It’s Friday and that means only one thing: it’s BattleBots Update time again! As we enter the eighth of fifteen Fight Night episodes we’re now in the back half of the qualifiers; we’re still seeing many robots finish their second rounds but in some cases certain competitors like Claw Viper and Minotaur are getting their third fights already. Speaking of third fights we’ve got lots more of them in this episode too. Kenny Florian says we’re getting closer to the Round of 32 and as we approach it some clear pack leaders have pulled ahead that will no doubt qualify even if they lose their fourth and final Fight Night rounds. I am of course talking about Claw Viper and Minotaur once again who are both at 3-0 right now.
But there are numerous other robots coming into the ring for their third fights and not all of them are starting out at 2-0. Some of them are but many of these robots are at 1-1 so it’s still possible for them to fuck everything up and fail to qualify at 1-3 in a worst case scenario. Free Shipping and Hydra are two such 1-1 robots meaning one of them is going to dip to 1-2. Huge is going to battle Fusion in a fight that’ll probably see Fusion going up in flames. Glitch returns after a mysterious hiatus to fight Lock-Jaw. Beta and Shatter are going to find out who’s got the better hammer. Quantum is looking to be the first to KO Black Dragon and then in the main event the producers have Tantrum and Blip – two robots from the same team – fighting each other. Also since we’re down a qualifier this week we’ll see rookie Terrortops battle Craig Danby’s Slammo in an exhibition match.
FREE SHIPPING vs. HYDRA
Up first is a match between two seasoned competitors each with a win and a loss apiece. Free Shipping is introduced first and so far this robot’s season where it’s debuted a new look and design has been something of a mixed bag. Free Shipping won a battle with Gigabyte right out of the gate by shunting it into the wall resulting in Gigabyte just sort of exploding and wrecking itself internally. Counting all the times those two robots have met as their alter egos Original Sin and Megabyte, Gary Gin is looking at a 3-0 streak against the spinner now. Free Shipping started with a win but met its match against Minotaur in a battle that ended with a “KO”; Free Shipping took some damage and lost a wheel but it cruised over to the far side of the arena and just sorta died on its own very mysteriously. Free Shipping has battled Hydra before in a previous season and lost so we’ll see if the new vertical spinner does anything for the robot’s chances this time.
I mentioned both of these robots are 1-1 but Hydra’s the one really feeling the pain because its loss was to Tantrum in a rematch that everyone was looking forward to because last year those two robots fought in the semifinals and people to this day will not shut the fuck up and keep saying Hydra was cheated out of a win. So yeah, that rematch happened and Hydra lost again because that’s what happens when you run your mouth like a cocky asshole, karma always comes for you in the end. But before that shit show of a fight Hydra was in a main event battle with Rotator and won by KO after Rotator got hung up on the arena wall and Hydra stopped engaging with it. Rotator wasn’t firing on all cylinders for that match and it was pretty obvious. (They also had to delay the fight during taping so Rotator could get its shit sorted out.)
Ground game is going to be the most important aspect of this fight. Can Free Shipping get underneath Hydra to strike its bottom panel with its little spinner? Or will Hydra trump Free Shipping and send it flying through the air? We get the answer pretty damn quick because the editors don’t have time to fade out the battle clock graphic before Hydra is already underneath Free Shipping and fucking launching it. Free Shipping does about four fucking twists with its flamethrower going full ass send and the robot tumbles back down to the ground upside down and in the corner of the ring ready for Hydra to swoop in and do it all over again. Free Shipping lands right ways up this time and starts to swerve side to side looking for an angle on Hydra but Hydra stays firm in the corner and keeps its face toward its opponent.
Eventually Free Shipping makes its move and tries to go deep into the corner to catch Hydra’s vulnerable sides but this fails and Hydra gets another throw and is able to get out of the corner. Free Shipping lines up a charge and just says “fuck it” and plows into Hydra and the result is not unlike tilting a Nintendo 64 cartridge while the console is on. Free Shipping lands badly and you can see now one of its back tires is cockeyed and the robot starts bumping up and down as it drives. Free Shipping doesn’t relent and continues its assault managing to shave a couple of Hydra’s titanium skirt pieces off but otherwise not doing much of significance. Free Shipping rams into Hydra and Hydra flubs on the attack by firing early. Watch closely and you’ll see a chunk of armor pop off of Free Shipping’s side exposing the workings of its flamethrower.
Hydra gets a light toss on Free Shipping and flips it back over. Gary Gin mentally switches his control style up to be back to normal instead of reversed and goes in for the attack. Finally Hydra lands one of its signature throws, the same shit it did to Rotator in its first fight, and heaves Free Shipping very nearly into the goddamned lights. Jake Ewert has engineered this thing so well and all he wants is to smash a robot into those lights. He knows doing so will hold up the show for like a fucking hour while the arena crew comes in to fix it but he gives no shits. Lights or bust. Free Shipping misses the arena lights but belly flops hard onto the floor. Hydra scoops the forklift up and throws it again and this time Free Shipping lands on its left wedge snapping it off. Free Shipping was already losing the ground game in this fight but now it’s completely up shit creek without a paddle.
Free Shipping is launched yet again and bounces off of the Upper Deck hitting the sign on the far side of the arena in the process. Nice shot Hydra, it’s not often that sign gets broken. This is a “secret rule” not listed in the BattleBots rule book but breaking the Upper Deck sign is worth two bonus points from the judges on top of the points they give out for damage and whatever. There’s been so much action in this fight that I haven’t really noticed the passage of time and as Free Shipping recovers from skipping across the shelf like a goddamned river stone Chris Rose says we’re only half way through this fight. God damn, Free Shipping is fucked. Amazingly, Free Shipping’s pissant little spinner is still working somehow because it’s creating sparks every time it drags across the arena floor but I’ve seen zero damage done to Hydra with that thing even as Free Shipping inevitably rides up Hydra’s front end to get flipped again.
All this flipping and flopping is definitely taking its toll on Free Shipping because the robot seems to not be maneuvering too well anymore, it’s just kind of starting and stopping while skidding around. Hydra basically shrugs and continues to try and throw Free Shipping into the lights over and over again but can’t quite hit the target. In this blur of flips Free Shipping’s flamethrower fuel line gets G-forced off and lands in the far corner followed by what I can only assume is either like a big solenoid or some kind of control box for the flame weapon. The cameras cut to a wide shot behind the hosts and once again you can see Hydra go for the lights and come literally maybe a foot or two away from totally fucking them up. Free Shipping flops back down onto the ground and it’s no longer moving. Free Shipping starts getting counted out and Hydra just keeps flipping it. Most competitors stop hitting their opponent when the KO count starts but Jake is still pissed off over the Tantrum rematch so he takes his anger out on Gary Gin’s robot.
Free Shipping’s KO countdown started with only 9 seconds left on the clock so the match winds up going to the judges. Chris Rose says Free Shipping was saved by the bell. Dude, Free Shipping wasn’t saved by anything. Whether this fight went to 2:59 by KO or 3:00 by the judges Free Shipping ain’t winning shit. Hydra all the way.
WINNER: Hydra, Judges’ Decision (3-0)
FUSION vs. HUGE
Here’s a sentence I never thought I’d write: Fusion is looking good this season. It’s at 1-1 but don’t let that loss fool you that was a proper banger of a fight. Fusion opened its season by absolutely stomping out newcomer Emulsifier; Fusion’s vertical spinner, despite its diminutive size, was biting entire goddamned chunks of metal out of Emulsifier’s face and although Fusion smoked out toward the end of the battle it had damaged Emulsifier so severely that the judges ruled in favor of Fusion. Fusion also fought Witch Doctor and this was a loss but Fusion made Witch Doctor work for that win. Fusion managed to split Witch Doctor’s big front plow and then tear half of it off exposing a tire that Fusion also mangled. Both robots lost their primary weapons but Fusion also wound up losing a side of drive and that was decisive in the eyes of the judges. Fusion’s signature triangular blade was totally trashed in that fight so it comes into this one armed with a bar reminiscent of bots like Carbide.
Huge rolls into this fight with a currently perfect 2-0 Fight Night record. It’s one of the robots that I mentioned in last week’s article that had the potential to go 4-0 looking at its qualifier schedule. So far Huge has been firing on all cylinders this year. It fought Shatter in round one and its big ass vertical slicer cleaved through Shatter’s ablative plastic armor, hit the good shit, and knocked the hammer bot out cold. Huge then fought Blip in what I thought was a potential mismatch but Huge stayed the course and not only landed some great shots to Blip but it actually hit Blip so fucking hard that its blade got jammed in the robot’s stupid face. The fight had to be stopped just to separate the robots all so Huge could spin back up and continue whaling on Blip. Fusion seems to be at just the right height for Huge’s blade to really slice into so unless Fusion’s equipped with some extra upper armor this could potentially be an easy win for Huge.
Even though Huge has pieces of bike tire bolted to its wheels it still struggles with traction because at the start of the fight it just floors it out of the blue square, charges at Fusion, and then oversteers pointing its right wheel directly into Fusion’s horizontal spinner. I was curious if the bar would be as effective as the blade and it looks like my question has been answered because Fusion bites into Huge’s Tegris wheel and shreds a patch of it. Huge stops and pivots and this brings its vertical spinner straight into Fusion’s side and it’s not very often that we see this but Fusion is popped up into the air and momentarily becomes a goddamned gyroscopic nightmare. As the robot lands it becomes apparent this hit has completely killed one side of drive and also knocked Fusion’s top armor panel loose. Huge lunges forward looking for a repeat attack but winds up awkwardly climbing on top of Fusion and landing a hit that way.
Somehow despite taking two shots to the top Fusion isn’t dead. It’s weapons are sure are shit out of commission but the robot is still alive according to the new rules regarding movement. Huge needs to finish this to cinch a win so it comes it and knocks Fusion’s upper panel loose and this is enough to kill its opponent. With Fusion’s lid removed you can look inside the robot and see how cramped everything is and now you know why when one thing fails inside the robot the whole fucking thing catches fire. It’s a miracle that Huge’s massive cleaver didn’t hit something critical like a battery and pop it open because in this condition I’m expecting Fusion to basically be a full on raging fire. Somehow it’s not, but the robot is motionless and Huge picks up an easy win just as I had predicted. Huge’s next opponent is the winless Starchild so unless something wacky happens we could be looking at a 4-0 run for Huge and that would be, well, huge.
WINNER: Huge, KO
LOCK-JAW vs. GLITCH
Last season Lock-Jaw put on a stellar performance and in its Fight Night rounds managed to win, hang on let me check my notes, zero fights. Donald Hutson, one of the legends of the sport, got skunked out. Never thought I’d see the day. Lock-Jaw might not be the best robot in BattleBots but it’s what I’d call “quarterfinals material”. All Lock-Jaw needed to do to start this season off on the right foot was win a fight and that’s exactly what it did when it defeated Malice in a battle that was fun for the first minute or so and then turned into a boring ass shoving match just as I predicted it would. Normally I’d use my psychic powers to pick lottery numbers or something but I’ve discovered my abilities only work when predicting the outcomes of fights between B-tier robots. Lock-Jaw got its win but then its second opponent was Sawblaze and Sawblaze just didn’t let up one bit; Lock-Jaw was promptly flipped over and had its underside chopped into by Sawblaze’s mighty hammer saw for a KO loss. Lock-Jaw is now going up against a real glass cannon so this is still anybody’s game.
We’re seeing a lot of robots enter their third rounds – like Lock-Jaw – but for some stragglers this is only round 2. Glitch is one of those robots. I think this is mostly due to weird editing this season because this is episode 8 but this battle actually happened during the sixth taping session so technically we could’ve seen this fight as early as episode 6. I think this fight was delayed in the episode schedule to further play up Glitch’s team’s struggles in the pits to get their robot working because that’s basically all this fucking team is known for. Glitch managed to win seven goddamned fights last year by doing nothing more than stumbling around the arena and eventually landing a kill shot with its 70 pound drum. This battle strategy did not work in Glitch’s debut fight against Riptide because in less than ten seconds Riptide had already socked Glitch and flipped it over and much like last season Glitch cannot drive upside down. Was Glitch’s rookie season a fluke? We’re about to get some more data on that right now.
Lock-Jaw drives toward Glitch confidently as Glitch swings out to the side to spin its drum up. Lock-Jaw immediately starts circling around Glitch looking for an opening but Glitch is tracking Lock-Jaw well and not opening up its wide ass sides to attack. The Spitfire drone from SubZero joins Lock-Jaw for this fight making this the third fucking team that drone has flown with. It really is a free agent. Spitfire is not spitting any fire but you can see it spraying out butane anyways. Not much has changed with Spitfire, is what I am trying to say. Lock-Jaw almost finds an opening but Glitch turns to face it and Lock-Jaw backs off. Donald eventually gets a little greedy and lunges forward landing a glancing shot to Glitch’s right side but Glitch turns toward Lock-Jaw and kicks its left fork backward bending it and taking it out of the fight.
Donald eventually just throws caution to the wind and decides he wants to go weapon-on-weapon with this fucking beast so he lurches Lock-Jaw forward and pops Glitch right on its spinner. The impact is enough to kick Glitch into the air causing it to land upside down. Fucking hell, Glitch. The same shit again? It looks like there are slots on top of Glitch where its rear omni wheels can touch the ground but the robot isn’t going anywhere. Besides I think it takes all four omni wheels to properly drive anyways so it’s not like Glitch was going to stay dangerous if it was upside down. Lock-Jaw has the win here but after one fucking shot its entire front end blows the fuck up and smoke and flames shoot out of Lock-Jaw’s face where its left fork used to be. The weapon operator assures Donald the spinner is still working but I’m going to throw a Wikipedia “citation needed” on that one bro.
In any case Glitch is on its ass and can’t move so obviously Lock-Jaw gets the win. It’s a pricey win filled with a lot of repairs, surely, but it’s still a win. Hooray for B-tier robots!
WINNER: Lock-Jaw, KO
BETA vs. SHATTER
Now we have a couple of robots who’ve also only had one fight so far meaning we’ll probably see a lot of them now that we’re in the second half of the Fight Night rounds. Beta actually has a win coming into this fight but it was a shitty match and it’s one of those wins where the “selection committee” won’t be impressed by it. Beta was paired up with a crippled Kraken and it failed to deliver the hits, Beta was driving so erratically and shitty that Kraken was able to bite a chunk out of Beta’s armor (note the patch as the robot comes out of the tunnel) and even get dangerously close to Beta’s backside to potentially hit the air tank. Beta only won because it took out Kraken’s spinner, damaging its hammer in the process, but by the end of the fight Beta’s hammer was still mostly functional giving it the edge in damage points. Beta peels out and skids into its starting square before this fight however so it looks like those driving issues may have been fixed.
In a BattleBots first Shatter is Beta’s opponent making this a hammer versus hammer affair. Shatter has no wins so far because its first opponent was Huge and I briefly talked about this fight before Huge fought Fusion earlier in the episode. The nitty gritty is Huge absolutely thrashed Shatter so badly that the team was forced to migrate their leftover working parts into an entirely new chassis. A complete rebuild in the pits, owch. In previous seasons Shatter has been a reliable standby though and Shatter does arguably have the upper hand coming into this fight. Chris and Kenny break down the differences in these two robots and the major takeaway is Shatter’s hammer is approximately half as powerful as Beta’s, however Shatter’s weaponry is electric whereas Beta’s is pneumatic meaning Beta only has so many swings in its air tank while Shatter can fire its hammer all fight long. Will this fight be settled with a couple of big whacks from Beta? Or will Shatter be able to peck the legend to death?
Despite not having omni wheels of its own Beta manages to drift and swerve out of its square almost exactly like Shatter does. It’s almost elegant, then Beta starts coming at Shatter from an angle and manages to push against its forks to shove the robot around. Beta throws an early swing that doesn’t connect, but a second one does land. Shatter swings its own hammer and shaves a few sparks off of Beta’s armored wedge. Beta is able to get around to Shatter’s side and starts pushing it across the box. There’s no action from the hammer. This makes no fucking sense because Jason Marston is the person controlling Beta’s hammer. He’s the Thor guy from Robot Wars. He fired Thor’s hammer nonstop, Beta should be throwing punches like crazy here. Instead Beta tries to thrust Shatter into the screws and stops short of ramming it into the hazard. Beta swings and misses again. Shatter responds by stabbing Beta in the face prompting Chris Rose to get excited about how it was so close to hitting Beta’s “weapon motor”. Someone please explain to this idiot how pneumatics work.
Kenny Florian hops on the hype for Shatter nearly getting a critical blow (it didn’t, but whatever it’s television commentary) and while he’s explaining a stupid elaborate Star Wars reference Beta shoves Shatter into one of the Upper Deck short corners and starts pounding on it properly. Now the hosts starting talking like Shatter is too far behind to catch up. Which is it you two? Shatter gets flipped over and swings its hammer in the process. Chris Rose says this was close to hitting Beta’s air tank. Does he even know where the fuck that thing is? Because Shatter swung and hit thin fucking air on account of being up on its side. Beta pins Shatter into the corner of the arena and nails it a couple more times before corralling Shatter in front of the BattleBots sign and really raining down some punishment. Watch closely and you’ll see Beta pound Shatter directly on one of the sprockets that run the weapon’s chains. After this Shatter’s hammer remains permanently deployed so clearly Beta just broke some important shit.
Beta gets stuck on Shatter’s forks for a moment but swings its hammer to hop off of them and flips itself upside down in the process. If Shatter’s hammer wasn’t a piece of shit it could potentially go for a low blow right now but instead the robot retreats backwards. Also somehow its hammer has reset positions. Beta takes its time sweeping the floor with Shatter and continues to land hits to Shatter’s upper armor. Even though Shatter has come into this fight with additional padding and armor on its lid you can get a real appreciation for how much force Beta’s hammer swings with by how bowed out and warped these panels look by the end of the fight. Shatter starts to slow down and Beta goes on the attack in the final ten seconds swinging its hammer and really pounding Shatter until the buzzer. This is definitely the Beta I remember. I don’t know what the fuck happened in the Kraken fight but this is the robot that once survived three full minutes with Tombstone and nearly won the decision. Fuck yeah.
WINNER: Beta, Judges’ Decision (3-0)
QUANTUM vs. BLACK DRAGON
Quantum is one of many international bots that took something of a forced break due to the COVID pandemic so for many years we were left wondering if this crusher would ever come back and if so would it still be dominant? Quantum is half way through its qualifiers right now and so far the answer is “absolutely yes”; Captain Shrederator was Quantum’s first opponent and while that one’s just a gimmie it was a good test to see if the bite force of the robot was still second to none. Considering Quantum bit into Shrederator and caused it to flare up I’d say the robot is still on top. Quantum’s second opponent was Gruff and this time Quantum had to face a robot who attempted to come to battle prepared by affixing additional armor and weapon configurations in anticipation of the crusher. That proved to be worth fuck all because Quantum still bit through it and snagged another KO. Black Dragon is something of a brick though so we’ll see if Quantum can make lightning strike, uh, three times.
Black Dragon has gone for 22 fights without being knocked out. That’s second only to three time champion Bite Force who made it to 25 (essentially its entire career). The hosts keep playing up this aspect of Black Dragon so I can’t help but wonder if they are trying to telegraph something to us because usually they keep their mouths shut unless something related to whatever they are talking about is going to happen. Either Black Dragon will make it to 26 fights and beat Bite Force or it’s about to get KO’d either right now or at some point in the next three battles. Black Dragon has only had one fight so far and this was against Monsoon. Monsoon was able to damage Black Dragon’s baseplate and take a couple of bites out of its armor but Monsoon hit the wall and killed its weapon leaving it vulnerable to attack from Black Dragon. The dragon teed Monsoon up for a shot and sank its putt by leaving its opponent kinked at an awkward angle that it couldn’t get down from. Black Dragon has had to dial back the size of its weapon for this fight in order to make weight for all this extra top armor to protect against Quantum. The robot looks tough but this comes at the cost of being able to do damage so this could be a bad call.
Black Dragon’s front forks are hinged whereas Quantum’s plow is fixed in place. Usually you can probably guess who’s going to win the ground game here, look no further than Fusion versus Witch Doctor for an example. Surprisingly it’s Quantum who gains ground here and comes out ahead getting underneath Black Dragon and just barely missing the robot’s front corner with its teeth. Black Dragon approaches Quantum again and rides up its plow but is at least able to shove its spinner up close to the pivoting point of Quantum’s jaw. The plow armor extends all the way up there so Quantum is safe but the sparks and noise are surely scoring some early points for Black Dragon. Quantum stays the course though and bites down onto Black Dragon reaching its teeth behind the weapon and jamming it up. We saw this previously when Black Dragon fought the original Kraken a few years ago, the jaw’s teeth fit perfectly behind the weapon and lock it in place.
Quantum’s not letting go because you get a prescribed amount of time where you can bite down and hold someone and Quantum is going for the full amount as to get as many control points as possible. Black Dragon’s big ass wheels are still in contact with the ground so it starts pushing against Quantum’s attacks and manages to ram the crusher into the screws on the Upper Deck while nullifying Quantum’s attempt to ram Black Dragon into the arena wall. Quantum lets go of Black Dragon and immediately goes back on the attack this time grabbing a hold of Black Dragon’s right tire and biting down onto it. Quantum’s teeth are a little too far past the wheel to bite directly into it but its jaw is still able to mash down on the tire and lock it in place. 35,000 pounds of crushing force goes to work and you can see how deformed Black Dragon’s solid rubber tire becomes as Quantum carries it over to the Pulverizer for a quick blow. The hazard does literally nothing to Black Dragon because it gets swung early and Black Dragon winds up hitting it with its spinner kicking the hammer back up and somehow not breaking the fucking thing.
Black Dragon retreats and spins its weapon back up while Quantum pursues it looking for a third bite. Black Dragon whips around and hits Quantum on its front right corner. It appears as though the plow on Quantum absorbs the hit but as Quantum hits the ground it’s apparent that attack has either damaged Quantum’s front right wheel or bent the armor into the tire to seize it up. Normally this is a death sentence for a robot but look at how expertly the Cooper brothers operate this robot; Quantum immediately starts scooting forward a little slower than usual but still in a straight line. Meanwhile the hosts seem completely oblivious to the fact that Quantum has just been crippled because they’re too busy yammering on about whatever Black Dragon is trying to target next. Black Dragon gets back in Quantum’s face and rides up its plow resulting in Quantum biting back down onto it stopping Black Dragon’s weapon. The bite also lifts Quantum’s front wheels off the ground meaning that damaged wheel is off the floor and the robot can now drive normally for the time being.
Black Dragon pushes against Quantum’s driving and bumps the crusher into the arena wall. Quantum starts chewing on Black Dragon in response to this and is able to grab the robot on its front left corner. Quantum doesn’t pierce Black Dragon’s armor but it certainly crushes it down into the chassis of the robot. All that extra padding and armor is doing nothing but proving to be a liability for Black Dragon because if Quantum gets a closer bite there’s a chance it’ll hit the weapon mount and kill Black Dragon’s spinner. Quantum lets go as per the rules that Chris Rose just now informs us of and Black Dragon gets away to spin up and try for another run. Quantum chases it down, damaged wheel and all, and tussles with the Brazilian robot in the corner of the arena. Black Dragon lands a glancing blow before Quantum is able to get yet another bite that reaches past Black Dragon’s weapon and bites into the cavity behind it.
Quantum’s wheels start smoking as the robot burns rubber across the Battlebox and slams Black Dragon around. Black Dragon’s team starts calling for a release because this is taking a while and the ref finishes his pin count and tells the Coopers to let go as well. They just turn around and shrug and say they can’t. The ref stops the fight so that the safety crew can come in and separate the robots but when the cameras cut back to the action you can see how badly Quantum’s teeth are warped and how they are seemingly pinned inside of Black Dragon’s frame by the spinning drum. Trey Roski shows up for all of like ten seconds, takes one look at the robots, and decides he’s not even going to try to fuck with this and says the fight goes straight to the judges. The judges enter the arena to check out the damage while Kenny Florian quotes the exact parts and sections of the rules being enforced like this is a fucking US law or some shit. It’s just BattleBots dude, you don’t hear commentators in the NFL going “well according to rule number 69 part 5 section F the team who just scored a touchdown is allowed to also kick a field goal for an extra point”. Fuck off.
Black Dragon was able to do a little bit of damage to Quantum’s drivetrain but overall Quantum had more bites and controlled the pace of the match. The judges deliver a verdict unanimously favoring the crusher essentially guaranteeing it a place in the Round of 32. Black Dragon lives on to fight another day and has yet to be knocked out. Perhaps next time it won’t be so lucky.
WINNER: Quantum, Special Judges’ Decision (3-0)
SLAMMO vs. TERRORTOPS
Since there’s only six Fight Night battles this week the seventh match is of course an exhibition fight. These fights are a sort of “proving grounds” for new competitors to show what they are made of and make a statement for their potential inclusion in next season’s “top 50”. A few weeks ago we saw Double Tap decimate Doomba in only a couple of shots, this time we have a newbie versus a veteran. In the red square is Slammo, a familiar face here at BattleBots. Craig Danby’s robot has never quite performed up to snuff so when it applied for season 12 the robot was accepted as an alternate as opposed to a full competitor. That’s… gotta sting somewhat. It’s like being invited to Thanksgiving dinner but being forced to sit at the goddamned kids table when you’re 30 years old. Slammo hasn’t changed much, it’s still the suplex machine. I saw this robot at Robotica last July and when I spoke to Craig this season he said the robot has essentially been untouched since that event. Chris Rose even mentions Slammo has done well at “non-spinner events”. That was Robotica, Slammo got a podium finish there.
Terrortops is a robot here to fill the void left behind when Wrecks retired and resulted in us having no dinosaur-themed robots at BattleBots anymore. Terrortops is kind of like Whiplash and Big Dill combined; the robot is armed with a lifting arm and a vertical spinner but the spinner is located behind the lifter. The idea here is Terrortops can lift up an opponent, spin its disc up to speed, and then drop said opponent onto the disc resulting in an attack to their underside. Lots of robots have weak baseplates so this could be a powerful strategy. When teams were allowed to start showing up before taping started Ben Burton and the Terrortops crew were the first people there. And yet he’s still an alternate competitor, come the fuck on. This dude was ready to go and had his shit together before anyone else and he’s not even one of the main teams. It’s rumored that Terrortops almost wasn’t accepted into BattleBots period because the design wasn’t “unique” enough but Ben added some plastic ribs and a tail to make it look more like a dinosaur and that was apparently enough to secure a place in the season. Huh.
Slammo and Terrortops both leave their squares and head toward each other. Someone’s going to win the ground game here and take an early lead. That happens to be Terrortops who picks up Slammo, continues driving forward, and lands a hit directly to Slammo’s right side of drive. We are three fucking seconds into this fight and Terrortops has already proven its design. God damn. Usually when there’s a newcomer with a new design there are teething issues but Ben’s got this shit locked down. Slammo gets perched on its rear plate and seems to be stuck until Terrortops bumps into it and knocks it down. Slammo pivots around with both its clamping arms and lifting arms both pointed backwards and as the robot twitches and writhes around it looks like they might actually be stuck that way because I don’t see them resetting. With its arms ratcheted backwards Slammo’s center of gravity is all fucked up and the robot starts driving around with its front end raised off of the ground.
Terrortops has no issues getting underneath Slammo and lands another shot that bends Slammo’s right fork upward. It appears as though “the Danby curse” is still in effect because the moment a camera points at one of his robots they immediately fuck up and stop working as intended. Slammo begins doing 360’s to try and ward off Terrortops but the dinosaur doesn’t care and plows into Slammo landing a glancing hit with its disc as one of Slammo’s arms flies around and connects with it. Terrortops catches Slammo from the front and rams it into the arena wall pushing its disc down Slammo’s throat resulting in a great power shot from the newbie. This hit knocks Slammo onto its backside again and because the robot’s arms are pieces of shit that don’t work the robot is stuck there. Terrortops isn’t going to free Slammo a second time.
The ref starts to count out Slammo and Terrortops earns a respectable achievement by winning its debut fight at BattleBots in its rookie season, something that not even many full competitor teams can brag about. Ben is overjoyed in the post-fight interview, though as usual they don’t show the interview recorded for the losing team. I bring it up because it’s important to me; Craig Danby dedicated this fight to the late Richard Riley whom you might remember from the end of the article for last season’s final episode. Craig and Richard were good friends and although it wasn’t a win for Slammo it was still a touching memorial for one of the community’s losses.
WINNER: Terrortops, KO
TANTRUM vs. BLIP
It’s about time the producers finally ordered a match-up between two robots on the same team. For a while now we’ve had the possibility of this happening but so far that’s never been the case. We could’ve had Warrior Dragon versus Son of Whyachi, now that would’ve been a way to retire the pile of garbage known as Warrior Dragon. Anyways the main event tonight is Tantrum versus Blip, a Team Seems Reasonable family reunion. Tantrum is the current reigning champion and is the better robot out of these two coming into this battle. Tantrum lost to Minotaur when it got flipped over and had its self righting mechanism shoved up its ass but it was able to turn around and get a statement win over Hydra in a rematch that the entire goddamned robot combat community was on the fence about. Well, except for me I guess. I don’t really care who wins as long as someone gets destroyed. You guys really should try the whole “not caring” thing sometime, it’ll do wonders for your enjoyment of the sport (and your blood pressure too).
Aren Hill is the designer and driver of Blip but before that he was the head honcho of Tantrum. He knows both robots intimately (probably literally) and therefore he also knows their strengths and weaknesses. I don’t know if Ginger and Adam from the Tantrum crew have insider knowledge of Blip in return. Blip is an electric flywheel flipper that doesn’t run on pneumatic or hydraulic power. It can flip and keep flipping without worrying about how much air is left in its tank. Blip made it to the quarterfinals last season which was a good showing for a rookie year. This season though Blip is 0-2 and a loss here could put it out of even the Round of 32. Blip’s first opponent was End Game and after losing its front forks Blip was basically fucked ten ways to Sunday in that match. Against Huge I have no fucking clue what Blip was supposed to do in that fight other than die and that’s exactly what happened. But now Blip is fighting what is essentially a mirror of itself with a different weapon. Which weapon of Aren’s is superior? The punching spinner or the flywheel flipper?
Tantrum dashes out of the red square and looks like it tries to go for a juke of some sort but whatever this plan was it fails miserably because Blip cruises on over, gets underneath Tantrum, and pushes it into the arena wall. Strangely, Blip doesn’t immediately go for a flip. It looks like the strategy is going to be to pin and hold Tantrum and then fire off the flipper once the pin limit has been reached. I guess that’s a good strategy for control points but it kind of fucking sucks when it comes to creating an action packed fight. Tantrum gets flipped and as it lands and self rights the robot seems to stick in place and not move around much. Has this one flip already broken something in Tantrum? I guess so because a small fire erupts from the right side of the robot and Blip goes right back to its boring ass “pin them against the wall and don’t do a fucking thing” strategy.
Even though it’s only got one side of drive left Tantrum is able to spin and drift its way back into the center of the arena and as it whips around its forks collide with Blip’s and pops Blip’s left fork off. Guess Aren forgot to tighten the nut on that one. Blip charges Tantrum and pops it into the air. Tantrum lands directly onto Blip’s flipper and if you’re expecting an incredible flip you’ve got another fucking thing coming because Blip doesn’t do shit except hang onto Tantrum long enough to tease its driver Dillon before tossing it away when it can’t hold Tantrum anymore. Chris Rose mentions he can’t see the fire on Tantrum anymore. Yeah dude most of the time when someone cooks their electronics the fire doesn’t just burn for three straight goddamned minutes. You’re thinking of a battery fire and there’s not enough smoke for that to be the case here. Blip shoves Tantrum into the short corner of the arena by Chris and Kenny and the hosts chatter about Blip wanting to earn control points by using its wedge. For fuck’s sake Tantrum is crippled. It has no weapon. Just fucking flip it around. Just do it, it’s not hard.
Blip waits until the last second and then flips Tantrum again which seems to impress Chris Rose greatly. Tantrum gets on Blip’s face yet again and the robot is floored all the way across the box into the other short corner straight into the wall. Chris brings up how there’s no action from Tantrum’s spinner. Buddy I know you didn’t miss the goddamned fire because you just pointed out how you couldn’t see it anymore. How the fuck can someone be so attentive and still not put all the pieces together? Tantrum burned its shit up. There’s no action from the weapon. Tantrum sucks. It’s Giant Nut victory was a sham. There I said it. Whatever. The Killsaws start popping up so that means we’ve got less than a minute to go. Blip scoops up Tantrum again and takes it hard into the screws on the Upper Deck and the resulting crash sends Tantrum flying. Best of all this hit flips Tantrum for Blip so it doesn’t have to use its weapon like it’s been doing this whole fucking time.
Tantrum is able to push back against Blip and with their combined drive systems they make a big circle in the arena before Blip takes control and pushes Tantrum back into the short corner. With just five or so seconds left on the clock Blip fires off its flipper one last time and chucks Tantrum onto the shelf. With only half a drivetrain Tantrum cannot get down from there so the fight ends with the reigning champ sitting atop the hazard. The judges obviously give this fight to Blip evening out the two robots’ scorecards and bringing them both to 1-2. Blip and Tantrum’s final qualifiers are must wins if they want to make it in because dare I say it I don’t think a 1-3 Blip or Tantrum is going to make it into the main tournament without some serious apologism and fuckery.
WINNER: Blip, Judges’ Decision (3-0)
As the season rolls on we’re seeing a lot of robots’ future prospects for the main tournament start to reveal themselves. Huge and Quantum are now at 3-0 meaning they’re both one fight away from having a perfect qualification round. Beta also moves up to 2-0 so while it might be a long shot Beta could also make it to 4-0. It pounded the fuck out of Shatter and if Beta can keep doing exactly that then I think this could be a good year for John Reid. Hydra and Lock-Jaw have reached 2-1 status meaning their inclusion in the Round of 32 is almost guaranteed and if they win their final matches then yeah they are in for sure. Hydra will probably have an easy time making it in but Lock-Jaw keeps blowing up so if it can stop doing that for one fucking fight maybe we’ll see it go far. Finally, Tantrum and Blip both sit at 1-2 after this week’s main event. Like I said previously their fourth fights are must wins. In a worse cast scenario I can see Tantrum advancing into the tournament regardless of its record because it’s the current champion but I don’t see that generosity being extended toward Blip.
Just a handful of Fight Nights left until the main tournament starts and once that happens the heat is on and it’s single elimination. Coming up next week Mad Catter will hopefully have been patched up from its run-in with Riptide because it’s scheduled to fight Big Dill. Former champ End Game has a chance at redemption to chase down Hypershock, Gruff will battle Witch Doctor, and Hijinx has unfortunately been drawn to fight superstar rookie Ripperoni. If you follow social media you may have seen the Jackpot versus Ribbot teaser already that shows Ribbot suspiciously missing some wheels so that will probably be a total disaster of a fight for Ribbot. Malice and Valkyrie also face off to see who’s low slung horizontal spinner is the best and then we finally get one of the community’s dream matches when Skorpios and Sawblaze cross arms and have a hammer saw-off.
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