[BattleBots: S8 E9 is available online through Science Channel with a cable subscription.]
Everything is weird and feels like it’s falling apart; BattleBots’ broadcast schedule is all kinds of jacked up now because of July 4th specials and the upcoming Shark Week thing that Discovery Channel does every year. I know TV executives haven’t used magnetic boards to ballpark and loosely plan out their schedules since at least the 1980’s but all I can think about right now is the mental picture of some janitor bumping into the board, knocking it over, and then feverishly trying to guess where everything went so he doesn’t get fired and have to work at the Amazon warehouse where he’ll be docked pay for taking a piss break. Can you tell that I wrote this article on Amazon’s “Prime Day”? So yeah, welcome back to BattleBots Update. I know that I appear to be “a week late” with this article but that’s only because this website actually compliments the Science Channel airings of the show, not Discovery Channel’s. While Discovery is currently on episode 10 of this season, Science is still a week behind. The two schedules will eventually catch back up with each other in a couple of weeks. Please stop filling my inbox with emails asking if I am dead.
Last week… I mean, last episode Chris Rose was hanging out back by the pits memeing it up with all sorts of in-jokes that weren’t yet in-jokes at the time and somehow the planets aligned and the whole skit paid off in the end. Kenny Florian headlines this episode and he gives us an introduction to the hazards in the Battlebox. In the ninth episode of the season. That’s cool and all but we’ve all pretty much figured out on our own how these things work and what they’re supposed to do. Kenny says the saws spin at 1,800 RPM… except not in the shots that they cut to because I guess turning on the hazards with actual people in the arena would’ve caused the insurance premiums of the production to go through the roof (like that time Nightmare threw pieces of Junkyard Offspring through the roof in 2003). We hear about all the basics: the saws, the screws, and the hammers. That picture I included in the 2018 “event report” article of Kenny standing in the arena? That was taken while this segment was being filmed. He talks about everything except the Hellraisers (as usual), which are actually still in the arena this year. The big payoff is a VCR gets smashed and it’s allegedly from Chris’ trailer. Chris gets buttmad that he won’t be able to watch Pretty Woman after shooting.
If that’s where the skit ended it would’ve been pretty funny, but Kenny starts soapboxing about how VHS sucks and is a dead format. Bro, there’s plenty of shit that was released on VHS and died on VHS without ever being carried over to another format. Remember that animated movie We’re Back: A Dinosaur Story? That was stuck in VHS hell for nearly 20 years. Yeah, my retort to a “professionally written” comedy sketch was literally just “but what about this shitty kids movie no one cares about”. Fuck you it’s my website. Anyways this episode features a lot of the “X factors” of the tournament and not really a whole lot of proven or consistent machines. War Hawk is here and is pretty powerful, but in its last fight it seemed kind of sluggish. Captain Shrederator is getting another chance to Make BattleBots Great Again after back to back losses. Chomp is hanging on by a thread and looking for any sort of win. We’ve also got Double Jeopardy and Petunia, two bots that were basically totally destroyed in their previous fights. Finally, in the “main event” there’s Icewave, who seems to be bouncing back this season, against Skorpios who’s come out of left field and cleaned up nicely this year. No one really knows what to expect this week.
CHOMP vs. HUGE
Totally True Trivia™: Chomp is actually the long lost fifth Ninja Turtle whose weapon was a Ribbon Dancer. She was replaced with April O’Neil.
Kicking off this episode is a pretty gross mismatch of sorts, an undefeated robot going up against someone who has yet to win a match this year. Unfortunately Chomp is in the latter category after some tough judges’ decision losses to Warrior Dragon and Overhaul, two bots that aren’t really that good all things considered (2-2 and 1-7 respectively at the time). It doesn’t bode well for a robot like Chomp, who is super complicated and high tech, to be beaten by a spinner that breaks down literally every fight and a shitty lifter robot with anime characters printed on it. Chomp’s current design surprised a lot of people last season, especially considering what a piece of junk it was when it debuted in 2015. Whether you agree with all of its wins last season or not you can’t argue that 2016/2018 Chomp isn’t a massive improvement over the original. For it to be nowhere close to repeating the success it had last season has got to sting, and speaking of things that sting I’m sure it hurts like shit to get whacked by Chomp’s hammer. I’m waiting for it this season! It’s landed like two goddamned hits this year. Chomp is one of the few robots who can theoretically hit Huge and cause genuine damage to it so here’s to hoping that Zoe Stephenson and Tumblr’s favorite robotic turtle finally get their first “WINNER” sticker of the season.
While introducing Chomp I mentioned how this fight was a pairing of “has won every fight” versus “has won no fights”. Huge, by process of elimination, is obviously the undefeated one here. Jonathan Schultz can take pride in the fact that he belongs to a very tiny fraction of builders who have seen success with a smaller robot and still maintained that success when they basically just took the tiny robot and blew it up on a Xerox machine. Usually you don’t see that because either the design is not as effective as a heavyweight (Wrecks) or just doesn’t fucking work at all and is such a pile of shit that people mistake it for a motorcycle with no wheels (Preying Mantis). Huge is such a goofy and impractical robot that it circles back around to being a genius design because the beauty of it is that you can’t really hit it with most conventional robots, but Huge can sure as shit whack the hell outta you. Like I mentioned already Chomp actually poses a threat to Huge. To combat this Jonathan is deploying what is seriously a remote-controlled cardboard box that cannot possibly weigh more than two pounds. The idea here, as Jonathan explains, is his dinky little $5 fill-up box from Popeye’s will confuse Chomp’s autonomy systems and cause it to fire its hammer at the wrong times. Because “Chomp swinging its hammer” is the #1 cause of that robot ending up on its side this will in turn offer opportunities for free hits.
Huge hangs back while its “Surrender” bot peters away and tries to get in Chomp’s face. It’s a novel idea and I can’t fault Huge’s team for trying but Chomp’s weaponry is selectively autonomous. Zoe can override the robot and swing the hammer when she wants to if she feels like it, so of course the little white box achieves nothing and instead gets roasted by Chomp’s secondary flamethrower weapon. You get the gold star for trying, Jonathan, but not the one for common fucking sense. Chomp takes a hit from Huge and predictably falls over as Huge’s blade catches the armature of Chomp’s hammer. It tries to self-right but Huge pushes forward and manages to start landing some hits on Chomp’s underside which is possibly its weakest point. Zoe freaks and starts telling the weapon operator to blow some flames to get Huge the hell away from her robot and instead Huge gets stuck on Chomp and its wheels start taking some damage. Given that Free Shipping was able to damage Huge a little bit by turning into a goddamned fireball this doesn’t look good for the HDPE-clad spinner. Chomp swings its hammer and catches its teeth on one of Huge’s wheels but doesn’t really do much damage to it. Even worse the robot loses the AR thing off of its lid which means that you can’t send Chomp bitcoins anymore or whatever.
While Chomp is busy getting back onto its wheels Huge retreats both to get away from the flames and also to spin its blade up again. When the two bots connect Chomp again tries to catch Huge with a swing but ends up getting its hammer caught in Huge’s weapon and receives the worst cocaine nose I think I’ve ever seen. That’s like some shit out of a 1970’s exploitation film or something, god damn. Chomp’s hammer is toast for sure but it’s still capable of doing the toasting too with its backup weapon. The hammer isn’t going to swing again for the rest of this fight so it becomes a makeshift defensive apparatus for absorbing hits from Huge and it’s kind of fucked up to say this but Chomp’s hammer seems to work better as a spinner deterrent than as an actual fucking hammer. Even though Chomp’s PRIMARY WEAPON has been destroyed it’s surprisingly in control of this fight right now. Huge is getting shoved around because it’ll lose a traction battle against even a goddamned Power Wheels truck and is just along for the ride as Chomp parades it into the screws. Look closely and you’ll see one of Huge’s stabilizing legs has ended up getting caught inside of the inner hoop of Chomp’s, uh, squiggly thing. Chomp’s arguably on top until Huge lands enough glancing blows to split Chomp’s weapon into two parts. This breaks the circle it formed and allows Huge to finally get away with its right leg looking like it genuinely stepped on a fucking bear trap or something.
The fight turns again because now what’s left of Chomp’s weaponry just isn’t enough to be useful as a spinner stopper. It’s too flimsy. Huge catches its second wind and seems to just defocus and throw punches left and right regardless of who or what it hits in the process. Huge runs over its minibot and crushes it, and in the process of striking Chomp its blade somehow catches the covering of the Killsaws and rips a chunk off of them. I swear to god people keep damaging the saws in increasingly unfeasible ways this year. First it was Lock-Jaw popping one of the plates up with its forks, then Brutus dug its ass into one to stop from doing a 1080 spin, and now Huge is eating pieces of it just because. Quit it. Chomp rolls again and Huge seems content to assume that this is a KO victory and doesn’t make any effort to try and make up for any potential lost points from the 30 or seconds where Chomp was wearing the strap-on. Its weapon spins down and you can tell it’s been a hard fight because part of its upper armor is starting to detach either from one of the few stray blows Chomp landed or just the shock of its own weapon being kicked back into the robot itself. Chomp’s not dead though because the robot still has those piston srimechs installed. It hasn’t been using them, because they take like 10 minutes to fucking work, but they serve their purpose and Chomp revives itself.
Really there’s not much that Chomp can do with its current state of looking like a shrugging emoticon, but at this point it’s a matter of personal pride and making it to the buzzer instead of losing by KO. Chomp still loses but Zoe can still say she’s never been KO’d this year yet. Also it’s a unanimous decision so no one gets to bitch about Naomi Kyle or whatever.
WINNER: Huge, Judges’ Decision (3-0)
BRUTUS vs. WAR HAWK
Totally True Trivia™: The “Battle of the Clones” was an idea stolen straight from Pokemon: The First Movie. I’m onto you, Discovery Channel.
So I’ve been throwing a lot of shade on vertical spinners this season. In earlier articles you might recall the phrase “another goddamned vertical spinner” being used to disparagingly describe all sorts of robots this year. I kinda pumped the brakes on that as of late because part of writing comedy is knowing when to ease off on low brow standbys like catchphrase-based humor, but these two robots though? I don’t even need to come up with any snarky shit to say because at the beginning of the episode the hosts referred to this match as “the battle of the clones”. When even the hosts of the fucking show are being passive aggressive about the number of vertical spinners you know there’s a problem. The only reason I can tell these two machines apart is because they’re painted different colors. Brutus, in the red square, arguably has the upper hand coming into this match because even though it lost to Red Devil by way of smoking out its speed controllers it still came back against Son of Whyachi and ended that fight in like two goddamned hits. Adam Bercu knows his robot can land a killer shot if given the opportunity, and before this fight he just casually mentions he’s gonna have to murder War Hawk and then mutilate its corpse to impress the judges. Oh Adam, I do believe I have the vapors! But Brutus also has the upper hand in a really peculiar way that’s specific to this fight too. More on that in a second.
War Hawk is… a robot. It’s basically some weird cut-rate hybrid of Bite Force and I guess Brutus because of the apparent similarity of weaponry. I’m not sure what’s up with War Hawk’s design though because it seems very under-armored? Playing “Spot The Etek” is really easy with this robot because its weapon motor is literally just sitting in plain goddamned sight. There’s no armor on it whatsoever, not even a shitty little cover made from sheet metal to at least protect it from arena debris. That’s not the only point I’m trying to make though, because the rest of the robot just looks suspiciously naked, like the front corners behind the plow. There ain’t shit there at all, and if I can see your entire fucking drive chain in your promo picture then so can the Killsaws. War Hawk seems fragile, but it’s sitting at a cool 1-0 right now after toppling Axe Backwards and tearing that thing to pieces. Axey B got its ass handed to it so badly that the robot was demoted to competing in rumbles and lost to fucking Deviled Egg. Getting back to the point I mentioned War Hawk is uniquely disadvantaged here and that’s because the weapon the robot is using is literally Brutus’ weapon from 2016. I say that’s a disadvantage because obviously Adam has improved the robot to have a better weapon and sold off the old one… which is now inexplicably staring him back in the face.
Specifically for this fight Rob Farrow, War Hawk’s builder and driver, added a little “beak” onto his robot’s front wedge. This beak is functionally identical to the one on Duck and by focusing its impact down to a point rather than across a wedge it has the potential to win the battle of ground clearance against what would otherwise be an identical foe. It doesn’t work at first, it almost fails disastrously, but when Brutus retreats to line up another run at War Hawk the beak succeeds. Brutus gets laid the fuck out and if you look at its front wedge you’ll see a perfect bite taken out of it the same shape and width of War Hawk’s disc… or rather, Brutus’ own fucking weapon. Both bots are seemingly crippled by this blow. War Hawk resumes being a nearly immobile piece of shit like it did in its last fight and Brutus gets rolled upside down and starts having obvious weapon problems. Brutus tries to intentionally take a hit from War Hawk in order to flip it back over and this dumb plan almost ruins the whole fight because it reveals that Brutus is capable of what the robot combat community calls “doing the thing”, meaning that it can get stuck on one of its sides in such a way that none of its wheels are in contact with the ground and the robot has no way of getting down. I’m telling you man, Razorback made that mistake in 2016 and this is an issue that can be avoided with a single fucking bolt from the Home Depot poking out of the robot’s ass.
Taking a shot from its opponent didn’t work in righting Brutus, in fact it almost did the opposite. Brutus changes gears and goes for Plan B which is to drive itself into the screws and hope that their spinning action will grab hold of the robot and toss it back over. This also fails. Barring finishing the match upside-down, Brutus tries ramming itself into the arena wall as a last ditch attempt at getting back onto its feet and miraculously this works out. Brutus demonstrates that its weapon still works — sort of — and lands a light blow that completes with War Hawk getting shoved into the screws and violently jerking itself upright so roughly that one of the little wheels on its upper weapon bracket pops off. Chris calls it an eyeball because he has that weird mental condition where you see faces in all sorts of random shit. Obviously something is wrong with Brutus because the hit that it landed didn’t have a lot of bite behind it and its disc seems to be intermittently working, at one point Brutus just pushes War Hawk into the screws again without even using its weapon because it just stops when it touches War Hawk. Adam catches a break though and gets his robot’s spinner going full blast and it just so happens that War Hawk’s drive problems are causing it to wiggle its juicy ass right in Brutus’ face. Can you blame a brotha for what happens next?
It’s War Hawk’s turn to take a tumble and when you watch the robot upside down you can see there’s clearly something up with its left side of drive because it’s just not even moving while the right side is going full speed. Because it lost that tiny little wheel on its weapon frame a few moments ago War Hawk’s chassis is now sitting unevenly on the floor and is dipping down to one side. It just so happens that by dipping to the side War Hawk’s only working set of wheels is now no longer in contact with the ground meaning the robot has been immobilized. But Adam said he was out for blood. After getting humiliated by Red Devil he’s gotta impress the judges if he wants to qualify for the Round of 16. I guess knocking out Son of Whyachi in 41 goddamned seconds wasn’t “good enough”? That doesn’t matter, because Brutus is about to live up to its name and rips into its dead opponent with a hit so gnarly that two whole armor panels just fly off. This fixes the whole “War Hawk’s only working wheels aren’t touching the floor” thing but the referees don’t seem to really care. War Hawk starts getting counted out and that’s looking like it’s gonna be the end of this fight.
Until Adam second guesses what the refs are doing when War Hawk starts twitching at the last second. Brutus floors it back toward War Hawk and ends up riding onto its disc which has somehow withstood all this punishment and is still working. War Hawk lands a few blows that don’t seem to be that critical but I feel like any “style” points that Brutus was trying to achieve by excessively destroying War Hawk were just immediately revoked with that spaghetti move.
WINNER: Brutus, KO
CAPTAIN SHREDERATOR vs. PETUNIA
Totally True Trivia™: Cheering for Captain Shrederator is considered white nationalism and is punishable by impotent callout threads on a verified user’s Twitter account.
I’m at the point now where I can’t even say “Captain Shrederator” aloud without sighing. It’s a goddamned shell spinner. I look at this and I think back to bots like Mauler and Ziggo and shit and I get excited, but every fucking time this robot enters the arena I get my hopes up and am let down almost 100% of the time. Captain Shrederator has won just 20% of its matches during the reboot seasons. That one win against Death Roll was incredible and I thought this robot was turning over a new leaf but it just wasn’t meant to last; it lost to fucking Chomp in the following round. This year Captain Shrederator has been all kinds of bad. End Game wrecked it in like one hit and SubZero managed to squeak out its first ever BattleBots victory by bumping the spinner into the wall and breaking it. Brian Nave engineered the thing but he ended up being busy fighting a war in China or something so he left his son Nick in charge. Nick decided that a fucking video game convention was more important so after weighing his options he figured that trying to salvage a robot with a 0-2 record wasn’t worth it so he fucked off to go play Fortnite or some shit. That leaves this Joe Johnson dude as the driver and before the fight even starts he admits he’s never driven a fucking robot before. His pre-fight commentary sounds like a job interview for an entry level role at some backwards IT company. Captain Shrederator was supposed to be the robot that redefined American patriotism, not end up as a goddamned textbook example of its current state.
Petunia is either the best possible opponent for Captain Shrederator or it’s the worst. I say that because Petunia’s weapon hasn’t really worked all that well and it was actually pretty badly damaged in its previous match so even if it’s been repaired it might not be running at full steam now. The robot is basically just a big rock for Captain Shrederator to whale on and while I don’t think the captain has the ability to cause serious damage here I think it could do enough to win on a decision or something. That’s only if Petunia is still suffering from the effects of having its backside cleaved into by Monsoon though, a hit which severed the robot’s hydraulic system and caused it to burst into fucking flames for several minutes. Petunia is otherwise an inconspicuously strong contender who was able to absorb blows from Rotator and wear it down in order to take an impressive win, and even though it lost to Monsoon the robot was still being effectively driven by Mischa de Graaf up until the point where he caught a bad hit. If Petunia is fully functional this could quite honestly just be “Petunia vs. Rotator part 2”.
Okay, maybe I was a little too hard on this Joe Johnson guy. Captain Shrederator immediately starts revving its shell up to tip top speed and within seconds already looks ferocious. If this was Nick at the wheel the robot would be sitting in the center of the arena turning about as fast as a playground merry-go-round loaded with fat kids where only one of them is even trying to spin the damn thing. Petunia knows the only way to beat a spinner like Captain Shrederator is to go right through it so it dutifully collides with the shell spinner and pops it up in the air a bit. The captain lands nicely and delivers a second hit that knocks Petunia completely around 360 degrees. Things are going pretty alright for Captain Shrederator this time around until Petunia corrals it into one of the screws. Not the screw itself, actually the box that covers the bearings and belts and stuff. That’s arguably a worse destination for a spinner like Captain Shrederator and with good reason too, the robot flips the fuck out and sheds one of its four teeth in the process. It’s still spinning, I think, but it wouldn’t surprise me if a hit like that broke something in it because holy shit that was nasty.
It’s probably a safe bet that all of Captain Shrederator’s “movement” after being put into the screw box was residual kinetic energy being dissipated from having been shoved into the wall because there’s no more spinning, and when there’s no more spinning there’s no more winning. President Trump said we’d be tired of all the winning… but this fucking thing hasn’t won anything yet. Petunia starts ramming into the spinner obviously to try and get some leverage on it because due to the positioning of Petunia’s biter and the shape of Captain Shrederator’s shell there’s no way the Dutch robot is going to be able to get any purchase on its opponent. One more ram and Petunia gets the clearance it needs to take control of the captain and since the top of Captain Shrederator’s shell is actually the weakest part of the robot Petunia’s jaw finally bites into someone. If you’ve ever doubted the efficacy of a hydraulic crusher in the current climate of robot combat look no further than this fight, because moments after being bitten into Captain Shrederator’s batteries get damaged at the robot burns up.
Then it catches fire. Joe, buddy, this isn’t your fault. You were handed a country that was already fucked up and you did the best you could. You may not have been the best representative of this nation, but your efforts will not go unremembered.
WINNER: Petunia, KO
YETI vs. BOMBSHELL
Totally True Trivia™: The official name of Yeti’s battle strategy is “Dirty Alaskan Style Back-to-Back”.
Yeti is in this fight with a current season record of 1-1. Don’t get me wrong, that’s objectively worse than being 2-0, but I don’t really get why Chris and Kenny are trying to make it seem like Yeti is on the verge of failing to qualify for the main tournament. Sure winning is important, and I guess reaching two losses is probably not a good thing, but it’s not like Greg Gibson is knocking on death’s door alyeti… I mean, already. God damn it, Faruq’s got me doing that rhyming thing now. Yeti’s tough, I think. In its first match of the season Yeti gave Witch Doctor a thrashing so bad that Andrea Suarez started doubting her own robot’s potential. It was a brutal flight, just primal hits; weapon-to-weapon, Yeti driving all over the top of Witch Doctor, you get the idea. Yeti was a little more reserved against Icewave and came into the arena equipped with a skinnier drum and big ass wedge to deflect blows. This almost worked. It actually was working, but then Yeti just died somehow and threw the whole fight. Yeti’s wearing different tires for this match because after being counted out against Icewave, Icewave accidentally clipped Yeti’s wheels because Marc DeVidts had the bright idea to paint the ends of his weapon the same color as the floor.
You wanna talk about “on death’s door”? How about Bombshell? 0-2 right now. Not 1-2, ZERO and two. No wins. This season Bombshell just doesn’t feel like the same robot that made it to the championship finals in 2016. I don’t know what happened but this machine just fell from grace, hard. Then it fell even harder when Bronco threw it like 15 goddamned feet in the air and out of the arena. Oh, you didn’t know that the BattleBots arena had an “out of the arena” space? Don’t worry, I didn’t either! Bronco just invents new ways to win, but that doesn’t excuse Bombshell’s performance in its two fights thus far. It’s had all sorts of weapon problems to the point where this thing hasn’t even worked once so far. Lock-Jaw toppled the robot in seconds and ended up righting it just so there’d be a battle and Bombshell could not get it together. There were a few sparks traded with Bronco but nothing major, and again Bombshell got stuck upside down due to its weird geometry. It’s unfortunate, sure, but this time Bombshell’s fighting Yeti. Yeti might be the essence of pure aggression but it doesn’t have any way to flip Bombshell over so if there was ever a possibility for this robot to win a battle this is the one.
Yeti starts the fight by colliding head-on with Bombshell and catches some air. I don’t know if something like that can become someone’s “signature move” but god damn it Yeti’s trying. Bombshell punts Yeti backwards and immediately Yeti’s drum lets loose a Guinness World Record longest fart. Something’s either busted or in the process of becoming busted but while Yeti’s drum is still working Greg continues to land some generous blows and even almost manages to flip Bombshell over somehow. The best hit the drum spinner gets is dealt to Bombshell’s left drive wheel wherein Yeti’s drum chews off the little side panel and also cocks up the set of Colson wheels. For some reason this appears to be enough damage to severely limit Bombshell’s ability to out muscle its opponent. Granted, Bombshell isn’t going to win a tractor pull contest against Yeti any time soon, but the robot can’t seem to even use its wedge properly now. Yeti celebrates by mixing things up and tries to invent a new “signature move”. Apparently this one’s already a thing though because Kenny says it’s called “the helicopter” and that checks out.
I didn’t notice this until just now but it seems Greg fixed the damage that Witch Doctor did to Yeti’s lifter because it’s back and in full effect… mostly as a srimech. Yeti continues to just ram into Bombshell at any angle that’s made available to it and starts flying all over the place. I swear to god this robot is behaving like someone messed with the configuration file of gravity itself. Yeti takes another shot to the area next to its drum and shits its drive chain out meaning that we’re not going to see any more neat hits and flips now. This is it, this is exactly what I was referring to when I said this could be the fight that Bombshell wins. It took him long enough but Mike Jeffries sorted out his weapon issues and now it’s outlasted an opponent. It also just so happens that Bombshell’s drivetrain is all fucked up but this is still like maybe two or three clicks shy of “best case scenario” for it. Greg is not a very strategic driver. His driving skills are like shitty AI in a demolition derby game from the early 90’s; he’s just going to point the front of his robot at you and keep driving. He seems like someone who would be very easy to out drive in this situation but because Bombshell is so limited in terms of maneuverability Yeti is able to use its bent up secondary weapon somewhat competently.
Bombshell eventually connects its disc with Yeti’s lifter and appears to kink it backwards in a way that it stops it from working, but Yeti’s still going. The two bots meet face to face and somehow Yeti is not immediately riding up onto Bombshell’s front end. I don’t get it. Bombshell continues to do damage to Yeti — damage that is done purely by hits initiated by Yeti I should add — and snaps Yeti’s broken lifter in two. This fight is being given to Bombshell on a silver fucking platter and in the last few seconds of the match Bombshell actually straight up catches fucking fire. What the hell dude? Captain Shrederator got punctured all the way through its shell before it started smoking, what’s your excuse? Hurt your widdle knee on Yeti’s drum? Something had to have come loose near the end, or was knocked loose in the first few hits of the match and didn’t become a problem until just now, because there’s nothing that Yeti was able to do in the last two minutes that could’ve caused that kind of damage. Greg Gibson says “that’s what we needed” as the fight ends and he’s completely right. Bombshell, you blew it.
WINNER: Yeti, Judges’ Decision (3-0)
A landslide win which may have been a little unexpected, but the podbuster for this episode is Jessica Chobot talking to the three judges in order to get their thoughts on the match. You can’t really disagree with their logic, Allison and Derek both say that it was a close fight that was probably in Bombshell’s favor and the minute the robot fucking died and caught fire it lost in their eyes. No issues there, that’s what happened. Yeti had the points for control and aggression in the bag and possibly even the one for strategy when you factor in how quickly the robot went into its backup plan and took Bombshell to the hazards at the end. Damage really could’ve gone either way but when it comes down to brass tacks there’s a fucking canyon of difference between “damage that breaks a PRIMARY WEAPON” and “damage that kills a whole fucking robot”. And then Naomi is all like “if I’m still alive at the end of the fight that means I won”. Okay, that’s like a slightly less effective way of repeating what the other two judges said but that’s a close enough answer for at least partial credit.
SCIENCE CHANNEL EXCLUSIVE
DOUBLE JEOPARDY vs. MECHA RAMPAGE
Totally True Trivia™: Evan Wooley is not allowed to play the dunk tank game at county fairs anymore because he fucking cheats.
Neither of the robots in this battle have won a fight yet, but both of them have potential in the strangest fucking ways because of how unique they are. One of them is about to get their first win when we finally figure out which goofy ass design is actually better. In the red square is Double Jeopardy. You might remember this one from the rumble several weeks ago where it shot Gamma 9 point blank in the face and then Gamma 9 did that weird morphing thing that the T-1000 did in the Terminator movie where its face reassembled and healed. It was pretty fucking baller, and then The Four Horsemen basically gnawed Double Jeopardy to death like a bunch of hungry rats. That’s because Double Jeopardy is the literal definition of “we built the robot around the weapon”. Double Jeopardy’s got a cannon — the first of its kind in the sport — and it can fire a 5 pound slug of metal at 190 MPH. It’s not so great in the armor department though because this robot was created from a FIRST Robotics Competition frame and those things are meant to be used on robots that drive around and pick up basketballs or whatever, not fight.
Double Jeopardy enters this fight at 0-1, but Mecha Rampage is an even worse 0-2. Built by the same guy who brought us Minion, Knee Breaker, and Overkill is this weird horizontal spinner that’s 50% full body spinner and 50% “wait a minute what were we building again”. Like I’ve described previously, Mecha Rampage’s weapon “weighs” over 100 pounds through a creative design choice of mounting the blade within a part of the chassis that also includes things like batteries and crap. This inflates the weight of the weapon and in turn theoretically allows for bigger hits. It can also result in the robot blowing the fuck up and catching fire like it did in its rumble with Duck and Free Shipping. Mecha Rampage also lost to Whiplash in a pretty fast KO when it was discovered that the robot’s dumb Trapper Keeper frame can get stuck on its side. But it has potential; before succumbing to death by immolation Mecha Rampage tore a wheel off of both of its rumble opponents. Double Jeopardy struggled to defend itself against some tiny ass spinners, well Mecha Rampage’s spinner alone weighs almost as much as two of the entire Four Horsemen bots combined.
When you’re armed with a cannon the most important thing to do is make sure when you let that bad boy rip that you actually hit your target. Christian Carlberg seems to be taking the piss out of this fight and is treating Double Jeopardy like a joke because he’s stuck a bullseye target on the top of Mecha Rampage and as the two bots find their places in the ring he’s almost daring Evan Wooley to take a free shot. Evan’s cool with that so he pulls the trigger and Mecha Rampage gets shot in the face from across the Battlebox. It’s a hit, and it fucks something up because immediately Mecha Rampage starts to wobble. The target goes down but that’s not because it was hit, the force of the air being ejected from Double Jeopardy’s cannon was enough to blow it over from across the fucking field. That’s the kind of power we’re dealing with here. Sadly, even though Mecha Rampage looks a little unstable now, it doesn’t seem like Evan’s golden gun was enough to do the job. In fact in the slow-mo replays after the fight you can see Double Jeopardy’s bullet bounce right back, hit the robot on its front, and bend up the armor.
After blowing its load Double Jeopardy is reduced to a rambot, a rambot with shitty armor. Against a spinner like Mecha Rampage that’s really the last thing you want to be because Mecha Rampage wastes no time coming in and carving up its opponent. Double Jeopardy loses a wheel right away, part of its bumper gets torn off and thrown at the wall, and as Mecha Rampage lands a hit on the robot’s backside — easily its most durable spot — you can just see the blade slice right through it. Despite taking an extremely generous amount of damage Double Jeopardy is still trying to move around because its drivers think they still have a shot at winning this. No. Mecha Rampage spins back up, comes in again, and just buckles the entire fucking left side of Double Jeopardy, drivetrain and all. I know the ref is supposed to say “you have to show movement” but I mean… just start the count. Double Jeopardy’s got six wheels and not a single goddamned one is where it’s supposed to be right now. It’s dead. Mecha Rampage was the judge, jury, and executioner — and I was the dude in the audience with the sign reading “I’ll take Double Jeopardy for $500, Alex”.
If you look closely at Mecha Rampage after the fight, however, you might notice some suspicious smoke coming out of the robot. There’s no confirmation on this but that looks like more battery smoke coming out from the robot’s center mass. I’m telling you man, you’re not supposed to subject your fucking batteries to those kinds of forces. I’m no scientist but there’s chemicals and shit in there and they don’t like it. It’s like shaking up a can of Pepsi except scarier.
WINNER: Mecha Rampage, KO
SKORPIOS vs. ICEWAVE
Totally True Trivia™: Skorpios currently holds the record in junior league hockey for most time spent in the penalty box during a single season.
I talked a lot of shit about Skorpios in the 2016 season. Okay, maybe not a lot of shit because it was only ever in one fight and it lost via TKO in less than 15 seconds. That’s still a pretty impressive way of removing yourself from the tournament so, you know, congratulations and my condolences. Skorpios made a fool out of me though because when it showed back up this year I was ready to laugh it the fuck out of this event and in its first fight against Lucky this robot just absolutely dominated. The design was effective, sparks went everywhere, Lucky lost a wheel after getting butt flossed by Skorpios’ disc, you name it. The robot did so well that it was advanced upward to “main event” status and I can’t disagree with that. Orion Beach made a comeback that I wasn’t sure his “Shitty SawBlaze” could make. He’s making it hard to like his robot though because for his fight against Icewave he’s elected to do the Ghost Raptor thing and deploy some retarded version of the “De-Icer” made out of literal hockey sticks. Because ice. “Keep your sticks on the ice.” That’s a hell of a fucking stretch for a sports joke dude, why didn’t you just make the hockey sticks out of metal? You’re using real ass hockey sticks against a 250 pound robot with a gasoline-powered helicopter blade. Jesus Christ, Orion. And I was just praising this robot.
Everyone’s sucking Icewave’s dick this year just because it split some shitty European robot in two. Yeah, y’all are some real fair-weather fans. Back in 2015 this robot annihilated Razorback and straight up murdered the old version of Chomp. It had an alright 2016 with some decent fights against SubZero and Nightmare but those were never made into part of the show. I mean, they are now because everyone got tired of seeing Vanquish getting ripped in half so the editors have doubled back to sprinkle in some shots of Nightmare getting battered, but back then you guys weren’t hailing this robot as a potential champion. I stand by what I’ve said in the past, Icewave is one of the reasons why there was a 2016 season of BattleBots. This robot has always kicked ass, you guys just weren’t paying attention. There’s nothing really to talk about with Icewave, it’s just like Hazard from the old days of BattleBots except this robot is what Hazard would’ve been if Tony Buchignani had a bodybuilding fetish. Icewave’s blade has been carving up robots since at least 2004 and after 14 years of refinement Marc DeVidts has shown that he’s not here to fuck around. Now let’s see if a couple of hockey sticks can put a stop to that.
Within five seconds one of the hockey sticks is gone. Skorpios did not even get a chance to try out its stupid AliExpress de-icer. Obviously the idea was the little angular pocket formed by the sticks would be enough to repel Icewave, help push it into the wall, and then slow the blade down so Skorpios could then bring down its saw and start doing some slicing and dicing. I’m not even going to fall back on my seemingly too common joke about talking about “parallel universes” because there isn’t an alternate dimension where this fucking thing worked. Just like that, Skorpios’ battle strategy changes. I’ve been making fun of its hockey thing but the more important addition to this robot happens to be the modified plow on its front which has been made slightly stronger in order to deal with Icewave’s hits. At least… it looks a little different than it did from the Lucky fight, and I’m not just talking about the lettering on it. Skorpios just starts absorbing hits with its face and that’s apparently all Orion needed to do because Icewave is only dangerous when it’s spinning and once it strikes Skorpios its blade slows down just a little bit, but it’s enough for Skorpios to whip back in and get underneath the spinner.
Icewave is on the ropes and as it gets taken into the screws Marc starts to freak out and tell the ref that he’s being pinned and stuff. Don’t worry dude, he knows. That’s his job. Your job is to carve some souvenirs off of Skorpios for Discovery Channel to give away on Facebook and right now someone’s about to fail their quarterly performance review. Here’s a hint, it’s not the dude who’s dressed like he works at Foot Locker. Somewhere in this mess Skorpios loses the little 360 degree camera that was stuck onto its chassis beside its weapon so I guess we’re not going to get any good “bot cam” shots for the replay reel. Add that to Orion’s tab. Skorpios is working this fight pretty damned well but I guess one of those early hits from Icewave kinked something in its weapon arm because you can see Skorpios spinning its saw but when it tries to move the arm it just sorta twitches back and forth. That means no PRIMARY WEAPON and that doesn’t bode well for the robot whose driver recently confirmed to me on social media that the lettering on the back was indeed written in Tahoma. With no weapon and no de-icer thing that means Skorpios is gonna have to keep using its muscle to shove Icewave around. Obviously there’s a preference for the screws, because they have the ability to potentially flip Icewave over, but Skorpios is just taking whatever’s in front of it.
For a brief moment Icewave gets away from its opponent and manages to get its blade up to a fairly dangerous speed. Skorpios doesn’t seem to care because it comes right up to take a hit and loses half of its front plow in the process. Apparently that’s fine though because the robot just keeps going like nothing’s wrong and actually somehow gets Icewave under one of the goddamned Pulverizers. This is absurd, but I feel like Skorpios might be winning… with no weapon and no dumbass attachment to keep Icewave away. Chris is impressed, Kenny is impressed, hell even I’m impressed. Skorpios puts Icewave back into the screws and holds it there for so long and with so much power that its wheels actually start fucking smoking. I’m not even kidding, Skorpios is literally burning rubber as it indiscriminately throws its opponent into whatever hazard or obstacle is in front of it. This fight is bringing out the best of everybody, except Icewave I guess, because Kenny actually says “jam up”. Holy shit what year is it? Skorpios is battered and beaten but one thing it isn’t is “knocked out”. For three solid minutes Skorpios swung Icewave at the wall and while it wasn’t enough to kill it, Skorpios put on a performance that flashed the world’s largest middle finger to “damage with a PRIMARY WEAPON” and won the decision.
WINNER: Skorpios, Judges’ Decision (2-1)
Some people actually got really mad that Icewave lost this fight… but Icewave lost this fight. I hate to be the son of a bitch who brings out the rule book but that’s what’s gonna happen. Judges have five points to award in the categories of damage, aggression, control, and strategy. They are all worth one point each with the exception of damage, which is worth two. Looking at the definition of the judging criteria, there is no way that Skorpios could feasibly be robbed of the two points for control and strategy. These two categories specifically deal with not letting your opponent attack, controlling where they go, and using the arena hazards to your advantage. Damage obviously is going to go to Icewave because just fucking look at Skorpios, it looks like the aftermath of someone bad at video games trying to play Twisted Metal. That makes it 2 to 2 on points. The final point is for aggression, but specifically that’s “aggression with a primary weapon”. This is the hard part because technically Skorpios never got to use its weapon at all. Icewave did, but Icewave only landed hits in transactions that were initiated by Skorpios. As per the rules, that doesn’t satisfy the definition of “aggression” either. The rules actually state that aggression with a wedge or passive armor earns you negative points. So did Skorpios win the aggression point by virtue of controlling the fight? Or was that point given to Icewave going by “the letter of the law” and that same notion of going by the letter of the law resulted in Skorpios winning one of the points for damage? Because the definition of “damage” in the rules declares usage of the arena hazards to hinder an opponent as “damage”. So again, Skorpios got that. Any way you slice it — or in the case of Skorpios not slice at all for the entire fight — Skorpios won. PRIMARY WEAPON RULE BTFO.
So how are your scorecards at home coming along? Were you expecting Captain Shrederator to be 0-3? Wait, no, that wasn’t supposed to be the lead-in. I meant Bombshell. Were you expecting Bombshell to be 0-3 this year? Everyone gets four fights… but I don’t think Mike Jeffries and his team can salvage this one though; assuming Bombshell wins its next fight that means it’s 1-3. That’s only a 25% win rate. I hate to say it but I think this bomb’s a dud this season. How about Huge though, 3-0! Undefeated! Huge is up there with SawBlaze and Bite Force in the VIP lounge, that’s not a trio of bots that I’d assume would ever be together in one list. Icewave isn’t even in that club because it just got taken out by Skorpios, a robot who lost last season when it killed itself in record time. Skorpios is 2-0 now but I can’t say I’m not concerned for the robot’s future prospects considering the whole thing just got trashed, but we’ll see I guess. A lot of unexpected robots are having some uncanny luck this season so I’m eager to see how it unfolds. I know I was at the event, so I already know how it unfolds, but my memory is shit so while I can remember who won the whole thing I keep forgetting specific fights. It’s like a whole new show to me!
That’s it for this week, though I guess I should be getting into the habit of saying “episode” because right now the schedules are mixed up. I checked the official broadcast thing that BattleBots shared on Facebook a while back and I think August 8th is when everything will catch back up with itself.I’m pretty sure right now as I write this article Discovery Channel has officially entered their two week break of showing new episodes of the show, but I’m back here writing about #9 so I guess I have to pretend I don’t know about the “Desperado” tournament they mentioned. Nope, I know nothing about it so you’re just going to have to wait until next week for me to tell you that I think La Machine is going to win.
Thank you as always for swinging by! You can follow BattleBots Update on Facebook to get updates as well as other things on the rare occasion that A) I can get over my crippling social anxiety enough to use the platform and B) I have something aside from an article link to post. You can also support the website on Patreon month-to-month or through PayPal as a one-time thing. If I had one dollar for every Facebook like I just might be able to bring some embarrassing robot to the 2019 season! Anyways major thanks to David J. who’s hopped on board the Patreon page, I really appreciate it! This is crazy to me but while some of you guys have adjusted your pledges to more or less what they originally were, nobody’s actually dropped off completely. I know by saying that I’ve probably jinxed it, but I just thought that was cool. 🙂