Welcome back to BattleBots Update where we are currently cleaning up the remainder of the fights that went unaired from this season. Last week we got to see what Triple Crown was made of (expensive parts that didn’t do a damn thing) and we also were treated to Jackpot running a train on Deadlift for a brutal KO win. That’s the high point of these unaired fights pretty much as they started to go south pretty quick. I realize this introductory paragraph is doing a poor job of audience retention, my apologies. I just had to get that out there to set the expectations.
This week we’ll be taking a look at the second half of the missing Fight Night rounds with battles that include underground favorites like SMEE, Deep Six, Blade, and Slammo. I call them “underground favorites” because they’re not top tier machines but they all have their fanbases who were eager to see them in the arena. All those people got snubbed when these fights failed to make it to TV, but at least they showed up on YouTube after the fact.
Coming up first is a match between Deep Six and SMEE from episode six.
SMEE vs. DEEP SIX
The widest robot versus the robot with the tallest blade. A match made in production heaven. Both of these robots are veteran competitors though neither of them have previously qualified for the Top 32. Maybe their designs are just too far “out there” to be competitive? In the red square we have SMEE which is literally like 14 feet wide and basically consists of two mini drive pods on either end with a big flexible plate of armor connecting them. The idea is SMEE can charge at an opponent, bend in the middle, and feed both of its drive pods into its foe and chew up their sides with the little undercutting blades on SMEE’s corners. In the past we’ve seen these spinners nickel and dime their way to edging out opponents on damage points with the judges however in this fight the robot is fighting someone who can literally kill it in one hit.
SMEE is durable enough that you can whack it even on its flexible center and not really damage it but if there were ever a robot that could bust SMEE into two parts it’s gotta be Dustin Esswein’s Deep Six. Deep Six is the epitome of min/max’ing a design by putting all of the stat points into “attack” and leaving the other categories completely empty. Deep Six is all about the big ass blade, a blade so huge BattleBots had to make a rule limiting the maximum weight of spinning weapons after Deep Six cleaved a hole in the floor. This rule is unofficially known as “the Deep Six rule”. When you’re getting fucking rules made and named after you that’s when you know you’re doing something right. Deep Six is now abiding by the rule that bears its namesake but even still its 80 pound weapon is a motherfucker that can (and will) destroy opponents with one hit if it gets the right angle.
Being a spinner Deep Six holds back in its square for a few seconds to get its massive blade going at top speed. Meanwhile SMEE cruises on over and tries to line up a shot but hesitates just short of making contact with Deep Six. “New” to Deep Six this season are its stabilizing arms to help prevent the robot from tipping over and carving another dick into the arena floor but in a weird way these arms can also act almost like wedges when fighting something as wide as SMEE. SMEE’s own front plow is angled like a wedge but there’s a lot of breaks in it for where it flexes and contorts. In short Joe Fabiani is nervous that perhaps Deep Six’s stabilizing arms will actually get underneath SMEE and tee it up for a hit that’ll turn the flexible bot into a blown out Twizzlers Pull & Peel.
Deep Six’s stabilizing bars weren’t meant to be wedges so as the robot drives around the bars pop up off the ground and it’s actually SMEE that wins the ground clearance battle. This is fine and all but it’s giving SMEE nothing to really brace against so it can flex and attack Deep Six like it wants to. Deep Six starts getting a little more aggressive and in doing so those front sticks start poking underneath SMEE. Unfortunately Dustin doesn’t follow through with the charge forward and SMEE is able to get away without being snapped in half. The two robots tussle with each other in the middle of the Battlebox until Deep Six rides along the front plow of SMEE and actually connects with one of SMEE’s spinning blades. Just in case you thought these pissant weapons were incapable of doing any real damage Deep Six’s left wheel gets absolutely shredded by the blade and all of its tread comes off. This is curtains for Deep Six’s mobility because its tiny wheels are already stressed enough as it is.
Except we’ll never know how badly this affects Deep Six’s maneuverability because a much larger problem presents itself to the robot; Deep Six’s stabilizing bars are apparently just the right size to fit into the Killsaw slots so as the massive spinner tries to turn and face SMEE it sticks one of its entire front forks down into the hazard. I’m talking like balls deep. Now that the Killsaws are literally deepthroating one of Deep Six’s front forks the robot is basically stuck; you can see that none of its wheels, even the damaged one, are in contact with the ground. Deep Six’s weapon operator is praying for the weapon to collide with the ground to potentially knock the robot free and meanwhile SMEE is coming in from the back to try and nudge Deep Six around potentially to try and also free it because winning in this manner is a lame ass way to go.
So far it looks like SMEE is just making the whole “dick caught in the Killsaws” situation worse for Deep Six but even as the robot is being counted out Dustin is shouting over to Joe to hit him and Joe obliges. Sadly for Deep Six this does nothing and the robot looks like it’s jammed in there pretty good. I guess we now know that the floor hazards have no inner wall to prevent shit like this from happening.
WINNER: SMEE, KO
SWITCHBACK vs. SLAMMO
When this fight happened both of these robots were coming into it with 0-1 records. In the Fight Night rounds you’re usually allowed one fuck up and as long as you win your other fights you can still qualify for the main tournament. Just look at all the 2-1’s that wound up making it in this season. In this case both of these robots redeemed their “one free fuck up” token in their very first fights meaning the heat is on and whoever loses here is probably out for good and I doubt production will even give them a third battle because what’s the fucking point. Switchback is introduced first and it’s coming in after a loss to Gruff where the robot’s spinner was working as expected but its unique pivoting action wasn’t. When Switchback was flipped over it was on its back to stay, a position it can normally self right from.
Slammo is also coming in off of a loss for this fight. In Slammo’s first outing it was absolutely crushed and pummeled by a brand new Hypershock eager to show off all of its new design points. I think it’s safe to say Hypershock made its message clear: “TYCO that’s how you spell RC”. Craig Danby actually qualified for the main tournament last season with this robot so seeing it start out at 0-1 is kinda sad because this is a fantastic control bot. It’s just hard to control something as unruly and hyperactive as Hypershock. A bad draw for sure. Switchback seems to be a bit of an underhanded pitch to Slammo for this fight because Switchback’s chassis is the perfect bite size for Slammo’s grappling arms so we’ll see if that’s the case. Remember though, Switchback’s weapon can pivot back and forth so even if Slammo gets a grab Switchback can probably still attack.
Switchback is eager to get into this fight and start swinging. You heard Greg Needel’s interview before the fight he’s ready to chew up some gearboxes. Unfortunately he’s a little too anxious because immediately Switchback floors it forward right as one of the little ramrods in the floor pop up. There’s one directly in front of Switchback’s starting square and Switchback hits it hard enough to nearly tip the entire goddamned robot over. The robot recovers from this slip up though and lands a couple of glancing shots to the side of Slammo. Switchback continues the attack and actually comes at Slammo near head-on which is a bad move considering Slammo’s whole M.O. is picking other robots up and throwing them around. Switchback’s only saving grace is that it attacks from such a wide angle that Slammo can’t quite get a grip on anything more than one of Switchback’s hinged front wedges and the spinner gets away.
The hosts start joking that both of these robots are driving around in a school zone because neither one seems to be speeding around trying to get at its opponent. Switchback is at least in pursuit and Slammo looks to be on the backstep trying to get an angle that works. While this is going on Switchback lands a hit from behind that knocks Slammo forward and seems to incapacitate the whole robot. When Slammo starts moving around again its left side of drive looks dead and the right side looks like it’s in the process of giving up the ghost. Switchback gets greedy and starts attacking wherever it can and this includes getting right in Slammo’s face which allows the grappler to bite down on Switchback entirely. Absolutely fuck all comes from this grab.
Switchback’s team starts getting a little more confident and brazen with their attacks with the driver telling the weapons guy to spin up the drum and lower the arm because he’s about to go in raw. Slammo takes a blast to the face that flips the robot onto its ass and even though the robot is able to self right it’s just not driving anywhere. The Danby curse strikes again. Slammo is counted out and we know from how the rest of the season goes this is it for the grappler and we don’t see it again. This is why.
WINNER: Switchback, KO
JAGER vs. CAPTAIN SHREDERATOR
Over the years that I’ve been writing this blog we’ve seen some pretty hilarious mismatches. Well here’s one for the books: a multibot versus a shell spinner. Jager is an ambitious creation from Germany that unfortunately wasn’t able to be fully realized due to COVID travel restrictions; we keep seeing the same two bots for Jager because that’s all who showed up. There’s supposed to be a third robot, a blue one with a drum, but that robot was in the UK and wasn’t able to make the journey over. Jager’s strategy involves picking two of its three components and using them in battle so the robot isn’t underweight or anything like that, it’s just lost the ability to pick which bots go into battle. That’s why we’ve got a fucking baby hammer saw robot going into battle with a 250 pound shell spinner. My guess is ideally Jager would be using the undercutter and drum for this battle.
Captain Shrederator started this season on perhaps its highest note ever when it upset Tombstone in round one by causing the former champion to literally burst into flames and shed a weapon tooth from its brand new weapon bar. I don’t think a single soul in the building thought Captain Shrederator had the ability to bring that kind of pain to such a legendary robot not even its builder Brian Nave. So Captain Shrederator was riding high and in its next match it was drawn to fight Gigabyte. I know, Beyblades. Haha. Real funny. Captain Shrederator went with this unique setup, the same one we’re seeing in this battle, and was actually doing well by popping Gigabyte into the air and whatnot. But then Captain Shrederator was going to have a patented Shrederator Moment™ and the robot just… died. That’s it. So here’s Captain Shrederator’s last hurrah.
The fight starts and Captain Shrederator is busy doing Captain Shrederator things like not spinning up to speed anywhere near as quickly as it needs to in order to start doing damage. It’s going so slow that Arm Muscle (the pink bot of Jager) is able to pretty much single-handedly slow it down and interfere with its spin up. Toe Kicker (the green bot) meanwhile has its undercutting blade up to speed and this is the one that I feel Captain Shrederator should be worried about, this is the one that can potentially reach under the lip of the shell and start hitting tires. Instead Toe Kicker lands one hit and I guess Ralf Schneider didn’t attach his fucking weapon correctly because the blade just flies off and I know that’s not damage done by Captain Shrederator. The thing is barely even spinning. Captain Shrederator is still spinning at maybe a quarter of its top speed and Arm Muscle comes in for another attack bumping the spinner into the screws and stopping it.
This is Jager’s chance to start doing some good damage. Arm Muscle has Captain Shrederator pinned and brings down the cutting saw. I’m seeing some UHMW plastic shreds start to fly but as soon as that buzz saw reaches the metal part of Captain Shrederator’s shell it seizes immediately and Captain Shrederator gets away. It was a good attack, one the judges will take note on, but Arm Muscle’s going to need to do a few more runs like this to really turn the tides now that it’s the only component of Jager with a working fucking weapon. Toe Kicker has been delegated to “the thing that rams into Captain Shrederator when it’s spinning to absorb a punch and slow it down”. While in pursuit of Captain Shrederator, Arm Muscle manages to take the weakest possible shot on its right wheel. This kills the wheel. Wonderful. So now we have a fully functional robot with no weapon and a half functional robot with a weapon on Jager. This fight is going places I tell ya.
Brian Nave starts micromanaging the robot from the drivers’ booth and tells the weapon operator to flip a switch on his transmitter and almost instantly we’re seeing more speed from Captain Shrederator’s shell. Why is that switch even turned off in the first place? Furthermore why the fuck is it even there if all it does is slow down the weapon? Is it like a two stage thing where you spin up to speed in a “low” gear and then switch it to “high” gear to get more juice out of it? Why would you build it that way? Are you fucking daft? While this is going on Toe Kicker floors it at Captain Shrederator and gets swatted away dying on the second run. This means Arm Muscle is the only robot left in Jager and it’s not moving around very well. The ref says he’s seen enough and starts the countdown.
Pay close attention to the graphics on screen and you’ll see the two minute clock appear. Shortly thereafter the in-arena lights flash signaling the final 60 seconds of the battle. The ref allowed Jager to flail for a solid goddamned minute before deciding to count it out. But Captain Shrederator isn’t through with Jager yet. It manages to spin back up and with a few seconds left on the KO count land a blow that throws Arm Muscle into the screws in front of the Upper Deck. Then as soon as the fight is called it hits Arm Muscle again and throws it across the arena. Apparently Ralf was fine with this hit which is a bummer because I want to see some controversy of a robot absolutely blasting someone right as their KO count finishes.
I guess that means Captain Shrederator wins and it’s onward into the Top 32?
WINNER: Captain Shrederator, KO
DEFENDER vs. RETROGRADE
This is actually the third fight for both of these robots, yeah they snuck a “battle of the 1-1’s” in here but that’s to be expected as we reach the unaired fights toward the end of Fight Night. After all we just got done seeing Captain Shrederator finish its third fight and Jager lose its second one so that’s all she wrote for the multibot. Defender is here after a quick opening loss to Ribbot and a judges’ decision win over Riptide. That could’ve been a KO victory over Riptide because the robot got stuck on its side but Defender opted to keep the fight going and knocked the robot down. This in turn gave us the amazing moon jump Riptide made when it self righted using the deck so I’d say that was a good play. Defender’s primary mode of attack, as demonstrated by the miniature antweight that spawned its creation, is to grapple the enemy with the upper jaw and then lift the whole chassis backward with the arm that braces on the floor. We’ve yet to see this work.
Retrograde is kind of a middling rookie mid-tier robot from the team that brought us Bloodsport; their B-team works on this machine. Retrograde has just a lifting arm, no grappler or jaw or anything fancy like that. Around back there’s a spinning disc. It’s hard to say how well Retrograde has done this season because its first opponent was Rampage which doesn’t even count as an opponent (and we saw that unaired fight last week) and its second was Huge, a robot Retrograde couldn’t even hit. Retrograde hasn’t really been dealt a proper opponent until now, its third fight. It’s going to be a battle for lowest ground here because both of these robots are lifters and only one of them has an active weapon. Thankfully that’s Retrograde, unfortunately the weapon is on its ass.
Retrograde looks like it tries to go for some fancy maneuver at the start and all this does is just make its side wide open to attack from Defender. Defender takes the bait and runs with it slamming Retrograde into the screws of the blue square but not quite getting its opponent into the hazard. Defender’s jaw moves down and the robot is going for a clamp and a lift… but nothing happens. Seriously does this thing even fucking work? This is three fights now and Defender has failed to do what it was designed to. This came from the same team as Whiplash. Fucking Whiplash! So Defender gives up on trying to grapple with Retrograde and instead just shoves it into the screws proper where sure enough Retrograde gets eaten up and pulled onto the hazard.
Defender gets a great clamp on Retrograde and this is much better leverage than the first grapple that failed. Surely we’ll see Defender raise Retrograde up? No? Well I’ll just go fuck myself then. Does the bottom lifting brace just not work or something? Is it pee shy? Defender holds onto Retrograde and performs the absolute weakest slam into the side wall that I’ve ever seen. The hosts aren’t thrilled. Nobody is. As per the rules Defender has to let its opponent go and it does so. Retrograde spins around to try and lift Defender but keeps turning too far and its opponent slips from its grasp. Kenny Florian points out Retrograde’s rear spinner hasn’t even so much as farted this entire match. Oh yeah, it hasn’t. I completely forgot it was there, probably because it’s not even on and the team isn’t using it. Real good allocation of weight. So far all that thing has done was pull a tire off of Rampage which I’m about 100% certain you don’t even need a spinning weapon to do.
Both robots poke and prod at each other and then out of nowhere Defender’s bottom brace pivots downward. So we know that thing works, so why haven’t we seen it? Retrograde takes control of Defender but doesn’t bother trying to lift it. Because reasons. Defender pivots its lower lifter again to try and mitigate what Retrograde can do with its own lifter but honestly that’s just inviting further abuse of its ground clearance. The robots split and then it becomes Defender’s turn to spin around and grapple with Retrograde. We know the upper jaw is functional, that much at least works on this robot. But then I see it, the bottom brace! It looks like it’s trying to push against the ground but it stops just short of when the weight of Retrograde would be bearing down on it. Did they gear this thing backwards or some shit? Defender gives up and once again just pushes Retrograde into the screws.
This fight sucks. Retrograde bumbles around, Kenny says he wants to see the spinner work. Retrograde then jams its forks into the Upper Deck in exactly the place where Whiplash would later fuck itself (more on that next week!) and Defender knocks it free. Defender again just goes back to the screws but now it’s actually using its bottom brace for once in its miserable existence. So let me get this straight, this thing has apparently worked the whole time and has had the torque to lift Retrograde. You’ve had Retrograde in your maw like three times now and only now the signature lifting feature of Defender is being deployed? When there’s literally like 30 seconds left in this shitty fight? Retrograde starts smoking as the robots lock heads and push against each other. Can we just have neither robot win? Is that an outcome? Because both robots deserve to lose this fight.
It goes to the judges and they flip a coin and say Defender won. Defender’s win was so shitty however that this was the only robot to go 2-1 that still had to do a play-in match for the Top 32. Nice job.
WINNER: Defender, Judges’ Decision (3-0)
DRAGON SLAYER vs. BLADE
Dragon Slayer is new to BattleBots this year from first time builder Jordan Neal and his crew. The robot is actually 1-1 so this fight has major tournament implications if Dragon Slayer were to qualify in its rookie season. The robot might not look like much and admittedly it’s proven to be rough around the edges but it was able to overpower Duck and shred its weapon to tough out a judges’ decision win. Sure the fight wasn’t as brutal as Riptide’s outing with Duck but Dragon Slayer held its own and busted the robot’s beak. Dragon Slayer was then thrown straight into the fire as Minotaur was its next opponent and now you know where its one loss came from. Dragon Slayer put up as good of a fight as it could. It put a pretty serious ding in the front of Minotaur but after that one hit Minotaur just laid this thing out. Now Dragon Slayer is here in the final Fight Night episode to see if it can squeeze into the brackets.
At 0-2 Blade is kind of an odd robot to see still hanging around the Fight Night rounds. You’d think with two losses the robot would just be out for good but I guess since the team came all the way from South Korea the producers feel obligated to make sure they get their three fights so it’s not a complete waste of a trip. Blade was a promising robot based upon its performance in Chinese events but here at BattleBots it just couldn’t hang with the big dogs. Right out of the gate Blade was paired up with Skorpios and that fight, which should’ve been a KO like 30 seconds in, was non stop bloodlust. Blade’s team had to replace virtually everything on the robot to get ready for Lucky and ironically it was Blade who was unlucky for that match because its weapon hit the wall and sheared in half leaving it wide open to free flips and attacks from Lucky for a KO loss. Blade won’t make it into the tournament with a win here, but it could interfere with Dragon Slayer’s ability to qualify.
Dragon Slayer is not a very fast robot so to call its opening move a “box rush” is kind of a misnomer. More like a “box trot”. Sensing that Blade’s weapon is already roaring at maximum speed Dragon Slayer lays off on the accelerator and both it and Blade take turns awkwardly pivoting around to feel each other out because no one really wants to hit the front end of the other since we’re dealing with two high kinetic energy weapons here. Blade lunges to the side to try and get around Dragon Slayer and that’s when the robot makes its move; Dragon Slayer leaps forward to try and bite Blade on the ass but Blade spins around and we get the spectacular weapon-on-weapon collision that both of these teams were trying to avoid. It looks like Blade catches the short end of the stick from this exchange but when the dust settles Blade is still working and Dragon Slayer’s weapon is straight up dead.
It looks like Blade’s method of attack is to perhaps charge at an opponent and then whip around in place because that’s exactly what it does as it chases down Dragon Slayer. Blade makes contact with Dragon Slayer’s right side and its weapon dings the wheel hub and more importantly rips into the front armor panel and tears it off. Dragon Slayer coasts into the wall and comes to a halt and when the cameras change angles you can see that the red power indicator lights inside of Dragon Slayer have turned off meaning the robot is for all intents and purposes now a 250 pound paperweight.
Jordan Neal eventually told me there was a list of robots he didn’t want to fight at BattleBots this season and all three of his fights were against robots in the top five of that list. I don’t know how or why Duck factored into that list in the top five but maybe he overestimated how powerful Duck was going to be this year. Could you blame him?
WINNER: Blade, KO
That’s it for all of the mainline battles from Fight Night episodes that didn’t make it to air. There were ten of them and we’ve covered them all now. There’s still one more article of unaired battles to go through but these are going to be tournament matches that didn’t make it to air. We’ve already had the discussion about trimming fat from the episodes in order to fit these battles in so there’s no need to retread that ground, you all know how I feel about it. Anyways there are four fights from the Round of 32 and one fight from the Round of 16 that were cut from broadcast so that adds up to a nice even five remaining fights to get their own article… even though again we already know who wins so what’s the point? (Completion, that’s the point. I obsess over doing 100% in everything I do. I can’t even enjoy video games anymore because I have to get the achievements.)
It kind of became tradition this season but I’ve been picking matches that I liked and didn’t like from each week and even though these articles aren’t proper episodes I’ve just continued that habit. Best fight for me I suppose would be Dragon Slayer versus Blade because there was at least a big hit and a fairly destructive KO. Plus it was nice to see Blade’s luck turn around and for the Korean team to get at least one win while they were here. The worst fight of the week is a four way tie between the other battles listed in this article, possibly with SMEE versus Deep Six taking the cake because of how anti-climactic it was and how bullshit the hazards are that robots can just get stuck in them and that’s it. Kudos to Joe Fabiani for trying to help bump Deep Six around to dislodge it but there was realistically nothing he could do with SMEE to free Deep Six.
Like I said there’s one more of these articles in the works and after that I might need to take a break to work on Giant Washers because I don’t know if I’ll have that done in the scope of a week since those articles tend to take a long time to produce (and it only gets longer the more of them I do). If you’d like to support BattleBots Update you can do so with a monthly pledge on Patreon or a one-time donation with Ko-Fi. If stickers are more your jam I’ve got ’em on Redbubble for you, and be sure to follow BattleBots Update on Facebook for everything else.
See you next week!