Welcome back to BattleBots Update where we’re getting ready to wind down the Fight Night qualification battles within these next few episodes. This week is episode 12 and according to the official fight schedule page on the BattleBots.com website there’s only 15 episodes of Fight Night this season before the bot rankings are locked in and the Round of 32 bracket is unveiled. Last week saw the conclusion of the qualifiers for two robots, Jackpot and Captain Shrederator, and this week we’ll see even more robots round out their attempts and hope for the best. Once the main tournament starts it’s single elimination no-turning-back-now action so for a lot of these robots this is do or die time. I’m expecting to see some solid 1-3 robots given how things are going so you never know, a 2-2 record from a crappier robot might not be enough to make it in!
This week the fights run the gamut from edge of your seat action to, uh, “sitting all the way in your seat while checking your phone” action to keep the metaphor going. Lock-Jaw is back and having a much better season this year with a couple of wins under its belt. It will be fighting Mad Catter who looks to be in good form to qualify for the tournament too. Hypershock may meet its speedy rival when it battles the undefeated Claw Viper. Free Shipping and Big Dill bring their diminutive spinners to bear against each other. For the exhibition match this episode Doomba has been put back together after its run in with Double Tap earlier this season; it will be fighting the marvel of engineering known as Dragon King. Finally in the main event we could see a preview of the eventual championship bout because Sawblaze will be battling Hydra in a highly anticipated showdown between two legendary bots.
I write these intros while looking at the fight cards, by the way. I don’t base them off of what the hosts say so it’s always amusing whenever something I come up with on my own winds up being what Chris or Kenny basically say. Such is the case with how this episode’s main event fight was introduced. Basically what I am trying to say is I could do their fucking jobs.
LOCK-JAW vs. MAD CATTER
Last year Lock-Jaw managed to go through its Fight Night battles without winning a single goddamned fight. This is Donald Hutson we’re talking about here, two-time BattleBots champion back in the olden days. Yeah Lock-Jaw is kind of sucky but for it to go winless is just insane. When this happened to Bronco a few years ago the team decided to quit BattleBots and hasn’t come back, though Donald was a little more pragmatic in his approach. He sensed it wasn’t yet Lock-Jaw’s time to go so he brought it back and so far it’s had a respectable showing. In round one it trumped Malice in a humdrum battle that eventually devolved into a shoving match but at least it was a win to kick the season off right. Sawblaze proved to be a challenge and in a matter of seconds Lock-Jaw was upside down and Sawblaze was dropping its hammer saw onto Lock-Jaw’s unmentionables for a quick KO. Lock-Jaw had the unenviable task of dealing with Glitch in its third round but Glitch has been having a shitty year and with one particularly forceful ram Lock-Jaw delivered a hit that flipped Glitch over and killed it.
Lock-Jaw is 2-1 right now and its opponent Mad Catter also holds that record currently. What was once a flimsy and easily disposed of machine has become something of an underdog. Or maybe the correct term is “undercat”? Ever since Mad Catter dropped the modular chassis design it’s been rock solid and capable of delivering killshots with its heavy duty spinning bar all while Martin Mason shouts “OH YEAH” at the top of his fucking lungs. Mad Catter got a bad draw right off the bat in Whiplash but driver Calvin Iba was able to pull magic out of thin air and land a critical blow to Whiplash’s backside which knocked it out. Mad Catter went on to face Riptide and this year Riptide has been demolishing all of its opponents, perhaps a little too excessively at that. Mad Catter was quickly KO’d after an optimistic first opening exchange. Big Dill was next in line and this robot is quickly turning into a dark horse contender because the shitty Big Dill of yesteryear is slowly fading away; Big Dill and Mad Catter were running circles around each other and this fight went the distance with big blows landed by both teams. The judges ruled in favor of Mad Catter though bringing the robot to where it is right now.
Much like with Mad Catter’s fight against Big Dill all the stupid minibots are coming out for this battle. Mad Catter is joined by “Gassy Cat” and “Bubbles” both of which are armed with flamethrowers. Brady and Logan Davis of SubZero’s team joined Donald Hutson’s crew and now Lock-Jaw is accompanied by Spitfire, a fire-breathing drone. If you’re wondering how much of an impact these pissant robots are going to have on the fight watch in the opening seconds as Mad Catter accidentally plows through Bubbles and kills it while Spitfire flies a little too close to the action and gets sucked into one of the vertical spinners on the robots as they clash together. That’s two of the three minibots already out with fuck all to show for it. Lock-Jaw and Mad Catter lock heads and take turns shaving off what appear to be white hot titanium sparks from each other. Very flashy but the armor is holding up and so far no one’s really seized the early upper hand in this fight.
Lock-Jaw oversteers as it turns to face Mad Catter and opens up its front right wheel to attack. Mad Catter lunges forward and clips the tire shredding the rubber and very nearly ripping the whole ass thing off of its hub. The wheel remains on Lock-Jaw however and since it’s all fucked up now the robot starts hobbling as it drives meaning Lock-Jaw’s front forks are going to be mostly useless as they flop all over the place like a flaccid horse dick. Lock-Jaw stays in Mad Catter’s business however and as Mad Catter backs away to get some breathing room Lock-Jaw stays in pursuit and manages to pop the cat squarely on its right side knocking the robot into the air and letting it crash back down onto the floor. Despite being hit on its right side this hit screws up Mad Catter’s left side of drive and the robot starts having a really hard time getting out of the mouth of the arena short corner. Lock-Jaw stays in close but I’m not seeing any attempts to run up on the robot and shove Lock-Jaw’s weapon up the cat’s ass. This is probably because Mad Catter’s vertical spinner is still going and all the robot has to do is pivot in place to meet an incoming Lock-Jaw and Lock-Jaw will probably get its shit ruined.
Gassy Cat, Mad Catter’s sole remaining minibot, starts getting in on the action and jams itself under Lock-Jaw. It appears the robot’s flamethrower has been disabled at some point so it’s not cooking Lock-Jaw but it’s actually doing a pretty decent job being the absolute most annoying piece of shit possible. Lock-Jaw’s big ass wheels and high ground clearance all around make it the perfect target for a meddling robot like Gassy Cat. Lock-Jaw is precariously close to Mad Catter’s front side trying to land a big blow but Donald isn’t able to fine tune his position because every time he tries to do so Gassy Cat is right there tickling Lock-Jaw’s balls. Eventually Lock-Jaw gets a good hit when it comes at Mad Catter from the side and plucks off Mad Catter’s right spatula attachment sending it flying into the ceiling and taking out a light panel in the process. If “style” points were still a thing that the judges looked for this would definitely earn a million of them. I don’t see the spatula come back down so for all I know it’s stuck up there.
After some more struggling Mad Catter seems to be able to move somewhat and gets away from the Upper Deck screws (which appear to have stopped working because they are a stupid hazard). Lock-Jaw’s weapon operator tells Donald all systems are go and is waiting for Donald’s word on when to hit Mad Catter. Without waiting even a second Donald is all “hit ’em”. Lock-Jaw tries to get in close to Mad Catter but again that goddamned minibot flies under Lock-Jaw’s ass and high centers it. Lock-Jaw is momentarily distracted by the minibot and then out of fucking nowhere Mad Catter just springs back to life and cruises straight through Lock-Jaw blowing it into the air on its way across the box. Lock-Jaw lands on its face and with one set of forks bent all the way backward preventing it from driving properly. Lock-Jaw starts spinning around in place with its forks dragging dangerously close to the Killsaws but is able to pull up onto one side and then drop its spinner onto the ground to pop itself back over right ways up.
Lock-Jaw gets back into the fight and there’s a wisp of smoke that comes out of the front of the robot. We all know what’s about to happen. With just three seconds left on the clock the rest of the smoke starts to follow and belches out from Lock-Jaw’s front end as its weapon cooks itself. This whole time however Mad Catter has apparently been dead in front of the drivers’ booth and the ref has been counting it out. Lock-Jaw winds up winning at 2:59 and powers down denying us of the inevitable blast of fire that normally follows its weapon smoking out. It’s not a Lock-Jaw fight unless its weapon dies and fucking catches fire! Lock-Jaw completes its Fight Night rounds at 3-1 and looks to be in good shape for the main tournament. There are solid contenders who’ve failed to perform and won’t reach that record (Ribbot, Whiplash) so that’s saying a lot about Lock-Jaw’s chances. Will this be the year that Donald reclaims his championship title? Probably not, but you never know what’ll happen once the brackets have been unveiled.
WINNER: Lock-Jaw, KO
GRUFF vs. MALICE
The previous fight was between two robots that will most likely make it into the tournament. This next one is between two robots who are struggling to stake their claims in the Round of 32 for a variety of reasons. Gruff is 1-2 so the reason behind its possible failure to qualify is pretty obvious; if it loses this fight it’s surely out of the running. Gruff is a tough robot and can hold up to some massive blows but this year its opponents have become even stronger and that hard outer shell is starting to falter. Gruff’s sole win came over Ripperoni in round one where a failure of Ripperoni’s onboard gyro stabilizing system resulted in the robot flipping and bouncing all over the fucking place like an epileptic at a rave. Gruff took the win but then met Quantum and although Gruff had some special attachments in store for the crusher they proved to be worth jack shit because Quantum still bit down and still got its tooth into Gruff for the win. Next in line was Witch Doctor and this is just a tough draw no matter who you are. Gruff had no recourse for Witch Doctor’s crazy spinning skull disc and a well placed shot from Witch Doctor hit Gruff’s flamethrower fuel tank and blew the whole fucking thing to kingdom come.
Malice is 2-1 so far but unlike Lock-Jaw those two wins weren’t all that impressive or dominant. There’s a case for arguing that Malice’s record should be even lower at this stage in the qualifiers. Speaking of Lock-Jaw that was Malice’s first opponent and you already know how that fight went down; Malice’s got socked in the face, lost the use of its weapon, and then lost the ensuing pushing match after Lock-Jaw’s weapon imploded. Malice “beat” Emulsifier but only because the new rules on controlled movement saved its ass. Emulsifier thrashed Malice hard and destroyed its frame but Emulsifier lost control and got stuck on arena debris which knocked it out and left Malice as the winner in a fight it was definitely going to lose. Malice squared off against Valkyrie next and managed to blast Valkyrie in the face hard enough to knock its whole fucking weapon off. Somehow the judges weren’t watching this fight and scored it in favor of Valkyrie for some stupid ass reason but Bunny Sauriol said she wasn’t going to take that shit so she used the new appeal process to state her case and the decision was reversed leaving Malice as the rightful winner of the fight.
Before the fight Gruff’s builder Sam McAmis says his plan is to just slam his robot’s face into Malice. Gruff’s front end is equipped with additional steel armor to protect against Malice’s “drumstick” spinner so theoretically it can absorb the blows and allow Gruff to use its lifting arm as a makeshift clamp to grab onto Malice and roast it. That’s the plan. Meanwhile Malice’s plan is to just spin up and start thrashing. I think it’s stupid that Malice has forks now but that’s just what the sport has evolved into; even if Malice’s design doesn’t incorporate forks in an aesthetically pleasing way that’s just what builders are doing now and in the opening seconds of the fight those forks are paying off because Malice is able to get underneath Gruff and land a decent shot to its backside. Gruff swings side to side as it tries to line up a grab on Malice and in the process of it backing up to get a good angle its lifting arm catches the BattleBots sign and tears the whole fucking thing off of the wall. Mercifully for the sake of the arena clean-up crew it looks like the sign isn’t damaged so they can just pop it back on this time.
Gruff finally gets the leverage it needs on Malice and slams it into the wall before taking it into the Upper Deck, lighting its flamethrower, and cranking up the fucking heat on Malice. Blue flames shoot into Malice’s face as Gruff just holds it there letting loose the world’s greatest mixtape. Malice’s wheels are off the ground so it’s powerless to get away and is forced to take the full force of Gruff’s 3000 degrees (Fahrenheit) blasters. You can only hold an opponent for so long before you have to separate so when Gruff runs out of time it slams Malice into the screws which pull the robot onto the shelf. So far I think Gruff has come out ahead in this fight. Malice gets down off of the hazard and dashes past Gruff to get into the far corner of the arena spinning its weapon up to speed all the while. Malice turns around to face Gruff and charges at it landing a hit to Gruff’s front wedge that doesn’t look like much until the robots separate and Gruff is visibly crippled. It’s hard to see thanks to the camera angles but that blow from Malice cleaved into Gruff’s front end and bent a chunk of it downward causing some of its wheels to become propped up off the ground. In case you were doubting the power of Malice’s spinner (because let’s face it it’s been kinda shitty this year) here’s a hit to prove it. That was the toughest part of Gruff’s chassis and Malice just carved a divot into it that fucked up Gruff’s entire drivetrain.
Gruff can’t move in a straight line but it can at least still move in general so this will prevent it from being counted out. Malice retreats and lines up another shot. Malice spins up and charges at Gruff and with perfect timing Malice collides squarely with Gruff’s right side and T-bones the robot putting a massive goddamned dent into the side of Gruff. The kink in Gruff’s armor messed up the left side of drive and this mega hit just caused the entire right side to seize up. With two killer shots Malice – fucking Malice – has managed to KO Gruff. This puts Malice at 3-1 and although some of those wins are kind of lame you can’t argue against Malice’s inclusion into the Round of 32. Wins are wins and Bunny’s got three of them now. She said she wanted to avoid another “Skorpios situation” where she had to go through a play-in fight a couple seasons ago and I think she’s got it.
WINNER: Malice, KO
DOOMBA vs. DRAGON KING
Periodically throughout the season the editors have peppered in some exhibition battles between robots who are not part of the ongoing Fight Night qualifiers. These are mostly first time teams who were accepted as alternate competitors and these battles are their way of proving their robot can hang with the big dogs and possibly be included in the main group of bots next year. We’ve already seen Doomba once before when it fought Double Tap and the fight replay basically shows the entire battle; Doomba got blasted by Double Tap’s spinning bar and the bar cleaved right into the panel of armor where Doomba’s master power switch was located knocking the robot out in just two shots. I guess that’s why they call it “Double Tap”. Doomba is a bit of a meme robot, it’s weapon is an undercutting disc borrowed from former competitor SMEE as well as a fully operational chainsaw and a flamethrower as well. Doomba has a lot of moving parts but one thing it doesn’t have is a winning strategy because this thing is slow as shit and as such is an easy target.
Dragon King is an echo of another era. This robot, owned by the Skorpios team, was designed and built by Jerome Miles who also competed in BattleBots with Red Devil. Dragon King was Jerome’s entry into the Chinese robot combat event King of Bots where it won the award for best design. It wasn’t the greatest fighter however because it lost to Blade (who competed in BattleBots last season, same robot) as well as “Boxing Champion” which was literally just Tantrum with a new coat of paint and a different name to avoid copyright problems with BattleBots. This robot gets around and has fought with real BattleBots competitors outside of the United States. Dragon King features a grappling dragon jaw and two buzz saws on articulated arms that can come down and slice into opponents that have been bitten down on. It’s never been tested at BattleBots before but if Red Devil is anything to go by you don’t want to get anywhere near its saws.
Dragon King starts the fight with its treads flipped all the way behind the robot so its jaw is front and center. This is presumably to keep the treads away from Doomba’s undercutter which has the power to snap the treads off. Doomba spins up its blade but decides to start attacking the Upper Deck for some stupid ass reason. Doomba’s spinner seems to die with that collision into the hazard letting Dragon King cruise in and go for a bite. Doomba drops its chainsaw down onto Dragon King’s saws though this achieves little due to the chainsaw not being fucking turned on. Dragon King rolls into the corner of the arena and starts transforming and wasting time. While this is going on Doomba lines up a charge on its opponent, makes the attempt, and crashes into the wall. Kenny tries to sound optimistic by saying Doomba was aiming its undercutter at Dragon King’s treads. Buddy that fucking blade has been dead for almost the entire fight. Dragon King stops goofing off and manages to bite down onto Doomba and bring one of its saws down onto Doomba’s lid. This shaves some sparks off of the robot but overall doesn’t do much in the way of damage.
Doomba seems to slow down and stop moving allowing Dragon King to get another chomp and slice resulting in Doomba getting pushed under the Pulverizer where the weakest possible hits I’ve ever seen are landed with the hazard. Are they not pushing the button hard enough? Did the hazard operators crank the pneumatics down to the “deflating balloon” setting for this fight? Somehow Doomba still sustains damage as parts of its chainsaw, including the battery, are knocked off. Dragon King continues to take pot shots at Doomba and shoves it against the wall which has the unintended effect of entangling Doomba’s shitty chainsaw with one of the chains driving Dragon King’s weaponry. The chain pops off of Dragon King leaving it with only one working saw but who cares at this point? Doomba is a hunk of crap and Dragon King is showing its age. The clock winds down on this fight and sends it to the judges.
The winner by a country mile is Dragon King because Doomba managed to land a staggering zero hits throughout the entire fight. Even though Dragon King’s saws were ineffective it was still controlling the fight and attacking the entire time. Doomba now has two losses and I highly doubt we’re going to see it as a full competitor next season (assuming it comes back). Dragon King on the other hand has a win but it wasn’t a very impressive one and the robot itself is also several years old. It couldn’t damage fucking Doomba, do you really think Dragon King has what it takes to hang with the current grid? I’m not so sure.
WINNER: Dragon King, Judges’ Decision (3-0)
CLAW VIPER vs. HYPERSHOCK
Of all the robots to be 3-0 right now I don’t think Claw Viper was on anyone’s bingo cards. This thing has come out of left field and had a major glow-up this season compared to its performance in prior seasons. Claw Viper has always been fast but in previous years this robot tended to be an easy target due to its fragility. Claw Viper’s durability problems appear to have been fixed and its top speed has been dialed in with the help of powerful magnets on the bottom of the robot essentially gluing it to the floor. Claw Viper’s first opponent was Ominous, an underhanded pitch for sure. Ominous never really got going and Claw Viper knocked it out by tipping it up against the arena wall. Ribbot was next in line and this was definitely a step up in difficulty for Claw Viper, but Claw Viper was able to control the fight and even held up production when it slammed Ribbot into the arena wall face first causing Ribbot’s spinner to dig into the Lexan and fucking break it. Finally Claw Viper had a mirror match against another grappler in Overhaul and this was a more technical battle. Overhaul got a couple of good grabs in at the end of the battle but Claw Viper controlled the pace and got the win from the judges. A win here would make Claw Viper this season’s first robot to go 4-0 in the qualifiers.
Hypershock is 1-2 right now but that doesn’t stop Will Bales from coming out of the entrance tunnel all smiles and ready to give out high fives. Despite being down on his luck this year he’s committed to delivering the heat with Hypershock as the robot enters this season with last season’s “most destructive robot” award. Hypershock has had an incredibly difficult schedule up to this point and what should’ve been an easy win is now substantially harder because Claw Viper is literally undefeated so far. Hypershock met Sawblaze in the first fight of the season (by taping order) and we all know that story by now; Sawblaze’s hammer saw got jammed so far up Hypershock’s ass that they had to disassemble both robots to get it unstuck. Whiplash was another hard target for Hypershock but a chance stray blow turned the tides and Hypershock was able to gut the legendary control bot for a KO win. #1 ranked End Game was Hypershock’s third opponent and this fight was a goddamned mess; Hypershock lost both of its front tires and shed a drive belt leaving it dead in the water having landed no hits to its opponent. Claw Viper is almost certainly already in for the Round of 32 but Hypershock needs to win this fight to stay alive.
Predictably, Claw Viper floors it out of its starting square to do a box rush on Hypershock. Kevin Milczewski said this was in his playbook because it forces his opponents to drive defensively instead of offensively. Hypershock avoids the oncoming snake and as Claw Viper dives toward Hypershock it misses its mark allowing Hypershock to nick Claw Viper on the corner of its frame and flip it over. There’s something to be said for the power of Hypershock’s spinner because this isn’t just a 250 pound robot it’s flinging into the air; not only is Hypershock’s weapon hitting Claw Viper it’s also having to counteract the downward pull of Claw Viper’s uber magnets to pop the robot off of the ground. Claw Viper rights itself but Hypershock stays in close to prevent its opponent from getting any distance. As Claw Viper tries to find an opening Hypershock hits it from the side flipping it back over. A follow-up ram from Hypershock puts Claw Viper against the screws and opens up its vulnerable back end to attack. Hypershock wastes no time and eats snake ass slicing into Claw Viper’s backside and peeling up its top armor in the process.
Claw Viper is able to get back onto its wheels and evade but Hypershock pursues it right into the Pulverizer where Hypershock lands another big hit that causes one of Claw Viper’s left side drive belts to snap and come loose. Kevin winces because he knows he’s absolutely behind at this stage in the fight and with only half drive power on one side Claw Viper is going to start driving around like a fucking moth or something. Claw Viper starts to scurry away and Hypershock gives chase this time hitting Claw Viper on its front corner and visibly warping the robot’s outer armor package. Claw Viper is pummeled into the short corner in front of Chris and Kenny and the robot falls limp. Now that Claw Viper isn’t moving around at 20 fucking miles per hour you can get a real appreciation for the amount of sheer damage done by Hypershock’s spinning blades. The ref starts his countdown as Hypershock does donuts in the middle of the arena because Will knows he’s just saved his season with this win. At 2-2 Hypershock isn’t staring down a high seeding but with a win over Whiplash and a 3-0 Claw Viper it’ll probably wind up being on the higher side of the 2-2’s that qualify. And hey, at 3-1 I think it’s a safe bet that Claw Viper will be in the running too.
WINNER: Hypershock, KO
FREE SHIPPING vs. BIG DILL
Free Shipping has an overall career record of 6-12 coming into this battle. Not a great record for what amounts to Original Sin, one of the greatest heavyweights of all time, with a silly forklift costume on. Has the sport caught up to this legendary wedge bot? Free Shipping and Gigabyte had a face-off in a battle that was reminiscent of their run-ins at Robogames under their alter egos in years gone by and Free Shipping was able to get the win after a solid ram sent Gigabyte spiraling into the wall where its directional mast snapped off and the spinner flipped over. Minotaur was Free Shipping’s second draw and this one wasn’t an easy fight for Gary Gin and his team. Minotaur was probably going to win the fight anyways but this battle ended prematurely when Free Shipping seemed to randomly die out in the far side of the arena yielding the win to Minotaur. Free Shipping’s third fight was against Hydra and I think this is the most damage we’ve ever seen Hydra do before because Free Shipping was fucking chaos dunked over and over again and eventually the robot just straight up died. Free Shipping never dies. Unless it’s fighting Minotaur this season in which case it definitely did.
Free Shipping still has a chance at qualifying if it can win this fight but one robot who probably won’t make it in no matter what is Big Dill. Big Dill is 0-3 right now but despite this abysmal record this is the best this robot has ever been and no that’s not one of my signature backhanded compliments. Big Dill really is a better robot this year even if its record doesn’t show it. Big Dill fought Hijinx first and as the fight slowly turned into a boring ass shoving match Big Dill blew a speed controller or something and cooked itself. Against Skorpios though this robot came back with its new vertical spinner attachment and was landing some solid blows on its opponent. Big Dill managed to bend up Skorpios’ front plow but just as the fight was getting good Big Dill spontaneously died yet again. Mad Catter, a sister bot, was Big Dill’s most recent opponent and this time the fight went for the whole three minutes. Emmanuel Carrillo drove hard against his opponent and pushed Big Dill to its absolute limits and although the robot lost the judges’ decision it was still an impressive showing for a robot I’ve described in the past as being a total piece of shit.
Gary says his go-to plan when fighting a new opponent is to just charge them and see what happens. Free Shipping creeps out of its square sizing up Big Dill and then jumps at its opponent. Free Shipping catches the left side of Big Dill, rides up Big Dill’s forks, and flips over against the arena wall. Not a good opener, Gary. Might want to rethink that plan for future fights. Big Dill gets into the battle and lands its first hit getting underneath Free Shipping and rolling it back down into its correct orientation. This doesn’t last long however because a second run from Big Dill rolls the big bot back onto its lid. Free Shipping retreats to line up a better angle and as it comes in Big Dill meets it head on and manages to use its lifting forks to raise Free Shipping up, hit it with its spinning disc, and flip it over again. Both robots make their way into the center of the arena and Free Shipping makes a diagonal run at Big Dill resulting in a little bit of leverage and some sparks as its spinner hits Big Dill but nothing major comes from this exchange.
I usually ignore whatever the minibots are doing in a given fight since it usually amounts to “fucking nothing” but this “Chili Pepper” robot that has accompanied Big Dill into the ring looks substantial like it’s a proper 30 pound robot or something. Chili Pepper rams into Free Shipping with its spinning disc and lands a hit directly onto the axle that Free Shipping’s wedges hinge on and the hit even appears to slightly disrupt Free Shipping’s driving. Free Shipping tries to ram Big Dill again and this time it’s a squared up hit but Free Shipping doesn’t come out ahead. No, instead Big Dill’s seemingly dinky ass spinning disc blasts Free Shipping into the fucking air and the robot lands hard on its side. This is Free Shipping we’re talking about though so the robot is able to shrug off the damage and keep going. Big Dill, seemingly distracted by the aerial stunts, leaves itself wide open to attack and Free Shipping charges in and gets Big Dill from the side ripping its right side armor panel off in the process.
This might be the only hit we see from Free Shipping’s spinner because after taking Big Dill into the wall a thick cloud of smoke erupts from Free Shipping’s face. End Game’s Nick Mabey, who is guest commentating this fight, says it might be smoke from the weapon belts. I don’t know man this looks like Lock-Jaw smoke and that shit usually means something’s either on fire or definitely about to be. Free Shipping continues to engage Big Dill and while the two robots are slamming into each other Chili Pepper gets back into the fray and clips one of Free Shipping’s back tires before being knocked back by the massive bot. Not sure what kind of damage that hit did but it was another solid blow and it does technically count for Big Dill on the scorecards. Free Shipping finds its way under the Pulverizer and starts to slow down as Big Dill scoops it up and turns it onto its side. Big Dill’s team lets loose with the hammer hazard and starts pounding on Free Shipping who’s just sitting there taking every hit like a bitch.
It soon becomes apparent that Free Shipping is actually immobilized and the ref counts it out. This evens out both robots’ season records to 1-3 meaning this is probably the last we’ll see of Free Shipping and Big Dill this year (until the separate Golden Bolt tournament happens later on). There was no way Big Dill was going to make it into the Round of 32 even with a win here, however by snagging the win it sniped Free Shipping’s chances of advancing onward by bringing its Fight Night record down to 1-3. It might be time to reconsider Free Shipping’s role in BattleBots but for Big Dill if it can continue its upward trend into next season we just might see it make the tournament.
WINNER: Big Dill, KO
SHREDDIT BRO vs. LUCKY
Do you remember Ultimo Destructo from like season 8 or something? Remember how it just sorta stumbled into wins because its opponents were also kind of crap? That’s how Shreddit Bro has the win in its current 1-1 record. Shreddit Bro is the evolution of former competitor Pain Train who ended its BattleBots career with a lifetime record of 1-6. It’s looking to be following in its predecessor’s footsteps if its debut season is anything to go by. Unreliable and wholly unimpressive. Shreddit Bro managed to beat Horizon in its first round because Horizon arrived to the arena mostly DOA and was seemingly not fully functional. Shreddit Bro lucked into a couple of light hits that tilted the scorecards in its favor and won by decision. Shreddit Bro’s next fight against Ominous was an affront to robot combat because this fight was so fucking boring and shitty that the middle of the battle was interrupted with a picture-in-picture insert hyping up the main event fight later on in the same episode. BattleBots has never done that before. Ever. That should tell you everything you need to know about Shreddit Bro. Set those expectations subterranean because this robot’s about as hot as absolute zero.
Lucky hasn’t been the most impressive robot in the many years we’ve seen it at BattleBots. It’s a flipper that has always lived in the shadows of the other flippers in the pack like Bronco and more recently Hydra. It’s a powerful machine in its own right but it’s just never had the momentum to make a deep run. That was until Matt Olson stepped in as Lucky’s driver; now this machine is currently 2-0 and judging by its current opponent I think it’s a safe bet that Lucky will soon be 3-0. Lucky successfully warded off an aggressive Triton in its opening fight of the season and was able to tip the spinner onto its side for a KO win. Kraken was next in line and Kraken was broken from the get go because it was down a side of drive and couldn’t fend for itself. Lucky spent three minutes sinking three pointers with Kraken over and over again until the clock ran down and Lucky took the win in what would’ve surely been a 45-0 judges’ decision shut out back in the Comedy Central days.
Shreddit Bro starts the fight rolling into the center of the box with its weapon roaring at top speed which for the uninitiated is about 10 MPH. Seriously just fuck this thing. How do you build a robot so insurmountably pathetic? I swear to god if I had the budget I could knock out something better on the first try. At least it wound be functional. Shreddit Bro’s drum is a nothingburger so Lucky slips right in and gets underneath Shreddit Bro and gently tosses it up and over. Seems like Lucky has its pneumatics cranked down for this fight presumably because it’s not nice to beat up on the disabled. Lucky is wearing an attached spade under its flipper so in order for its arm to get a good lift it needs to get pretty far underneath its opponent which is why the flipper isn’t letting fists fly. Shreddit Bro is corralled around for a few moments before Lucky tees it up by the blue square screws. Shreddit Bro gets flipped onto them before a second shot pops the robot behind the hazard. Shreddit Bro is just the perfect size to fit back there and get stuck. Solid design.
The screws reverse direction and their serrated teeth destroy the printed graphics on Shreddit Bro’s lid and for a moment it looks like the screws just might spit Shreddit Bro out, but then Shreddit Bro settles backwards and stands on its drum and ceases being in contact with the hazard entirely. Shreddit Bro is stuck there and the ref counts it out. Lucky moves up to 3-0 for the season and could potentially go undefeated however its final opponent is Cobalt so you know that’s not going to be an easy fight. For Shreddit Bro however I think this is the end of the line. Before the fight Chris Rose suggested that Shreddit Bro wasn’t fighting to qualify for the Round of 32 it was fighting so that it would be invited back next year. Before the fight Kenny briefly touched on the odds of various robots winning the Giant Nut, I think the odds of Shreddit Bro’s slot going to a more deserving team is +0. Is that how the odds figure works? Whatever, what I’m trying to say is there’s a laundry list of other teams who don’t get accepted into BattleBots and I think next year we’re going to see one of those applicants finally get their chance.
WINNER: Lucky, KO
HYDRA vs. SAWBLAZE
Finally it’s main event time. These next two robots are fighting to round out their Fight Night preliminaries and one of them is battling for a perfect 4-0 record. That robot is not Hydra who enters this match with a record of 2-1. Ever since it debuted a few years back this robot has been one of the premiere flippers of BattleBots and was recently spotted at the live “Destruct-A-Thon” Las Vegas show where it managed to throw one of the show bots out of the arena despite the new additions to the Battlebox to deter exactly that. Hydra defeated Rotator in a match where Rotator wasn’t operating at 100%; Rotator gave it its all but it couldn’t withstand the tremendous force of Hydra’s mighty flipper. A rematch with Tantrum was next and this was to settle the score over the controversial judges’ decision from last season that saw Hydra as the loser. Jake Ewert talked a lot of shit leading into this fight and when all was said and done he had more egg on his face than, uh, someone who gets off on having literal egg on their face. There’s gotta be someone out there. Hydra rebounded in its most recent fight with Free Shipping though so the robot is still as strong as ever. Even if it loses this match you know Hydra is making it into the Round of 32.
Earlier this episode we saw Claw Viper, a prospective robot to go 4-0, lose its last qualifier and deny it a perfect record. Sawblaze is the next robot in line to see if it can take that 3-0 record to the next level. Sawblaze has never gone undefeated in the qualifiers before so this could be a big first. Hypershock has already fought tonight meaning I’ve already briefly gone over what happened in that fight; Sawblaze’s hammer saw, Hypershock’s ass. Lock-Jaw has also already fought tonight so I’ve already touched on that battle too; Sawblaze’s hammer saw, Lock-Jaw’s ass. That leaves Sawblaze’s third fight which was against Skorpios and just to mix things up Skorpios went into battle wielding Overkill’s giant knife in the hopes that it could attack the weapon belts of Sawblaze. This failed impressively because Sawblaze kicked Skorpios’ ass so quickly that if you blinked you would’ve missed the fucking fight.
You wanna talk “ground game”? Look at these two machines, both of them hit seams in the floor as they charge out of their squares to meet each other. Both of them have forks that literally scrape the floor. They finally meet and Hydra proves to have the superior game because Sawblaze rides right up Hydra’s front end and is promptly tossed by the flipper. Hydra looks to be in top form early on but I would be remiss not to point out how Hydra’s ground-scraping flipper is working to its disadvantage here. Pay close attention as Hydra tries to cross the big red “B” in the BattleBots logo and you’ll see it hit a visible seam in the floor multiple times preventing it from getting to Sawblaze. If I’m Jamison Go I’m swinging wide to catch Hydra from the back and it looks like Jamison tries that but Hydra spins around and catches Sawblaze and flips it again. Hydra goes in for a follow-up flip and its flipper peels up several big ass chunks of fucking paint. Christ.
Hydra attempts to chase Sawblaze and hits the same goddamned seam in the floor near the red “B”. It literally can’t cross the mid-way point of the arena without getting stuck and Sawblaze isn’t using this to its advantage I’m losing my fucking mind here. Sawblaze keeps trying to nose around and poke at Hydra but all Hydra has to do is turn to face Sawblaze and Sawblaze backs off. The two robots are driving very methodically right now until Sawblaze gets a little too close to Hydra and Hydra heaves the dragon into the fucking air ass over head. Sawblaze lands hard on its forks and if you watch as Sawblaze flees to get some distance its center fork is no longer riding along the ground. Sawblaze also seems to be driving erratically so perhaps something is fucked up with its drivetrain it’s hard to say at this point. Hydra lands a succession of flips in a row but Sawblaze breaks the combo by finally getting under Hydra with one of its side forks. Unfortunately for Sawblaze, Hydra isn’t far enough up the fork nor is it lined up with Sawblaze’s center so its hammer saw isn’t going to be able to hit.
Sawblaze manages to overpower Hydra and pin it up against the wall for some meager control points. Kenny flubs a commentary line about Sawblaze’s forks and the editors don’t fix it. Hydra eventually gets back underneath Sawblaze and throws it into the air yet again and as Sawblaze comes down it lands hard on its right wheel. Sawblaze has solid rubber wheels this year so perhaps it also doubles as a shock absorber but this is a hit few robots can recover from. It looks like Sawblaze might be okay because it’s able to somehow scoop up Hydra one more time and throw a weak punch with its hammer saw. Hydra responds by… throwing Sawblaze into the air. I’m sure you understand the pattern by now. Sawblaze lands another hit onto Hydra’s front piano keys but it appears this does literally no damage whatsoever. Hydra throws Sawblaze into the BattleBots sign and breaks off one of the blank parts of it. Once again the arena clean up crew is thanking their lucky stars that they don’t have to pick up a broken sign and replace it with another fucking one.
The toss into the sign results in Sawblaze landing on its face in a position it should be able to self right from, but Sawblaze is suspiciously silent. Hydra watches on as the ref starts his countdown and waits until he gets to “2” before throwing Sawblaze back onto its wheels. What a fucking chad move. Sawblaze springs back to life as it lands on its wheels but it achieves exactly nothing because there isn’t enough time left in the fight for it to make a difference. Earlier in the episode Chris Rose pointed out how Sawblaze lost to a flipper back in 2018; it seems Sawblaze is still vulnerable to them after all. Hydra gets the win but at 3-1 both robots are advancing into the main tournament anyways.
WINNER: Hydra, Judges’ Decision (3-0)
I was certain either Claw Viper or Sawblaze would go 4-0 in their qualifiers but it looks like the elite 4-0 club still has no members this year. There’s going to be at least one of them because Witch Doctor and Minotaur are currently undefeated and they fight each other in the final Fight Night episode. Other robots still in the running include Copperhead which has been slaying opponents left and right. Two one-hit knockouts this season alone! Huge has found good fortune this year and is one fight away from 4-0 and I believe it can make it there. Lucky is an iffy one and definitely an unexpected 3-0 robot right now so who knows what this robot can do. Quantum has also had something of a renaissance and made a strong showing this season. That leaves us with everybody’s “favorite” robot: Riptide. Do I think Riptide can make it to 4-0? Yes. Do I want to see it get there? That’s a complicated question with a long ass answer so I’ll just remove all context and say “no”.
With all these potential 4-0’s on the horizon it’s important to remember we have a lot of 3-1’s and 2-2’s out there too. We’ll see some of those next week when Copperhead puts its money where its 3-0 mouth is and fights Ripperoni. Quantum also puts its 3-0 record on the line as it does battle with Emulsifier. End Game has a date with Gigabyte in a match that could see the shell spinner de-shelled once again with a gnarly enough hit. Fusion, the other Team Whyachi robot, finishes its Fight Nights with a battle against Rotator who needs another win to avoid going 1-3. Ribbot who is somehow 0-3 right now is fighting to stay relevant against Skorpios. And finally because we love it so much fucking Shreddit Bro is coming back for an encore against Overhaul. Gee, I’m real excited for that last one. I just don’t know how I will pass the time until the next episode of BattleBots.
BattleBots Update marches onward as the season’s qualifiers draw ever closer to their close. There’s just three more episodes of Fight Night before the tournament bracket is unveiled and I get to write up my lengthy over-analysis of my predictions from the actual event! I took good notes this time. Last season I correctly predicted one of the finalists, will I get the brackets right this year? Probably not but I’m told that including open-ended questions like that in my work gets readers hooked or something so I’m just following the algorithm here fuck off. BBU is entirely fan supported so if you’d like to help out you can do so with a monthly pledge on Patreon or a one-time donation with Ko-Fi. Special thank yous to Christopher for his recent Ko-Fi contribution! As always I am also active on Facebook so you can follow BattleBots Update there for everything else.
See you next week!