Welcome back to BattleBots Update where we’re in the middle of the Round of 32 in the main tournament. Last week saw eight robots advance onward into the Round of 16 including Riptide whose team was up to some “shenanigans” in the entrance tunnel before their fight. This wound up catching the ire of their opponent who made them re-weigh their robot and run all sorts of safety tests. BattleBots and Discovery Channel played up this drama because that’s all Discovery is good for these days. Fuck showing something technical and potentially educational, it’s all about reality TV bullshit. As usual the internet immediately filled with bad takes from dumbasses and somewhere in the mess I wound up with one of the most liked responses to BattleBots on Twitter when I said “look a bad take from a blue check color me shocked”. That’s literally all it takes to get likes, just insult people who’re stupid enough to pay Elon Musk $8.
This week we’re focusing on the half of the bracket that includes Minotaur the #1 ranked seed. It’ll be fighting Fusion in a battle that I’m certain won’t be a one-sided slaughter. The other top seed is Hydra coming in at #4 and it’s battling Deathroll. Ripperoni, the only rookie to qualify for the main tournament, is paired up with Black Dragon. Beta and Whiplash is shaping up to be a fight between two legendary drivers and two great weapons. Ribbot barely made it into the top 32 and its punishment is Quantum. Cobalt and Monsoon face off in a battle of the verts while Sawblaze sees if it can overcome its weakness to flippers against Blip.
BLACK DRAGON (21) vs. RIPPERONI (12)
Black Dragon, a victim of “selection committee” meddling. What could’ve been the robot to have the longest streak of fights, win or lose, without being KO’d was cut short by one fight when this robot was scheduled to fight Riptide denying the Brazilians of the record. How encouraging. Black Dragon appears to have been put back together and is ready for this fight and its plow has been repainted to look like their fucking duck mascot. Look guys, Duck had its chance and it failed. Anyways Black Dragon scored an early KO win over Monsoon when Monsoon’s weapon screwed up but wasn’t as lucky against Quantum who bit down around Black Dragon’s weapon so hard that the bots couldn’t be separated and the fight was sent to the judges. In keeping with the theme of fighting British robots Beta was next in line and Black Dragon knocked Beta’s “ugly armor” attachment loose on its mount and rolled the hammer bot over. Finally there was Riptide and I kind of already told you how that fight went. Riptide probably cheated or something and won.
Ripperoni is introduced by Chris Rose as the robot to most likely win this season’s Rookie of the Year award. Given how Ripperoni is the only rookie robot to have qualified for the main tournament I guess that’s a given. Literally nobody else made it in. Starchild, Horizon, Shreddit Bro, Triton, Emulsifier, none of them qualified. Most of those robots were crap though so can you blame them? Ripperoni enters the arena with its big ass 70 pound disc and one of the crew was playing with pizza dough on the way out. What the fuck are you going to do with that once the fight starts, just hang onto it? You’re just gonna stand there holding raw pizza dough like a fucking moron? Whatever. Ripperoni very nearly went 4-0 in the Fight Night rounds but had bad luck against Gruff when its rear stabilizing flywheel was disabled causing the robot to flip around like crazy. But the robot came back for three successive knock outs over End Game, Hijinx, and Copperhead. The Hijinx KO isn’t that special but End Game? Copperhead? Those are some big hitters. Ripperoni is the real deal.
Before the fight Ripperoni driver Fred Moore lets out a hearty “LEROY JENKINS”. For my younger readers this is an internet meme from 18 fucking years ago. Ripperoni dashes out toward the drivers’ booth to avoid an oncoming Black Dragon. Black Dragon course corrects and aims itself toward Ripperoni and as Ripperoni turns to face its opponent it brandishes its spinning disc and lands an early hit that flips Black Dragon over. Rather than try to gyro dance its way back over Black Dragon just retreats and lines up another attack only to be greeted by Ripperoni’s big pizza wheel which throws it into the air. Black Dragon lands on its head once again. Chris Rose comments that Black Dragon is “a dragon or a duck or whatever the hell that thing is today” which succinctly expresses my frustrations with people on Tumblr. Ripperoni lands another uppercut that flips Black Dragon right ways up and the dragon immediately gets in Ripperoni’s face taking multiple glancing blows from the spinner in the process.
Ripperoni turns and leans into its next hit which rolls Black Dragon over once again and gives the robot some space to spin back up and get a better angle. Black Dragon meets Ripperoni weapon-to-weapon causing an explosion of sparks to emit from the robots and send Ripperoni close to the wall. Brandon Zalinsky, captain of Starchild and one half of Omega Team, encourages Fred to drive back into the center of the box. I’m not sure I’d take fight advice from someone who went 0-4. Just saying. Ripperoni batters Black Dragon and manages to kick it underneath the Pulverizer for a light shot from the hazard. Black Dragon evades and tries to line up another run at Ripperoni but Ripperoni hits it with the side of its disc and this flings Black Dragon across the floor. Also somewhere in this mess of blows and hammer shots Black Dragon’s eggbeater has stopped working rendering the robot a wedge. An ineffective upside-down wedge.
Black Dragon takes another hit from Ripperoni and flips back over. The dragon starts trying to shove Ripperoni around but the problem with this is Ripperoni is so awkwardly designed that it wants to rest against Black Dragon’s front at an angle. Shoving the robot at an angle will just cause the gyro forces in its weapon to kick in and tip the robot over meaning no matter how hard Black Dragon busts its ass trying to shove Ripperoni in a straight line it will always fail. Black Dragon nudges Ripperoni around and lets the robot’s disc hit the floor and send it bouncing and while this is going on I can’t help but notice that Ripperoni is pulling up an awful lot as it drives around. Has the rear flywheel been disabled again? The crowd starts chanting “PIZZA!” as Ripperoni scrapes more sparks off of Black Dragon and bends Black Dragon’s left fork outward. Ripperoni breaks loose and revs up landing a follow-up shot to Black Dragon that spins it out.
Ripperoni gets nudged around by an aggressive Black Dragon and lands some more glancing shots but one of these hits winds up reminding us that Black Dragon has a flamethrower by way of fucking detonating it. Black Dragon goes up in flames as it tries to push Ripperoni around. We’ve seen Black Dragon burn for two straight minutes and still win a fight so while I don’t think Black Dragon is winning this particular battle I do think it’ll survive until the bell fire or not. Ripperoni gets bumped by Black Dragon and the force of its blade hitting its opponent several more times causes the motor that runs its rear flywheel to come loose and fall off. That confirms my suspicions that the flywheel was disabled because if that motor was ready to just pop off like a dead skin tag then there’s no way it was still functional.
Without its stabilizing flywheel active we know what to expect from Ripperoni for the rest of this fight. Black Dragon is surviving and continues to push Ripperoni despite having the hot pepper shits and somehow Ripperoni’s left side of drive just gives out reducing the robot to only pivoting in place. It’s like Ripperoni itself is just throwing in the fucking towel on a fight it was clearly winning. Black Dragon gets some space and lines up a charge on Ripperoni slamming into it and causing Ripperoni to reel backward. Ripperoni’s disc collides with the floor and causes the robot to hop into the air over the Upper Deck’s screws and the robot lands on the hazard. Ripperoni spins around once and then stops moving entirely. A distressed Fred Moore jerks his transmitter’s sticks around and even reaches over to the one for Ripperoni’s weapon and starts fucking with that one desperate to get the robot to move again and avoid a count out.
With just three seconds left on the clock Ripperoni is ruled to be knocked out and the fight goes to Black Dragon. So much for the Rookie of the Year. Julio from the Black Dragon team grabs his comfort plushie and screams “LUCKY DUCKY”.
WINNER: Black Dragon, KO
MONSOON (24) vs. COBALT (9)
I feel like we’ve seen a lot of Monsoon over the years but this robot only has a 7-7 career record up to this point. Just 14 fights. That seems low somehow? I want to say I’ve written about Monsoon way more times than just 14 but I guess that unfortunate “COVID break” really did toss a spanner into the works for this and the other UK/international teams. Still, Monsoon is a reliable standby and has given us some memorable fights in the past. Who could forget the time this robot violently disassembled Red Devil? Monsoon’s spinner is not to be underestimated and I’d say it’s maybe one click shy of matching Cobalt’s. Monsoon lost to Black Dragon when arena debris jammed its spinner but Tom and his crew cleaned it out and brought it back for a quick two hit KO over Horizon. Monsoon was part of a heated battle with Whiplash that went the distance but ultimately the robot lost the decision. Finally Monsoon met Deathroll and was able to again deliver a two hit KO to the croc. A pattern is emerging, Monsoon only needs two hits to end your tournament hopes.
Cobalt is the higher seeded robot in this fight and with good reason too. Even though Cobalt is now owned by John Mladenik of Gigabyte fame Dave Moulds, the original designer, is here this season to man the controls making this battle one between two UK spinners. I never know who’s doing what with this robot when it’s in the arena but whoever is making this robot go is doing a damn good job. Much like Ripperoni this is another robot that could’ve gone 4-0 this season but just had some shit luck and wound up going 3-1. Like Monsoon, Cobalt also defeated Deathroll by KO. Cobalt also trashed Overhaul and wrecked the robot’s drivetrain. Against Lucky all Cobalt needed was one good run and it blew the fuck out of Lucky’s compressed air tank for a brutal KO. Cobalt’s one loss came from Minotaur where after arguably winning the fight for the first 2:30 a stray blow rolled Cobalt backward where its weapon didn’t have enough kinetic energy in it to self right. What a lame way to go out.
The two spinners meet face to face in the center of the arena to see whose forks win the ground game. Instead the forks just kind of get entangled and nobody really “wins”. Cobalt grazes Monsoon and Monsoon rolls over backward but the robot can drive both ways up and also reverse the direction of its spinner, something not many verts can do, so no matter what it’s always hitting upward. Cobalt gives chase and tries to nail Monsoon’s ass but guns the throttle a little too hard, misses its mark, and crashes into the shelf. Cobalt recovers and charges Monsoon landing a hit to Monsoon’s chassis that destabilizes the bot and flips it over again. Monsoon simply reverses its weapon again and retaliates with a hit that rips off Cobalt’s rightmost wedgelet. The robots lock heads again an Cobalt backs Monsoon into the screws but Monsoon strikes back with a huge blow that flips Cobalt over and tears off its left wedgelet.
Cobalt flips backwards and bounces off of its spinning disc as Monsoon pursues its prey looking for additional hits. Cobalt eventually expends enough energy to bounce onto its wheels and Monsoon lands a shot that flips the robot completely over. Cobalt locks heads with Monsoon yet again and the robots do-si-do around before Monsoon catches an opening and knocks Cobalt backwards. Cobalt retreats and very nearly gets backed into one of the short corners but is able to get away. I think what’s coming into play big time in this fight is Monsoon’s unique pivoting chassis; Cobalt’s jamming its forks under Monsoon but rather than lift the whole robot off of the ground the chassis is just twisting upward and this isn’t letting Cobalt follow through with its disc. Monsoon smashes into Cobalt’s face and shears off one of Cobalt’s big forks hurling it into the rafters the impact of which causes the goddamned ceiling-mounted camera to shake and wobble. The editors immediately cut to a steadier shot from one of the cameramen on the ground.
Cobalt is low on options now. All it can do is jab with its remaining fork and hope for the best but what winds up happening is Monsoon absolutely blasts the holy fuck out of Cobalt and sends it into the air. Cobalt lands hard and its weapon isn’t spinning. Because of this Cobalt cannot ricochet off of the floor to flip back over. This is exactly what happened in its fight with Minotaur. Cobalt is toast and as the ref counts it out Tom shouts and cheers and plays to the audience to get them to do a Monsoon chant. In perhaps the biggest upset of the tournament so far Cobalt is out!
WINNER: Monsoon, KO
FUSION (32) vs. MINOTAUR (1)
Every seeded tournament has a battle between the highest and lowest seeded robots, 1st vs. 32nd. This is that fight. Fusion squeezes into the brackets at the bottom of the pack with a 5-8 career record and a 1-3 finish in the Fight Night rounds. If the wind blew differently this year we could be looking at a 2-2 Fusion but it just wasn’t in the cards for Resse Ewert. At #32 Fusion is a real underdog and with its unique mix of vertical and horizontal spinners it’s perhaps the most unpredictable robot in the entire tournament. Way back at the beginning of the season we saw Fusion win a decision over newcomer Emulsifier where Fusion just landed hit after hit and brutalized its opponent. Fusion narrowly lost a decision over Witch Doctor in a battle that in my opinion is a contender for the fight of the season; that’s where Fusion’s “phantom second win” comes from. Fusion’s promising start to the season was cut short however because Huge chopped this thing up and Rotator pummeled it and broke Fusion’s vertical spinner.
Could Minotaur have won the Nut last season? We may never know as its run ended after a controversial decision with Witch Doctor. Two new rule changes happened because of that fucking fight to highlight just how controversial it really was. No unsticks from the arena wall and “any movement is movement”. It all gets traced back to Minotaur. This is the first year Minotaur has finished the qualifiers with a perfect record and as such it’s earned the coveted #1 spot. At the start of the season Minotaur managed to upset Tantrum – the reigning champion – by disabling Tantrum’s self righter and flipping it over for a KO win. Free Shipping didn’t stand a chance and was taken apart until it died in the corner of the arena. Cobalt was a narrow win where one chance shot flipped Cobalt over and left it unable to self right. Finally Minotaur got its chance to settle the score with Witch Doctor and after an intense back and forth fight Minotaur won by decision.
Both robots take a second or so to spin up their primary weapons before leaving their squares. Minotaur takes a methodical approach while Fusion darts out and aligns itself to face its opponent. Fusion and Minotaur creep toward each other and kiss in a hit that sees Fusion as the unlikely winner; Minotaur gets flipped over and sent reeling. Fusion continues its steady approach toward Minotaur who throws another punch while upside down. This hit rights Minotaur and if you watch closely you’ll see a belt go flying off of Fusion. This was the belt that powered its vertical spinner meaning we’re done as far as head-to-head butt clenchers go. More importantly however is the fact that Fusion is already on fucking fire; underneath its top lid there are flames violently shooting out from under the hood. The flames are being quelled somewhat by Fusion’s horizontal spinning blade but the fire looks intense, so intense that Fusion has actually stopped moving.
Minotaur backs off both out of respect and also to avoid Fusion’s big ass spinning triangle. I didn’t have Fusion pegged to win this fight but that opening shot almost changed my mind. Not a bad effort against the top seed but once again Fusion proves to be its own worst enemy. Reese, my man, you’ve gotta stop using the most volatile electronics possible. It’s not worth it!
WINNER: Minotaur, KO
DEATHROLL (29) vs. HYDRA (4)
Deathroll is always a big draw for me. I learned how to paint my robot Snaggletooth thanks to tips from Deathroll’s team that I got back in 2019. I love the croc bot but even I have to admit when I think it’s outmatched. Deathroll has a bold approach of zero ground game and instead jutting its weapon out really far to win on reach advantage. This plan worked in 2019 where the robot went undefeated in the qualifiers, got seeded 6th, and reached the semifinals… but now that we are firmly in the bullshit age of stupid forks and shit we’ve seen this “no ground game” strategy fail a couple of times. Deathroll lost to Cobalt right out of the gate because it had no way to defeat Cobalt’s hinged forks. Against Switchback and Mammoth the robot managed to win because both of these robots are just big ass targets that also don’t really play the ground game. Deathroll wins in those situations. Monsoon was another Cobalt situation though where Monsoon’s forks gave it the advantage. Deathroll wins when ground game isn’t the crux of the battle, but against a flipper ground game is everything.
Ah yes, Hydra. The Ewert robot that broke the mold and could potentially win the Giant Nut but always falls just a couple of steps short. During these reboot seasons we’ve seen the Whyachi crew revive former champion Son of Whyachi, Warrior, Falcon, and Fusion but none of these robots have seen the success that Hydra has had. I may have cyberbullied Warrior into retirement with this blog but I’ll cheer for Hydra, Jake Ewert is a good heel. Hydra started its season with a win over a Rotator that was only running at about 50% power. Not an impressive open but a win nonetheless. Hydra met Tantrum in a rematch of last year’s controversial semifinal and for all the shit Jake was talking about Tantrum he had to eat those words when Tantrum landed a hit to Hydra’s baseplate that disabled the robot. Jake didn’t dwell on the loss for long though because he brought Hydra back for back to back judges’ decision wins over Free Shipping and Sawblaze with a combined 30+ flips in those two fights alone.
Deathroll spins up its disc and leaves its square as Hydra flies across the floor immediately getting underneath the croc and heaving it straight fucking up. As Deathroll comes down I’d like to quote the movie Joe Dirt and say “luckily my neck broke my fall” because Deathroll lands hard on its disc but despite coming down from the clouds and faceplanting the weapon still works. Chris Rose estimates the height to be 17 feet. The Battlebox only has about 20-22 feet of clearance before you start hitting the lights and shit. Hydra is so fucking close to achieving greatness! Deathroll gets tossed again and flips around across the floor but Hydra is waiting for it and again launches Deathroll into the air. This time the croc comes tumbling down onto the arena rails near the screws and lands on the spiked steel perimeter. Hydra follows up with another toss but right now Deathroll is reaching singularity and Hydra knows to back off; if Hydra gets too close to a rampaging Deathroll that disc could come down and hit the top of Hydra and possibly disable the flipper.
Steven Martin utters a “bloody hell” as he watches his robot twist and convulse like an electrocuted toddler. Deathroll swings wide hoping to run a circle around Hydra and catch it from the sides or back but Hydra holds its ground firm and as Deathroll rides up its wedge Hydra just fucking launches this thing. I swear this has to be inches away from the fucking rafters at this point. Gravity ultimately wins and pulls Deathroll back down to Earth and as it flips and contorts around Hydra goes in for another flip and if you watch carefully you’ll see a piece of something go flying off to the left. This was the piece of titanium that covers the rear left side of Hydra’s chassis. I think this protects the drive chains? (In Hydra’s debut season Minotaur knocked one of these off and I swear I saw a sprocket under it.) This is why Hydra has to be careful when Deathroll is having a moment because that disc can strike literally anywhere.
Deathroll gets back onto its wheels and again starts doing wide donuts in the arena and finally gets a hit as Hydra preempts a turn to the right but is successfully faked out by Deathroll. Deathroll’s disc digs into Hydra’s front left corner and the two robots get stuck together. A generous amount of time passes before the refs pause the match and Trey Roski goes in with his magic crowbar to separate the bots. After some wiggling and prying Deathroll’s disc is removed from Hydra’s face and the match resumes. When the fight restarts Deathroll’s weapon looks to be down and there is definitely something wrong with Hydra’s drivetrain; that hit may have reached Hydra’s wheel and damaged it causing it to act like a brake against the floor. Hydra scoots around in place and is able to flip Deathroll once again and now Deathroll has to right itself with its srimech instead of just bouncing all over the goddamned place on its spinner. What a shitty turn of events, this is exactly what Deathroll needed and now that its opponent is crippled and easier to hit its fucking weapon doesn’t even work.
Jake is actively taunting the Deathroll team prompting Deathroll to drive over to Hydra only to be flipped into space yet again. Hydra pulls off a rare drift maneuver which it doesn’t normally do since this usually requires oversteering and exposing its backside temporarily. It’s enough to get over to Deathroll for another toss. As the 10 second counter appears on screen Deathroll starts driving around like its left side has been damaged and from all these fucking flips I’d say it’s about goddamned time. By the time the buzzer sounds both robots are looking defeated. Had it not been for the change in rules Hydra may have been counted out ceding the win to Deathroll in a major upset but as it stands the judges rule in Hydra’s favor.
WINNER: Hydra, Judges’ Decision (3-0)
RIBBOT (28) vs. QUANTUM (5)
Last season Hydra was the 31st seed, now it’s jumped up to 4th. This season Ribbot has done the inverse; it’s gone from the 2nd seed last year down to the 28th rank this year. Ribbot has had a tough regular season and its seeding reflects that. The crazy thing is this isn’t even that bad of a robot it’s just had shit luck. Witch Doctor punched this robot’s face in for a loss by KO. Claw Viper had an explosive run this season and took Ribbot for a ride around the box resulting in a loss by decision. Even Jackpot was able to win against Ribbot after ripping off a whole ass side of drive and leaving the frog for dead on the Killsaws. Ribbot didn’t get a win until it fought Skorpios where a few choice hits left the hammer saw robot defeated and knocked out. Ribbot has both a horizontal and a vertical spinner configuration. We’re seeing the vert for this fight. Was this the right call?
Quantum is something of a rare sight in BattleBots; it’s only participated in two seasons. Both times though this robot reached the main tournament and has a respectable 7-3 career record. Four of those seven wins are from this year alone where Quantum showed that crusher bots are still viable and defeated all four Fight Night opponents. There’s 20+ tons of crushing force behind Quantum’s jaw and just to put that into perspective I described it in Quantum’s first fight as the equivalent of three goddamned elephants coming down on just one sharpened steel tooth. That’s fucking insane. Quantum’s mighty jaw was able to crush the likes of Captain Shrederator, Gruff, Black Dragon, and Emulsifier. Two knock outs and two decisions. Quantum may not have had any of its qualifiers featured as a “main event” but after this season you know it’ll be a headliner next year. Quantum is to BattleBots as Razer was to Robot Wars.
Quantum seems to approach this match like a bullfighter, it’s attempting to lure Ribbot into a charge so it can presumably dodge to the side, spin around, and then bite. Ribbot on the other hand seems to have been watching End Game’s fights and picked the “drive into the Killsaws with your stupid ass long forks” strategy because that’s exactly what Ribbot does. Quantum spends a few seconds lining itself up and in this time Ribbot very nearly gets away from danger but it’s not fast enough on the draw and Quantum bites into Ribbot’s juicy frog ass. It appears there’s some sort of additional armor on Ribbot to protect it from bites but this doesn’t seem to stop Quantum’s teeth from sinking right in. Quantum bites and lets go before moving to Ribbot’s side and positioning itself. Grant Cooper ponders whether or not to go in for bite #2 and ultimately says “let’s just leave them there”. Bad move; Ribbot gets out of the saw slots. Unless your opponent is telling you not to hit them, always fucking hit them.
Ribbot gets out and starts posturing itself to always face Quantum as the crusher runs laps around it looking for an opening. Ribbot seems to be catching on the floor seams with its forks but as long as it’s facing Quantum it can ward off its opponent. Quantum gets a little too bold with its attack however and rides up Ribbot’s forks resulting in a massive gash being cut into its leading wedge. On the way up Quantum also takes a hit to its underside from Ribbot’s spinning disc though this doesn’t appear to hit anything important. Quantum recovers and evades before swooping back in for a kamikaze attack that falls flat because Ribbot is able to win the reach game and lands a hit that does enough damage to Quantum that I’m going to have to end this sentence to cover it all. Quantum loses a tooth and that’s the least of the team’s worries because this hit also completely fucking dislodges Quantum’s biting jaw from the hydraulic piston that powers it. The follow through of Ribbot’s hit also slices into the bottom of Quantum this time exposing the innards behind it.
Quantum can self right but the Coopers ultimately decide it’s not worth it. Their robot has lost the use of its weapon, its rear end is damaged, and it even looks like there’s some damage to the side somehow. Quantum isn’t well equipped in the armor department and the Cooper’s know that getting back into the fight is a death wish and will come with a much bigger repair bill. They opt not to use their srimech and allow Quantum to be counted out. Tough break for the premiere crusher of BattleBots but the team knew they were weak to vertical spinners and that’s the configuration Ribbot went with.
WINNER: Ribbot, KO
MALICE (17) vs. SWITCHBACK (16)
The old saying “it takes a village” seems to apply to Malice for this fight. Bunny Liaw (neé Sauriol) has some friends joining her for this excursion into the Round of 32. On her team is Jonathan LaPlain who was the driver for Captain Shrederator this season as well as the King of Kinetic Energy himself Ray Billings. Ray and Tombstone are out this year due to a severe hand injury (you can see Ray’s hand bandaged and splinted) but he traveled to Vegas nonetheless to support Malice. Malice actually went 3-1 in the qualifiers this season making it the robot’s best year yet. The season got off to a rocky start with a loss to Lock-Jaw and things looked even more dire as Emulsifier thrashed this machine but Emulsifier broke down and Malice won by knock out. Luck is always a viable strategy I suppose. Malice initially lost to Valkyrie by decision but was able to successfully appeal the verdict and get the win. In the last qualifier Malice trumped Gruff after two well placed hits left the heavily armored wedge dead in the water.
With a 5-4 career record Switchback has this season to thank for its ability to say it (barely) has a winning record. After a lackluster debut season last year Greg Needel went back to the drawing board and apparently produced a much better machine because Switchback 2.0 is objectively better than the previous iteration. Switchback got a razor’s edge win over Banshee in a disaster of a fight and then wound up losing to Deathroll by KO, but we saw a different Switchback in its battle with Ominous. Switchback tanked a couple hits from Ominous and was able to use those forces to its advantage because Ominous flipped over and couldn’t self right. And I would be remiss not to mention Switchback’s fucking murder of Hijinx in the final round. Switchback popped Hijinx’s entire goddamned weapon off in one major blow. Seeing as how Switchback seems to have the advantage over horizontal spinners it could very well dominate Malice in this fight.
Switchback starts the fight with its drum raised so it can spin up while also charging at Malice to slow its horizontal spinner down first. The plan doesn’t work because Malice catches Switchback from an angle and is able to use its forks to shove Switchback into the screws. I’ve long decried the usage of forks on Malice because they look stupid and out of place on a design that clearly wasn’t meant to have them but I guess here’s proof that they do something. All Switchback can do is pivot its weapon arm backwards to scrape some sparks off of Malice’s left fork. The bots separate and you can hear Switchback’s death hum as its drum gets up to speed. The robots meet face to face but there’s no big whammy because Switchback’s front plow armor makes contact with Malice’s spinner first and prevents the robot from landing a hit. Exciting stuff. Switchback does manage to land a glancing hit that tosses Malice back but Malice recovers in an instant and goes for Switchback’s ass end.
Malice shoves Switchback into the screws and as Switchback gets away and tries to spin its drum up the thing barely even moves. I guess since Bunny has so many friends joining her team for this fight Greg must’ve hit up the Shreddit Bro guys to help with his weapon because it’s about the same shit. All Switchback can really do is attempt to pummel Malice with its armored plow. I’d suggest maybe Switchback could push Malice around but it seems as though Switchback was built for attack capabilities in mind and not the ability to control the ground game. Switchback gets a little too close to the Pulverizer and takes a hit to its back corner and immediately the robot shows signs of a crippled drivetrain. Greg even says the drive is “funny” meaning this might be the one time the Pulverizers have actually damaged a robot in the modern era. Switchback can’t seem to get out of the corner and Malice is just taking pot shots lining up charges and taking them.
Eventually Switchback gets punched hard enough that the shock breaks the right chain powering its pivoting drum. The drum itself is already dead so this doesn’t really mean shit but it’s clear and visible damage that Malice is causing to its opponent. Not like it needed any further proof that it’s winning this fight, though. Switchback is finally able to break free of the corner and Malice climbs on top of it chewing off the right little ear thing on Switchback’s drum and clipping the left chain in the process. This means Switchback cannot use its pivoting arm at all now but honestly I don’t think it matters because it wasn’t being used anyways. Switchback stupidly backs itself into a short corner and as Malice is going in for the kill the saws pop up from the floor and nail it. Kenny Florian says Malice can’t survive many more hits like that. Like what, the fucking saws? Those don’t do a fucking thing unless you’re Overhaul and park a tire directly on top of them.
I guess Chris and Kenny are trying to inject some suspense into this nothingburger of a fight because they’re talking like Switchback still has a dog in this race. “Pedal to the metal”, “one more big shot”, etc. One more big shot? Switchback has landed a staggering zero shots this entire fucking fight, Kenny. Switchback isn’t winning this fight. The clock runs out and Bunny & Co. get to celebrate as they make it into the Round of 16 for the first time.
WINNER: Malice, Judges’ Decision (3-0)
WHIPLASH (20) vs. BETA (13)
I’m so pissed off after that Ethan Kurtz segment that I can’t even fucking see straight who’s in this next fight? Whiplash? Beta? And Beta’s still using the ugly armor and the pissant hammer? Fine, Whiplash is winning this fight. Whiplash is the underdog in this fight after a bad season start that saw it lose to both Mad Catter and Hypershock in brutal fashion; Mad Catter crumpled Whiplash’s chassis and Hypershock got the robot to cough up its batteries for a smoky KO. Whiplash managed to win a tight decision over Monsoon that was contested by the Monsoon team but the appeal failed. In a stroke of good luck Whiplash was able to defeat Tantrum by ramming it into the wall where one of the spiked protrusions clipped the chain on Tantrum’s srimech meaning once it got flipped it couldn’t get back onto its wheels.
Beta is also in the club of robots who nearly went 4-0 but made one single fuck up that ruined their chances. We’ll get to the fuck up in a second because first of all I have to point out Beta’s armor configuration and the effect that has on its weapon. Normally Beta is a big ass wedge with a massive dildo as a hammer. When fighting vertical spinners however Beta equips what’s called the “ugly armor” and uses a thinner hammer because the armor package takes up more weight. Apparently Whiplash counts as a “vertical spinner” to John Reid. Beta had a slammin’ good season with judges decision wins over Kraken, Shatter, and Bloodsport. With the exception of the Kraken fight Beta was in top form and looked tough to beat. The aforementioned fuck up however came in its fight with Black Dragon where Beta used this exact same armor config and wound up getting flipped over. Of note is this armor was used last season against Lock-Jaw and the same shit happened. Three strikes, John.
Beta wastes no time holding back as it goes straight for Whiplash, meanwhile Whiplash goes wide and its disc looks to be taking its jolly old time spinning up to speed. So… the usual from Whiplash I guess. Beta tries to maneuver around Whiplash but Matt Vasquez is too fast on the sticks. Beta lands a shot to Whiplash’s lifting arm and Whiplash is able to counter with a slight lift that seems to cause Whiplash to tilt forward. Whiplash is wearing additional upper armor to protect against Beta so its front plows and things that would help brace against the ground are missing. Whiplash lifts again and tilts forward again. Beta throws a counter shot that connects directly with Whiplash’s spinning disc. A little to the left or right could’ve knocked that weapon out so Matt might want to avoid going head on with Beta.
Whiplash backs up and goes straight toward Beta landing a hit that turns Beta around and positions it perfectly to get slammed into the screws of the Upper Deck. Whiplash delivers its cargo and as Beta hits the screws it bounces up and lands on top of the shelf. John says a no-no word because whatever happened in this hit just killed Beta’s drive. The weapon still works but no amount of Shatter-esque swinging will rock the robot back into movement. Whiplash positions itself by the exit of the hazard and holds its spinning disc up high to block any potential movement from Beta. Dude, Beta can just drive off the other side and avoid the disc. But cool power play at least. Beta gets counted out and Whiplash makes its first step toward the Giant Nut.
WINNER: Whiplash, KO
BLIP (25) vs. SAWBLAZE (8)
The final fight of the episode is the one that was teased in last week’s post-show. We got some insight into this battle, namely the fact that Aren Hill was going to be trying out some new forks on Blip to hopefully defeat Sawblaze’s triple prongs. Well, Blip certainly has forks but I think Sawblaze still has the reach advantage. We’ll see. Blip had a breakout season last year with an undefeated Fight Night finish but this season it just wasn’t working out. Blip immediately lost to End Game and didn’t even stand a chance. Against Huge what was the plan? Just run into the wheels? Huge neutered Blip and won by decision. Blip didn’t get its first win until it fought its partner robot Tantrum and Blip only really won because Tantrum blew out a side of drive right away. Blip won a decision over Banshee but came out with this really obtuse attachment that seemed to get in the way of its flipper so hopefully Aren knows not to use that shit again.
In the post-show last week Aren talked about his attachments, Jamison Go just said his strategy was to win. That’s not the entirety of it though because Sawblaze does have new forks for this fight. It’s hard to notice them but they’re thinner and sharper than the usual forks that have spatula-like ends on them. They’re just as long as Sawblaze’s other forks and with all the apparent ground clearance on Blip I think Sawblaze won’t have a hard time scooping Blip up. I know Sawblaze has never beaten a flipper but there’s a first time for everything. Sawblaze finished 3-1 in the qualifiers this season and featured in the first ever fight that was taped this year where it stuck its weapon up Hypershock’s ass. Lock-Jaw and Skorpios didn’t put up much of a fight for the dragon and both went down in under a minute. Sawblaze was looking to go 4-0 but it drew Hydra and lost by decision. Sawblaze has never won a battle against a flipper.
Sawblaze creeps out of its square while Blip starts looking for an opening right away. In these first few seconds Blip is able to hit Sawblaze from an angle meaning all that reach on Sawblaze is being used against it. Sawblaze doesn’t seem to stay on Blip long enough for Blip’s flipper to activate however so even though Blip is winning these exchanges it’s not landing any shots. In fact speaking of shots Blip manages to take a stray one from the Pulverizer as it tussles with Sawblaze. This bump into the wall knocks loose Blip’s left fork leaving just the right one and it’s no longer getting the purchase it needs. Sawblaze finally scoops up Blip, delivers it across the box, and slams down the hammer saw not once but twice into the Tegris armor that Blip has on its lid. The impact is enough to knock Blip’s remaining fork all the way down so that it hinders the flipper’s movement. Kind of a major oversight there, dude. Next time don’t let the forks go all the way down? Blip charges while doing a forced wheelie and all that winds up happening is Sawblaze easily grabs it and lands three crippling hits with its blade.
Blip backs over Sawblaze’s dustpan and the fork it was tripping on just sorta pops off. Now Blip has nothing to go by except the middle forks which were mostly there as insurance. They’ll be doing the heavy lifting but not until Sawblaze is done with another ram into the wall followed by a signature karate chop. Blip gets shoved into the short corner and seems helpless but it’s able to spin around and get away. Blip manages to get underneath Sawblaze and take it into the wall. There’s no action from the flipper but Sawblaze does rebound off the spike strip and bounce on its solid rubber tires. Blip doesn’t follow through on the attack however and now one of its tiny forks is also fucking broken. Blip is falling apart and now Sawblaze has it in its grasp once again and pulls a Huge by sinking its blade directly down into Blip’s flipping wedge. Sawblaze is on a rampage slamming Blip around while chopping away but it hits a seam in the floor and loses Blip. Sawblaze was moving with such force that the inertia imparted into Blip as Sawblaze stops is nearly enough to flip it over. Fucking hell.
Blip’s inner flywheel must still be working because the robot seems to “float” (for lack of a better term) as it turns. Case in point it turns to face Sawblaze and manages to ride all the way up Sawblaze’s fucking plow. Can you guess what happens next? That’s right, Sawblaze takes Blip into the wall and whacks it with its hammer saw. Blip manages to slide underneath Sawblaze on the next run but Jamison whips out an Uno Reverse card by intentionally swinging his robot’s hammer saw to cause it to jump up and off of Blip. This is next level shit right here. Sawblaze catches Blip a hits it another four or five times and in the last ten seconds of the fight Chris Rose is just waiting for literally anything from Blip but instead Sawblaze lands one final shot right at the buzzer to plant a Sawblaze flag in Blip’s corpse. Blip is so torn up it looks like the aftermath of a cat fucking a couch.
WINNER: Sawblaze, Judges’ Decision (3-0)
ROAD TO RUIN
This week on Road to the Giant Nut Chris and Kenny go over the episode’s fights and chat with some guests. Kenny seems impressed with Black Dragon’s win but that’s only because that’s the lead-in to this week’s “bot-optsy”: Ripperoni. While the Black Dragon team is busy in the pits fixing their broken weapon and, uh, watching their fight back on someone’s phone Anna Zolnikov has brought out a partially disassembled Ripperoni to talk about how its design works. She says some loose connectors cost her team the fight with Black Dragon and also brings up the whole “our flywheel’s motor fell off” thing. Anna basks in the compliments tossed her way and with every single one of them Counter Revolution, who originally pioneered the design back in season 6, gets cast further and further into the darkness. That’s not to say Anna’s not original, her design is definitely original. It just wasn’t the first… but I do think it’s the best robot to feature the reverse flywheel design.
There’s a lot of aluminum tape covering Ripperoni’s motor and this is perhaps the easiest game of “Spot the E-Tek” that we’ve ever played here on BattleBots Update. The tape is there for a good reason though and that’s what Anna brings up next. Ripperoni runs hot; that weapon motor generates a ton of heat. To help abate the heat she uses dry ice in the pits just before a fight to drop the temperature of her robot’s motor. Dry ice is stored at -100 degrees Fahrenheit so there’s quite a bit of wiggle room for the thermometer to go up and down. The event crew member that Chris has nicknamed “Bob the Builder” brings out an ice chest and gloves so he can engage in some middle school science by putting a chunk of dry ice into water to show sublimation. It’s an interesting concept and not something I’ve ever heard of before so as Anna turns to the crowd and asks if they want to see Ripperoni back you bet I cheered!
During the commercial break Chris eats the entire pizza that was brought out at the end of Ripperoni’s segment. Martin Mason and Jonathan Schultz are introduced as the next guests to talk about their upcoming battle in next week’s Round of 16 episode. Martin Mason gets the Headphones of Fail first so Jonathan can talk about his strategy. Jonathan says his one meter diameter wheels are the key because his robot is too tall for Mad Catter to hit anything. There’s five points of contact between Huge and the ground and I can only count four of them. He goes on to say that corralling opponents into the corners of the arena is where Huge really shines because that’s where it does all of its damage. To ward off pre-fight jitters Jonathan has started meditating before each fight and he now wears earplugs to block out all of Kenny Florian’s commentary, allegedly. This zen approach has served Jonathan and his team well and we’ll see if what Martin called the “compensation” wheels pay off.
Martin’s up next and his response to fighting Huge is what many have tried and none have succeeded with: a big ass attachment to stop Huge’s weapon. Martin calls it a “hugepoon” instead of a harpoon and Chris loses his composure. There’s just something about the way Martin in his grease-covered dead tired half assing Macho Man state says “hugepoon” that is hilarious and I just can’t put that to words. Chris’ mind clearly went in the gutter because he says “BattleBots After Dark” and the editors have a little bit of fun censoring out part of Mad Catter to demonstrate the “attachment”. Martin doesn’t take the bait and says he doesn’t understand why everyone is laughing. This man is a god among men. He eventually continues and says once Huge’s weapon is out then it’s time for Mad Catter’s lifting arm to come into play. I don’t have high hopes for Mad Catter but Martin always passes the charisma check so you never know!
As the episode comes to a close we’re left with the cliffhanger that the Round of 16 is right around the corner. That will reduce the field to just eight surviving robots and the week after next someone’s getting their hands on that fucking Nut. It’s still anybody’s game so long as they’re still one of the 16 teams left in the running, of course. We already know about Huge and Mad Catter, but other than that the #1 seed Minotaur will fight Malice in an earthquake of a battle. Sawblaze advances on to rematch against Monsoon and even out the score. The lower seeded Ribbot and Black Dragon are hanging in there and will face off. Former champion End Game is the only Giant Nut winner still in the game and will be battling Copperhead. And of course Riptide will fight Hypershock. I think I know who everyone’s rooting for in that one.
That’s it for BattleBots Update this week!
Sorry about the Riptide derailment, I felt that needed to be said because I’m tired of seeing it and I’m fed up with BattleBots kowtowing to television drama. (Nevermind, the segment didn’t survive the proofreading process! You’re not missing anything important, hence why it got cut.) I’ve got a dinner in the oven with my name on it so I’m outta here. This project is entirely fan-funded so if you’d like to help out the blog you can do so with a monthly pledge on Patreon or a one-time donation with Ko-Fi. For everything else? Follow BattleBots Update on Facebook, naturally.
See you next week!