[BattleBots: S9 E12 is available through the Discovery GO app with a cable subscription package. Season is also available on iTunes and Amazon.]
We’re in the end game of the qualification rounds of the 2019 season… except End Game isn’t in the end game because even though it won its last fight in the previous episode I don’t think its rank is good enough to qualify. You get what I mean though. Last week 14 robots wrapped up their qualification rounds and when the dust settled Death Roll emerged as the season’s first robot to go 4-0 while Bombshell and Captain Shrederator did their best impressions of Chomp and went 0-4. A few other robots crossed the finish line with 3-1 records and a lot more of them reached the dreaded limbo of 2-2. Things are heating up and we’re about to see another handful of robots go through their fourth and final fights for the pre-season.
Not everyone in this episode is going to get fight #4, however. Bronco is only at its third fight and is battling Huge (of which this is Huge’s fourth fight). Breaker Box, Kraken, and Bloodsport are also appearing in this episode in their third fights as well so there’s a pretty good chance if these robots are all going to make it to four fights we’ll probably see them again next week. Going by how last season panned out it took three episodes for the main tournament to start with the Round of 16 and go through to the championship so by my count we’ve got this week’s and next week’s episodes to get the Fight Night portion of the season over with. This is crunch time and a lot of the robots here are either on the verge of elimination or they desperately need to make up for lost time.
Last week I made an off hand reference to the weird sexual tension between Chris and Kenny in the episode’s opener. This week Chris introduces Kenny as his “man crush”. It’s like you guys are begging for slash fanfics to be written about these two jokers.
MINOTAUR vs. SHATTER
Right away we’re wasting no time starting off with a battle between two robots whose records are basically the equivalent of “2-1”, by that I mean this fight has the potential to determine who may qualify and who definitely won’t based purely upon who wins. Shatter’s record actually is 2-1, but Minotaur’s is technically 2-3 but that’s because the robot had to go through the Desperado event and that fucks up the numbers. Again I’m not sure how the judges are viewing the Desperado in regards to a robot’s potential ranking but Minotaur’s record is “0-2 with participation in the Desperado”. Minotaur reached the finals of the Desperado and lost to Black Dragon which is where the two wins and one loss came from so all things considered it’s probably a safe bet to assume Minotaur and Shatter are on even ground. The important thing to note is this bot has definitely found its groove after its rocky start; Marco Meggiolaro and his team figured out their weapon problems and we saw the bull make a strong comeback in the Desperado only to be outclassed by another deadly Brazilian bot. It’s on track, and when that happens only very few things can stop it.
Shatter is one of this season’s newcomers and it’s been a real breath of fresh air. In a sport that is slowly being taken over by the rock-paper-scissors meta of vertical spinners Shatter is a bot that not only dares to have a different weapon but a different drive system too. Shatter is armed with a powerful chain-driven hammer and its unique Mecanum wheels allow the robot to strafe and pivot around in circles so no matter what its front end is always facing its opponent. The robot’s first fight against Witch Doctor was a bit of a bust and the robot just barely lost by way of a judges’ decision, but the hammer bot came back extra tough against Wan Hoo and beat the shit out of that thing so badly that all of Wan Hoo’s top armor had to be replaced afterward and the robot had lost one side of drive by the end of the battle. Shatter was also involved in an unaired fight with Kingpin which it won because Kingpin drove itself into the wall and fucking exploded. (This battle is one of the Science Channel bonuses, and I’ll eventually loop back around to cover it when it airs.) Minotaur is a tough opponent, but if Shatter can make magic happen we could see an upset… or we’ll just see Shatter get its hammer ripped off again. I’m good either way.
Chris and Kenny remind us how most of Shatter’s armor is designed to intentionally come off so the first punch thrown by Minotaur that causes a piece of it to come loose isn’t as critically damaging as it might initially seem. Shatter counters the attack with a swing of its hammer and lands a respectable hit to Minotaur’s lid but the force of swinging its hammer causes Shatter to pull off of the ground. By this point I’m sure we all know Minotaur’s “signature move” is that thing it does where it pops its opponent up, gets under them, and then slams them into the wall while grinding their ding dong off with its drum. Shatter’s tendency to bounce up from the ground just makes accomplishing this even easier for Minotaur and the hammer bot is taken to the wall while sparks are shaved off of its ass. Something comes off of Shatter and from this point onward every time the robot swings its hammer there’s clearly not as much muscle behind it as that first swing of the battle. Not sure if one of the weapon chains got snapped or what, but Shatter’s newly crippled weapon paired up with Minotaur’s added top armor spells trouble and Minotaur is more than happy to etch that word onto Shatter’s fucking face.
Shatter continues to swing its hammer to try and land any kind of hit that it can get and it actually manages to sink its blade into the right wheel well of Minotaur. This is exactly the kind of perfect shot that Photon Storm nearly managed to get on the spinner back in 2016 but much like that disaster of a fight Shatter just isn’t able to make the most of this hit, the robot doesn’t have the muscle to follow through or do any meaningful damage. It’s a fantastic shot, but you’re probably still gonna die dude. It’s a damn shame that Shatter is having weapon problems right now because somehow the goofy shape of its armor is successfully keeping Minotaur at bay and at best all the bull can do is make the occasional spark appear. Shatter lands hit after hit but it’s obvious none of them are doing a fucking thing aside from scoring the point equivalent of “shave damage” with the judges.
Minotaur spends the next 45 seconds chewing off almost half of the decorative shiny wrapping paper from Shatter’s perimeter before finally corralling its opponent into the corner for some Pulverizer blows. Shatter takes a few ironic hits to its own hammer from the hazard but it’s apparent no damage is being done. Minotaur decides to take the Super Smash Bros approach and tries to grab the Pulverizer off of the wall to swing it around itself but because it’s attached to the goddamned wall all Minotaur is able to do is kick the lid of the hammer off and spike it at Shatter’s face. Shatter scoots away but is quickly pushed back underneath the same hammer and if it didn’t do a fucking thing with its cap on then I’m certain it’ll do even less with it off. Shatter gets pinned against the wall where Minotaur proceeds to chew off whatever its drum can get a bite into and by this point it’s obvious that something is wrong with Shatter’s hammer because there’s barely any action left in it.
One final pop from Minotaur throws Shatter onto its back and when Eric Wrigley shakes his head and puts his transmitter down that’s all the proof you need that he knows the weapon is toast and he wont be able to flip the robot back over. Shatter is basically burning to death by this point anyways and even with 40 seconds left on the clock it probably wouldn’t have survived to the buzzer. Shatter is banished to the hellscape of 2-2 while Minotaur’s confusing rank goes up to 3-3. There’s uncertainty all around regarding Minotaur’s chances at qualifying but Marco seems optimistic about it. We’ll find out soon enough, but in the meantime I’ve gotta say Shatter had an impressive debut season this year. One of these days fate will eventually reward someone ballsy enough to show up with something other than a spinner.
WINNER: Minotaur, KO
SON OF WHYACHI vs. KRAKEN
Not even Son of Whyachi is immune to the occasional loss. In fact that’s almost to be expected considering this is the oldest robot still competing in BattleBots today. Sure it’s been updated and refined over the years but Son of Whyachi’s iconic triangular hammer blade has always been the centerpiece of its design. This plays to its advantage and disadvantage because the blade is an absolute goddamned monster weighing in at over 100 pounds and it’s spun by eight independently driven motors. This means that when it’s spinning full blast and hits you you’re basically guaranteed to have one of your kidneys liquefied, but at the same time its heavy and bulky build means that Whyachi becomes vulnerable immediately upon delivering a hit. If you can survive the onslaught, like Whiplash did earlier this year, you can easily come out on top. Otherwise you wind up like Huge, or worse… Texas Twister, who had its entire ass torn off.
Son of Whyachi is at 2-1 right now so this will be its last fight however Kraken is actually only at 1-1 for its Fight Night rounds so it has this fight and one more ahead of it, though if Kraken fucks up and doesn’t play its cards right then this battle has the potential to be its last for the season. We’re so close to the end of the qualification rounds that if Kraken gets obliterated here it wouldn’t surprise me to hear that it forfeits its fourth battle. Considering it’s fighting Son of Whyachi, and Kraken isn’t the most durable-looking robot out there, that’s a serious possibility. But Matt Spurk thinks he has what it takes and he lets us know that he knows Son of Whyachi’s weakness is the fact that it opens itself up for a hit after landing one of its own. All Kraken has to do is not die on the first blow and recover well enough to bite Whyachi quickly. Sure, that’s do-able I guess. If you’re from another fucking planet. Kraken’s jaws may have been able to bite through Ribbot’s armor earlier this year but I don’t see the same thing happening to Son of Whyachi; at best this could turn into a control fight for Kraken that will be won on points.
Not sure what’s going on here, maybe Luke Ewert is hesitant to slam on the gas after burning up Son of Whyachi’s weapon while fighting Whiplash, but Son of Whyachi leaves its starting square spinning its weapon at what I can only assume is its equivalent to first gear. This is actually Kraken’s opportunity to seize control of the fight from the get-go, and it tries to do this but misses its mark and drives into the wall behind Son of Whyachi without the spinner in its mouth. Realizing he may have just lost this fight in an alternate reality, Luke decides to ease on the weapon a little harder and gets Son of Whyachi’s hammers spinning fast enough so that when Kraken comes in for Round 2 it gets thrown at the wall while having its center mass turned into a black hole. This hit doesn’t kill Kraken nor does it seem to actually hinder the robot in any significant way; it actually hurts Son of Whyachi more because the spinner gets bounced into the corner of the arena.
Obviously, Son of Whyachi doesn’t want to be in the corner because time and time again we’ve seen the likes of bots like Gigabyte and Captain Shrederator wind up over there and they ping-pong off of the walls twice and all of the force of those impacts get blown back into the robot because the BattleBots isn’t fucking going anywhere. Son of Whyachi’s hammers connect with the wall but I’m certain the weapon had been turned off before the collision because the spinner is able to get away and quickly get going again. Had Son of Whyachi eaten shit while revving its weapon up it probably would’ve started smoking again and then Luke would have to call his dad after the fight and explain to him how he lost to a robot painted like a goddamned cartoon dragon. Kraken is nothing but aggressive though and with this decent amount of “control” it’s able to show I’d say it just might have the potential to win the fight… until Son of Whyachi hits it hard enough to bust a wheel off and throw Kraken at the glass. That’ll shut anyone up.
Kraken is able to self-right from this position (we’ve seen it before this season) but I’m guessing that hit from Son of Whyachi did more than just fuck up a tire because the whole robot is motionless. Even if it could get back onto its last remaining wheel something tells me Kraken would be a candidate for “robot who can still crab walk around but gets counted out anyways because fuck it” so it’s a lost effort any way you slice it. Son of Whyachi finishes its Fight Night rounds 3-1 while Kraken drops to 1-2 and its minibot tries to avenge the death of its bigger brother. I don’t think stabbing Son of Whyachi with a screwdriver or whatever is going to do anything, but props for trying I guess.
WINNER: Son of Whyachi, KO
RAILGUN MAX vs. WAN HOO
Hopefully we don’t need to play “Guess the Gimmick” for this fight because it should be pretty damn obvious. I will say it’s pretty cool that Chris Rose mentions King of Bots (not by name) before the match though. Too bad he doesn’t know the reason why the show got 80 million viewers on its first episode is because everyone who didn’t tune in lost social credit points for not supporting China’s new flagship pastime. Speaking of, whoever loses this fight will be barred from buying a plane ticket home to China. RailGun Max is 2-0 after back to back brutal KO’s over Mad Catter and Shellshock. Mad Catter was literally split in half because I guess whoever designed it overlooked that teeny tiny design flaw, and Shellshock had one of its whole teeth busted off of its outer shell and the robot was uppercutted so hard by RailGun Max that it caught fire. That victory didn’t come free however because RailGun Max also started burning up batteries by the time the refs were counting Shellshock down. The robot is good for some solid and impressive wins, but we’ve definitely seen the cracks in the armor.
Wan Hoo is an interesting machine because it looks and functions like nothing we’ve really seen from an American team. While RailGun Max just sorta looks like a chunkier and less efficient Minotaur what the fuck is Wan Hoo supposed to actually be? It’s like answering the door on Halloween and seeing some kid whose costume can only be described as a zombified member of the Three Stooges who’s also a Pokemon trainer or something. It’s not the most reliable robot at the event — its weapon has died in every single one of its fucking battles — but Wan Hoo has actually managed to get a couple of wins of its own. This fight is its fourth one so it needs to end on a high note in order to qualify for the top 16. Even if Wan Hoo goes 3-1 by no means do I think this robot is “top 16” material given its predilection to throw up its weapon parts like an anxious snake. Apparently Wan Hoo and RailGun Max have met in the past at a Chinese event and Wan Hoo won. How? Did RailGun Max just not show up?
RailGun Max’s minibot Platypus is meant to run interference and also act as a doorstop to high center larger opponents. It’s a strategy we’ve seen a hundred times already this season and sometimes it works; in this case Platypus doesn’t get underneath Wan Hoo but it does manage to cause enough of a distraction to coax Wan Hoo into chasing it around which allows RailGun Max to get its spinner up to speed. By the time Wan Hoo decides to change targets it gets a faceful of eggbeater and winds up thrown onto its ass by the edge of the Battlebox. The bot is invertible so this isn’t a problem, but as it catches RailGun Max’s weapon again the robot flips back onto its proper orientation and proceeds to spit out every single piece of fucking equipment used to spin its shitty little discs. Wan Hoo’s weapon is toast and the robot has now been reduced to a slightly larger version of Platypus with a nicer paint job. I guess the black belt that wound up on the floor was Wan Hoo’s black belt in losing.
Despite having no weapon Wan Hoo stays aggressive and jams its face into RailGun Max who starts having problems of its own. There’s no smoke or parts or anything coming out of the robot but RailGun Max’s drum gradually loses more and more power until it just stops spinning completely. By this point the two bots have locked heads and are spinning their tires against each other with neither one able to win the stalemate. Obviously Wan Hoo’s tires start smoking because that’s just what they do when they’re met with the slightest bit of resistance. So little happens in the second half of this battle that the time between the midway clock appearing on screen and the end of the fight is 60 seconds, not 90. You didn’t miss anything important, don’t worry. The fight goes to RailGun Max likely because of the damage dealt in the early moments of the battle meaning the robot moves up to 3-0, definitely a surprise to see another newcomer reach that status especially this late in the game.
WINNER: RailGun Max, Judges’ Decision (3-0)
WHAT GOT CUT
Obviously there are fights that don’t make it to air. Some of these battles have been included as bonus content as the series airs on Science Channel while others have been posted to the social media pages of BattleBots and Discovery Channel to help get the word out for the show. It goes without saying not every battle can (or should) make it to TV so it’s been a tradition here on BattleBots Update to cover these unaired battles in segments called “What Got Cut”. We’re so close to the end of the Fight Night rounds and there are a lot of robots whose performances have either been aired incomplete or just omitted altogether. Kenny Florian goes through some of these battles super quickly in this segment and I’ll follow along and provide any additional insight from the notes I took at the event. (I am assuming that these battles will eventually make it online like the other unaired matches from seasons prior, so each of these fights will eventually be expanded upon at a later date if/when they are made available.)
- Marvin vs. Axe Backwards: Both of these robots completed four Fight Night battles, though Marvin only had two of them make it to air. Those two battles were absolutely fucking dreadful so it goes without saying these unaired ones aren’t too spectacular either. Axe Backwards had its fights aired out of order, this battle and its one against Deep Six were flipped. Axe Backwards showed up to this match with its weapon not working for the third fucking time in a row which is why I think this thing was just fed to Deep Six at the end of the qualifiers. Axe Backwards did get one of its wheels bent up, so there was some actual damage done here, but I have this fight written down as possibly the worst one of the entire season.
Marvin vs. Falcon: Marvin’s only win this season went untelevised and if you thought that battle was a shit show just wait until you find out that Falcon’s only win also went untelevised… and it beat Marvin. If you’re wondering how Marvin managed to lose this fight — UNANIMOUSLY — pay close attention to the slow-mo replay of what I’m positive was Falcon’s only decent hit of the match. Marvin is missing one of its weapon teeth meaning once again it threw a punch and its weapon exploded. With no offensive capabilities Falcon was able to scrape up enough free points so that neither robot would end their seasons as pathetically as Bombshell.
- Battlesaw vs. Mad Catter: I know a lot of people have been clamoring to see Battlesaw this season because it just looks absolutely badass. It’s a ring spinner with tank tracks whose outer weapon is a custom built giant “saw blade” and just look at this thing as it spins, it’s fucking awesome. Unfortunately the robot itself is also kind of a piece of shit and the reason why none of its fights were televised is because after destroying a minibot and providing for exactly one good photo op Battlesaw’s weapon seizes immediately upon hitting Mad Catter. By the time Mad Catter lands a shot of its own Battlesaw had already begun to smoke and died.
- Mammoth vs. Foxtrot: Apparently at some maker faire event these two robots battled each other and Foxtrot wound up getting inside of Mammoth’s frame because it was so small in comparison to its opponent. Yeah there’s about fifty fucking furry jokes I could make right now but I’m not going to because that shit’s fucking gross and I’m so far beyond that era of my life that it’s not even funny. This battle came down to a matter of which robot was worse and naturally that distinction fell upon Foxtrot because who the fuck else were you expecting to lose this fight?
Mammoth vs. Gemini: I hope the fact that Mammoth getting the same treatment as Marvin is proof enough that just because a design is eccentric doesn’t necessarily mean it’s good. Objectively I think Mammoth is a very off the wall design that can (and has) work when presented with a suitable opponent, like a dead on arrival Axe Backwards, but against even the most remotely formidable opponents the robot just fails. Gemini is not a top tier competitor, but it was able to expertly attack Mammoth’s very exposed wheels and because Mammoth has such serious issues maneuvering around the clusterbot had no trouble at all getting a win by KO.
- The Four Horsemen vs. SubZero: This one was hard to watch because we’d just seen SubZero bounce back from its brutal loss to Cobalt at the start of the event. SubZero was riding high until it took a stray blow from one of The Four Horsemen’s spinners and just started burning to death. I’m not certain if any of the little robots were incapacitated by SubZero, but the moment it started smoking the fight was pretty much over. For anyone who’s ever doubted the potential efficacy of a dinky little wedge like Butter Cup or Daisy take a look at how easily SubZero was pushed around by a robot 20% its size and weight.
- Extinguisher vs. Battlesaw: Battlesaw was back on its bullshit for this fight and I’m quite positive it landed zero hits to Extinguisher. You can see from the brief clip of Battlesaw being pushed into the screws that by that point in the fight it was already smoking and burning up again. Chris Rose makes a joke about having a fire truck on standby but Extinguisher’s hammer was such a fucking joke that Battlesaw needed to be shoved under the Pulverizer for any real damage to be done.
The Four Horsemen vs. Double Jeopardy vs. Lucky: This was the first rumble of the whole event and was taped on day one of shooting. It’s the reason why I was uncertain talking about Lucky in the Desperado event because I wasn’t sure what the angle was because if I said Lucky had already won a fight then I’d have spoiled this disaster of a rumble. Lucky won unanimously but this fight wasn’t as action-packed as the clips imply (otherwise we’d have seen it by now). Double Jeopardy fired both of its shots at Lucky and despite Chris Rose saying it missed on both counts Double Jeopardy actually blasted Lucky right in its stupid face and damaged its flipping arm. This gave Double Jeopardy the early lead but also turned it into the world’s shittiest wedge; you can tell it took some hits from The Four Horsemen because part of its armor is chewed up. Another one of The Four Horsemen died when one of its teammates engaged in some friendly fire and blew its batteries up. Lucky tossed one of the other bots behind the screws and the battle came down to Lucky and Double Jeopardy (and the remainder of The Four Horsemen). There was something wrong with Lucky for most of this fight, probably from catching a bullet with its teeth, so it turned into a tug of war at the very end and obviously Double Jeopardy wasn’t going to win the decision.
- Tantrum vs. Jasper vs. Uppercut: Another early rumble, though this is one that most people kind of figured out happened and also determined that Tantrum won it. I was thinking the gimmick here was going to be having three robots all armed with fist-like weapons but Jasper had to show up and ruin everything. Jasper did just as much in this battle as it did against Huge (which is to say not a single fucking thing) and Uppercut made a poor debut by throwing a couple of punches and breaking down. Tantrum won the rumble by “double KO” but it was having problems of its own landing hits with its new weapon. The first time we saw all three of these robots earlier in the season not a single reference was made to this battle.
Kingpin vs. Daisy Cutter vs. Deep Six: I was super stoked for this rumble because Kingpin has the biggest horizontal spinner, Deep Six has the biggest vertical spinner, and Daisy Cutter looked like it was a solid brick of metal that could take any kind of punishment thrown at it. Instead, this fight turned to shit because Kingpin barely had any control over itself and yet it still won by “double KO”. Kenny even says the rumble was “underwhelming”, that’s how you know it’s bad. The highlights show the entire fight, I shit you not. Deep Six charges at Daisy Cutter; this causes Daisy Cutter’s weapon to hit Kingpin’s blade through its ass cheeks and breaks Daisy Cutter’s spinner. Meanwhile, Deep Six collides with the wall and falls over, knocking itself out. Kingpin, the only robot not to sustain any damage whatsoever, manages to land a couple of glancing blows on Daisy Cutter before the robot just stops moving entirely leaving Kingpin as the sole survivor. All because it turned to the right.
After the wrap-up the hosts start talking about “on the bubble” robots. These are the competitors who’ve either finished at 2-2 or are currently at 2-1 with the potential of finishing 2-2 if they fuck up their last fights. This whole graphic is a nightmare because we’re no longer seeing the Science Channel fights when we should so bots like The Four Horsemen have an alleged “2-1” record when the wrap-up segment we just saw would’ve put them at 1-1. Some of you all have pieced together that there’s probably a Science Channel fight featuring The Four Horsemen where it wins but I don’t think that’s something I’m at any liberty to discuss. More importantly however someone noticed Mammoth has managed to get what appears to be five Fight Night rounds without competing in the Desperado event because the robot has a record of 2-3. That’s not a mess up, based upon what’s been aired that all adds up. Somehow an exhibition battle made it into Mammoth’s potential seeding. This robot got an extra fight and it still fucked it all up.
Like I said, it’s a mess. But I wouldn’t really count on any of these 2-2 robots showing up in the Round of 16 considering just how many bots have the potential to finish at 3-1 or better; a lot of the bots on this graphic are going to bump each other off of it because a handful of the 2-1’s are probably going to battle each other. Case in point, Chris points out Texas Twister and Whiplash are fighting later in this episode. Kenny highlights Deep Six and Wan Hoo as hypothetical robots whose teams might be curious as to why they aren’t advancing. He brings up that “strength of schedule” nonsense but I’ve got a better reason for you bro: Deep Six can’t throw a punch without killing itself and Wan Hoo’s weapon sheds its belt faster than a Jenny Craig commercial. Neither robot is all that impressive and even if Deep Six makes it to 3-1 I highly doubt it’s a contender. Of the robots on the graphic my assessment is that it’s probably fine to ignore ALL of the 2-2 robots unless there’s a special play-in match we don’t know about. Of the 2-1’s who’ve yet to finish their qualifiers I’d say Huge, Hypershock, Whiplash, Yeti, and possibly Uppercut have a shot at moving on. Everyone else might as well start getting ready for next season.
WITCH DOCTOR vs. GIGABYTE
Like Death Roll last week Witch Doctor is at 3-0 and no matter what happens in this fight it’s probably going to advance onward anyways… but wouldn’t it be badass to see another competitor go 4-0? Someone other than the usual fucking suspects like Bite Force, Bronco, and Tombstone? (Ironically, the latter two of which for sure aren’t going to make it to 4-0 because they’ve already lost fights.) There have been a lot of surprises this season and Witch Doctor is at the top of the pile. We’ve seen this robot return year after year and although sometimes the bot is able to make a deep run in the tournament it’s always fallen short. With the potential to finish its qualifiers undefeated Witch Doctor is looking at what might be its best season yet. We’ve already seen it take down one spinner in the form of Captain Shrederator, but Gigabyte is a whole other beast and doesn’t suck as badly. Witch Doctor might have the faster weapon and the stronger drive system, but if Gigabyte’s 120 pound shell connects in just the right way this whole fight could be over as quickly as it started.
The heat is on Gigabyte to make a strong showing in this battle. Like I said Witch Doctor is going to advance win or lose, but Gigabyte only stands a chance at advancing if it wins this battle. Period. Already at 2-1, the spinner can’t afford another loss. Unfortunately for Gigabyte even though it started strong we’ve seen this robot perform worse and worse with each passing battle. First came its KO win over Chronos, a strong start. Then Gigabyte went on to defeat Minotaur however that battle went to a decision and during the fight Gigabyte’s weapon system failed. Gigabyte lost its third fight against Huge and in the process the bot’s shell was chopped up and busted and the robot finished the fight basically on fire. It’s not too late to turn things around and Gigabyte looks to have been repaired quite nicely, none of the jacked up parts of its shell where Huge cleaved into it are present so either this is an entirely new shell or those guys they keep talking about in the Lincoln Electric tent really do work magic.
Gigabyte gets about as far as spinning up to around half of its top speed before Witch Doctor is able to successfully pull off its strategy of box rushing the spinner to stop it from achieving a dangerous level of spin. Normally this plan fails because the robot carrying out the attack jukes the wrong way or the opposing spinner is able to get going before it can even be stopped, but since Gigabyte is taking its jolly ol’ fucking time getting going Witch Doctor kicks it into the screws where it very nearly gets stuck. Had Gigabyte’s spinner become broken it would’ve died on the screws in seconds because I’m pretty sure that set is also on the verge of dying too. Gigabyte is able to get down by way of spinning whatever it can in an effort to shake itself loose but by the time it gets down onto the floor Witch Doctor has had plenty of time to spin its own discs up to speed ten times over. Witch Doctor connects with Gigabyte and throws it so fucking high in the air that not even the cameras mounted on the goddamned ceiling can keep the spinner in frame.
Amazingly, this hit doesn’t immediately kill Gigabyte. The robot is even able to successfully right itself using its directional mast instead of the pole just snapping off like it usually does. The bad news for Gigabyte though is that Witch Doctor has it cornered over by the hosts and its second strike is so powerful that it knocks the entire polycarbonate lid off of Gigabyte. As Gigabyte flips itself back over it turns this piece of armor into a makeshift Destructo Disc and heaves it at Witch Doctor, but misses. Against all odds, Gigabyte still tries to spin its shell up to speed. Obviously Witch Doctor isn’t going to let this happen and after a couple more hits, one of which perfectly tosses Gigabyte at the wall as if Witch Doctor is trying to copy what Hydra did and break the fucking clock, the bracket holding in Gigabyte’s tooth on the blue part of its shell gets peeled back and the steel tooth starts falling out.
This is the last hit Witch Doctor is able to land because all this ass kicking has caused its motors to seize up and die. I guess we’re through seeing Gigabyte being used as the world’s most expensive commemorative challenge coin. This is Gigabyte’s opportunity to rev up and start making up for lost time by eating some tires or tearing off Witch Doctor’s face but it looks like that last hit also disabled the spinner’s shell. Even if it was able to spin that loose tooth is hanging on by a thread so chances are it would probably just get busted off and the whole thing would destabilize and blow the fuck apart anyways. Witch Doctor expertly shoves Gigabyte back into the corner near the hosts in order to score some shots with the Pulverizer. In the process it looks like a belt or something falls out from under Gigabyte and before I’m able to make any guesses as to what it is the robot also loses a whole goddamned wheel complete with its axle.
That is how hard Witch Doctor can hit. The robot obviously still has some reliability issues that it needs to get over before it can seriously be considered as a possible champion this year, but nonetheless this fight marks Witch Doctor’s fourth straight win for a complete sweep of its Fight Night rounds. Witch Doctor joins Death Roll as the only two robots who’ve achieved this so far. Meanwhile Gigabyte falls to 2-2 and what started out as a great comeback season for this old shell spinner turned sour in the end. Between Gigabyte and Captain Shrederator obviously it’s the better of the two but in this day and age there’s a prescribed manner in which a design such as this can be defeated, and we all just saw it. I really have no idea what you can do to a shell spinner to keep it as competitive as all of the other designs but I’m hoping either the Robotic Death Company or Team LOGICOM can figure it out and if not them then perhaps Mauler should come out of retirement to show everyone how it’s done.
WINNER: Witch Doctor, KO
BREAKER BOX vs. BLOODSPORT
While most of the other robots in this episode are coming into their fourth battles both of these guys are actually at 1-1 right now so this is only their third. Despite this, the battle we’re about to see will still probably determine who at least has a chance at advancing and who’s out; both bots have already gotten their “free loss” so a second one is guaranteed to spell disaster. It doesn’t help that both of these robots are already struggling to prove their might, just take Breaker Box for example. Jim Smentowski is one of the most famous builders in the sport because his former robot Nightmare became one of the most iconic designs in its early years. The issue is Nightmare sucks in the modern era and Jim knows this. Coolness doesn’t win fights. Breaker Box was his side project and he’s seen moderate success with it over the years and it’s also a more competitive design that doesn’t rely on a stupid spinning blade that’s three goddamned feet wide. That said, Breaker Box managed to win an amazingly boring decision over Falcon and lost by KO to Uppercut. In both of these fights the bot overheated and died because it’s dumb LED panel gets too hot I guess.
Bloodsport is a robot whose design channels the spirits of Hazard and Tornado Mer, the deadly helicopter spinners of yesteryear, and takes the designs to new heights. The kicker with helicopter bots like Bloodsport is that you need to run the weapon with more than one motor to get the best possible destructive potential out of the robot. Even as far back as season 1 in 2000 Hazard was running two motors with its blade, and by the time Tornado Mer came around that motherfucker had like 4 or 6 or something, I shit you not. Each of the little sprockets around Bloodsport’s central cog are on their own motors so we’re still seeing that design strategy even to this day. So far it’s netted the spinner a win over Lucky via decision and that’s it; in its only other match Black Dragon socked the robot hard enough to bust its center mast apart and bit a chunk out of the robot’s underside. Needless to say, Bloodsport lost that one by KO. Assuming Bloodsport’s weapon stays functional and it doesn’t hit Breaker Box’s scoop I’d say it has the edge here. Or two edges, one on either side of its blade. Whatever.
It should come as no surprise that the strategy here is — once again — to box rush the spinner to either destabilize it or slow it down. Jim gets into a little more detail given his experience over the years and briefly discussed his reasoning for using Breaker Box’s bulldozer-style scoop instead of the angled wedge we’ve seen twice so far. I’m sure it has nothing to do with the fact that both Falcon and Uppercut ripped ass into the wedge and bent it the fuck up. Right away Bloodsport gets spinning but its driver crashes into the wall while avoiding Breaker Box and this basically just does the work for its opponent and all Breaker Box has to do is show up. Bloodsport gets away and goes way wide as it evades; it tries to spin again but it’s already driven so far across the floor that it drifts into the screw box near the battle clock and once again stalls its weapon out. So far Breaker Box seems to have a chance to win this fight by just letting Bloodsport kill itself.
The leisurely stroll comes to an end real fast however because Breaker Box finally lands a blow on Bloodsport while its blade is going. Without the arena wall for Bloodsport to drive itself into Breaker Box takes the brunt of this attack and it looks like the reach of Bloodsport’s weapon stretched around Breaker Box’s plow and hit the side of its chassis because when the bots separate Breaker Box’s front right wheel has seized up completely. Jim’s teammate says the front left wheel has seized, but that’s because people who build steampunk things tend not to be able to tell right from left. It’s why Jim has a mechanical arm now, he tried to use a right-handed NES Power Glove on his left hand. That was an awkward trip to the hospital. Breaker Box is floundering but it’s still sorta hanging in there even as it once again begins to start smoking for the third straight fight in a fucking row. There’s no telling what’s burning up inside of Breaker Box this time but chances are the seized wheel is putting way too much strain on the bot’s drive motors.
Though the robot has limited mobility now, Breaker Box’s plow can still be a formidable defensive device; Bloodsport lands another hit but is spun out of control when the curved plow deflects the robot away just as Jim said it would. Unfortunately due to the direction Bloodsport’s weapon spins all of these hits are putting stress on the right side of Breaker Box’s plow and this particularly gnarly hit has busted the right arm from its pivot point. The weapon can still articulate and move around because the left side is intact but anyone who’s seen a fight go to shit like this one knows exactly what’s about to happen. While flapping its plow around, presumably to test what still works, Breaker Box takes a shot directly on its left arm from Bloodsport. As you might imagine, this hit snaps the entire goddamned plow off leaving Breaker Box looking like the first iteration of Frostbite from 2001, except that’s an insult to Frostbite because I’m 100% certain even the 2001 version of that robot could beat fucking Breaker Box.
Breaker Box is without its only defensive option and the robot is still whirling around in place as if it can do anything to still win this disaster of a battle. Bloodsport lands a couple more hits and it doesn’t seem like a whole lot of damage is done to Breaker Box’s exposed sides. I’m not sure if that’s because Bloodsport is having weapon troubles or if Breaker Box actually has some serious armor for its side panels. Whatever the case, Breaker Box isn’t scoring any points like this. Bloodsport’s weapon craps out for a bit but as Kenny points out the blade is prone to overheating and periodically the driver will shut it off to prevent damaging the its drive system. I figure Bloodsport’s team knows they’re ahead on points and now is probably a good time to take a breather. Breaker Box somehow manages to regain a little bit of its control and starts driving around erratically prompting Bloodsport to start spinning its blade again. It’s not going very fast but when Bloodsport connects with Breaker Box’s ass end the hit is enough to knock it out cold.
The circular decals right where Bloodsport hit Breaker Box are stickers that show where the robot’s master power switches are located (which are a mandatory part on a robot so it can complete its safety inspection), so because Breaker Box just straight up died upon being whacked there it’s probably a safe bet that the power switch to its drive system was damaged. As it falls to 1-2 Breaker Box is probably out of the running for the main tournament now, but Bloodsport isn’t in there just yet either; remember, this was only its third fight so at 2-1 it’s now in a much better position to advance but it still has to win its last Fight Night round to even be up for consideration.
WINNER: Bloodsport, KO
TWIST IT, WHIP IT
Coming up we’ve got a battle between Texas Twister and Whiplash, two great bots from two very experienced teams. Both of them have the same current season record of 2-1 meaning this fight will most likely determine who’s advancing onward and who’s done for the season (again, barring any sort of special play-in bouts that haven’t been announced yet). Each of these bots are also coming down from brutal losses so Jenny Taft has swung by the pits to see what’s going on and to try and finish people’s sentences for them as they talk.
Michael “Fuzzy” Mauldin and Texas Twister is Jenny’s first stop in the pits. Fuzzy breaks down Texas Twister’s weight allocation and when he says “fifty pounds of tires” I believe him. This is the guy who built Iceberg, a super heavyweight robot with twelve fucking wheels. People used to make fun of War Machine for having ten wheels but Fuzzy looked at that piece of shit robot and laughed aloud because he knew he could do better than that. Wheels aside, about 40 pounds of Texas Twister is devoted to just its frame. It’s a hardy robot, but Fuzzy tells Jenny that Son of Whyachi did some serious damage to his robot’s frame and as the editors overlay some slow-mo replays you can see the bent up tubing inside of Texas Twister as its rear panel gets ripped away. Frame damage is serious shit, it’s why SubZero disappeared for so long this season, so Fuzzy immediately got to work transplanting Texas Twister’s salvageable parts into a new frame.
He also tells Jenny that he’ll be running Texas Twister’s medium weapon instead of the heavy one. Some of you might be wondering why the weights are “medium” and “heavy” when there isn’t a “light” one anywhere to be seen. If you’re one of the people who feels this way then I’m sorry to inform you of this but you just don’t understand how Texas works. The advantages of running a lighter weapon include being able to get it up to speed a lot faster, though this comes at the expense of storing less kinetic energy within the blade. In Texas Twister’s case, Fuzzy says his angle is to run the robot upside down as an undercutter and get at Whiplash’s tires so a heavier blade wouldn’t really be any more useful in this case. The lighter disc also means Spitfire can come out with Texas Twister… because that’s what the lighter blade makes weight for. You’d think maybe Fuzzy would slap on another set of fucking tires or something, but no it’s a drone.
Meanwhile Jeff Vasquez and his family have been hard at work putting Whiplash back together after being almost completely totaled by Witch Doctor in their previous match. Because Fuzzy took so long to talk about wheels by the time Jenny is able to get over to Whiplash’s pit area the robot has already been repaired and Debbie is putting sponsor decals on it (which is the most important part because those guys pay for everything). Jeff rattles off a laundry list of little things that needed to be touched up and aside from saying electronics needed to be replaced he essentially named every single part of the robot and said something was busted. Matt Vasquez talks strategy for a bit and says his plan is just to drive straight into Texas Twister’s weapon. This plan worked against Son of Whyachi — amazingly — and I don’t think Texas Twister can pack as much of a punch as that bot so Matt’s confidence in this plan isn’t groundless.
TEXAS TWISTER vs. WHIPLASH
Everybody involved with this battle seems to know that qualification is on the line. It sucks because when you’re like me you just want everyone to win because you start getting to know everyone and seeing someone wrap up their season just sucks, but that’s what’s going to happen here for one of these two competitors. Fuzzy shouts “don’t mess with Texas” during his robot’s introduction which sounds like a hell of a battle cry until you remember that’s actually the slogan for an anti-littering campaign. Yeah, if you’re from one of the other 49 states you probably didn’t know that and you just think “don’t mess with Texas” is something worth being jealous about because “don’t mess with Idaho” is just stupid sounding. An interesting fact about this fight is Whiplash has technically sorta battled Texas Twister before; last season Texas Twister competed as Hypothermia with the same overall frame/chassis design, and Whiplash pulled its wheels off and killed it. Could we see a repeat, or will Whiplash get a lesson on remembering The Alamo?
For as dinky as they look Whiplash’s front plows can be surprisingly resilient. We’ve seen them pulled off a couple of times already but that’s likely because they were caught from their edges, when hit dead on they just become brick walls and Texas Twister has such a hard time doing any damage to Whiplash that the spinner gets violently kicked back and thrown at the wall in the first 10 or so seconds of the match. The hit, caused by Texas Twister digging its disc into the floor and being flicked backward, is a serious problem for the bot because as it comes down from the panhandle of the Battlebox it’s already starting to smoke from its front end. Much like Hypothermia (and Polar Vortex before it), Texas Twister’s weapon motors are mostly exposed and were damaged bad enough by this massive shot that both of them just start burning. As the robot tries to spin its disc up to speed the smoke worsens and the whole front end of Texas Twister goes up in flames as about $1,000 worth of weapon motors turn into dust.
Texas Twister has no offensive capabilities once it loses its disc and if you think Spitfire is going to do a goddamned thing then you’re out of your fucking mind. Texas Twister has basically been reduced to automatic points and all Whiplash has to do is bump into it for the next two and a half minutes and it’ll win this fight easily. Obviously a knock out would be better on Whiplash’s overall record though so the robot jams Texas Twister into the red square’s screws and at multiple points essentially ends the fight but winds up keeping it going simply because it can’t fucking stop hitting Texas Twister. Naturally the screws can’t handle Texas Twister using them as a brace while Whiplash pounds it in the ass so they stop working, but at one point Texas Twister’s dead weapon gets stuck in the screws diagonally in such a weird way that it high centers the entire robot.
This would’ve been enough for a knock out, and Jason Vasquez actually tells his brother Matt to ease off the sticks, but Whiplash inadvertently bumps the robot down from this position as it goes it for a second attack. The disc on Whiplash connects with Texas Twister’s backside and starts to pull the plate loose and in the follow-up attack the back panel gets yanked off entirely. You might recall the reason why Texas Twister died so suddenly while fighting Son of Whyachi (aside from, you know, being absolutely fucking destroyed) was because its master power switches were attached to the back armor panel so when it got torn off the switches went with it. Look closely and you’ll see some dangly bits hanging out of Texas Twister’s ass when its rear armor is torn off, that’s those switches again. The camera angle doesn’t show much but Whiplash probably catches them with its disc while shoving Texas Twister back onto the screws which is why when Whiplash backs away its opponent is totally dead.
For a robot with such a strong start to its season, Texas Twister came crashing down pretty hard at the end. Two KO losses in the exact same manner. Hopefully this at least reveals a potential design flaw to look into in the event that Fuzzy decides to bring Texas Twister back for another season, and I hope he does because like I said at the beginning of the year I got a lot of Surgeon General vibes from this new robot and I’d love nothing more than to see Fuzzy channel the energy of the robot that clipped all of Frostbite’s wheels off and turn that into his winning machine.
WINNER: Whiplash, KO
BRONCO vs. HUGE
For these past couple of episodes we’ve been focusing a lot on robots who are bringing their qualification rounds to a close. We’re seeing lots of 2-2’s, some 3-1’s, and so far a couple of 4-0’s… but Bronco isn’t in any of those categories nor does it even have the potential to make it to one of them after this fight. Bronco is 0-2. Yes, zero wins and two losses. That first loss came from the hands of Bite Force which is an understandable situation, but that second one was a decision against Free Shipping. Free Shipping, you know, the robot that looks like Ghost Rider nutted on a forklift. That thing. Bronco threw a punch and due to the team unknowingly using a “bad batch” of titanium its flipping arm immediately crumpled up. If that was a car someone would’ve died and someone else would’ve gotten a $100 million lawsuit from some shady ambulance chaser. The best Bronco can hope for is 2-2 and even for this beast that might not be enough to skate by. Like a lot of robots who’ve fought Huge, Bronco has its own special attachment: the “unicorn horn”. Looks fine, we’ve seen things like it before with varying success, but Bronco’s upper armor is jutting out far enough to block the unicorn horn from being effective. Neato.
This may only be Bronco’s third fight, but this is Huge’s last one before the team awaits the news of the selection committee to know if they’ve made it in. Like its opponent Huge also had a bad first draw in the form of Son of Whyachi and wound up losing when half of one of its wheels got ripped off and Whyachi kept pounding this goofy ass robot against the wall. Unlike Bronco however, Huge rebounded and was able to knock out Jasper and defeat Gigabyte in a unanimous decision. Both Jasper and Gigabyte were expertly cleaved into because Jonathan Schultz revealed in a previous pit segment that he’s got about a dozen different blade sizes for Huge and he knows exactly which one to use against a given opponent based on the dimensions of their chassis. Whereas most builders have a couple of configurations and just hope for the best this dude legitimately has an entire goddamned arsenal at his disposal and all it takes for him to know what caliber bullet is the perfect size to hit your asshole from your throat is a simple tape measure.
I’m not sure what kind of editing was done to this fight but after 10 seconds of no contact there’s a cut to Jonathan who is (I assume) jokingly complaining about Bronco not wanting to fight. It’s not so much Bronco doesn’t want to fight, it’s likely that Reason Bradley knows driving straight into Huge’s custom-ordered Bronco castrator is a retarded move. Bronco is trying to find an angle and winds up missing as Huge rolls on top of it and, since Huge’s blade is spinning upward instead of the usual downward, slices right into one of Bronco’s extra pieces of upper armor and busts it open. I don’t know if that’s the same “bad titanium” or what but god damn that’s a clean break, and second shot sends one of the still-attached halves of armor flying off. After these couple of hits Bronco is able to cruise into Huge and toss it around a bit but due to Huge’s unique shape it’s not possible to actually flip it over. All Bronco can hope to do is either score a ton of points by landing its flips or possibly finagle a way to get one of Huge’s wheels stuck behind the screws or something.
The “being thrown behind the screws” thing very nearly happens as Bronco gets several more tosses in succession. Nothing comes of it, but at one point Huge gets stuck right on top of Bronco’s chassis. Due to a combination of Huge not having the best drive system and all of the stupid random chunks of metal stapled onto Bronco the giant spinner is snagged and unable to move. Zander leans over to Reason and tells him to shoot for the edge of the arena, but Reason knows he likely can’t make the shot from there even by using the backside of Bronco’s flipper. He steers the robot around and tries to swing wide but takes way too long lining up the shot and Huge is eventually able to roll away and get going again. The first couple of hits landed by Huge were… well… huge, but as we get into the middle of the fight I feel like its blade isn’t hitting as hard as it was earlier in the battle; Bronco drives straight into it and the blade just kinda stops and affords the flipper another opportunity for a throw and I know Bronco’s ugly hairdo isn’t the reason why the blade is stopping so suddenly.
Chris Rose starts creaming his pants over seeing Bronco shove Huge into the corner of the arena but the celebration doesn’t last long because Huge clips the flipper sideways and rolls it over. There’s so much stupid shit on top of Bronco that the robot doesn’t even need to fire its flipper to self-right because it just bounces back onto its wheels on its own. There’s another cut to Jonathan who notices a hole in Bronco’s armor and I don’t know what he’s looking at because the entirety of Bronco’s upper half looks like a parade float that someone accidentally dropped an I-beam on. But to be a little more serious that weird orange glow you see coming out of Bronco is part of its power indicator light system and the reason why it’s brighter on one side is because there is indeed a hole cleaved into the armor that has kinked Bronco’s top panel. This prompts Chris to start talking about “damage with a primary weapon” which isn’t a good sign because this means he’s probably priming the audience for what’s about to happen to soften the blow of a possible 0-3 Bronco.
Kenny seems to disagree with Chris and says the damage done to Bronco is just “cosmetic”. I don’t necessarily disagree with this observation but Bronco’s done virtually nothing to Huge so “cosmetic damage” might be a determining factor if the judges have to get involved. Huge’s team taunts Bronco’s one last time but if you listen closely you’ll hear the guy say “come on John” meaning this clip is actually from Huge’s previous battle against Gigabyte (built by John Mladenik). Nice job, that was almost a clever use of editing to suggest that Huge’s team are just a bunch of assholes that have been firing off rude gestures at the Bronco team for the past three minutes. (NOTE: After this article went up it was suggested to me that the team member could’ve been saying “come on Jon” to cheer on Huge’s driver, Jonathan Schultz. My alternate reality is still funnier though.) Huge gets one more decent shot on Bronco in the twilight seconds of the battle and this hit must’ve reached something important because Bronco slows down a crawl and stops moving entirely. There isn’t enough time for Bronco to be counted out so before the clock runs out Huge makes an effort to land as many hits as it can to counter the points Bronco scored earlier with all of its flips.
The fight goes the distance and the judges rule in favor of Huge which depending on how you saw this fight you might either agree with or are really pissed off right now. My assessment is that it was possibly Bronco’s fight by just a hair until Bronco totally gave out at the end. If there were even just 15 more seconds on the clock Bronco would’ve been counted out and even though it was saved by the bell the judges aren’t dumb, they saw that Bronco was incapacitated. Had Bronco not died and the fight went to the judges I could see a strong case for it actually winning, but as it stands when it comes down to damage Huge obviously took the points because of how crippled Bronco became. That’s 3 out of the 7 total points right there, even just one more point for aggression is enough to tip the whole thing in Huge’s favor and that’s probably what happened.
WINNER: Huge, Judges’ Decision (3-0)
I don’t think anybody expected Bronco to have as shitty of a year as it’s having right now. At 0-3 I honestly can’t see any possible way it’ll move on. Two fights ago I was saying maybe it stood a chance at 3-1 if it turned things around and as we got into this main event I was cautiously optimistic that maybe 2-2 would be enough in a best case scenario because “it’s Bronco”. But even if Bronco wins its last fight I highly doubt anyone will be able to defend a qualification at 1-3, not unless Bronco gets into the main tournament the same way Bombshell did last year with a special bout. It’s very likely that the next time we see Bronco, rain or shine, it’ll be the last for the year. That’s just fucking absurd to me. It’s Bronco. It’s not my favorite robot of all time but god damn.
Huge moves up to 3-1 and I’ve gotta agree with Jonathan when he says he’s got back to back wins over Bronco and Gigabyte, that’s absolutely top 16 material to me as well. I think Whiplash has very little to worry about regarding qualifying too, 3-1 is a shoe in by this point and that also goes for Son of Whyachi. RailGun Max is the last robot to make it to 3-0 so they’re probably going to qualify no matter the outcome of their next battle. Witch Doctor at 4-0 is in there no question. Minotaur is the trickier question though because it’s the only robot at 3-3 thanks to the Desperado event. Obviously three losses isn’t great… but three wins is also pretty good; after all, the 3-1 bots are probably making it in because of the whole “three wins” thing. It wouldn’t surprise me to see Minotaur qualify in like 15th or 16th place or something (or whatever the bottom of the pack is after any special matches are done), maybe a little higher because it was last year’s runner up even though I think Bombshell kinda demonstrated why giving preferential treatment to a runner up is a stupid idea. As for some of the other bots in this episode they’re only at three battles but with two losses it’s probably safe to say Kraken and Breaker Box are out of the running, and again Bloodsport only stands a chance if it can win its last match.
It’s my guess that next week’s episode is going to be the last Fight Night one and that’s purely because last season needed three episodes to do the main tournament starting with the Round of 16. Then again last season’s episodes also weren’t two goddamned hours long… so really I have no idea what I’m talking about. In any case to get notifications of when articles go up be sure to follow BattleBots Update on Facebook. As we approach the end of the season if you’d like to contribute to keep the site going you can do so with a monthly pledge on Patreon, or a one-time donation via PayPal.
See you next week!