[BattleBots: S11 E2 is available via streaming on Discovery+.]
Welcome back to BattleBots Update, the new season is now in full swing so for the next X months I’m going to be your copilot on this adventure through robot combat. How about last week’s episode, huh? How about that exclusive bonus YouTube fight? You know, the one that wasn’t included in the article. I don’t have copies of those fights so unfortunately they’ll be absent from these writeups because these are done well in advance by days (and sometimes weeks if I can get off my lazy fucking ass). I tell you what though, we’ll split it down the middle. At the end of the season we’ll double back and have one article for all the YouTube fights, how’s that sound?
Anyways last week’s show was an explosive start to the season quite literally as Sawblaze neutered Minotaur and caused its guts to catch fire and burn for two goddamned minutes. Gigabyte got fucked by the new arena geometry in a fight that maybe it could’ve won, and Switchback showed that it still needs a little more time in the oven before it’s ready for the Battlebox. Tombstone got absolutely fucking roasted by Captain Shrederator in a fight I had to watch twice to make sure it really happened, and we got to see the return of both Free Shipping and Blacksmith in a three minute fiery smack-fest. I would also be remiss not to mention Deep Six cleaving the cover square off of Pain Train and causing its batteries to melt. The main event was a bit of a wash though because Hydra was already broken down so End Game took an easy win.
This week is the long awaited return of Yeti, a robot we thought we’d lost for good when Greg Gibson said he was focusing on other things in life. It’s also the debut of Defender, the new robot from the team that brought us Whiplash… who is also participating in this episode’s main event against Bloodsport. In another twist of “two robots from the same team appearing in the same episode” both Tantrum and Blip are up to bat. A newly remodeled Kraken looks to put the chomp on Rotator, and finally Mammoth (the tallest robot in the field) fights Hijinx (the widest horizontal spinner in the field).
YETI VS. MAD CATTER
Yeti is a robot close to my heart. After a smashing debut in the 2016 season that saw the robot make it to the semifinals in its rookie year I was sold on this robot being a real contender. Maybe not Giant Nut material but definitely one of those robots you don’t want to draw a fight against because you know you’re going to either get destroyed or get your shit kicked in fighting for a win. Yeti faded away a couple of seasons ago, but Greg Gibson has teamed up with Christian Carlberg to bring a new Yeti to BattleBots and of course it’s more powerful and faster than the previous one. That’s what Christian does; he takes designs and then brings them to their illogical extreme. Yeti’s weapon is now 25% more powerful while the robot is overall 20% smaller and yet it still looks like a huge motherfucker.
One of last season’s surprise 3-0 qualifiers, Mad Catter has returned with Martin Mason at the helm and yes he’s still doing the WWE thing. Rumor has it that when his team checked in and went to their assigned pit area Martin whacked one of the production assistants with the provided folding chairs because he didn’t know they were meant for sitting. Mad Catter is a bit of a modular robot being equipped primarily with a spinning vertical disc while having the option to also run with a lifting arm or a pick axe, and presumably with both of those sans spinner though I don’t know why the team would ever choose to do that. For the Yeti fight Mad Catter has brought out the UMHW lifting arm to give Yeti something to chew on while also allowing Mad Catter to get some leverage and feed its opponent into its spinner.
Right off the bat Yeti starts doing its old thing of driving up on top of its opponent and striking away with its oversized spinning drum. That’s what separates Yeti from the other drum spinners here at BattleBots: Yeti has four big ass wheels and a drum so large that it can strike from above. Yeti sticks its face out into the fray and everything on it causes damage to whoever touches it. Unfortunately for Greg and Christian, Mad Catter has some wicked weaponry of its own and as Yeti is jostled and tossed around it gets its left weapon belts chewed off by Mad Catter’s disc. There are redundant belts on the right side but now Yeti’s weapon will be hitting with 50% less power… after it was souped up to 25% more power. So by my math that means Yeti’s still going to be swinging with 62.5% of its original strength. Not great but still enough to keep Yeti in the game. Also yes I did just bust out the calculator for that one. Thanks, Mad Catter. Dick.
Yeti flexes its forks back and forth a bit before spinning up and charging at Mad Catter again. There’s an explosion of sparks and piece of something goes flying. This time the chunk is the right stabilizer foot from Yeti’s chassis meaning now the thing is going to be cruising around like a stroke victim with half of its face sinking downward. Yeti tries to scoop Mad Catter up with its forks presumably to try and shove it into the side of the shelf, land a blow with its drum, and toss Mad Catter onto the roof but this doesn’t work. Yeti instead opts for plan B which is “just go back to smashing into them because what’s the worst that could happen”. Well, “the worst that could happen” is Mad Catter T-bones you and sends your robot violently twisting through the air like a gymnast that just stepped on a fucking land mine, because that’s exactly what happens.
The abominable snow beast lands upside down and articulates its forks to right itself and as Yeti comes down from this self-righting it throws a chain from somewhere because one just sorta falls out of the robot’s chassis. Dare I say it but this is Mad Catter’s fight to win and as Mad Catter cruises in and rips one of Yeti’s wheels off of its hub that only reaffirms this notion. Yeti looks dead in the water but Greg flips the sticks on his transmitter and the robot comes back to life. Whereas most competitors would just play dead to coax a KO countdown (since “there’s no tapping out in BattleBots”) Greg keeps his dying robot in the game because there’s always the chance that Mad Catter’s batteries might overload themselves or it might blow a speed controller or who knows what and Yeti can limp away with three wheels and a win.
Plumes of probably toxic friction smoke come off of Yeti’s last remaining front wheel as Mad Catter’s spinner grinds against it without getting the purchase to rip it off. Yeti spins away and runs over Mad Catter’s shitty little minibot ripping its plow off in the process. Seriously, I “know” why teams keep bringing these little annoyance bots into the arena but there’s gotta be a point where someone wakes up and realizes that the doorstop strategy doesn’t fucking work with these shitty kit bots. The wedges are too steep. If you want a doorstop you have to build a Meddler-styled low slung wedge like what Team Whyachi used to run with Warrior Dragon. Normally I’d relish in seeing the cancer of the beetleweight division getting thrashed by a heavyweight but I’m just tired of seeing that fucking D2 kit. I hope whoever invented that kit steps on a fucking Lego.
Mad Catter is forced to stay on Yeti despite the fact that its opponent is limping around the arena. Normally you don’t beat on someone who’s already dead but Yeti is doing the “I didn’t hear no bell” thing so Mad Catter slaps Yeti on the ass and blows its asshole open. It’s hard to see what it is because it’s only visible for a split second but it looks like a flat pack of batteries or something tumbles out of the rear end of the robot and Yeti promptly high centers itself on it, you can see the red and black wires hanging out of the robot’s backside looping downward into something underneath the bot.
The refs count out Yeti and Mad Catter starts the season off at 1-0. Will we see another surprise 3-0 run from the kitty cat? Who knows. I’m just a little bummed that Yeti’s grand return ended this way, but being totally destroyed is still a hell of a way to go out. The only way this ass beating would’ve been cooler is if Yeti caught fire at some point, and if those were its batteries that came out then we might’ve been closer to that than you think.
WINNER: Mad Catter, KO
DEFENDER VS. RIBBOT
Named after one of the worst arcade games ever made (yeah, fucking come at me) Defender is a new control bot from Jason Vasquez formerly of the Whiplash team. I say “formerly” but honestly I’m sure his brother Matt helps out with this robot and vice versa, this is just Jason’s robot to compete with. Defender is a little bit like Complete Control in that it has an upper grappling arm to squeeze down on opponents with and then its entire front fork array raises up to bring opponents completely off the ground. The mechanism and design is slightly different from Complete Control, but the essence is still there. Defender is going to need to rely on the hazards to do the talking for it because I don’t think its onboard flamethrower is going to do much damage. Also I don’t actually know if Defender was named after the arcade game, I just wanted to voice my opinions on overrated vintage arcade games.
If there were ever an “X factor” robot Ribbot is it. This is a robot that showed up with a goofy foam frog chassis in its debut season and even though the event officials told them to nix the foam the team has stuck to their guns and use a vacuum formed frog head on their frame to keep the theme alive. Ribbot’s weaponry is as powerful as the robot is unpredictable. We’ve seen this robot survive tons of punishment and keep going until the buzzer and we’ve also seen it upset opponents in the past. The last of a dying breed, the “Swiss Army bot”, Ribbot has a number of weapons at its disposal even though thus far we’ve only seen the fucking spinners. Its official BattleBots photo shows it with a horizontal blade but as David Jin explained in his pre-fight interview he has no faith that the horizontal is the way to go so he’s gone with the vertical disc and added some forks because that’s what this goddamned season is going to be defined by. Forks.
Defender is built to tank damage and keep going so it lunges at the frog and catches a blow that entangles Ribbot’s spinner with Defender’s own front forks. The hit looks like it rips away one of the front wedgelets holding the paired forks together in the middle of the robot. Defender shoves Ribbot into the spike strip on the Upper Deck but can’t seem to feed the robot into the screws. Defender tries some finagling to get Ribbot where it wants it and in the process Defender catches another hit from Ribbot, this one definitely ripping away a wedgelet from the far right forks on the bot. Defender tries to go in for another run but is trumped by Ribbot whose spinning disc catches one of the middle forks on Defender and bends it upward. This is pretty much one of the worst possible forks to get bent because now Defender’s front plow can’t do shit. I don’t know why David Jin said he wasn’t going to use the horizontal blade, those forks look flimsy as all hell and I think they could be taken out with enough firepower.
The grappler is shook and another shot from Ribbot rolls Defender onto its back. Theoretically Defender should be able to right itself from this position by simply opening its clamping jaw up but for some reason the robot isn’t able to do this and instead it just takes more hits from the stupid frog until Defender is left resting against the spike strip near the entrance to the arena. Somehow being at this weird angle means Defender’s wheels aren’t in contact with the ground either so the robot is effectively dead. Some of you might be hoping for an “out of the arena” KO here because all Ribbot has to do is line up a shot on Defender’s ass and let it rip but if Ribbot actually did that it would be disqualified from the battle. Yeah, BattleBots changed the rules on sending opponents out of the arena and if someone does it intentionally then they’re DQ’ed. Something about safety or whatever, that’s always the excuse. So no, Ribbot’s not going to throw Defender back where End Game threw Whiplash to rub it in.
Ribbot waves goodbye as it shows off its new srimech and the ref counts down Defender. Since this fight is going nowhere fast the buzzer sounds before the ref is done counting but hey who’s keeping score?
WINNER: Ribbot, KO
HIJINX VS. MAMMOTH
Hijinx is a robot that I think we failed to get a good read on last season. It broke down while Claw Viper did kickflips off its backside and even though it defeated Tracer it did so by way of catching Tracer on the backswing and rolling the robot over into a position it couldn’t maneuver from. Hijinx had a great fight with Chomp, taking a shot straight to its lid and shrugging it off, and managed to cripple the legs on the 500 pound walker. And that’s it. I feel Hijinx is still looking for a battle to prove itself and this might be its chance, Mammoth’s tires are big easy targets and Hijinx is basically just a big ass spinning lawnmower blade. A big ass pink lawnmower blade, mind you.
I said I wasn’t quite sold on Mammoth in the article about preseason predictions and that’s still the case. I “understand” this robot insofar as I know it’s meant to be a non-traditional lifter crossed with a vertical spinner. It’s neither a conventional spinner nor lifter, it’s a hybrid and it has a weird “blade” meant to catch robots and lug them around. This has seen some level of success in the arena believe it or not; Mammoth managed to stuff Axe Backwards behind the inner Lexan walls of the arena at one point and last season it had a kaiju robot showdown with Huge and came out the victor. When it works, it works. But when it doesn’t work Mammoth just immediately goes to shit. Perhaps the best improvement to Mammoth is the addition of a redundant weapon chain, this will certainly ensure that something like the Shatter fight (and very nearly the Huge fight) won’t happen again.
Hijinx starts the battle with its ass end facing Mammoth presumably to use its tail fin to ward off its opponent and buy some time to get its blade spinning, before the fight the hosts said it takes five seconds to get up to speed which is on the slower end of the spinning weapon bell curve. Mammoth has two long arms that ride along the floor so these ensure that something is going to circumvent Hijinx’s ass and hit the blade to stop it from spinning and that’s exactly what happens. Mammoth goes on the offensive immediately and catches Hijinx’s tail fin and briefly picks the robot up. Ricky Willems said that Mammoth’s new weapon can flex horizontally to deflect blows from Hijinx but it won’t flex vertically so it can stay rigid and allow him to flip up his opponent. Well that was a lie because I can clearly see the plastic arm bending and twisting every which way.
Mammoth might be doing some dumb shit right about now but it’s also got the serious competitive advantage because it just so happens that Hijinx has slid all the way up onto Mammoth’s front arms and this clearance is just enough to spread out Hijinx and lift its wheels off the ground. Also with Hijinx trying to crawl down Mammoth’s goddamned throat this means its spinner ain’t doing shit either. Hijinx is able to get away and spins around inside the corner near the deck and Mammoth just lets loose with its lifter thing. Hijinx destabilizes gyroscopically and flips over prompting Jen Herchenroeder to say a no-no word that the editors have to bleep out. If that weren’t painful enough Hijinx sheds a wheel for seemingly no apparent reason and this leaves the robot almost high centered on its middle lid and unable to move around.
I hate to be the “I told you so” kind of dickhead but if you go back and re-read my preseason predictions I specifically called out Hijinx’s wheels as the robot’s point of weakness. Look who was right. I could be The Bot Whisperer, I could do Peter Abrahamson’s job. But I wouldn’t want to because look how happy it makes him, and plus I’d just say more no-no words that needed to be bleeped.
WINNER: Mammoth, KO
KRAKEN VS. ROTATOR
From a bite force last season of 60,000 pounds to over 100,000 pounds that can only mean Kraken has returned to the arena. I don’t know how Matt Spurk keeps upping the ante with his biter but this guy’s a goddamned maniac; he’s brought his crushing force into the six digits. I still don’t think this is enough to bite through someone’s armor but that’s not Kraken’s game, Kraken wants to bite down and jam its teeth into exposed parts that might not be armored very well. Weapon shafts, weapon belts, struts, literal gaps in the armor, etc. Against Rotator clearly the strategy is going to be to bite down on Rotator’s spinner and possibly bend the shaft to take the disc out of the equation. This is the same bot that in its debut season back in 2018 bit down on the treads of Red Devil hard enough to seize them up and that was just Kraken 1.0, imagine what this one’s capable of doing.
It’s a little heartbreaking to see Rotator lose the weapon setup that its namesake was derived from but things are always changing in the sport and Victor Soto said that the dual disc arrangement was not in Rotator’s future. That just means that the one disc he did keep can theoretically be twice as powerful now because there’s no need to divvy up the weapon motors and have two of them each running one disc; he can have both of them running the same disc now, or just have one larger motor in general. Kenny Florian says Rotator is on the verge of greatness and I’m inclined to agree. Remember this is the robot that gutted Icewave, blew up Tombstone, and has consistently proven to be basically impossible to fucking knock out. End Game couldn’t do it, neither could Death Roll. Bite Force did… but let’s just pretend we didn’t bring that up.
Just watch Rotator. It has a signature move, it’s mastered the feint. The round starts and as Rotator gets its weapon going it whips around to point its back end at Kraken before trying to spin back around and slice into something. Judging by the paint damage I think it hit Kraken’s front teeth. Rotator throws another punch that connects with the back of Kraken’s throat and the robot bounces away. Now’s a good time to point out Kraken’s minibot Narwhal because in the only time it’s ever made its presence known it gets absolutely eviscerated when Kraken inadvertently sweeps it up and feeds it into Rotator’s spinner. Kraken bites down again and this time hits its mark. Victor tells his teammate to cut the weapon to avoid burning it out. Look closely and you’ll see Rotator’s left wheel (or is it the right one since it’s running upside down for this battle) squishing and contorting under the 100,000+ pounds of bite force.
Kraken is still armed with its flamethrower so now’s the time to fire that thing up and smelt some gold but it appears as though Rotator may have damaged the flamethrower in one of these hits because rather than blow fire at Rotator Kraken’s head just fucking explodes and goes up in flames. The entire right side of the robot is ablaze and none of it is coming down on Rotator. For some reason, and I’m going to assume it’s because it’s broken, the fire just doesn’t stop. Kraken continues to burn like crazy. The ref leans in and tells Matt to let his opponent go but the weapons operator says the jaws have been released and the robots are stuck. Yikes. This calls for a pause in the match, for Kraken to be extinguished, and for Trey Roski to come in with his pry bar to try and separate the robots. This is a pretty cut and dry affair, unlike Quantum vs. Blacksmith where there was some serious jaw-based entanglement.
The hosts throw to commercial break because this is how modern television works and I fucking hate it. When we come back the robots have been unstuck, 1:50 is put on the clock, and the fight resumes. Rotator immediately pulls away from Kraken, whose jaws are probably nice and broken, and spins its weapon back up to speed. Rotator cleaves into Kraken and just rips the entire fucking upper jaw out from the sea monster in one go. Literally all of Kraken’s teeth just pulled right out of its head and thrown against the wall. Now’s the part in the article where I bring up that thing about having those recurring nightmares of my teeth falling out and blaming Kraken for not making me feel any better about them because it’s going to fucking happen again now that I’ve just seen this. Thanks.
Any utility that was formerly left in Kraken’s weapon is gone now, though without its teeth in I’m sure it gives good gummies. Kraken can still fight like a wedge and is able to shove Rotator into the blue square’s screws but not far enough for the hazards to get any purchase. Rotator spins away, Kenny says Victor’s on the downside of this fight but I think that’s because Kenny’s not watching the fight. Rotator spins around and clips Kraken’s left wheel and starts ripping the rubber and foam out of it before finishing off the dead minibot and sending a cascade of stuffing across the floor for the cleanup crew to deal with after this fight. The two robots continue to spin around in place with locked heads until Rotator finally reaches Kraken’s left wheel and pulls the rest of it off.
Kraken is able to swerve around with just one wheel, enough to avoid being counted out, and Kenny suggests Victor might want to come in and end this battle because he has a terrible record with the judges. Bruh, Rotator has pulled Kraken’s fucking teeth out, ripped off a tire, and destroyed the use of Kraken’s weapon. Meanwhile Rotator has sustained no damage. With damage being scored so highly with the judges I think it’s a safe bet this shit’s in the bag for Rotator, but alas Kraken isn’t dead and Rotator really wants to fix that. Rotator spins into Kraken’s open mouth, catches its exposed gumline, and hits what I assume is the pneumatic airbag that powers Kraken’s weapon because something fucking blows up and sends pieces of shrapnel everywhere.
Rotator lands a couple more glancing blows on Kraken before the timer appears on screen to signal the last ten seconds of the fight. There’s no knock out but there’s also no contest as to who won this battle.
WINNER: Rotator, Judges’ Decision (3-0)
RUSTY VS. BLIP
Wait a minute, what the fuck is last season’s Rusty doing here? I had to go back to the official BattleBots website to cross check this but yes there is a “new Rusty” and this ain’t it. This is literally the old one from last year complete with a backside that’s been duct taped back together. Still, there are some changes that have been made here namely in regards to Rusty’s weapon and mobility. For reasons unknown the tracks are now fully exposed with no armor whatsoever to protect them. Granted the plexiglass that was in use last season probably wouldn’t have offered much protection but it was at least something. Rusty’s reciprocating spike weapon has also been replaced with a simplified welded sledgehammer. I’m not really sure what the deal is here but I feel like we’ve all been catfished. Everybody boo this man.
Speaking of “last season”, last season Aren Hill reached the semifinals with his robot Tantrum. Rather than tough it out and see if he could make another miracle run at the tournament Aren’s stepped aside from his old robot, handed it off to new captains (whom we will meet in a minute), and designed Blip. Blip is a rotary flipper meaning it’s technically an electric flipper and it’s able to achieve lift by way of a spinning mass inside of the robot that winds up a high tensile cord that is then let loose. Tantrum and Blip kind of look the same; both have the same weaknesses of having a mostly unarmored backside and both have heavily armored front ends to make up for it. There’s a steep wedge and a lot of travel distance required for Blip’s flipper to make contact however so if Blip can’t flip Rusty there’s no way Blip is going to make it in the main tournament.
One swing. That’s all Rusty is afforded before Blip slides underneath Rusty’s tracks and heaves it through the fucking air. Aren said his robot’s power is “on par” with Bronco and Hydra so consider this him putting his money where his mouth is. He just slam dunked Rusty onto its side but Rusty has those little side wings made out of tube steel so it’s able to right itself as it swings its hammer. Something is coming off all over the place and I think it’s chunks of Rusty’s tracks like the rubber is rotten or something, I don’t know, but Blip cruises in to take another look and lands a second flip on Rusty throwing the robot onto its side yet again. This time Rusty isn’t able to self right because the force of landing on its wing has either bent it upward or sheared it off meaning it isn’t getting the right amount of purchase on the floor to be effective. Rusty is dead in the corner of the arena and the patio unless Blip wants to fuck around.
And that’s what Blip is going to do. I’m sure Aren’s been itching to get some real hard data on his robot’s flipper against an actual opponent so this “two flips and they’re out” bullshit isn’t going to fly with him. He wants numbers, he’s going to get numbers. Rusty is flipped again and again the second time landing back down onto its tracks while its rear shell comes off. Blip throws the shell at the Pulverizer because I think this was a legitimate accident and it’s hard to tell what angle you’re at when your robot is across the box and facing away from you. Rusty’s weapon is still twitching but there’s no life in the drivetrain so the ref starts to count it down. Meanwhile Blip pulls off some wheelies because believe it or not that internal rotary device that it uses for its flipper generates gyroscopic forces just like any other spinning mass on a robot.
WINNER: Blip, KO
TANTRUM VS. MALICE
Tantrum is Aren Hill’s old robot, the one he abandoned so he could go play with his shiny new toy. He’s left captains Ginger Schmidt and Alex Grant in charge of the robot and its team, though really much like the deal with Defender and Whiplash you know both teams are basically all the “same team” in the pits. Last year Tantrum reached the semifinals by being built like a brick shithouse and allowing its opponents to do themselves in on its near impenetrable armor. End Game marked the end of the line for this robot when its srimech smoked out early on meaning when it was inevitably flipped over the robot couldn’t do anything about it. Tantrum’s weapon is a spinning disc on a sliding track and we’ve seen it work as intended maybe like three times at the most. On paper the robot spins up its disc, gets an opponent corralled onto its front wedge, and then lets loose the spinner like it was on a slingshot to “punch” other opponents with.
A qualifier in last season’s main tournament before it ultimately fell to Gigabyte, Malice has returned to BattleBots following the “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” methodology of design. Well, there is one noteworthy change to Malice, the little knob on its ass so it can’t lose by getting balanced on its rear end again. Bunny Sauriol has also decided to swap out her robot’s usual “horizontal disc spinner” with a bulky bar spinner reminiscent of a tinier Tombstone. It’s called the “Rolling Blackout” and she’s confident that this new weapon will chew Tantrum up. She knows Tantrum’s armor is basically on god mode everywhere except the back, right?
The lights turn green and right away Malice’s weapon gets revved up to top speed. In less than a second there’s a massive collision in the middle of the arena with Malice being sent twisting and contorting away not dissimilar to Tombstone catching an unlucky blow. Malice’s weapon is stopped dead in its tracks and it appears as though this initial shock has taken it out of the equation. Bunny was so chipper to talk shit in the pits about “you can tantrum all over the Rolling Blackout but you can’t stop it” but it turns out you can, in fact, stop it by punching it square in the teeth. By the way this doesn’t look like it’s going to be one of those fights where we lament Tantrum’s use of its weapon either because it’s spinning up and punching forward and sending Malice tumbling all over the fucking place. There’s even one hit where if Malice didn’t have that little buttplug on the back it might’ve gotten stranded on its ass again.
Malice’s problem is the same thing as Tombstone’s problem: when it loses its weapon it’s got nothing. There is no backup plan with a robot like Malice. David Rush, the driver of Malice, is doing his best to keep his robot’s face planted firmly against Tantrum in a fruitless tug of war to try and shove it around but Tantrum has the stronger drivetrain in this scenario too. Malice goes where Tantrum wants it to go, not the other way around. Malice might be flopping around to try and score aggression or control points but it’s not winning any of them like this I can guarantee you that much. Unfortunately this is a match between a dead robot and a robot with a “sometimes weapon” that doesn’t hit just because it’s spinning, so there’s not a lot going on. My mind starts to drift to wonder why this fight made it to air and then WHAM just like that I’m brought back into the fight when Tantrum clips Malice and makes it do one and a half flips through the air and land upside-down.
Tantrum eventually shoves Malice into the corner of the arena and Malice gets high centered on the spike strip. Rather than allow its opponent to be counted out Tantrum cruises it and frees Malice. Generally this is seen as a sign of good sportsmanship. Tantrum drop kicking Malice and making it do another flip and a half is bad sportsmanship, but it’s fucking awesome. Tantrum’s weapon looks tired after that exchange and with a minute left in the fight it spends it ramming Malice into whatever part of the wall or shelf or whatever it can charge into. The fight’s sent to the judges who naturally side with Tantrum.
WINNER: Tantrum, Judges’ Decision (3-0)
BLOODSPORT VS. WHIPLASH
Seeded #2 last year Bloodsport is back to see if it can take down the robot who wound up finishing in 2nd place last year. Bloodsport is a robot I’ve long pegged as a bot to watch and its former #2 seeding is just proof enough that I know what the fuck I’m talking about when I write these predictions. I promise I’m not doing this shit with insider knowledge, I’m just that good. The robot had a bit of difficulty last season when its weapon blew up but to fix this matter Justin Marple has switched his robot’s weapon metal from S7 to AR500 steel. Should be a lot less splintering and a lot more head-splitting this time around, though the robot has its work cut out for it being drawn to fight Whiplash right out of the gate.
Whiplash very nearly won the whole damn show last season. This is your runner-up and that’s gotta be worth something. Maybe not a Giant Nut, but at least some goddamned respect. The Whiplash team has long since been a well respected family of bot builders but they’re onto something with this particular robot. There’s something about it that just “works”. It’s effective in its simplicity and yet still complex at the same time. Normally Whiplash has a vertical spinning disc mounted right inside its lifting arm but in order to make weight for all of its wedgelet attachments, plus some added armor, Matt Vasquez ditched the spinner and is fighting purely as a control bot for this match. This puts Whiplash at a disadvantage because it cannot damage Bloodsport and will have to vie for all of the aggression and control points. If anyone can do it, Matt can.
For the first 20 or so seconds of this fight Whiplash just absorbs punishment from Bloodsport. Bloodsport’s spinner is going full blast and not letting up while Justin Marple very carefully avoids the oncoming Whiplash. A lot of these hits are being initiated by Whiplash, but the damage is being done by Bloodsport. There’s some clause in the judges’ criteria about “passive damage” or something but I’m not a judge and I’m not going to read their massive Bible of rules so I’ll just spitball and try to sound like I know what the fuck I’m talking about here. Whiplash finally goes for a lift, raises Bloodsport up, but fails to capitalize on it. As Bloodsport comes back down however it throws its front right tire off so we could be seeing hindered mobility from the spinner moving forward. Also this is why you use a real man’s tires and not this injection molded polyurethane shit.
It looks like Bloodsport is catching on Whiplash’s front end a lot easier now, perhaps due to losing a wheel, and Whiplash is able to clamp down on Bloodsport in a pinch with its lifting arm. This isn’t necessarily what it was intended for but it’s working out for Matt because he’s able to use the Battlebox to absorb the spinning mass of Bloodsport’s weapon without his own robot taking damage. Bloodsport gets slammed into the screws attached to the shelf but the robot bounces away, fleeing from Whiplash as it spins its weapon back up to speed again. Kenny says most of the damage points are going to Bloodsport. Again I don’t think he’s actually watching the fights. Whiplash’s front end is a little chewed up but last time I checked Bloodsport randomly shed a tire from trying to run away and understandably has shown little aggression. Don’t get me started on control here either.
Whiplash gets Bloodsport near the Upper Deck again and this time upturns Bloodsport in such a way that Bloodsport’s self-righting mast gets sucked into the screws and jams them up. The hazard reverses and spits Bloodsport out but almost immediately Whiplash is back on the attack rolling Bloodsport back over and pinning it against the hazards. Eventually the screws stop being a basic bitch and actually yank Bloodsport onto the deck officially netting Whiplash all of the control points for this match if that was even disputable to begin with. Bloodsport’s mast hasn’t been damaged so theoretically it should be able to self right and get down from there but just as I suspected there’s something wrong with Bloodsport’s weapon and there’s not enough oomph in it to spin the robot against the floor and pry itself back over.
Spending too much time on the shelf is cause for a knock out countdown and so is spending too much time up there flipped onto your ass unable to self right. The ref counts Bloodsport out with literally one second left on the clock giving Whiplash one of its very rare KO victories.
WINNER: Whiplash, KO
I think the running theme of this week’s episode is “never underestimate your opponent”. I also think that applies to me a little bit too because I didn’t see Mammoth coming out of its fight as easily as it did nor did I expect to see Malice just shit the bed right away. So far the new season is shaping up to be a real rocker with some unexpected surprises though one thing I’m most impressed about is how you can’t really tell it was filmed in Vegas. The Battlebox set is so ubiquitous that you can prop it up anywhere and it’ll look good. I think the establishing shots are suggesting this was filmed in Caesar’s Palace but I have no idea if that’s the case. I bet those dumb BattleBots slot machines were there, though.
The standout fight for me this episode has gotta go to Rotator vs. Kraken, never before have we seen Kraken sustain that kind of damage except maybe for the time its head kind of fell apart when it fought Huge. Huge didn’t pop the pneumatic airbag and make an explosion happen though, that was all Rotator baby. A close second would be Yeti vs. Mad Catter if only for the airtime. I still have mixed feelings about Yeti losing its first fight back though. The dud fight for me has to be Tantrum vs. Malice. Come on, Malice’s weapon just dies at the slightest provocation after we got that pep talk from Bunny? And Tantrum just had to free Malice from the wall rather than let it die so we could just get on with our fucking lives good god.
That’s going to do it for this week’s BattleBots Update. This whole shebang is funded entirely by you all so if you like what you see I ask that you consider supporting this project on Patreon or sending a one-time donation through Ko-Fi. Special thank yous to Buddy and LostSnowdrift for their recent Ko-Fi contributions, and a special thanks to the anonymous donator who left a big tip. Also, thank you Team Jester, David G, Justin B, Sean, & John K for joining the Patreon page! If you want to pick up some BBU swag there’s our Redbubble store, and be sure to follow BattleBots Update on Facebook to keep up with all the goings-on around these parts.
Next Friday (the 21st) I’ll be hosting an AMA over at /r/BattleBots. It starts at 6PM Central and will last for a couple of hours because I’m double booked that night, but I’ll answer any lingering questions the following day.
See you next week!