Welcome back to BattleBots Update where the Round of 16 is about to be underway! For the past two episodes we’ve been working through both sides of the Round of 32 bracket and now after 16 fights the field has been halved… because that’s how tournament brackets work. Chris Rose opens the episode standing in the middle of the Battlebox talking about strategy and reality or whatever but all I heard was him name drop “the boulevard of broken dreams”. I don’t know if that’s a thing that people actually say or if it’s a Green Day reference but I associate that phrase with subpar faux punk music so that’s one strike so far Chris. We’ve got about an hour 45 left in the show sans commercials so you better not fuck this up.
Anyways as I said we’re in the Round of 16 and so far all four top seeds are still in the game. Hydra gets a rematch with Whiplash to see if it can settle the score. Witch Doctor will get a chance to defeat Lock-Jaw or die trying. Riptide fights Hypershock in a battle that’ll determine if Hypershock is the one to put an end to the madness. And finally Minotaur is given an underhanded pitch in the form of Malice that I’m almost certain will be a bloodbath. Other fights in the episode include a tense match-up between End Game and Copperhead, Ribbot and Black Dragon, Sawblaze and Monsoon, and Huge and Mad Catter. Onto the carnage!
RIBBOT (28) vs. BLACK DRAGON (21)
Starting things off is a match between two lower seeds who had big upsets in their Round of 32 fights. Ribbot is ranked #28 this season after a tumultuous fall from grace that saw the once 2nd seeded bot lose almost all of its qualifiers. Ribbot was able to barely scrape by and make it in by proving the frog still had some fight left in it just yet. In Ribbot’s previous fight against Quantum builder David Jin went all out with forks and this wound up getting the robot trapped in the goddamned Killsaws just like what happened with End Game earlier in the season. Quantum took one bite but didn’t fully capitalize on the moment so Ribbot was eventually able to break free and get fired up. With a mere two shots Ribbot broke Quantum’s jaw and left the robot flipped over where it was counted out. Ribbot is a tough contender but it’s only won two fights this season and its driving isn’t too hot to say the least.
Black Dragon is no stranger to fucking frogs; these two robots met up a couple of seasons ago and threw down in a fight that saw Black Dragon emerge victorious by decision. Of note about this fight is this is the one where Black Dragon’s flamethrower malfunctioned and lit the whole ass robot on fire. Black Dragon burned for over two minutes and showed zero signs of slowing down or stopping. I’m talking some fucking Ghost Rider shit. Ribbot will be looking to get revenge for that loss so Black Dragon needs to be in top form and hopefully not catch on fire for more than half the fight again. Black Dragon was almost eliminated from the tournament this season because Ripperoni was laying this beast out but the wear and tear suffered by the pizza bot’s parts was too much to bear and the robot started falling apart. Black Dragon knocked Ripperoni onto the Upper Deck where it slowly died and was counted out with only three seconds to spare.
Ribbot goes around the nearby Killsaws making damn sure not to drag its forks across the hazard’s slots after what happened last time. Black Dragon charges out of its square. There’s a big weapon-to-weapon hit that separates the bots a little bit but Black Dragon quickly gains the upper hand by landing a shot to Ribbot that kicks the robot’s front end up allowing Black Dragon to get underneath it and potentially land some baseplate shots. Ribbot gets pushed into the corner but in doing so Black Dragon also kind of corners itself because Ribbot recovers and hits Black Dragon’s right fork perpendicularly shearing it off. A quick follow up hit flips Black Dragon over and another follow up heaves the dragon several feet into the air. Black Dragon lands on its wheels upside down but doesn’t try to gyro dance right ways up. This allows Ribbot to come in and land another shot that tosses Black Dragon through the air and flips it back over.
Black Dragon pops Ribbot as it recovers and the two bots lock heads again. Black Dragon tries to get away but winds up pivoting itself against Ribbot’s front end causing it to point off to the side and allow Ribbot to start grinding sparks off of the side of Black Dragon’s front wraparound plow. Black Dragon gets pushed across the box into the screws of the Upper Deck which bite at Black Dragon’s solid rubber tires and start pulling it up onto the hazard. Black Dragon almost gets up there but it appears the screw hazard is fucked up as usual and it’s not spinning upward. The hazard looks to reverse successfully and spit out Black Dragon but I don’t know how much of that was movement caused by Black Dragon being perched atop the hazard to start with. Ribbot collides with Black Dragon head on as it comes down from the screws and almost pops the robot completely onto the shelf but once again fails to do so.
Black Dragon starts trying to drive away from the Upper Deck and it becomes apparent that it’s lost its left side of drive. I don’t recall Ribbot hitting the left side of Black Dragon so maybe Black Dragon just sucks now. A side of drive might be out but the weapon is still roaring at top speed and Black Dragon is able to land a counter shot to Ribbot that knocks off Ribbot’s left fork. Both robots are down to one fork and both of their remaining forks look kind of screwed up so this is just going to come down to whose weapon sticks out further and gets more reach and I think Ribbot has the advantage here. Ribbot continues to look for an opening on Black Dragon but Black Dragon is able to hold its own as long as its drum keeps spinning. The fight moves back into the corner and Ribbot is finally able to get a bite that kicks Black Dragon into the wall upside down and follow through with a second hit that rights the robot.
Black Dragon gets stuck on Ribbot for a second and I noticed its right wheel isn’t turning at all. Either Ribbot just fucking killed Black Dragon or the Brazilian team is being suspiciously quiet with the transmitter. As Ribbot backs away and Black Dragon settles onto the floor the robot doesn’t move; the weapon is still working but there’s no life in Black Dragon’s drive. Black Dragon has never before been knocked out coming into this season and now we’ve seen it get killed twice. Had the “selection committee” not meddled with Black Dragon’s fight schedule it could’ve set a new record and then graciously went out at 26 fights without being KO’d. Instead this season will be remembered as the year Black Dragon fucking died. What a way to go out.
WINNER: Ribbot, KO
LOCK-JAW (14) vs. WITCH DOCTOR (3)
Lock-Jaw and Witch Doctor have competed in every single reboot season but they’ve never met in the arena until now. That’s fucking crazy especially when Chris and Kenny point out that between these two robots there’s over 70 career fights. Lots of opportunities to meet but it took seven years for that to happen. I guess the “selection committee” never saw it fit to pair these two up in the Fight Night rounds. Maybe they thought people would get confused with two green robots in the arena at the same time. Given the vast majority of casual BattleBots fans responded favorably to the Riptide drama I think calling them stupid enough to confuse Lock-Jaw and Witch Doctor seems appropriate. Lock-Jaw defeated Bloodsport in the previous round by simply surviving. Bloodsport did incredible damage to Lock-Jaw but it blew out one of its two weapon motors, when Bloodsport ricocheted off of Lock-Jaw and flipped over it was then powerless to self right giving the win to Donald Hutson and his team.
Ever since the 2015 season I’ve been a fan of Witch Doctor. This four-wheeled vertical spinner in my opinion was the first and best demonstration of the design we saw in BattleBots; remember even though Bite Force won the first reboot season it did so with its tank tracked lifter/clamper configuration, we didn’t see vertical spinner Bite Force until the following year. All 4WD verts aspire to be as good as this robot and few can say they’ve done it. Witch Doctor is apparently running brushless motors for its weapon this year which are rather finicky and the robot’s weapon system crapped out in its previous fight. Thankfully the point where the weapon died coincided with Witch Doctor turning Jackpot’s chassis into a crumpled up piece of paper so the fight was already won but Witch Doctor can’t afford to blow its motors in a match with someone like Lock-Jaw.
For some reason Mike Gellatly tempts fate by veering to the left, doing a 180, and spinning around to face an oncoming Lock-Jaw. I don’t know where the fuck he’s pulling these Star Fox moves from but this is risky shit and Lock-Jaw could’ve easily blasted Witch Doctor on its ass and broken its self righter. Witch Doctor successfully pulls off the maneuver and tries to catch Lock-Jaw from behind. Lock-Jaw spins around and meets Witch Doctor head on and Lock-Jaw wins the reach game with its longer front forks. Witch Doctor gets kicked back about a foot and Lock-Jaw has the opportunity to follow this hit up with a second one. Instead Lock-Jaw points its front right tire at Witch Doctor who promptly fucks it up shredding it on its rim and causing Lock-Jaw to lose the ground game entirely because now its forks are going to be riding on the floor unevenly and the robot will probably start bouncing around as it drives. Great driving, Donald.
Lock-Jaw’s shredded wheel flies off of its hub on its own as the robot tries to recover and Witch Doctor comes in to hit Lock-Jaw’s exposed front corner from the side nailing the robot’s right fork and bending it into an upward position. Witch Doctor expertly targets this vulnerable spot on Lock-Jaw and lands another hit that sends the robot flipping into the air taking out its dumb ass drone in the process. Spitfire (the drone) has flown with three teams now and it’s been successful in exactly none of them. Lock-Jaw starts getting battered around the arena and as Witch Doctor floors it head on into its opponent the robots meet weapon-to-weapon and Lock-Jaw’s spinner just can’t take the heat. The bar comes to a complete halt and it looks like its belt has come loose and is jammed in between the pulley and weapon bracket or something. It doesn’t matter how many times it happens I am always in awe at Witch Doctor’s ability to turn its opponents’ faces into twisty pretzels.
Lock-Jaw gets knocked around and falls under the Pulverizer in the short corner. The hazard comes down to land a blow to Lock-Jaw’s underside and the robot looks totally dead. Witch Doctor surveys the scene, determines one final hit is needed to finish this once and for all, and then lands a hit straight to Lock-Jaw’s ass dead center on the chassis. If robots had buttholes Lock-Jaw’s would’ve just been blown wide open by this horse dildo of an attack. Witch Doctor backs off and lets the ref count out Lock-Jaw meaning the voodoo child advances into the quarterfinals once again.
WINNER: Witch Doctor, KO
MALICE (17) vs. MINOTAUR (1)
To me this match is hilariously one-sided. That’s not necessarily a sleight at Malice I’m just saying I’ve played this fight through in my head a dozen times and Malice never wins once. I don’t think it has the firepower to take on the Brazilian bull but hey Malice is finally equipped with its original spinning disc for what feels like the first time in like three fucking seasons so I guess that shows Bunny and her team aren’t fucking around. She coordinated with both Ray Billings and Paul Ventimiglia, two former champions, on what she should do in this fight and both of them said “use your biggest fucking weapon and pray to god”. Malice is firmly in the B-tier of robots and it’s staring down someone in the S-tier. This won’t end well. Malice made it this far by picking off opponents who were on its same tier level such as Switchback in the Round of 32. Malice trashed that robot and ripped off all of its weapon chains so we know its weapon is powerful but is it “we just defeated Minotaur holy shit” powerful?
Minotaur is the #1 seed for the first time in its BattleBots career and this robot has definitely earned it. After going completely undefeated in the Fight Night rounds this robot was cleared for take off and now it’s flying high. Being the 1st seed meant its first round was going to be against the robot at the bottom of the list and that just so happened to be Fusion. Believe it or not Fusion actually won the first couple of exchanges with Minotaur thanks to its weapon’s smaller size and higher tip speed but Fusion being Fusion meant the celebration was not meant to last very long. Fusion’s internals cooked themselves leaving Minotaur to win the fight pretty much by what I’d argue was a TKO had it not been for Minotaur actually touching the robot first. Malice’s big red disc allegedly hits with just a little less power than Tombstone and we’ve seen Tombstone and Minotaur fight in the past in a match I’d call “fucking bonkers”. Buckle up.
Malice and Minotaur both spin up and creep out of their squares not really knowing what to do first. Malice takes the initiative and throws a punch that causes it to spin out across the floor but it also swipes Minotaur into the corner and flips it over. This is easily one of Malice’s biggest hits ever and it sucks that it just took the team this long to make it happen. They should use that big ass red disc more often. Malice recovers and goes on the attack driving across the box to meet Minotaur who’s still upside down. Malice hits Minotaur again and kicks the robot into the red square. Minotaur is clearly trying to get itself flipped back over using the gyroscopic forces of its drum but it appears to be faltering leaving it open to attack. Malice dives in yet again and hits Minotaur so fucking hard that the robot nails the screws and then bounces all the way into the goddamned Upper Deck.
I can’t believe I’m saying this but Malice is actually beating Minotaur right now. This fucking robot that many fans have written off as “Round of 32 material but that’s about it” is holding its own against the #1 seed and is winning. Minotaur cruises into the blue square where Malice kicks it into the screws again flipping it over. Minotaur just has no response for any of this. It’s getting its ass kicked. Minotaur’s drum finally spins up to speed allowing the robot to gyro over and as it comes back down to land on its wheels Malice tries to hit it and this proves to be a fatal error because I guess due to the wacky ass trajectories of the weapons or something Minotaur’s drum clips Malice’s disc and busts off its steel tooth. Uh oh. That single tooth is what gave Malice’s weapon its bite and now it’s been brutally ripped out of the robot’s mouth and thrown god knows where. Malice’s weapon is now a 60 pound chunk of aluminum capable of doing fucking nothing. The disc on Malice continues to spin for a while until it hits Minotaur and slows down. The disc shows no signs of spinning back up.
Malice was winning this fight but a disabled weapon makes the judges hard like a diamond so the tables have just turned to favor Minotaur who’s still cruising around the box taking pot shots. Minotaur’s drum is spinning but it seems to not have much bite to it, it’s doing that thing where it looks like it’s spinning fast but the second it touches something it just stops and doesn’t impart any energy into its target. Minotaur pins Malice up against the screws on the shelf and we get a real good look at the cavity in Malice’s disc where its tooth used to be. You can also see a QR code on Malice’s underside and if you scan it it’ll take you to a YouTube compilation of all the times Malice has lost. Minotaur lets Malice go as per the rules and entangles itself with its opponent once again over near one of the Pulverizers that Minotaur’s team controls. Kenny Florian says Malice’s driver needs to separate and reset like that’ll fucking achieve something. I guess the hosts aren’t allowed to say “there’s nothing this robot can do because it has no backup strategy so I guess it’s fucked”.
Minotaur successfully gets a couple of Pulverizer shots on Malice but naturally these hits do little in the way of damage. Eventually Minotaur’s drum starts spinning like it wants to actually make up for all the lost exchanges earlier in the battle and Malice gets booted around for a little while but there’s no real damage done on account of Minotaur hitting Malice’s big ass solid rubber wheels. Malice finishes the battle upside down and Minotaur demonstrates its drum is still working leaving it up to the judges. This fight was a close one but once Malice’s weapon died I knew it was going to Minotaur. The judges seem to think the same because Minotaur wins unanimously. Real talk though Malice came out like a fucking powerhouse ready to not take any bullshit from Minotaur and that will forever be commendable.
WINNER: Minotaur, Judges’ Decision (3-0)
COPPERHEAD (10) vs. END GAME (7)
Copperhead has never been seeded lower than 10th but it’s also never made it beyond the Round of 16. Given that its opponent is fucking End Game I doubt we’ll see it occur this year but hey stranger things have happened, Malice just held its own against Minotaur and nearly won the fight. Copperhead’s front end is one inch thick steel. Fucking hell I mean I knew that thing was tough just from looking at it but an inch of steel? That’s almost overkill. It explains why we’ve never seen this thing get battered though, we’ve never seen the frame warp and the drum fall out. Copperhead usually loses when it gets hit on its ass or loses a side of drive. This robot had a tough opening draw against Rotator in the first round but was able to do enough damage to Rotator to win over the judges. Copperhead’s drum stalled in that fight however and if it does that against End Game this snake is as good as dead.
End Game! Everybody loves End Game, it’s the closest thing we’ll ever have to Bite Force competing again. This robot won the Giant Nut two seasons ago and last year it took home the first Golden Bolt trophy. End Game’s success can be traced back to how it handles ground game; End Game has a fork for every scenario and sure enough it’s got a special configuration for this fight. Notice how the really long forks haven’t come back ever since the robot got stuck in the Killsaws. End Game, although seeded 7th, is one of the robots that could potentially win it all and in the first round of the tournament it exterminated reigning champion Tantrum in a rematch of the Golden Bolt semifinals. That’s cool and all but I would be remiss not to bring up End Game’s apparent weakness to drum bots; Minotaur eradicated this thing last season and what is Copperhead but a drum based off of a different animal?
We’re dealing with two powerful vertical spinners here so both of them naturally hang back a bit to spin up before attacking. Copperhead thinks it’ll win a head on transaction with End Game. Politifact determined this statement to be false. Copperhead gets flipped over by End Game’s spinning disc and lands on its head. Neither robot seems too eager to engage with the other because this is some high kinetic energy shit here but eventually Copperhead rolls into End Game’s disc a second time and the downward direction of Copperhead’s drum causes the robot to flip several times through the air. The good news is Copperhead actually lands right ways up so now its drum is spinning the right direction. Copperhead gets in End Game’s face again and eats off the longer left fork on the Kiwi bot but winds up getting kicked backwards and lands upside down yet again. End Game follows up with a second shot that blasts Copperhead and sends it soaring into the short corner but also rights it in the process.
So far I’m seeing a pattern here, Copperhead loses on weapon-to-weapon contact, flips over, and then takes a massive hit from End Game that sends it hurtling through the air. I was going to say this is End Game’s fight to win however after that second massive uppercut it appears as though the former champ’s weapon has stopped spinning. That must be Copperhead’s inch thick frame coming into play because it can take the hits but End Game cannot. End Game scoops up Copperhead and starts trying to shove it around but Copperhead’s big ass wheels means it’s always going to have rubber on the floor pushing back against End Game. Copperhead falls off of End Game’s plow and hits it from the corner blowing three of End Game’s little “piano key” wedgelets off. This is exactly what Minotaur did to End Game. It’s happening again. Over the course of the next five seconds Copperhead stays in End Game’s face and starts shredding the rest of the keys off. You can literally see them raining down all over the fucking arena as two get ripped off, then another, then a fork, and so on.
End Game is now left with a handful of wedgelets on its right side and no active weapon. Copperhead is out for blood. End Game gets kinked upward allowing Copperhead to take it into the wall where another key is torn off. End Game’s only response to this is to mash its face against Copperhead and try to push back against it but it’s not working. There is no Plan B. Copperhead lands a perfect shot that rips the last two wedgelets off of End Game before landing a follow up hit that kicks the robot into the Pulverizer. End Game gets away from the corner but Copperhead is in pursuit. Copperhead hits End Game head on and tears away one of the orange blocks of metal that all of the forks and shit were attached to. The piece of armor goes flying straight up and takes out a light and as the glass rains down I’m left speechless because I didn’t even know those pieces of metal could come off of End Game. I thought that shit was part of the frame!
End Game is getting brutalized by Copperhead and one hit flips the former champ over. Copperhead jostles End Game over toward the Upper Deck landing lots of little hits everywhere it can. For some stupid reason End Game activates its self righter and gets back in the fight like it still has a fucking chance. Look at the angle shot from the camera in the ceiling, Copperhead has destroyed End Game so severely that it’s made a goddamned obstacle course for its little snake minibot to navigate. End Game stays the course and keeps trying to ram into Copperhead to shove it around. Copperhead responds by ripping off the other orange piece of metal from End Game’s front end and then kicks the robot into the air so it does a triple twist. Copperhead doesn’t let up and keeps railing End Game. With about 15 seconds left on the clock Copperhead knocks End Game away and as End Game comes back down it hits a seam or something in the floor and tips forward onto its front end. Normally End Game can’t get stuck this way because of all its stupid forks but Copperhead has dealt with those.
End Game is knocked out. This should be a landmark KO win for Copperhead but there’s unfortunately not enough time left in the fight for the refs to count End Game out. It survives until the buzzer but that’s not going to help its chances of winning this fight. End Game was straight up murdered.
WINNER: Copperhead, Judges’ Decision (3-0)
MONSOON (24) vs. SAWBLAZE (8)
Coming up is a match between two of my favorite drivers in all of BattleBots! Monsoon was forced to take a break from BattleBots because of COVID travel bullshit so it’s been a few years since Tom Brewster and his team were here. Normally you’d fear maybe Tom’s skills as a driver would’ve rusted in that time but you’d be wrong, he’s still at the top of his game. Monsoon got a relatively low seed this season but that’s because it finished the qualifiers 2-2. All it needed to do was make it in though and now the storm is wrecking shop. Cobalt was in the top 10 this year and Monsoon pulled off an upset when it was able to successfully pluck off most of Cobalt’s front forks and then finish the job with a hit that dug into Cobalt’s chassis and threw the robot onto its ass. There wasn’t enough kinetic energy left in Cobalt’s disc to knock it back onto its wheels and just like that Monsoon was back in business. Sawblaze is next in line but Monsoon has the advantage here, it defeated Sawblaze a few years back so it might be able to do it again.
Dustpans have been around in BattleBots ever since S.O.B. showed up all the way back in Comedy Central season 4 and swept the brackets. The design has gone on to permeate many other weight classes with varying degrees of success. Jamison Go has taken that design to the next level with a robot that has only gotten better with each passing year. Sawblaze’s disc only weighs 30 pounds but we all saw what this thing did to Blip in the Round of 32. Blip showed up wearing additional Tegris armor all over its top and after three minutes of Sawblaze whaling on it Blip left the arena looking like it tried to shave with an X-ACTO knife. Jamison remembers the first time these two robots met, Sawblaze is essentially a totally new robot since that fight. It just needs to protect its forks and not let them get bent up or torn off, if it can do that Sawblaze stands a chance at evening the scorecard with Monsoon.
Within a couple seconds of the fight starting Monsoon’s weapon is up to top speed. Tom seems to have a lot of faith in Monsoon’s forks because he just sort of drives into Sawblaze’s dustpan and promptly gets taken for a ride. Sawblaze throws its first punch and doesn’t connect with Monsoon, however as Sawblaze retracts its arm Monsoon is able to land a shot of its own that throws Sawblaze’s big ass chassis into the air and very nearly flips it over. As Monsoon entangles itself with Sawblaze once more you can see there’s a bend in the underside of Sawblaze’s right fork. Because of the way the forks are designed on Sawblaze this doesn’t hinder it – yet – but it probably can’t take another hit. Sawblaze is able to scoop up Monsoon and take it into the screws where it finally lands a hit on the left side of Monsoon’s body next to the weapon bracket. The shot comes at the cost of one of its plastic catchers though because Monsoon rides up the dustpan and takes it out.
Sawblaze shoves Monsoon around again but doesn’t swing its hammer saw at all because Monsoon’s giant spinner is right there and a misplaced shot could spell absolute disaster for the dragon. Monsoon is able to get away but as it evades its opponent it drives directly over the Killsaws and as you’re probably guessing not one but both of its fucking forks drop into the slots. Monsoon’s weapon digs into the arena floor and its right wheel raises off the ground. I think Monsoon might actually be fucked here but Sawblaze goes in for a hit anyways and rips off some of the metal protecting Monsoon’s right tire. Sawblaze retracts and swings again and gets dangerously close to Monsoon’s blade. How close? Close enough to rip off one of Monsoon’s upper forks. The hit frees Monsoon from the saw hazard and the fight resumes. Sawblaze is quick to shove Monsoon into the wall and tip it onto its side.
Monsoon eventually lands on its wheels but Sawblaze is right there to catch it. For some reason the bumper rails activate a couple of times while the robots are fighting which is confusing as fuck to me. Is there a human operator for those things? I mean really? They seem to remind us of their existence in the weirdest ways. Why are they swinging right now when no one’s stuck on them? Why haven’t they been swinging for all the other fights were someone’s gotten too close to them? Whatever. Sawblaze scoops up Monsoon and drives it across the box where the Pulverizer awaits. The hammer comes down but stops when Monsoon’s blade hits the hammer’s pole and knocks it backward. The hit still seems to impart force into Monsoon however because its blade spins down and stops.
Sawblaze appears to be having some maneuverability issues by the drivers’ booth but it straightens itself out and goes for Monsoon. The force of impact is enough to tip Monsoon up onto its front corner and Sawblaze backs off. This is exactly how Monsoon lost its fight to Black Dragon in the qualification rounds. Again, if Monsoon’s weapon was working it would be able to bounce itself down onto its wheels but with a nonfunctional weapon Monsoon is toast. Sawblaze successfully avenges its previous loss to Monsoon and moves on to the quarterfinals.
WINNER: Sawblaze, KO
WHIPLASH (20) vs. HYDRA (4)
Boy we sure are being treated to a lot of rematches this season. Not only was the previous fight a rematch but Sawblaze moves on to face Minotaur in another rematch, and then this next fight is a rematch too! The first time Whiplash and Hydra met Whiplash won by just a hair. Matt Vasquez wants to win definitively this time around and he thinks that damaging Hydra’s front end is the solution. Matt says Whiplash’s spinner is working better this year and normally I’d scoff at a comment like that but Whiplash defeated Tantrum in the qualifiers with a single shot from its disc. It might not be an End Game or a Witch Doctor spinner but Whiplash’s disc has some real power. We didn’t get to see Whiplash tested much in its previous fight with Beta because Beta swung its hammer a couple of times and then crapped out on the Upper Deck. This is where the tournament starts for Matt and his team.
It’s hard not to cheer for Jake Ewert, a man perpetually full of himself. He has every right to be too because when it’s time to nut up or shut up Hydra performs nine times out of ten. A few seasons ago Hydra usurped Bronco and declared itself the new flipper on the block. Bronco retired and now Hydra is systematically stealing all of Bronco’s records. Most flips in a single fight? Hydra got 20. Highest flip in the arena? Hydra reached 17 feet. Note how the hosts say Deathroll nearly reached the ceiling. This is in direct contrast to what Team Whyachi is claiming on social media; they are saying they did hit the roof. I don’t believe them, we would’ve heard about it from Chris and Kenny. Is Jake getting antsy and claiming records he doesn’t yet have? For shame, Jake!
Whiplash takes a second to spin up its disc and also seems to be basing its movement off of whatever Hydra is doing. Hydra is busy hitting every fucking seam in the floor so Whiplash is understandably confused by this and doesn’t approach confidently. Whiplash nears Hydra’s face and Jake is eager on the trigger because Hydra’s flipping arm goes off and hits nothing. Whiplash pokes Hydra again and provokes a second flip. It appears Whiplash’s strategy was to goad a flip out of Hydra, back off, and then lunge forward to attack the arm while it’s up. Whiplash almost succeeds had it not been for the fact that Hydra can reset in less than a second. Whiplash rides up Hydra’s front and goes for a fucking ride. Before Whiplash can get its bearings straight after landing Hydra is on it and gets flip #2. Hydra chases Whiplash into the corner but Whiplash is able to get under Hydra this time and raises it up. Hydra falls off of the lifting arm so Whiplash can’t capitalize on the moment.
Whiplash tries the coaxing strategy again but its timing is off and it’s not able to strike Hydra how it wants to. Hydra gets under Whiplash again and flips it over this time violently flinging its lifting arm backwards. Whiplash is able to recover and gets underneath Hydra however this time it’s getting leverage with its fork not its arm so there’s no lift to be had. The bots separate and Whiplash dashes toward the red square. It’s driving erratically and its disc seems to be alternating between spinning and not spinning. Meanwhile Hydra is helpfully marking every imperfection in the goddamned floor. Whiplash returns to the battle and as it spins its disc up part of the upper armor of its lifting arm gets in the way and is thrown off. Whiplash’s strategy seems to change because now it’s spun around backwards and is trying to use its disc like a hammer saw. It manages to strike Hydra on its vulnerable lid but it doesn’t appear to do much damage. Hydra responds by easily getting underneath Whiplash and tossing it over.
Despite working fine literally a second ago Whiplash appears to be unable to self right; its arm is out of commission. Hydra backs into its starting square in perhaps the most ungraceful way possible while the ref counts out Whiplash. Much like Sawblaze before it Hydra has settled the score with its rival Whiplash. Who is Hydra’s next opponent? It’s Ribbot, another rematch!
WINNER: Hydra, KO
MAD CATTER (22) vs. HUGE (6)
This is the fight that was previewed in last week’s Road to the Giant Nut segment, the one where Chris Rose learned about dry ice. Mad Catter has had a respectable run this season after qualifying with a record of 2-2 and defeating Claw Viper in its opening tournament round. Claw Viper was hailed as one of the most significantly improved robots of the season and all it took was one blow from Mad Catter’s spinning bar to fuck that robot up and flip it over. Mad Catter is something of an unknown variable and that’s what makes it a dangerous opponent. Martin Mason said he was whipping out a special attachment for this fight that he called the “huge-poon” in an attempt to win over all of the macrophilia fans in the audience. In actuality the huge-poon is just an extender for Mad Catter’s lifting arm and the idea is to shove it in Huge’s face and either stop or slow its weapon down so Mad Catter can fill in the blanks and finish the rest of its strategy because I don’t know what the fuck it is.
For some reason the show keeps painting Huge as this troubled design but Huge has never really been “bad”. It’s always been meta breaking and effective. The problem is the fucking “selection committee” keeps doing shit like “lol what if we make Huge fight Deep Six the biggest spinner”. When you intentionally deal Huge shitty hands like that you can’t act surprised when the robot struggles to perform. Thankfully Huge hasn’t had any bullshit match ups this season and the result is a robot that is literally undefeated. Huge dismantled Skorpios in the previous round in a matter of seconds; all it took was a small handful of shots and Skorpios’ wheels were thrashed and its top armor was chopped into. For this fight Huge’s strategy is just to attack and avoid whatever tricks Mad Catter has up its sleeve. (Hint: It’s a big lifting arm a.k.a. a massive target.)
Mad Catter fires up at the start of the fight, literally. It has a flamethrower. Usually Mad Catter’s flames come from its companion minibot Gassy Cat but that robot has been absorbed into the main body. Huge worries not about the flame effects and goes to work on Mad Catter immediately blasting off part of the cat’s top armor. Somewhere in the fray the fuel cannister from Mad Catter is also dislodged because that thing just sorta rolls onto the floor spewing butane all over the fucking place. Yeah, that’s not a potential hazard at all. Mad Catter charges at Huge and takes a hit losing one of its two weapon belts in the process. Some robots that have multiple belts do so with multiple motors, however Mad Catter’s double belts are there for redundancy not distribution of power. Mad Catter can still strike at 100% even with one belt and moments later it lines up a run on Huge that eats an entire chunk out of its left tire.
Huge recovers and spins around in the center of the box, its blade hits the discarded fuel tank and blows it up. Unfortunately there’s no fireball. Huge lands a shot to Mad Catter’s front end that yanks the robot up and over resulting in Mad Catter deploying its thrashed lifting arm to right itself. Mad Catter’s weapon is still spinning and the robot dives back under Huge to land another hit. This time Mad Catter eats part of the bike tread on Huge’s wheel and as Huge lands a retaliatory hit something gets thrown into the ceiling because a light panel shatters and more glass rains down into the arena. If this were RoboGames someone would’ve died. Mad Catter starts trying to get a drive at Huge’s wheels but Huge keep spinning around as it’s circled. Eventually Mad Catter just says “fuck it” and floors it forward and gets whacked on its lid for its troubles.
Props to Mad Catter for hanging in there but I’m not seeing a path to victory here. Mad Catter tries to control Huge but Huge is just too awkwardly, well, huge. Huge lands another hit to Mad Catter and splits its lifting arm in half prompting Kenny to say “there goes the harpoon” because he’s not fully committed to saying “huge-poon” on television. This devastating front hit is enough to knock out Mad Catter’s weapon and it also appears to have stopped Huge’s blade as well? I can’t figure out why, all four of the belts powering Huge’s spinner are intact. Perhaps Jonathan Schultz powered it down because he’s done “enough” damage to Mad Catter? That’s a dangerous fucking game to play especially when Huge can’t do shit without its weapon. Huge can’t push, it can’t ram, it can’t do fucking anything. It needs an active weapon. There’s still 90 seconds left in this fight.
There’s a flicker of life from Huge’s blade but it stalls almost as quickly as it started spinning back up. Huge is just spinning around as Mad Catter fruitlessly tries to shove it into the wall. Chris Rose says there’s a minute to go in this fight and about ten seconds later he says there’s now 30 seconds meaning the editors chopped out a whole lot of fucking nothing from this fight and hid it with a jump cut to the drivers’ booth. Mad Catter spends the last few seconds of the match riding around underneath its opponent and as the fight ends and Huge backs itself into its starting square for removal from the arena it spins its blade back up to show the judges it still works. Fuck you, Huge.
WINNER: Huge, Judges’ Decision (3-0)
HYPERSHOCK (18) vs. RIPTIDE (2)
We don’t have main event fights at this stage in the show anymore but that hasn’t stopped the producers from upselling this fight and making it the last one of the episode. It might not be a “main event” but it’s as close as we’re going to get to having one. Going into this fight Hypershock has been selected by teams in the pits as the bot to beat with over 50% of the votes going to Will Bales’ robot. How many of those votes are genuine “I think Hypershock can win” and how many are “fuck Riptide” protest votes I cannot say but the pits have Will’s back for this one. Hypershock is going with its single big ass blade for this fight, a weapon that still looks brand new. I guess it’s now or never, might as well bring out the heavy guns. Hypershock had a relatively easy battle with Lucky in the previous round but this fight is taking it from 0 to 100 immediately.
5-0. Five knockouts. Average time is about a minute. The bane of everyone’s fucking existence, who else could it be than Riptide. As this monster has destroyed everything that fans hold dear the one sentiment that has come clear is this is a powerful robot with what might be the world’s worst team. What a fucking situation. Cheering for Riptide makes you a pariah in the BattleBots community unless you’re in the Facebook group where everyone posts bad takes on the regular. Riptide has looked unstoppable and some people think it might take someone like Minotaur, Sawblaze, or Hydra in the finals to stop this robot. Shatter tried in the Round of 32 but Riptide erased that robot from history. If no one had taken any pictures of Shatter you couldn’t prove it ever existed. Ethan Kurtz, a good sport as always, says “fuck the haters” when asked about his upcoming fight. Stay classy.
At the start of the fight it becomes apparent what Hypershock’s aim is: floor it forward, swerve, hit Riptide from the side. An excellent plan, the problem is Will executes it about a second too early and what could’ve been a killer side attack turns into Hypershock aiming its back right tire at Riptide who wastes no time plowing into its opponent and warping the tire hub. More importantly this hit flips Hypershock over and now’s not the time for Will’s fucking hijinx driving around inverted. Riptide follows through and hits Hypershock on its ass knocking it into the short corner. Hypershock is already struggling to drive and cannot avoid the oncoming Riptide who lands a side hit that stuns the neon robot. Hypershock turns to face Riptide and the robots meet weapon-to-weapon. What happens next can only be described as pure fucking magic.
Riptide’s weapon is spinning upward. Hypershock’s weapon is spinning downward on account of being upside down. Both weapons spin at around 250 MPH. When they meet that’s the equivalent of a goddamned 500 MPH collision. Hypershock gets fucking launched. The ceiling camera tries to keep Hypershock in shot but fails to do so because Hypershock flies higher than the camera can keep up with. Yes, Hypershock flies into the goddamned rafters and takes out a light in the process. I was there. I saw this hit. I can confirm it with my own one and a half eyes that Hypershock went into the ceiling. This is a BattleBots first. It was not a flipper that sent someone into the roof but a vertical spinner. Somewhere Jake Ewert is steaming mad because this was his goal. He wanted this more than anything. Riptide stole that record from Hydra’s grasp. That’s why Team Whyachi posted the Deathroll pictures and insisted Deathroll hit the roof. It didn’t. They were trying to claim they did it first when in actuality it was Riptide. Listen to the hosts, they’re jumping out of their seats in excitement. This is the real fucking deal.
Hypershock eventually comes down from outer space and belly flops onto the arena floor. Amazingly it still works after a 20+ foot tumble. It’s drive is all fucked up from its damaged wheel and it’s not landing any hits so when they meet head on Riptide knocks Hypershock across the Battlebox. Hypershock hits the wall and flips over and now both of its front tires are all jacked up. Those forks will be doing fucking nothing. Riptide pops Hypershock lightly and rolls it back over and before Hypershock can get away and regroup Riptide stays on its target and tears off Hypershock’s damaged right front wheel. Hypershock winds up positioned against Riptide’s side after this hit and the robot is desperately trying to shove its spinning ninja star thing into its opponent but its damaged forks won’t let it get underneath Riptide and feed it into its spinner. Riptide gets away, spins around, and rips off Hypershock’s other front tire.
Hypershock can still kinda move around with just its back tires but it turns like a freight truck now and Riptide is able to easily maneuver around it for the optimal strikes. It T-bones Hypershock and slams it into the wall knocking the robot up onto its ass leaning against the arena rails. There’s a chain hanging down out of Hypershock’s asshole and only one of its back tires are working. The robot is able to twitch and tumble down off the wall and just for moving again Riptide slams into Hypershock’s side and shaves off some more sparks. Sid, the weapon operator on Riptide, glances back at Will Bales to see if he’s telling Riptide to back off because I guess after “the Shrederator incident” someone put the fear of god into this team. Hypershock is dead in the corner and Riptide backs away allowing it to be counted out. Perhaps Hypershock was not the one destined to defeat this robot but it certainly put on one hell of a show. Riptide is now in the BattleBots record books… for better or worse.
WINNER: Riptide, KO
ROAD TO SOMETHING
Before getting into a brief recap of the evening’s events Chris Rose kisses the camera and welcomes everyone to Road to the Giant Nut. People are apparently saying this is one of the funniest segments that BattleBots has ever aired. I guess when you’re a pseudo-professional comedian your opinions on what is and is not funny differ from that of the general public. Chris is a big dumb doofus but I still love him. As Kenny goes over the fights we just saw he confirms that Riptide’s god shot did indeed send Hypershock into the roof and is the first time ever in BattleBots where that has happened. Jake Ewert is beside himself in the pits malding at the fact that he wasn’t the one to hit the roof first. All that engineering that went into Hydra, all that work. For nothing. Now if Jake manages to throw someone into the rafters he’ll just be yet another person to do so. Only the first person gets the fame and recognition.
As always there’s a “bot-opsy” to perform and the first team to come out from backstage is Jack Barker and Nick Mabey with what’s left of End Game. Nick looks alright but Jack looks like a sweaty boy, like he just ran five miles before coming to this interview. Nick has a bucket of broken parts in tow containing all of the forks and wedgelets that Copperhead plucked off of their robot during its fight. End Game looks to be in real bad shape but Nick is optimistic, he says everything inside the robot is still fully functional and after popping the lid off of the robot he turns one of the tires and the casing of the brushless motor in the drive pod also spins along with it. He says the weapon motors are still fine too but when he tries to manually spin the disc there’s a crunching sound that can be heard; that’s all of the weapon’s roller bearings that shattered upon impact with Copperhead’s drum. And speaking of impacts get a load of the literal goddamned chunks of steel busted off of End Game’s disc! That thing is definitely being retired and replaced with a new disc for next season.
This episode of Road to the Giant Nut is unique in that there are two bot-opsies so in comes Will Bales with Kyle Awner bringing in Hypershock on what is arguably a giant gurney. Will is holding some parts torn off of Hypershock and helpfully adds a piece of it to the bucket that the End Game team brought in. Chris Rose asks Will if that’s the hardest Hypershock has ever been hit. Will says that’s the hardest anyone has ever been hit period. Props to Hypershock for staying alive after coming down from that massive shot. If the robot wasn’t already crippled maybe it could’ve gotten back in the fight and turned the tides. Will says the sport is evolving toward “no nonsense front ends” on robots and cites Riptide, Copperhead, and Minotaur – who are all still in the tournament – as examples. Chris jokes about what they’d say about robots from the 2015 season and the editors helpfully illustrate this point by showing us shit like Plan X versus Wrecks which was a cripple fight to end all cripple fights. They also flash a moment of Sweet Revenge versus Radioactive which was a fight that was so bad the producers wound up feeding Radioactive to Tombstone as punishment.
Rather than interview a couple of teams who will be fighting in the quarterfinals next week Chris and Kenny bring out two teams who could potentially meet up in the finals if they play their cards right, it’s Jake Ewert and Ethan Kurtz. I can only imagine they did this to rub it in Jake’s face that he wasn’t the first person to hit the ceiling because when Jake opens his mouth the first thing he does is try to weasel his way into history by insinuating that he launched Deathroll into the roof. No dude, you didn’t make the cut. I’m sorry but Hydra will not be in the record books for highest flip. You stole the record from Bronco and no more than a day later (going by the filming schedule) Riptide showed up to shit all over that and claim the record for itself. Ethan talks about how his weapon is wider and that allows for more wiggle room on hits; it weighs 55 pounds and spins at 250 MPH (allegedly). He’s confident that he can beat Copperhead but notes that Copperhead’s front little fork/wedge things make him uneasy. Meanwhile Jake basically says “I beat Ribbot last year I can do it again”.
I can’t believe it but we’re already down to just eight remaining robots and all four top seeds are still in the game. I can’t remember the last time this happened, maybe this is the first time it ever has! Not only are all four top seeds still in but Ribbot coming in at #28 is hanging in there too as the lowest seeded robot who hasn’t been eliminated. Ribbot will rematch Hydra and Jake Ewert suspects Ribbot might go with its vertical spinner instead of the horizontal which it used against Hydra last season. Minotaur gets a rematch with Sawblaze to see if it can win this time. Huge will face Witch Doctor in the only predicted fight I got right this season and if I’m correct Witch Doctor should win though with how strong Huge has been I’m starting to doubt that. Finally Riptide will face Copperhead in a showdown of the drums to see who can bang out the better beat. Since we’re starting with the quarterfinals next week we won’t know who fights who later on until these first four battles are done. We’ve been getting eight fights per episode but there’s only going to be seven next week so maybe we’ll get an exhibition battle or something to fill some time before the championship.
That’s all for BattleBots Update this week! Next week a champion will be crowned and then the week after that this blog will be radio silent as I take a fucking break. This season started back in January and with the exception of a two week break after episode 10 I’ve been doing this weekly nonstop. I’ve got bigger aspirations and other projects to work on, ones that I might plug on the BBU Facebook page when they are ready in case there’s any crossover interest in the video game stuff I also do. If you want to support BattleBots Update you can do so with a monthly pledge on Patreon or a one-time donation with Ko-Fi. Also you can follow BBU on the aforementioned Facebook page for updates and everything else.
See you next week when someone gets that goddamned Nut!