[BattleBots: S9 E14 is available through the Discovery GO app with a cable subscription package. Season is also available on iTunes and Amazon.]
In last week’s article I guess I kind of spoiled(?) the format of this week’s show, though I’d like to stress that the info I was going by was stuff provided in TV guide listings from cable providers. Anyone could’ve gleaned that information themselves just from checking the description of this episode of BattleBots. Still, I went ahead and gutted the previous article of that content when it was brought to my attention that the format of this episode was intended to be for supporters on the BattleBots official Facebook page. This is what happens when you’re out of the loop. What also happens is Chris Rose tells Kenny Florian that he’s the meat to his potatoes or something like that and if that’s not a come-on then fuck me I guess I’m awful at identifying pickup lines. This season is going to end with them kissing.
To go over it again, since this description is now missing from the previous article, this episode is not part of the Fight Night qualifiers. Those are over and done with; what we are left with is a kind of bootleg “Round of 32” where the top eight robots all receive byes to the Round of 16 and the remaining sixteen robots all have play-in matches for the last spots. But that’s a really bad way of putting it because technically it’s incorrect, supposedly the top 8 bots have not been officially seeded and are just “the top 8” and seedings will happen once these play-ins are done. Seems kind of stupid to me because I don’t think any of the competitors picking up slack this late in the game are going to do enough to breach the 8th place threshold, but whatever.
The top 8 bots are revealed to be who you’d probably think: all of the 4-0 competitors, Black Dragon (the Desperado winner), and Tombstone. Sawblaze and Whiplash likely made it in because of their strong showings and name recognition. The real story here are the robots “ranked” 9th through 24th. This actually puts a lot of heat on the robots in the upper half of this bunch because they’re the ones who technically should’ve advanced onward since we’ve been hearing “BUT KENNY WILL THEY MAKE IT INTO THE TOP 16” nonstop for 13 fucking episodes. Naturally we’d all expect robots like Son of Whyachi, Lock-Jaw, Yeti, and Skorpios to just make it in no problem but now these bots are being haunted by some ghosts of the season by way of robots like Copperhead, Blacksmith, Quantum, and even Minotaur creeping back in. All of those guys have got to be in the 17th – 24th range which means normally they’d have fallen just short but with this weird playoff thing taking place suddenly just making it into the “top 16” isn’t enough to actually make it there. Well, not unless you ranked 8th or better.
So in summary this is going to be a very interesting episode because half of the robots featured here are ones you’d probably have expected to qualify and the other half are ones everyone probably wrote off. We’ve even got a couple of 2-2’s showing up in this episode so I’d say we’re on deck to potentially see an upset or two.
VALKYRIE vs. QUANTUM
This is an interesting first match because it’s kind of hard to tell who the “original qualifier” was, but if I had to guess I’d probably say it was Valkyrie considering it apparently finished with a 3-1 record despite having one of those wins go unaired. (It’s actually part of a Science Channel episode but since those are currently on a broadcast hiatus…) Valkyrie’s first battle wound up being its only loss when Hypershock didn’t waste a single second plowing into the spinner head on and slamming it into the wall. This hit essentially set the tone for the fight and even though Hypershock started slowly breaking down Valkyrie had long since been flipped over and was counted out. After that? Three straight wins. Valkyrie was one of the many robots to get an easy win over Ragnarok this season but faced a much tougher opponent in Monsoon… who was also one of the many robots to get an easy win over Ragnarok this season. Monsoon survived the onslaught but lost the decision. I’m not sure if I’m allowed to say who Valkyrie defeated in its fourth fight but the fight kind of sucked which is why you didn’t see it.
At 2-2 I think we all collectively assumed that Quantum absolutely devouring Duck would’ve probably been the last time we’d see it this year. It was a strong finish but after being brutalized by Lock-Jaw and Death Roll earlier in the season there was really no way this robot was going to clear the 16th rank. Luckily for James and Grant Cooper the barrier for entry was lowered from 16th place to 24th and when you factor that into the equation then yeah I could see Quantum coming in somewhere close to 24th. You gotta remember, this is the robot that immediately held up production on the first fucking day when it bit down onto Blacksmith so hard that the fight had to be postponed in order to separate the robots only for Quantum to do the exact same shit a second time and force the battle to go to the judges on technicality. That was a hell of an entrance for Quantum but as the season went on I suggested maybe the world wasn’t ready for this crusher, but here’s its second chance.
I know that Valkyrie is primarily an undercutter which is why it starts the battle in its usual configuration with the blade low, but why not flip the robot over just for this one fight? Upside-down Valkyrie’s spinner is just daring Quantum’s tooth to bite town onto it so it can be yanked out like some back alley dentist but for some reason the robot shows up with its usual orientation and for the first few seconds of the fight Quantum is all over the spinner looking for a way to get purchase on its vulnerable top. Unfortunately for Quantum all this shuffling around knocks Valkyrie vertical and the robot slowly reels down onto its back, the exact configuration I was just talking about. Now if Quantum bites down that tooth is going to get torn off, they might as well tie a string to it and tie the other end to a fucking door. Quantum is still looking to control the fight however and starts to muscle Valkyrie around while what looks like some kind of tire coating gradually peels off of the spinner’s wheels. (I’m assuming that’s the urethane the team painted onto the wheels after the Hypershock loss.)
Valkyrie gets nudged into the screws completely out of control and in the chaos of being bumped around its blade finally clips Quantum’s tooth and sure enough it pops right off. I’m assuming the bolts used to hold that thing on can withstand 14 tons of pressure and not break, so does that mean Valkyrie’s weapon hits with more than 14 tons of force? Who the fuck knows, I should’ve paid more attention in physics class. Anyways the nightmare scenario that I’m sure the Coopers wanted to avoid has happened because now Quantum has no way to damage its opponent, although it can still give Valkyrie a gummy I guess. Also, awkward blowjob jokes aside the robot still has 14 tons of clamping power so even without a tooth if it gets a grip on Valkyrie that robot ain’t going anywhere. Case in point, Quantum slams Valkyrie into the wall and the impact just destroys its blade, no more action from it whatsoever. Also the urethane peeling from Valkyrie’s wheel is starting to look more and more like a dead tapeworm.
With no weapon Valkyrie stands to lose this fight against Quantum who still has by my estimation at least half of a weapon. Quantum takes Valkyrie to one of the corners of the Battlebox where the Pulverizer is but it doesn’t come down, presumably because this is one of Valkyrie’s Pulverizers or because the person in charge of Quantum’s hazards doesn’t know which button is which. Just let Pete swing the fucking things again. ABC scammed some stupid people on a quiz show that nobody fucking cared about 70 goddamned years ago and now because of it we can’t see Valkyrie get its shit pushed in by a 100 pound hammer. BattleBots isn’t even on ABC anymore. Fuck this. You think American Idol isn’t fucking rigged to hell and back? Whatever. Valkyrie has no offensive capabilities so the fight is all Quantum and as Valkyrie gets corralled over into the red square Quantum goes in for the layup and stuffs its opponent into the hazard. Valkyrie gets jammed behind the screws in such a way that the hazard predictably seizes and can’t spin the opposite way.
I can’t believe it but Quantum has just snuck in the back door into the Top 16, and you know what? I’m glad. It’s nice to see an uncommon design make it in. A couple of years ago one of Quantum’s ancestors, Spectre, won the King of Bots event in China. Spectre had its struggles as it vied for the title just like Quantum has this year and after this kind of comeback you never really know what might happen. Now go find your dentures, Quantum.
WINNER: Quantum, KO
YETI vs. DUCK
As much as I like Duck, Yeti is obviously the original top 16 candidate in this fight. We’re talking about a robot that has delivered a legitimate one hit KO this season; I know in the previous recap I mentioned how Ragnarok was a pushover but technically those weren’t quite one hitter quitters, but Yeti actually socked Rainbow so hard that it blew its polycarbonate armor off and destroyed the robot’s internals in a single shot. You could argue that Rainbow wasn’t a very well-assembled robot and I’ll just loop right back around to saying Yeti still killed it in one shot and them’s the breaks. Yeti’s other KO came from Tantrum last week where the robot sanded down Tantrum’s ass until it was a perfect 90 degree angle and earlier this season it beat Free Shipping by a decision where the forklift had much of its upper armor torn away and its lifting arm destroyed. And to think this all happened because Yeti lost to Bite Force out of the gate. Greg Gibson pulled the lifting arms off of his robot, threw them away, and used that extra weight to add a third motor to the weaponry and THAT is why Yeti isn’t fucking around this year.
Duck is always going to be one of the standbys of the sport. Hal Rucker has done a good job building a robot whose image and reputation are uniquely their own thing; getting buttfucked by the decision in that rumble last year is the best thing that could’ve happened to Hal because now his robot is famous because of it. People love controversy and they also love when an underdog, like Hal, shows up at the start of the season and openly shits on the “active weapon” rule that’s drawn a lot of ire over the years. Unfortunately all the crowd support and mugs with your robot’s picture can’t save you from a bad record and at 2-2 Duck is just barely in here by the skin of its teeth. Or the feathers of its ass, whatever the duck version of that adage is. Duck’s only strong win was when it showed up Bombshell at the start of the season; it “beat” Cobalt by way of losing for two minutes straight and lucking out when Cobalt twisted its ankle on the floor, and then the robot suffered back to back losses at the hands of Lock-Jaw and Quantum (the latter of which significantly damaged the robot).
My best guess about this fight is that it’s going to be a war of attrition; Yeti is all about throwing those big punches but Duck is durable enough to take ’em, but Duck is a control bot and Yeti’s design doesn’t lend itself too well to being pushed around. Duck does score the first point of the match by toppling Yeti over however, and Yeti spends what feels like ten minutes trying to Minotaur Dance its way back onto its proper orientation and fails until Duck cruises in and stabs Yeti in the dick to help knock it down. As Yeti gets pushed into the walls Duck moves its lifter in the wrong direction and braces it against the ground instead of using it to lift Yeti up. You can tell this is what happens because Duck’s front wheels pivot off of the ground and the chassis turns backwards. Not sure what that was aside from potential driver error but it happens a second time a few moments later. I’ve given it some thought and I really have no explanation for that other than the weapon operator screwing up, I don’t see how flipping the robot like that gives Duck any sort of edge in the battle. You’d think after fucking up once you’d know to push the stick in the opposite direction but okay.
Yeti starts making a comeback as it pops Duck in the face and slightly warps its plow inward before grabbing its opponent by the ass and giving it the Tantrum treatment. Duck’s ass has some bites taken out of it but the robot is still fully mobile… except when it tries to lift Yeti a third time its plow moves in the wrong direction again. At this point I’m just going to assume the operator has no way of knowing which side of Duck is facing upward. Sure he could wiggle the plow when the robot isn’t near Yeti but that seems like too good of an idea for a team whose only claim to fame is losing a fight in a contentious manner. Yeti continues to go to town on Duck landing a blow on whatever part of the robot it can reach and you can see actual shards of aluminum coming off of Duck every time Yeti manages to strike its body instead of its plow. It’s hard to tell what kind of damage, if any, these attacks are doing to Duck but there’s gotta be something going on under the hood because the lifter comes to a crawl and just lets Yeti bust all over its face. Normally Duck is zipping around all over the place so something’s clearly wrong but I have no idea what it is because I don’t think Yeti’s landed any hits that Kenny would describe as “huge”.
The fight is only half over and Duck is already starting to break down and right as Chris reads us what’s on the clock Yeti strikes Duck from one of its corners and throws the robot backward a few feet. If Duck wasn’t already in the process of dying I’d point to this hit as the one that turned the fight but instead I’m just going to sit here and watch Yeti attack a helpless opponent like a blanket made out of fists. Duck gets backed into the wall and very nearly flips over. It uses this moment to swing its plow around like a hammer even though its spike is facing the wrong direction. I wouldn’t say this does any damage at all except Yeti leaves this scuffle with a drum that isn’t spinning. It gets going again a few seconds later and is good for one more hit but that does it for the weapon and it loses its muscle not long thereafter. Moments before the fight as Greg was furiously changing out the tires on his robot he said that he was mindful of the fact that spinners sometimes only get a certain amount of hits before breaking down and that if this was going to happen to him he wanted to spread them out over the entire fight. With under a minute left to go I’d say this motherfucker can see the future.
By the time we get to the end of the fight Duck is apparently trying to do its best impression of Breaker Box because it only seems to be moving around when it swings its lifting plow. Yeti’s drum has died off but it still wins the fight on a unanimous decision purely because even without a working weapon at the end of the battle Yeti still threw all of the punches. Duck managed one lift at the beginning of the fight and after that we got to see another Yeti Booty Blasting Buffet.
WINNER: Yeti, Judges’ Decision (3-0)
LOCK-JAW vs. SKORPIOS
If the first battle blurred the line between who was and wasn’t the “definite” in for the original Round of 16… this one blows that out of the fucking water. Both of these robots are 3-1 and their wins have all been quite impressive. I don’t even know if we’re dealing with a fight that has a robot in that 17th-24th place range because even suggesting that this is a battle between 16th and 17th place seems disingenuous to say the least. (Like I said, I know my fast and loose summary of what’s happening in this episode was incorrect. It was just an easy metaphor.) Lock-Jaw’s only loss was against Tombstone because naturally that’s an easy assumption to make. Add Lock-Jaw to the list of robots who shit their pants in round one but 180’d and came back because in its next fight we saw a great KO over Quantum that split the crusher’s side open. It also beat Duck in a fight that went the distance and this was about the time we started seeing some issues with Lock-Jaw because it spontaneously started smoking at one point and even though if beat Bombshell by KO we saw a full on fucking fire by the end of that fight. Lock-Jaw has had one strong fight. Maybe it’s the alleged 17th place robot after all…
Skorpios on the other hand started the season strong with three consecutive wins thanks largely in part to its nasty new “hammer saw” that packs a mean punch. Copperhead was perhaps not the best opponent for showing off the destructive potential of this weapon because Copperhead’s armor is like a foot thick but we still got to see Skorpios incapacitate its opponent by sheer brute force alone. Remember, Skorpios karate chopped Copperhead hard enough to flip the whole robot over solely by the force of its disc slamming Copperhead against the floor. That’s pretty fucking wild. We saw a similar battle against Tantrum because that robot is also ridiculously armored but Skorpios really shined when it systematically fucking demolished Sidewinder. Now that we’re past the qualifiers I can say this but Sidewinder was so utterly destroyed that its team literally fucking gave up, there was no coming back from the beating Skorpios gave their robot. That wasn’t just Skorpios opening a can of whoop ass nor was that even a whole case, that was Skorpios straight up dropping the whoop ass factory on Sidewinder and walking the fuck away.
I don’t know what it is about Skorpios’ design that allows it to do this so easily, but when Lock-Jaw strikes it at the beginning of the fight I lost count how many times the robot flipped over itself. I’m assuming this is because Skorpios has a spinning mass being held way out on a stick and that’s apparently some kind of real-life physics nightmare. In any case it’s probably not good that the robot just jerks backward so violently and it’s also probably not good that the right side of its front plow thing is already jacked up before the starting clock can disappear from the screen. It’s obvious Lock-Jaw has the upper hand here and with Skorpios’ plow being bent it just makes it that much easier for Skorpios to get thrown onto its head and dig its saw into the ground as it flips itself back over. After another short volley of attacks it appears Lock-Jaw has managed to slightly chew up one of its opponent’s wheels and as far as the ground clearance battle goes Skorpios has lost. A bent plow and a fucked up wheel? Might as well throw in the towel right now.
But obviously Zach Lytle and his team aren’t going to just give up, this is the part of the tournament their robot just fell short of last year and even though Skorpios has a bent up front end, a messed up wheel, and is currently being blasted against the wall as I write this… maybe there’s the chance that they’ll catch a break? Or Skorpios can get smacked again and have its right wheel fall off, that’s also a possibility. Last time we saw one of Skorpios’ wheels rolling around Zach whipped out his yo-yo and did some tricks, and I’m not using “yo-yo” as a euphemism for his penis he actually did some yo-yo tricks with the Uppercut guy. Lock-Jaw gets in touch with its inner golden retriever and chases down the loose wheel. This gives Chris Rose some time to make a Tooth Fairy joke but also point out some invisible smoke that’s apparently coming out of Lock-Jaw. I guess this means the bot’s about to start ripping some juicy chili farts in a second and sure enough once everyone in the fucking studio has had time to react to the smoke we finally see it start wafting up from Lock-Jaw.
Chris suggests Donald Hutson could ease off of Skorpios and just let the robot get counted out but I think we’re at one of those points where the whole “translational movement” rule is going to be applied about as well as it usually is. Skorpios is able to drift around all over the place and Lock-Jaw is still fully mobile and, as far as we’re aware, armed with a functioning weapon. When Copperhead overexerted itself and blew its ass out while fighting Chronos we were left with one “crab walking” robot with no weapon and one fully mobile robot with no weapon, that’s a potato fight so yeah that’ll get swept under the rug. But right now this fight is still on and as Lock-Jaw tries to cautiously spin its weapon up to land a hit it becomes obvious that the smoke is coming from the robot’s weapon system because it only appears when Lock-Jaw tries to attack. Regardless, Donald keeps the weapon going and tries to get at Skorpios’ last remaining wheel. He’s not quite able to get it but when he does land a hit Lock-Jaw immediately starts burning up again and this is where Donald kills the weapon completely.
Kenny desperately tries to telegraph a countdown for Skorpios building off of what Chris mentioned about 20 seconds prior and as Lock-Jaw starts smoking again, this time for no discernible reason, the ref watching Skorpios finally counts it out to end the fight. According to the official BattleBots website this KO happened at 2:58 so even if Lock-Jaw eventually died (because that’s what this was slowly coming to) it would’ve been saved by the buzzer and surely the judges would’ve ruled in its favor anyways despite breaking down at the end. A tough loss for Skorpios no doubt, but an even tougher win for Lock-Jaw; this is the third fight in a row where the robot has spontaneously burnt up so unless Donald can crack the robot open and figure out what’s causing this he might not get another easy-ish fight like this to buy him some more time. Bless Zach though, he always seems so genuine in every interview he’s ever done and at least when the Amazon demo event happened a couple months after this was taped he was able to even the score with Donald. For now though, Skorpios is out.
WINNER: Lock-Jaw, KO
HYPERSHOCK vs. HUGE
Three years ago Will Bales was confronted with an opponent whose entourage included a flying drone with a flamethrower, a large beautiful flying machine with an intricately-cut dragon motif acting as both a decoration and its stabilizing wing. Armed with a couple of retracing campfire stoves for a weapon Will was unsure what kind of damage such a machine could do to Hypershock but he knew that taking it out by any means would score him some major points with the judges. But how exactly does one go about disabling something that can fly when you’re stuck on the ground? Well, you could whack it out of the sky with a fucking rake I guess, and that’s exactly what Will did. I firmly believe drones were collectively abandoned after this because people realized their $1,000 flying machine could be bested by a $20 rake from the hardware store. Will never had another chance to use the rake again because no one was dumb enough to fly a drone against it, but now against Huge we’re seeing them come back because what could be better at keeping Huge at bay then a giant goddamned rake? It’s been three years, is it finally time for The Rakening II?
The reason why Hypershock is deploying its rake once again is because Huge is such an unconventional design that you cannot beat it with a standard approach of attack… unless you’re Son of Whyachi I guess because then you can just bludgeon Huge — and literally anything else — to death. Huge is such a crazy machine that even competitors like Bronco feel compelled to show up to the battle sporting some kind of goofy ass attachment that is bound to not work as intended because Huge will inevitably chop it up. This is a robot that thus far has defeated both Bronco and Gigabyte, that’s nothing to shrug off; those are two of the most successful and dangerous machines in the circuit and Huge with its stupid giant tires easily rolled all over them and sliced ’em to bits. I don’t believe Hypershock’s rakes are going to last if they meet Huge’s spinner because they look like they’re just a couple of glorified sticks of aluminum square tubing, but if they serve their intended purpose of preventing Huge from hitting anything other than the rakes this new fan favorite might be catching a Greyhound back home.
Forgive me for criticizing Hypershock’s new rakes as looking like the cheapest fucking things on the planet but when you’ve got something that needs to be able to brace up against 250 pounds of heavyweight robot the worst thing you could possibly do is just make a stick to poke at it with. This is why when Hypershock careens into Huge its left rake immediately turns into what it would look like if I tried to roll my own dough and make a pretzel. Even when SubZero confronted Huge last season the team at least had the foresight to put some diagonal braces on their mess of spare metal to avoid exactly this. But the bent up rake does still serve its intended purpose because Huge’s blade stops and becomes held down by the aluminum pole; one rake is bent outward and the other is now “U” shaped but they served their purpose exactly once and now Huge has been rammed into the wall and one of its wheels are stuck behind the screws. I’m not sure if this is enough to incapacitate the robot because Huge is so large that it could probably just wriggle itself loose by rocking around but it almost does look like the bot is stuck, though we will never know because Hypershock takes this time to rev up its blade and start slicing up its opponent.
Somewhere in the chaos Hypershock loses its left rake while its right one gets bent around completely backwards. Neither one of them are going to be of any use for the remainder of the fight in this condition meaning Hypershock’s only strategy is going to have to be to take the blows from Huge’s blade straight to its front plow and pray that it holds up. The robot was able to get one solid push against its opponent using the rakes and if this winds up being a close battle that could be the difference no matter how dumb of a plan it might’ve been. Huge starts to get its blade going now that it’s free from the screws and cleaves into Hypershock’s left side causing one of the robot’s upper armor panels to shear off of its mount and expose “the goods” underneath. If Huge is able to change the direction of its spinner on the fly spinning the blade downward and hitting Hypershock on its exposed electronics would basically be the equivalent of the Vulcan nerve pinch except this one would come with the added benefit of causing the victim to also explosively shit itself to death.
I was too busy making poop jokes that I almost didn’t notice this hit dislodges Hypershock’s other rake and drapes its stick perfectly across its plow so that when the robot tries to spin its disc up to speed the whole goddamned rake gets sucked into the robot’s weapon cavity. The aluminum stick comes loose leaving only the rake head which immediately gets jammed behind Hypershock’s weapon and juts up from the robot like some kind of shitty bouquet of weeds. In what has got to be both the best and worst ironic moment of the sport, Hypershock has played itself. Will had clearly moved on from the rake incident because he didn’t even bring one with him this year, the fact that we got to see a brief segment of his parents buying some rakes is proof of this. He’d finally found the perfect balance between fun and serious and when he disrupted his robot’s fung shui by bringing that goddamned rake back it wound up doing the absolute total opposite of what it was supposed to. Hindsight might be 20/20 but in this case it’s fucking X-ray.
Hypershock is still a very powerful wedge and Huge has absolutely no counter to being pushed around other than hoping its blade will touch its opponent at some point. This happens as Huge is pushed into the wall when its blade reaches just above the left corner of Hypershock’s plow and digs into the robot’s front left wheel ripping up some of its rubber. It happens once more when Hypershock makes another strong push and this time similar damage is done to its front right tire. While this is going on Kenny Florian says that Hypershock’s team believes Bite Force demonstrated the best strategy to defeating Huge last season. And what would that strategy be, Kenny? Letting Icewave rip the robot in half first so that you can come in and take advantage of a wounded robot that wasn’t fully repaired? Bite Force nearly lost that fucking battle and it almost certainly would have if Huge didn’t rip the seat out of its pants and break in half again. Hypershock has been doing a great job of gaming Huge’s sides but in doing so it’s allowing the spinner to get its blade going fast enough to become dangerous and land one more massive hit that Kenny isn’t able to call “huge” because of the name of the robot dealing it.
Smoke briefly poofs out of Hypershock’s chassis from where its upper armor was previously ripped off. Shortly after this happens it becomes apparent that something is wrong with the robot’s left side of drive because it’s losing power quickly. Without any way of keeping up with Huge and trying to slow its weapon down Huge is free to swing wide across the arena and line up for an attack. The last hit dealt by Huge knocks Hypershock’s back right tire clean off of its axle and with no left side of drive and only one wheel left on the right the robot just finally gives up and dies in the middle of the floor as a smoldering wreck. Would this battle have gone differently had Hypershock not used its rakes again? I can’t say for sure but I can guarantee you the likelihood of Hypershock’s weapon dying by getting a fucking rake sucked into it would’ve been 0%.
WINNER: Huge, KO
RAILGUN MAX vs. BLOODSPORT vs. UPPERCUT
Oh wow it’s a rumble. Remember when they used to do these? It feels like the last time we saw one of them was two months ago and I was making jokes about Marvin looking like a prison toilet. Apparently the idea behind this rumble is that it’s between three rookie teams who all finished the Fight Night rounds at 3-1 and I guess their performances were so similar that nobody could figure out who should move on and who would’ve been seeded 25th and been out of the running. RailGun Max is the first robot introduced and very nearly made a perfect run had it not been for Free Shipping strongarming it at the last minute and winning on a decision. Prior to that however we saw this robot almost one-shot Shellshock and Mad Catter. Both of those fights wound up being “two hit KO’s” but holy shit were they impressive. RailGun Max’s third win was a decision over Wan Hoo, the other Chinese competitor, and while I don’t want to say that was a cakewalk it probably wasn’t that intense of a battle since most of it was a stalemate and RailGun Max front-loaded the match with points. As long as it doesn’t die early on I’d say RailGun Max has the strongest weapon in this rumble.
Bloodsport hasn’t done that bad for itself this season, that much is obvious otherwise it wouldn’t be in this rumble. Its fights have all been aired out of order (and in the case of its battle with The Four Horsemen, not aired at all), but the pieces still fell into place as intended in the end anyways and what we’re left with is a nasty horizontal “helicopter-style” spinner whose only loss came from Black Dragon. Considering Black Dragon went on to automatically qualify for the main tournament by way of winning the Desperado I’d say that’s a fairly respectable loss for the robot and not something that ought to be seen as a serious blemish on its performance. This robot’s spinner was powerful enough to rip the faces off of Lucky and Breaker Box and even though its battle with The Four Horsemen didn’t air (it’s in a Science Channel episode don’t worry) that match was a fucking bloodbath. Pun intended. I don’t know what it is about feeding Ian Watts’ clusterbots to mean spinners but it makes for good television. Must be the universe’s way of getting back at him for defeating Mauler 51-50 nearly 20 goddamned years ago.
The last robot in this rumble is Uppercut and out of these three I’d say it probably has had the weakest performance this season. Its first fight was a loss in another rumble where it just wasn’t able to make a strong showing and it broke down giving the win to fucking Tantrum. At least it outlasted Jasper in that mess. Uppercut also has a win over Breaker Box but it wasn’t as spectacular as Bloodsport’s because all Uppercut managed to do was ding Breaker Box’s wedge. It defeated Skorpios in its most recent fight but I feel it only did so because it was able to land the first hit of the match and damaged Skorpios’ tires in the process giving Uppercut the immediate edge which it never lost because Skorpios spent the whole fight bouncing around and opening itself up to additional attacks. That match could’ve gone either way, but I’d say Uppercut’s most spectacular win was against Mammoth because Uppercut can legitimately claim to be the only robot to have flipped Mammoth over and that thing is fucking giant. Mammoth also caught fire so that was neat too I guess, but the act of actually toppling that skyscraper disaster of a robot was impressive.
For some reason Bloodsport likes to do this thing where it starts cruising around without its weapon spinning and it takes about two and a half seconds after the start of the rumble for Justin Marple to remember that he’s in a battle and turn the spinner on. I know 2.5 seconds doesn’t sound like a whole lot of time, and it’s not, but in that period Bloodsport manages to cruise out into the dead center of the arena while Uppercut and RailGun Max are already getting their weapons going. Miraculously, Bloodsport is able to get away with only a light hit from RailGun Max that strikes at a bad angle because it turns out RailGun Max took a hit of its own from Uppercut at the same time. Not sure a simultaneous attack like this has ever happened in BattleBots before so if this were in the BattleBots video game (that should absolutely exist) something like this would be one of those bullshit achievements that are almost impossible to get. As it’s reeling backwards trying to rev up its chopper Bloodsport backs into the screws and immediately stops its weapon. Everyone’s gotta have a signature move, I guess.
Of these three robots RailGun Max is the only one with a helper bot, Platypus, and surrounded by deadly spinners I can really only picture it being effective against Bloodsport. We’ll never get to know if this is the case however because RailGun Max has clearance for days but still manages to drive straight into its teammate and blow it up. Presumably while RailGun Max’s driver realizes what they’ve done they likely ease off of the sticks for a second and in that brief flash of time Bloodsport comes in and whacks RailGun Max’s right side digging a very visible gash into its thick armor padding and revealing to the world that it’s not a giant block of aluminum or anything, it’s just UHMW plastic. “Concentrated Huge”, in other words. Uppercut, who’s somehow remained invisible for this whole fight so far, tries to cash in on the aftermath of RailGun Max being flung at the wall but isn’t able to make a dent on its opponent. It seems these two robots have forgotten about Bloodsport who was thrown across the floor a few seconds prior. As the robot comes back into the line of sight of the cameras its blade is going full blast.. and so are everyone else’s.
We’ve reached a state of mutually assured destruction. Everyone’s armed and active and no one wants to throw a punch because they know not only will this cause significant damage to both robots but it’ll also give the third robot who wasn’t involved in the attack the opportunity to get a free shot with little to no repercussions. This is the reason why everyone has nuclear missiles but no one ever fires them, not counting that one time the United States erased a couple of Japanese cities from the goddamned map. Whoops. It really is a standoff though and Bloodsport seems to be the only robot who actually wants to land a hit so it picks a target in RailGun Max and absolutely fucking wrecks it. RailGun Max sheds some belts, its spinner dies and looks crooked in its mount, and its right tire has died completely. This hit was enough to genuinely take RailGun Max out of the fight completely… except it also took Bloodsport out as well because the robot was kicked backward so violently that it managed to perfectly fall into that weird angular corner of the Battlebox where the doors are. That’s why no one fires their fucking missiles.
Uppercut is the only functional robot left and this is basically the exact same strategy it tried to employ in its debut fight which was that sleeper of a rumble with Tantrum and Jasper. The plan didn’t work because eventually you’ve gotta get your hands dirty and when it came time for Uppercut to quit sandbagging it fell apart. This time however its only surviving opponent is a barely functional RailGun Max that the hosts and refs can’t decide is worth counting out or not. With no significant mobility in its opponent Uppercut is free to retreat across the floor and come back once its spinner is going full speed though for some reason it looks like the robot is struggling to get it up. Performance anxiety, I assume. Eventually Uppercut lands a hit and strikes the dead right tire of RailGun Max pulling it off of its hub. This seems to be enough to get the refs to go ahead and file the paperwork to declare RailGun Max officially dead, eliminating it from the competition. Meanwhile Bloodsport had its death certificate overnighted.
WINNER: Uppercut, KO
ROTATOR vs. BLACKSMITH
While talking about Quantum I touched on the notion that the robot received its second wind when the barrier of entry for the main tournament had its ranking window expanded from the top 16 to the top 24 and in the case of this battle we’re probably seeing two robots saved by that slight modification to the tournament. If I had to pick a robot who I think had the higher of the two “ranks” here though it would definitely be Rotator. The robot had a pretty underwhelming fight against Sawblaze where the robot was trampled but we saw a slight turning of the table when Rotator came back and KO’d Bombshell. I know that’s not an impressive achievement because Bombshell went 0-4 this year but Rotator used that fight to let everyone know that its blades are still the real deal. More importantly the robot used its next fight to tell us its armor was still top notch because it drove its nose into Tombstone and about 30 minutes later the safety crew finally wheeled the burning remains of the former champion out of the arena. The high was short-lived because Death Roll used Rotator as its stepping stone to make it to 4-0 and even though Rotator survived the onslaught and took it to a decision (which it unanimously lost) I applaud the robot simply for surviving. That win over Tombstone though? Definitely the reason we’re seeing Rotator here tonight even at 2-2.
Blacksmith has been improved over the years but for the most part this is the same robot we saw make its debut in 2016. This is, and always will be, BattleBots’ BIG TIME HAMMER. Al Kindle is a no-bullshit kind of guy except for when he does things like building a robot armed with a hammer that also shoots fucking fire out of it because that has got to be the definition of “peak bullshit”. Like I said before, Blacksmith puts asses in seats and even though the robot routinely struggles to find its footing as a formidable competitor it always has these fleeting moments of genius and that’s what people come to see. In its debut year Blacksmith was seeded 26th and last year the robot failed to qualify meaning it performed worse than 16th and was left unranked. By making it to this fight Blacksmith has demonstrated that it is at least ranked 24th or better and I would have to say that’s largely in part to Blacksmith beating two opponents this year who were proper full-size opponents and not some shitty cluster bot. Blacksmith will likely never beat the Minotaurs of the world, but it can definitely stomp out the Krakens and Shrederators out there. This is the highest the robot has ever been ranked in its career.
The first few times we ever saw Rotator the robot would always use the same strategy of spinning both of its weapons up no matter who it was fighting but as the seasons and fights have piled on we’ve seen Victor Soto start using a more calculated approach to his robot. Sometimes Rotator will only spin one of its weapons, like in this fight, and nowadays the robot is technically modular and can show up to a fight with only one weapon and a plow. That kind of laughs in the face of the robot’s original intention but you don’t win fights by charging in like a fucking maniac. Usually. Rotator comes at Blacksmith only spinning its upper disc because there’s no reason to spin the lower one; the bottom disc will just hit Blacksmith’s steel plow and do no damage but the upper disc has the potential to connect with Blacksmith’s weapon chain and I’d almost say the robot achieves this with the first hit of the battle. Blacksmith doesn’t try to fire its hammer though so I have no idea, but I can guarantee that thing’s toast on the second go; Rotator’s disc slices into the weapon sprocket and if that wasn’t proof enough that the hammer was out then when Blacksmith pulls away you’ll notice the hammer isn’t even sitting in there straight anymore. That shit’s dead.
Without an active weapon, one that landed zero hits before it was disabled at that, this is Rotator’s fight to win. All Blacksmith can do is shove Rotator around now and we all know how little that seems to impress the judges when there’s at least one robot in the ring with a functional mode of attack. This doesn’t discourage Blacksmith at all because you never really know what’s going to happen until it happens. Rotator ultimately gets manhandled into the corner and Al tells his buddy to fire the hammer. This is when Al discovers the weapon is gone and from here you can see the change in strategy. Now it’s all about aggression and staying on Rotator and if Al’s hammer doesn’t work that’s fine because the arena has two hammers with his name on them that usually do work. Case in point, the Pulverizer drops on Rotator and blasts one of its wheels. All season long people have bitched about how these hazards don’t do anything anymore, but this hit kills that entire side of drive on Rotator; when Rotator finally gets away from the corner the robot can only spin around in place. This is the kind of break Blacksmith needed. You never know what’s going to happen until it happens.
Despite only having one working wheel Rotator’s discs are both still operational and keeping them going becomes Victor’s main goal. He tells his weapon operator to start spinning the bottom disc to match the top one. The weapons guy obliges and Rotator manages one hit on Blacksmith’s plow that seems to do no damage whatsoever. The disc stops spinning after this hit either because the impact broke something or Victor realized he’s not going to do any damage hitting that part of Blacksmith and it’s not worth the potential strain on his already crippled machine. Rotator gets conveniently backed into the square it started from with its only functional weapon pointed straight ahead. With its back against the wall there’s really no way for Blacksmith to come at it without taking another shot. There’s a brief standoff where Chris and Kenny start talking about the potential for Blacksmith to just let Rotator get counted out but you and I both know how inconsistently that goddamned rule is applied. If that was the case Rotator should’ve been counted out a whole fucking minute ago. I’m assuming Al is actually waiting to see if there’s a KO count and when there isn’t he goes right back in to start shoveling Rotator around because what else are you going to do?
Rotator tries to whip around in place, a move apparently called “the Hurricane” by Kenny, but all this manages to do is result in the robot being flipped over by the force of its only spinning weapon getting used against it. The disc that’s now on top for Rotator was previously the one on the bottom and because there seems to be no effort in getting that one to spin it’s probably a safe assessment that striking Blacksmith’s plow earlier in the fight fucked it up. The bad news for Rotator is that’s about the best it can hope for with its current orientation now that its only working disc is riding on the floor. Seconds before the buzzer, and while reeling from another slam by Blacksmith, Rotator seems to be able to get at one of Blacksmith’s back tires for a split second. No damage is done and the fight goes to the judges. Hopefully I don’t need to write any snarky jokes about this one because this should be a cut and dry fight despite the obvious lack of the BIG TIME HAMMER. Rotator should’ve been counted out two minutes ago but it was not and even though it had one disc working at the end of the fight it did absolutely nothing in this match. Even the hit that disabled Blacksmith’s weapon was an exchange initiated by Blacksmith.
Blacksmith wins the fight unanimously because that’s the only logical outcome. Al seems genuinely surprised by the decision probably because of all the times the judges have fucked him in the past. This puts it into the Round of 16, the furthest the robot has ever reached in any BattleBots tournament. It is time… big time.
WINNER: Blacksmith, Judges’ Decision (3-0)
SON OF WHYACHI vs. COPPERHEAD
Son of Whyachi is the oldest robot still competing in BattleBots now that Nightmare has been replaced with a yellow box with goofy LED lights that catches fire all the time. This is a robot who’s moved up and down weight classes as it’s tried time and time again to recapture the magic of its rookie season but has fallen short every single time. That doesn’t mean Son of Whyachi is a has-been however, just ask Huge. Or Texas Twister. Or Kraken. Whyachi is a KO machine and its 100+ pound spinning hammers have been one of the most feared weapons in the sport for almost 18 years. It’s a tradition by this point and if there was ever a robot that could come out of left field and win the title with an amazing run, it’s this one. But right now Son of Whyachi is staring down an old foe in the form of Copperhead. Three years ago when this robot returned to the circuit its “re-debut” season was cut short by a dinky little drum spinner called Poison Arrow. Poison Arrow competed in exactly one season of the show before disappearing… and coming back as Copperhead. Son of Whyachi was stopped dead in its tracks in the Round of 32 back in 2016 by this opponent and as luck would have it they’ve met again in the Mexican Bootleg Round of 32.
I’ve joked around about the robots that might have been “ranked” 25th and thus fallen just outside of the window for these play-in fights, but Copperhead actually is the 25th “seed”. I don’t know if rankings had been made prior to this point, so this is all just hypothetical, but it was Gigabyte that was considered for the spot Copperhead has in this battle. Unfortunately Gigabyte’s last two fights took their toll on the robot and its team leading to Gigabyte withdrawing from the tournament and leaving a spot behind to fill. I assume Copperhead was “25th” because it’s the robot that showed up to fill in the gap and it couldn’t have been a more on the nose match-up. Copperhead ended its Fight Night rounds on a high note with a debilitating KO of War Hawk but we all kinda knew that probably wasn’t enough to skate by; Copperhead’s only other win (against Gruff) was a split decision and it’s never a good sign when you make the judges doubt the efficacy of your robot. But luck struck in Zach Goff’s favor and he’s got a chance at making it into the Round of 16. Now all he has to do is make lightning strike twice.
Apparently Copperhead was planning on making a box rush at Son of Whyachi but when the green light comes on the robot spends several seconds just sitting in its square motionless while its weapon twitches. I’m pretty sure Copperhead has a unique system with its electronics to prevent against internal surges when doing things like firing up its weapon so I don’t know if that system failed or what but it takes the spinner nearly ten seconds to leave its square and get its drum spinning. The death hum from Copperhead’s weapon is almost instant from the moment it first starts to turn so you know there’s going to be a big hit, especially because ten seconds is more than enough time for Son of Whyachi to build up enough energy to end the fucking universe. When Poison Arrow knocked out Son of Whyachi it did so by catching Whyachi’s weapon at the perfect moment. Copperhead goes in for the hit to end the fight and it doesn’t quite have the same effect. This is probably because Copperhead came at Son of Whyachi from the wrong direction and it was Son of Whyachi’s weapon that picked the bigger straw.
The hit is massive and it breaks up the fight. Copperhead gets flipped over and slowly tries to claw its way back onto its wheels in the right orientation. It’s apparent immediately that all is not well with Copperhead but Son of Whyachi also took some damage of its own and even though its hammers are whirling around the robot is visibly shaking back and forth. Something is probably uneven after that hit and Luke Ewert knows better than to throw a punch on someone who’s struggling against the wall let alone in the goddamned corner, that’s just asking for trouble. Several smaller hits are exchanged between the two bots because both of their drivers know that either robot is probably one hit away from straight up exploding by this point. Chris ponders if Copperhead is “crab walking” because I guess there’s been enough grey area regarding that to get it talked about more often on the show now. Copperhead does seem to have one wheel damaged but it’s doing a good job of hiding that fact possibly in the same manner used by Bite Force.
Copperhead eventually catches Son of Whyachi opposite the direction its hammers are spinning. This is the kind of hit Poison Arrow landed that killed the robot two seasons ago and sure enough Son of Whyachi pops up like a helicopter and lands hard. This hit wasn’t as big as the one Poison Arrow landed but it’s proof that Copperhead has that potential. Half the fight has passed and Son of Whyachi has barely moved since it took control of the center of the Battlebox early on. There’s no reason to leave this spot because since the Hellraisers apparently just don’t exist anymore this is the safest place to be and when you have a weapon that covers the entire outside of your robot you’ve basically seized every conceivable angle. That doesn’t stop Copperhead from trying to win the fight though because one particularly bad hit connects with the side of Copperhead and while this surely isn’t good for the snake it also successfully sends Son of Whyachi all the way into the wall near the drivers’ booth.
Copperhead is damaged, but it isn’t dead. The robot has once again been flipped upside down but it looks like this time there’s not enough strength left in its drive system for it to try and right itself so I guess the robot’s just going to have to tough it out this way. Zach dares Son of Whyachi to get close to his robot, meanwhile one of Luke’s team members urges him to just rip Copperhead’s wheel off and end this goddamned fight already. Luke decides to go for it and while he doesn’t exactly get Copperhead’s wheel he manages to throw the robot in such a way that Copperhead hits the outer glass, bounces back into the arena, and as it’s coming back in one of Copperhead’s forks catches the underside of the light panels while the other clears it. This jams Copperhead into the scaffolding at a really awkward angle and causes the robot’s drum to just destroy the top of the panel it’s become lodged in. I don’t know if Copperhead is dead or if being stuck like this has made it impossible for it to spin its weapon and knock itself loose, but whatever the case props to Son of Whyachi for not only picking up disc golf as a hobby but for also apparently being really good at it too.
WINNER: Son of Whyachi, KO
COBALT vs. MINOTAUR
Normally this is the spot in the article where the main event would go but this episode doesn’t really have one to speak of. Each of the battles we’ve seen are equally important because they’re all declaring once and for all who is and is not advancing into the Round of 16 so even though we’ve got some tunnel entrances because of this impressive match-up at no point was this ever really spun as a “main event”. All of these could’ve been main events, they’ve been that good. Cobalt has made it here because while I know this is a 2-2 robot we all know in our hearts that this robot really has “two and a half” wins; I will call that loss to Duck bullshit until the day I die. I’m not saying the “2.5 wins” thing is the reason why Cobalt is here but I will say that when this robot wins it wins. There hasn’t been a single fight, win or lose, where this robot doesn’t put on a show. Whether it’s gutting SubZero alive or being thrown at the glass by End Game this is one bad ass machine and I’d almost agree with giving it one more chance if it weren’t for the fact that I hate its new shitty bootleg Witch Doctor disc. The deal’s off.
Minotaur is a curious tale because its placement here is only something that could’ve come about from this whole “actually we’re looking at the top 24 robots this time haha” fiasco. I’m not trying to insinuate that Minotaur has officially become a shitty robot but this year we’ve seen a significant fall from grace for the raging bull. Minotaur lost to both Whiplash and Gigabyte in fights that were kind of impossible to spin in a good way for this robot. It was so bad that Marco Meggiolaro decided to put Minotaur through the Desperado event this year. Minotaur, in the Desperado. These are strange times we’re living in. The Desperado is where Minotaur turned itself around because it reached the finals and ultimately fell to Black Dragon, then outside of the Desperado it wrapped up with a win over Shatter giving the robot the only 3-3 record of the season. Is Minotaur good? Is it bad? We know this thing can murder like a sonofabitch, it’s done it before, but I think giving Minotaur one more chance is fair especially as a play-in fight; letting it advance into the Round of 16 alongside the team who actually won the Desperado would be a shitty thing to do.
Cobalt scared the hell out of a lot of teams. It is the only robot I can think of whose first opponent (Captain Shrederator) basically “threw” the fight because the team just couldn’t take the kinds of losses Cobalt can dish out. Might I remind you that was before anyone here had really seen what this thing could even do. Leave it to Bombshell of all robots to find this robot’s weak point, though. That front feeder wedge is both Cobalt’s secret weapon and the one thing you should target if you want to defeat it. Without the wedge the robot is just a vertical spinner with a very unfortunately-placed weapon. It takes Minotaur three seconds to target this critical piece of Cobalt and spike at the ceiling so fucking hard that it blows up an entire panel of lights. But that’s just the wedge, Cobalt still has a 50-pound spinning mass on its head and that thing is storing some crazy kinetic energy. Leave it Minotaur to find the most spectacular way to get Cobalt to waste that energy in the goddamned floor because the robot’s second volley sends both competitors into opposite corners of the arena. This is a 250-pound robot being thrown several dozen feet. I’m not even going to pretend I know how to calculate the madness behind that physics clusterfuck.
Both robots are still functional, though it takes Minotaur a few more seconds than Cobalt to get back right ways up. As it self-rights this is the perfect time for Cobalt to strike because it’s one of the few opportunities where it can do so without needing the assistance of its long lost feeder wedge, but the robot fails to capitalize on the moment and now Minotaur is back on its feet with its drum going full blast. It’s impressive how many fucks Minotaur doesn’t give in this fight because I can’t imagine the size of the balls you’d need to plow into Cobalt face first even with Cobalt missing its wedge; Minotaur is inches away from Cobalt’s spinner and I know if there’s a hit it’ll be weapon on weapon and probably cancel out but still I’m getting anxious just watching this damn fight. Cobalt gets the Pulverizer dropped on top of it and to be honest just once I really want to see something like Cobalt’s spinner accidentally destroy the thing. Back in the Comedy Central days the comically large hammers would occasionally fall off of their mounts but I feel like we’re well beyond that era so a devastating spinner hitting the hazard today would probably rip the whole fucking assembly out of the corner and throw it into the ring.
Despite each of these robots having significant ground clearance issues neither one seems to be able to land a hit on its opponent, another anomaly I simply just don’t understand. Minotaur has the superior drive system however so it’s able to muscle Cobalt around and as the British spinner gets shoved against the wall Minotaur wiggles a bit and finally manages to sink its drum into its opponent in such a way that I swear Cobalt breaks whatever height record Bronco just set in last week’s episode when it got cucked by Hydra. The camera angles provided — even in the replays — don’t do this hit justice. If there was not a lid on this arena I shit you not Cobalt would’ve flown out of it. If you look closely when the replays are shown you’ll see Minotaur’s kick was merely the lighting of the fuse, Cobalt actually propelled itself upward by its own weapon when its disc dug into the spike strip and flung the robot into the goddamned stratosphere. Minotaur is durable as hell but as you might imagine an impact like this isn’t kiddie shit, Minotaur’s drum wears down over the course of a few seconds until it just stops turning entirely.
I’ve gotta say I’m impressed with how tenaciously Cobalt rebounds from being kicked to Mars. The robot doesn’t miss a beat, as soon as it hits the floor it’s back on its wheels and chasing down Minotaur. Though its drum is now out of the equation Minotaur can still win the battle of torque. I don’t know what kind of motors Team RioBotz has under the hood but most robots can’t lay on the gas like Minotaur when locking heads with an opponent; that’s the number one way to backflow your drivetrain and kill it and yet Minotaur is out there treating every fight like a tractor pull. Cobalt manages to get one hit and yanks off the right prong on Minotaur’s front, that’s all it’s been able to do this whole fight. This makes for yet another one of those moments where I just don’t understand how Minotaur isn’t constantly riding up Cobalt’s wedge, but it isn’t and Minotaur just isn’t letting up one bit. With under a minute to go Minotaur spends the rest of the fight overpowering Cobalt and pinning it against the wall to burn up the clock. The fight ends with Cobalt jammed next to one of the screws completely unable to do anything.
During the replays Chris brings up the fact that Minotaur’s weapon died but I think tonight’s the night where we finally discover that sometimes just mercilessly beating the shit out of your opponent regardless of the circumstances is what you need to do to win a fight. Yeti’s drum broke down, but it kicked ass. Blacksmith’s hammer never got to swing a single time, but it kicked ass. Minotaur’s drum went out, but it kicked ass. That’s why when the judges turn in a unanimous decision in favor of Minotaur there wasn’t a single person in the crowd who disagreed with the ruling — Minotaur kicked ass.
WINNER: Minotaur, Judges’ Decision (3-0)
Just like that the field has been leveled again and now only 16 bots are left, for real this time. Curiously though Chris and Kenny don’t get into the seedings at the very end of this episode. We know who’s in the top 16 for sure now but with no seedings provided nobody is able to make their predictions and argue with each other on the internet about who is wrong. Unless BattleBots wants us to also guess the seedings too, because in that case that’s just a total fucking disaster because no one knows how the secret sauce is made. You guys keep sticking Bite Force below the first rank even though it keeps winning the goddamned championship so for all we know Tombstone’s getting the #1 again despite burning to death a few weeks ago. That said I’m about 90% certain the seeds are actually out there but they’re probably restricted to Facebook supporters because I know there’s been talk about the prediction brackets being available to them. I don’t know if that means the robot rankings are included with them, however. ZUCC’D AGAIN.
This is usually the point in the article where I’d provide the predictions I made at the event but since that information isn’t public I guess I’ll front-load next week’s article with those predictions just for the sake of completion. I know by the time you get to read my predictions they will already be outdated since the Round of 16 will have ended, but whatever. If it turns out the brackets are released some time this week maybe I’ll edit this section out and replace it with those predictions anyways. We’ll figure it out. In any case the next time we see the show the field will be cut in half to only eight robots; it’s the penultimate episode and in the next two weeks we’ll find out if Bite Force wins its third championship, if Tombstone rises from the dead to tie the score with two championships, or if someone else entirely takes home the gold. I mean silver, since the Giant Nut isn’t gold.
EDIT (9/19/2019): It turns out the seedings and opening bracket were indeed restricted to Facebook supporters only at first, and as of today the brackets are now available to everyone. I’ve decided to edit my predictions into this article for posterity. To stress, because I always mention this every time I do one of these, these are predictions not spoilers; these are the predictions I wrote down at the time the event was taped and the Round of 16 was revealed. Since I was there I of course know how the tournament ends and these predictions may or may not reflect the season champion. I’m not going to disclose that one way or the other.
- 16: Bite Force (1) vs. Uppercut (16): Uppercut has had an interesting rookie season but it ends here. The robot just doesn’t have the muscle to trump the reigning champion and no yo-yo tricks will save it. Bite Force by KO.
- 16: Black Dragon (8) vs. Lock-Jaw (9): Two Desperado winners meeting each other is an interesting match for sure, but Lock-Jaw has started smoking for three fights in a row and Black Dragon is definitely riding high. Black Dragon hits hard and with Lock-Jaw’s ongoing issues with breaking down I don’t see this one panning out well for Donald. Black Dragon by KO.
- 16: Tombstone (4) vs. Quantum (13): It’s great that Quantum got a second chance to rebound into the main tournament but I doubt there’s anything it can do against Tombstone; Tombstone just hits way too hard and even though it has very little armor I’d imagine Quantum is going to get busted up long before it can get that killer bite. Tombstone by KO.
- 16: Whiplash (5) vs. Huge (12): Huge has proven to be a difficult bot to take control of because its opponents usually have to make up some stupid attachment to try against it but Whiplash’s weapon is basically a spinning disc on a stick. It’s the perfect thing to hit Huge’s chassis with to both keep it away and do damage at the same time. Because of this Huge might land one or two hits but it’s going to struggle the entire fight. Whiplash by decision.
- 16: Witch Doctor (2) vs. Blacksmith (15): Like Quantum, I think it’s great that Blacksmith has another chance at the title. However also like Quantum it’s meeting a very tough opponent in Witch Doctor. These two have fought before and Witch Doctor won, though I should point out Blacksmith almost had the upset by putting Witch Doctor into the screws. I’m not confident a fluke like that will happen again this year and at 4-0 Witch Doctor is on track to stomp out an opponent like Blacksmith. Witch Doctor by decision.
- 16: Sawblaze (7) vs. Son of Whyachi (10): Sawblaze is a great machine but it just sucks balls against really powerful horizontal spinners. Tombstone demolished this thing earlier in the tournament and I’m expecting Son of Whyachi to do the same. Sawblaze definitely has the speed and muscle to keep on Whyachi and prevent it from getting going but Whyachi’s hammers are no joke and within the first few hits I’m expecting something to get broken on Sawblaze that hinders it and allows its opponent to come in for the kill. Son of Whyachi by KO.
- 16: Hydra (3) vs. Minotaur (14): Firstly, what the fuck is Minotaur doing all the way down in 14th place after that slam fest with Cobalt? Secondly, I don’t see this one panning out well for the Brazilian bull; Hydra’s flipper is no joke and once Minotaur gets flipped over it takes a few seconds for it to get reoriented. In that time I’m thinking Hydra is not going to let up one bit and with no air tanks to worry about in terms of capacity Hydra is just going to keep flipping and flipping Minotaur until it gets stuck somewhere, either behind a hazard or in one of the corners of the box. Hydra by KO.
- 16: Death Roll (6) vs. Yeti (11): Only in BattleBots can you win four fights in a row and still wind up ranked below other robots who’ve lost by way of fucking burning to death. Death Roll is having its breakout season this year and even though its strategy is kind of similar to Yeti’s I’m betting on Greg Gibson to take home the win. Death Roll’s side panels are a lot like Rainbow’s in that they’re the perfect shape for Yeti’s drum to bite into and rip apart; all Yeti needs is one good hit and it’ll take a lead Death Roll can’t recover from. Yeti by decision.
- QF: Bite Force (1) vs. Black Dragon (8): I love Black Dragon but Bite Force just seems like the more powerful robot here and its design is more resilient against the kinds of attacks Black Dragon can do whereas the inverse does not apply for Black Dragon (e.g. Bite Force handles being flipped over a lot better than Black Dragon). Black Dragon might get one or two good hits on the champ and the fight might remain even but Bite Force will make up for lost time in the back half of the match. Bite Force by decision.
- QF: Tombstone (4) vs. Whiplash (5): These two have also met before and Tombstone came out ahead, but only just so. Whiplash was destroyed last season but there were a couple of moments where Tombstone was on the ropes flipping and flopping around like mad. We’re definitely going to get more of that in this rematch but given the amount of damage Tombstone has sustained up to this point there’s a good chance its weapon will fail in the process. Whiplash by decision.
- QF: Witch Doctor (2) vs. Son of Whyachi (10): Speaking of Whiplash, earlier this season the robot gave a free lesson on how to defeat Son of Whyachi. Witch Doctor has an extremely durable plow as an equipment option with a weapon that’s mounted a little further back in the robot. I’m expecting this configuration to be used in this battle and for Witch Doctor to successfully smash Son of Whyachi to slow it down to the point where Witch Doctor can land some decisive blows. Witch Doctor by decision.
- QF: Hydra (3) vs. Yeti (11): This is basically going to be an exact repeat of Hydra’s fight with Minotaur except for the likelihood of Yeti getting stuck somewhere because it’s so big. There’s the possibility that Hydra will have made it this far with five straight KO’s, but Yeti will be the one to break that combo. Hydra will definitely still win this fight, however, except it’ll have to go to the judges. Hydra by decision.
- SF: Bite Force (1) vs. Whiplash (5): When these two robots met last season Whiplash was counted out in one of those contentious “was the robot still showing translational movement” moments. Matt Vasquez is a great driver but I don’t think Whiplash has the arsenal necessary to defeat Bite Force even with expert driving. Assuming Bite Force doesn’t bend up Whiplash’s lifting arm I’m expecting maybe one good lift in the entire fight and Whiplash’s disc to stop working just from being bashed around so much. Whiplash won’t get KO’d this year, but it still won’t win. Bite Force by decision.
- SF: Witch Doctor (2) vs. Hydra (3): For this battle I’d assume Witch Doctor would ride in with its configuration that puts as much of its spinner outside of the robot as possible in order to stretch out and reach Hydra, similar to what Bombshell did earlier this year. This is something that will work to Witch Doctor’s benefit, but will also act against its ability to resist oncoming attacks from Hydra. Hydra’s front end is angled too low for Witch Doctor to hit it and Hydra will be able to slip right under the robot and launch it. Witch Doctor’s self-righter is going to be liberally used in this battle and it’ll probably become broken at some point, likely from landing on it badly. Hydra by KO.
- F: Bite Force (1) vs. Hydra (3): And this is it, the title fight. All season long I’ve been saying Hydra is going to be the second Team Whyachi robot to make a surprise championship run in its rookie season and this will be the proving grounds. This will be an intense fight; Bite Force will absolutely have the edge in maneuverability but all Hydra needs is one flip to start the combo chain to turn the tables. Hydra’s definitely going to take some damage in this battle from Bite Force’s spinner and some of this damage might be critical, but Hydra will stay the course and remain on the floor and eventually catch Bite Force from a weird angle. If Black Dragon isn’t the first robot to flip Bite Force this season, Hydra will be. Bite Force will probably take a while to self right because it’s such a rare occurrence that Paul won’t have a lot of experience successfully doing it and Hydra will use these moments to their fullest. There will not be a knock out, and what will likely happen is a split decision will be turned in where domination of the fight is the difference. In that regard, Hydra stands to eek out a victory by literally one or two points at best. Hydra by decision.
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