[BattleBots: S8 E12 is available online through Science Channel with a cable subscription.]
Hey guess what it’s Update time and that can mean only one thing: time for me to hunker down and hammer out another ~7,000 word article over the course of an entire day with only one meal and a soda because I get too distracted and busy to remember to eat. My doctor says that’s not a good thing but what the fuck does he know about the importance of BattleBots? He’s just a doctor. I bet he doesn’t have 3,600 likes on Facebook. He probably doesn’t even have 3. I wish I could say being able to type up a 7K word document in one day has done wonders for me in regards to my other pursuits but to be honest this is something that I can do about once a week before I swear to myself I’ll never write something again as long as I live. Or at least until the next episode of BattleBots airs.
We’ve got another cold open this week and it appears to be Kenny Florian’s birthday, but there are two very unfortunate aspects about his cake. The first is that whatever Walmart employee made it used brown for the balloon strings so instead of balloons it just looks like a bunch of fat Teletubby asses taking a shit. Secondly, the frosting looks like that really nasty gritty cheap stuff and this show was filmed in HD; nothing is grosser than chemically-bleached white sand frosting in 1080p. This is one birthday party I’m glad I wasn’t invited to. Speaking of being invited to the party it looks like Kenny’s guests consist entirely of drivers whose robots have either given or received a “huge hit there”. I almost didn’t recognize the Battle Royale with Cheese team since none of them are dressed like they just got back from an elementary school play about eating healthy. Chris Rose wishes his buddy a happy birthday and because he’s Chris Rose he fucks it all up because he forgot to bring some matches. Warhead arrives to save the day and I guess he wasn’t invited or something because everyone seems to be shocked and reviles in horror as the dinosaur lights the entire cake on fire, takes a bite, and leaves. I’m not saying you should’ve invited Warhead to the party, but if this was my birthday you bet your ass Ian Lewis’ mean dinosaur would’ve been there. I’d have given Warhead a goofy party hat too.
Last week on BattleBots we had a special event in the form of the Desperado flash tournament where the prize at stake was an automatic qualification into the Final 16. My predictions put Lucky as the winner and while I was close (Lucky made it to the Desperado finals) Lock-Jaw ended up taking the cake. Or not… because Lock-Jaw also was not invited to Kenny’s birthday. Donald Hutson got a mythical Giant Bolt instead. Lock-Jaw is done for the time being but there’s still 15 spots left to claim in the upper echelon of competitors this year. We’ve got another six matches this week that see the return of some of the heaviest hitters in the sport such as Tombstone who’s paired up with newbie sensation Whiplash in the main event. But before that Skorpios is itching to see if it can potentially fuck the PRIMARY WEAPON rule a second time in its fight with Rotator, War Hawk and Overhaul battle it out over who’s the most mediocre robot, the giant rex Warhead and mega turtle Chomp have a kaiju fight, and after losing the Desperado tournament Gemini is back this week to fend off Sharkoprion. Oh, and Ultimo Destructo is here again.
Before this episode gets underway Kenny gives us a breakdown of who’s probably qualified for the Final 16 so far as well as who stands a good chance of making it in. The list is agreeable, though I feel like SawBlaze and Huge should also be up there with Bronco because they too are 3-0. I bring this short segment up mostly because I wanted to point out that since Monsoon was utterly decimated by Son of Whyachi it couldn’t make it to the chart so Double Dutch is being used as its stunt double. Also Skorpios, Warhead, and Whiplash have some “work to do” at 2-0? Fuck off.
ROTATOR vs. SKORPIOS
Totally True Trivia™: Orion Beach got around the “active weapon” rule by claiming he was a sovereign citizen.
Coming up in this episode we’re going to see the first few robots of the season officially finish their Fight Night rounds (not counting robots who failed to reach four fights). Victor Soto’s Rotator, which Faruq has just discovered is a palindrome, is going to be the first competitor to reach the finish line as this is its fourth and final qualification fight. Not everyone made it to four so win or lose Victor can keep his head high that this year his robot toughed it out instead of dying in one goddamned hit like it did against Witch Doctor in 2016. Rotator’s unconventional design has proved effective and after a false start against Petunia, Rotator bounced back and claimed back to back victories over Predator and Warrior Dragon. Sure, its victory over Predator isn’t that impressive all things considered, but Rotator still got to take some parts off in the 20 or so seconds that fight lasted. Rotator’s match with Warrior Dragon was a little less easy though since Warrior Dragon was too short for Rotator’s upper weapon to hit and the robot started having drive problems half way through the fight. The upper blade did end up coming into play when Warrior Dragon’s drone got sucked into the air disturbance above it, pulled into Rotator’s weaponry, and was destroyed. Not as spectacular as HyperShock and “The Rakening” but at least this thing — which I formerly called “Rotato” because I thought it sucked — can also say it’s killed a drone, an endangered species in BattleBots these days. (That’s a felony.)
While we’re on the subject of robots who used to be punchlines on this blog, take a gander at Skorpios. At 2-0, one of those wins over Icewave, you wouldn’t know this was the same robot whose 2016 tournament performance consisted of driving into the screws, getting stuck, being told not to slice into the hazards, and then being counted out. Skorpios had at most as much screen time in 2016 as Predator this year. Color me surprised when this robot decides to return for 2018 and in its first fight against Lucky controls the entire match and throws sparks all over the place. Armor damage, tire flossing, hooking its saw under Lucky’s arm; that fight had it all, and at no point was Lucky ever actually in the lead. Skorpios showed what it was capable of doing and Orion Beach showed off what a capable driver he was in his follow-up fight with Icewave. He attached some goofy ass hockey sticks to his robot to keep Icewave at bay, which failed on the first hit, but when push came to shove Skorpios made like Killdozer and never let up. Icewave barely got to use its blade and Mark DeVidts was basically shitting himself in the drivers’ booth. It was a “controversial decision” for sure, but you can’t understate the importance of driving ability and control. With a perfect 2-0 right now, Skorpios is looking to make this one a Hat Trick.
For some reason, Skorpios is the one robot who will just indiscriminately approach its opponent regardless of what’s going on. A few weeks ago I joked about how Greg Gibson drove Yeti “like bad AI from a 1990’s PlayStation demo derby game” in that no matter what he’d just point the front of his robot at you and drive. Orion’s doing much the same thing with Skorpios here. Rotator’s discs seem to alternate between which one’s spinning and which one’s making me guess if it’s already busted but no matter which one’s going Skorpios just shows up looking to cash in some aggression points. Rotator’s getting some hits and while some of them shed some steel sparks from Skorpios I can’t help but wonder if there’s any meaningful damage being done here. Skorpios gets some great opportunities to bring its saw down except when it finally does so the saw just stops working as soon as it makes contact with Rotator. This is a disc that can slice through fucking concrete and by Orion’s own words can cut through an inch of metal with about 30 seconds of solid slicing. I don’t think Rotator’s made from anything special aside from the custom font Victor designed for its logo (that’s a throwback to me joking about Skorpios’ use of Tahoma for its tramp stamp) so why the fuck is this thing’s discs impervious to everyone’s weaponry? First Petunia, now Skorpios!
Again, there’s certainly some impressive hits being dealt here but I’m just not feeling it. Rotator’s weaponry is deadly but whatever Skorpios’ front end is made out of is just not having any of it. Some generic shit happens in this fight like Skorpios hitting a seam in the floor, Rotator doing its signature move of whirling around in place with both discs going, and Skorpios pushing Rotator into the wall. Every time Skorpios seems to get the upper hand its weapon just fails which basically means that we’re looking at a repeat of the Icewave fight. Skorpios fucks up and gets its plow jammed under the edge of the arena spike wall and Rotator parks right behind it with its upper disc roaring. Chris says to take the shot and again I don’t disagree; Skorpios has spent this entire match shoving Rotator around with extreme prejudice and I’d venture a guess that the fight is a lot closer than everyone’s probably assuming. Don’t do the same shit you did against Warrior Dragon, Rotator. TAKE THE FUCKING SHOT. It doesn’t, but Skorpios still backs into Rotator’s disc as it gets away and gets necked pretty hard. Skorpios gets necked even harder when a follow-up hit from Rotator yanks the entire fucking saw arm off of Skorpios. Victor and his team start to celebrate and with good reason too because that’s exactly the kind of shit that scores mega points.
Points are scored, but Skorpios is far from being out. Now it’s really a repeat of the Icewave match because Skorpios just turns into the world’s best driven and most goddamned annoying wedge. Rotator starts getting pushed near the Killsaws because I guess Orion was paying attention earlier this season and knows that Rotator’s weakness is that exact hazard because it’ll just eat the robot’s wheels. Orion’s a little too generous with the accelerator though because it ends up being his robot who takes the brunt of the hits from the floor hazards. Despite being shoved around all over the place Rotator is still landing hits with its upper disc, one of which rips part of Skorpios’ upper armor off and exposes a bunch of cable spaghetti. You don’t have to be an expert bot builder (like me, heh) to know that’s not good. We already know that Rotator’s disc can hit that high and now with exposed internals and shit the next hit has the potential to kill the entire damn robot or at the very least knock out the left side of drive. There’s not enough time left for the opportunity to arise however, and after a few more light blows and trips to the Killsaws the clock runs out on this one.
The judges score the match in favor of Rotator, but I almost want to disagree? Based on the same principles as “the Icewave incident”, Skorpios lost its weapon and one armor panel (just like in the Icewave fight) but for the entire three minutes it just did not let up on Rotator. The only major difference here is Icewave was never really able to get its blade going and keep it spinning whereas Rotator’s more compact shape allowed it to get its discs spinning relatively quickly and in an alternating manner. The unanimous decision will do wonders for the likelihood of Rotator advancing onward to the Final 16 though. Both of these teams have made one hell of a comeback this year so no matter the outcome it was a strong showing.
WINNER: Rotator, Judges’ Decision (3-0)
ULTIMO DESTRUCTO vs. WITCH DOCTOR
Totally True Trivia™: Wile E. Coyote is on the build team for Ultimo Destructo. How else do you explain the TWISTY ROCKETS?
When I was at the taping of BattleBots this year, the buddy that I spent my trip with (the same one who helped migrate this website to a non-shitty web host) was losing his fucking mind that Ultimo Destructo had two wins. To this day I never understood the hateboner, but I guess it had something to do with the fact that this robot managed to get two seemingly free victories while other 2-0 robots at the time like Tombstone, Icewave, and Monsoon had to work for it. Ultimo Destructo is basically the workshy welfare leech of the robot combat world, in other words. In its flipping arm configuration (“Weezo Destructo”) Ultimo Destructo is longer than the goddamned starting square and, remember, the red and blue squares are 8′ on all sides. If fucking Shaq laid down next to this robot Ultimo Destructo would still be a foot longer. We’ve seen Ultimo Destructo once this season where Axe Backwards ate it alive until its weapon died but thankfully Ultimo Destructo was knocked out before it could claim another free win because it already had two wins thanks to Valkyrie and Parallax not working right. Can you imagine a 3-0 Ultimo Destructo right now? This thing sharing the same VIP lounge as Bite Force? Paul Vaticancity already had to make personal amends and accept fucking SawBlaze hanging out in the elite club but could you imagine Sean Irvin showing up with his fucking Guy Fieri sunglasses scamming on all the catered PB&J sandwiches and kicking his feet up on the expensive rental furniture?
Over in the blue square is Witch Doctor, a robot that I guess a lot of people like to hate or something? I don’t get it. People claim Witch Doctor is overrated and to that all I have to say is “were you even watching the 2015 season” because this green and purple machine gave Tombstone its DAILY DOSE and blew its weapon in two. Witch Doctor would’ve won that fight if the impact didn’t send it flying onto its back. I’ll admit it had a shitty 2016 season but that’s only because Andrea Suarez laughed at Red Devil’s tiny penis weapon until it unleashed its big dick energy and cleaved straight into her robot’s batteries for an insta-kill. Just before that fight Witch Doctor had a great one hit KO over Rotator though. The robot has potential, and this year it’s had a 50/50 start. Yeti socked the voodoo princess square in the face and I swear to god I could hear the Punch-Out! sound effects of Yeti getting a star and Mario coming out to deliver the 10 count. But the doctor bounced back and had a strong showing against Blacksmith… even though it almost lost at the end until it miraculously got out of the screws. Point is, Witch Doctor is one of those middle of the range machines that will kick your ass if you think it’ll be a cakewalk. I don’t think Sean Irvin assumes this will be an easy fight (he referred to Witch Doctor’s team as “elite”) but he did stick a cross on the front of his robot. You know, because voodoo is bad.
Ultimo Destructo waits a bit before coming out of the red square and I’m assuming this is because it’s trying to fire off its TWISTY ROCKETS… but there’s a problem or something because they ain’t firing. Witch Doctor begins its approach and somehow Ultimo Destructo is able to drift its wide ass around to keep its front end facing its opponent. This doesn’t last though because Witch Doctor catches Ultimo Destructo, bites its front left wheel in half, and delivers a hit against the screws that causes Ultimo Destructo’s chassis to begin visibly separating. Ultimo Destructo is still working… sorta. It’s able to back away from Witch Doctor but when the robot tries to turn around to face it a bunch of sparks shoot out of its ass. My professional unprofessional opinion is that’s probably not good. (See also: HyperShock.) Ultimo Destructo loses the wheel that Witch Doctor previously bit into and as Witch Doctor corrals Ultimo Destructo into the Pulverizer it busts off the entire fucking right side of Ultimo Destructo’s chassis. I guess it’s obvious by this point but Ultimo Destructo is (was?) a modular robot built in three parts where the weapon cartridge is sandwiched between two drive pods. I guess they were held on with scotch tape or something because that wasn’t even a good hit and Witch Doctor still broke this fucking thing.
The back right wheel falls off of Ultimo Destructo but that’s kind of not important because the entire right side is disconnected so that thing was gone already. The Pulverizer comes down on the right battery of TWISTY ROCKETS and snaps it off while the impact of being uppercutted into the goddamned corner causes Ultimo Destructo’s protective cross to fall off. Not even God can help you now, but he’ll certainly sort you out. Chris Rose exclaims “it’s being counted out already?!” Yeah dude, Ultimo Destructo is literally busted into two distinct halves now and the left drive pod is probably only hanging on by a thread because that first blow from Witch Doctor caused the front of it to visibly separate from the rest of the body. No matter though, Ultimo Destructo gets a new lounge to kick back in in the form of the “Recovery & Counseling Peer Group for Robots Who Have Been Split in Half”. Vanquish could really use the company. They have knock off Oreos and Kit Kat bars from the Dollar Tree down the street, something sure to give both builders PTSD flashbacks.
Ultimo Destructo completes its Fight Night rounds at 2-2 and after a loss like that I don’t think they’re coming back. (Except they did, because this was Ultimo Destructo’s third fight, not its fourth. Axe Backwards was its last fight so yeah the robot did get repaired.)
WINNER: Witch Doctor, KO
OVERHAUL vs. WAR HAWK
Totally True Trivia™: War Hawk’s paint job is based off of actual art from the Cannaturnright tribe of the land around Washington state.
“I don’t have a strategy against [vertical spinners],” says Charles Guan. Motherfucker are you for real? None? Two-thirds of the field this year are fucking vertical spinners so when Jessica Chobot asks you the most basic question she can think of — “what’s your strategy” — you just go “well I’ve never really thought about it so I’ve got nothing lol *Ginyu Force pose*”. This is why your robot has a 2-7 record coming into this fight. Two wins and seven losses. You have a company that makes and sells custom electronic speed controllers and yet your robot has a record like it was some shit that I built. How the fuck does that factor out? Overhaul has not had the nicest or easiest life at BattleBots. After it debuted in 2015 its team split up to go do their own things and that birthed SawBlaze, Brutus, Road Rash, and Valkyrie. Meanwhile Charles is just hanging out with his anime waifu robot (which he had free reign to turn it into when everyone left) that he’s painted blue and almost never won a fight with. SawBlaze even came back this season and very nearly lopped Overhaul’s weapon off just to prove a point. The only thing spitting crazier fire than SawBlaze was its driver Jamison Go who was flipping the fuck out and talking trash to Charles like this was a Call of Duty server or something. Chill dude, you just beat a guy whose robot has anime decals on it. I’m fairly certain even Chomp could do tha– no wait, Chomp could not do that, actually. Overhaul beat Chomp.
War Hawk’s builder Rob Farrow is a little more apprehensive about this fight because he thinks if he loses it then he’s out of the top 16 for sure. He also thinks it’s going to come down to “who has the better robot” because they’re so evenly matched which leads me to believe that this interview was recorded before Rob knew who his next opponent was. This season has really been a fucked up version of A Christmas Carol for Overhaul because all of the ghosts are visiting Charles this year. You’ve got the ghost of Christmas past in the form of SawBlaze, a former teammate coming back to kick Overhaul’s ass. Then you have the ghost of Christmas present in the way of Chomp who’s driven by someone who’s affiliations actually line up with the kind of person who dyes their hair dumb colors. And finally there’s the ghost of Christmas future in the form of War Hawk who is using Brutus’ old weapon, yet another robot built by one of Charles’ former teammates. I don’t even know what Charles did to get fucked this way because he’s a nice guy who sold me an uneaten taco but hey maybe he’s got some questionable anime searches on the Dark Web or something. Anyways specifically for this fight War Hawk is bringing out a doorstop bot of its own called “War Stop”. Why they didn’t employ this thing against Brutus I’ll never know because I feel like it’s kind of useless against something like Overhaul.
Overhaul charges War Hawk and as it careens across the Battlebox it stops to yield to the minibot pedestrian whose driver panics and swerves around its fucking target. Overhaul resumes its approach, lifts War Hawk up, and very nearly topples it in the first five seconds of the fight. This is a fantastic showing by Overhaul because even though it’s a “control bot” it’s hardly ever in control of any fight. What usually happens in a given Overhaul fight is what happens next; War Hawk recovers, hits Overhaul on the side and rips its UMHW armor apart, and as it’s flipped over War Hawk clips Overhaul’s upper jaw and I believe all the shit you see ejecting from Overhaul’s head are the pieces of the motor that drives that part of the weapon. The same motor that Charles held up to the camera in The Botopsy Report that SawBlaze very nearly cut through, War Hawk decimated in one choice blow. The hit also rips away the “unicorn horn” even though to me that thing more closely resembles a narwhal horn, because “the narwhal bacons at midnight LOL REDDIT”. Overhaul tries to stagger back into the fight but manages to drive up on top of the casing of its former weapon motor and gets high centered.
This affords War Hawk another hit which rips off the black armor plating from the front right corner of Overhaul, but it also dislodges the motor casing it’s stuck on. Overhaul looks like utter shit right now but surprisingly there’s still some fight left in this robot. The upper jaw is out of commission, but those lower forks are still active and Overhaul catches War Hawk with a second solid lift that also very nearly topples the spinner followed up by a charge at the wall with similar results. Kenny warns that War Hawk needs to stay right ways up because it cannot drive upside down. Technically it sort of can, because that’s what the little rolly wheels on top of War Hawk’s weapon bracket are for, but I believe the robot “can’t” drive upside-down because it sucks and its drive system is total shit because at no point in this robot’s three matches so far has it driven in a proper straight fucking line. War Hawk’s left side of drive has been fucked up since the team arrived and nothing they’ve done has fixed it so the robot just sort of pivots and glides everywhere. Overhaul is having problems of its own but that probably has more to do with the fact that the robot has taken more than a couple serious blows in just the first minute of this match. As Overhaul tries to get another lift in on War Hawk it continues to use its anime booty to repel War Hawk’s doorstop robot which up to this point has achieved jack shit aside from being referred to as “a mosquito” by the hosts.
Overhaul starts randomly smoking and briefly catches fire. It was originally believed that this was due to the minibot getting lodged underneath the heavyweight and being unable to get away so its battery and electronics cooked themselves, but if you look closely Overhaul was already belching out black smoke before the minibot was anywhere close to getting under it. Overhaul’s on fire simply by virtue of being a robot built by Charles Guan. The robot is still functional but crippled further and of course War Hawk isn’t landing any hits because the robot can’t fucking drive to save its life and relies on opponents getting near its front left corner so it can turn toward them to land hits. To demonstrate this Overhaul comes in, gets close to War Hawk’s front left corner, and War Hawk pivots forward to clip Overhaul’s other chunk of black armor off. Overhaul manages to ride up on top of the minibot even worse and shakes itself free, but now that its front armor plating is gone the little wedge gets right back up in Overhaul’s face and sits under its front corner. This is enough to almost completely immobilize Overhaul because of how low it usually sits on the floor. Right now War Hawk needs to get some hits in but of course it’s not doing anything because the minibot is more drive-able and functional than the fucking main bot.
The anime bot finally gets freed from the clutches of the most effective machine in the match — the goddamned doorstop — and tries again to ram War Hawk into the wall for some more points. Quite a bit of damage has been done to its drive system though, plus whatever the hell caught fire earlier, so understandably Overhaul is pretty weak by this stage. It backs into War Hawk and gets a whole bite taken out of its ass before it pretty much dies on the Killsaws. Barely mobile, and with not enough time for a proper KO count, Overhaul survives to the buzzer. The judges score the match in favor of War Hawk which is a decision I guess I agree with but I still sorta don’t. War Hawk brought the hurt but Overhaul was mostly controllable and delivered a couple of strategic lifts and rams. Even though it caught on fire Overhaul was still more maneuverable than Rob Farrow’s pile of parts who only landed hits because Overhaul got close to it. Attack from the right, Charles. That should’ve been your plan. War Hawk can’t do shit if you hit it from the right. It’s like a reverse Zoolander, it only turns left.
WINNER: War Hawk, Judges’ Decision (3-0)
CHOMP vs. WARHEAD
Totally True Trivia™: “Chomp” was the B-side to Tears for Fears’ single “Shout”.
Zoe Stephenson is the next builder who’s going to round out the end of her Fight Night matches with this bout. Right now she’s at a terrible 0-3 meaning two things: 1) she’s on the verge of finishing the season with zero wins after a full Fight Night qualification attempt and 2) Ultimo Destructo is going to finish with a better record than Chomp. And that sucks because last season Chomp was a surprise success that came back with a total redesign and cleaned up nicely with three wins before losing in the quarterfinals to Yeti. The quarterfinals! Chomp! It almost doesn’t even sound plausible given the robot’s track record this year with some pretty embarrassing losses to some crappier robots like Warrior Dragon and Overhaul. Chomp’s only real challenge should’ve been Huge who thrashed the hell out of this thing. Zoe was a good sport about it though, as when I ran into her she had just taken the beaten up hammer off and had it sitting out in the parking lot by the truck the robot arrived in… along with like two whole cases of the fuel canisters used to power Chomp’s flamethrower. She directed me to where the parts were in case I wanted to grab some pictures. Chomp has a lot of problems, but it’s main one is that the robot just cannot stay on its wheels. To combat this Zoe’s decided to crank the pressure of the hammer down just a little bit to see if that helps. The hammer wont swing as hard obviously, but Warhead’s… head… has a lot of real estate to hit and a lot of open gaps for Chomp’s hammer to reach into. This is it. (PS: That’s me in the upper right corner of Chomp’s introduction. The sign says “Still Chomping Indefinitely” or “S.C.I.” for Science Channel, a reference to a sign from a fan last season that said “Always Be Chomping” for “ABC”.)
Warhead is one of the robots that were previously mentioned in the show as “having some work to do” even though it’s currently sitting at a perfect 2-0 right now. Yeah, it should probably win at least one of its next two fights to maintain its chances of qualifying for one of the 15 remaining places in the Final 16, but it’s not like it’s doing poorly. It’s facing Chomp for god’s sake. I hate to say it but Warhead’s looking at what has got to at least be a 3-1 finish for the season in a worst case scenario. Normally this fight would be a sure thing for Ian Lewis and Simon Scott, but Simon mentions that the team is going with the dinosaur head — again — to purposefully make it challenging. He even admitted it would be an easy win with the spinning dome weapon. I appreciate what he’s doing, because just showing up and tearing Chomp to fucking pieces is exactly what Huge just did, but I always feel like making decisions like this for the purposes of entertainment and aesthetic can really come back and bite you in the ass when you could’ve easily locked in a win by just being fucking rational. In any case unless there’s something really vital hidden inside Warhead’s dinosaur head I don’t really think Chomp will strike anything critical, especially because it’s hammer pressure has been cranked down. I did notice that Warhead has some bits of tire stuffed inside of its skull to protect against blows anyways, and probably to ensure Chomp can’t hook its hammer inside.
The fight starts and right away we’ve got two robotic reptiles blowing fire at each other. Warhead tries to bite down and Chomp swings its hammer. Wow, yeah that thing has definitely been dialed back, what the fuck is this, little league tee-ball? It looks like Warhead catches one of Chomp’s side wings and starts biting down on it, but as Chomp brings its hammer back into position the twisting of the wing dislodges it from Warhead’s teeth. Chomp swings again and gets a glancing blow on Warhead before cocking its weapon back again and landing a shot that bonks the dinosaur and bounces off the added tire padding from inside its head. Even worse for Warhead, Chomp lands a third strike that hits the robot on its back. I’m not sure what kind of damage is being done here, but I will say this could have been avoided had you just stuck the goddamned spinner on. Chomp swings again, this time digging into Warhead’s fucking skull and dislodging its left eye. It’s purely cosmetic damage but think about this shit for a second. Imagine getting struck in the head so fucking hard that your goddamned eye pops out. Now there’s nothing in Warhead’s left eye socket except a hole straight into the robot’s head where only fire exists. This is legitimately scary.
Chomp gets a little too trigger happy and swings again, missing, and allowing Warhead to cruise in and bite down completely on Chomp’s hammer. Nothing comes from this exchange as when Warhead backs away somehow this piece of metal manages to not catch on any of Warhead’s teeth and vice versa. Warhead finally manages to knock Chomp onto its side and… uh, starts nuzzling its belly with its snout. That’s literally the best way I can describe what happens. Mercifully we leave “furry roleplaying” territory pretty quickly as Chomp kicks Warhead away and rights itself. Chomp flees momentarily to put some distance between it and its opponent and then comes in for another cleave that strikes Warhead square on its noggin again. The hit rolls Chomp once more and affords Warhead the ability to stick its lower jaw into the hoop area of Chomp’s weapon while Chris says they’re fighting like a car accident. Nah man, they fuckin’ like a car accident. Warhead is blowing flames the entire time (both robots are, and have been, I just haven’t really pointed it out because it’s irrelevant) and enough fire eventually reaches the top of Chomp and burns off that AR/QR code thing on its lid meaning that once again you can’t scan it and send bitcoins to Chomp or whatever that thing is for.
The fight gets a little spicier, and turns back into that weird roleplaying territory, when Warhead unhinges its fucking jaw to bite down on Chomp. We’re adding fetish tags to this match faster than I am comfortable with, but ultimately Warhead has to let go after milking 20 seconds off of the clock with nothing but straight flames on Chomp’s side. Chomp gets free and lands a patented Kenny Florian Huge Hit but this just causes Warhead to unhinge its jaw even further and had the clock not run down on this fight I swear to god Warhead would’ve found a way to literally swallow Chomp. Kenny’s right though, ending the fight in a compromised position is never good. Not in boxing, not in MMA, and not in BattleBots. When the judges turn in their scorecards, predictably Warhead is the winner. Warhead gets to kick back in the 3-0 undefeated club while Chomp completes its Fight Night rounds with a devastating 0-4. Obviously Chomp probably would not have qualified even if it won this fight but at this point winning the match would’ve been a matter of personal dignity, no one wants to end their season run with absolutely no wins. Zoe potentially figured out the secret to keeping her robot stable but it was too little too late. Perhaps in 2019 if Chomp returns maybe we’ll see something better, but as far as this year is concerned I’d have to say that was one hell of a “spirited performance”.
WINNER: Warhead, Judges’ Decision (3-0)
Wait a minute holy shit. Listening to Chris’ VO after the fight he says Warhead is 2-0 now. Did they spoil the outcome of this fight in that graphic at the beginning of the episode? You know, the one where Monsoon was replaced with Double Dutch? Two mistakes on the same graphic, who’s producing this show, History Channel? So I guess everything I said up to this point was incorrect. Warhead’s not in the 3-0 club, it’s 2-0. I uh… I guess they have “some work to do” then.
SCIENCE CHANNEL EXCLUSIVE
GEMINI vs. SHARKOPRION
Totally True Trivia™: Sharkoprion’s Team Blaze got its name because you’d have to be high to build a robot like this.
Back for the second week in a row is Gemini, the clusterbot whose team did a better job at their math than The Four Horsemen. I almost thought about not taking another screenshot of the robots for this article but I figured that would be a dumb move and I’ve already burned up that gag this season, so there you go. A new picture. Nothing’s changed. Gemini had a strong-ish showing against Mohawk earlier this year in a battle that the dangerous duo actually won by KO but then things went tits up when they showed up for the Desperado tournament. A tenacious Lucky put them out of commission exactly like I assumed it would. I get the appeal of having a clusterbot but when you’re facing off against a giant robot tank with five fucking tons of pneumatic force you might as well just call in sick. Now an opponent that’s just a goofy ass shark? That’s more Gemini’s speed, especially considering its only win was against a robot with a flaming goddamned mohawk. Both of Gemini’s robotic counterparts have the same design and weapon (they’re twins get it hur hur) so both of them are equipped with horizontal discs that seem to pose more of a threat to each other than they do to any given opponent. Expect some friendly fire unless the team has their shit together.
Sharkoprion arrived to this event as an alternate entry and ended up winning over everyone. “Winning over” in an emotional sense, by the way, because it didn’t “win over” Warhead. Also at 1-1 this robot built from scrap propane tanks is gussied up to look like a shark and comes equipped with a small vertical disc that packs a huge punch. Sharkoprion debuted in the very first episode of the 2018 season where it dominated a rumble with Kraken and Deviled Egg, knocking both robots out in the process. Sharkoprion also battled with the aforementioned Warhead but lost the fight by a judges’ decision because Ian Lewis’ robot dinosaur managed to give great head to the shark for three solid minutes without tiring and that’s definitely worth something. Sharkoprion is proof that you can make a robot that is aesthetically pleasing yet still effective. The only real gripe I have about this thing is that I hate having to type out its fucking name because I always write “Sharkorpion” or “Skarkoption” so I have to stick “Sharkoprion” on my word processor’s clipboard and just paste it in every time I mention it by name. Thanks, Ed.
I sorta feel like this one should be in the bag for Sharkoprion as long as it doesn’t fuck everything up, so I’m a little curious as to why Ed Robinson leads in with a butt slapping strategy and then just sticks with it. Smacking one of the Gemini bots with the tail of his robot in order to absorb the kinetic energy of its disc and slow it down is a brilliant plan… but Sharkoprion has a spinning disc of its own for a reason. Once you bootyquake someone you’ve gotta follow through with a shark bite. Gemini is the perfect target because both robots are very light and very square, Sharkoprion should have no problems whatsoever getting purchase on the clusterbot and tossing one of them aside sorta like how the black Gemini robot gets thrown by the spinner. Hitting Gemini’s ass with your ass isn’t going to score any points though. There’s some great glancing blows here but Ed is using this match as some bizarre proof of concept or something when he really should just be thrashing these easy targets. More sparks, more glancing blows, but very little meat. It almost seems like one of Gemini’s little jabs may have damaged Sharkoprion’s wheels which is why it can’t stop spinning, but the shark drives in a straight line every once in a while so who knows. If the shark is actually crippled right now Ed is doing an amazing job of hiding it.
Chris says he wants to start making shark puns while Kenny suggests that Sharkoprion might want to see if it can get Gemini to start damaging itself. Moments later, the two Gemini bots kiss briefly. No damage is done, I just think it’s weird that no one’s addressing the fact that Kenny can apparently see at least 15 seconds into the future. Sharkoprion whips and the black Gemini robot catches some nae nae as the shark’s rear fin smacks its disc away. The strategy is definitely working, now just go hit it. That’s it. The editors cut to Ed who says “this is all about the tail”. Yeah dude I can tell. Also I’m pretty sure there are gross bumper stickers sold at skeevy conventions that say exactly that. Damage is finally done but it comes in the form of the black Gemini robot clipping the red one which seems to be a pretty common thing so whoever’s driving that piece of shit is probably going to get demoted to wrench jockey or something next year. This hit is important because it rips away the side panel protecting the red robot’s left wheel. Now exposed, Sharkoprion can cruise in and bite it off.
The black robot makes a strong push to turn this fight around and takes Sharkoprion into the screws but makes the mistake of taking the shark to the ones behind the red square which keep on breaking and don’t do anything. Sharkoprion staggers instead of recovers and the black Gemini bot takes a ride on some nearby Killsaws. Chris finally notices that the red one is missing a wheel. The two remaining robots hang out near the screws until the clock runs out and the judges give this one to Sharkoprion. It’s a split decision too and I don’t blame them because at not point was there ever a clear leader. Gemini had little to no cohesive strategy until the end when the black robot took the initiative and showed some aggression, however Sharkoprion’s strategy consisted of just spinning around and beating on its opponents with its ass. I guess what it came down to was the fact that one of the Gemini robots was incapacitated at the end and that had to have given Sharkoprion the edge on damage because fuck me if your expecting an analysis of how I thought the other points were given out.
WINNER: Sharkoprion, Judges’ Decision (2-1)
TOMBSTONE vs. WHIPLASH
Totally True Trivia™: Ray Billings is currently experimenting with weaponizing the Giant Nuts… but he needs one more to balance it out.
For being the ratings machine that it is, Tombstone’s taken quite a long break. Like two fucking months long. Tombstone kicked off the 2018 season with its main event fight against Minotaur and followed up with another main event match against Gigabyte, both of which Tombstone won by very creative knock-outs. Tombstone’s blade carved up the floor in its fight with Minotaur and somehow got a lucky shot that high-centered the raging bull on one of the curlies it made; Tombstone then doubled down with Gigabyte and struck the spinner’s shell so hard that its cheap ass Chinese weapon shaft disintegrated and blew the entire top of the robot off. Gigabyte’s driver tried to tap out and was informed he could not so he just pretended Gigabyte was dead while Ray Billings did the right thing and showed mercy. It’s all in the blade, literally. Tombstone’s weapon system (blade, motor, etc) takes up at least half of the robot’s total allocated weight. Whereas goofy shit like Gemini from the previous fight is just two separate 125 pound robots Tombstone is basically one 125 pound robot with the other stapled onto it in the form of the world’s biggest middle finger. Ray’s as giddy as a schoolgirl when he talks about his robot annihilating its opponents and he has every right to be. Some of the most spectacular hits of the BattleBots reboot have come from that chunk of solid metal.
Jeff Vasquez of Team Fast Electric Robots says it’s an honor just to have made it to the point where they have the opportunity to fight a legend in a main event match. Whether or not they win, this is an accomplishment to him and his boys… but wouldn’t that be some crazy shit if their robot Whiplash won? Up to this point Whiplash’s opponents have been sort of nebulous and of an unknown caliber so this fight will be a proper “do or die” moment. In its first fight Whiplash out-drove “Fuzzy” Mauldin’s Hypothermia and ripped a wheel off for an easy victory. Whiplash then achieved a KO victory over Christian Carlberg’s Mecha Rampage by teetering the weirdly-shaped robot onto the arena wall in such a way that it couldn’t get back down. Being able to knock out an otherwise invertible robot like that is proof that Whiplash’s driver Matt Vasquez doesn’t fuck around. The fact that Whiplash finished second in the heavyweight division of Robogames 2017 also helps make that point. Whiplash’s weapon is unconventional, but solid. It’s a vertical spinning disc however unlike the rest of the boring ass vertical spinners this year Whiplash’s is on a lifting arm… and not like SawBlaze or Skorpios, either. This is a proper disc with some muscle behind it and the lifting arm is a sturdy piece of solid metal. It’s not gonna get blown off like Skorpios’ did… well, this is Tombstone we’re talking about here so you never know.
Two seconds pass. Think about how little time that is and what you can do in just two seconds. Tombstone’s blade starts spinning up to speed and Whiplash is already across the floor connecting with it and sending both robots spiraling out of control. In two fucking seconds. That’s one second away from pulling cold Pop-Tarts out of the microwave like in that old YTMND meme. Whiplash is spun away, but doesn’t let up. A few more seconds pass and the robot connects with Tombstone head on and the hit rips away Whiplash’s left plow piece and chucks it at the wall where Chris and Kenny are sitting, scaring them shitless. The opening “Battle Clock” graphic is still on the screen and already we’ve had two earth-shattering blows unleashed into Whiplash’s face and this crazy fucking thing is showing no signs of stopping. It comes in for some more and clips Tombstone’s blade with its disc. Does the disc break? Of course not, but Tombstone gets a nice toss from it. Even if Whiplash’s weapon did break you know they’re okay because there’s a guy on its team whose sole job is to walk around holding a spare disc.
Whiplash slams Tombstone into the wall and gets in one of its tradmark moves (“The Backhand”) where it spins around, revs its disc up, and raises its lifting arm all the way around 180 degrees. The hit connects with Tombstone’s weapon frame and it doesn’t seem like any major damage is dealt, but if Whiplash can do that again on Tombstone’s actual armor that could be a different story. Tombstone gets away and it’s hard to really tell who’s on top right now so to help us out Tombstone cleaves into the right side of Whiplash and somehow manages to pull the front wheel off while leaving the plow piece on that side untouched. How Ray can pull of these precision moves with a blade the size of a Pizza Hut Bigfoot Pizza I may never know. Tombstone’s right wheel is cockeyed at this point but it’s sorta hard to tell because the robot won’t hold still. Case in point, Whiplash clips it again and causes Tombstone’s weapon to blast a hole through the floor and propel the heavyweight all the way across the fucking Battlebox. Remember, these robots weight 250 pounds. Who’s fucking winning this fight? There’s more action in just the first 30 seconds than we get out of most fights period.
Tombstone’s winning, that’s who. For all the fancy driving Matt Vasquez has mastered you kinda can’t do that unless your robot has wheels. Tombstone slashes into Whiplash’s front left corner where its plow is missing and rips off another tire. This hit also appears to damage the remaining bit of drive on that side and that probably has something to do with Whiplash’s front left hub being bent 45 fucking degrees inward. It’s still mobile enough to pose a threat though and proves this by blasting Tombstone in the fucking face for god knows what time this match. Tombstone carves up the red square but it seems like that hit may have been the masterstroke here because for all the carnage and damage Whiplash has turned into a total write-off. The robot’s completely unresponsive and is actually smoking. Whiplash is counted down and loses, but make no mistake this is probably the closest Ray has come to losing a match this season. He’s 3-0 now and gets to talk shit with Bronco but I believe he scraped by just barely. Had Whiplash’s front armor not failed like it did that could’ve ended a completely different way, especially if that backhand move clipped Tombstone’s weapon chain.
But yeah, Whiplash is still totally fair game for the Round of 16, haha. No sarcasm. Seriously. That was off the fucking wall.
WINNER: Tombstone, KO
I remember when this season started and I was staring down 20 weekly articles and wondering how the fuck I was going to pull that off. Well I’m capping off #12 as we speak so I guess there’s a good chance that we’ll be able to ride this train all the way back to the station. I’m pretty sure we’ve surpassed the number of episodes from the 2016 season now, or we will with next week’s article (not counting the Giant Washer Awards). As we near that magic number though we’re going to start seeing more and more robots finish their “Fight Night” qualification rounds. This week we just saw three of them and got a complete spectrum of possibilities. Rotator stands a very solid chance at advancing by finishing at 3-1, Ultimo Destructo sliced it right down the middle with a 2-2 but probably won’t make it in, and Chomp… well… 0-4’s gotta suck. Lots of other bots are just one fight away from wrapping up their four matches so the ride is about to end for a lot of the competitors that we’ve enjoyed up to this point. The main tournament is about to begin and I think in the speedrunning community that’s called “serious time”?
Also you guys I am so sorry about that bullshit with Robot Wars on Science Channel. Wow. I think I speak for all of us when I say I was expecting just a repeat of the exact same show from the BBC (just trimmed down to fit the US air time). What I was not expecting was a complete recut of the entire show that replaced the narration with some dude who sounds like the child of the host of How It’s Made and whoever records the bumpers for every alternative rock FM station on the planet. God damn that’s awkward. I don’t have cable TV so I wasn’t really able to comment on it in last week’s article because I had no way of watching the show, I just assumed it was a rerun. You should still watch it though just to prove a point that it’s robot combat we give a shit about. They can replace Jonathan Pearce all they want and cut down Dara O’Briain and Angela Scanlon’s screen time to mere minutes but that doesn’t change the fights. That’s what matters, that’s the heart of the show. So hopefully Robot Wars on Science still gets the support it deserves even if the new narrator sounds like the guy who takes your order at Pizza Hut having a little too much fun on the job.
Anyways that’s it for this week’s BattleBots Update. I want to thank you all for coming over to check it out and I hope you’re looking forward to the next one because it would be really weird if I just stopped right here. Make sure you follow BattleBots Update on Facebook to get notified of new content, and if you would like to support this website you can do so real easily with a monthly pledge via Patreon or a one-time donation via PayPal. ($15 on Patreon gets an image link to your website, store, event, project, blog, etc. on every content page on this site!) Huge thanks to Colin P. for joining the Patreon crew!