[Robot Wars UK: S10 E1 is available online HERE.]
Hey you know what time it is? I’ll give you a hint it certainly isn’t BattleBots time, haha thanks ABC! While American television has continued to be absolute dog shit for the past ∞ years our friends over in the United Kingdom have been going about their merry way with a brand new series of Robot Wars on the BBC. What’s their secret? Is it the TV tax? (Hint: It’s not the TV tax.) BattleBots spent too long dicking around with things and trying to get “celebrity guest” judges or whatever and look where we are now. The BBC was like “fuck it let’s hire that ogre Dara O’Briain and Angela Scanlon again and we’ll call it a day just in time for tea” or however you goddamned weirdos handle daily life over there. The point I’m trying to make is that the new Robot Wars reboot has been following a specific formula for a while now and it seems to be working.
That said, there’s been a relatively substantial change to the tournament format for this series and honestly I think it’s a pretty good one aside from the fact that the field of competitors ended up getting cut from 40 to 30, but really that’s just less jokes I have to write so I can put less overall work into these articles and you guys will still think you’re getting the full spa treatment. Thanks BBC! Now instead of having two 4-way melees each with two winners followed by forty-seven round robin fights we’ve got two 3-way fights to start with, each with one winner apiece. The winners go on to the heat semifinals while the four losing teams get a second chance in a sort of makeshift “quarterfinals” to see who advances on to face the winners. From here you’ve got a basic semifinals-to-finals setup and everyone’s happy.
But it gets better. Remember how for the past two seasons we’ve had five Grand Finalists with a sixth being given a wildcard? Well because the process of judging wildcards is fucking bogus (and probably rigged at best, see also BattleBots) the producers were like “what if we just took a bunch of losing robots and threw them all into one big fuck-off rumble to fight it out for the wildcard spot”? Yeah, you heard me right. Not only are the runners up in each heat put into a rumble but there’s a third place playoff match between the losers in the semifinals to see who qualifies as well. If you do the math this factors out to TEN GODDAMNED ROBOTS in the arena all at the same time. It’s been a long damn time since we’ve had a proper heavyweight rumble on TV and now the Robot Wars fairy has left us all a little treat under our pillows. There’s not even a time limit on the rumble, everyone’s just supposed to fight until the literal death and the last robot remaining gets the wildcard.
Fuck, I love Britain.
…oh, and there’s also a new “hazard” that blows a bunch of CO2 fog into the arena. It’s the dumbest shit on the planet but let’s just pretend it doesn’t really exist.
They really waste no time getting into the competitors this season. There’s a brief clipshow, Dara shows up and says something (I wasn’t paying attention), and then BOOM team intros. They didn’t even show the Robot Wars logo they’re just like “you people know what this is by now and we know why you’re here here’s your goddamned fighting robots PS we also rehired Jonathan Pearce lol flippability factor”.
“Robot Wars would just not be Robot Wars without BEHEMOTH,” says Ant Pritchard of Make Robotics. He’s right. Where would this sport be without the giant dumbass bulldozer truck that hasn’t won a heat final in 18 fucking years? Before anything else is said about his robot we’re treated to a recap of the you-know-what thing that happened last series. You remember, when Ant’s team convinced him to attach a ridiculous “clamp” to Behemoth because their fight against Cherub was supposed to be a “free win”? Yeah, turns out it wasn’t a free win at all and Ant walked right out of the interview booth and directly into a nightmare of Internet ridicule that I wouldn’t wish upon my worst enemies. Shoutouts to the cameo of that bullshit “Fragility of Adult Emotion” headline from VICE news that I deconstructed! Dara’s pit interview with Ant consists of telling him not to do that again.
If you thought memes about Ant Pritchard were top shelf wait until you see this next fucking thing. I shit you not, this robot is named DONALD THUMP and it’s an elaborate satire of the 45th and current President of the United States, Donald Trump. Trump is everywhere and he’s single-handedly made ALL of social media an uninhabitable fucking wasteland because you can’t go two minutes without seeing some racist conservative or soy boy liberal screech about goddamned politics in a manner not even befitting of a kindergartner. But the good news is there’s a Donald Trump meme robot! Look, it’s even got bad hair! And the driver is wearing a “Make Robot Wars Great Again” hat! THIS IS THE PINNACLE OF FUCKING COMEDY AND EVERYTHING IS DOWNHILL FROM HERE, FOLKS. Donald Thump is such a hilarious joke that I died, went to Heaven, punched Jesus in the dick, came back to life, and wrote this article. Angela Scanlon unironically uses the word “covfefe” when introducing this robot and I just had to walk the fuck away. Kill me now.
Finally rounding out the first group (remember there’s only three robots now instead of four) we have perennial favorite SABRETOOTH. Gabriel Stroud finally found good fortune last series when he and his team ended their years-long losing streak and won their first ever battle. It was an incredible and emotional moment for the team and Gabe was overjoyed. Unfortunately, they also ran into Aftershock and their robot was immediately vaporized in the following match. Aftershock destroyed Sabretooth so completely that Gabe had to rethink his entire building strategy and he’s shown up to this series of Robot Wars with enough replacement parts to build an entire goddamned copy of his robot. The only reason he didn’t just straight up bring two Sabretooths is because that kind of shady shit is literally against the rules.
GROUP BATTLE 1
Despite coming into this fight looking like the textbook definition of “glass cannon” nobody seems to be interested in fucking with Donald Thump. Instead, Behemoth and Sabretooth start trading blows with each other and the bulldozer gets rolled over because its center of gravity is higher up off the ground than the top of Dara’s head. Behemoth can self-right however, so this is okay, and in a matter of seconds the robot fumbles and rolls back down onto its wheels. Meanwhile, Donald Thump has used this time to allow its weapon to get up to top speed and comes in to take a bite out of Sabretooth’s face. Cosmetic decorations immediately start falling off of Donnie because of course it’s one of those kinds of fucking robots.
Donnie is doing its best but really the star of this fight is Behemoth who is too fast and drifty for its own good and manages to perform some sweet ass tricks off of the arena floor flipper. Ant, I’m not gonna lie, that corkscrew twist was badass but that only scores you points in Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater, the judges aren’t looking for that kind of shit even if it is the very essence of the term “style”. Pay close attention and you’ll also see the back panel of the floor flipper catch on the arena and bend outward, breaking the damn hazard already. Because it’s a glorified political joke Donald Thump has no style of its own, but one thing it does have is a fucking menacing blade and the robot manages to get a solid cleave in on the side of Sabretooth visibly bending up its left wheel guard. Sadly, this will be the last thing James Davies’ Meme Machine brings to the table as after this hearty exchange of civil political dialog Behemoth comes in, rams face-first into Donnie, and kills it. A thousand sad Pepes for Donald Thump.
Once again this has become a match between Behemoth and Sabretooth and it’s come down to driving skill. Behemoth hits a floor seam near the pit which seems to remind the team that the pit exists, so Behemoth decides to go and push the button to open it up. Sabretooth isn’t too fond of this idea and tries to land in a hit but gets deflected backwards into the pit button causing it to be activated two times in a matter of only a few seconds. Not sure what to do in this situation the producers just drop the pit and call it even. No rogue house robots, and thankfully no Fog of fucking War. Sabretooth very nearly immediately fucks everything up by driving into the pit but somehow manages to drift across it to land one final mega hit onto the front of Behemoth.
Because of a complicated series of events that have taken place in this battle thus far, this hit winds up killing both robots at the same time and requires the fight to be sent to the judges. Behemoth just stumbles backward and ceases all movement, however Sabretooth ends up getting flipped over. Normally this wouldn’t be an issue for Sabretooth as it can drive upside down, but thanks to one goddamned hit Donald Thump managed to land on Sabretooth’s side panel there is now a chunk of metal propping the robot’s wheels off of the ground. You can see them still spinning, fully functional, but all it took was one mere “bigly” and Gabe’s house of cards fell apart like Hillary Clinton’s dreams of presidency.
WINNER: Behemoth, Judges’ Decision
Up first in group two is someone we all know and love. Former series 8 champion, the only competitor to flip the new house robots, and inventors of the Turbo Dab, APOLLO. Formerly a very showy robot built by a team of professional entertainers, Apollo dabbed for the last time in series 9 and has returned with a more “serious” team consisting of brothers Dave and Alan Young. You can still tell which one of them is the entertainer, by the way, because Alan Young is a professional robot builder and he looks exactly like what you think a “professional robot builder” would. It’s kind of like how if you hear someone is an unfunny Internet comedian your first mental image sort of resembles the photograph on this website’s “About” page. Apollo has been and always will be our favorite “big fuck off flipper” so I guess that means everyone else better buckle up because Apollo is about to [lame joke about launching things into outer space].
APOCALYPSE is group two’s next robot and it’s, uh, something? Featuring lettering designed using that edgy grunge font all of us had back in high school Apocalypse’s main weapon is its axe… followed by two more axes, one on either side of the robot. Because design. It’s like an unholy combination of Splinter and Terrorhurtz with the added bonus that because of the way it’s goofy ass nuclear explosion stickers are applied the robot looks like it has a perpetual smug face. Apocalypse was built by Ed Wallace after he convinced his boss to let him build a robot on company time. The catch is that Ed’s boss, Chris Page, gets to tag along and be a part of his team. Oh, and Chris’ son Miles, too. I don’t know about you but the last thing I’d ever want to do in my life is “literally anything with my fucking boss from work”. Holy shit, when I used to work in IT we would have these bullshit forced “team building” outings and they were the most dreadful goddamned things in the world. Even though we got a free day off of work to go to them I’d always find myself pining to just be sitting at my desk because at least I’d be able to contemplate suicide in peace.
Anyways, rounding out this episode we have THE SWARM. Ever since Ian Watts stopped winning with Bigger Brother he’s gone into some fucking DARK territory in robot combat. Back in series 8 he showed up with this thing called Or Te that sort of looked like Bigger Brother if it was the victim of a Nintendo 64 cartridge-tilting glitch and it died in a single blow from Supernova. Since then he’s become absolutely convinced that shitty minibots are the way to go even though he’s systematically been proven wrong every fucking time. Remember Creepy Crawlies from BattleBots? Yeah, Ian was one of the masterminds behind that great idea and even though the producers of the show decided to feed his robots to Son of Whyachi for TV ratings he still stood by his design. Not only that but one of the fucking robots in The Swarm is a holdover from Creepy Crawlies! Let me just offer one more piece of trivia to demonstrate how far gone this guy is. The Swarm is comprised of five robots, only four of which compete at any given time; the robots are Blenda (spinner), Pinza (clamp), Rubber Duck (flipper), and not one but two fucking robots named “Skye”. Just… whatever, man. He’s also dressed as a pirate for some fucking reason. I just don’t know anymore.
GROUP BATTLE 2
Before the match starts Apollo and The Swarm are eyeing each other from across the arena like there’s about to be some kind of stupid dance battle but the minute the fight begins Apollo is just like “fuck it” and plows through The Swarm like they were pedestrians in Grand Theft Auto. Rubber Duck gets turned on its ass and has to self-right, Blenda starts destabilizing due to the gyroscopic forces of its weapon, and Pinza and Skye just fucking bolt away. Apocalypse starts hunting down Pinza as its arms just lazily flail all over the place while Apollo’s drivers seem confused as to who they’re going to pick as their target. Even Noel Sharkey is like “what the fuck are you supposed to do in this situation” and he’s a professor. Allegedly.
The two larger robots seem to start getting some semblance of a strategy as Apollo tussles with Blenda and Apocalypse tries to do something with Pinza, however idle conversation from Apocalypse’s drivers inform us that their goddamned weapon isn’t even working which reduces their machine to little more than a doorstop that can give hugs (assuming the side arms even work to begin with). So Apocalypse is a total write-off, but Apollo is still around and after banging against Blenda and causing the little robot to spin wildly out of control the space-themed flipper hits its stride, gets its hands on Pinza, and indiscriminately chucks it into Sir Killalot’s corner. Blenda is again ricocheted away, this time by Apocalypse’s ass, and as Pinza comes to a rest in the corner of the arena you can see that it’s flaccid pinchers are completely broken.
Apollo finally picks on someone its own size and tosses Apocalypse. For Apocalypse’s sake, and probably for the sake of Ed’s goddamned job, it’s a good thing the robot doesn’t land on its head because in its current situation of not having a functional weapon to self-right with that probably would’ve been the end of this fight. Apollo flips Apocalypse yet again but once more “luck” shines in Ed’s favor because his robot lands on its wheels a second time. I threw “luck” in quotes because even though Apocalypse is on its wheels it’s also in Sir Killalot’s corner who proceeds to pick the robot up and leave it to burn on the flame pit, and burn it does. I guess all the excitement was too much for the nuclear-themed robot because Apocalypse just sits there on the grill and promptly bursts into flames internally.
This leaves all of The Swarm alone with Apollo which is probably the most hilarious mismatch I’ve seen in the series reboot thus far. Watching The Swarm try to do literally anything against the former champion and just be brushed off or — in the case of Rubber Duck — be thrown completely out of the arena from the center of the field. I really have no idea why I am gravitating toward this ridiculous analogy but for some bizarre reason it’s just making me have flashbacks to Dragon Ball Z where everyone was trying to gang up on Cell and he’d just be like “lol nope” and knock people away from him. The takeaway here is I used to watch some stupid shit on TV when I was in middle school and I’m ashamed of it. Due to the weight distribution of The Swarm and the way the Robot Wars rules are written 3 out of the 4 components of The Swarm need to be immobilized in order for the multibot to be considered “knocked out”. Well, Pinza’s been on its ass since the start of the fight, Rubber Duck has just been thrown into fucking low orbit, and after making the power play of opening up the pit Skye has decided to fall right in.
WINNER: Apollo, KO
Oh joy I forgot about these segments. You’d think after two seasons’ worth of “CHECK OUT THIS HOT NEW TECH” that the producers would’ve realized that nothing could top the deep symbolism of Angela losing to a robot in Connect Four but nope it’s a brand new season and that means we’ve got some more weird technological bullshit that may or may not be useful to humans. This time around we’ve got a guy in a goofy ass jetpack suit so I am going to go ahead and preemptively check the box next to “not useful to humans”.
Angela asks Sethu where Britain stands in the “robot revolution” to which Sethu has to muscle out this bizarre sort of non-answer about how there’s various disciplines of robot engineering and that Britain is doing well in the realm of “control”. Notice how he didn’t say the country was doing well in regards to design, that’s because the guy in the fucking jetpack suit has thrusters strapped to his legs and arms instead of his back meaning he’s one muscle spasm away from becoming a goddamned Garry’s Mod ragdoll mid-flight. Pay close attention to the clip of him pointing the rockets at the camera and you’ll notice the one in the upper right doesn’t even flicker or ignite. How this motherfucker isn’t dead by now is beyond me.
I get that personal flight and jetpacks have been a major fantasy in the world of science but this guy’s getup just seems unnecessarily dangerous. He’s got six rockets strapped to his extremities which is a bad idea for reasons I’ve already mentioned, he’s got the gas tank strapped to his back, and on his chest he’s placed lithium batteries. Congratulations man, you’ve invented a literal fucking bomb. All this so you can pretend to be David Blaine and hover 10 inches off of the ground. He claims that there’s potential for soldier and medical extraction using this suit but all I’m seeing is a very expensive way of unintentionally throwing white hot flames on soldiers crippled by land mines. Science!
SABRETOOTH vs. APOCALYPSE
Apocalypse enters this “robot redemption” round after a humiliating defeat at the hands of Apollo. The Swarm was also present but none of those robots were big enough to pose a threat so really we’re just seeing a team deal with the aftermath of having their robot thrown through the air several times. Apparently Apocalypse landed bad enough to twist its chassis which in turn caused its drive motors to seize up which then caused its speed controllers to burst into flames. No word yet on their axe which has accomplished fuck all but Ed seems confident that he can beat Sabretooth with just a “lucky shot”. Meanwhile Gabriel from the Sabretooth team is busy making rash decisions after sustaining damage from a robot literally named fucking “Donald Thump” that resulted in him losing the fight to Behemoth. Of course Sabretooth has been fixed, Gabe’s brought enough parts with him to build four of the fucking things or whatever, but rather than drive the robot himself he’s decided to hand the controls over to a teammate? Bro, you know if you lose this match you’re out of the competition for good, right?
It seems that the right side hammer on Apocalypse is still propped open so I’m just going to go out on a limb here and say that it hasn’t been fixed and probably wasn’t ever functional in the first place. That said, the robot’s axe is actually working for once and Apocalypse just goes to fucking town on Sabretooth indiscriminately swinging its blade down right onto the drum and into the belt mechanisms. It’s this level of “not giving a fuck” that causes Sabretooth’s front feeder wedge to pop loose on one side and if you watch closely you’ll see Sabretooth’s drum isn’t even working now. Gabe immediately starts losing his fucking mind up in the driver booth prompting Jonathan Pearce to start heckling him and call him a villain, but honestly I can’t blame the guy for getting pissy that his robot is losing to a machine that not 30 minutes ago was literally on fire.
Sabretooth is on the ropes after sustaining damage to its weapon so its driver makes the smart move of running into the pit trigger because that’s what you’re supposed to do when you start losing. The robot doesn’t even touch the button but I guess whoever’s job it is to watch the pit trigger shrugged and said that was good enough because the trigger activates and rather than open the pit it unleashes the stupid “Fog of War” hazard. Since this is the first time we’ve seen this effect I’ll go ahead and wait while you take it all in. Yes, that confusion you’re feeling is normal, it’s a hazard that temporarily takes the “spectator” out of the “spectator sport” of robot combat. The hitch is nobody can see what’s happening in the arena which is fine I guess but this has the possibly unintended side effects of also blocking the vision of the judges, the hosts, the people who drive the house robots, and most importantly the fucking audience. If anything the Fog of War is just a free period of 10 seconds where robots with spinning weapons can get free spin up time and the last thing we need in this sport is some bullshit arena effect that only serves to benefit those kinds of fucking robots even more.
So nothing happens during the Fog of War other than Sabretooth driving into a visible spot of the arena and getting tossed by the floor flipper, but only because the person operating the hazards was able to see it. Great effect guys, can’t wait to see what you come up with in series 11. Once the smoke clears Apocalypse goes right back to stabbing Sabreooth and you can see smoke start rising up from Gabe’s robot, not to mention the fact that one of the robot’s weapon belts is frayed and coming apart. Slowly Gabe begins to realize the error of his ways as he adopts this weirdly upset tone and starts commanding his teammate to drive into Apocalypse who by this point has an easy win as long as the robot doesn’t fucking blow up again. Seconds later Apocalypse shits out a drive belt so I guess there goes that. Sabretooth musters a great box rush on Apocalypse which puts the hammer bot into the wall and seems to disable it. Sabretooth’s stand-in driver is clearly holding back because he thinks Apocalypse is incapacitated, which is the sportsmanlike thing to do here, but Gabe is basically jumping up and down by this point yelling “NIGGA FUKKEN HIT THAT MO’FUGGAH AGAIN”.
Apocalypse’s driver chimes in and says his robot’s dead and this finally gets Gabe to chill the fuck out.
WINNER: Sabretooth, KO
DONALD THUMP vs. THE SWARM
Up next is The Swarm and everyone’s favorite meme machine Donald Thump. Dara catches up with Donnie’s builder James Davies during some repairs and James just sort of casually points out that he’s shock-mounted a £1,000 motor using jeans. Literally jeans. This isn’t like some weird composite material that just so happens to be named “jeans” or anything, it’s fucking denim. A Canadian tuxedo. It’s a strip of cloth that he rolled around the motor and called it a day. For fuck’s sake no wonder this thing broke down in its first round, it probably got a wedgie from the underwear that’s likely bundled around its goddamned batteries or something. On the other end of the pits Ian Watts is sort of having this personal epiphany that maybe his mini robots are a bad idea, but then he’s like “no, they’re different“. You were so close.
Before the match even starts Donald Thump has already broken down. The driver explains to a nearby member of the show’s tech crew that his radio is intermittent and that the weapon probably isn’t going to work. Fantastic. This is what happens when the producers initially reject an entry and then decide to pick it up literally a week before shooting because the team changed the name to Donald fucking Thump and it’s LOL SO FUNNY COVFEFE TINY HANDS CHEETO FACE. Since Donald’s weapon is fake news the robot really has no choice but to plow into the robots of The Swarm head first. Donald Thump is equipped with 3mm Hardox armor layered with some rubber padding which I’m told is weak compared to other heavyweights. I really didn’t have a barometer to compare this claim against but now I do because after just one fucking hit from Blenda’s spinner Donald Thump loses an entire front panel of armor. Blenda weighs just 33kg and it’s taken a piece of armor off of something literally three times its weight. God damn.
Donnie goes for the pit but instead gets the house robots sent out which break up the action. Somewhere in the fray Rubber Duck manages to get underneath the corner of Donald Thump and give it a tip which is kind of impressive because I don’t have any idea what kind of pneumatics you can fit into a ~25kg robot like Rubber Duck but I’ll be damned if getting it to heave 110kg worth of shitty political jokes isn’t impressive. Even more impressive is Blenda who comes out of nowhere and sidelines Donald Thump ripping off the rest of its goofy ass face. The hit sends the tiny robot reeling into Dead Metal’s corner but because the robot is so tiny Dead Metal can’t even properly slice into it. What ensues next can best be described as “literally Twitter” because Donald Thump takes one more hit from Blenda, stops working, and is just immediately overwhelmed by a bunch of annoying tiny bitey insects. Pinza comes in and clamps onto Donnie’s side, Blenda scrapes some more paint off of the machine, and Skye starts pounding Donald in the ass. Good night alt-right!
WINNER: The Swarm, KO
APOLLO vs. SABRETOOTH
We now move on to the heat semifinals where Apollo has been waiting for its challenger. Heeding the call and qualifying for this fight is Sabretooth. Both of these robots made it this far by beating Apocalypse into submission; Apollo repeatedly threw the axe-wielding robot into the air until it literally caught fire while Sabretooth was busy getting its ass kicked but still managed to catch a stroke of luck after Apocalypse ejected a drive chain and promptly caught fire a second time. Apollo has the distinction of having battled The Swarm and took an easy win over the cluster bot by heaving one of them out of the arena and letting the rest finish themselves off. Dave Young also takes a moment to lament how he receives messages from creeps on social media ever since he won the championship in series 8. Look, I’m not saying I may have sent him a message on Facebook that consisted of awkward slash fiction between me and him, but I’m also not saying I didn’t.
Right away Sabretooth is already doing twists in the air courtesy of Apollo who looks to be in top form this series. Realizing its drum isn’t going to protect it from being thrown into the fucking ceiling Sabretooth immediately starts running away. It looks like the goal here is to try and catch Apollo from the sides or more correctly probably the back but it’s just not happening; Apollo’s got those little leading wedges on its flanks and any time Sabretooth tries something fancy it just rides up on top of Apollo and ends up doing an aerial twist combo that even Simone Biles would be jealous of. Yes that was an Olympics joke. I’ve been writing this goddamned website for over two years now and I’m running out of referential humor.
Back in the arena Gabe is like “drum?” and wouldn’t you know it, Sabretooth’s drum just so happens to be full of shit again. I don’t know a damn thing about engineering at this scale but I think Sabretooth has two separate motors running its drum each with its own belt. This serves the purpose of doubling the drum’s power but I think the setup would also act as a form of redundancy? So both of Sabretooth’s weapon motors are dead? Where the fuck did they come from, Pulsar’s overstock? Sabretooth rams into the piece of set decor that harbors the pit trigger and misses it by an even bigger margin than last time but the thing still somehow activates. I can already tell this is going to become a “thing” this season. Dead Metal hooks onto Sabretooth and Gabe starts doing that weird excitable jump of his until he manages to break free, charges straight at Apollo, and launches all the way up Apollo’s chassis.
Sabretooth gets thrown at the wall yet again and we get a shot of the robot’s weapon operator shaking his head while gesturing with his transmitter. I guess he just now realized the robot’s drum has stopped working which makes me wonder if he’s just been dicking around on his phone or something for the past two minutes. This fight has turned into such a shit show that Dave Young is now just openly mocking and teasing his opponents as he plays catch with Dead Metal using Sabretooth as the football. Sabretooth bumps into the side of the “Dial of Doom” thing but I guess nobody was looking because nothing happens. Jonathan acknowledges that Sabretooth missed the button but the jury’s still out on whether or not he saw Sabretooth crash into the fucking wall and still activate the trigger earlier in this match. Speaking of walls, Sabretooth drifts a little bit too closely to one of them and Apollo seizes the opportunity by cutting the drum bot off and launching it straight over the barrier and into the third place playoff.
WINNER: Apollo, KO
BEHEMOTH vs. THE SWARM
The last time Behemoth was in a position where the team thought they had a “free win” they completely fucking blew it. And I mean it, too. Big time. They outfitted their robot, which has been a giant bulldozer for nearly two decades, with a garish “clamping” device that didn’t work at all and the end result was they lost to a team whose robot’s special ability was that it could do a fucking handstand. Ant Pritchard was annihilated so badly in that moment that it would’ve been a more respectable death for him and his robot to be completely eviscerated by PP3D and hauled away in a goddamned trash bag. Needless to say, Behemoth is going into this match — this potential “free win” — with its scoop and I’ll be damned if Behemoth’s ill-fated clamp thing even still exists. Ant probably threw it into a fucking river after series 9.
“Scatter!” Shouts Sam Watts as the fight begins and Behemoth just floors it forward like a goddamned freight truck hitting bumps and seams in the floor but not once losing any steam. Behemoth is basically treating the arena like its own personal playground and in the course of like 15 seconds we see the bulldozer get some sweet ass air off of Skye, plow head first into Blenda and fling it across the floor, and somehow careen into Pinza in such a way that rolls the pincher bot over and causes its batteries to fucking blow up. Blenda gets dangerously close to Matilda which prompts Jonathan to start reading some erotic fanfiction of her and now that he’s cursed this whole fight Behemoth skids into her ass and gets violently upended. The bulldozer is unfazed however and promptly finds its way back onto its wheels and continues hauling ass.
Blenda is quite obviously the most dangerous part of The Swarm and rather than avoid it Behemoth seems to have made it its number one target because it’s just repeatedly being hammered on and thrown around. Then again I guess I can see why because Behemoth’s scoop system alone probably weighs close to Blenda’s entire 33kg so not much damage is being done. There’s a few bites and nibbles taken out of Behemoth’s scoop but for all intents and purposes the thing is like what would happen if a section of the arena wall just came to fucking life and started moving around on its own. Somewhere in this mess Skye has been rolled over and now that it’s an easy target Behemoth disposes of it by throwing it out of the arena. Pinza gets rolled back over and even though the robot flipped over and exploded earlier in the fight it’s still somehow mobile.
At some point all of Behemoth’s “affection” made Blenda stop moving but Sam Watts still continues to encourage his teammates to keep driving around especially now that there’s only two minibots left and any further fuck ups will result in The Swarm being counted out. Pinza, who previously burned something up, decides to burn up a second time as wisps of smoke start rising up from the peak of the robot’s chassis followed by a full blown open flame. Behemoth mercy kills Pinza once again leaving Rubber Duck as the sole component of The Swarm still running. The fight is basically over by this point but Rubber Duck still feels compelled to avenge the death of its ragtag coalition of scrap metal friends so it charges into the side of Behemoth, fires its flipper, and immediately blows out its pneumatics. Rubber Duck’s flipper jams open and vents all of its CO2 right next to Sir Killalot who grabs the tiny robot and skullfucks it over the flame pit until the officials kill the fight.
WINNER: Behemoth, KO
SABRETOOTH vs. THE SWARM
Yes, I know what you’re thinking. “Both of these damn robots keep losing why are they getting one more fight?” It seems complicated but really it’s simple. These two competitors are playing off for third place in the heat, this is because the robots that finish third and second advance onward to a 10-way consolation rumble where the rumble winner gets a ticket to the Grand Finals as a wildcard. So here we are once again with Sabretooth, a robot that cost a ton of money and came with enough spares to build a copy yet it still got literally Trumped, and The Swarm, the robot equivalent of a pack of rabid chihuahuas with the combat effectiveness of a shotgun shell filled with cotton balls. “The robot is flawless,” quotes Jonathan Pearce in regards to Sabretooth. No, actually, I think by virtue of this piece of shit ending up in the third place playoff it most certainly has flaws. Many.
For the first time in this heat we’re seeing the “spinner stopper” component of The Swarm named Skye, not to be confused with the small blue wedge which is also named Skye because fuck coming up with a different name I guess. The new Skye is equipped with a bunch of pieces of tire strapped down to the robot in a hexagonal pattern; these rubber pads are meant to absorb impacts from spinners and slow them down, but I feel like throwing a rubber-covered ~25kg robot at a 110kg heavyweight spinner is just going to result in the “spinner stopper” being thrown into the fucking rafters while nothing actually happens to said spinner. Speaking of being thrown into the rafters, Sabretooth’s weapon is finally working for what feels like the first time this episode and thanks to the fact that its opponents all weigh about a quarter of its total weight Sabretooth is just hurling minibots all over the place.
The Swarm is still surprisingly able to hold their own despite the fact that Blenda keeps losing every weapon to weapon contact it makes with Sabretooth, and Rubber Duck manages to slip in and briefly destabilize the drum bot if only for a moment. Sabretooth swings wide across the arena to line up another shot and drifts over the arena floor spikes prompting them to fire upward… and just keep fucking going. Two of the five spikes literally fire straight up out of the floor completely out of their housings and clatter back down as field debris. Had it not taken me a fucking month to write this article I could’ve been at the forefront of the wave of jokes at the expense of North Korea’s “missile program” but since the current status of the spike hazards are a metaphor for my fucking life right now I’ll have to concede this one to Reddit. Everyone just kind of plays off the fact that one of the hazards just blew up because now they’re forced to deal with it since this isn’t something that can be suitably handled with creative camera editing and not showing that corner of the arena, sort of like what they do every time the floor flipper gets fucked up.
Speaking of things that aren’t working anymore, Sabretooth’s fucking drum has stopped again. The floor flipper still works though, and since Sabretooth and Blenda get too close to it — as in directly on top of it — they get thrown on their asses. Rubber Duck also takes a “me too” tumble and it appears the flipper is not able to self right even though this seems like something it should be able to do. Skye (the wedge one) tries to bump Rubber Duck onto its wheels but Sabretooth is too busy doing donuts and slinging the broken floor spikes all over the place so nothing ends up happening. It takes the help of the floor flipper to get Rubber Duck back on its wheels which it then fucks completely up by driving onto the flame pit and getting stuck there. The version of Skye covered in pieces of tire gets slammed into the wall and because the robot is shaped like a mess of knotted Christmas lights it gets high centered and stops working. Blenda has also managed to die on the flame pit with Rubber Duck leaving only the wedge version of Skye mobile. Jesus fucking Christ this fight fell apart quickly.
The wedge Skye also ends up getting immobilized against the wall but by this point three of the four Swarm machines have broken down which as per Robot Wars rules means it’s incapacitated. Technically The Swarm is saved by the clock so the match goes to the judges but I think we all know who won this one. Sabretooth has done the unthinkable and beaten up on the robot equivalent of a bunch of first graders and is the first competitor to qualify for the wildcard rumble. Considering the fact that the robot’s weapon is a fucking distaster this season I doubt we’re going to see much more of Gabe’s robot and just to be an ass I’d even wager that Sabretooth is eliminated first even though I’m fully aware there’s still 9 more spots left that could be filled with a whole bunch of shitty robots.
WINNER: Sabretooth, Judges’ Decision
BEHEMOTH vs. APOLLO
Finally we’re at the heat finals. See, the new format isn’t so complicated after all. At least we’ll never be forced to watch multiple potato fights like what happened with Foxic and MR Speed Squared ever again. Hopefully. Both of these heat finalists have made it this far by consistently winning all of their matches and avoided needing to be saved in the redemption rounds. Behemoth is introduced first and for the first time in a long time this goddamned dinosaur of a robot looks to be in top form. Disabling Donald Thump was kind of a gimme, but Behemoth managed a judges’ decision over Sabretooth and then went on to play soccer with The Swarm. Also in the esteemed ranks of “robots who have claimed a free win from The Swarm” is Apollo who played double time against The Swarm and Apocalypse in its opening melee and followed that performance up with a victory over Sabretooth that required Apollo to throw it out of the arena. The field has been cut down to two and as much as I want to see Behemoth win a heat for the first time in 18 years I’ve gotta admit the team is kind of fucked with an opponent like Apollo, a former champion.
I feel like this fight is kind of a fantastic mismatch just because of the substantial difference in size and shape between these two robots. That and the fact that Behemoth immediately rides up Apollo’s wedge and gets thrown backward within the literal first five seconds of this match. Behemoth is basically the equivalent of a robotic boulder though and it seems to always eventually find its way back down to its wheels. I’ve gotta hand it to Ant and his team though, their robot takes some serious fucking tumbles and it still just skitters away like it didn’t just land on its corner two seconds prior. The two robots drive around near the newly repaired floor spikes which causes Jonathan to start ranting about the repair costs coming out of his paycheck which doesn’t make a goddamn bit of sense unless he himself was responsible for breaking them. Knowing Jonathan he probably was and when the tech crew reviewed the security footage they saw him sneaking around under the arena disconnecting one of the spikes and shoving it in Matilda’s tail pipe.
Behemoth has yet to score any points in this fight but quickly manages to do so as with a quick 180 maneuver Apollo gets blindsided and rolled over. Behemoth goes into beast mode right away and takes Apollo into the pit trigger which I don’t think was intentional beyond “this is the closest part of the wall where we can ram this guy so here goes nothing”. All hell breaks loose. The pit opens, Dead Metal gets ahold of both robots, and Apollo’s team immediately start complaining that they can’t see their robot. It’s good to know that after three new seasons in this arena they’ve never addressed the issue of the teams sometimes not being able to see their fucking robots. Sure, they “fixed” the “Ironside vs. Pulsar knock-out-counter-didn’t-stop-counting-down-for-one-booth” problem by cramming everyone into a single driver booth but I guess this wasn’t a high enough priority. Fog of War? More like Shitty Driver Booth Box… of War!
Alan Young climbs onto the side of the driver booth so he can shout commands down to Dave. Mark my words, someday this is going to result in the wall breaking and someone falling to their fucking death. Behemoth very nearly gets chucked out of the arena but I guess Ant is getting that stroke of luck he said his team needed because they’re still in the game. Behemoth retaliates by flipping Apollo onto its back on top of the fire. Apollo responds by heaving Behemoth across the arena right into Dead Metal’s fucking face. This fight is escalating to absolutely ridiculous heights and as Behemoth scoops under Apollo once more Apollo skirts away but over-corrects and exposes its backside to the demon bulldozer. Behemoth wastes absolutely no time at all kicking Apollo square in the ass and punting it straight into the pit, ending the fight. Gotta be honest, definitely not the direction I was expecting this match to go but holy shit am I hyped for Behemoth. First heat victory since its debut in series fucking two.
WINNER: Behemoth, KO
So with that Behemoth is the first Grand Finalist of series 10. Former champion Apollo and [something nice and optimistic here] Sabretooth are not yet out of the running however as they’re both moving on to the wildcard rumble later on. It’s still anyone’s game, Apollo could make a comeback and rise from their early grave and as unlikely as it sounds Sabretooth might be able to do something as well with the help of a fucking miracle. Next time on Robot Wars we have a heat that’s just a total goddamned nightmare. Reigning champion Carbide returns and is met with last season’s runner up Eruption. A distant third-ish place from last year, Aftershock, also makes its comeback. Make no mistake, heads are going to roll and I guarantee at least one person is going to literally die at some point. Oh, and Gabriel is back too… if that’s your thing.
That’s a wrap this
week time on The Update. I apologize for this edition coming out so long after the debut of the episode, but right now it’s just not possible for me to have been able to follow each episode’s broadcast with a weekly article. I wish I could say things have been getting better post-Hurricane Harvey but they are not, and now that we’re treading into the territory of Thanksgiving and Christmas my time and availability is only going to be more of a lost commodity. We’ve got six episodes in series 10 and my realistic goal here is to get half (or more) of them done before the end of the year and finish the remainder in January. That seems like a doable goal and one that I feel I can hold myself to. I’m going to try and get them out each week, but make sure you’re following BattleBots Update on Facebook so you’ll get the alerts and posts. I’ve also still got that PayPal link for one-time donations, plus a Patreon page if you’re looking for more of a monthly pledge type of system.