[BattleBots: S11 E8 is available via streaming on Discovery+.]
Welcome back to BattleBots Update where the hits just don’t stop. Especially if you’re Ghost Raptor. Last week’s show put several bots into the 0-2 zone but a couple were able to scrape by and make it to 2-0. You know that the producers are going to start having those 2-0 robots fight each other at some point because we can’t have too many robots getting perfect qualifiers. That’ll devalue it for everyone and not make it as exciting for television. Some of the greats that you’d expect to see at 2-0 aren’t even there either like Minotaur and Hydra who are both 1-1 after stumbling out of the gates!
This season has been a real shake up for robots looking to make it into the tournament. We are now officially at the point where bots are going to start seeing their third and final bouts to determine what fate has in store for them. Right off the bat Blacksmith and Malice are up for fight #3 apiece and Malice in this case is going to play interference to prevent Blacksmith from winning and potentially advancing onward. Gigabyte gets its third fight against SMEE; Tombstone and Free Shipping have their third fights against each other, and the same applies for Ribbot and P1. Finally in the main event Sawblaze has been paired up with End Game. Only one of them can go 3-0 and this one could be off the fucking rails.
Like I mentioned earlier in the season my best estimate puts these Fight Night episodes at around 10 total with 4 more episodes for the main Tournament of 32. That’s not set in stone but given that this season is following in the footsteps of the previous one so closely it’s not a bad bet to take. There are a lot of robots who still need their third fights, some of them are even missing their second fights, so unless they show up in those unaired YouTube battles we might be seeing a few teams get snubbed by the “selection committee” and shot down before they had a chance to shine.
BLACKSMITH vs. MALICE
Blacksmith is the first robot introduced who’s going to have completed their qualifiers after this battle. The robot is currently at 1-1 after it deconstructed Free Shipping’s face but lost out to Shatter and its giant anime sword that expertly sniped Blacksmith’s weapon belt. Blacksmith has been sporting some new equipment this year in the form of the “power hammer” which is essentially a hammer saw weapon with a flamethrower embedded in the head. It’s crude and mean but it gets the job done… at least when fucking Final Fantasy VII swords don’t cleave into it and break it. With one win and one loss it’s paramount for Blacksmith to win this final battle to stay in the game; 2-1 is a safe bet for qualification. Al Kindle’s taking no chances here, he’s outfitted Blacksmith with a massive fuck off plow to keep Malice at bay.
Malice is dead in the water at 0-2 so ideally its best case scenario is to take down Blacksmith in this fight so both robots finish with a 1-2 record and more than likely neither one advances into the Round of 32. That’s a tough pill for Malice to swallow considering last season it qualified in the middle of the field but the Fight Night draws just haven’t been kind to this robot. In the first episode of the season Tantrum socked Malice square in the jaw and busted its weapon and from there just painted the floor with its blood until the judges said they’d seen enough. Malice then went on to face an old teammate in the form of Jackpot who brought out a special disc-based weapon to attack with and destroyed Malice for the KO. Malice is still going with a bar spinner for this fight however it’s using a lighter one in order for the team to fit additional armor onto the robot to protect it from Blacksmith’s ass pounder.
Right away Malice’s lighter “drum stick” spinner achieves maximum speed and the robot gets to work rearranging Blacksmith’s face. The bot is actually trying to avoid the massive plow and hit Blacksmith’s relatively less armored sides and back but Al knows what’s up and he keeps the front end pointed at Malice expertly. Malice eventually catches the edge of the big ass plow and both robots are hurled in opposite directions. Malice flies up against the red square screws while Blacksmith flips completely fucking over near the edge of the deck. Malice is the first to reorient itself in the box and Blacksmith is right there exposed for a free hit but Malice falters and this lets Blacksmith get back into the battle. I’m telling you, take the free hits. There’s no such thing as a low blow unless you’re Riptide hitting someone before the fight starts. All too often drivers will back off when they think a robot is down, and that’s good sportsmanship, but there ought to be no shame in a test whack to see if there’s any life left in a stranded opponent. Just fucking do it.
Malice starts blasting Blacksmith’s leading wedge again and deflects upward far enough to catch a top corner which sends Blacksmith reeling toward the Pulverizer and Malice flipping over backwards toward the deck. Now that Malice is inverted the same thing applies here as it does to bots like Tombstone; Malice’s weapon is higher up off the ground so it’ll be striking its opponent at a different level. This could be decisive and it turns out that yes it is “decisive” because Blacksmith tries to whack Malice’s exposed underbelly and catches the full fury of its spinner instead. The ensuing impact splays Blacksmith’s power hammer frame wide open and the robot ejects its spinning green disc like a fucking Frisbee across the arena. That’s the type of shit Malice needed to be doing all season long but just failed to deliver.
Blacksmith has lost its disc spinner but it still has its flamethrower. I know this because Blacksmith tries to fire some flames out as a test and this winds up setting the entire goddamned robot on fire. Malice is still happily chipping away at Blacksmith’s plow all while Kenny Florian says Blacksmith needs to even the scorecard out if it wants to win via decision. This might just be the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard this man say and I sat through the entire 2015 season of Kenny saying “jam up” at least twice a fight. Blacksmith is a literal flaming wreck of a robot. On what fucking planet is this robot scoring any points in any fucking category? I think Malice has just skated away with all the damage points even if its weapon eventually stops working and it’s kind of hard to control a fight and be aggressive when your internals are melting as we speak.
Props to Al Kindle for taunting Malice while on fire with an “is that all you got?” This guy’s hopes at qualifying for the main tournament are burning before his very eyes and he’s just letting pure spite control the fight now. Despite being on fire Blacksmith is still swinging the half of the power hammer that’s still attached to its sprocket. It’s doing zero damage to Malice and I don’t even think it’s serving any real purpose but god damn is it hilarious to see the robot attempting to carry on as if this is all completely normal. Blacksmith doesn’t let up one bit despite its right side of armor starting to come loose. Malice even gets flipped back right ways up by a particularly forceful jab from the still-on-fire Blacksmith.
As the fire starts to eventually go out Blacksmith reveals itself to still be pretty much fully functional. Motors, batteries, speed controllers, none of that seems to have been damaged to the point of not functioning anymore. It’s got loose panels on both sides and I think it lost a back castor tire at some point but against all odds Blacksmith just doesn’t fucking die and the fight goes to the judges. If I didn’t know any better I’d say Blacksmith was shooting for another viral fight video to get 40 million views on YouTube. If that’s the case I think Blacksmith is the real winner here, but the fight naturally is going to go to Malice who’s successfully acted as a road block to Blacksmith’s qualification.
WINNER: Malice, Judges’ Decision (3-0)
BLACK DRAGON vs. CLAW VIPER
This next fight is actually a rematch from last season. We don’t get these very often but apparently the powers that be have decided that this fight – out of all the others – is the one that gets a mulligan. Okay, sure. This is Black Dragon’s third fight and this robot has had huge ups and major downs this season already. In its first battle Black Dragon stayed the course and absorbed a few shots from the legendary Icewave and managed to get lucky when the gasoline menace threw its weapon chain; this allowed Black Dragon to cruise in and just rip out Icewave’s drive system from under it for a quick KO. Black Dragon then went on to face Rotator armed with a special thick plow to absorb Rotator’s weapon hits. The plan didn’t work and not only did Rotator bust the corner out from under that plow it also managed to damage Black Dragon’s weapon batteries which burned for about two goddamned minutes. At 1-1 Black Dragon can’t afford to lose this battle.
Claw Viper has a little more wiggle room in this match because it’s only its second fight; there’s still one more ahead for Claw Viper to determine its fate. In a fight that was cut because it pretty much sucked Claw Viper grappled with Pardon My French and threw it over its head resulting in a quick KO because Pardon My French isn’t invertible and had no method of righting itself. Kevin Milczewski has been in this fight before so he knows not to fuck with Black Dragon’s spinner and if he wants to win this battle he’s going to need to avoid touching it at all costs. I believe last time these robots met Claw Viper was beaten so savagely that it caught fire, so yeah the whole “don’t touch the weapon” thing is a hard lesson learned. This robot can allegedly achieve speeds of 20 MPH in half a second so Claw Viper’s going to need to whip out the Super Sonic speed to keep the edge.
Technically this is the first time we’re seeing Claw Viper this season (because I haven’t doubled back to the YouTube uploads yet) so don’t be surprised when this thing flies out of its starting square; that’s just what Claw Viper does. It swings wide to Black Dragon’s right because Kevin is likely making the assumption that Black Dragon was going to duck out to the right to go wide and spin its weapon up on account of there being a massive tumor in the arena to Black Dragon’s left. Black Dragon stays in its square at the start of the match so this winds up being a near miss for Claw Viper until it pivots around, scoops Black Dragon up, and suplexes it over its back. Now you might be thinking “wow good for Claw Viper what an opening move” and you’d be right to think that, but this move came with one fatal drawback: Black Dragon hits Claw Viper’s back right tire on the way down. This fucks up the wheel and almost immediately you can see Claw Viper just spinning around and trying to fight against a broken drive system.
Black Dragon counter punches and Claw Viper even manages to snag the dragon again for another two lifts, neither of which are a suplex and instead pop Claw Viper’s wheels out from under it. While it’s battling against the drivetrain of Black Dragon the robot looks mostly fine but every time Black Dragon gets away to spin its weapon up Claw Viper just starts aimlessly crabwalking and fighting for control. You can hear the subtle death hum of Black Dragon’s weapon at full blast while Claw Viper is busy leaving skidmarks all over the fucking floor. Strangely though it seems Black Dragon is having a real hard time getting Claw Viper to go up its wedge, this must be a mutual thing and there needs to be momentum on Claw Viper’s end too or else the hits just don’t land. I don’t know, but this fight sure has gotten real goddamned boring.
The Pulverizer in the far corner takes a knock at Black Dragon and the drum spinner finally gets its weapon up underneath Claw Viper for some mildly impressive sparks but none of these hits have the “bite” that we know Black Dragon is capable of providing. Even worse for Claw Viper is the fact that this just so happens to be one of the fights where the refs decide to do their job and say that crabwalking doesn’t count as “controlled movement” so a knockout count is started. Before you go and get your pitchforks and take up your battalions at your keyboards Claw Viper eventually stresses its drive motors too much while twitching back and forth and starts smoking. This smoke comes with the realization that the robot is now completely dead so it was going to be counted out no matter how you slice it. Still, I know for a minute there a couple of you were getting all “not this fucking bullshit again”. Chill out, it’s just a made for television ratings robot combat show. Nothing is real.
WINNER: Black Dragon, KO
JUSTIFYING AN INVESTMENT
Before the episode continues there’s a segment covering the new changes to the arena. My guess is we’re probably going to see some more quick KO’s or something in the back half of this episode so the editors had to whip up something to fill even more time than the main event teams trash talking each other. This segment focuses on everyone’s favorite eye sore the Upper Deck. Chris Rose introduces it as “some hate it, some love it”. I honestly can’t think of a single person who genuinely and earnestly thinks the Upper Deck was a quality addition to the arena. I can think of people who will argue for the sake of having it just because they like to pick slap fights on the internet but as far as “I really think the shelf is bringing the sport to new heights, pun not intended” zero people come to mind.
Peter Abrahamson spearheads the segment and says the Upper Deck eats up 120 square feet of floor space. It’s like the ugly oriental style rug your grandmother had except in this case the rug is six inches tall and comes with arbitrarily enforced rules whenever someone steps on it. Pete continues by mentioning the 8×16′ corners on either side of the deck specifically naming “vertical spinners” as designs that have been able to take advantage of the short corners. Guys, we’re trying to break the vertical spinner meta, not encourage it. It’s a cancer at this point. A third of the field or more are just fucking vertical spinners because that’s all that wins. This new geometry chokes horizontal spinners and other robots that need space, it’s why Gigabyte was so fucked when Uppercut knocked it into one of these side corners because we all knew it wasn’t going to get out of there alive.
But don’t worry, Pete’s packing facts to go along with his statements. He says “big hits” are up by 39%. Unfortunately Pete a “big hit” is a completely subjective thing and one man’s “huge hit there” is another man’s love tap. But of course the amount of total hits are going to increase, there’s less floor space; spinners only have one direction to juke to in order to spin up to speed and try to maneuver around. Everyone just darts toward the drivers’ booth because if they go the other way there’s a goddamned stack of metal in the way.
Pete also says that fights take longer now and that overall KO’s are down. That doesn’t sound like a sentence he should deliver with as much gusto as he does. That means something is wrong. Don’t blame it on the Lexan plating lining the walls preventing out of the arena KO’s either because it’s not like people were knocking those out left and right. He says that we’ve seen half a dozen side OOTA’s prevented from the new slanted walls but the examples shown are dubious at best and the geometry and angle of the robots being thrown probably wouldn’t have put them out of the box.
I can see an argument for the inclusion of the slanted walls to keep robots in the arena. If you really didn’t want people flying out behind the lights – which I kind of thing was unintentional to begin with – put the barriers up, but don’t start stacking the figures in such a way as to force a specific narrative. The Upper Deck in my opinion is a net loss for BattleBots and cuts way too far into the arena to the point where it interrupts fights. If you want some floor geometry to fuck other robots over with and really give control bots a fighting chance then cut a pit into the floor. But we all know you don’t have the balls to do that because it means that robots like End Game and Bite Force are perpetually one bad driving error away from being disposed of.
Also maybe Robot Wars patented a hole in the floor, I don’t know.
SMEE vs. GIGABYTE
SMEE is one of those robots that was hiding from us for most of the preseason until it showed up in an unaired YouTube match where it was able to defeat the likes of Deep Six after ripping off one of the killer spinner’s wheels and somehow getting Deep Six’s stabilizing bar to get jammed perfectly into the Killsaws. I think that’s the first time the Killsaws have been responsible for ensnaring a robot and knocking it out. Impressive, if not downright lucky. The heavyweight version of SMEE is known for flexing and contorting across its midsection to wrap around bots like a snake and strike with its dual spinners at either end. For its fight against Gigabyte however SMEE is fighting like its original beetleweight form and features one solid wall of metal to push and corral Gigabyte around with. The robot is also driving upside down for some reason.
SMEE is only entering its second battle of the season but for Gigabyte this is do or die time; the robot is at 1-1 after it got fucked sideways by one of the pocket corners of the shelf and Uppercut came in and blasted it. Gigabyte’s only win came as a result of beating Captain Shrederator who literally landed like two hits and died on its own. Kenny Florian says the “selection committee” might not like that “win by default” but these are the sonsabitches putting these fights together shouldn’t they know that Captain Shrederator is a massive pile of shit that routinely dies after 20 seconds of action? Don’t fucking penalize Gigabyte just because it won in two hits; it’s not John Mladenik’s fault his opponent was two strokes away from being DOA in the box. A win is a fucking win and I’ll repeat that until the day I die or the day this stupid blog shuts down or both. Fucking hell.
Right away problems arise with SMEE because it seems to have trouble centering itself in its own starting square. It winds up starting the match with the majority of its right side hanging out into the arena. SMEE starts spinning its blades which probably won’t have much effect in this battle and tries to leave the area of the red square and right away the robot seems to be front heavy because it keeps tipping forward and riding on its front wheels. The robots eventually collide and the one big problem bringing SMEE from a beetleweight to a heavyweight rears its ugly head: rigidity. As a three pound robot SMEE can fight like a long ass meter stick wedge and stay mostly rigid but this is a 250 pound behemoth we’re talking about and every time Gigabyte touches the robot flexes and flaps like a flag in the wind.
Gigabyte keeps scraping along the front plow of SMEE and the robot just warps and bends around resulting in Gigabyte landing a blow to SMEE’s left drive pod. The damage isn’t apparent yet but this kills the spinner on that side and it eventually slows down and stops. Meanwhile you can definitely see the strategy SMEE is trying to employ but I think all this novelty-sized dildo flexing and flopping around is a bigger detriment to SMEE’s ability to drive than it may seem and it already looks really fucking bad. Gigabyte stays squared up with SMEE and keeps attacking around the “two-fifths” and “four-fifths” sections of SMEE’s plow because this causes the robot to flex and brings the drive pods dangerously close to Gigabyte’s spinning shell. The spinner finally lands a solid blow to one of SMEE’s drive pods and this somehow twists the entire goddamned robot around long ways and flips it over. Now visible on SMEE’s other drive pod is a loose mounting bracket, the reason why that spinning blade quit working earlier in the fight. This may have also been hindering SMEE’s drive but who the fuck knows it’s been driving like ass this entire match.
SMEE can drive upside down but it’s still handling about as well as it was the other way up and this time there’s not a chunk of metal dragging against the floor to trip the robot up. Gigabyte almost seems afraid to go whole hog on SMEE especially now that SMEE’s one working weapon is down at ground level and acting as an undercutter. I don’t get why Gigabyte didn’t just go in and slam into this robot proper; was John afraid that the robot would flex inward and then outward shoving his robot away? I think SMEE would’ve come out on the losing side of that exchange every time because Gigabyte has mostly been rock solid… except for the one time SMEE guides it into the wall with its ridiculous Kirby’s Epic Yarn strategy of fighting.
It’s after this mega blow to Gigabyte that we can see that SMEE’s lost drive on its left side. Technically that’s its right side given its starting orientation, but SMEE started the battle upside down to begin with so whatever. Who’s keeping score? SMEE’s lost drive on one side and the side that does work appears to have a dud back wheel clinging on for dear life. Neither spinner is working anymore and as the cameras cut to another angle you can see SMEE’s damaged back wheel just shit out chunks of a busted gear or bolts or something before falling off. SMEE is now fully incapacitated but Gigabyte wants to put its mark on this battle because the shadow of the “selection committee” is ever looming; the spinner puts the whammy on SMEE’s right side of drive and blows the whole goddamned thing apart blade and all leaving SMEE to die in the red square parked slightly better than it was when the match started.
WINNER: Gigabyte, KO
HYDRA vs. GLITCH
And now for the fight immortalized in the “season cover” graphic on this website’s homepage. (It’s not a spoiler, it was part of the teaser trailer that Discovery Channel released for the show.) Hydra is the new golden child of the Whyachi family of robots. Fusion might be encroaching on the territory a little bit here, both robots are 1-1 after all, but Hydra’s been the fan favorite for its ability to flip opponents as high if not higher than Bronco could in years gone by. For the previous two seasons Hydra qualified for the main tournament easy peasy with perfect 4-0 and 3-0 runs but this year the alien flipper hasn’t had the easiest path through the preliminaries. Hydra’s loss came from End Game when the robot showed up smoking before the fight because its flipper pump burned out resulting in an easy target for the reigning champ. Hydra course corrected against Gruff with a KO by way of throwing the robot out of the arena but one of Hydra’s pump chambers wasn’t firing; we were only seeing Hydra at approximately 30% power, or “enough to self right” as Jake put it. This is Hydra’s third outing and we know from the season trailer that he’s dialed it up to 11.
Glitch is the unlucky bastard who’s been drawn to fight the pseudo-struggling showstopper. This is only Glitch’s second fight so a plausible loss here won’t immediately spell gloom and doom for the team as long as they can bounce back to 2-1 and win their third fight. Glitch was able to “defeat” Ghost Raptor by way of landing more hits overall but that fight was mired with Glitch getting hung up on all the slight imperfections in the arena floor and wall; Glitch uses omnidirectional wheels for drive and its front wedge acts as something of an unintentional pivot point because there’s a lot of weight bearing down on that particular spot. This resulted in less than stellar drive control, but check this out; Glitch’s team has taken that front nosecone off of their robot and are going with an open-faced approach. I didn’t even know this was an option for Glitch. The robot should just always look like this, hands down. It’ll drive much more effectively in theory.
Hydra sways out of its square and misses its first flip, eager to start putting points on the board right away. Hydra said “30 flips against Gruff” and only made it to about 16 before Gruff was catapulted out of the box; Jake has again said “30 flips against Glitch” so that factors out to a flip every 6 seconds. Better get busy. Glitch gets caught near the blue square by Hydra and Hydra lets loose with its first fully powered flip of the season thus far. Glitch very nearly crashes into the fucking arena ceiling lights while Jake screams the “FULL POWER” quote that Discovery milked for their trailer. Glitch comes down hard landing on its front forks and bending the leading ones sideways. It’s like watching Joe Theisman’s fucking leg explode on impact. Glitch’s builder Kyle Miller said his robot has no self righting mechanism but luckily for him Glitch’s drum makes contact with the floor and knocks the robot back onto its wheels.
But Glitch isn’t moving. It’s clearly trying to but it almost seems like it’s still too low to the ground and its chassis is catching on the floor. Meanwhile Hydra tries to come in for flip #2, hits a floor seam, and misses. Hydra hits the floor seam with so much inertia though that it appears as though an internal drive chain comes loose on the flipper because its mobility is immediately reduced. I swear I see a little smoke coming out of Hydra’s front corner where it hit the seam but for now the cameras are focused on Glitch who’s scurried away into the red square. When the shot goes wide again there is clearly smoke coming out of the top of Hydra and the robot has been reduced to mere pivoting on the spot. Maybe I should’ve saved the Joe Theisman reference for Hydra because god damn did this match take a turn. Glitch comes in for a hit and Hydra fires early resulting in the robot popping a wheelie and flipping over completely.
Hydra tries to self right and fails on the first go. Then it tries again. As Hydra tumbles through the air the second time Glitch decides to take advantage of the situation and sticks its face directly into the mess of 250 pound purple flipper doing somersaults in the air. The result is Glitch reaches up and rips Hydra’s titanium lifting arm clean the fuck off. Hydra lands stunned with its arm still raised and Glitch cruises in for a hit that helps the crippled flipper get back onto its tires. Hydra once again does nothing more than pivot around in place and tries to fire off what’s left of its flipping arm when Glitch gets close. Glitch tries to land some more shots but it can’t get under Hydra with its jacked up forks so really this fight has come to a standstill.
Glitch crawls its way out of the deck’s short corner and skids around to line up a diagonal blast on Hydra and as this is going on you can hear the ref chatter starting meaning Hydra’s seriously about to be counted out. With its maw stuck ajar Hydra can only watch with its four front eyes as Glitch drives away with a win sending Hydra down to 1-2 for the season. Fucking Hydra, taken down by Glitch. Of all robots. When I saw this battle previewed in the season trailer I was like “oh yeah Hydra definitely slam dunked that guy’s shit and ruined it” but if we only knew. Kyle Miller says he’s still afraid of Hydra after the battle. He knows he just got away with an accidental win he shouldn’t have gotten. Not to speak disparagingly about his robot – it just whooped Hydra’s fucking ass – but let’s be real here even the hosts are like “yeah we expected Hydra to win”. Consider my expectations subverted. Bravo.
WINNER: Glitch, KO
FREE SHIPPING vs. TOMBSTONE
From this point in the episode onward we’re going to be seeing six robots finish their Fight Night qualifiers. Up first is Free Shipping, paired with Tombstone. Free Shipping is 0-2 right now so like Malice from the beginning of the episode the best Gary Gin can hope to accomplish is to jack up Tombstone’s 1-1 record and make both robots finish the preseason at 1-2. Free Shipping has had it rough this year; it lost to Blacksmith in a match that went the distance but Blacksmith’s new “power hammer” gave it the upper hand with the judges so that was one scratch. The other loss came courtesy of Uppercut who punched Free Shipping in the kidneys so hard its ass literally exploded. Coming into this third fight we’re seeing Gary ditch the “Original Sin wedges” and instead go for a heavy duty armored snowplow to take the hits from Tombstone and hopefully allow Free Shipping to slow it down and then jam its own forks into Tombstone’s chassis to fish around for a weapon chain.
Tombstone is the robot who stands to lose the most in this battle. Even worse Ray Billings straight up said before the fight that he and Gary have met several times at “non-televised events” (Robogames) and most of the time Gary has come out ahead in those battles. Tombstone isn’t really the kind of robot to be modular aside from which weapon blade it uses and for this fight the bot is going rely upon the same heavy duty solid striking bar it used against Mammoth earlier in the season. This blade is least likely to shed a tooth (because there are none) or shear in half, plus it gets up to speed reasonably fast. Tombstone has got to come back from that loss to Captain Shrederator (still not a joke) at the beginning of the season. It also only barely scraped by with a win over Mammoth when both robots were considered KO’d at the same time which was controversial to say the least. I’m of the volition that Tombstone ought to be 0-2 right now.
Free Shipping goes right for Tombstone but watch what Ray does with his robot; Ray waits until Free Shipping has passed Tombstone in the arena before he spins his weapon bar up to speed. Otherwise doing it right at the start opens Tombstone up to a free box rush that we all know Gary Gin was going to try and make. Tombstone gets to work almost immediately attacking the heavily armored Free Shipping the same way he always does: with ballerina moves. Tombstone is the master of the spin and pirouette and you’ll see this in action as Tombstone sweeps and moves and slices its blade across the front of its opponent without engaging directly because a direct engagement runs the risk of damaging Tombstone’s weaponry. The strategy might seem strange but it works, Free Shipping loses its front right wheel in only a matter of seconds.
The fight brings Tombstone dangerously close to the arena walls and Ray hits the brakes and floors it in reverse. Watch again and you’ll see Tombstone spin around and slice Free Shipping all over the place; Free Shipping’s front left wheel gets chopped up pretty badly and as the forklift spins around Tombstone catches its back right tire and pulls it off, the impact of which sends what’s left of that previously damaged front wheel rolling off its hub. We’re maybe 45 seconds into this battle and Tombstone has already pulled off three goddamned tires. But here’s the fucking insane thing; normally you’d think “well that’s it for Free Shipping all it can possibly do now is just crabwalk and ‘that’s not controlled movement’ so it’s out”. Wrong. Free Shipping has the insane ability to still drive – mostly controlled – on only one fucking wheel. Its maneuverability has altered significantly but it can still drive in a straight line, turn, push, you name it. Original Sin, the robot Free Shipping is based upon, can do the same magic trick.
Heartbreakingly, Tombstone’s weapon dies after it pulls off that third tire. If Free Shipping still had one more wheel left on its right side it would have enough traction to control this match but instead it’s kind of dead in the water. Still mobile, but unable to capitalize on the occasion with only a fourth of its driving torque. Free Shipping relights its flamethrower but the flames mostly go straight up instead of outward, its lifting forks raise fruitlessly as they grip at absolutely nothing. Tombstone’s having trouble of its own though, don’t forget that. The spinner is doing fuck all because when Tombstone’s weapon is dead the robot has no backup plan. “Don’t let the spinner die” is both plan A and B with plan B’s description including more profane language. Tombstone just huddles close to Free Shipping and tries shoving and nudging the damaged forklift around. Eventually Free Shipping crashes into the red square screws but nothing comes of the moment.
Free Shipping backs up and swings wide and its lifting forks actually catch Tombstone but try as it might Free Shipping isn’t able to manage a lift. Normally I’d say all Free Shipping needs is something to balance Tombstone on its ass but if you look closely there’s a dinky ass bolt sticking out from Tombstone’s backside which would prevent that from happening. See? That’s all it takes. There’s not much action going on in this fight so the hosts take the time to remind us all how the judging criteria works because they’ve got to fill dead air. Somehow Tombstone’s dead blade is functioning very well as a makeshift plow and Free Shipping is carried over into the blue square screws for a change of scenery.
The clock counts down and this battle of two elderly drivers trying to find a parking space at the CVS Pharmacy comes to a close. Because damage reigns supreme, and because it was able to steal a couple control points, the judges side with Tombstone. It’s a win, and Tombstone is no doubt advancing onward, but I’d be remiss not to point out how badly Tombstone has struggled in just these three fights. Also of note is Free Shipping is the first robot to finish 0-3, so congratulations and my condolences.
WINNER: Tombstone, Judges’ Decision (3-0)
RIBBOT vs. P1
Now not only are we at teams who are coming in for fight #3 we’re also at that wonderful time of the season where the 2-0’s start getting paired up with each other so being able to claim you went “3-0” is a big boon to your overall seeding for the tournament. Ribbot has been here for a couple of seasons now and I don’t think there was ever a point where this robot wasn’t a very real danger to its opponents; it’s never been a shove-over. This is a bot that made it to the quarterfinals last season and while that’s not as impressive as being the runner up a finish of the final 8 is nothing to scoff at. It’s won 9 fights, all by fucking KO. This season Ribbot was the first to test Defender and managed to damage the control bot’s electronics with only a couple of choice precise hits from its vertical spinner. Ribbot was then matched up against Overhaul in a “Battle of Massachusetts Schools” fight that saw the use of Ribbot’s horizontal undercutting blade. Ribbot disposed of Overhaul in about two hits as well. The bot has made a strong case for going 3-0 with all these quick KO’s.
P1 is a robot that in my opinion was snubbed from the main tournament last year. Yeah I am fully aware that I shit all over this thing when it was known as Parallax and I even clowned on it for losing to Sidewinder when the robot re-debuted as “P1” but all that changed last season when this competitor had a major glow-up. Unfortunately its wins weren’t “impressive” enough but again I stress that this isn’t P1’s fault. Y’all gave it shitty opponents and then complained that the fights sucked. What in god’s name were you expecting to happen? P1 has come back with a vengeance and is 2-0 after a decisive victory over Valkyrie (a.k.a. the Most Destructive Robot of 2020) and a KO win over the cluster bot Jager that saw expert driving and even use of that stupid Upper Deck that we’re being forced to accept and love like a step parent. At this point Brandon Zalinsky is basically shouting “how do you like me now” at the so-called “selection committee”.
Ribbot’s been doing this thing all season so far where it “dresses up” as its opponents so for this match it’s sporting some P1-esque colors as well as a spoiler that falls off immediately just like what P1 used to have. The two robots park next to each other during the twitch test almost as if they were challenging each other to a street race and I’ve gotta say it’s little things like that which are cool to me. I don’t think I mentioned it but last week Whiplash and Skorpios touched weapon arms as if to shake hands for a good match and that was fucking radical.
When the fight starts Ribbot takes the center of the Battlebox and P1 starts driving laps around it looking for an opening. P1 is sporting a split front wedge as opposed to its usual one long plow to hopefully avoid or minimize the amount of punishment it could take from Ribbot. P1 keeps running over the fake spoiler and if it doesn’t stop that thing’s going to get sucked into the bottom of the robot and fuck something up. Ribbot makes an attempt at a jab but stabs the Killsaws instead. This prompts Ribbot’s electrical supervisor to warn David Jin to avoid the saws and to hold the center ground. P1 eventually tries to get in and takes a shot to its corner. The hits are light and only serve to peel off the fake headlight stickers on the robot. I always knew race cars were so fake. What a rip off.
We’re a minute into this fight and the bots are finally engaging. They’ve locked heads and Ribbot is scraping sparks off of the front of P1. P1 is trying to escape but it literally starts burning rubber on its tires as it fights being pushed into the screws of the Upper Deck. P1 makes a strong comeback however and takes Ribbot across the floor and under the Pulverizer for several blows. So far there isn’t much for the judges to look at so these two drives by each of the robots is all we have to go on thus far. Eventually P1 pins Ribbot long enough that it has to let go and does so. Right as Kenny laments the efficacy of Ribbot’s spinner however the frog lands a hit that tears open the right wedge on P1. The two bots lock heads again. P1 burns rubber, Ribbot does the same as the Killsaws pop up and catch a back tire.
The hold eventually breaks and Ribbot has a chance to finish off the front plow of P1 that it damaged a second ago bringing the fight right back to where it was at the beginning. Chris Rose questions whether P1 can make it to closing bell. As soon as he says this Ribbot catches P1 from the front corner and throws the robot completely upside down near the shelf. Not like that it’s gonna make it to the closing bell. P1 can right itself with its lifting arm and does so but this winds up setting the robot down onto that front spire thing on the Upper Deck and squares it up perfectly for Ribbot to kick a fucking field goal. Ribbot winds up and lets loose and knocks P1 backwards so hard that it breaks the goddamned BattleBots sign on the deck. It also looks like P1’s front left wheel has seized up so the robot is stuck crabwalking on the shelf. Not a good place to do that.
The ref starts to count P1 down right as the end of fight timer appears on screen meaning P1’s not going to be saved by the bell. Even if it was it wouldn’t have won this fight. However while this is going on Ribbot drives across a set of Killsaws and accidentally goes balls deep into one of the hazard slots with its rightmost fork. The robot gets embedded so far into the hazard that all of its wheels come off the ground. Technically Ribbot is also dead now but P1 crapped out just a little too soon. Besides, even if P1 survived there’s still not enough time left to count out the stuck Ribbot.
Ribbot is the first robot of the season to make it to 3-0 and lock in a perfect qualifier. We know we’ll be seeing it in the main tournament for sure. P1 again finishes 2-1 and normally I’d say “that’s enough to still make it in” but we all know what happened last year, P1 got fucked. I think P1’s win over Valkyrie and domination over Jager with use of the inappropriately celebrated Upper Deck has got to be enough for the race car to make it in this year. #JusticeForP1
WINNER: Ribbot, KO
SAWBLAZE vs. END GAME
Sawblaze has been exterminating robots with extreme prejudice all season long. It’s only had two fights so far but both of them have been absolutely fucking bonkers. In the opening fight of the season Sawblaze flipped Minotaur over and in a matter of seconds used its hammer saw arm to cleave into the robot’s weaker bottom armor to strike “the good shit” and light Minotaur up like a fucking party float that hit a power line. Mad Catter was next on the chopping block and Sawblaze showed absolutely no mercy. Mad Catter was pummeled so savagely that Sawblaze had to unstick its weapon disc by smashing Mad Catter into the wall until Mad Catter’s entire goddamned upper armor panel fell off and released Sawblaze’s weapon in the process. Sawblaze is perhaps one of the most improved robots in the history of the reboot season and if there was ever a dark horse competitor emitting Giant Nut vibes this is it.
Reigning champion End Game is 2-0 right now which is more than it could say when it was at this point in the qualifiers last season; End Game lost one fight before it was able to get back on the horse proper and take home the gold. End Game has had nothing but tough fights so far and depending upon how you want to look at them they were either really challenging or total cakewalks. Hydra was in the first episode’s main event and this was the match where Hydra’s flipping pump was all jacked up and the robot was mostly DOA. A free win, in other words. End Game’s second fight was with the tenacious Witch Doctor though and that was a battle more hard fought. Witch Doctor relentlessly ground away at the front of this robot but it was one decisive blow to Witch Doctor’s front left corner that damaged its drive and ensured End Game would make it 2-0 into its last match. Now all it needs to do is beat Sawblaze. No pressure, guys.
Sawblaze comes out of its square first looking for a diagonal attack to neutralize the two big forks End Game has snapped onto its front end. The attack fails and Sawblaze winds up over steering in the process. Sawblaze spins back around but again turns too far and this opens its ass end up for an attack from End Game. End Game takes the bait, gets underneath Sawblaze, floors it across the arena, and delivers a Cobalt-styled ass rammer to the dragon. Oh, and this hit also manages to flip Sawblaze out of the arena. The fight’s over. By my count that was 11 seconds not counting the KO countdown. I don’t even know why they bother to count out robots that are out of the arena it’s not like anyone has ever gotten out of that stupid corner to return to the fight.
But yeah. That’s it. The fight’s done. All that fluff and episode filler and trash talking and upselling for about 11 seconds of action. That’s like a metaphor for my love life I think. Anyways the reigning champion goes 3-0 and even at 2-1 I think Sawblaze has caused enough carnage in the box to make it through to the main tournament with a high seeding. It wouldn’t surprise me to see these two bots meet again and when they do Jamison Go is going to have a real bone to pick with the End Game team. At least on the bright side there’s probably no damage at all for Jamison and his crew to fix so they can just wheel their robot back into the pits and enjoy some overpriced food truck grub. Great main event. Keep it up. This definitely shouldn’t have been delegated to a YouTube upload.
WINNER: End Game, KO
So Ribbot and End Game are the first robots to make it to 3-0. Who do you think is going to be seeded higher? I’m guessing End Game because they’re the champs but remember that Bite Force was still sometimes given the #3 seed even when it was the reigning champion. Top seeds still went to Tombstone and Bronco for some stupid reason. Both of these robots have 3 knock outs but when it comes to the quality of the knock out I think Ribbot has the upper hand but only just barely. I’m talking like 0.1 barely. Free Shipping is on the other end of the spectrum as the first 0-3 and I guess that’s worth acknowledgment at least. That’s all we’re going to see of the forklift this year but at least we got another explosion out of it courtesy of Uppercut, that was pretty fucking awesome.
Highlight fight for me this week is Malice vs Blacksmith, Blacksmith being on fire for two minutes and still swinging its weapon despite it being a smoking broken hunk of shit is up there with the robot refusing to die against Minotaur to the tune of 40+ million views on YouTube. I don’t know what it is about Blacksmith but it’s the robot that always has fights like this where it just gets blasted and refuses to let up. Even when Quantum stuck its tooth into it a couple seasons ago Blacksmith was still fully functional and trying to swing its hammer and get away despite being on fucking fire again. My pick for the lamest fight is the main event, hands down. Fuck off with that. The play-up of the main event and all the segments about it were like 30 times longer than the goddamned fight itself. Of course no one knew End Game was just going to sink a hole in one on the first try like that but if that happens maybe have a second battle be the main event. Hell, that should’ve been Malice & Blacksmith.
Well we’re approaching the end of the qualifiers and there’s only two more episodes left. Looking at the field of bots competing we still haven’t seen the final matches for Witch Doctor, Cobalt, Huge, Copperhead, Jackpot, Hypershock, Rotator, Minotaur, Skorpios, Mad Catter, Whiplash, Uppercut, and Valkyrie to rattle off a few. There are some 2-0’s in that bunch that might go 3-0 like Jackpot, Whiplash, Hypershock, and Copperhead. I’m excited to see how these qualifiers end because I know this tournament will be off the wall balls out bonkers. If you’d like to support BattleBots Update and keep it on the web you can do so with a monthly pledge at Patreon or a one-time donation at Ko-Fi. Additionally I’ve got shirts and stickers at Redbubble. And be sure to follow BattleBots Update on Facebook for everything else.
See you next week!