[Robot Wars UK: S10 E2 is available online HERE.]
Oh boy it’s time for another installment of The Update covering the latest series of Robot Wars! Now, as I write this article the series has already come to a close and a champion has been crowned, but I still have to act like we don’t already know that Recyclopse makes a surprise return from retirement in a later heat and sweeps the floor with Carbide and everyone else. It’s not my fault that I’m literally like a month late with all of these articles, you guys think I planned to have my house fucking blow down?
Anyways, Angela Scanlon belts out “let the games commence”, missing the fact that the quote is supposed to be “let the wars begin” and forgetting to do that weird “arms wide open” thing that Craig Charles always did. “But Draco, that was 15 years ago it’s a whole new era of Robot Wars and they don’t say that anymore.” Fuck off. At least they’ve got a proper opening in this episode and they show the logo, last week they had so much exposition to cover regarding the new tournament format that the editors were forced to save seconds wherever possible and rather than cut out any precious Donald Trump jokes they went with the show’s opening titles. Because priorities.
Last time on Robot Wars, Behemoth showed up to the contest for the umpteenth time and for the first time in literally 18 years Ant Pritchard and his team won their heat. Their robot, which looks about as out of place as a jet-setting businessman who accidentally booked a hotel room at the same time and place as an anime convention, muscled its way past Sabretooth, The Swarm, and Donald “The Meme Machine” Thump before making it into to the heat finals where it kicked series 8 champion Apollo square in the ass and sent it hurtling into the pit. I usually have to watch these episodes about three times apiece when writing these articles and I still don’t believe that actually fucking happened.
Speaking of things from series 8, everyone’s favorite phallic thwack bot with stupidly huge tires has returned in the form of GABRIEL 2. In the months (or year plus, I lose track of time pretty easily because I’m an idiot) it’s been since series 8 I’ve learned that I’m not allowed to make fun of Gabriel because it’s apparently “not a bad robot” but I’ll be damned if I’m going to pass up the opportunity to drop some mad fire on a machine whose weapon is basically a giant metal horse cock and whose primary sponsor might as well be a farm supply outlet. The robot literally hasn’t changed since we last saw it; it’s still as tall as Dara O’Briain and its armor is still HDPE plastic meaning we’re probably going to get a lot of hilarious “smear frames” again this series. Gabriel failed to qualify for series 9 and in its place we got Ant Pritchard’s worst nightmare, Cherub. But that was last series and now Gabriel is back and here’s to hoping that it gets the chance to brutalize someone as wholly as they did Chompalot and cause them to fucking blow up. Amen.
And now everyone needs to clear the area because coming in hot we’ve got the current champion CARBIDE. Often referred to as “The British Tombstone” by people who like to compare apples to oranges, Carbide’s business end comes in the form of a horizontal spinning bar powered by a custom built electric motor whose design is based upon the popular E-Tek series. Remember how in BattleBots Update articles of years gone by I’d play “Spot the E-Tek” with robots like PP3D, Nightmare, and Deathroll? Remember how insanely powerful the weapons driven by that motor were? Dave Moulds of Team Carbide saw that and was like “meh that’s not good enough” so he channeled his inner Tim “The Tool Man” Taylor and with a couple of guttural grunts and a whooping “MORE POWER” he built his own goddamned motor to power a spinning blade capable of slicing through the fucking fabric of time itself. Anything that touches the front end of Carbide just dies. But there’s a caveat this series; historically entanglement chains and ropes have been disallowed as per event rules but this time around there are no such limitations. Carbide and robots like it have had it easy up to this point, could this rule change send the champ home early?
The last robot in group one for this heat is BIG NIPPER. Big Nipper is a heavyweight built and driven by Graeme Dawson, a man whose piercing and unblinking gaze suggests that he knows the locations of at least four corpses. Much like Gabriel, Big Nipper was also present in series 8 but failed to qualify for series 9 so it’s been a while since we’ve last seen it in action. Also like Gabriel, not much has changed with the nipper. Last time we saw this robot the team could choose between arming it with an electric clamping jaw or a vertical spinning disc, both of which are mounted on an articulated lifting arm to allow Big Nipper to grab and lift opponents or self-right. That’s still the case today, and in fact so little has changed on Big Nipper that during the robot’s introduction the editors recycle some footage from series 8 of Big Nipper hugging a metal trash can to death. Surely they assumed no one would notice. But I did. Graeme tells Angela that his daughter loves Robot Wars and she pretends to drive Carbide, something he wishes would happen during this heat because he thinks it’s an easy win… but honestly I can’t think of anything more terrifying than something as nasty as Carbide being driven by someone as unskilled and uninhibited as a goddamned three year old.
GROUP BATTLE 1
Watch closely at the start of this fight and you’ll see Gabriel swing its mace and connect with the back left tire of Big Nipper. This hit literally fucking breaks Big Nipper’s drivetrain and from this point onward Graeme’s robot just starts pirouetting and spinning around aimlessly, almost like it was driven by a three year old. The real danger in the arena here is obviously Carbide but you’ve also got to remember that Gabriel for all intents and purposes is built out of the robot combat equivalent of rubber and even though Carbide is landing some choice blows early on Gabriel is just cruising around and driving on top of Carbide’s blade like it’s not even there. Gabriel’s mace is covered in hanging ropes with weights on them, the plan being of course to swing them into Carbide’s blade and — as a wise man named Kenny Florian would say — “jam it up”.
Gabriel has yet to achieve the mythical “jam up” but it’s still managing to land some pretty solid blows to the lid of Carbide. Gabriel spends a little too long near the pyrotechnic
spikes missiles and tries to scoot away but in the process gets the entire upper half of its mace clipped off by Carbide’s bar. That’s fine though because there’s still half a mace as well as the entanglement chains so if I were a psychiatrist I’d say this is a “glass half full” situation. Gabriel gets too close to Big Nipper, who has been partially mobile this whole time, and gets nipped. It’s not a “big nip” (heh) but it’s enough of a nip to flip the thwack bot backwards and into the pit button which falls on the rogue house robot hazard. Shunt comes out and starts some shit with Gabriel for pushing the button and for some goddamned reason Gabriel is still trying to score some free points on Big Nipper which affords Carbide the time needed to get its weapon up to speed and come in for a huge cleave on the mace bot.
The tires on Gabriel are starting to look pretty fucking haggard now but that’s all a part of the robot’s design. Sure, there’s fist-sized chunks missing out of the plastic and the arena is now littered with the little pieces of bike tire Gabriel uses for traction but the robot is still mobile. With its chassis too high off the ground for Carbide to hit all the reigning champion can do is take pot shots at Gabriel’s tires and hope that its mace doesn’t swing down and fuck something up. Unlucky for Carbide, that’s exactly what ends up happening. Somewhere in this blurry mess of Carbide’s whirring blade and Gabriel’s gelatinous construction the mace makes contact with Carbide’s right wheel and tears it. Moments later as Carbide spins around to line up another shot the wheel comes apart and the champ gets high centered on a piece of its own tire. Oh, also Big Nipper has been counted out but we weren’t really paying much attention to that.
It takes a while for Jonathan Pearce to figure out what has come off of Carbide even though to anyone with a working pair of eyes you can see a generous chunk of tire clearing missing but hey if I were constantly distracted by the lewd pictures of Matilda hanging up in my commentary box I’d be phoning it in too. Things just keep getting shittier for Carbide by the way because not only is it now missing literally half a fucking wheel but somehow Gabriel jams its mace into Carbide’s front end and the spinner just convulses and flips over. As Carbide ricochets off of Shunt’s face you can really just see how jacked up both surviving robots are. Carbide is reeling and struggling to drive with one and a half wheels, and speaking of “one and a half wheels” I think that’s a safe estimate as to what Gabriel’s got left because its wheels are looking less like “wheels” and more like one of those tacky craft bowls you can make by heating up a record and placing it over a clay pot. Realizing this fight has the potential to not go in his favor, Dave Moulds jacks up the speed of Carbide’s blade and collides with Gabriel once more, this time sending unknown debris up to the driver booth that Dara and Angela are watching the fight from making this the second or third time someone’s tried to kill the hosts of this show.
Gabriel is in more pieces than my pathetic fucking love life and Craig Colliass is still just chill as hell up in the driver booth telling Toby Colliass pro strats like not driving into the pit that they just accidentally opened. Toby says he’s got little traction now that Carbide has removed 90% of the bike tire covering his robot’s wheels and Craig drops some more knowledge in the form of “don’t worry about traction”. Yeah dude, just go out there and do fuck all. Don’t charge your batteries. Leave the safety link out. Hit someone before the fight starts. Name your robot “Donald Thump”.
Against all odds Gabriel survives until the end of the fight and the judges are given the awful task of trying to figure out just who won this fight. I mean, first of all let’s just eliminate Big Nipper from the equation because it took one hit and then straight up died, but fucking Gabriel, man. You might be thinking Carbide’s got the easy win on damage, but does it really? Gabriel not only damaged one of Carbide’s wheels but it was also directly responsible for knocking out Big Nipper in a single blow. Carbide just ate up a bunch of ablative plastic and failed to do any significant damage to its opponent. The points are a lot closer than you might think. Ultimately, however, the judges sided with the reigning champion. I’d still love to see those score cards though because fuck me was that an incredible match.
WINNER: Carbide, Judges’ Decision
I know you’re all still probably coming down from the adrenaline high that was the previous fight, but there’s still half the field that have yet to be introduced this episode. Up first in the second group in this heat is ERUPTION, a sort of dark horse competitor who took an early exit in series 8 but managed to make it all the way to the goddamned championship match of the series 9 Grand Finals where it ultimately lost to Carbide. Eruption’s design is sort of what you’d call a “pyramid flipper” meaning that most (or all) of its sides slant upward to a point and the majority of its front side is just one massive fuck off flipping arm. Eruption used to have a bunch of dumb shit that the team could attach to its flipper like a little claw or some stupid ass mini spinning drum but builder Michael Oates is done with that crap. He’s brought last series’ runner-up back as a no frills flipper and since Carbide’s also in this heat he just might have a shot at revenge. (I also learned during this segment that over in the UK you have four holes punched in your notebook paper instead of three like we do here in America. You guys are fucking weird.)
Because if having last series’ champion and runner-up in the same goddamned heat wasn’t enough we’ve also got yet another one of last series’ Grand Finalists in this heat in the form of AFTERSHOCK. Formerly Shockwave in a previous life, and equipped only with a lifting plow, the robot was completely re-envisioned last series into the vertical spinner arena destroying menace we know today. Seriously, every time this machine gets rolled upside down it breaks the fucking floor and the officials have to stop the fight and weld something back together. Will and Ian Thomas have consistently qualified for the Grand Finals of the past two events by absolutely killing their opposition. Back when Sabretooth had finally won its first fight in god knows how long Aftershock was there to sober its team the fuck right up because in a matter of seconds Aftershock’s spinning disc had reduced Gabriel Stroud’s creation to something beyond its principal atomic elements. Will Thomas is such a fucking maniac when it comes to destroying other robots that his father, Ian Thomas, now has a literal kill switch for Aftershock’s weapon if he thinks they’re pulling a Donald Trump and are winning “too much”.
Finally we’ve got CRACKERS N’ SMASH. Crackers N’ Smash is a multibot consisting of two individual robots and I’ll leave you to guess what their names are. Because of the manner in which Robot Wars’ rules are written in order to “knock out” Crackers N’ Smash both robots need to be incapacitated, so as long as one of them is still alive they’re still in the game. Crackers N’ Smash relies on a battle strategy where Crackers comes in with its lifting arm and either immobilizes or hinders the movement of an opponent so that Smash can cruise in with its drum — spinning in excess of ten fucking thousand RPM — and start chewing pieces off of the other machine. It’s a novel idea but sadly last series the team was matched up against Carbide who destroyed Crackers N’ Smash’s weaponry in the group battle. The multibot managed to outlast Trolley Rage and Meggamouse to advance onward to the head-to-head rounds where Carbide promptly finished it off and forced the team to forfeit. Sadly for Team Conker they’re right back in the shit with Carbide in this heat. Poor guys can’t catch a break. A preemptive “rest in rip” for Crackers N’ Smash, everyone.
GROUP BATTLE 2
Crackers N’ Smash are so outclassed in this match that neither Angela nor Dara think they’re going to stand a chance. Normally just to be a contrarian asshole I’d be like “haha I think Crackers N’ Smash are gonna win nyeeeh”… but… it’s Crackers N’ Smash. I can’t even jokingly say that I think they’re going to win because I couldn’t keep a straight face while doing it. Crackers enters this fight wearing some entanglement chains in the vain hope that they get caught inside of Aftershock’s weapon belt but that’s simply not in the cards because the chains come loose and are immediately thrown across the arena. Smash tries to start some shit with Aftershock as well but decides to do so while parked precariously on the floor flipper. This of course causes the hazard to trigger which comes with the added bonus of Aftershock just completely ripping the flipper the fuck apart because Aftershock can’t go more than ten seconds in a single goddamned match without breaking some shit in the arena. Ian Thomas chooses not to kill Aftershock’s disc.
Because the arena has been damaged, and up to this point fights have been stopped because of it, someone in the drivers’ booth starts shouting “STOP” even though an official cease has not been called. This causes a massive clusterfuck with Ian Thomas trying to tell Will to stop the weapon but Will is like “it’s not an official cease fuck you dad” and the Crackers N’ Smash team is losing their shit because Aftershock keeps attacking their robots. Eruption is playing it smart and just kinda hanging back to see what happens because if someone’s possibly getting disqualified over this dumb shit Michael Oates isn’t gonna stick around to get whacked. Cease is never called so Michael decides now’s as good of a time as any to drive his robot underneath Aftershock and just throw it the fuck right out of here. Obviously upset with this turn of events, Aftershock can’t leave well enough alone and with one final parting “fuck you” its disc catches on the arena entry gate and visibly jacks it up as the robot pogos off and into oblivion.
This leaves just Crackers N’ Smash alone in what has now become Eruption’s rape dungeon. Smash is still upside down from that mishap with the floor flipper and looks a little worse for wear because it’s having drive or traction problems and can’t really maneuver around. Crackers on the other hand had its lifting arm rendered absolutely useless by Aftershock in that whole cease confusion and has become an easy target for Eruption who’s thrown it into the corner. Crackers speeds away and tries to hold its own against Eruption, a robot literally twice its weight, but doesn’t have the strength or the weaponry to manhandle the giant red flipper. Eruption effortlessly gets under Crackers and goes for the easy free throw from the side of the arena. This leaves Smash all alone, but remember that according to the rules both Crackers and Smash need to be taken out in order for Eruption to have this one in the bag. Since Smash is still upside down and having drive issues it ends up opening itself up to an easy attack from Eruption who dunks it from center court and while I’d like to call it a “hat trick” I’m going to refrain from doing so because Jonathan just stole my thunder.
WINNER: Eruption, KO
After the fight there’s an extended shot of the teams arguing with each other trying to figure out who’s the dumbass that shouted “stop” first and potentially ruined the entire match. Jonathan snarks on the argument with a “yadda yadda yadda” but let’s be real here, there is actually a massive problem with inconsistency that is being overlooked. Like I said earlier, Aftershock can’t seem to make it through a single fight without busting the arena up which in turn inevitably causes the safety crew to stop the match and assess the damage. Well looky here, Aftershock tore up the floor flipper and damaged the arena so by this point Will and Ian are used to powering down their weapon and stopping because they’re rolling their eyes and going “man not this shit again” while they wait for the officials to come scold them some more for breaking things and causing fights to be postponed for another goddamn hour. But this time it doesn’t happen and instead they get blindsided and thrown out of the arena. Meanwhile Team Conker is also expecting the fight to be stopped because last series Carbide spiked one of the Crackers N’ Smash bots so hard at the wall that it broke the fucking panel off. So right now we have not one but two teams who’ve been in situations in the past where fights have been stopped due to arena damage and yet nothing happens this time around. Fucking beautiful.
AFTERSHOCK vs. GABRIEL 2
I don’t really think I need to summarize how Gabriel fell back into the robot redemption round but you know I’m going to anyways. Gabriel may have been able to wreck Big Nipper with a mere flick of its wrist but it failed to make lightning strike twice against Carbide. That didn’t stop Team Saint from trying, of course, because holy shit did they scare the fuck out of Carbide and give the team a run for their money. They banged up one of Carbide’s wheels, flipped the reigning champ over, and whacked the top and bottom of it enough times that Carbide’s batteries had to be completely replaced. However despite all this carnage the judges still went with the champ and now Gabriel is here to fight for a chance at the semifinals. Aftershock sustained nowhere near as much damage as Gabriel in its 3-way fight but still took an early exit after some confusion around whether or not the fight should be stopped for arena damage (that Aftershock caused of course) resulted in Eruption wasting no time in tossing the spinner out of the arena. Going by the pit footage shown before this match it looks like Aftershock may have slightly bent the corner of its front wedge. Oh no, poor baby has a boo boo.
Once again Gabriel is going the route of entanglement devices and shows up to this fight sporting some sweet dreadlocks. Gabriel may have had the potential upper hand against Carbide on account of Carbide being a horizontal spinner and its weapon wasn’t high enough to hit anything other than Gabriel’s giant dumb wheels, but this time the fight is against a vertical spinner and the tip of Aftershock’s weapon is just tall enough to catch the underside of Gabriel’s chassis which results in the giant thwacker getting tossed around early on. Still, Gabriel is covered all over with HDPE so it’s able to take these hits without much issue and the robot is actually baiting Aftershock into hitting its chassis anyways because that’s where all of its entanglement ropes are hanging. The more times Gabriel gets hit the more its ropes loosen up and drag all over the place and after catching Aftershock from the side lo and behold one of the weighted cords gets sucked right into Aftershock’s weapon system.
Unfortunately for Gabriel the rope gets pulled into the side of Aftershock’s disc that doesn’t have the belt so rather than disable Aftershock’s spinner Gabriel has managed to do the Robot Wars equivalent of putting a baseball card in the spokes of a bicycle wheel. Ian Thomas tells Will that he’s got some shit stuck in the disc but Will is all “hey it looks like it’s still spinning to me fuck you dad” and goes in for another run at Gabriel this time hitting it hard enough to dislodge part of the armor and bust something inside of the massive plastic machine because Gabriel just totally dies. No more twirling, no more bouncing, no more swinging its goofy ass mace around. Nothing. The tip of Gabriel’s weapon is just barely sitting in Sir Killalot’s corner so I guess to the officials that’s “good enough” because Sir K cruises in and straight up cuts the robot’s dick off. Look, I know that you guys don’t circumcise over there — and nobody ever gets anything right on the first try — but holy shit this isn’t how you do it. Sethu Volkswagen laughs and says “he chopped the head off” because I guess making a dick joke with a women present is grounds for like three years of incarceration in Great Britain these days.
WINNER: Aftershock, KO
CRACKERS N’ SMASH vs. BIG NIPPER
Big Nipper, as you might recall, took an incredibly early exit in this heat by sustaining one blow from Gabriel’s mace and then keeling over all in the first ten seconds of its 3-way. Aside from outright forfeiting that’s literally the fastest way to get eliminated. Even fucking Donald Thump lasted longer than that and its weapon didn’t even work half the time. The upswing to being taken out immediately though is that there’s very little to do in the way of repairs; Graeme and his team had to change like one tire on their robot and then make sure their battle strategy for the redemption round did not include things like “getting hit on that same tire again”. Crackers N’ Smash though… man, god bless Crackers N’ Smash. Last series they got put up against Carbide in round one and this time around they had Aftershock to deal with. Both times resulted in Cracker’s weapon getting completely mangled and Smash being tossed around like a beach ball at some shitty outdoor rock concert. But much like last series the multibot isn’t going down without a fight so here they are in all their inadvertently hilarious and underweight glory.
Big Nipper’s got those interchangeable weapons but you might have forgotten about that because it seems the team is only really ever interested in using the disc. In any case Team Conker took note of this and reequipped Crackers with its ineffective entanglement chains which do very little to protect the robot from spinners and instead make it look like it’s desperately trying to get good TV reception. Big Nipper appears to have no real preference for who it attacks first as it seems to just go for whichever robot is closer. It starts out by trying to get at Smash, then Crackers comes over and gets in Big Nipper’s face and quickly loses one of its entanglement things in the process. Crackers appears to get high centered on the edge of the pit so Big Nipper changes targets once again and goes for Smash. Smash now looks to be having drive problems again so Big Nipper takes a pot shot at Crackers and blows apart the rest of its spinner chains.
Neither multibot is really effective in this fight and due to their diminutive weight they are easily overpowered and shoved around by Big Nipper. Smash is still dead over by the pit but Crackers is getting the business from its opponent and gets shoved into Sir Killalot’s zone which results in the giant robot knight mounting the tiny green robot and literally fucking it to death because once Crackers manages to pull the dick out of its ass and get free it just hobbles away with limited mobility. (That’s why if you’re gonna get into fisting or whatever you have to slowly work up to it, you can’t just go all in. Literally. The more you know.) So once again since the half of the multibot that Big Nipper was previously focused on is now indisposed it’s gone back to picking on Smash and getting some free hits on the crippled drum spinner. Big Nipper takes a few bites with its disc and with one particularly good hit — dare I say a big nip — catches the corner of Smash and throws it all the way up and into the goddamned ceiling lights. Nobody’s ever ruined someone this badly before, ever. Not even when Apollo was busy throwing parts of The Swarm out of the arena from the center of the field did they manage to hit the fucking lights, but Big Nipper’s got enough power stored in that disc that it can take 50 kg of shitty drum spinner and spike it hard enough to hit the actual fucking roof. Really makes you wonder how its fight with Gabriel could’ve gone if it didn’t shit its pants before Jonathan could even confess his Matilda fetish.
Smash is toast, as after receiving the ass beating to end all ass beatings the robot was actually ejected from the arena. This leaves only Crackers who’s still lurking around Sir Killalot’s CPZ because its guts have been forcefully rearranged and half its drivetrain has been broken. Big Nipper gets a little bit sloppy and takes some hits from Shunt and catches some air from the (newly repaired) floor flipper but really this fight is over and done with. Crackers teeters on the flame grill several times and seems to completely lose mobility when it’s on there. Big Nipper’s drivers notice this and one of the team members says to just let it burn. I was going to make a “Botwright? More like BOT WRONG lmao burned” joke but Jonathan also beats me to this by making a similar gag kinda like the “hat trick” thing so I’m just going to sit here, cross my arms, and be quiet.
WINNER: Big Nipper, KO
CARBIDE vs. AFTERSHOCK
With the redemption rounds out of the way we enter the heat semifinals where we’ve got a repeat of one of our Grand Finals match-ups from last season, Carbide vs. Aftershock. The last time these two robots met in the arena I distinctly remember Carbide shearing off one of Aftershock’s side panels and blasting it away with enough force that it embedded itself in the fucking arena wall. We’re about to see if history’s going to repeat itself or if Aftershock’s special bar spinner can do the deed against the current champion. Aftershock was originally sent packing by Eruption in its 3-way but had an easy-ish time trumping Gabriel in its redemption battle. Speaking of Gabriel however, say what you want about how totally goofy its design is but this machine held its own against Carbide and banged it up good enough that builders Sam Smith and Dave Moulds had to replace their robot’s wheels and even go as far as to have brand new batteries ordered, shipped to the venue, and assembled right there in the pits. All before this fight, and all because of the damage sustained from a robot whose wheels are as tall as a fucking house.
With these fights it’s going to come down to who can land the first major hit on their opponent on the appropriate place to disable them. When you’ve got two massive spinners like this exchanging hits back and forth there’s no box rushing or extra armor padding, it’s just whoever gets “that hit”. Aftershock charges at Carbide and gets bumped away and as Carbide tries to get its bar spinning at a reasonable speed the vertical spinner is right back in its face. However somewhere in this early exchange of hits Aftershock’s right drive wheel has either seized up or its motor died or something because the robot is immediately reduced to pivoting back and forth near the flipper. The guy in charge of the hazards doesn’t fire the flipper though because I assume he’s learned his lesson after what happened last time. With Aftershock’s mobility severely limited this affords Carbide all the time in the world to rev up its weapon and come in to finish the job.
Somehow Carbide manages to fuck this up though and rather than slice open Aftershock’s throat it gets this awkward glancing blow that spins Carbide around and opens its backside up to a free hit from its opponent’s weapon. I mean I know Carbide is not the most maneuverable robot in the heat but this is kind of a gimme here, just don’t touch Aftershock’s spinner. It’s not a hard concept. Carbide comes in for what looks like an attack directly on Aftershock’s crippled side but the vertical spinner pivots backwards and the robots meet weapon to weapon which hurls the champ into the air and also kills Aftershock’s spinner. Jonathan remarks that this is a “huge impact” not realizing that the meme is actually “huge hit there”. So close. Aftershock’s weapon is busted but Carbide’s is still going which means from this point we all know who’s going to walk away with a victory. Carbide beats Aftershock onto the pit platform where the robot finally stops moving. Probably due to the fact that their robot has been taking some serious hits so early in the competition, and because it’s honestly sort of a dick move to do otherwise, Team Carbide holds off on beating Aftershock while it’s down and let the officials count it out.
WINNER: Carbide, KO
ERUPTION vs. BIG NIPPER
Both of these teams are stationed side by side in the pits and Dara’s down there to give us the low down on how they’re both preparing for this semifinal match. As it turns out the two teams are in a bit of an arms race to play the world’s worst game of Limbo because they’re seeing “how low can you go” in regards to their robots’ wedge pieces; Eruption’s got the flipping arm and Big Nipper has the two wedgelets on either side of its disc. Eruption’s the robot currently on top here as it hasn’t lost any fights this series; in the heat 3-way Eruption took advantage of the confusion caused by Aftershock breaking the goddamned floor — again — and snuck in a quick flip on the vertical spinner which resulted in it flying out of the arena and consequently breaking even more shit on the way out. From that point it was just a matter of chasing down Crackers N’ Smash and chucking them like frizbees into the wild blue yonder. Big Nipper on the other hand was Gabriel’s first victim and pussied out after just a single hit, but managed to bounce back in the redemption round and humiliated Crackers N’ Smash in its own way by letting Sir Killalot sit on Crackers until it died from a lack of oxygen and by drop kicking Smash into the goddamned lights.
Before the match starts Jonathan flashes his hand by saying “Shunty McShuntface” which is such an old and unfunny meme that it shows he’s either completely out of touch with comedy or some retarded intern is writing these quips for him and hasn’t yet got the memo that cancerous shit from Reddit doesn’t belong on national fucking television. Eruption is the quicker and more maneuverable of the two bots in this match so right away Big Nipper is on the defensive and trying to drift around to catch the flipper from the side and get THEM NIPS, but instead Big Nipper’s front prongs catch the side of the fire pit and Eruption easily catches up and starts tossing its prey around. Big Nipper can drive upside-down but it can also self right and in its current configuration that’s the more desirable outcome because otherwise its disc is spinning downward and we ain’t gonna see THEM NIPS. Graeme drives a little too close to Matilda and gets flipped over near the pit trigger and I guess Big Nipper farts on it or something because the robot doesn’t even touch it but the button still activates which in turn fires off that goddamned Fog of War hazard.
Jonathan whoops and hollers about this dumb fucking hazard and then says he can’t see what’s going on. Yeah, no shit buddy. The fog clears and Big Nipper makes a bee line for Eruption’s face but glances off toward the side and fails to get any purchase with its disc. At this point it’s kind of hard to see it but if you look closely you’ll notice that Big Nipper’s front little wedge things have become all jacked up thanks in part to all the times it’s hit seams in the floor and been thrown at the wall courtesy of Eruption. Fuck it, I’ll also just go ahead and blame the bent up wedges on the Fog of War because like we need another reason to not like it. Big Nipper’s got nothing now and by this stage in the fight so little has happened that the editors have resorted to cutting to every conceivable person present to let us know that literally nobody is rooting for it. I mean, the disc is going but without the ability to get underneath Eruption’s chassis Big Nipper is basically just a sandbag and nothing of interest happens in the remainder of this fight other than Big Nipper narrowly avoiding getting dumped on by Matilda in the last few seconds. It goes to the judges but it’s pretty obvious who’s moving on to the heat finals.
WINNER: Eruption, Judges’ Decision
AFTERSHOCK vs. BIG NIPPER
Seeing Big Nipper in the third place playoff in this heat is something totally believable to me, but seeing Aftershock this low on the totem pole and scrounging for a last ditch chance at staying alive is just incredible. Had this heat not been populated with the literal first and second place finishers from last series I think things would’ve gone quite significantly differently for Will and Ian. But, in any case, here we are with former Grand Finalist Aftershock and Big Nipper vying for a place in the 10-way wildcard rumble. To repeat a common phrase on this blog, Big Nipper is this heat’s “solid 5/10”. It’s got a great weapon capable of doing some crazy shit so long as the team can actually hit something with it but the robot itself seems to teeter back and forth between being either really good or really bad. There’s no middle ground with Big Nipper. Aftershock is an absolutely devastating machine, however it’s not the greatest and due to a bad heat draw it’s already been beaten by both of the robots who finished ahead of it last series.
Right off the bat you’ll probably notice a major issue with Aftershock’s design and that would be that its front wedge is ever so slightly higher up off the ground than Big Nipper’s prongs. Aftershock has a couple of little metal pads of its own that ride the floor but they’re grouped very close to the center of its wedge and Big Nipper can easily just slide right into those DM’s and get those nips that we’ve only been seeing hints and teases of up to this point. Jonathan starts talking in that low voice that he uses when he’s clearly jerking off and with Aftershock’s gyroscopic forces pulling up one of its sides Big Nipper takes advantage of the situation, bites Aftershock, and sends both robots flipping in opposite directions across the arena. Aftershock skids across the floor on its wheels while Big Nipper has to writhe around to get back down onto its good side, but the early outlook of this match is that Aftershock might actually be fucked here.
The two meet over by the floor flipper and if you blink you’ll miss it but Aftershock’s weapon belt blows apart which isn’t very good news for the robot who is arguably behind on points at this stage in the match. There’s enough inertia left in Aftershock’s idling disc to help it bounce back onto its wheels twice after some light blows from Big Nipper, however after Big Nipper retreats to allow its disc to get back up to full speed again enough time has passed where what’s left of the residual energy in Aftershock’s weapon has dissipated. Aftershock’s got nothing but an ineffective wedge now and with one final nip Big Nipper sends its opponent twisting out of control and onto its back. Technically Aftershock is still fully mobile but because its disc is dead the robot has no way of getting back down onto its wheels and just like that the once great Grand Finalist fails to qualify for the 10-way redemption rumble and is eliminated.
There’s still Track-Tion though, built by a team which Will Thomas mentored, so who knows maybe this series’ only tracked robot can manage to do what Will’s crazy fucking vertical spinner could not. But that’s a story for another day.
WINNER: Big Nipper, KO
ERUPTION vs. CARBIDE
It’s only heat B but here we are with a bonafide rematch of last series’ championship bout! Now I’m not about to say that Carbide had an easy road to the title last time around but it certainly had a much easier heat where it had to deal with robots like Coyote, Meggamouse, Trolley Rage, and Crackers N’ Smash. All of those are decent robots in their own right but none proved to really be a match for Carbide and its stupidly powerful weapon. Dave Moulds made it through that heat by charging his robot’s batteries and playing Crossy Road on his phone or whatever, but this time around Dave’s journey to the top has been littered with robots capable of putting his machine in real danger. I don’t think anyone assumed Gabriel would have put up as good of a fight as it did against Carbide, but literally just after round fucking one Dave and Sam were scrambling to replace whole batteries and more inside their machine. Then, in the semifinals against rival Aftershock, Carbide sustained severe structural damage at the hands of Aftershock’s specially-engineered bar spinner. Needless to say, the champion has been on its toes from the very start this series. Eruption on the other hand has had a moderately simpler time making it to the heat finals. Sure, Eruption also had to deal with Aftershock but a lucky blow let Eruption toss it out of the ring without sustaining any serious damage. Against Big Nipper, Michael Oates needed to keep on his toes driving-wise but as long as Eruption’s front end was facing its opponent there was little Big Nipper could do because its front wedgelets were bent up and rendered its disc useless from that angle. If there was ever a robot this heat that could dethrone the current champ, it’s this one.
These two robots have already fought before. The drivers know what the other is thinking, they know their strategies. Carbide needs to juke around and get its blade going before it even dares make contact, and Eruption needs to floor it across the arena and get in there before that has a chance to happen. Carbide lands some glancing blows along Eruption’s front end as it rides up the slope, but as the spinner dismounts it catches Eruption’s side and just digs the fuck right in. This hit immediately disables Eruption’s left drive wheel meaning that we’re not even one Jonathan sentence into this fight and it has already tilted in favor of the champ. Eruption’s not fully out of the picture though because it can still drift and scoot around to move outside of its own circumference, which is how the Robot Wars officials determine mobility, so Carbide still has an incentive to finish the job.
Eruption starts absorbing all of Carbide’s incoming attacks with its face but doesn’t fire its flipper because in doing so that would just open the robot up to being smacked sideways at its weapon’s pivot point and, considering Carbide has already disabled half of Eruption’s drivetrain, this would probably break it. Michael knows he needs Carbide to make a grave fuck up because he’s down to extremely few options in this fight but sadly that’s just not in the cards for last year’s runner-up. Eruption pivots backward just a tiny bit too far, Carbide seizes the moment, and with one final cleave Eruption is sent spiraling backward totally dead. The judges count out the flipper, but keep in mind this isn’t the last we’ll see of Eruption because by making it to the heat finals and finishing in second place Eruption gets to join Big Nipper in that orgy of destruction later on in the series. Eruption might be down for now, but it’s far from out.
WINNER: Carbide, KO
I don’t think anyone here is really surprised by this outcome, but Carbide gets to join the ranks of Behemoth with its own place in the Grand Finals. It certainly wasn’t anywhere close to being as easy of a preliminary journey for the reigning champion as it was last year though, what with last series’ runner-up Eruption making a final stand, the punished Aftershock looking for revenge, and fucking Gabriel coming out of nowhere and causing an obscene amount of damage. But Carbide still rose to the occasion and is one step closer to making this a twofer. Eruption and Big Nipper — of all robots — still aren’t out however as they’ve got one last shot to make a comeback in the rumble that already includes series 8 champion Apollo and the unpredictable Sabretooth. Next time we’re moving on to heat C where Terrorhurtz looks to see if this series will be the one John Reid has waited two decades for. Rapid and its builder the guy from the Monopoly board make their return with a completely rebuilt robot that probably cost four times as much, the biggest bar spinner in the world known as Apex looks to make a proper comeback after an unfortunately early exit last series, and even though Aftershock is out of the contest the ghost of Will Thomas will continue to haunt the pits in the form of Track-Tion which was built by a team of students that he mentored.
That’s a wrap on The Update for this installment of Robot Wars! I’m really glad that I’ve been able to just isolate myself from the world and hammer these out because they are really cathartic in a way. When I’m not working on these articles I’ve still been busy making sure FEMA is doing their job and reviewing my case, which they fucked up and made a genuine mistake on that hopefully gets resolved some time before this goddamned year ends, and I’ve also been struggling to find a new doctor because I unintentionally found out that the one I’ve got has been skipping symptom questionnaires and filling in bogus information on my medical rap sheet. Never a dull moment in Draco Land! That said, make sure you’re following BattleBots Update on Facebook so that when new articles go up they will (hopefully) appear in your social feed. And as always it wouldn’t be an Update if I didn’t plug that PayPal link for one-time donations and the Patreon page. Things will be better someday, and I look forward to a future where I can write these articles from a place of ironic contempt instead of as makeshift therapy because my doctor isn’t doing his job.