Normally I don’t comment all that much on the goings-on of the robot combat community but god damn after last week you guys really fucking hate Ethan Kurtz and Riptide. I’m talking multiple different posts on the /r/BattleBots subreddit, one of which that had to be locked because the discussion wasn’t civil enough. I have no idea why the second one is still open because it devolved into much of the same stuff but I’m not a moderator so whatever. The kid’s autistic and couldn’t read the room so he jokingly put his hand over Martin Mason’s face. Did Martin look like he was about to punch Ethan in the mouth? Yes. But it’s harmless. Chris Rose made a joke and Ethan went with it. Or maybe Ethan doesn’t have autism after all since that was allegedly cured somehow in which case yeah maybe he’s just a dolt I don’t know.
Speaking of divisive things that are tearing this community apart this week’s main event is a rematch between Hydra and Tantrum in a repeat of last year’s semifinals. Ask two fans who won that fight and you’ll get two different answers. You’ll probably also get downvoted a lot, too. Hydra dominated the fight with flips but Tantrum stayed aggressive and nipped part of Hydra’s flipper off. It was a split decision. People got heated. Those who argued that Hydra should’ve won the fight got astronomically more pissed off when Tantrum won the Giant Nut even going as far as to call the whole season a sham. Literally #NotMyPresident levels of fucking denial all over again. So yeah, this season… lookin’ good so far!
Anyways welcome back to BattleBots Update. If hate-filled community trash fires aren’t your thing and you’re here for the regular trash fires then I have good news for you, Captain Shrederator and Hijinx are in the episode and they are fighting each other! Former champion End Game is also doing battle with newcomer Ripperoni and both Rotator and Jackpot are back from their round one losses to see who gets their first win. Ripperoni and End Game are up first and for the past couple episodes Chris and Kenny have brought on a guest to commentate fights with them. This week’s guest is… Ethan Kurtz. Fuck me.
RIPPERONI vs. END GAME
It’s a bit strange that Ripperoni, a newcomer, is being paired up with End Game, a former champion. You’d think Ripperoni’s fight schedule wouldn’t be as… intense. I know for a lot of the team members this isn’t their first year and for the team captain this isn’t her first robot but it’s kind of a dick move for BattleBots to be all “okay up first is Gruff and then after that, End Game!” But yeah, Gruff was Ripperoni’s first opponent and the robot didn’t perform as expected. This could’ve been a fight that the robot won but Ripperoni’s rear flywheel, which stabilizes the robot and prevents it from gyroing up onto one side as it turns, failed resulting in the machine just bouncing out of control all over the goddamned place. It made for an entertaining three minutes, at least. Hopefully Anna Zolnikov has figured out what caused the rear flywheel to fail because the robot simply will not survive being battered around by End Game for the entire fight.
End Game claimed the Giant Nut back in season 9 and last year it took home the first ever Golden Bolt. It’s won a lot of hardware and competitors are wise to fear this thing. In an era without Bite Force to be afraid of End Game has seemingly filled that gap and is a design close enough to Bite Force to elicit the same concerns from other teams. For example, End Game battled Blip in its season opener and Blip just did not stand a chance. Blip isn’t a shove-over, either; Blip is one of Aren Hill’s robots and his other bot Tantrum is the current champion. End Game took it out without even so much as a scratch and made that shit look easy. Coming into this fight however End Game has the dumbest fucking forks I have ever seen. They are literally longer than the robot’s chassis. End Game’s spinning disc is set so far back into the field of forks that Ripperoni is never going to get hit with the damn thing.
Here’s the thing with forks, they get stuck in the Killsaw slots if you’re not careful. Jack Barker and Nick Mabey either forgot about this or thought they were “too good” to get stuck in the hazard so I’ll admit I had a hearty laugh at their expense while at the taping of the show when End Game immediately gets trapped in the goddamned Killsaws. Yeah those ten foot long forks don’t seem like such a good idea now, do they? Ripperoni doesn’t waste a second here, it sees its opening and slams into End Game’s right side going full blast and kicks a massive dent into the former champion. Because End Game’s stupid forks are so long all this does is twist the robot around and get it even more jammed in there. End Game’s ref says he’s gonna count them out but Ripperoni wants an actual fight here so it gets around to End Game’s backside and blows its asshole wide open knocking another massive dent into the robot’s rear end. These hits literally split End Game’s chassis open. God damn.
This second hit frees End Game from the Killsaws at the expense of a couple of its forks. Apparently the idea behind those forks was to entrap Ripperoni and get it to gyro around? I don’t see how that would’ve worked at all but it doesn’t matter now because that plan is out the window; what’s left of End Game’s forks are just hanging by a thread and flopping all over the place completely ineffective. Ripperoni has the reach advantage just as Anna said and in these head to head exchanges Ripperoni is hitting End Game before End Game can land a shot of its own. End Game gets hurled into the corner of the arena as Ripperoni retreats and spins its pizza disc back up to speed. Having no recourse other than to just go straight in for an attack End Game charges Ripperoni only to get swatted away landing on its weapon and flinging itself backwards into the screws.
There’s really only one big target for End Game to go after on Ripperoni and that’s Ripperoni’s large right wheel. To highlight how excellent of a driver Jack Barker is watch as End Game circles Ripperoni and lands a shot directly to this tire ripping the rubber open and exposing its inner foam. Ripperoni immediately flips out and ricochets off of its weapon and End Game comes in for a follow-up attack. Ripperoni tries to lean into this oncoming attack and deflect it away with its off center disc but it oversteers and End Game hits that same tire a second time bending it on its hub and axle and crippling it. Ripperoni is flung into the screws on the front of the Upper Deck but is able to right itself without being dragged up onto the hazard. As Ripperoni is flipping away it lands a light shot to End Game that rolls the champ backwards though it’s able to recover from this with ease.
End Game cruises back across the arena coming in for the kill on Ripperoni but right as the two bots are about to meet and let loose another chaotic combo End Game falters and comes to a stop. Frederick Moore on the Ripperoni team starts getting antsy because while Ripperoni is damaged it’s still moving and End Game is totally dead. The ref threatens to count out End Game for the second time as Nick and Jack fumble with their controls. Now that End Game has stopped moving you can get a real appreciation for how much damage Ripperoni can do, just look at that fucking gash in the backside of End Game. There’s another one on its right side, too. End Game seemed to be working fine after those two big opening hits but maybe something got dislodged or loose and all this jumping and flipping around just made it worse? End Game is out and Ripperoni against all odds has not only won its first fight but has beat a former champion.
WINNER: Ripperoni, KO
SWITCHBACK vs. DEATHROLL
Everything is bigger in Texas including how unimpressed I was with the new “Switchback 2.0”. I think last year Switchback was an interesting robot because of how it had this disc/drum hybrid weapon (apparently called a “drisc” but that name is stupid so I refuse to use it) on a pivoting rack so it could attack from the front, the back, and the top. The robot could also raise its weapon to spin it up freely without worrying about making early contact and not getting a full bite. These are all good things. Hell, these are all neat things! But Switchback has struggled even in the fights it wins. Earlier this season Switchback battled Banshee and did some nominal damage to the flipper’s armor however after self righting just once Switchback’s ability to pivot its weapon around seemed to die out and the weapon got stuck facing backwards. This threw off the weight balance of the robot and resulted in Switchback popping wheelies all over the goddamned place. Switchback is sporting a 40 pound eggbeater-style drum for this fight but I’m not so sure it’ll be enough to tackle Deathroll.
I love Deathroll. I have the audience signs to prove it. That’s mostly just because I have a soft spot for crocodilians though because I know this robot competed in China a few years ago as “Great White” and I was nonplussed toward it. But boy howdy when you apply that crocodile paint job to this robot I am sold. Deathroll was a rookie way back in 2016 and its hallmark seems to be taking a few years off here and there to refine its look. This worked out for the croc as in 2019 the robot reached the semifinals. Steven Martin hasn’t updated Deathroll between now and then and as Chris Rose points out this robot boldly has zero additional configurations. No forks, no wedges, no alternate blades, nothing. Normally I’d say I appreciate the balls on this robot but crocodiles have internal genitalia so I wouldn’t know. Deathroll is 0-1 this season as it lost to Cobalt in a brutal KO that saw Deathroll’s weapon motor take a kill shot. That’s about $1,000 down the drain. In one hit.
Switchback goes wide to avoid Deathroll while the croc plays it straight. You can play “Spot the E-Tek” with Deathroll so you know its weapon can get revved up pretty quickly and after just a few seconds the disc is already at maximum speed. Meanwhile Switchback’s drum is still getting going. Deathroll circles around behind Switchback and lands a hit to Switchback’s drum that seems to almost help it get spinning faster since the damn thing is taking its jolly old time. Deathroll gets in Switchback’s face again but the shape of Deathroll’s chassis combined with Switchback’s front forks is resulting in these two robots kind of getting stuck on each other. Switchback lands a counter shot that kicks the crocodile backwards but otherwise seems to do no damage. We’re even on the scorecards right now but eventually someone’s going to start pulling ahead.
It looks like it might be Deathroll who does so because it lands a hit to Switchback’s corner that flips the drum bot up onto its side where it struggles to self right since it’s not perfectly on its back. Deathroll stays in close to follow through with more hits and as Switchback lands back onto its wheels you can see the belt from its drum hanging loose out of the top of the bot. That corner shot that Deathroll landed happened to hit Switchback perfectly on its weapon pulley severing the belt meaning Switchback has little recourse in this fight other than mashing into Deathroll, absorbing a hit, and trying to flip it over using the forks attached to its weapon arm. Fat chance. Deathroll lands some glancing blows to Switchback’s slanted side armor panels until it’s able to topple Switchback over once again. Switchback’s weapon arm can still right the robot but as this is happening Deathroll sneaks in and pops Switchback right in the dick.
Switchback lands on its wheels and is noticeably slower. It’s weapon arm is also once again stuck in the reverse position. Deathroll is on its opponent but there’s little for it to hit since Switchback’s arm is backwards. It eventually snags a corner again and throws Switchback into the arena wall where the robot gets stuck on the railing directly underneath the Pulverizer. Deathroll lines up a shot and plows into Switchback’s splayed weapon arm ripping off one of the forks and giving the crowd a nice shower of sparks to oogle at. Deathroll’s team, in a moment of sportsmanship, doesn’t immediately hammer on the Pulverizer button over and over again and instead gauges what Greg Needel does to determine if this is it or if the fight is still on. Greg just sorta checks out of the fight and Deathroll backs off, sealing the victory and taking its win.
WINNER: Deathroll, KO
CAPTAIN SHREDERATOR vs. HIJINX
If I told you Captain Shrederator is 0-1 I’m sure you’d probably just nod your head and say “yeah that sounds about right”. Day in and day out Captain Shrederator returns to BattleBots like clockwork and winds up becoming cannon fodder. It has one impressive victory over Tombstone to its name from last year but aside from that you’re looking at only a couple more wins and over a dozen losses. One of those “couple more wins” was over Sharkoprion a couple seasons ago and knowing what I know about Nick Nave’s relationship with the builder of Sharko I’m sure that was a victory he savored. But getting back to this season Captain Shrederator opened with a loss to Quantum in a battle where exactly what you’d expect to see happen happened; Quantum bit down straight through the top of Captain Shrederator, hit something important, and Captain Shrederator went up in flames.
Hijinx has a 71 pound bar but I’m going to go ahead and toss out an “allegedly” before that one just to be safe because this robot hits like it has a 20 pound bar. You mean to tell me this robot is just nine pounds away from hitting the weapon weight limit? Yeah, and Captain Shrederator wins the Giant Nut this year, fuck off. I don’t know what the deal is with Hijinx but it’s an interesting design that just doesn’t bring the firepower needed to execute a proper attack plan. That said I still think it has the upper hand in this fight so Hijinx at 1-0 is probably about to go 2-0 in just a second. That first win came over Big Dill in a dreary battle that saw both robots lose their primary weapons resulting in a pushing match Hijinx isn’t designed to fight. Thankfully Big Dill crapped out and died meaning I wasn’t forced to feign interest in a potato fight for the Nth time in the history of this blog.
Captain Shrederator starts to spin up its outer shell and manages to drive straight into the fucking screws stopping any momentum it was building up. There are fucking directional indication lights on the top of this robot. I know the arena house lights are bright but if I can see Captain Shrederator’s fucking lights I know the team can so what’s the deal with this thing cruising into the goddamned wall constantly? This mishap allows Hijinx to get is horizontal blade up to speed and it delivers a hit to Captain Shrederator that pops the shell spinner up into the air. Captain Shrederator lands and of course there is no further motion from its weapon. Of course. Fuck this fight I hate it already.
Hijinx is in pursuit of Captain Shrederator with its blade roaring at full speed but as it approaches its seemingly disabled opponent the blade spins down and stops going. Hijinx turns around to poke at Captain Shrederator with its rear tail instead. Motherfucker just fucking hit them for god’s fucking sake! END THIS GODDAMNED FIGHT. Seriously there is no shame in chasing your opponent down and whaling on them to finish them off. That’s kind of what this sport is all about. Jen Herchenroeder says to driver Orion Beach to give Captain Shrederator a chance to spin up, though she has her doubts. NO. Just spin up your fucking blade and assassinate this thing. Hit it, that’s all you have to do. To quote a rightfully dead meme, use your primary weapon. Spin your pathetic 71 pound somehow non-damaging blade up and hit Captain Shrederator. Don’t fondle its balls with your fucking tail.
As the two robots slow dance into the short corner in front of Chris and Kenny you can see the fight clock behind the arena glass and it says there’s still 2:20 left in this fight. This is even worse than the Big Dill match. I swear to fucking god if this fight goes the distance with both of these robots doing fuck all then I’m going to accidentally write a slur or say some shit that’ll get me in serious trouble. That’s how pissed off I am. Captain Shrederator is stuck in the corner and Hijinx keeps prodding it with its tail successfully leveraging the captain up and pushing it into the arena wall. Chris Rose just now notices Hijinx’s weapon isn’t spinning. I guess it’s because the robot is literally right in front of him right now so he kind of has to notice it. He can’t just dick around on his phone while making shit up to commentate this awful fight.
There’s a spark of life in Hijinx’s blade but it’s short-lived because the weapon goes right back to doing nothing in like two seconds. Captain Shrederator is able to get out of the corner and brings the fight back into the center of the arena. The two bots stick on each other for a while until they separate wherein Hijinx seems to have lost drive on its right side. Cool so now we have a shell spinner that doesn’t work and another robot with no weapon that’s just barely meeting the definition of “mobile” as per the new rules. I hate it. I hate this fight. I hate these robots.
Captain Shrederator actually starts working again and its shell spins up to speed. Okay, this fight might be going places for once. Nick Nave is pointing to Hijinx and telling Brian to hit its wheels. Captain Shrederator tries to land a shot on Hijinx but Hijinx’s dumb little tail brushes it away. Captain Shrederator lands a glancing blow or two but no real damage is done. As Hijinx pivots around its left wheel suddenly loses all traction with the floor immobilizing it. Thank god. The wheel keeps spinning and I’m biting my fingernails hoping the robot doesn’t come back to life again because I checked out of this battle like two minutes ago. The KO count is completed and Captain Shrederator wins. I don’t even care. I’m just glad the fight’s over. Even Kenny Florian says “both bots are 1-1 but if I were the selection committee they’re 0-2”. Not even the hosts can muster enthusiasm for this. Piss off.
WINNER: Captain Shrederator, KO
ROTATOR vs. JACKPOT
Rotator is one of a few robots this season who have been completely redesigned and rebuilt. Witch Doctor also comes to mind, however unlike Witch Doctor Rotator hasn’t had the same early success this year. Rotator’s first fight against Hydra was actually postponed so Victor Soto could troubleshoot the apparent radio issues that he was only made aware of moments before the fight. According to his pre-fight segment he hasn’t solved those issues yet and his solution is to run Rotator’s weapon at half power. In an era of AR500 wedges and plows I don’t think 50% power is going to get you very far, dude. Rotator’s fight against Hydra went south for the spinner real fast when Hydra literally threw it entirely over the whole ass Upper Deck before hanging Rotator onto the arena spike strip to be counted out.
Rotator is 0-1 for this fight but so is its opponent Jackpot; in its first fight Jackpot battled Skorpios and a particularly hard shot from Jackpot kicked the robot backwards and onto its ass. Jackpot has a new srimech this year that doubles as a pair of lifting forks but for whatever reason the srimech just didn’t work and Jackpot’s underside was left exposed for Skorpios to land a couple cheap shots on knocking the robot out. This fight between Jackpot and Rotator is actually a rematch as a couple years back they met in the Round of 32 wherein Rotator defeated Jackpot in its then rookie season. Considering Rotator is having to run its weapon at only half power for this fight this could be Jeff Waters’ chance to settle the score.
Given the robots’ orientations in their starting squares my assumption was that Rotator would try to box rush Jackpot with its rear forks. That’s kind of the case but then at the halfway point Rotator whips around with its front end before going out to the side and eventually allowing Jackpot to get its disc up to speed. Not sure what the deal was there unless that was those radio issues Victor was talking about, regardless of that however Rotator and Jackpot connect with their weapons and the two bots separate following an explosion of sparks. Rotator gets right back in Jackpot’s face and you can see Victor pull off Rotator’s signature attack move which is to sway side to side and land multiple shots. It’s a success and Jackpot is knocked away. Rotator gives chase and lands more hits with its undercutter eventually slowing down Jackpot’s weapon and stopping it completely.
Jackpot is able to get away from Rotator and start spinning its disc again but as this is going on Rotator lands another shot that rips off right front armor panel and throws it at the wall. This hit also seems to fuck up the drivetrain on that same side of Jackpot and the robot is reduced to pivoting around in place. Jackpot is somewhat able to scoot around by gyroing up slightly and reversing direction but all this does is back it up against the wall and let Rotator start taking out its frustrations on Jackpot’s stupid face. Jackpot’s lifting forks are still functional and they pivot back and forth a little bit but all this achieves is pulling the BattleBots sign off of the arena wall meaning the editors can’t motion track ads for the live show onto it for the rest of the fight.
Amazingly, Jackpot is staying in this fight somehow; its weapon is still spinning and it’s even able to drift itself forward a little bit to keep up with Rotator. It’s still taking massive damage and probably losing the fight but as long as it’s alive it’s still a threat and Rotator can’t wait out a knockout countdown. Rotator gets its blade underneath Jackpot’s crippled right side and as Jackpot separates from Rotator I swear I see a little puff of smoke come out of the robot’s ass. That could just be Jackpot shitting itself to death though. After a couple more hits are landed by Rotator the smoke is more apparent and judging by the color and density that’s probably friction smoke? Jackpot is probably slacking its belts on its weapon pulley and it’s generating the smoke. Apparently the fire that flared up when Jackpot lost to Skorpios was also friction-related so it wouldn’t surprise me if that’s the case with this smoke too. A moment later if you look closely inside of Jackpot’s maw you’ll see a flash of actual fire however so maybe that’s the weapon motor cooking itself because Jackpot’s spinner seems to die pretty quickly after that.
Rotator dives under Jackpot and I guess the goal here is to hit Jackpot’s other side of drive but Rotator has so much leverage that its blade can’t hit Jackpot. Instead Rotator just tears up what’s left of the BattleBots sign. Jackpot is slammed into the wall and by this point its weapon has stopped spinning leaving it a sitting duck for Rotator to just cruise on in and destroy. Rotator swings wide to catch Jackpot and winds up coasting directly over the Killsaws in what has to be the hazard’s first major hit in the entirety of the fucking reboot seasons. Jackpot is hurt though and it’s parked on top of the Killsaws now taking shots from them whenever they decide to pop up. Jackpot’s other side of drive has locked up leaving the robot immobile. With less than 30 seconds to go on the clock Jackpot is counted out securing a first win for Rotator and continuing the robot’s domination over the Las Vegas home team.
WINNER: Rotator, KO
BIG DILL vs. SKORPIOS
Always on the precipice of being an alternate or a full competitor, Big Dill has been around for a few seasons now and has left a lot to be desired. It’s a lifting and control bot but it hasn’t been too good at doing either of those things. Perhaps that is why Emmanuel Carrillo and his robot came down with the vertical spinner disease and now Big Dill sports a 25 pound vertical spinning disc nestled between its forks… which are still lifting forks, of course. Big Dill removed the spinner and fought with extended plastic forks when it battled Hijinx and that should’ve been a slam dunk win for the control bot except it went out of control and caught fire yielding its win to Hijinx in the process. Emmanuel is desperate to prove that his robot will not be a disappointment for the third year running. Here’s hoping, but your opponent is Skorpios and it’s not going to be an underhanded pitch like Hijinx was.
Funny that Skorpios is Big Dill’s next opponent; Orion Beach is the driver of Hijinx but before he joined that team he was the original driver of Skorpios before Zach Lytle took the helm a few years ago. Skorpios is shown with a Diablo saw in all of its hero shots but make no mistake this robot is still sporting its hammer saw and still splitting heads with it. I think the Diablo blade just looks cooler even if its red coloration clashes with the rest of Skorpios’ paint job, that’s probably why the team equipped it for all the B-roll. Skorpios is 1-0 right now after defeated Jackpot by playing the ol’ Uno Reverse card on its opponent and kicking the full force of Jackpot’s weaponry straight back into it. Skorpios was able to land a couple of shots with its hammer saw but it looked noticeably weaker than it has in seasons past. Hopefully that was just a fluke because losing to Big Dill means you are automatically out of the tournament. It’s a new rule.
Skorpios comes at Big Dill from an awkward angle opening the side of its plow up to Big Dill’s forks. Big Dill actually gets under Skorpios and rams its spinning disc right into Skorpios’ tire and we see a little bit of rubber friction smoke but no major damage to the wheel. Skorpios, you get just one fuck up. Do it again and Big Dill will probably rip that whole fucking wheel off. Skorpios takes control of the fight next and lands a hit to Big Dill’s lifting forks with its hammer saw bending up the left one in the process. Skorpios again gets underneath Big Dill but it’s a swing and a miss. Big Dill also gets under Skorpios but isn’t able to feed its opponent up its forks and into its spinner.
The two robots seem to struggle with finding an opening on each other so all we get is a lot of cruising around and spinning in place. Skorpios’ hammer saw is generating enough gyroscopic force though to pull the robot up onto one side as it turns. Skorpios turns sharply and Big Dill is able to dive right past Skorpios’ plow and land a hit to the robot with its spinner flipping Skorpios over. Again Skorpios, you get one fuck up. Skorpios rights itself and a cloud of friction smoke emits from the robot as its hammer saw gets back up to speed again. Skorpios goes for another swing but it’s a miss. Big Dill retaliates with a glancing shot that tips Skorpios onto its face. Skorpios again rights itself and now goes on the offensive plowing straight toward Big Dill. Unfortunately this causes Skorpios to do a wheelie and drive straight into Big Dill’s weapon. Skorpios, this is Big Dill. Fucking relax.
Big Dill gets nudged into the blue square and its forks briefly get stuck under the rail near the screws. Big Dill frees itself and as Skorpios pops another wheelie and drags its asshole across Big Dill’s face the robot’s spinner stops and the whole robot just sits there. There we go. That’s the Big Dill I know. Big fucking Dill. Skorpios makes up for lost points by chopping a piece of top armor from Big Dill’s left side but this seems to do pretty much nothing. No smoke, no fire, Big Dill is just sitting there losing the fight it was arguably on track to win. Emmanuel hastily tries turning his radio off and on again like this was some episode of The IT Crowd but it doesn’t fix whatever’s ailing his robot. Big Dill blows it and gives the match to Skorpios.
WINNER: Skorpios, KO
BANSHEE vs. VALKYRIE
David Small is a master of pneumatic flippers that are, well, small. Banshee is his first heavyweight robot and it takes everything he knows about ant and beetleweight pneumatics and blows them way up to 250 pounds. Banshee’s flipper isn’t like most American-style flippers where the arm is directly connected to a piston; Banshee is actually a British-style flipper where a short and stout cylinder impacts the bottom of a tethered pivoting arm to achieve flips. We’ve seen this design put to good use in Robot Wars (obviously) but so far it’s left a lot to be desired here in the States. Banshee is 0-1 after battling Switchback where it only mustered one decent flip before Switchback sentenced it to death by a thousand cuts for a judges’ decision win. Banshee enters the arena again this time armed with a hefty plow to deflect Valkyrie’s blade and with a lot of test box time with its flipper to ensure it’s working 100%.
Valkyrie has been a part of BattleBots since 2018 and in its illustrious career it’s managed to win a Most Destructive Robot award. It’s never won a Giant Nut but this robot always qualifies for the main tournament so it’s not exactly a pushover. Valkyrie has had some teething issues this year though because captain Leanne Cushing isn’t here and driver Fred Moore now drives Ripperoni; that’s left Lucy Du, the new captain, to pull double duties as the driver as well. In her first fight at the controls of Valkyrie she fought Mammoth in a fight that was a real shit show. Right away Mammoth’s front plastic strut got jammed in Valkyrie and the whole fight had to be stopped and postponed until they could separate the bots backstage. Then when the fight resumed Valkyrie was noticeably shier and wasn’t willing to engage with Mammoth as readily presumably to avoid locking the bots together again. Mammoth fell apart, because that’s what Mammoth does best, and Valkyrie took the win. I think it goes without saying that Banshee will be Valkyrie’s first actual fight of the season.
All too often we hear people say “my strategy is going to be to box rush them” but rarely does anyone ever pull it off. Hats off to David Small for delivering a solid fucking box rush straight to Valkyrie’s face. The impact is so savage that one of the little wings next to Valkyrie’s tires gets sheared off in the process. Valkyrie’s spinner is also slowed down to the point where Banshee is able to safely flip it and it does so disorienting Valkyrie and throwing it onto its back in the opening seconds of the fight. Valkyrie stumbles out of the blue square upside-down and Banshee is waiting for it ready to try and flip it again. Banshee doesn’t get a complete flip but it does get some airtime from Valkyrie. Valkyrie gets its blade up to speed and immediately it’s apparent that it just cannot drive upside-down at all; centrifugal forces are yanking at Valkyrie and with its weapon placed so forward on the robot’s chassis it’s front heavy and its wheels aren’t really in contact with the ground all that well.
Banshee cruises in and tries to get another line drive on Valkyrie and is able to hit the robot so hard that it flexes and Valkyrie’s blade hits its own fork and tears it clean off. I guess I should’ve pointed that out beforehand but I figured it was going to do fuck all so I guess I was right; that fork was meant to defeat Banshee’s ground game and tee it up for a hit kind of like how Hijinx uses its tail wedge but I foresaw no good coming from Valkyrie’s new fork and now it’s been hurled across the floor. Banshee gets on Valkyrie’s ass again and starts shoving it around and misses on a third flip. This missed flip puts its flipper arm at exactly the right height for Valkyrie to thrash the hell out of it. All Valkyrie needs to do is pivot around in place to horse kick that flipping arm before it resets but the robot just lacks all maneuverability in its current orientation. This is looking to be another fucking dud of a fight; Valkyrie’s geometry doesn’t make it prone to being flipped and the gyroscopic forces of its weapon are going to want to keep it parallel with the floor and Banshee’s flipping arm doesn’t have the reach needed to get any purchase on its opponent. Wonderful.
Valkyrie gets out of the corner it’s been pushed into by powering down its weapon to allow the robot to actually, you know, fucking move. It gets out into the center and spins back up while Banshee aimlessly drives around as if it’s partially lost drive on one side. How the fuck did that happen? Valkyrie literally cannot even fucking hit you. The fight clock graphic appears on screen and says there’s 90 seconds left in the match. I’m starting to get pissed off again. Banshee gets in Valkyrie’s face and bravely fires off its flipper and somehow this doesn’t end with Banshee’s entire pneumatic system being ripped out of its goddamned throat. Banshee bumps into Valkyrie and stops moving. Chris and Kenny insist Banshee is caught in the Killsaw slot, Kenny even says he can see part of the wedge stuck in there. Fucking where, Kenny Florian? Do you want to pause this fight and do a John Madden replay where you scribble on the screen because there’s nothing hanging off of Banshee that could possibly get stuck in the saws. Banshee just sucks. It’s okay, you can say it. The robot is a piece of shit.
The Killsaws pop up and nudge Banshee off of the hazard panel and the robot comes back to life and crawls along the arena floor. Valkyrie lets this happen without attacking. I know if Valkyrie gets behind Banshee its weapon can still hit the back of Banshee’s lifting arm and take it out. That’s primary weapon damage and the judges eat that shit up. All Lucy has to do is make one turn and this fight is over for Banshee but I guess she’s cool with losing because Valkyrie just sorta parks there and doesn’t try to fight at all. The clock runs out on the match and as you probably guessed it’s a split decision. Can I just say there should be exceptions where a fight should have no winner? Because this and the Captain Shrederator fight satisfy those conditions. The verdict is returned in favor of Banshee probably because it got one whole flip and broke Valkyrie’s fork off.
WINNER: Banshee, Judges’ Decision (2-1)
HYDRA vs. TANTRUM
And finally here we are at the main event, a battle that was set up by the producers to feed off of the negative energy stemming from the last time these two robots met. Whatever it takes to pull in ratings, I guess? Jake Ewert is convinced the judges got the verdict wrong last season and there was such a shitstorm that the reason the appeals process exists today is largely because of this single controversial decision. I don’t think Jake caused the shitstorm himself I think it was just born from the moment but holy hell did the robot combat community keep that bullshit alive well beyond its best by date. Hydra has a leg up coming into this fight because it won its first match against Rotator. Rotator may not have been at full power for that fight but I don’t see a scenario where Rotator came out winning against Hydra, there’s just too much ground clearance for Hydra to take advantage of. Hydra has a strong start, Tantrum does not.
Whether you agree with the judges decision from last year or not one thing is for certain and that’s that Alex Grant and Ginger Schmidt didn’t deserve the shit flung their way by armchair engineers who couldn’t tell you the difference between AC and DC, i.e. “basic ass shit”. Reddit and social media brings out the worst in people – the absolute worst – and I saw it all. Thread after thread on /r/BattleBots and post after post in the BattleBots Group on Facebook. Every single one of them posted by some neckbeard who think they have all the wisdom in the fucking world to get it right where the highly skilled judges couldn’t. Yeah dude, you and your few credits from community college that you dropped out from really have it all figured out. Tantrum is all new this season and had some growing pains in its opening match against Minotaur. Minotaur was able to knock out the self-righting mechanism on Tantrum and then flip it over securing a victory over the reigning champ. Tantrum starts out a 0-1 for this fight and has the weight of the world on its tiny little shoulders with something to prove coming into this fight.
Hydra basically floors it out of the red square and skids across the arena to make contact with Tantrum presumably to get right underneath it and throw it into the scaffolding, Jake Ewert’s BattleBots dream. Instead Tantrum’s thick forks get the reach advantage and get under Hydra’s front plows and the robot lets loose with its punching disc to land the first shot of the fight. Tantrum whips around to catch Hydra and gets under its front end again however now Hydra’s front forks are bracing against Tantrum’s face making it difficult for the champ to land a power shot. Tantrum shuffles a bit and keeps throwing punches until its disc hits the leftmost fork on Hydra shearing it off and popping the flipper up so it can get at Hydra’s underside. Hydra finally responds with a flip as Tantrum’s shuffling caused it to come at Hydra from a weird angle.
Hydra gives chase as Tantrum flies through the air but a last minute swerve points the flipper away from Tantrum as it self rights. In case you were wondering just how skilled of a driver Dillon Carey is at the helm of Tantrum watch as he expertly avoids the Killsaw slots intentionally because he probably saw the End Game fight. Tantrum tentatively gets in Hydra’s face but backs off when Hydra fires off its flipper and misses. For some fucking reason Hydra turns and exposes its side to Tantrum and Tantrum takes full advantage of this opening and springs its attack. Tantrum is able to control Hydra and shove it around while getting all the way around Hydra to its backside where it delivers another punch and knocks the flipper into the air. Hydra lands on Tantrum’s forks so Tantrum throws another one out and hits Hydra right where its access hole is. I mean, Hydra’s literal asshole, I guess.
As Hydra comes down from this double decker ass blasting its left wedge catches Tantrum’s disc and it gets bent outward. More importantly however is that Hydra appears to no longer be moving. It’s clearly trying to move but something has seized up internally reducing the robot to mere twitches. Hydra fires its flipper uselessly in an attempt to knock whatever’s loose back into place but it’s all for naught. Tantrum has risen to the occasion and not just won by decision again but by knockout. You fucked it up, Jake. You had one job and you got a big dick over it and look what happened. You got cucked big time. All that talk, all that shit, and look how it ended. The fans may have kept the fire burning all this time with their toxic remarks but you dug your own grave the minute you told Chris and Kenny you’d “kick [Tantrum’s] ass again”.
WINNER: Tantrum, KO
And that’s how this episode of BattleBots ends, with all the nobodies online getting super mega ultra butthurt that their golden child Hydra couldn’t do the deed. Hey, there’s always next season for the possibility of rematch #2! Ah well, who cares, everyone’s all up in arms over Riptide now so it looks like the next big trash fire has already been found. That aside though this was kind of a mixed bag of an episode, a couple of fights were real duds but that’s to be expected when you have literally so many damn fights in the qualifiers. And yeah, these fights are just that: qualifiers. When the main tournament starts I’m certain we’ll see an uptick in fight quality as the lesser robots get weeded out of the running and leave us with only the top 32.
Coming up on the horizon at BattleBots we have, uh, Horizon; it’s back to fight Monsoon next week. Copperhead returns from its one-hit KO over Bloodsport to face Triton, and Bloodsport is also back next week when it fights Gigabyte. The new Kraken stretches its legs to do battle with Lucky and Mammoth meets Starchild because I guess the producers are hoping we get another Mammoth versus Huge fight. On the subject of rematches Cobalt and Minotaur meet again to see who comes out on top this time and this could very well be the main event.
That’s all I have for you this week on BattleBots Update. Go away! Next week will mark the approximate halfway point of the Fight Night rounds and we’ll really get a feel for who has a shot at making it in and who will probably go home. BattleBots Update is community-supported so if you’d like to help keep the lights on here or just leave me a tip to say “good job” you can do so with a monthly pledge on Patreon or a one-time donation with Ko-Fi. I actually crossed my Ko-Fi donation goal when Team RoboChallenge contributed last week so now I need to come up with something goofier and even more expensive to shoot for.
See you next week!