It’s that time again, innit? Pardon me but I decided to take a brief break from BattleBots Update over Thanksgiving and Christmas because living and breathing nothing but BattleBots while churning out 8,000+ word articles on a weekly basis just isn’t a perpetual motion machine. Shocking, I know! To avoid burnout I took a rest and did some other stuff like participating in the annual Extra Life charity event where I was able to raise just over $2,600 with the support of my streaming community. Even when I’m not writing BBU I’m still doing my best to use my powers for good. Mostly. But now it’s BattleBots time again and I have no idea how many episodes are in season 12 (or season 7 if you wanna be specific about the reboot) but I am locked in and ready to go.
Good to see BattleBots is still getting their money’s worth out of the tunnel they built for the original ABC seasons. I’ve gotta be honest I kind of quietly wish they’ll slap a new coat of paint onto the production but I guess as the saying goes if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. Don’t fix it until one of the teams accidentally rams their robot’s cart into the side of it and fucks up the corners. Chris Rose and Kenny Florian are reprising their roles as hosts for the seventh time and I’ve gotta say it’s nice to see presenters that care as much about the sport as Bil Dwyer did back in the Comedy Central days. Chris makes a face to the camera as he walks out. Apparently no one in production noticed. Or maybe they did and they thought it was funny, we may never know.
Chris and Kenny go over what’s new for this season and the most important factor is that now everyone knows the schedules of every single robot in the Fight Night rounds. The editors show a few examples on screen as Kenny talks about it and if you pay close attention Hydra is getting a rematch with Tantrum. I’m sure that will be a very civil affair and won’t be a total fucking trash fire that will reopen old wounds. Anyways Kenny points out how you can go to the official BattleBots website and see the entire list of fights for every mainline competitor this season before the fights even air. I feel like that kind of takes the surprise out of each episode but what do I care I was at the taping of this season so none of this is a surprise to me. I already know who wins the Giant Nut. I saw Kenny at a sushi restaurant. I’ve got the inside scoop on everything. Please pretend that I am cool.
One thing that Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dumb don’t go over is how teams now have one appeal they can use if they disagree with a judges’ decision. I suppose this is a possible trump card to overturn a controversial split decision but how often do we actually see those? Usually there’s a clear winner 99% of the time so I feel like the appeals process is kind of unnecessary. At least the arena crew found a new use for the defunct green team ready button though since the era of three way fights is firmly behind us. You can thank the Upper Deck, which is still fucking here, for that one. (Also Trey Roski says rumbles are kinda passé these days. I think he’s still wary of “the Bombshell decision” from that last chance rumble a few years back.)
It’s time to get this show on the road though; up first is a firecracker of a fight pitting Ribbot, a former #2 seed, against Witch Doctor who has two tournament runner-up finishes and a third runner-up finish from the Golden Bolt tournament last season. My short term memory has been fried on account of all the bullshit I’ve been through in my life so for me all of these fights are basically brand new again!
RIBBOT vs. WITCH DOCTOR
Ribbot has the honor of being the first robot wheeled out for the season. It looks the same as it always has because I guess David Jin and his team also subscribe to the “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” school of thought. I miss the foam legs this robot used to have but BattleBots vetoed that since it made a huge fucking mess in the arena. Can’t have fun anymore. Ribbot spent its entire BattleBots career working up the rankings and eventually secured the #2 seed last season only to be slam dunked by Hydra who snuck in the back door as the #31 seed because it was having a shitty year. Surely the loss will have cost Ribbot some of its social capital so the team has some catching up to do if they want to be #2 or better this time around. Considering their first opponent right out of the gate is Witch Doctor I don’t have faith that the frog will come out ahead. Also of note is Ribbot is sponsored this year by Save the Frogs, a charity that supports rainforest conservation and is focused around amphibian species. They sell things in their online store to raise money including this hand towel whose artwork regrettably makes it look like a cum rag.
Coming back for its seventh attempt at the Giant Nut, and my personal pick to win it all this year, is Witch Doctor. Andrea and Mike Gellatly have really built a motherfucker with this machine and they are back once again to hopefully take their robot further than just second place. You don’t get anything for a runner-up finish. Not a smaller Nut. Not a bronze Nut. You get fucking nothing. Witch Doctor seems to flunk out each season because there is one specific thing that winds up being the robot’s Achilles heel, last season it was the durability of the robot’s baseplate. You bet your ass the team has rebuilt their entire machine on a sturdier foundation to ensure it doesn’t get bent up and drag on the floor like it did in the championship finals last season. Witch Doctor and Ribbot seem pretty evenly matched for this battle since Ribbot is using its vertical spinner but when push comes to shove I think Witch Doctor is the better driven robot and has the advantage coming into this match.
Before the match Kenny Florian notes that Ribbot has over 30 horsepower fueling its spinner. It’s got a whole ranch full of My Little Ponies behind that disc and yet as the fight starts it still has a slower spin up time than Witch Doctor whose weapon comes out roaring at 250 MPH. Ribbot has a couple of wedgelets on its front it whereas Witch Doctor is all plow no bullshit. Predictably the two bots lock heads in the center of the arena and exchange blows off of their armored front ends. Witch Doctor shrugs off the attack from Ribbot, but Ribbot’s wedgelets can’t hold up to the force of Witch Doctor’s weapon. Both orange wedges are torn off and as Witch Doctor goes for the second one it overreaches and splits the rubber of Ribbot’s front left wheel. We’ve seen Ribbot in this position before so we know it can drive just fine with three wheels but unless David Jin has a secret ace up his sleeve it’s looking like no charity in the world can save this stupid frog.
The cameras cut to Mike Gellatly who is in his zone before going back to the action where we see Witch Doctor just sort of idly coasting around ignoring the potential threat the crippled Ribbot still poses. Ribbot very nearly turns the tables with a side-on attack on Witch Doctor but the voodoo bot pulls away and resets. Witch Doctor spins around and hits Ribbot’s front end at an angle and connects with the bracket of its spinning disc throwing the robot upside down. Ribbot swings wide as it tries to turn around to face Witch Doctor and Witch Doctor just beautifully floors it forward and T-bones the fuck out of Ribbot sending chunks of the frog’s plastic lid flying everywhere and the robot reeling into the far corner of the arena. David Jin said he knew he’d be taking a “big hit” from Witch Doctor, well here it fucking is.
That massive hit seems to have wrecked Ribbot’s spinner because it’s no longer got any action. As Ribbot tries to back away from the corner Witch Doctor keeps this Killer Instinct combo going and blasts Ribbot in the ass sending the poor robot flipping and twisting out of control. The guy on Ribbot’s team who has the little doodad that relays information as to the robot’s status tells David the weapon’s dead. I don’t think you need a special device to infer that from the ass kicking that Witch Doctor is currently dispensing. The action cuts back to the robots and Witch Doctor manages to yank off Ribbot’s other front tire. All this damage is adding up and despite David Jin’s best efforts his robot has effectively given up the ghost. Ribbot is toast.
The ref counts out Ribbot and Witch Doctor is declared the winner starting its season off with a victory. Considering Witch Doctor’s later opponents include Fusion and Gruff it’s a safe bet that the producers are underhanding these fights to Witch Doctor because they really want this robot to make it into the main tournament. Argh.
WINNER: Witch Doctor, KO
QUANTUM vs. CAPTAIN SHREDERATOR
I guess we’re cutting Faruq’s intros for this next fight and hopping right into the battle. Can’t say it bothers me but I know there’s going to be a not-insignificant portion of fans who are going to bitch about this on Reddit. Quantum returns to the Battlebox after a few seasons off. This robot is a hydraulic crusher whose weapon outputs 35,000 pounds of force at its tip. That’s 17.5 tons, more than Kraken’s jaw and according to Kenny it’s also more than any animal ever. Yeah dude, I don’t think the fucking bone structure of any known species of animal could withstand biting down with that much force. No shit. Quantum is an absolutely beautiful machine and its distinctive look comes from its algorithmically-generated parts which are computer engineered to be as efficient as possible, as structurally sound as possible, and as light as possible. It’s kind of like the Xenomorph, the perfect killing machine. There’s just not as much fetish artwork of Quantum.
Witch Doctor has been here all seven reboot seasons but you know who else can say that? Captain Shrederator. Yeah this fucking disaster of a robot has managed to apply and be accepted into every single season of the BattleBots reboot. Since Ray Billings injured his hand and had to withdraw from this season not even Tombstone can say that it’s been to every season now. Captain Shrederator has “improved” as the years have gone on, I guess, but overall it’s basically the same robot: a shell spinner with modular teeth and different shell configurations. You wouldn’t think something like a shell spinner would have too many options available to it but you’d be wrong. For this match Captain Shrederator is taking a page out of Gigabyte’s playbook and is sporting a spiked wedge attachment. The goal here is to beat Quantum’s fixed plow and presumably attack the wheels. Kind of a shitty match-up for Captain Shrederator but at this point what isn’t a “shitty match-up” for this robot?
I forgot just how fucking fast Quantum is. As soon as the green light goes up the robot just floors it across the box and chases down Captain Shrederator before it can even spin up. Captain Shrederator gets corralled into the wall slowing it down and eventually gets shunted into the corner where the robot’s spinning shell expends all of its energy allowing Quantum to come in for its first bite. 17 tons of crushing power and it can’t even breach the fucking plastic atop Shrederator’s lid. I’m guessing one of the teeth is hitting the metal spokes of the spinner’s lid? Even so that’s the weight of three goddamned elephants bearing down on a dinky ass little piece of metal. You’d think the spoke would just give way under that kind of stress but fuck me I guess. Chris Rose says “here comes that crusherability”. He’s so close to sounding like Jonathan Pearce and yet still so far away.
The Pulverizer gets involved with Captain Shrederator but no real damage has been done thus far. Captain Shrederator is even able to slip out of Quantum’s grasp and very nearly get away but it’s doing fuck all so it’s not like it matters any. Quantum gets a wrangle on Captain Shrederator again and this time when it bites down it misses the spokes of Captain Shrederator’s shell and the teeth go right through the plastic and down into the robot. Quantum bites and releases over and over again slamming Captain Shrederator across the box into the screws, the wall, the shelf, literally just whatever the fuck is in the way. Captain Shrederator breaks loose and coasts around near the red square and as Quantum dives in for another go Shrederator’s front wedge thing actually works for once and deflects Quantum away. It’s too little too late for the spinner though because it doesn’t capitalize on this attack in the slightest; Kenny even points out that Captain Shrederator’s dome isn’t spinning anymore so clearly some shit is broken.
Quantum gets another solid bite on Captain Shrederator and carries the robot into the blue square screws where the spinner is slammed into the wall and dropped off atop the hazard. Captain Shrederator gets chewed up for a bit until the hazard reverses direction and spits the robot out into Quantum’s waiting maw. Quantum bites down again and sinks its teeth into Captain Shrederator and it’s hard to notice because of the jump cuts but a brief flash of flame erupts from the bite zone. Captain Shrederator is slammed into the wall once again and as this is going on I just want you to appreciate all the arena debris that Quantum is scooping up and shoving along with its opponent. I have no idea where that shit came from because between every fight a clean-up crew literally comes in a sweeps the box.
Captain Shrederator is starting to smoke and as the robot is pummeled into the blue square screws once again a proper flame erupts from where Quantum is biting it. Quantum dislodges Captain Shrederator from its teeth with the help of the arena wall and the crippled spinner tries to dart away but like clockwork Quantum is back on its ass yet again biting down into the shell. This time as Quantum backs off Captain Shrederator is just dead with wisps of smoke coming up and out of the five million fucking holes that have been chewed into its lid. The ref wastes no time starting the KO countdown signaling to the BattleBots world that Quantum is back and it’s fucking pissed.
WINNER: Quantum, KO
RIPPERONI vs. GRUFF
What the fresh hell is Ripperoni? This fucking thing looks like someone built in Robot Arena 3. (That’s the bad one.) Uppercut is out this season and in its place we have this, uh, thing sporting an asymmetrical chassis, two different sized wheels, and an offset vertical spinner. This whole thing looks exactly like the robot I would build if I tried to take one of my shitty bot drawings and build it in real life with the fabrication skills I currently have. Apparently there’s a reason to the madness however because team captain Anna Zolnikov has an explanation for the robot’s weird design. The big takeaway is that Ripperoni is designed to have as little gyroscopic force as possible so there’s a flywheel tucked in behind the main spinner that rotates in the opposite direction to counteract the forces of its primary disc. To all of you out there going “wow that’s fucking genius how come nobody else has tried that before” might I direct your attention to Counter Revolution? The double disc spinner from 2015 that was eaten alive by Tombstone and then promptly retired? Now you know why it had the second disc.
What’s there to say about Gruff that hasn’t already been said before in the countless times I’ve had to write up an introduction for it on this website? Well I say it’s “countless” but Chris Rose kind of does the legwork for me when he says Gruff’s career record is 6-10; that makes 16. It doesn’t feel like I’ve written fight recaps of sixteen fucking Gruff fights but I guess I have. Losing sight of the bigger picture is exactly how people gain a shitload of weight. You forget the one Ding Dong you’re eating in the sea of previous Ding Dongs that have gone straight to your ass. Gruff is still armed with the field’s hottest flamethrower and a lifting arm capable of heaving 250 robots straight up. Strangely Gruff has wedge attachments but it’s only using one of them for this battle kind of like the shit Lucky used to do. I don’t understand the tactical advantage of doing this other than “we’re so pressed for weight that we could only afford to use one with our current setup”.
As soon as Ripperoni tries to leave its starting square its front wedge fork thing hits a seam in the floor and trips the robot up letting Gruff cruise in and upend the spinner with the help of its disc. Ripperoni might have the rear flywheel to counteract the vertical gyro force of its weapon but when you start to turn the robot on one of its axes it’s still going to try and fight it hence Ripperoni spinning the fuck out and getting knocked into the wall. Ripperoni keeps going though and jams its face into Gruff which visibly fucks up Gruff’s lifting arms. The hit also dislodges the belt guard from Ripperoni so if Frederick Moore isn’t careful a well placed stab from Gruff’s forks could very well shred the belt and leave the robot without a weapon. Fred seems in high spirits though he’s jumping around and getting into driving the robot like a toddler playing a fucking Nintendo game. Gruff takes a shot to its front end that bends up the little attached wedge but all doesn’t seem to be well with the pizza bot.
While Kenny is busy saying “thatsa spicy pizza” Ripperoni spontaneously loses control and flips out as its weapon collides with the ground. As the robot violently twists in the air pay close attention and you’ll see that its front fork is curled upward. This doesn’t seem like significant damage but Ripperoni’s weapon is so close to the ground that this minor shift in clearance is enough to fuck the whole thing up and send Ripperoni spiraling out of control. It also doesn’t seem to be able to turn without its weapon striking the ground anymore. Despite this Ripperoni’s disc is still spinning at what I assume is its top speed so Gruff has to be careful when it gets in close; one wrong move and Ripperoni could easily reel upward and drop that disc straight down on Gruff’s lid or cleave off one of the flamethrower pods. Gruff gets a good grab on Ripperoni and drives the robot across the floor. Physics kick in about 3/4th’s of the way there though and Ripperoni spins up onto one of its wheels and flips into the wall denying Gruff the satisfaction of completing a full box rush.
As Gruff locks heads with Ripperoni to try and pry the robot up and backward Kenny finally notices the bent front spike on Ripperoni’s chassis and explains the whole “three point stability” thing I got into in the previous paragraph. As Kenny wraps up his piece of trivia Gruff tilts Ripperoni just right and the robot’s disc collides with the floor sending the goddamned entire robot flipping end over end and into the wall and very nearly taking out the BattleBots sign that the editors motion track the Vex Robotics banner ads onto. Don’t worry Ripperoni, you might not have been able to take down Vex but their office misconduct and sexual harassment claims surely will! Ripperoni seems unable to turn without reeling up on one side which leads me to believe its rear flywheel has failed somehow though I have no way of knowing since the stupid thing is enclosed inside what looks like a tambourine. Every time Ripperoni tries to position itself to strike Gruff it just rolls over backwards leading to an excellent move where Gruff straight up fucking bench presses Ripperoni across the floor.
Ripperoni tries to turn and winds up very nearly jumping onto the fucking shelf. Gruff tries to help it up there but doesn’t get very far before Ripperoni rolls backward into the corner near the drivers’ booth. Frederick Moore dashes back and forth across the floor like he’s playing Supermarket Sweep looking for the bottle of toothpaste with the giant wad of cash stuck to it but instead all he finds is a room temperature frozen pizza of a robot that won’t settle the fuck down. Gruff makes an effort to shove Ripperoni under the Pulverizer but the robot gets away and twists around on one wheel across the arena as Gruff starts smoking and loses a side of drive. Gruff I swear to god you are seconds away from winning this unanimously don’t fuck it up now.
Ripperoni carves yet another divot into the floor and as it lands right ways up it too begins to smoke. It looks like battery smoke so apparently the robot’s LiPo’s couldn’t handle the washing machine treatment they’ve received for the past three minutes. The buzzer sounds sending the fight to the judges wherein we discover Jason Bardis isn’t back this year. Instead Fon Davis is in his seat. Weird that only Jason has been replaced and his comments on the matter were vague so who knows the reasoning but Fon is cool at least. He didn’t compete in the reboot seasons but he was around in the Comedy Central days. Also the judges say Gruff won in case you weren’t paying attention to the fight.
WINNER: Gruff, Judges’ Decision (3-0)
HUGE vs. SHATTER
Up next are two robots that have been around in the reboot seasons but have yet to ever meet each other in the ring. Huge is a bot that turned a lot of heads when it debuted four seasons ago. It still turns heads today but unfortunately for Jonathan Schultz and his crew their robot can’t seem to break through the Round of 16. Huge pretty reliably makes it into the main tournament each year it competes but it always winds up falling just short when the heat gets turned up and its opponents get more difficult. Huge has always been about leveraging the height game in its battles; the robot is so fucking tall you just can’t hit it. This lets Huge essentially drive over its opponents and strike them with its steel slashing blade. It’s beauty lies in how simple it really is, just two big ass wheels and a blade. Huge should watch out however because in its debut fight of the season its opponent is Shatter, a robot who can actually hit Huge’s chassis on account of being armed with a hammer.
Huge doesn’t look much different this year and you know what neither does Shatter. I think that’s because both of these robots have basically evolved their designs to a near perfect point and there’s nothing you can really do to them that wouldn’t just deviate the new iteration away from that central point. Shatter saw life before BattleBots under the names Blue and Mega Melvin in events in China and Robogames respectively so it got a head start on refining its design before coming to the big leagues. Also designer Adam Wrigley has literally been doing robot combat stuff for 20 fucking years so there’s that too. Shatter’s special ability is its omnidirectional drive system which allows it to strafe and circle around opponents while always facing them; Shatter is like a 2D sprite in an early 3D shooter game. Rather than come out swinging with its axe type weapon Shatter is equipped with the “Mary Special”, a giant anime sword sure to make Cloud from Final Fantasy feel like he has a tiny penis.
For reasons unknown Shatter starts the fight with a charge that includes a little whirl around for flourish. All that did was potentially open its ass end up to attack from Huge. No exchange happens until Shatter gets too close to Huge and the giant robot spins around and cleaves into Shatter’s side. Some armor pieces fly off of Shatter but Chris Rose is quick to note that this is ablative armor from Shatter whose purpose is to absorb hits and come loose. Watch for more of it when Huge strikes Shatter again and throws the whole fucking thing upside-down. It’s like confetti! Shatter recovers using its sword as a srimech and gets back in the fight shoving its nose into Huge’s business and taking two direct shots to the face. I know Shatter’s got the UHMW plastic chunks on its sides to protect its weapon clutch and sprockets but that front end looks particularly vulnerable. I don’t know how you’d guard that without hindering the weapon in the process though. That’s why I don’t design hammer bots.
Shatter floors it across the arena and hits Huge’s giant Tegris wheel. Shatter goes for a chop but it probably doesn’t do any damage. The attack isn’t a total wash however because Huge skids into the Upper Deck and its weapon strikes one of its spires which stops it. By the time Shatter tries to capitalize on this though Huge already has its blade back up to speed. Shatter keeps swinging its sword and finally manages to do some damage when it karate chops off Huge’s right stabilizing axle. Now if Shatter could just somehow get Huge to roll up onto the side of that wheel it might win the fight but chances are Shatter’s probably fucked. Shatter tries to get around to the other axle but Huge whips around in place and strikes Shatter lifting it up and sending more of those decorative triangles everywhere. The hit isn’t really all that spectacular, we’ve seen better in this fight already, but it does remind Kenny of his old catchphrase and prompts him to say “huge shot there”. Close enough.
Chris rose says things are getting desperate for Shatter but remains optimistic that one well placed shot could change the course of the match. As soon as he completes that thought Huge hits Shatter from the side and rips off one of the chunks of additional plastic armor that was up there. Yeah dude, just one hit can change it all. Shatter looks to be aiming for the wide axles on Huge because they are seemingly easy targets but it can’t quite chop the other one off. Huge curls in for another hit and knocks loose the top left panel of Shatter’s armor. Chris points out this is not ablative armor. Thanks, Chris. The robots get into one final tangle that results in Shatter getting its exposed side whacked knocking the parts inside loose. Shatter also gets stuck on the arena wall. Shatter could theoretically swing its sword and get down from there but Adam Wrigley just looks on and says it’s dead. A valiant effort, I guess.
The new ref starts counting Shatter down and in the same breath also counts down the time it will take for someone to make the first meme of replacing her with her soundalike Frau Farbissina from the Austin Powers movies.
WINNER: Huge, KO
RIPTIDE vs. GLITCH
Boy the people in charge of drawing up these fights sure aren’t being predictable with this one. No less than like three times before this fight happens the hosts have to point out that these two robots won the “Best Rookie” award last season. There wasn’t a Giant Bolt for that award so the teams just got some retired Pulverizers. That’s like twice the weight and half as cool. Great. Riptide returns this year after a breakout rookie season that saw it reach the quarterfinals. This is a bot similar in design to the successful 3 pound robot “Lynx” that competes at some of the Norwalk Havoc events making Riptide yet another one of those “it worked as a beetleweight let’s scale it up to a heavyweight” designs. Riptide’s weapon weighs a little less than Glitch’s but its form factor is totally different; Glitch has a more focused spinning mass whereas Riptide’s is basically a drum. There’s even a name for it: “eggbeater”. If you listen closely you can hear an empassionate Ethan Kurtz screaming “let’s go” at the top of his lungs as if BattleBots were on par with someone streaming Fortnite.
From a robot whose driver screams “let’s go” to one whose driver mutters it under his breath while feverishly working in the pits Glitch has returned to the arena. Glitch famously went “undefeated” for seven fights last year because nobody is counting its technical forfeit to Witch Doctor as a loss. So sure, seven straight wins. Whatever. Make up your own statistics. Speaking of making up your own statistics apparently the teams were polled regarding who would win this fight and the slight majority voted in favor of Glitch. I think that says less about Glitch’s tendency to Mr. Magoo its way into victories and more about how Riptide is seemingly disliked as a team. Look at me go, starting shit in the write-up for the first episode. It’s just like old times here on BattleBots Update. Happy new year! Glitch had technical problems before the fight and was very nearly DQ’ed because of it. Bro you haven’t even fucking fought yet. What did you do, bring an incomplete robot to BattleBots and hope to finish it in the pits? Who the fuck do you think you are, Ray Scully?
It looks like whatever mobility issues Glitch had last year have been fixed in this new iteration of the robot because as Riptide spins up its drum and charges forward Glitch is able to maneuver away and stay pointed at its opponent. Glitch’s heavy weapon takes a few more seconds to get going but this little juke move has given it enough time to spin up to speed. Kyle Miller said he’s not afraid to go weapon on weapon because he believes he’ll come out ahead in the exchange on account of having a heavier spinner. Will this be the case? We may never know because Riptide pushes forward and as Glitch tries to dodge Riptide catches the robot on its right corner. The hit violently jerks Glitch’s chassis against the gyroscopic forces generated by its own 70 pound spinner and the end result is Glitch landing on its backside. Glitch not being able to self right or drive upside-down was potentially a problem last season, good to know the team did absolutely fuck all to fix that oversight.
This is literally a one hit knockout. One stupid fucking hit. It wasn’t even a solid hit it was clearly just a glancing blow because aside from likely being twisted the only damage done to Glitch is there’s a nick on its right corner where it got hit. Riptide spins up and hits Glitch a second time but rather than flip it back over the hit just knocks Glitch away into the screws of the Upper Deck which pull the robot up atop it. Riptide has no way of getting up there on its own to kick Glitch around some more so this is the end of the line. Was Glitch just lightning in a bottle? It has three more chances to prove that last season wasn’t just a fluke and unfortunately for Glitch none of those chances involve Ghost Raptor.
Ethan is so overjoyed by this victory that he screams the word “fuck” as soon as Chris and Kenny try to interview him. Now that’s what I call entertainment for the whole family!
WINNER: Riptide, KO
FREE SHIPPING vs. GIGABYTE
Free Shipping is a robot that has evolved each year that we’ve seen it. Back when this robot first debuted it looked like a literal forklift and its weapon was straight up a goddamned forklift. This proved a bit too unwieldy to use however so when Free Shipping returned the following year the weapon had been modified into a two stage chain-driven lifting arm whose design was merely inspired by a forklift. The robot performed better, but still not great. Gary Gin seems to have thrown in the towel in wanting to pursue his “Original Sin, but with a lifting arm” approach to design because now Free Shipping has two forklift prongs on its front end and between them there’s another goddamned vertical spinner. Free Shipping is probably the last robot that I’d think of when it comes to who’s next in succumbing to this cancer but I guess even the most keen of us can be wrong sometimes. It’s not Free Shipping anymore. It just isn’t. Free Shipping was a control bot with big flamethrowers and a lifting arm. This robot is just cannon fodder armed with a pissant spinner. Free Shitting, in other words.
For the longest time Gigabyte has been captained by John Mladenik. This robot is his baby and it dates all the way back to the Comedy Central era of BattleBots. Hell this is one of the bots that put the legendary Biohazard out to pasture. John is well decorated when it comes to this machine… so this season he’s fucked off to spearhead Cobalt and left Derek and Camden, two high school looking chucklefucks, in charge of his world class shell spinner. I’m sure Derek Tran is a wholly competent driver and he’ll do his best but it’s fucking crazy how John has stepped aside from his darling robot to focus on his new toy. Cobalt’s original team is even here this year, just let them drive the damn thing??? Whatever. Gigabyte hasn’t changed much it seems, or if it has those changes are all under the shell. Apparently this robot can reach speeds of 18 MPH which is cool I guess. I don’t know why you’d need to go that fast inside the Battlebox when you’re a shell spinner though but I suppose having that level of speed is what we in the biz call a “nice to have”. It’s a shell spinner, what else is there to say? It’s like Captain Shrederator except Gigabyte actually wins fights sometimes.
Gigabyte revs up its shell and if you watch the directional indicator pole on its top you’ll see the whole inner body of the robot spins around under the force of its weapon. This points Gigabyte at the wall. Gigabyte’s new driver shows how green he is behind the ears and drive straight into the screws stopping the robot’s shell and allowing Free Shipping’s little French tickler of a weapon to shave some bright titanium sparks off of the lid. Free Shipping stays on Gigabyte and pops it into the air where we see the real purpose of that upper mast on the spinner, it’s for self righting. This is nothing new, Gigabyte has had the mast before, but for the robot to have to use it so early in this fight means it needs to really get going and start pulling some wheels off of Free Shipping to reduce the amount of control the former forklift can exert. Instead Gigabyte starts spinning up and drives into the fucking wall again.
Gigabyte pulls away from the corner and starts spinning up in the center of the arena so maybe we’ll finally see a good hit here since there isn’t a goddamned wall close to the robot. Sure enough Free Shipping cruises in and tries to shunt the spinner but gets whacked away instead. Free Shipping dives in again and is swatted away but now Gigabyte ricochets into the short corner of the arena in front of Chris and Kenny. A follow up hit knocks Gigabyte silly and as the spinner tries to self right with its mast the pole snaps off leaving Gigabyte to spin around like the world’s stupidest Beyblade. I call this one “Lame Dragoon” and it has an octagonal inner weight disc and a floppy dick outer ring to attack with. The hosts predictably start joking about Gigabyte turning into a top while Gigabyte’s internals spin around at god knows how fast throwing sparks everywhere as the robot’s inner chassis flexes and scrapes against the inside of its shell.
The spinning doesn’t stop but it certainly looks like it’s slowing down. Gigabyte is knocked into the blue square where it rides up onto what’s left of its mast and balances there for a while. Look closely and you’ll see wisps of smoke coming from inside the spinner so clearly all those G’s that the robot’s guts are experiencing is fucking something up. Free Shipping shoves Gigabyte under the Pulverizer for a few low blows and as the inner workings of the spinner come to a halt you can just see all sorts of wires and shit that appear to have been pulled out of place from all that spinning. Free Shipping’s flamethrower starts smoking like it’s actually on fire for real and as Gary Gin parks the robot in the middle of the Battlebox to show off the entire thing ignites. I didn’t point it out initially but the nozzle for Free Shipping’s flamethrower is behind one of the lips of the wedges mounted on its front end so that fire was going to be all over the place regardless of damage.
Gigabyte is dead after what amounts to a no showing in this fight. Free Shipping scores an uncommon W and starts its season off on a good foot.
WINNER: Free Shipping, KO
TANTRUM vs. MINOTAUR
It isn’t a season premiere episode if the current reigning champ isn’t in the show. Tantrum, the season 6 (season 11…) champion claimed the Giant Nut after gaining so much momentum that the compact heavyweight seemed truly unstoppable. There was that controversial win over Hydra in the semifinals, and then a lucky shot in the championship bout secured Tantrum’s place in the annals of BattleBots everlasting fame. They even unveil a cool new Tantrum banner to go along with the banners of other heavyweight champions like Vlad the Impaler, Bite Force, and uh, La Machine. Tantrum is back and it looks to be business as usual. It’s still a tight little robot with crazy high defenses and a spinning disc weapon that it can “punch” with using its sliding track. This dinky looking weapon packs more power than you might think and best of all it looks like the team finally made a new fucking weapon disc for this season instead of reusing the one from last year (which was already being reused from the season prior).
You can’t talk about controversial fights of last season without bringing up Minotaur’s loss to Witch Doctor. Minotaur lost a wheel and started gyroing around the arena and nobody knew how the fuck to call that fight. Was it movement? Was Minotaur incapacitated? Should Witch Doctor have been freed from the arena wall? So many questions with no definitive answers so now the BattleBots rules literally just say “if you’re moving at all then that qualifies as controlled movement”. Also if you’re stuck on the arena wall now you don’t get an unstick. All these rule changes spurred from one single fight that sucked donkey dick. Minotaur is also business as usual; this is a robot that has withstood the test of time. It has always been a two-wheeled compact box with a golden spinning drum. This year the drum weighs over 50 pounds in order to match the weight of Daniel Freitas’ balls. Minotaur’s weapon is incredibly destructive but Tantrum’s armor is basically impervious to attack. That begs the question, what the hell is about to happen in the arena?
Watch for how fast Tantrum is right out of the gate. Also watch for Tantrum to falter on its box rush and hesitate for a split second rather than plowing straight into Minotaur. That one brief moment of weakness is all Minotaur needs to juke away and get its drum up to full speed. You can tell it’s at full speed because it sounds like Elon Musk is parking his private jet inside the arena. Just don’t post that publicly available information to Twitter or else he’ll suspend your account while claiming he’s all about free speech. Tantrum immediately goes into its usual strategy of running circles around its opponent while waiting for an opening. It tries to go for one but only succeeds in knocking Minotaur away by hitting it diagonally. Tantrum is able to maneuver around Minotaur and roll it over by using the robot’s gyroscopic forces against it but almost immediately Minotaur rolls back over right ways up. Minotaur gets in Tantrum’s face and sheds some sparks but so far neither robot has landed any of their signature power shots.
Just as Chris Rose wonders aloud who’s going to get that first shot Minotaur catches Tantrum from a good angle and manages to knock the robot over. Tantrum of course has a self righting mechanism but as it tries to ratchet itself back onto its wheels Minotaur cruises in and blasts Tantrum right on its side. Since Tantrum was in the process of flipping back over this means Minotaur caught the robot’s srimech and it just destroys the whole thing. Tantrum’s decorative fists fly off and one of its self righting bars gets snapped off like it was nothing. Luckily for Tantrum it lands on its wheels after this attack, and again after Minotaur catches it as it runs away. Tantrum throws a punch but its weapon disc is doing fuck all as usual so all this achieves is bouncing the robot away from Minotaur. As the two robots lock heads and spin around Minotaur again catches Tantrum from a front corner and just barely rolls the robot over.
Tantrum tries to right itself with what’s left of its srimech but it’s a total write off. The robot is able to get up just a little ways and tries to rock back and forth on its punching disc but it looks like this is as much muscle that’s left in the reigning champ. Minotaur stays in close to survey the situation and doesn’t go in for another hit; Daniel Freitas knows the last thing he wants to do is but the champ back onto its wheels because that’s the stupidest fucking thing you could do right now. This is an upset in the making and a huge statement win for Minotaur. It just needs to be made official. The ref starts counting down Tantrum as Dylan and the rest of the team dick with their radios. Tantrum is out in the first round. I bet everyone feels awkward about the banner thing now.
WINNER: Minotaur, KO
BattleBots season 7 (season 12, argh) is officially underway! This week’s season premiere featured a pretty good smattering of fights to really sink your teeth into and get you hooked. Witch Doctor opened the floodgates and demolished Ribbot, Huge had a chance to shine, last year’s Rookies of the Year settled the score, and the reigning champion had a chance to defend its honor. Strangely going by my notes the first fight that was taped this season wasn’t in this episode, instead we got most of session one plus Shatter vs. Huge from session three. Yeah, I keep track of all that; I have a tiny reporter’s notebook that I jot down all my notes into like fights and ideas for articles and jokes and all that plus anything important that happens like a fight being postponed or someone breaking out in flames and how long it takes to put out.
I do not know how many episodes are in this season. There were 22 taping sessions though so maybe there will be about 16 or so? Keep in mind that BattleBots: Champions was filmed concurrently with the main season so a big chunk of the later taping sessions will be devoted to the Golden Bolt airing later this year a few months after the main season wraps up. Speaking of the Golden Bolt how about Amazon Video completely screwing the pooch with how they list BattleBots episodes? Amazon incorrectly listed last year’s BattleBots: Champions special as “Season 7”. Now that the actual season 7 is here how the fuck are they going to fix that? Are they going to call it “Season 8”? Will there be another competing season numbering system like how Wikipedia (and also this website) says we’re on season 12 because they count the Comedy Central seasons toward the total? This is completely fucked and while I personally think it’s funny I know there’s going to be lots of people who get confused over it and possibly even pissed off if they buy Amazon’s “Season 7” and find out it’s last year’s Golden Bolt championship. Way to go, Bezos. Now if only Bill Gates screwed something up I could roast all three billionaires in one article. Oh well.
That’s going to do it for the season premiere on BattleBots Update. I took a bit of a break over the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays because due to a number of factors that winds up being an extremely busy time of the year for me. As always this project is largely made possible by way of community support and fan contributions. If you enjoy BattleBots Update and can spare a few bucks you can make a pledge on this project’s Patreon page HERE. Alternatively if you’d just like to leave a one-off tip you can do that via Ko-Fi HERE. Special thank yous to J.K. for their contribution made at the end of last year! I didn’t forget about you, I was just waiting for the newest article to go up so I could say thanks. Anyways, I really appreciate all the support this project receives and I hope to be able to increase that support this season. I’m trying out some new stuff in my writing so this project doesn’t become stale; I know it’s not new anymore and the shininess has worn off but BBU still requires a massive amount of work to make happen. This article is approximately 8,000 words long and I write one every week. In a previous life of mine if someone wanted me to write something that was 8,000 words long it would’ve run them about sixty bucks. (That’s how much my dignity costs.) I do this for the love of the game but there’s gotta be some return on that investment to keep the lights on at least.
Keep your eyes peeled for next week’s episode, I’ve been told one of my stupid signs made it into the final edit!