Man is it already Friday again? I mean you’re reading this on Friday but it’s Monday for me right now, and it’ll probably be Tuesday before my stupid ADHD brain can finish this write-up and then it’ll be Wednesday by the time I take all the video stills and edit them into this article. (Update: It was actually Thursday.) I remember when I used to be able to knock these posts out in a single day. I miss that. What changed? We got more fights per episode, that’s what. Also more episodes per season and that just makes the task seem all the more daunting. I remember back in 2015 we had six episodes. That was easy peasy. Now the episodes are two hours long and we have (I think) 19 or 20 of them for the season. I’m afraid there’s not enough Monsters and hoagies in the world to fuel this website.
Last week the first round of four Fight Nights officially wrapped up; we’ve seen everybody at least once now. We are moving into round two where those with a 1-0 start are going to be gunning to keep that momentum going while the robots on the other side with an 0-1 start are going to be playing double time to catch up and get a late start to their season. We get a proper showdown of the sport’s best drivers when Free Shipping and Minotaur face off. Ribbot looks to get a much needed first win over Claw Viper who had a strong start to its season a couple weeks ago. Witch Doctor and Fusion battle it out in a fight that’s sure to see smoke and fire. In the main event Mad Catter and Riptide see who has the strongest spinner after both of them had quick KO’s in round one. And there’s an exhibition fight this episode that pits the comical Doomba against the mechanized Double Tap!
Free Shipping and Minotaur are up first.
FREE SHIPPING vs. MINOTAUR
I said it, the hosts said it, Marco from the Minotaur team says it: this is going to be a driving match. Both Gary Gin and Daniel Freitas are among the most seasoned drivers in BattleBots and they each bring their own driving style to the table here. Watch for Free Shipping to act like a bulldozer and for Minotaur to swerve around and aim for the vulnerable sides of Free Shipping. Free Shipping is 1-0 after scoring an uncommon W against Gigabyte in a battle that saw Free Shipping really strut its stuff as its alter ego Original Sin. Sporting two heavy steel wedges for the fight Free Shipping rammed into Gigabyte, scooped it up, and ricocheted it into the wall. It also helps that Gigabyte’s new drivers kept running it into the fucking wall, too. Free Shipping took the win but its rinky dink “vertical spinner” was more of an afterthought in that fight. Now with its forklift-style attachments we might see some more bite from the weapon.
Minotaur usually loses its first fight of the season for some reason. I don’t know what’s up but the team always has those first fight jitters. No loss they ever take will be as bad as the time Sawblaze sliced Minotaur’s gut open and fried all of its goddamned batteries though. Minotaur changed the course of history this season however when it was able to actually win its first match of the year against reigning champion Tantrum no less! Minotaur bravely rode into battle against the current winner of the Giant Nut and with an expert shot to Tantrum’s ass flipped the champ over and put the pressure on it. Not wanting Tantrum to be able to get back into the fight Minotaur came in and thrashed Tantrum’s srimech ultimately leaving it dead on the arena floor upside down. Daniel Freitas proceeded to shit hit pants in excitement over the win.
As the bots were loaded into the arena for this fight the person sitting next to me in the crowd asked my thoughts on the match-up. I said I expected Minotaur to eventually win the fight but to watch for Free Shipping to perform a mad rush at the bull as soon as the light turns green. I know my shit because that’s literally exactly what happens here; Free Shipping slams on the gas and floors it straight into Minotaur the impact of which being hard enough to topple the charging bull right onto its lid. In less than a second however Minotaur is able to gyro up with its drum and right itself but these are early control and aggression points for Free Shipping right out of the gate. Free Shipping retreats to get some distance between it and Minotaur so it can presumably line up another run. Minotaur’s not letting Free Shipping get that distance however and chases it down before delivering a hit to the front end of the bot. This wasn’t even a solid blow and somehow it’s enough to shear off Free Shipping’s left fork. Gary, I think you fucked this one up my man.
Free Shipping backs away and gases up its flamethrower and instead of a massive plume of fire there’s a shitload of sparks that shoot out from the robot instead almost as if the igniter is all screwed up. Minotaur socks Free Shipping once again and perfectly pops the forklift into the air. Free Shipping lands and hangs in close to its opponent prompting Minotaur to pivot on the spot. This tight turning causes Minotaur to ease up onto one side and Daniel turns a little too sharply and rolls Minotaur onto its back. Free Shipping takes the opening to slam Minotaur into the wall and if you watch closely you’ll see Free Shipping’s pissant vertical spinner come to a complete stop the minute it touches Minotaur. Look, I get that Free Shipping’s “weapon” is an afterthought that’s there purely to satisfy the active weapon rule and the robot really is just a wedge but at least make the spinner believable, Gary. If your weapon looks like I can reach in there myself and stop it with my hand then it’s not a weapon.
Minotaur eventually gets back right ways up and snags Free Shipping’s front left wheel ripping up part of the tread. Finally Minotaur is hitting its targets. Free Shipping drives into Minotaur again and hits it with its bad corner and winds up riding up on top of its opponent allowing Minotaur to get at its wheels again making the damage to its front left tire even worse. Free Shipping gets nailed by the Pulverizer which temporarily halts its charge and allows Minotaur to get in close and take a pot shot or two. Minotaur is now hitting Free Shipping’s wheels exclusively and has damaged two more of them causing Free Shipping to ride around like a pimpmobile that just blew its hydraulics trying to show off to some big booty bitches.
The two robots posture themselves in the middle of the arena each trying to find an opening on their opponent. Minotaur wins out and takes Free Shipping into the wall where its ass end gets exposed to Minotaur. Minotaur wastes no time and kicks a dent right into Free Shipping’s ass. The hit nearly flips Free Shipping over but it’s able to ride along the wall and use a hit from the Pulverizer to keep it from toppling onto its lid. Minotaur is still right there however and pounds Free Shipping from underneath the hammer hazard. As Free Shipping tumbles off of Minotaur its front right wheel catches Minotaur’s drum and just sorta pops off. This really isn’t a problem for Free Shipping because we’ve seen this goddamned thing scoot around on literally one fucking wheel before but this is major points for Minotaur.
Free Shipping cruises across the box to get away from Minotaur and as it spins around it bumps the wall over near where Emulsifier spontaneously died while fighting Malice last week. Free Shipping also stops working when it hits this position. Gary Gin starts looking over his transmitter wondering what the fuck is going on but no amount of toggling switches and gunning the throttle is able to get Free Shipping away from that short corner. Is that like a radio dead zone or something? That’s over near where the hazard operators are sitting, does one of them have a Nintendo 3DS whose wifi is fucking up the signals? I mean that’s the only explanation I can think of because the operators sure as shit aren’t doing their job because they only recently paid attention to free Horizon from the bumper rail last week after letting a half-dozen other robots get stuck on them.
Free Shipping could’ve stayed in this fight with just three wheels with no problems at all but since it’s died under suspicious circumstances by the Upper Deck it’s counted out and Minotaur reaches the halfway point of its qualifiers with a perfect record and two KO’s.
WINNER: Minotaur, KO
CLAW VIPER vs. RIBBOT
Against all odds Claw Viper is a robot that has not fallen to “alternate” status within BattleBots. Despite having an abysmal career record coming into this season it’s been able to stay as a main competitor. I guess someone on the selection committee must really like snakes (I promise I am not on the selection committee). For all the shit I’ve talked about Claw Viper it came out swinging this season and managed to defeat Ominous not by judges’ decision but by knock out. Claw Viper was immediately all over Ominous picking it up and slamming it around and one of the line drives Claw Viper made into the wall toppled Ominous over onto its front end in just the right angle so that none of Ominous’ wheels were on the ground and its self righter was useless. Kevin Milczewski has said twice now that he’s added more magnetic downforce to the robot which has improved its traction and speed. When it comes to the age old question “fucking magnets, how do they work” Kevin must know the answer.
Ribbot has been a popular standby since season 9. Every time this robot enters the arena you know someone’s going to get their ass kicked in spectacular fashion… even if that robot is Ribbot, because that’s what happened in its first fight. Yes, Ribbot started its season off with a loss to Witch Doctor in a brutal fight that saw Ribbot get absolutely thrashed. Forks came off, the weapon spun down, wheels were torn from their hubs, the whole nine yards. And yet David Jin and his crew were able to put this dumb frog robot back together and make it look like new again. Amazing what a few hours in the pits will do. I wonder if teams in the pits also run on Monsters and hoagies? Also speaking of stupid questions how much do you wanna bet the guy in the audience with the “Let’s Get Schwifty” hat threw said hat away when it came out that Rick and Morty creator Justin Roiland beats his significant other and sends raunchy texts to minors? Just thinking out loud here.
It takes Claw Viper literally one second to make it across the Battlebox. Ribbot tries to juke to the side but Claw Viper still catches its corner and rams into it. Ribbot’s weapon gets up to speed and starts death humming while Claw Viper awkwardly tries to grab onto its opponent and winds up tipping itself forward instead. But Claw Viper doesn’t give up on trying; there’s a lift in here somewhere, it just has to find it. Ribbot gets bullied into the corner and Claw Viper starts jiggling its lifting claw around looking for the perfect bite. It doesn’t quite get the grapple we saw it get on Ominous but it gets a “good enough” grab on Ribbot and floors it backward across the arena slamming Ribbot into the drivers’ booth windows and ripping a chunk out of the edge of the BattleBots sign. I swear, competitors just hate that stupid sign this season. The slam into the wall is so hard that one of Ribbot’s decorative eyes literally just pops out of the robot’s fucking head. I didn’t realize this was an episode of The Walking Dead that we were watching here.
Ribbot gets a retaliatory strike on Claw Viper’s vulnerable snakehole but it seems the hit did little damage as Claw Viper gets out of the corner. As Claw Viper tries to find another opening on Ribbot it becomes apparent that the major slam into the wall has done more damage than just fucking up the arena sign; Ribbot’s left side of drive has seized up. The drive chains are still there so perhaps the armor plating has been bent inward? Or maybe the axle is bent and locked up one tire which is causing the other to lock as well? It’s hard to tell from what little visual information I can glean from the fight but Ribbot is basically fucked if that’s the case. Claw Viper nudges Ribbot around and gets it propped up onto the spike strip. With its damaged drive Ribbot seems stuck and Kevin starts preemptively celebrating by shouting “STAY THERE”. He’s ready to take the KO win here but Ribbot is able to rock itself down onto the floor again where it starts aimlessly crabwalking in place. Chris Rose reminds us that this constitutes movement as per this season’s new ruleset. Joy.
Claw Viper scoots Ribbot around while trying to get a good angle and you can hear the pitch of Ribbot’s death hum increase as the weapon spins faster and faster. Claw Viper backs off because of this prompting the weapon operator for Ribbot to complain to the ref that Claw Viper isn’t doing anything. Yeah dude Kevin’s not just going to drive straight on into your fucking weapon; he’s not attacking because your shitty frog bot keeps directing Claw Viper away. The cameras cut back to the action and we see Claw Viper has gotten a little too close to Ribbot prompting Ribbot to land a hit to Claw Viper’s side. Claw Viper gets away and then just throws caution to the wind and plows into Ribbot head on weapon be damned. Ribbot starts shaving some pretty sparks off of Claw Viper but it’s not getting major engagement with its disc. The most Ribbot has done here is fuck up one of Claw Viper’s forks but Ribbot has so much ground clearance around its perimeter that this doesn’t really matter in the grand scheme of things.
Claw Viper eventually gets another grab on Ribbot and lifts it straight up slamming it right back into the same place on the drivers’ booth that it hit a minute or so ago. This hit is so gnarly that Ribbot’s disc fucks up an entire panel of the inner Lexan wall. This slam also causes Ribbot to flip over wherein we see that Ribbot is even less mobile upside down and one of its “rabbit ears” that prop the weapon up off the floor is broken causing its disc to hit the ground. Claw Viper scoops up Ribbot and slams it square into the screws of the Upper Deck and now Chris and Kenny have gone from doubtful of Claw Viper’s approach to cheering it on. Talk about some fucking fairweather fans. Ribbot really has no recourse here, its weapon is dragging on the floor causing the robot to bounce around and Claw Viper is genuinely unafraid of it and just keeps slamming Ribbot into whatever is closest. One of these slams causes Ribbot’s weapon to straight up die so that’s just boatloads of points for Claw Viper because we know how much of a boner the judges get when you disable someone’s primary weapon.
Ribbot is being carted around the arena by Claw Viper and it just can’t get away because it literally has only one good wheel in contact with the floor. Claw Viper goes for another grapple but the weight distribution is all wrong and Claw Viper just pivots forward instead. Kevin shrugs it off and goes for another scoop up and ram this time taking Ribbot into the arena entrance gate. By this point Ribbot is just laying down and taking the punishment because Claw Viper pushes it into the screws before picking it back up and taking it into the arena door again. I think Claw Viper is trying to tell the officials to stop the fight and pick up all this trash because the fight is over. Stop the clock. The fight goes to the judges and if you think they go with anyone other than Claw Viper you’re insane. Claw Viper is now, amazingly, 2-0. Ribbot? 0-2.
This fight delayed production for a while because Trey Roski came in to inspect the damage done to the inner wall of the arena and deemed it significant enough to warrant a repair on the fly. A crew came in and took apart the section of wall that Ribbot’s disc dug into and replaced it with a shiny new panel. The whole ordeal took about 20-30 minutes wherein Bil Dwyer tried on peoples’ hats to see who had a big head. I wish I was making that up.
WINNER: Claw Viper, Judges’ Decision (3-0)
LOCK-JAW vs. SAWBLAZE
Last year Lock-Jaw won a staggering zero fights. This is Donald Hutson we’re talking about here. The guy built fucking Diesector which won the super heavyweight title in BattleBots two times and you’re telling me he’s flunking out these days? Well, yeah. Lock-Jaw has a history of smoking itself out and burning up its weapon electronics and it managed to do that four fucking times in a row last season. This season all Lock-Jaw had to do was win one fight and it would immediately be doing better than it did last year and it achieved exactly that over Malice in a battle that… certainly was a battle. Malice’s weapon broke and then Lock-Jaw started smoking and its weapon died. As expected. Lock-Jaw can’t afford a fuck up of that magnitude against Sawblaze. As extra insurance Lock-Jaw has removed its forks, added some top armor, and reintroduced its minibot “Screw Job” to hopefully run interference against the mighty dragon.
Sawblaze is a consistent performer at BattleBots. It always qualifies for the main tournament and always makes a respectable run for the Giant Nut. It is a powerhouse and few robots have been able to stop it. For a while Sawblaze’s weakness was its exposed foam-filled tires however now Jamison Go has gotten rid of those and replaced them with solid rubber ones akin to those seen on bots like Black Dragon and Copperhead. These new wheels are also behind a little bit of side armor too so hitting them means getting through a layer of armor first. Sawblaze defeated Hypershock in its first outing in a win that was so dominant that Sawblaze’s weapon got stuck up Hypershock’s ass and in order to remove it the team had to take their hammer saw off and let Will Bales slice a hole into the bottom of his machine to get the weapon unstuck. It’s not the first time that’s happened at BattleBots but when it does it sends one hell of a goddamned message.
Both robots dive toward the drivers’ booth to give their weapons time to spin up. This means they hit each other prematurely and as Lock-Jaw crashes into Sawblaze’s massive plow its rubber tires cause it to bounce up and around and ultimately land on its head. Donald forewent his robot’s forks to add more armor to Lock-Jaw but no amount of upper armor in the world can save you if your robot presents its fucking belly to Sawblaze. We’ve seen the nasty shit Sawblaze does when it hits the undersides of its opponents. Let’s recap real quick: Minotaur lit the fuck up and Hypershock wouldn’t let go of the blade. Sawblaze corrals Lock-Jaw onto its plow and goes for a line drive straight into the blue square screws culminating in a firing of its hammer saw that digs into Lock-Jaw’s tender underside. Sawblaze repositions Lock-Jaw into a more favorable angle, spins up, and digs right in a second time. This shot kills Lock-Jaw’s back tire.
Lock-Jaw’s weapon starts grinding sparks off of Sawblaze’s steel plow but this is all show and no damage whatsoever. Lock-Jaw is taken to the red square screws this time and slammed into the wall behind the Upper Deck. Of note is Lock-Jaw’s minibot trying to get in on the action but not being fast enough to keep up. As Sawblaze backs away from Lock-Jaw its spinning blade hits the little robot and flings it away bending up its front screw wedge things. Whatever, the pieces of shit weren’t spinning anyways. How do you build a robot and then have its main function not work? Were the screws just turned off? If so, why? If the screws didn’t work and you knew they didn’t work why bring the fucking thing into the arena? So many questions and so few answers because I just don’t give a shit and Lock-Jaw is on the fast track to losing this battle anyways.
Sawblaze scoops up Lock-Jaw again and drives it back into the blue square while throwing a punch that flosses its hammer saw right between Lock-Jaw’s tires. For some reason this hit causes Sawblaze’s hammer saw to stop spinning. Is it broken, or has it just spun down out of pity? In either case it’s time for Lock-Jaw to capitalize on this and start scoring some points because amazingly its weapon hasn’t blown the fuck up yet. Knowing Lock-Jaw however and given how much time is left in this fight Donald’s got about twenty seconds left to land some hits before detonation. Lock-Jaw lands a shot to Sawblaze’s plow and the kickback is severe enough to flip the robot backward and onto the edge of the box that houses the screw hazard’s mechanical parts. I want to say maybe if the screws reversed it would free Lock-Jaw but the hazard looks fucking broken so there goes that.
Lock-Jaw looks a little worse for wear as only one of its four wheels are turning and it just so happens that the wheel that’s turning is the one furthest from the ground. Sawblaze leaves Lock-Jaw to die on the hazard but makes sure to chase down its minibot to prevent it from potentially helping out its comrade. Damn, Jamison. No chill. With Lock-Jaw dead and its minibot fully trapped and held down by Sawblaze’s nonfunctional hammer saw the ref does his KO countdown and declares Sawblaze the winner.
WINNER: Sawblaze, KO
BLIP vs. HUGE
Blip is kind of a big deal in BattleBots. This is a robot designed by Aren Hill who also designed Tantrum. You know, the reigning champion. The… one who lost to Minotaur earlier this season because last season totally wasn’t a fluke or anything. Aren’s already proven he can design championship-winning robots so all eyes have been on his new robot Blip, an electric flipper, to see what it can do. After reaching the quarterfinals last season Blip lost to Hydra because while it’s a good flipper it’s clearly not the best one. This season Blip lost right out of the gate when End Game absolutely wrecked it. Blip is showing its weaknesses and now it has to fight Huge? What the fuck is Blip going to do here? Aren’s replaced Blip’s wedge with some reverse pointed claws with the hopes that he can stab them into Huge’s wheels and flip them that way. Sure thing bub, all while Huge is raining down fury from above.
Huge is kinda like Minotaur in that for a while now it hasn’t been winning its first fights of the season. That changed this year when Huge came out against Shatter and won very convincingly by KO. Huge’s S-shaped blade cleaved entire chunks out of the hammer bot until it was totally dead and now Huge has its sights focused on Blip. Huge has changed up its equipment for this battle by donning its longest blade to ensure it reaches its opponent, 36 inches of 100% beef. Huge has also gone back to using its classic white UHMW plastic wheels since the added rigidity of Tegris will not be needed against an opponent who’s incapable of doing any damage to Huge. Going back to these plastic wheels will also afford Huge the ability to flex and bend in the event that Blip is able to toss Huge around. Shoutouts to Jonathan Schultz who does his best impression of the Jeb! meme in his B-roll shots before the fight.
Blip is fast on its feet to get across the box and start aiming for Huge’s wheels. Sensing this Huge starts to turn sharply in place to keep its spinning bar in the fray. The move succeeds and Huge lands a hit that separates the two robots. No major damage seems to have been done likely because Aren outfitted Blip with extra thick armor on the robot’s upper half. Blip gets a minor lift on Huge before Huge gets another minor shot on Blip. The two robots trade light blows for a few seconds until Blip is able to get Huge’s wheel onto its flipper and lets loose a flip that sends Huge twirling through the air. Huge lands badly and warps its wheel causing the judges to hold up a bunch of 5’s on their scorecards. Huge responds with a hit that seems to strike Blip’s regular armor because a shitload of sparks fly off of Blip from the collision. Blip returns the favor with another good toss on Huge.
So far this match is a hell of a lot closer than I was anticipating. My prediction coming into this fight was that Huge was just going to steamroll Blip and there was nothing the flipper could do to stop it but Blip is impressing me here by staying in the game and actually landing some shots. It’s front hook things aren’t doing a goddamned thing but thankfully to make up for it Blip’s flipping wedge is a giant piece of metal. A better attachment would’ve just been a huge ass spatula for Huge to ride up onto that Blip could then fire to fling Huge around. Huge is upside down now and its blade is spinning downward in this orientation. It lands a top shot to Blip prompting someone on Huge’s team to say a no-no word that has to be bleeped. Huge trades hits with Blip a couple more times until it lands a shot that just caves in Blip’s fucking skull and gets Huge’s big ass weapon embedded deep inside of Blip’s flipping wedge.
Huge tries to back Blip into the screws of the Upper Deck but even though it’s got chunks of bike tire bolted to it Huge isn’t built for pushing and traction. It can’t get Blip into the screws before the refs pause the fight and send in the third robot, Trey Roski, to sort this mess out. The hosts throw to commercial because now’s a good time to take a piss break. Thankfully this isn’t a repeat of Sawblaze vs. Hypershock and the two robots are successfully separated. The match resumes and Blip darts away only to spin around and come right back at Huge. Blip gets some perfect leverage on Huge, who’s parked there getting its weapon up to speed, but there’s no action from the flipper. Aren again gets Blip underneath Huge’s wheel and once again nothing. I think that power shot from Huge has knocked out Blip’s flipper. Maybe not the hit itself but all that yanking and jerking around couldn’t have been good for the cords that bind up to power the weapon especially if Blip was trying to fire its flipper to free itself on top of that. Well, Blip is fucked. This fight will now devolve into exactly what I was expecting from the start: Huge monster trucking over Blip while dragging its nuts all over Blip’s face.
Blip is doing its best to stay in the fight but really by burying itself under Huge’s wheels it’s just opening itself up to attack. Case in point Huge lands a big shot to Blip’s side that sends the robot reeling. It’s also around this time that Chris Rose notices Blip’s flipper is toast. At least he’s paying attention. Blip is able to use the gyroscopic forces of Huge’s weapon to get the robot to reel up onto one side but as Huge comes down it just hits Blip again and bends Blip’s right fork. Aren, who thinks he can still turn this shit show around, says “stop running away”. This prompts Jonathan to reply with “stop chasing” which isn’t the sick comeback that he thinks it is. Aren continues the conversation by saying “I don’t know what that means-” and is cut off when Huge chops off the fork it bent a second ago and throws it straight at the drivers’ booth. There’s your answer, Aren. Blip is able to shove Huge across the floor and slams it into the screws. Huge’s wheel is literally inches from falling into the gap behind the hazard. If this happened Huge would be completely fucked and the fight would be over but Huge lucks out and tumbles down off the side of the hazard without getting stuck in it.
Blip is now driving underneath Huge to avoid its weapon by way of never letting it get spun up. This dumb ass plan doesn’t work because Blip gets hit by the Killsaws which bump the robot up into Huge’s weapon. The entire universe is conspiring to shit on Blip. The fight clock runs down on this match and sends it to the judges. It seems like an open and shut case but there’s a statement to be made regarding how well Blip was driven. Yes that includes “driven straight into Huge’s weapon” but also throughout the fight and especially when it lost its flipper. Still, because Huge disabled its opponent’s primary weapon we can see this verdict coming from a mile away. No split. No adjudication needed. It’s Huge.
WINNER: Huge, Judges’ Decision (3-0)
WITCH DOCTOR vs. FUSION
And now two more robots at 1-0! Witch Doctor is probably my favorite robot from my favorite BattleBots team. When asked at the taping of this season I said I wanted Witch Doctor to win but felt that Minotaur would probably take the Giant Nut. Does that mean I picked two robots? Maybe. Witch Doctor is all new this year, complete rebuild. Andrea and Mike Gellatly got as far as they possibly could with their previous iteration of this robot. That means they got second place. Obviously upgrading and revamping the robot means you’ll make it even further so that leaves only one rank left: champion. Witch Doctor is now running brushless motors behind its killer weapon and topped it out at 250 MPH the maximum allowed by the BattleBots rules. It used this new more powerful weapon with great success as it totally killed Ribbot and scored a win by knock out.
Fusion is a robot that just kind of stumbles into wins. I know every robot needs a driver but really I feel Reese Ewert is more of a “supervisor” when it comes to Fusion; he just watches it and kind of guides it along but really the robot just goes where it wants to go. Fusion’s gimmick is that it packs two kinds of punches by way of a double vertical disc spinner and a horizontal spinner. Planning for Fusion is difficult because it can kill you two different ways and most teams, Witch Doctor included, can only ever plan for one. In this case Witch Doctor planned for the horizontal attack and this leaves it open to the vertical spinner because just look at that fucking ground clearance. Fusion won a decision over Emulsifier a few weeks ago after both robots ended the match totally battered. Fusion had the bigger hits though and that was enough for the win.
Witch Doctor goes for the drivers’ booth while Fusion comes out straight ahead revving both of its spinners up to speed. Fusion hits a seam in the floor however which affords Witch Doctor about a second of weakness to try to get in close and attack. Reese said his plan was to be offensive, rather than defensive, with his vertical spinner for this fight and within the first exchange you can see why; Witch Doctor’s plow has way too much ground clearance and those floor-scraping teeth on Fusion’s front end effortlessly defeat the plow. Fusion lands a shot to Witch Doctor’s front in that splits its massive plow right down the middle at its weakest point and sends the robot ass over head doing a complete backflip. Witch Doctor lands on its wheels but already I think Mike Gellatly is thinking to himself that this plow business was a fucking stupid idea. The real money shot would’ve come with having Witch Doctor’s standard configuration to give it the most reach possible. Instead Witch Doctor is taking ass rammings from a upper C-tier robot.
Fusion is just passively landing shots now because every time Witch Doctor comes at it Fusion just turns to face its opponent and lets its vertical spinner do the talking. Witch Doctor is trying to drive circles around Fusion while staying in close but winds up getting too close and opening itself up to attack. Witch Doctor tries to come in for another attack but is deflected away by Fusion, however it appears this hit disables Fusion’s vertical spinner because it stops as soon as it delivers its massive blow. That whole “upper C-tier robot” thing is really starting to show now. This reduces Fusion to attacking with its horizontal spinner which is what Witch Doctor wanted all along because that plow, even in its busted up and warped state, will successfully knock Fusion away and allow Witch Doctor to land some hits with its spinner. The fight takes a turn as Fusion starts getting bounced around the arena and with one particularly hard shot you can hear a piece of shrapnel ricochet around the arena. I think that was a whole ass tooth from Fusion’s spinner.
Witch Doctor rams into Fusion and knocks it across the box. Fusion skids into the Upper Deck and expends all of its horizontal’s energy into the hazard and as Fusion drives away it takes a couple seconds for it to get going again. Given how hard Reese drives this thing and the sheer amount of amperage he’s pulling through that robot’s electronics it would not surprise me in the slightest to know that this is causing the robot to “age prematurely” in real time. Witch Doctor stays on the attack and lands another hit to Fusion. This hit is dealt perpendicularly to Fusion’s weapon and the kickback causes Witch Doctor’s weapon to seize up and stop working. God damn everything is fucking breaking in this fight. Fusion’s horizontal spinner is still working and as the bots collide again an entire chunk of Witch Doctor’s plow is ripped off and thrown at the wall. Then the rest of that entire fucking half of the plow is ripped straight off the robot’s frame. God damn, everything is fucking breaking in this fight!
The front left wheel on Witch Doctor is now no longer protected by anything and almost immediately Fusion reaches around the side of the robot to snipe the tire and rip some pieces out of it. A follow up shot rips half of the tread off and as Witch Doctor feverishly pushes against Fusion the rest of the tread peels off under the intense friction. Witch Doctor is controlling the pace of this fight right now but Fusion is still a threat and it’s landing some serious blows to Witch Doctor. If it can rip off the other half of that plow and expose Witch Doctor’s other front wheel that could be a prime target. As much as I want to see more destruction in this fight Fusion is finally starting to slow down and after a shunt from Witch Doctor flips it over Fusion rips a fart and a puff of smoke comes out of the robot. Now I’m waiting for the fire. We all are. We know it’s coming.
It looks like that puff of smoke was something corresponding to Fusion’s horizontal disc because it’s stopped spinning… or has it? After getting pushed into the corner of the box near one of Witch Doctor’s Pulverizers the spinner fires back up! Fusion looks like it’s lost a side of drive though so, you know, maybe that’s what the smoke was all about. Witch Doctor only has about 20 seconds to make some moves and it tries to get Fusion under the Pulverizer, Andrea even tells the person responsible for pushing the buttons to get ready. Fusion is able to fight against being shoved around somewhat and winds up getting stuck against the arena railing. Witch Doctor can’t get it under the hazard in time and the fight goes to the judges.
This fight was a hell of a lot closer than I was originally expecting it to be. I think I speak for everyone here. I’m pretty sure most of us just thought Witch Doctor was going to come in, clip the lid on Fusion’s top panel, and Fusion would blow up and start smoking everywhere like it always fucking does. But not only did Fusion not smoke out during this fight it took the upper hand thanks to Witch Doctor’s shitty plow having a foot of ground clearance underneath it. It’s a split decision and honestly that comes as no surprise to me because you could flip a goddamned coin to determine a winner and I’d still be fine with that. The judges score in favor of Witch Doctor however likely fueled in part by Fusion’s vertical spinner breaking down.
WINNER: Witch Doctor, Judges’ Decision (2-1)
DOOMBA vs. DOUBLE TAP
This next fight has no bearing on the Fight Night qualifiers as neither robot is in the running to make it into the main tournament. This is an exhibition fight between two newcomers looking to get a feel for battle and I guess to “impress” the selection committee enough into accepting them as full competitors next season? I was going to hypothesize that there weren’t any newbies in the “top 50” until I remembered that shit like Emulsifier and Banshee exist. Doomba is a robot whose whole gimmick is “lol Roomba” because that’s not a tired fucking joke at all. It’s hard to say whether this is a serious entrant or not because it’s armed with a goddamned chainsaw. It’s a “brushless chainsaw” but it’s still a fucking chainsaw. But then it’s also sporting a 20 pound undercutting disc salvaged from former competitor SMEE so it’s theoretically capable of doing damage. I mean, SMEE didn’t, but maybe if this disc is put into use by a robot with a marginally less stupid design perhaps it could?
Double Tap was turning heads even before this season aired because of its weapon which is said to be unlike anything we’ve seen before. The weapon is a spinning bar with retractable pick axes so that when the weapon makes contact with an opponent the axes unfurl and strike again with just as much force, hence “double tap”. That’s fine and dandy but you can temporarily forget about all of that because A) the weapon Double Tap is using for this fight doesn’t do that and B) the team hasn’t yet perfected the whole “axes swing out from the blade and retract back in” thing. At least they have a working robot though so I can’t make fun of them too much. What I can make fun of is how team captain Jonathan Collazo confuses the terms “horizontal” and “vertical” before the fight referring to his robot’s bar spinner as “vertical”. We learned this shit in like second goddamned grade.
Seconds before the fight starts Doomba driver Brice Farrell says he might abandon the box rush strategy if Double Tap gets up to speed too quickly. I’m expecting some speed out of the little guy so imagine my surprise when the fight starts and Double Tap is fucking faster than goddamned Doomba. Also Double Tap’s weapon takes a long ass time to spin up so even with the world’s worst drivetrain I think Doomba still could’ve committed to the box rush if it wanted to. Doomba has its undercutter up to speed and maneuvers toward Double Tap but Double Tap has the clear reach advantage and strikes Doomba first completely fucking up its upper lifting apparatus and knocking its top armor panel loose. Doomba also loses its right side of drive leaving the robot to aimlessly spin around on top of the Killsaw slots. Thanks to this year’s rules though this counts as movement so if Double Tap wants to win this it should think about coming in and, you know, double tapping Doomba instead of doing whatever the fuck it’s currently doing.
Doomba starts to smoke but this is intentional I think because it’s trying to ignite its flamethrower; you can see a small flash of fire come out of the nozzle on the lifter. As this is going on however Doomba’s upper armor just sorta falls off on its own exposing literally all of the robot’s guts to the open air. Double Tap cruises on in and smacks Doomba a second time and hits the front armor of the robot killing it outright. I’m not even going to try and describe what all that exposed shit on Doomba is so let’s just call it “important stuff” and leave it at that. Double Tap’s second shot was expertly placed, probably unintentionally, because it was right on the panel of armor containing Doomba’s power switches. Most of the wires that get ripped out of the side of the robot all correspond to its master power controls so if Doomba wasn’t killed from damage alone having its power source ripped out of its asshole definitely would’ve killed it.
According to Brice, Double Tap was not who Doomba was supposed to be fighting for this match. Doomba’s actual opponent was supposed to be the new Rusty but I believe Dave Eaton couldn’t get Rusty operational in time so Double Tap was substituted in. Doomba had already been configured with its setup to deal with hammer bots though and there was no time to change the robot so they just had to go with what they had. Given how easily Double Tap dislodged Doomba’s top armor panel I don’t think it would’ve protected the robot much from Rusty anyways so any way you slice it Doomba was, uh, doomed to lose. Real championship material you got there, Brice.
WINNER: Double Tap, KO
MAD CATTER vs. RIPTIDE
This week’s main event has a story behind it and I can’t help but wonder if this match-up was done intentionally for that reason. Everyone will recognize Martin Mason as the captain of Mad Catter but only recently has the robot’s driver Calvin Iba come into the spotlight. Calvin is fantastic at what he does and he mans championship-tier robots in smaller weight classes namely the beetleweight (3 pound) division. He designed and drives Lynx and when you see Lynx you’ll probably say “hey I’ve seen that design before somewhere”. Yeah, Riptide is just a bigger version of Lynx painted teal. Calvin has some choice words to say to Ethan Kurtz and the Riptide team but he’s chosen to let Mad Catter do the talking. Mad Catter’s outfit for this battle includes a long fork and a short spatula the idea being that the long fork slides underneath Riptide to control it and the spatula tees it up for a big hit from the robot’s spinner. Mad Catter might be outgunned here but Calvin just out-drove Matt Vasquez and Whiplash in round one, anything is possible here.
Everyone likes to point fingers and call Jake Ewert an asshole or whatever but I see those fingers suspiciously absent when Ethan Kurtz shows up to the arena. This guy straight up denounces last year’s “Rookie of the Year” award because it was given to two teams, Glitch and Riptide. “The award is Rookie of the Year,” says Ethan with all the fervor of someone correcting you on pronoun usage. Ethan got to settle the score with Glitch in round one when in a matter of six goddamned seconds Riptide had put Glitch onto its back and out of the fight. Now he finds himself in a showdown with Mad Catter and Calvin Iba, a man who many people claim built the robot that Ethan and his team “copied” and turned into Riptide. Ethan navigates the issue carefully and explains that there’s a world of difference between building something that’s 3 pounds and something that’s 250 pounds. He’s not wrong, but come on dude it’s the same design. You just Ice Ice Baby’d Calvin’s Under Pressure.
Both robots take about four seconds to get their weapons up to speed so neither one wants to engage with the other before that four second threshold is cleared. Mad Catter jukes toward the drivers’ booth; Riptide erratically scoots around in the arena. Eventually enough time passes – just about – and the robots attack each other in the middle of the arena. Mad Catter comes out ahead in this exchange by holding its ground and kicking Riptide away exposing its back end in the process. You can see Calvin just gun it straight for Riptide’s asshole but Riptide whips around in place and Mad Catter catches an angled shot from Riptide that sends it twisting through the air. Mad Catter lands and Riptide hits it from the front corner bending Mad Catter’s spatula attachment out to the side. It still has the fork though so it can at least control Riptide and just as I say that Riptide rides up the fork and takes a hit from Mad Catter knocking it backward and ripping off Riptide’s right fork.
Mad Catter gets backed against the screws by its own damn hand and Riptide catches it and cuts off its escape path. Riptide creeps forward and wins an exchange of its own kicking Mad Catter into the screw box and knocking that spatula thing off. Mad Catter topples over sideways and that’s it. That’s the opening Riptide needs to start its endless kill combo. Mad Catter rebounds from a second attack and starts smoking, Riptide punches it square in the goddamned face again and as Mad Catter flips back over even more smoke comes out of it followed by a brief explosion so something important inside Mad Catter just fucking broke. Mad Catter lands on its wheels but it doesn’t matter, Riptide is on its ass and landing shot after shot. Mad Catter flips and rolls around and somewhere in the chaos Riptide must’ve hit the back left tire because that just sorta plops out of Mad Catter shortly before the robot gets trapped behind the bumper next to the screws.
As the ref counts out Mad Catter, Riptide goes and chases down the minibot specifically to spite Lisa Winter for her opening skit last week. The fight is called and Riptide is the winner and while doing his post fight interview Ethan has all the grace and sportsmanship that saying the word “fuck” mid-sentence on an all ages program can show. Maybe Ethan stole Lynx’s design. Maybe he didn’t. Whatever the case is he’s got one hell of a heavy-hitting robot on his hands here. Will Riptide go 4-0 for the qualifiers? One of its remaining opponents is Captain Shrederator so we know at least a 3-1 finish is doable in a worst case scenario.
WINNER: Riptide, KO
We are now a third of the way through the Fight Night rounds! So far we’ve seen some shake-ups with Blip and Tantrum both going winless so far, though Tantrum hasn’t had its second fight yet so we won’t know if both robots will reach 0-2 until next week when Tantrum gets a rematch with Hydra in what I’m absolutely positive won’t be another drama-laden main event fight. It’s not like that fight won’t reopen old wounds and allow bad faith arguments to run rampant on social media and Reddit again or anything. Nope. Not at all. But getting back to the point I was talking about it’s nice to see robots like Sawblaze and Witch Doctor get solid starts to the season and reach the halfway point with two wins apiece. Meanwhile it’s kinda sad to see both Blip and Ribbot with no wins so far. Ribbot was seeded #2 last year and Blip reached the quarterfinals. Every fight has to have a loser, though.
Looking to the official BattleBots website for next week’s schedule it looks like Banshee is returning to do battle with Valkyrie. Great, a flipper that doesn’t work and a robot with a new driver who’s afraid to go all in. Skorpios is back and is fighting Big Dill so unless something goes majorly wrong that’s a preemptive 2-0 for Skorpios. The star-crossed Captain Shrederator fights Hijinx so that means we’ll have two shitty spinners that barely work fighting each other to see who has the least worst weapon. Deathroll has had its underside patched up since fighting Cobalt and is scheduled to meet Switchback and depending upon whether or not Switchback wants to work this one could go either way. What I’m looking forward to however is Ripperoni versus End Game; this is the former champion with a killer spinner versus a new breed of vertical spinner. It’ll be a real meeting of the minds.
That’s going to do it for BattleBots Update this week, I can’t write anymore about the episode. I’m done. I’m ready to hit Save and then post this nonsense. All this talk about beetleweights in this episode makes me want to finish some of my rebuilds. It’s been a while. Anyways BattleBots Update is supported through reader contributions; I’m about to take down the Google ads because I am tired of looking at them so that means this will be 100% reader supported instead of, like, 99%. If you want to help BattleBots Update you can do so by pledging on Patreon or donating through Ko-Fi where I am very close to meeting the current silly goal. A huge thank you and welcome to Sajaho who’s joined the Patreon family, and another to Quantum who says it’s time to go snack on some AR500!
See you next week!