[BattleBots: S8 E2 is available online through Science Channel HERE.]
Welcome back to BattleBots Update. Even though I write about other events I somehow keep forgetting just how much of this website’s “bread and butter” is the actual BattleBots show. I mean yeah the site’s named after it, but Robot Wars and all that was pretty huge and even though my content covering that show was well received I’m always surprised when I post an article about BattleBots, go to bed, and then wake up the next day to almost another 100 likes on Facebook and some comments to answer. I’m not used to this kind of shit; historically my experience as a “content creator” has been in the ballpark of maybe a few hundred views on YouTube and like 20 cents a month from Google AdSense. I’ve been doing this iteration of BattleBots Update for nearly three years now and I’m still not used to people caring. So, thank you. And because I’m sure a good lot of you are new readers and might not be “in” on what’s going on here, I’m a (former) stand-up comedian and (former) stage actor and basically I make fun of everyone’s robots and get away with it because it’s all an act and behind the curtain I’m friends with nearly everyone profiled in these articles. In other words don’t send me hate mail when I say Chomp sucks or whatever.
This episode kicks off with Kenny Florian doing some pit-side reporting on Icewave, one of the robots featured in this week’s episode. I’ve gotta say, I’m super excited. Icewave was one of the breakout stars of the original 2015 reboot season (“season six”) and just absolutely leveled Razorback and Chomp. The robot was easily one of the reasons why the reboot season went over so well so you can imagine how upset I was that a grand total of none of Icewave’s fights were aired last season. Icewave had a great fight against SubZero that, I shit you not, unfolded pretty much exactly like SubZero’s battle against Huge last week as well as a crazy battle with Nightmare where some mega hits were dealt. None of those made it to air which kind of rubbed me the wrong way because had it not been for moments like Icewave literally ripping a chunk out of Razorback the size of your fucking head or gutting Chomp alive there might not have been a second season with ABC and thus no Discovery Channel season right now. Icewave is an OG so it’s nice to see it getting the attention it both deserves and has earned.
So anyways Kenny seems excited for Icewave and that’s all well and good. I was sitting in the green room when they were taping this spot and for some reason Kenny’s microphone feed was piped into the room but the video feed from the camera was not. This meant that I got to hear Kenny do literally like 10 takes of this single scene which culminated in me reciting it back to one of the guys I was at the event with as a joke.
ICEWAVE vs. VANQUISH
Totally True Trivia™: Vanquish is actually Brutus, they entered it twice.
And would you look at that right off the bat we’re going straight to Icewave’s fight! Kenny already sorta provided a more cohesive breakdown of this robot than what my dumb ass is able to put together but essentially this bot is all about the blade. Obviously by this point I’m sure you’re aware that Icewave’s weapon is gas powered and run off of an internal combustion engine, or an “ICE”… hence the name. Yeah it’s not called “Icewave” because it’s cold or whatever because otherwise why the fuck would it be painted orange? The reason why Marc DeVidts went with a fuel powered weapon (the only one of its kind this season) is because you generally get a better weight-to-power ratio with an engine as opposed to a standard electric motor. This of course comes at the cost of being a little more complicated in the way of maintenance and if your engine stalls in the middle of a match well then you’re just shit outta luck. That’s a trade-off Marc was willing to make however because thanks to the engine running Icewave’s blade the robot’s weapon spins in excess of 12,000 RPM. There’s no typo there, that’s literally twelve fucking thousand.
Icewave’s primary weakness, and the weakness of most horizontal spinners for that matter, is a solid angled plow which can deflect a spinning blade upward and potentially throw it off balance. That’s exactly what Vanquish is toting in the form of a solid steel wedge weighing 60 pounds (i.e. nearly 25% of the entire robot’s goddamned weight). Jack Tweedy, Vanquish’s builder, is new to BattleBots but is otherwise active in the UK robot combat scene having participated in the pilot episode of Robot Wars’ seventh series. His robot Vanquish is a thing of beauty and I guess sort of resembles BattleBots competitor Brutus if it chose to be something other than “another goddamned vertical spinner”. The best comparison I can make regarding how Vanquish works is that it’s similar to Sewer Snake from Robogames in that it’s got the lifting wedge in front but also a front-hinged lifting arm that stretches across the top of the robot that works independently of the wedge. Basically the goal here is to raise an opponent up and then tip them forward to flip them over. Vanquish’s upper lifting arm looks a little suspect in terms of strength but its front end is rock solid and that’ll be what takes the hits from Icewave.
Jack said his strategy was to rush Icewave at the start and that’s exactly the plan that gets executed because in mere seconds Vanquish is across the box and on the spinner. The wedge absorbs a direct hit and somehow the tread from Vanquish’s back right tire starts to come off. This can’t possibly be from Icewave so I’m left to assume that Vanquish has so much torque in its drive system that it’s literally burning rubber. Either that or Jack chose some exceptionally terrible wheels. This is causing some pretty obvious rattling and instability with Vanquish’s ride but overall it doesn’t seem that bad and Icewave is relentlessly attacked by the gold wedge with one of those hits providing some serious deflection. All is not well though as while Vanquish gets spun around Icewave clips the back corner of its chassis and it looks like the whole goddamned thing just warps because Vanquish goes from full-on aggression to just sorta drunkenly stumbling around while its wedge starts catching on the floor. It also seems as though Vanquish’s rear left tire is no longer in contact with the ground so in other words it might be safe to say that Vanquish, in technical terms, is “absolutely fucked”.
Vanquish continues to stand up against Icewave even though there’s giant slashes in its front wedge and you can now see all sorts of shaft collars and other random parts and shit scattered around the arena that Icewave clipped off of its opponent but sent them flying away so fast you couldn’t even see. I’m not an engineer but I’m pretty certain those parts are probably important because Vanquish pivots to tank another blow and the robot’s entire chassis buckles strangely. A second blow that strikes Vanquish’s wedge perpendicular to its mount demonstrates that the aforementioned broken parts weren’t just “important” but actually necessary in holding the bot together because Icewave doesn’t just rip Vanquish’s wedge off — no way — Icewave splits Vanquish in fucking two; one side of Vanquish’s drive along with its entire lifting array goes one way while the other side of drive and the robot’s inner chassis go the other. Remember when I teased that someone gets cleaved in two in my trip report article? This is exactly what I was referring to. When this happened I was dumbfounded for like two seconds while I pieced together what the fuck just happened because Vanquish split apart so perfectly that it looked like it became two separate things. Don’t get me wrong, I knew Icewave just fucking trashed something but I wasn’t expecting the end result to be a literal Mortal Kombat fatality.
WINNER: Icewave, Straight up fucking murder
ROTATOR vs. PETUNIA
Totally True Trivia™: “Rotator” spelled backwards is “Veg-O-Matic”.
I believe in the past I’ve described Victor Soto’s Rotator as like having combined two Surgeon General’s from the Comedy Central seasons of BattleBots from that brief period of time when that robot wasn’t total shit. Rotator’s design incorporates two spinning discs (or alternate bars) which are mounted in such a way so that the weapon at the front of the robot rides along the floor like an undercutter while the weapon in the back sits about six or so inches higher; no matter which side the robot sits on it will always have this configuration. It’s like a palindrome. Consequently this is also why the robot is named “ROTATOR”. This robot is really sort of an unproven design because last season Rotator was knocked out in seconds by Witch Doctor before it ever had a chance to show what it was made of. Rotator eventually participated in one of the consolation rumbles consisting of bots that lost in their first rounds and we got to see just a little bit of what this machine could do as it ripped up Splatter’s fiberglass body but it’s still a dark horse in my opinion. It definitely looked promising and Victor seems confident in his design because he’s brought Rotator back without any major changes to the robot’s form or function.
Petunia comes to us all the way from the Netherlands, 5,000 miles from the BattleBots venue. I don’t know any interesting trivia about the Netherlands other than it’s sometimes referred to as Holland which can be represented in excessively ornate ASCII form like so: ][=][ (()) ][_ ][_ //= ][ ][)). it’s a robot armed with a massively powerful hydraulic beak whose intent is to absorb blows with its leading wedge, corral an opponent onto said wedge, and just bite down and wreck fucking everything. Mischa de Graff claims his robot has the largest hydraulic cylinder ever used in a combat robot and that Petunia has a resulting 10 tons of what Robot Wars’ Jonathan Pearce would probably call a “crushability factor”. The word “largest” sort of got me to perk up because we just recently had some dingus from Robot Wars say they’d built the “most powerful” crusher but were actually nowhere close to the robot who actually has that record, Kan Opener (12 tons). I was already like “not this shit again” but then I realized Mischa said he had the largest one, not the “most powerful”. I can’t actually verify that claim so I’m just going to assume he’s correct and say “that’s cool I guess”. Cool, and apparently inefficient.
Mischa mentioned in that little pre-fight pit inlay he knows his robot is of the variety that has to first take a hit before it can land one so right on schedule Petunia deflects a minor blow from Rotator before catching the spinner’s bottom disc which hooks into the serrated front of Petunia’s wedge and transfers the momentum of that weapon back into Rotator who swings its ass around and connects with the upper chassis of the biter bot ripping it clean open. Not sure if that was part of Mischa’s plan but it looks like that violent whiplash sustained by Rotator’s lower disc has already killed the weapon so in any case Petunia’s making it work as best it can. Rotator now has only its upper disc to attack with which isn’t good because much like what I mentioned in the Icewave/Vanquish fight moments ago when a horizontal spinner meets an incline it’ll want to deflect upward and that rear disc is literally “ground clearance city” for Petunia. Even worse, Rotator hooks its upper disc into what I guess is the “neck” of Petunia which is built like a fucking rock because it has to handle 10 tons of hydraulic force so it’s not going anywhere. Rotator catches the bad end of that exchange and kills its only remaining disc after getting jerked to the side again. The disc appears to keep spinning but much like what we’ve seen in previous fights this season it’s “all speed, no bite” and Petunia just bumping into it is enough to stop the weapon from turning.
So Rotator is basically fucked at this point because without its PRIMARY WEAPONS the robot’s backup plan is to just whip around in place like a thwack bot and that’s never an ideal scenario because thwack bots are fucking boring. To make matters worse for Victor his robot starts smoking and I’m going to assume this was the motor for the lower disc actually dying for good because I saw Rotator trying to get it spinning a few seconds ago and it didn’t seem to work so for all I know he may have pushed it too hard when it was already damaged. As long as Petunia doesn’t do dumb shit like driving itself under the Pulverizer, which it’s currently doing right now, Mischa stands to win his first ever BattleBots fight. Petunia gets its first proper bite of the match and hooks its beak right onto Rotator’s frame and I’ve gotta be honest with you for Mischa’s sake I’m gonna assume something got damaged earlier in the match because while I don’t know shit about metallurgy I do know that 10 tons is a fuckload of weight and you’re telling me this “10 ton crusher” can’t do jack shit to some fucking dinky ass 250 pound robot?
There’s only a finite amount of time that Petunia can hold Rotator before it’s gotta let it go and as the crippled spinner gets away Petunia helpfully guides it into the screws behind the red square. Watch carefully and you’ll see that same goddamned screw on the right stop working. Again. Petunia gets a couple more “almost crushes” on Rotator who has now proven to be a slightly harder target by way of doing its dumb thwack thing until finally getting some purchase on Rotator’s upper disc. This disc is fucking aluminum so I better see some carnage here, if not on the disc than on the motor or shaft assembly or something because 10 tons is the weight of 10 small cars and fuck you if you think that the weight of almost a dozen goddamned automobiles focused on a single point won’t — at the very least — bend something.
Actually, what ends up happening is Petunia’s beak starts visibly biting into Rotator’s disc but the bot gets slapped on the ass by whatever those pinball flipper things are near the screws and the ensuing shifting of the bots results in the tip of Petunia’s jaw getting sheared off. I guess you could say Rotator got “just the tip”. Damaged weaponry aside Petunia is still on top in this battle and after nearly getting thrown onto its ass by the Killsaws it goes right back into corralling Rotator around. Rotator starts smoking again and I’m past the point where I’m even going to bother guessing what the fuck is broken this time because aside from Petunia’s driver shoving his entire transmitter up his own ass there isn’t a single scenario where I can see Rotator coming back from this, even more so when Petunia drops it off at the Killsaws which blow Rotator’s right wheel to pieces.
WINNER: Petunia, Judges’ Decision (3-0)
RED DEVIL vs. BRUTUS
Totally True Trivia™: Brutus does not have guns anymore because Obama took them away.
“Draco, I know a thing or two about Red Devil,” you might be saying. “And I know that the gentleman driving this robot is not Jerome Miles. In fact, Jerome is nowhere to be seen. Furthermore, I’m about 90% certain the guy driving Red Devil here was here last season with a much crappier robot and ended up losing because he kept attacking a dead full body spinner.” Yeah, that’s not Jerome. That’s Ravi Baboolal and he was indeed here last season with a different robot. That robot was called Lycan, “Lycan” as in “this guy is driving his robot Lycan idiot”. (Also when I typed the previous sentence I typoed Ravi’s name as “Ravibaboolal” and I couldn’t stop laughing because I had this mental image of him being a fucking Skyrim dragon or something.) Ravi is in charge of Red Devil this season because Jerome, like many of the other popular bot builders missing this time around, was busy defending our freedoms at some other robot event in China. Red Devil looks like it’s pretty much the same robot as last season, it’s still got the little grippy grabbers and the saw and the whole thing lifts up and down and all that. Last season Red Devil also had a plow attachment which never got used so this match is its maiden voyage.
Every time I talk about Brutus I’m always like “hey it’s the guy who didn’t shake Donald Hutson’s hand hur hur” and I think it’s time I put that quip out to pasture because it’s not funny anymore and I think I reached peak meme with it when I met Adam Bercu this season and faked him out on the handshake. Brutus debuted last season after Adam jumped ship from the Overhaul team because he was tired of losing and his efforts did not go unrewarded… for the most part. All of Brutus’ wins were sort of questionable because in its first match against Moebius it had those goofy ass guns which shot pyrotechnics out and Moebius killed itself but nobody knew what the fuck was going on because people thought Brutus’ guns took it out, then Brutus won a judges’ decision over Lock-Jaw in a fight where Lock-Jaw used an expertly designed plow to keep Brutus at bay for the entire match but since Lock-Jaw “showed no aggression with a PRIMARY WEAPON” the judges went in favor of Brutus even though it landed a total of 0 hits. Ultimately Brutus fell to Tombstone and has returned sans guns because I think Adam realized how much of a tryhard he looked like walking around with golden fucking pistols. Pay close attention to the closeup of Brutus while Adam is talking and you’ll see that the robot is using what appears to be Flex Tape to seal the cracks in its armor. I don’t know if it’s actually Flex Tape but that product has become a meme already this season and I’m officially endorsing it.
Last season Brutus had a rather unconventional approach to its fights: the robot only had enough battery power to last “about two minutes” because the team was banking on winning via KO. That’s about as retarded as intentionally filling your car’s tank up halfway before a road trip because you have faith that you’ll hit a couple turbo boost pads on the way and save on gas. Hopefully that’s changed because Brutus is a lot faster and lot more powerful this year and I don’t see “two minutes’ worth of batteries” lasting longer than 60 seconds at this rate with Brutus skidding and drifting around all over the place. Brutus is so out of control that before any hits have even been dealt by either robot it starts smoking and Brutus farts out a small lick of flame signalling that it’s just cooked the speed controller for something, probably its weapon. Super. Brutus still has its wedge but because of the way BattleBots’ rules are written these days unless that wedge lifts up to reveal a pair of golden guns that fire out bribes directly into the pockets of the judges it has zero chance of winning this fight now. This is all Red Devil and with a successful lift it gets the perfect opportunity to bring its blade down directly onto Brutus’ face.
Red Devil starts scoring some free points on Brutus and it soon becomes apparent that one of the little decorative devil horns on the front of its plow has actually hooked underneath Brutus’ hollow underside so there’s no way that the former sharpshooter is going to be able to get down. I don’t know if that was an intentional design element or just a happy accident but hey when something works, it works. Red Devil does a ton of mostly cosmetic damage to Brutus and it’s hard to tell but Brutus starts smoking a second time and when the two bots finally separate it’s no longer moving. Red Devil goes in for some extra points to seal the deal, presumably to try and slice into Brutus’ chassis like it did to Witch Doctor last season, but the devil wore its blade out on Brutus’ heavily armored front end so Chris Rose is left to his own devices making weird “second base” jokes about robot relationships. Dude, I don’t know what kinds of relationships you’ve been in but when you get to the stage where you’re “eating ass” I’d say that’s further than second base. We’re talking like home run territory. Grand slam, even.
WINNER: Red Devil, KO
CAPTAIN SHREDERATOR vs. END GAME
Totally True Trivia™: Captain Shrederator is the only robot with an entrance theme – The Pledge of Allegiance.
Captain Shrederator is “one of those robots”. You know the kind I mean, the ones that show up and the team puts on a show of bravado, it wins a couple fights, and then gets dispatched in a pretty humiliating way. It’s almost like an act sometimes, but Captain Shrederator is no joke. This robot began its life as a spinner named Phrizbee back in the middle of the Comedy Central era where it either fucking demolished someone (e.g. Billy-Bot) or was just completely emasculated. Phrizbee’s builder Brian Nave eventually took the robot to the US version of Robot Wars where, for licensing purposes, he had to rename it. He settled on “The Revolutionist” and gave the machine an American flag paint job and this inconsequential change to Phrizbee became the seeds that would eventually blossom into Captain Shrederator. The captain returned to BattleBots starting with the very first season on ABC back in 2015 and has competed ever since and the adage “the more things change the more things stay the same” has never been more true; Captain Shrederator continues to either destroy its opponents or lose in the most embarrassing way possible. Not only that but it looks like the robot has finally completed its metamorphosis into Captain America’s shield. (Oh, and Brian Nave is also defending America’s freedoms from those god damn commies so his son is driving this year.)
I think I’ve made enough jokes about vertical spinners this year and we’re only two fucking episodes into the season. End Game is another one. It’s gradually getting harder and harder to talk about these robots because they basically all do the same thing and unlike Lock-Jaw and Witch Doctor who have other moving parts or features to talk about End Game is just a fucking disc on a wedge. Okay, so it’s unique because it’s got a one-toothed disc and they’re the only one, that’s neat I guess. (Monsoon doesn’t count because it has a bar, not a disc.) The team has gone the Aftershock route, quite literally, and went with a blue disc with a single tooth. A single-toothed disc is a tricky thing to design and balance but when you get it working it can make for some truly incredible blows, just look at the previously mentioned Aftershock from Robot Wars. I’ve made a lot of jokes about builders going to China to defend America’s freedoms but apparently End Game’s Jack Barker is the person who ended up actually winning one of those events? Here’s a video of his robot — who looks suspiciously like End Game — kicking Diotoir’s ass. Yes, that Diotoir. Also we’re now way the fuck off topic but I am convinced that this guy from the linked video is the same dude as the one from this video and my mind is fucking blown. But anyways yeah, vertical spinner. Let’s just get to the fight.
Neither of these robots look like they’re working correctly because Captain Shrederator is spinning up to speed about the slowest I think I’ve ever seen and End Game, who planned on box rushing its opponent, is sitting cockeyed in its starting square and appears to be having some sort of radio or drive issues. (According to Jack Barker apparently the robot was high centered on something on the floor.) Whatever the reasons by the time the two robots are able to connect both Captain Shrederator and End Game are roaring at full speed and the first blow sends the captain flying into the corner of the Battlebox while a shower of little parts rain down like something straight out of that awful BattleBots game on the Game Boy Advance. You know we’re in some fucked up territory when hokey shit like that starts happening in real life. Captain Shrederator starts taking blows from the Pulverizer because End Game’s team finally realizes their opponent landed in one of their corners while End Game itself continues to dawdle and hangs out on top of the Killsaws. Sadly another 90 seconds would need to pass in this pseudo-potato fight before those would even start to come up.
Captain Shrederator is apparently broken or something because the referee is like “dude can you even move right now” and when the spinner tries to get out of the corner it somehow clips the wall and gets ricocheted right back where it was. By this point End Game’s team is tired of dropping the hammer on their opponent and their robot finally approaches once more and splits another one of Captain Shrederator’s teeth into steel dust before mercy killing this fight and popping the spinner up into the air and onto its back. It’s a good thing this big blow sank the captain because End Game’s weapon belt either snaps or comes off of its pulley and I don’t think I could’ve handled two minutes of a weaponless End Game bumping against an unbalanced Captain Shrederator. I genuinely would’ve just gone back to the green room and chugged all of the La Croix.
WINNER: End Game, KO
SCIENCE CHANNEL EXCLUSIVE
THE BOTOPSY REPORT
The Science Channel edition of last week’s episode featured an extra fight that provided some much needed context to a rather unsettling close-up shot of Ed Robinson saying “I LOVE STEEL”. This week there’s no fight and instead we’re treated to an in-the-pits segment dubbed “The Botopsy Report”. If that 10 second lead-in wasn’t enough of an indicator for you this is probably going to be a short bit about some of the bots we’ve seen so far who were utterly decimated. We’re only two episodes into the season and there’s already enough content for one of these, Jesus. Also props to the editors for managing to include that many headsplitting kill shots in a row without keying in a sound bite of Kenny saying “HUGE HIT THERE”. I have a strange feeling the producers are going to intentionally remove as many of those as possible now so the counter on the BattleBots Update homepage doesn’t get very high. Anyways for those of you whining about this segment not being “as good” as another extra fight take it from me the fights from the first day of shooting (both taping sessions, i.e. episodes 1 & 2) that didn’t make it to TV were about as interesting to watch as two people playing Scrabble in a language you can’t understand. For example, one of them was between two horizontal spinners and I’m sure you’d be thinking “wow how could that fight possibly be bad” well what if not one but both robots broke down and nobody landed any hits during the entire fight? Yeah, that bad, so shut up and enjoy The Botopsy Report.
We’ve seen some pretty brutal fights up to this point so you can probably imagine how surprised I was to see them lead-in with Bombshell who lost to Lock-Jaw not because it got turned into Christmas tinsel but rather because Bombshell’s new design has geometry about as retarded as as two-sided die with the only difference being a two-sided die is specifically engineered to rest on a dopey angle. (Those really do exist by the way and they’re not coins. Smart ass.) You might be shocked to hear this but Mike Jeffries is like “yeah we didn’t take that much damage” and the goriest thing the camera crew can find to zoom in on is a tiny fucking crack in the bot’s weapon frame. Yeah guys that’s some real Freddy Krueger shit, great job. Up next is Minotaur and in stark contrast to Bombshell’s team Marco Meggiolaro has a laundry list of shit to get through in order to explain just how badly Minotaur got its ass beat at the hands of Tombstone. When the team unscrewed the top panel of the robot they discovered that the entire goddamned thing had split in two so that’s technically two robots who’ve been sliced in half if you’re keeping score. We’re gonna run out of Flex Tape memes at this rate. Jerry Clarkin from the SubZero team also chimes in to tell us that not only did his robot’s entire flipping assembly come apart — which you could plainly see during that mess of a fight against Huge — but the robot’s frame also somehow sustained damage and rather than write this whole thing off Jerry buckled down and put his goofy ass Walmart Bronco back together.
Finally we have Vanquish. Or just “Vanq” now on account of the whole fucking thing being ripped in two by Icewave. For a guy whose robot was just awarded a trophy for doing the best impression of John F. Kennedy’s head Jack Tweedy is in remarkably good spirits. Then again he also sorta says that the aftermath of that fight hasn’t fully sunk in yet so for all I know two days after this was taped Jack could’ve been woken up by a jalopy’s engine misfiring in the parking lot of the hotel he stayed at and had a PTSD flashback while simultaneously shitting his pants. I don’t know, the jury’s still out on that one so I guess we’ll have to wait for next week’s bonus segment “The Shartopsy Report”. After seeing Vanquish’s fight I was convinced that Jack and his team were just going to pack it up and leave because damage of that caliber just seems like something that would be impossible to bounce back from, but I’d be wrong because believe it or not they actually put this thing back together and returned for more fights. I’ve seen people give up over far far less like that time Eradicator’s team straight up threw their robot into the fucking dumpster after season three rather than ship it back home. Good on you, Jack, and godspeed you crazy bastard.
WITCH DOCTOR vs. YETI
Totally True Trivia™: I never would have guessed Faruq would introduce Witch Doctor with another “glippity gloppity” limerick.
I had to look this up because the information seemed incorrect but Witch Doctor has actually only ever won one fight per season in the previous two events. That seemed wrong to me because I remember this robot being a powerhouse but I guess now that I think of it while Witch Doctor had some great runs against Tombstone and Bronco it did end up losing both of those fights and I guess thinking about its matches against Overdrive and Rotator kind of muddied my facts. Regardless, Witch Doctor packs a hell of a punch and although the robot has been designed and redesigned a couple of times it’s always gone into battle with its trademark hellacious green skull drum. Say what you want about the efficacy of this robot, you’ve gotta admit Witch Doctor has consistently made the appropriate improvements needed to ensure that the things that caused it to lose the previous season don’t happen again. First it was the inclusion of a proper self-righting mechanism after both Bronco and Tombstone left the robot high and dry. This time it was the addition of a sort of “roll cage” on the top of the bot so some bullshit like the Red Devil fight can’t happen again. The team also decided to nix Shaman this year and instead use that extra weight in order to beef up Witch Doctor’s armor, a strategy that they formerly employed against Rotator but decided to make a permanent thing. Also the team has a voodoo yeti doll just to cover all their bases. You never know.
Over in the blue square is Yeti, a robot that by Greg Gibson’s own words should not have made it as far as it did last season. Yeti was an alternate and arrived with no spares whatsoever and ended up reaching the semifinals where it inevitably lost to — say it with me — Tombstone. Yeti left a wake of destruction in its path. This thing’s killer 50+ pound drum tore up Lock-Jaw’s flipper/clamper thing, clipped Lucky’s flipping arm clean off, blew Mega Tento’s wheels to pieces, and KO’d Chomp after plucking its self-righting wings off. Yeti may have even defeated Tombstone if Greg didn’t hesitate at the start of the fight and just kept driving forward, Yeti would’ve connected with Tombstone’s wheel and who knows how that fight would’ve gone because I could definitely see Yeti kicking Bombshell’s ass in the finals. Yeti’s got the drum and it’s got that crazy lifting fork that can raise opponents up, keep them at bay, and also flip the robot back onto its proper configuration. It’s a hard robot to figure out and it doesn’t help that Greg genuinely does not give a single fucking shit about things like “battle strategies” or whatever everyone else is trying to do. He’s gonna get his robot’s drum spinning and he’s going to ram it up your ass. QED.
Both robots employ almost the exact same maneuver at the start of the fight and charge forward before juking to the right. Yeti lowers its forks and uses them to push Witch Doctor around at first. I’m not sure if the plan was to raise Witch Doctor up and strike it from below or what but I get the impression that Yeti’s forks may have been in the way because Greg retracts them and it seems like he was going to go in for the attack but Witch Doctor is able to get away… and somehow loses a whole tire in the process? Honestly yeah I’m shocked at how easy it was for Witch Doctor to lose a tire but I’m more impressed that the screw that Witch Doctor was shoved into managed to take a hit and keep fucking working. Witch Doctor retaliates, three wheels and all, and collides with the right side of Yeti’s forks where the lifting mechanism is. Understandably this reduces Yeti’s forks to a state of “totally blown the fuck up”. Now Greg has no reason to try and think about incorporating that lifter into his strategy, he can officially open this pit up and start throwing punches like this was a redneck family reunion that just ran out of Natty Light.
Gratuitous sparks are shaved off of the top of Witch Doctor’s chassis but the new roll cage does its job and Yeti isn’t able to get any significant purchase on the robot’s lid. The solution here is to remove the lid, which Yeti does moments later. Yeti climbs up atop Witch Doctor yet again and clips the entire right side of its top armor and bends it backwards. Sure it takes another shot to the same part of the forks that Witch Doctor just damaged seconds prior but guess what uh oh that shit’s already busted and Yeti doesn’t care. Yeti spikes Witch Doctor at the wall and unleashes all of its voodoo spirits… or something catches fire because Witch Doctor starts smoking pretty badly. Whatever’s in the process of giving up the ghost seems to not be immediately mission critical because Witch Doctor strikes back and deflects Yeti who then proceeds to return the favor and finish tearing away the piece of top armor that it fucked up earlier. There’s just not much fight left in Witch Doctor though as it meets Yeti weapon to weapon one last time and is absolutely hurled into the far corner of the arena, still smoking, and Yeti comes in to seal the deal by shoving it under the Pulverizer and having one of its team members go to town on the hazard buttons.
Definitely a tough break for Witch Doctor but I look forward to eventually confusing this fight as one that it somehow won.
WINNER: Yeti, KO
In the immediate aftermath of this episode airing I saw some people on Facebook mentioning how this one wasn’t “as good” as the first. Not every episode is going to have fucking Tombstone in it, okay? There’s 54 other– sorry, 55 other robots at this event and most of them are pretty damn good. Don’t tell me that Icewave busting Vanquish into two distinct different chunks or Yeti knocking Witch Doctor’s smoking carcass across the arena is somehow less exciting than Minotaur rubbing its balls on Tombstone’s blade until it got high centered on the floor. Even if this episode was objectively “worse” than the previous one that’s just how it goes sometimes. Nobody knows what’s going to happen in that arena until the doors are locked and the bots are let loose and that mystery is one of the biggest draws of this sport for me. At any point Tombstone or former champion Bite Force could potentially lose in a crazy upset and you never know when something like that is going to happen because I think I speak for everyone when I say Bite Force was probably going to beat Chomp last season. Chill the hell out and enjoy the show, there are still so many awesome fights that have yet to air and you guys have no idea what you’re even writing off when you simply cheer for a single favorite and nothing else.
Chris and Kenny send us off while playing with a stuffed doll and I think that’s a pretty good place to bookend this article. I contemplated going a little further into the underbelly of people shit talking builders and teams on social media — actual shit talking and not just “lol this bot’s so bad it should be named Doo Doo Tron 4000 here’s a Flex Tape meme with John Reid” — but I feel like I should hold my tongue on that front because that’s a slippery slope that I’m fairly certain I really don’t want to get into. Instead I’ll just say that if you’re actually hating on people over petty identity politics then wow I wish I were as brainless as you because it must be nice for the biggest problem in your life to be something as insignificant as who’s driving a BattleBot or what theme they gave it.
Anyways that’s enough soapboxing for one article and probably the whole season so I would again like to thank you for spending an afternoon with me here on BattleBots Update. This website
is so close to reaching 3,000 total likes on Facebook NOPE JUST BROKE 3,000 LIKES BOYEEEE and that’s absolutely crazy to me because I still can’t believe it got more than 100 in the first place. I don’t have anything special to give away for lucky number 3,000 but you can help me get there by following BattleBots Update on Facebook. Up next I’m sure you know comes the part about money. This project has gotten a few new pledges on Patreon since the start of the season and I wanted to extend a gracious thank you to Robyn B., Steve T., Joshua H., Danielle F., & TaleOfTheToaster for their contributions — you can make a pledge starting as low as $1/mo here. And as always if the monthly commitment model isn’t your thing I’ve got the old school tip jar here. At the start of the new season I bit the bullet and renewed all of my licenses for things like security & themes and I also restructured my web hosting plan so 100% of your contributions go toward covering both the upfront and ongoing costs of maintaining the site.
Thanks again, and see you next week!
(Stay tuned and I will retroactively add some meme pictures to the end of this article and the one for Episode 1. I ran out of ideas but you guys seemed to really like them so I’ll work on them this weekend.)