witch Doctor has. Witch Doctor then defeated Copperhead in a match that could’ve been rough but the snake died in like two hits so it was a total wash.
Something special about this fight is how this is a match-up between two former runners up, both of whom eventually lost to Bite Force in the championship finals. There’s a weird sense of bragging rights for whoever wins this battle. Minotaur has proven itself to be an absolute beast this year going all the way back to its first fight where it admittedly lost but managed to stay in the fight while burning alive for two straight minutes. Brazilian bots are just built differently, man. In the tournament Minotaur first met Bloodsport and we kind of knew what to expect here; horizontal spinner versus a vertical drum, the horizontal spinner is going to get helicoptered around. What we weren’t expecting was Minotaur shredding Bloodsport’s weapon into absolutely nothing. Perhaps most impressively of all however was Minotaur’s rematch with End Game. They won the first time, and they won this time. End Game – the reigning champion – was absolutely eviscerated and blown to fucking smithereens. Minotaur’s here to win.
Witch Doctor starts this fight strong be deflecting an oncoming blow from Minotaur and landing a trio of hits that flip and roll the Brazilian spinner over. But then, it happens. Minotaur gets its drum up to speed in an instant and collides with Witch Doctor’s front end sending Witch Doctor flying through the air and back onto its wheels. Minotaur makes a bee line for the staggered Witch Doctor and hits its left drive wheels in an attempt to start ripping them off just like it did a few seasons ago. Witch Doctor sheds a chain, Minotaur goes in for one of its trademark control pins, and as Witch Doctor wriggles away it takes another shot from Minotaur that just absolutely lays this robot the fuck out. The same front armor panel that End Game tore off of Witch Doctor comes loose and the robot is forced to self right.
The fight drifts toward the front of the Upper Deck and Minotaur lands another shot but turns a bit too sharply and rides up onto one wheel. This results in Minotaur taking itself to the deck’s screws where it cannot seem to get down from. This opens the bull up to some free shots from Witch Doctor who’s happy to take the bait and as soon as Minotaur is inevitably thrown onto the deck problems become apparent immediately. Something’s wrong with Minotaur’s left wheel. It’s not turning. Did the screws actually do damage to someone for once? Witch Doctor is waiting for Minotaur to hobble down from the shelf and as the robot tumbles off it lands a glancing blow that deflects into the shelf jamming Witch Doctor’s weaponry into the hazard. As Minotaur comes down off of the shelf however that damaged wheel literally falls out of its fucking hub leaving Mintoaur with just one tire. It’s a good thing Pete Abrahamson told us to watch for how Daniel Freitas can drive on one wheel because that’s all the motherfucker has left now.
Witch Doctor is still stuck in the wall though and for some reason the fight is paused in order to free the robot? When did they start doing this all of a sudden? People get stuck on the wall all the time and they don’t do shit about it, just think of when Glitch was fighting Ghost Raptor and got its chassis stuck on the spike strip. They didn’t pause the fight to free Glitch. No, they let Ghost Raptor go over there and fuck around to free its opponent. What’s with the selective freeing of robots? I could see if both robots were stuck but both robots aren’t stuck, Minotaur is cruising around on one wheel. Dare I say it but Witch Doctor fucked up here but whatever, sure give it an unstick I suppose. The match is paused, the show goes to a commercial break, and thankfully because I’m watching these episodes on demand I don’t have to sit through five minutes of ads for shit I don’t need nor want.
Trey Roski and his mighty crowbar is enough to free Witch Doctor from the wall so the fight continues. Witch Doctor backs the fuck away from Minotaur as the robot just sorta jerks around in the corner. Minotaur is actually getting its drum up to maximum speed so it can start to gyro around just like we’ve seen in the past. The gyroing starts out small and already the ref is threatening to count the robot out but team captain Carlos Junior insists that the robot is “controlled”. The cameras cut to Mike Gellatly who’s hanging back with Witch Doctor and asking if they’re going to count out Minotaur. Cut back to Junior who’s now arguing with the referee saying it’s going where Daniel wants it to. Cut back to Mike who’s getting progressively more pissed off with the inconsistent application of the rules. The fight has now moved outside of the box and is now between all of the drivers and officials to make a determination on what the fuck is happening here. Junior successfully argues with the ref for a minute and a half to avoid a count out meanwhile as the buzzer sounds Mike just looks over and shouts “What the hell man?”
And let’s break down that “what the hell man” since we’ve got the time and I’ve got the soapbox. Lately this show has been absolutely chock full of suspect ref calls when it comes to movement. Ribbot was counted out for doing about what Minotaur was doing… but only one of these robots was counted out? And when Hydra was fighting Black Dragon the robot’s driver Jake Ewert even admitted that his drive system was damaged and that’s why he never left the red “B” on the BattleBots arena logo. Nobody asked Jake to show controlled movement despite him parking his robot there for two minutes. The BattleBots rules are needlessly complicated and layered and feature all sorts of stupid caveats and at the end of the day the definition of “controlled movement” is just vague enough to not actually be a definition at all and because of it we get shit like this. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: adopt the Robot Wars ruleset when it comes to movement. “Is the robot able to move outside of its own circumference by ANY means?” This includes crabwalking, riding along a weapon, using the gyro forces of a weapon, all of that. That’s all movement. That means the robot is still a threat and opponents need to engage. That’s such a simple clause and it would solve literally all of this shit overnight but for some dumb reason BattleBots insists on doing things the hard way and we wind up with fights like this and angry drivers on all sides of the battle.
Anyways the fight goes to the judges as a retroactive KO was not awarded to Witch Doctor. The judges still side with Witch Doctor presumably based on damage because Minotaur lost an entire goddamned wheel.
WINNER: Witch Doctor, Judges’ Decision (3-0)
HYDRA vs. TANTRUM
Love him or hate him Jake Ewert is just one fight away from the championship bout. Earlier in this episode we saw him knock out Blip in a very creative manner and now that he’s ruined the producers’ desire to have Blip versus Tantrum happen it’s up to Hydra to stop the other half of Team Seems Reasonable. Tantrum better hope those dinky little fists are in full effect because Hydra’s likely going to have this robot upside down and all over the box. Remember Tantrum versus Lucky from the beginning of the season? Multiply that by about a hundred and subtract the exposed wheels that Tantrum can easily snipe off. That’s where we are. Buckle the fuck up.
Tantrum made it to the semifinals last season before losing to eventual champion End Game and here it is again in the same step in the tournament bracket. The difference here is this year End Game was murdered by Minotaur so it’s literally anyone’s game now. In the quarterfinals we saw Tantrum destroy my precious Cobalt so yeah I’m a little bit salty about that and I wouldn’t mind seeing this robot get launched to the fucking moon. But Tantrum is coming out with its sturdy forks and if it can out-reach Hydra and get underneath Hydra’s own wedgelets we might see the spinning disc of Tantrum punch Hydra’s leading flipping tongue square off and once that happens who knows where this fight might go.
Before the fight Ginger Schmidt talks some mad shit on Hydra saying it always gets caught on the floor and that’s going to be their meal ticket to attacking Hydra where it hurts. Well take a look at where Tantrum ends up as soon as the fight starts: in the Killsaws. This affords Hydra the opportunity to get a light flip in on Tantrum… and also get its own fork stuck in the other Killsaws nearby. You can see Tantrum trying to start its plan of circling Hydra but Hydra’s too close to the wall and Tantrum is unwilling to thread the needle so close between Hydra and the screws so it spins around and drives the other way. Hydra stays in the middle of the box and just watches Tantrum with laser focus. It misses a flip which invites Tantrum in to try and take a shot but Hydra resets quickly and heaves its opponent despite their forks getting entangled with each other.
Hydra starts getting close to the drivers’ booth and this affects Tantrum’s strategy once again. This time however with no hazard on the wall Tantrum does try to thread the needle and avoid Hydra and fails getting thrown into the drivers’ booth and upside down for an easy follow-up flip from Hydra. Not only that Hydra catches Tantrum on the way out for a third flip. The fight orbits back into the center of the arena and Tantrum starts doing its thing again and finally gets a hit on Hydra, a quick jab that results in Hydra losing one of its disposable titanium panels. Hydra retaliates with another flip and as the camera zooms out to get the whole flip in shot we can see Tantrum’s minibot Nugget doing nothing because it’s apparently given up on the fight. Boy, I sure do love useless minibots that serve no purpose except to clutter the arena. Fucking Black Dragon had a shitty D2 kit and at least they had the balls to try and jump up Hydra’s ass to trip it up. Here’s the kicker: they were successful.
Tantrum plows forward and catches Hydra by the corner and starts firing off its weapon on its sliding track. None of the hits connect with Hydra because Tantrum’s weapon is a fucking joke. Hydra carefully maneuvers its way out of the short corner and catches Tantrum for another toss. This flip has the unfortunate result of jamming Hydra’s maw wide open and Tantrum slides up Hydra’s front wedge and starts punching the underside of the flipping arm. Tantrum lands one big shot before it loses all power in its spinner and starts punching at Hydra with a dead spinner. What a worthwhile design. Hydra uses its flipper as a makeshift clamp and pushes Tantrum into the wall dangerously close to where Tantrum has thrown both Rotator and Cobalt out of the arena. Hydra lands another flip but sadly it doesn’t avenge these robots in the most ironic manner possible and Tantrum stays inside the box.
Hydra’s flipper can’t fully reset so this leaves its tongue sticking out in front of the robot and sure enough with a low effort shot Tantrum breaks the tip off. The rest of the arm is still there however and we know Hydra can still flip with this part of the weapon, just ask Ribbot. With under 10 seconds to go Hydra demonstrates that its weapon still works and throws a smoking Tantrum through the air before the buzzer ends the match.
Is it enough for Hydra to win? It seems pretty cut and dry when you factor out the numbers and tally up how many flips Hydra landed and how unsuccessful Tantrum was using its weapon until the last minute of the fight. The judges return a split decision, somehow, for fucking Tantrum. I don’t know what fight the judges were watching but it sure as shit wasn’t this one. I see no reason to even try and defend this decision but you know the editors are going to slap those scorecards on the screen. Derek and Jason gave Tantrum 2 points apiece for “aggression” and gave Hydra only 1. I’m sorry but driving around in circles while taking stray shots every few seconds doesn’t count as “aggression” you fucking morons. And a 2/1 split for “control” that favors Hydra? Get the fuck out of here that’s a 3/0 split and you fucking know it. Lisa’s the only judge who came remotely close to getting it right and she’s the judge everybody hates for some stupid reason! I swear to god each time this happens I keep telling myself this is going to be the last season where I give enough of a shit to write this stupid goddamned website.
WINNER: Tantrum, Judges’ Decision (2-1)
WITCH DOCTOR vs. SAWBLAZE
Here’s another rematch battle. Actually this is the third time these robots have fought each other because they’re just so goddamned good at snaking their way through the tournaments that they’re bound to meet. So far Witch Doctor and Sawblaze are 1-1 when it comes to fighting each other so this one’s going to be the tiebreaker. Witch Doctor managed to tough out a “controversial” victory over Minotaur that was only controversial because the BattleBots rules were written by a seven year old. Minotaur lost a wheel and could still gyro around, that’s movement as far as I’m concerned but the team captain of Minotaur was able to distract the ref long enough for the fight to go to the judges and they still lost. It was an attempt. Special for this fight Witch Doctor is bringing out a unique one disc setup to hopefully cause some real damage to Sawblaze. One big disc instead of two lighter discs? The math checks out.
Sawblaze on the other hand has had a tough path getting here but Jamison Go is so focused behind the wheel that he’s got many of his fights in the bag before they even start. I’m certain he has a vision of how each fight is going to go and the battles wind up acting out exactly as his premonitions say. Except for the ones where he loses, then the voodoo ritual was probably done wrong. And Jamison’s going to need all the voodoo he can muster because his opponent is the master of it. If this were a Mega Man game Witch Doctor would be called “Voodoo Woman” and her level would be filled with annoying fucking skulls that fly through walls and hit you and knock you back into the fucking spikes for an instant kill. Anyways Sawblaze hacked up and rolled over Riptide for a relatively painless win but now the heat’s been dialed up; this won’t be an easy fight.
It doesn’t look like it but there’s apparently a lot of damage to the floor in the center of the box because it seems no one can travel through there without hitting a seam or some shit. Sawblaze trips right at the start. Witch Doctor almost gets ensnared on its forks but the robot has enough of its wheels still in contact with the floor to back off and get away. Sawblaze over corrects when it tries to turn and this opens up its right wheel to attack. Those wheels look awfully similar to Mammoth’s and we’ve seen the unspeakable things Witch Doctor can do to those kinds of wheels. Sure enough after just two goddamned shots Witch Doctor has yanked off one of the tires leaving Sawblaze to do nothing but drift around on its left wheel.
Sawblaze careens back into the center of the box and tries to keep its front end facing Witch Doctor but it’s kind of hard to do that when to move you have to swing widely side to side. Witch Doctor cruises in for some side attacks and strikes the loose wheel throwing it into the scaffolding above (it lands nicely on the control box of the red square so that means Mike Gellatly wins the carnival prize). Sawblaze takes a hit to its left wheel and chunks of foam are ripped out along with the rubber. Witch Doctor shoves Sawblaze into the wall and lands a hit that sends the dragon flipping ass over head into the corner and very nearly into the same out of bounds zone that End Game kicked it to. Sawblaze is not destined to be flipped out of the arena though, despite this definitely being the better outcome as to what happens instead. Witch Doctor slices into the underside of Sawblaze as it tries to self right and presumably hits the fuel tank of its flamethrower. The robot doesn’t detonate a la Uppercut this time but instead it just catches fire and straight up burns.
An ironic death for a dragon, but a death nonetheless. Witch Doctor advances onward to the championship for the second time!
WINNER: Witch Doctor, KO
WITCH DOCTOR vs. TANTRUM
There’s very little left that I can say about each of these robots because this is now the third time this episode we’ve seen them. We just got done seeing Witch Doctor shred Sawblaze and slice it all the way from asshole to mouth so it caught fire. We also saw Tantrum win a bullshit judges’ decision over Hydra wherein it was flipped for three minutes straight and still won. Like Jake Ewert said “sometimes [the judges] get it wrong”. Sometimes they do. A Hydra/Witch Doctor rematch in the finals would’ve been epic. Now we just get Witch Doctor versus the shitty punching robot whose weapon calls in sick half way through each battle.
The match begins and both robots immediately go for the center of the box. They circle around and around until Tantrum draws first blood. Witch Doctor rides up Tantrum’s forks and connects with its spinning drum thing. Tantrum doesn’t even have to fire its weapon because this is a passive hit but it catches the baseplate of Witch Doctor and bends a corner down so now when Witch Doctor lands it’s all fucked up and can’t drive straight anymore. The fight is literally over after this one shitty unimpressive hit that Tantrum didn’t even initiate but naturally with this being the big title bout the officials are going to keep it going for a while longer.
Tantrum takes advantage of all the ground clearance that’s just opened up on Witch Doctor and cruises in for some easy hits. It even manages to use its sliding puncher thing for once. Witch Doctor has no response for these attacks because it can’t even drive in a straight line. Despite this the ref doesn’t count out Witch Doctor and neither Alex Grant nor Ginger Schmidt from Tantrum’s team are asking “are they going to count them out”. Chris Rose tries to play up the drama of this fight asking if Mike Gellatly can get Witch Doctor back in this fight. No, Chris. Not unless Tantrum hits Witch Doctor again on that exact piece of metal that’s sticking into the ground to bend it backwards and I doubt that’s going to fucking happen. Just accept that this fight is a total donkey show and be done with it. Bask in how much of a let down this title bout is. Just do it. It’s a catharsis that’s almost orgasmic, I promise.
Witch Doctor gets pinned into the wall again and Tantrum misses several times with its puncher until it socks one of the wheels on its opponent the shock of which results in a chain coming loose on Witch Doctor. Tantrum manages to catch Witch Doctor from behind and the shape of Tantrum’s front end is perfect for eating Witch Doctor’s ass so the robot gets carried across the arena and slammed into one of the spires on the Upper Deck which flips Witch Doctor over. The self righting mechanism on Witch Doctor still works but what’s the point? The arena lights flash signaling the final minute of the bout and Tantrum pins Witch Doctor against the wall and tries to land a punch except its weapon is a piece of shit that like I said only works for like half the fucking battle so rather than get any impressive blows the robot is just throwing a non-spinning disc down the track and doing fuck all.
With 30 seconds left to go the ref finally tells Witch Doctor he’s going to count it out. They’ve allowed the fight to go on long enough rather than have a 30 second final so even though Witch Doctor is just as mobile as it was two minutes ago now’s the time for the countdown. Witch Doctor is kicked into the corner where it dies and this final is over.
CHAMPION: Tantrum, KO
When it comes to predicting brackets I got one of the finalists correct; I predicted Witch Doctor to make it this far again. I caught some flack for that and I’ve dealt with a season’s worth of people casually shitting on Witch Doctor and to all of those people who doubted me giving the robot an “A” rank in my predictions article at the beginning of the season all I have to say is “I told you so”. Witch Doctor is the real deal and in a better universe Witch Doctor won this championship easily because Tantrum didn’t get a lucky shot in the first 15 seconds.
Am I unhappy with Tantrum winning? “Unhappy” might not be the right word. “Unimpressed” is probably a better descriptor to go with. This is a robot whose weapon is powerful but seems to only work intermittently. It’s a robot that was extremely lucky that both Gigabyte and Rotator died because otherwise I don’t think it would’ve survived either of those decisions. It’s also the recipient of a bogus judges’ call against Hydra as well. Tantrum is not a robot that impressed me at any point this year. It was just “there”, if that makes any sense. The only times I was impressed by Tantrum were when other robots were beating the shit out of it, like Gigabyte jumping off of the deck and wrecking it or Hydra flipping it a dozen times.
But Tantrum won, so congratulations nonetheless. The robot has come a very long way from the shitty little spring-powered flipper that didn’t work correctly in any of its fights a few seasons ago. The sliding track weapon was a novel concept even if it didn’t work as intended. Perhaps in the future with more refinements, and all the sponsorship opportunities and whatnot that come with being a BattleBots champion, we’ll truly see what Tantrum can become.
The fight of the week for me is probably going to be Hydra vs Tantrum for all the action and flipping that happened in the battle. Even if I feel the decision was incorrect you still can’t take away the fact that there were a lot of impressive flips and some solid driving from Hydra to keep on its opponent and never let up. I know a couple weeks ago I said the fight between Blip and Valkyrie with nothing but a bunch of flips was boring but that’s because one of the robots was basically dead weight. Work with me here. The worst fight of the episode unfortunately is going to be the championship; it was over in one hit and then allowed to be strung out for the sake of not having such a big match end in a snap. Witch Doctor was never truly in that fight.
By the way, where were the Giant Bolt awards? That’s been a staple of the reboot seasons and they were completely skipped over this time around! I want to know who won Most Destructive, Best Design, and the Founder’s Award! Come on, I know you guys just couldn’t find the room for a short 8th fight last week but you’re telling me the entire awards ceremony was axed as well? Don’t do me dirty like this, BattleBots. But I tell ya what speaking of awards and prizes to give away there was a winner to my challenge I posted to the r/BattleBots subreddit before the season started. All you had to do was make a sign for my cancelled design Super Hammerhead and have that sign appear on TV at some point. u/personizzle rose to the occasion and crashed the grand finals with a sign reading “SUPER HAMMERHEAD (Hi, Andre)”. That sounds like a winner to me! He’s nabbed himself an envelope stuffed full of free BBU stickers featuring designs exclusive to the giveaway. Congrats, u/personizzle, for bringing IRL shitposting to new heights!
So that’s it for the eleventh season of BattleBots and yes I am going to adhere to referring to these seasons as extensions of the Comedy Central ones because one of these days there will be articles for every season on this website. I just keep taking well deserved breaks and new shows keep happening so it’s a lot to keep up with. I am planning on being at the taping of the 2022 event with a new trustworthy posse of people and I will have a binder full of nonsense stickers so feel free to bother me all you like. I’ve had the privilege of meeting a lot of my online friends and fans at BattleBots and I’m hoping 2022 is no different. I’ve settled the problems with my demons, it’s time for me to get my life back in order. Also I’ll still kick the asses of the people who hurt me if they’re somehow able to show up to the event again.
Stick around because we’re not yet done with this season; there are some unaired episodes that need to be covered and those will be relegated to a few more after-the-fact articles that will be going up soon. I’m also considering doing a Giant Washer Awards for this season, the only problem is the clonazepam I take has destroyed my short term memory so I can’t remember this season. (I had to keep referencing back to my notes to remember who fought who when usually I can just remember every fight clearly.)
Thank you for your readership and support this season. It has meant a tremendous amount to me. Getting back into the saddle after all the shit that went down in my personal life wasn’t easy, but we did it together and I wouldn’t have made it without you. One more time special thank yous to Jordan N., Shawn E., Jon B., Eccitaze, Jeffrey S., David G., John K., Justin D., Sean, Seth S., Adam, Jim H., Jeremy D., Danielle F., Ginger D., Greg H., Alex T., Brett L., Cassandra G., Galvanize_Plus, Andrew B., Steve T., TaleOfTheToaster, Team Jester, Niels V., and Mystrsyko for your support on Patreon. And Cal M., Ethan K., Buddy, LostSnowdrift, J.K. K., Ed L., Jesse, Kieran, and all the anonymous donors over on Ko-Fi for supporting this project as well! If you want to support this 7-year long endeavor you can do so with a contribution on Patreon or Ko-Fi. If you’ve enjoyed the coverage this season and have the ability to pitch in a dollar or two I would certainly appreciate it, this project makes about $5/mo from ads so that’s not sustainable.
Anyways, the season might be over but keep it locked here on BattleBots Update for a few more articles from this season!
[1993 – 2021]
Now that we’re at the end of the season there’s some peace I’d like to say regarding someone 2021 took from us. I would like to remember Richard “battlebotsboy” Riley, a diehard fan of the sport whose dream was to someday compete in BattleBots. He’d even bought Spinning Mayhem, a former BattleBots competitor, with the hopes of patching it up and bringing it into the modern era to compete in the arena one more time. I met Richard in person at one of the BattleBots events I attended and I remember he asked if he could sit with me. Had there not been someone checking badges I would’ve let him get the best seats in the house in a heartbeat, but even I couldn’t move that mountain and get the badge guy to look the other way. In a sense I guess I’ll always feel badly about that, I mean I could’ve at least tried my patented “level 100 Speech skill” on the guy looking at everyone’s passes. “There will always be another time,” I thought. Time and time again I realize that’s never quite as true as it sounds.
I first met Richard on YouTube when he was hosting an all AI tournament in Robot Arena 2 focusing on the AI upgrade pack I’d made for the game. There were 180 robots in that pack, 60 of which in each weight class, and he did tournaments for all three. He narrated them, adjusted the cameras, and did all the editing. It was low tech but I remember I found it by googling myself one day a long time ago and I watched from afar as the events played out before finally leaving my thanks in a post on the grand finals. I still remember being so impressed that “Tha Thumperizer”, of all my heavyweights, was the winner. The meme bot won it all. Richard was also a fan of Tiny Toons Adventures, a cartoon series I myself grew up with so we bonded over that as well, and sometimes I’d catch him on Twitch and we’d chat there. I remember finding his Tiny Toons/Robot Wars crossover fanfiction and it was amusing to me in an endearing and sincere kind of way. I’m actually getting ready to start hosting a podcast about fanfiction and I’m dedicating the 10th episode to this very story. It’s my way of keeping part of his legacy alive.
I guess what I’m trying to say is enjoy the here and now with the people around you, because tomorrow’s never a guarantee. Until next time, Richard.