Battlebots '21

So, anything going on in reality TV right now? American Ninja Warrior? Dancing With The Stars? America’s Got Talent? Masterchef? That other Masterchef? Is World of Dance even a thing anymore? So it’s just American Idol? Eh, stopped caring about that one even before ABC dragged it out of the ground. Okay, let’s try something a little different.

Battlebots is one of those fairly long-running competitions that I started following regularly only recently. The premise is simple: two powerful combat machines enter the arena and attempt to debilitate or otherwise disable the other. A robot loses once it’s completely immobilized or unable to show “controlled movement” (one of those subjective things you just need to watch and learn). If neither suffers such a “knockout” in three minutes, three judges decide the winner. The scoring is set up so that they have to give a definite nod to one or the other, and yes, this occasionally results in some very tough calls.

All right, everybody, cards on the table. Why I like this: Because honestly, there isn’t anything about it that I can say that I hate. The announcers, Chris Rose and Kenny Florian, demonstrate a quality I’ve rarely ever seen in the profession, restraint. Sure they crack bad jokes and belabor points more than they should, but they have a remarkable ability to ease off the gas just before it gets unbearable. I did not think that “a little annoying” was even possible in reality TV anymore, and they pull off that delicate balance perfectly. It’s truly remarkable to watch. As for the host, Faruq Tauheed… he’s great as his job. That’s all I got. He does exactly what a skilled MC should do, enhance the experience without making it all about himself. Crowd shots are kept to a minimum, and only if they have something interesting to look at. Backstage segments are to the point and pretty informative. But most importantly, there are no, repeat, no closeups of someone screaming directly into the camera. :grin: And this isn’t a new show, folks. There have plenty of opportunities to dive into the sewer, pick up any number of revolting, unbearable habits, and it never has.

I had a whole bunch of episodes saved up on my DVR in case I wanted to do something with them, and hey, no time like the present. We’ve never had a Battlebots thread before; hopefully I can stir up a little interest. (Incidentally, there’s no DVD release of any season…a search of “Battlebots” on Amazon only pulled up the toy line…so unless you have that one very specific streaming service, DVR is the only way you’re going to see these matches.)

All right, every season begins with a feeling-out period, where the contenders get to build their credentials for the tournament, the rookies get to put some experience under their belt, and past champions have to prove themselves all over again. This season (which I believe is actually the ’20 season), this part has been reduced from 4 to 3 matches, so the second-tier scrappers have less margin for error. The tournament being doubled to 32 entrants may have something to do with this.

Going to wrap up the OP here, and then once I’ve reviewed the first episode, I’ll get right to recapping.

I haven’t seen this since it was on Comedy Central 20 years ago. Is it the same show? I remember it got kind of boring when it became all about flipping your opponent onto its back.

Yep. I remember the flipping robots, and also one robot that was just a very low-profile mobile wedge.

Now they’ve got flamethrowers, blades that cut other robots in half, babybots that are used to distract and annoy and so much more. In a couple of seasons they will probably have lasers and explosives.

Battlebots is great if you can skip all the BS and just watch the fights. It has come a long way, if you get a chance I suggest you check out the first season or so, lots of creative ideas - even one that launched a net at its opponent, however most bots now are converging on some standard forms.

I’d love to catch the early seasons, but how? For some reason I can get the entirety of Fraggle Rock on Blu-ray, but reality shows only have crumbs at best. (I’ve been wanting American Idol to have something other than this “Best of” chickenscratch since forever.) I’m always at least a year behind the curve on any big technological advancement; hell, I didn’t even know what Instagram was until about a couple years ago. Is this a specific streaming service?

PRELIMS DAY 1 12/10/20

Sawblaze vs. Whiplash
Sawblaze’s main weapon is a pivoting arm with a saw at the end, and it has three forks on the opposite end which serve primarily a defensive role. Whiplash has the same weapon flanked by an armor panel on each side. I’ve always questioned the efficacy of saws, as the opponent isn’t going to sit still and let you slice pieces off of it. I actually think something like an ax or pick would make more sense. Anyway, the match is whole bunch of roughhousing with bumps and flips and shoves and sideswipes and very little actual damage done by either party. Eventually Whiplash develops some kind of mechanical problem, granting Sawblaze the victory. They all count.

Fusion vs. Madcatter
It’s a battle of two-fers, with Fusion sporting a horizontal and drum spinner while Madcatter has a vertical spinner and forks. Madcatter makes a hell of a first strike by sprinting out of the box and slamming into its foe headfirst. Dunno whether that’s sound strategy, but it sure looked impressive! (And in the end, isn’t that what truly matters? :slight_smile:) There’d be no hope of a comeback as after just a few shots, Fusion caught on fire and lost both weapons. Hung on bravely for a few more seconds, but just delayed the inevitable.

Malice vs. Axe Backwards
The big boys take the floor, Malice equipped with a heavy horizontal spinner, Axe Backwards with a huge horizontal drum spinner and…something on a hinge. Before the match the announcers ominously mention how Axe Backwards’ owner hasn’t had success lately, a trend which regrettably continued as it burst into flames and lost control precisely 7 seconds into the match. Two more uncontested shots put the nail in this coffin. Bad News Brown had stronger opposition than this. :woman_facepalming:

Bloodsport vs. Skorpios
Bloodsport sports a large three-pronged horizontal spinner, Skorpios a “hammer saw” and curved armor in the front. Skorpios managed to do some cosmetic damage and knock its opponent around a bit, which is the sum total of what went right for it this match. Bloodsport pounds it around, eventually damages some electronic component, and that’s that.

Lockjaw vs. Captain Shrederator
A wide-bodied wedge/spinner combo against a low-riding full body spinner. A bot where every part of it is dangerous should be dominating in theory, but FBSes have had a poor track record here. Apparently it simply does not bring enough force to where it should, i.e. on the opponent, meaning any bot with a sturdy enough weapon can take it out simply by trading hits. There were a promise of a good fight at the beginning with some pretty impressive hits, followed quickly by a promise of a dull slugfest when Shrederator stopped spinning and Lockjaw lost its spinner, and then largely despair all around as Shrederator simply crapped out. [beep] indeed.

Sporkinok vs. Rusty
Oh boy…it begins. :man_facepalming: Rusty! The inspirational do-it-yourself gritty, gutsy hero! Yes, this feisty underdog is indeed inspirational! And heroic! Truly only a fool would deny how gusty this feisty underdog of grit can heroically underdoggize the do-it-yourself…bah, humbug. Yep, straight from the Crap That Reality TV Inflicts On Us file, it’s the ludicrous amateur contraption that has zero chance of ever accomplishing anything, ever. Fortunately, in the prelims the producers are free to make whatever matchups they want, which means that they’re going to feed this complete joke three equally pathetic no-hope rattletraps to prevent it from looking like an utter failure and allow them to bang the drum of everyone can compete and you don’t need to be rich blah blah blah familiar story. Today’s offering is Sporkinok, which is every bit as lethal as you’d expect something named “Sporkinok” to be.

Haahhhh…let’s get this over with. Maneuver, maneuver, wave those forks a bit, more pointless maneuvering…aaaaaand Sporkinok stops moving, match over. I’ve seen better fights in the NBA. :angry:

Before we get to the next match, a quick word on stupid names (may as well deal with it now :grin:). Having worked in an environment with a highly diverse racial mix, I’ve had to deal with all kinds of strange and unusual names. However, I feel that there are still certain lines that should not be crossed, and one of them is that no more than two of the same letter at a time. On that note, the robot named Smeeeeeeeee…or is it Smeeeeee…Smeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee SEE WHAT I’M FREAKING TALKING ABOUT??? :woman_facepalming: Anyway, henceforth I shall refer to it as “Sm(e)”, with the parenthesis representing an indefinite number of the letter in question. Good? Good.

Sm(e) vs. Sharkoprion
All right, let’s get right to the point. Sm(e) is a wide band attached to two mobile boxes with little bitty saws on them, and the driver’s strategy is to wrap up the foe and…stuff. Sharkoprion, is a tube body mounted on two big tires with a head that…springs open. You see a lot of questionable concepts in early prelims, is what I’m saying. Anyway, they play pattycake for three minutes and do a bit of cosmetic damage. Holy cow, I’ve had more violent staff meetings. After judges Derek Young, Lisa Winter, and Jason Bardis perform their thankless task, it’s a unanimous decision for Sm(e). Y(a)y. :roll_eyes:

Main event - Endgame vs. Tombstone
Here are two machines which have done plenty of damage over the years. Endgame is a vertical disk spinner with precision-crafted front armor. It’s disk seems better protected than some of the VDSes we’ve seen here, which should make it tough to beat. Tombstone…well, about Tombstone. The great thing about it is that it’s simple and to the point. No cosmetics, no dead weight, no superfluous parts. Just a box on two wheels with one very heavy, very destructive horizontal spinning blade in the front. Simply put, any bot not controlled by an ace driver dead serious about the fight will soon find itself in numerous pieces. The not so great thing about it is that if the diver can somehow neutralize or circumvent its big weapon, it’s doomed, as it has no other offensive option and doesn’t have the bulk or horsepower to win a pushing duel. I consider Tombstone’s driver, the notorious Ray Billings, the Mike Tyson of Battlebots. If his opponent is afraid of him, doesn’t have a strong machine, doesn’t come in with a good strategy, isn’t focused, and isn’t experienced, he’s going to obliterate him. The more of those factors that are not present, the harder it gets for him. Ever since his triumph in ’16, defeating him has been the brass ring, the kingmaker. It’s been a long slow burn since then, with an increasing number of drivers seemingly figuring him out. Can he turn it around here?

Tombstone gets a glancing hit off of Endgame’s left panel. A weapon-to-weapon shot sends both machines spiralling away. Tombstone is facing the screws and…not moving? Endgame rushes in and…sends it tumbling out of the box! That’ll do it!

Damn. There’s no way to sugarcoat it; Ray Billings got his butt kicked. Right out of the gate, his prospects for a second Giant Nut are looking incredibly bleak. Endgame’s driver, Dan Barker, is elated; he’d called out Tombstone for two years, and to deliver this resoundingly has to be an indescribable high.

And that’s it for episode 1. I don’t see 2 on my list for some reason; will pull it up on VOD if I can.

Had it…lost it. VODing it. Let’s roll.

PRELIMS DAY 2 12/17/20

Ghost Raptor vs. Shatter
Ghost Raptor has long angled spinner. Shatter has a hammer and lots of shiny panels which are designed to “shear off” when they get hit, the idea being…hell if I know. Given that damage is the primary criteria for judge’s decisions, it seems like a bad idea in any case. Oh, look, it took a practice swing and several panels fell off, this is going to work out great. :man_facepalming: Shatter immediately gets things cooking by firing its hammer wildly, which throws it all over the place causes nearly the rest of the shin panels and a couple more pieces to fall off, while Ghost Raptor’s content to move around and not do much of anything, including spin. I’m pretty sure this was a Bugs Bunny cartoon. It ends when Ghost Raptor catches fire, both bots come to a dead halt, and Shatter is somehow able to get going again. Hare 1, tortoise 0.

Tracer vs. Ribbot
Tracer’s driver, Jason Woods, claims that his bot is one of the sturdiest in the field. Hey, remember all of Duck’s great victories? Me neither. Ribbot is this weird…thing which somehow manages to avoid completely embarrassing itself every season, and I see no reason for that trend not to continue. Anyway, two hits, Tracer’s flipped and…it can’t move inverted and has no righting mechanism. Yeah, real sturdy. :woman_facepalming:

Black Dragon vs. Kraken
Black Dragon, a sentimental favorite who won last year’s Desperado tournament, is currently sporting a double disk spinner, while Kraken has two grabbing fangs. It’s tough to use a lifter bot effectively; they don’t do heavy damage and, by rule, you’re only allowed to hold the opponent for 30 seconds. It also has fire, which…I dunno. It looks intimidating, but these steel constructs were made with fire; I can’t see it as a potent weapon against them. Kraken manhandles its foe for most of the match, suffering only a one lost tooth in the process; not a lot of real damage on either party. Predictably it’s a split decision, and it goes to…Black Dragon. Yeah, if your first match ends in an iffy decision, win or lose, you’re not accomplishing much that season.

Mammoth vs. Huge
“Oh sure, the fans see Mammoth as a big joke, but that’s fine as long as we get matched up against even bigger jokes!” It’s a big brown framework whose…weapon, I guess, is a long rotating club that doesn’t get all that fast. Huge has a vertical bar spinner, but its main features are the two massive wheels on the sides. It’s strange, they’re such big obvious targets but almost nobody can do any real damage to them. Both of these Goliaths have managed to hang around for a long time, and although unimpressive are not the kind of opponents you can laugh off. The match resembles nothing so much as a wrestling match between a pair of drunk veterans. Entertaining, but I certainly don’t want to be the person who has to judge this thing. Luckily it becomes academic when Huge gets a wheel trapped outside the box. Mammoth wins.

Claw Viper vs. Hijinx
Claw, horizontal spinner. Not sure what either driver’s strategy was, which naturally meant that it came down to which bot was a bigger pile of junk. That would be Hijinx, which stopped moving because reasons.

Preview of the competitors of the main event. They are making a big deal of Witch Doctor’s runner-up last year. A big, big deal. A big, big, big, big, big, big, big, biiiiiiiiig deal. Like, bigger than Mammoth and Huge put together. Witch Doctor’s co-owner, Andrea Galately keeps things in perspective, acknowledging that it was a great run but now they have a target on their backs. Hydra’s driver, Jake Ewert, however, is far less sanguine…he calls them overrated and their run a fluke. Harsh. Of course, with last season’s champion, Bite Force, out, it’s a wide open field, so this match could make quite a difference.

Extinguisher vs. Perfect Phoenix
Perfect Phoenix, a boring ‘ol bar spinner, is driven by an 11-year-old boy. He will be in way over his head most of the time but have brief flashes where he looks fairly competent, for which the announcers and fans will praise him to the moon, and he’ll leave with his head held high to the songs of a thousand angels and immediately vanish off the face of the earth. You heard it here first. Extinguisher is a hammerer with a not particularly impressive looking hammer. The match begins, Extinguisher takes one hit, and it stops moving, game over. Holy crap. :grimacing:

Main event - Hydra vs. Witch Doctor
Hydra is a big flipper who went 4-0 in prelims last year but got promptly bounced by Minotaur in the first round of the real contest. Witch Doctor, a compact double drum spinner, beat all comers besides the indomitable Bite Force. Hydra promptly gets to work, sending its enemy flying repeatedly and putting its “stoutness” to the test. As a rule flippers don’t the kind of massive damage a destroyer like Tombstone or Bite Force can, but what they’re really great at is controlling the match, as the opponent can’t answer while it’s flying out of control. Soon Witch Doctor is feeling the effect, getting unstable and smoking, and despite a few counterstrikes it can’t do any real damage to that flipper arm. Well, this one’s…

…Hydra is in trouble! It can only move in a clockwise arc; the right side wheels have stopped working! Remember, a bot has to show controlled movement, meaning it has to be able to move forward, back, left, and right, and right now it’s missing a critical piece of that equation. TEN! NINE! EIGHT! SE…and it just made a left turn. It is not a common occurrence to see a count stop, believe you me! And just like that time runs out, and this one extremely unexpectedly goes to the judges.

Now just so we’re clear, these judges are some of the soundest minds in the business. There has never been any talk of corruption or favoritism (unlike boxing, where it’s a shocker every time a decision isn’t horribly biased). These are good people doing the very best job they can. But sometimes it’s really close, and since “draw” is not an option, they just have to make the tough call. Just a friendly reminder that when subjectivity is involved, there will never be freedom from controversy. You just have to be glad that it’s legitimate controversy and not the usual meaning of the word, which is gross injustice. Anyway, it’s a split decision, like you even needed to ask, and it goes to…Hydra. Yeah, I have to agree with that.

This show’s tournament was my guilty pleasure. I was pretty impressed that the Kiwi’s one the final round, but that’s a pretty impressive machine. There are lots of things I love about the show and only one thing I don’t like: The fake soundtrack of 1000’s of people cheering and clapping when there’s probably about 50 people tops in the “crowd” (and that’s probably being generous.) I don’t think many might notice things like fake tracks/background noises, but I do because of having done some studio vid production.

Oh, and also: Does Kenny only own one suit or did they shoot all of these in 3 days?

Re. fake crowd noise: Eh, I can’t get mad over this. It adds to the atmosphere, it’s not excessive, and I don’t want to listen to silence. I’d welcome it in Dancing With The Stars, but not here. :wink:

PRELIMS DAY 3 12/17/20 (This is the date on my DVR…not sure how this fits with the last episode. It’s all edited, so don’t sweat it.)

Gigabyte vs. Copperhead
Contrast of styles: A full body spinner against a horizontal roller. Copperhead kicks things off with the Full Bore Head On Dumbfire Blind Screaming Bull Charge. You’d think any halfway competent fighter would be able to counter such an predictable assault pretty easily, but Gigabyte’s driver is too preoccupied with getting up to speed (that whole sucking-up-lots-of-energy problem with FBSs) to do anything but take the shot, and promptly loses its self-righter for his trouble. Gigabyte follows up its courageous stand by bouncing uselessly off the walls, as the self righter was also what enabled it to steer. Copperhead itself is a bit squirrelly, but is able to regain enough composure to deliver another a blow, this one ripping Gigabyte’s spinner rim clean off. :astonished: Which also flipped it over, and…yeah.

Jackpot vs. Sub Zero
An unusual “diamond” blade spinner which DID NOT COST A LOT! DID NOT COST A LOT! DID NOT COST A LOT! (Seriously, they flog this point to death over the course of its matches.) And a fancy flipper. There’s a clash, a lot of sparks, and Jackpot is finding itself pushed around. Sub Zero has it pinned! One flip could end it! One flip! One…and…something is wrong with Sub Zero. Aaaaaaand, it’s another mechanical breakdown (which this machine has an unfortunate history of), and Jackpot wins by failout. Dammit, you hate to see this happen to anyone. :frowning_face:

Uppercut vs. Gemini
Team Uppercut was a phenom last season, winning all 4 of its prelim matches in dominating fashion. The preview explains the secret of its success; in a nutshell, the notched disk allows it to get closer before delivering a hit, meaning more weapon contact and more energy to the target. Gemini is actually two identical machines (the combined weight of which cannot be more than 250 pounds). The track record of multiple bots is…pretty dismal. A half-size machine is of course that much easier to disable, and once they lose one, the other doesn’t stand much of a chance. Furthermore, this setup requires two ace drivers who can work in tandem. Their only real hope is to take the initiative quickly and do plenty of damage before the opponent can turn it around. Otherwise they’re pretty much toast.

The match: bam BOOM :boom: bap cha-clank bam POW :boom:. :man_shrugging: Life’s tough sometimes.

Beta (Pronounced “Beat-a”, as in “Beat-a you up-a”. I think.) vs. Rotator
Team Beta hails from Britain, and as you’d expect from stiff-upper-lip land, their bot is designed to give sudden bursts of force in the form of a hammer. We’ve already seen Shatter go a bit crazy trying to find the mark; here’s hoping that this crusher can keep things under wraps. Rotator is a horizontal grinder aiming for the midsection; we’ll see how effective that is against Beta’s angled armor.

The match begins. Beta pushes Rotator around. Rotator has trouble with control, catching its blade in the floor a few times. Beta continues pushing Rotator around. Still hasn’t used the hammer. Beta pushes and pushes and pushes, while Rotator’s powerless to do much of anything. Team Beta is conservative; they don’t want to risk losing their weapon arm to that deadly blade. More pushing, and more pushing, and more pushing…we’re under a minute to go, and…Rotator cuts off the hammer arm! Beta is weaponless without firing a single shot! Oh, if this goes to a decision, that’s going to be damning! Undaunted, Beta continues to push Rotator around and around and around and…yeah, not looking good for either bot.

Time. Rotator did more damage, Beta did more everything else. Dammit, this sucks. There’s going to be outrage at the decision no matter how it goes. :frowning_face: And…split decision, Beta. They accept their good fortune graceful (“We only lost this bit!”), so I can’t get resentful. There’s some grumbling in the pits, with some drivers claiming that use of the main weapon should be absolutely required for victory, a position I expect to gain tremendous support for at least five minutes, possibly as many as fifteen. :roll_eyes:

Valkyrie vs. Tantrum
Valkyrie sports a ground blade, while Tantrum…well, I’ll find out soon enough. It’s an all-out slugfest, meaning that it’s coming down to durability…and…yeah, Valkyrie loses its weapon early, and we’re about to get treated to two and a half minutes of garbage time. Tantrum’s weapon isn’t in a good position to deliver hits, but it means little as it has more muscle and gets to push Valkyrie around and around and around and yeah, maybe don’t let that happen to you if you want to win, hmm? :grin: Regardless, Valkyrie is…

Oh, you cannot be… :man_facepalming::woman_facepalming::man_facepalming::woman_facepalming: Tantrum stops moving completely of its own volition, loses. That’s another thing you can’t do if you want to win.

Trivia note: The driver of Big Dill, Emmanuel Corio, is from India and uses a unusual one-handed controller…a necessity due to being born without a right hand. Needless to say, I wish him the best, which in all likelihood will mean “not totally embarrass himself before failing to make the tournament”. Seriously, it’s a lifter. What the hell is anyone supposed to do with that?

Ooh, Kenny Florian just compared Ray Billings to Mike Tyson. Nailed it! :slightly_smiling_face:

Atom 94 vs. Big Dill
Atom 94 is another in a long line of drum spinners and should have the advantage here so long as it manages to land something meaningful. Which it doesn’t, as it immediately betrays drive problems, spinning in circles repeatedly, while its drum hardly builds any speed at all. Big Dill answers by pulling it around a bit, and oh god, it’s another Glass Joe-Gabby Jay classic, isn’t it? :woman_facepalming: Big Dill manhandles Atom 94 a whole bunch before they both come to a halt. The latter is impaled on the former; if the crew can’t get them unstuck, it goes to the judges, which I’m hoping for as it’ll mean the match is over. That’s the case, and Big Dill gets the unanimous nod.

Gods, are the judges going to have to justify their existence every freaking day from now on?? NOTHING they’ve ever done has been a MILLIONTH as egregious as what the NFL gives us every week! :angry:

Main event - Gruff vs. Hypershock
Man, everyone’s making a really big deal about Gruff almost not losing to Tombstone last year. It has two long arms and a big honkin’ fire generator. Hypershock has angled armor plates and, for this match, two vertical spinners. Hypershock takes the early advantage, landing some hard shots and knocking Gruff on its back. But Gruff easily rights itself with its arms and fires back with…well, fire. The thing about fire is that it can do some damage if it’s able to fry the delicate parts…electronics, circuitry, fuel source…but it’s tough to tell just how much damage it’s doing…and Hypershock’s weapon just ground to a halt. The rest of Hypershock soon follows. Quick shot of Hypershock’s driver, Will Bales, and man, it’s not a good sign when you’re completely whipped after your first match of the season.

It’s been an…interesting three episodes. Obviously we haven’t seen most of the real stars yet, and the producers want good contests as much as we do, so they’re going to give at least roughly even matchups. And frankly, I’m perfectly fine with letting down a Rusty or a Jackpot gently. They’re not going to make the tournament anyway, so why not let them give us a show?

Phew! Glad I got the ball rolling on this. I really needed to clear up space in that DVR folder. Will try to get one episode a day this week.

I’ve been watching BB every Thursday since around Dec when the 20-21 season episodes started airing. On some days they would rerun past episodes, and it was weird switching from audiences to no audiences. I used to watch way back when it was on Comedy Central, with Grant Imahara before Mythbusters.

I love this show! Usually I mute all the palaver, put sound on again for Faruq’s intros and the bouts, and enjoy the heavy metal carnage.

I’ve seen the whole tournament for this year (nope, no spoilers) and am now digging the new variant called Battlebots Bounty Hunter, wherein four pairs fight, the four winners are paired for another set of bouts, and those two winners duke it out for the right to take on someone like Tombstone for a goodly chunk of change to the winner/survivor. The new format works quite well.

Hey, thanks for all the positive responses. I wasn’t really sure how far I wanted to go with this, but now that I know there are fans here, I’m definitely going to keep going for the rest of the year. And I’ll have more detailed opinions and analysis in the future, but for now I’m just trying to get through the early episodes.

EddyTeddyFreedy - Glad you enjoy it! :slight_smile: I am eventually going to cover Bounty Hunters (which Discovery is now currently airing on TV after its original streaming platform run).

PRELIMS DAY 4 12/24/20

All right, here’s where we’re at right now. With three days in the books, it’s now time for some of the competitors to have their second matches. Some, understand, not all. And since this, like any other reality show, needs to excise some of the less entertaining matches (:roll_eyes:) to save time (:roll_eyes::angry::man_facepalming:), that means we’re going to be seeing some of these machines for the first time. And since they’re not posting records yet, that means some of the records are a mystery. I have the feeling a lot of them are going to remain mysteries, but let’s not dwell on that.

Tombstone (0-1) vs. Slap Box (?)
Slap Box sports neon-colored wheels, the team is a family affair, and the driver really hates that he has to take on a hungry Ray Billings right off of the bat. The weapon appears to be some kind of inverse flipper thing. Hoo boy, this will not end well. It starts off by tossing around Tombstone at the cost of both of its wedgelets, then promptly loses both its front tires, followed soon by its left rear tire. In a rare show of restraint, Billings decides that’s enough and backs off; Slap Box, unable to do anything but weak left turns, gets counted out.

Pain Train (?) vs. Slammo (?)
Pain Train has a long “rolling pin” style spinner, while Slammo is a heavy lifter (it’s owner claims it has a maximum lift of 1,000 pounds). The match begins, and…hoo boy, the learning process continues. Pain Train’s driver can’t control his machine at all; it keeps spinning out of control. This allows Slammo to get an easy grapple and…repeatedly lift itself up trying to raise its foe. After numerous it attempts…yes…YES…it does an amazingly weak throw which wouldn’t faze a 9-year-old judo white belt, which the announcers compare it to The Body Slam Heard Around The World! :roll_eyes:

OKAY, TIME OUT - Quick refresher, folks…the one critical factor into determining how much damage a throw does is speed. The faster the object is moving at the moment it hits the ground, the greater the impact, and hence the more damage done. There are a number of techniques which can maximize the speed of a throw, such as utilizing gravity by lifting the body higher or following the opponent’s momentum. However, the fact remains that simply lifting the opponent about a foot and feebly plopping it on the ground is never going to do serious damage. In fact, unless the rules specifically state that contact with the ground is defeat (like in sumo), such a maneuver is essentially worthless. In short, there’s really no reason to get all hyper over thoroughly unimpressive throws like what Slammo just did. Let’s keep things in perspective, shall we?

A bunch of bumper-cars later, Pain Train, which has shown zero effective offense so far, comes to a halt, and it looks like this one’s in the books. Incredibly Pain Train lurches to life on just the count of 2, but it dies for good just a few seconds later, and Slammo, down to one working arm, is victorious.

Perfect Phoenix (1-0) vs. Skorpios (0-1)
Skorpios holds back with the saw at first, not wanting to risk a clash against Phoenix’s whirling blade. It takes a few minor hits on its armor, and…the strategy seems to work, as Phoenix’s spinner is soon silent. Generally when one bot has a working weapon and the other doesn’t this early in the match, it’s all over but the bellyaching. It ends when Skorpios shoves its foe into the screws, where it remains until it’s counted dead. Equality, yo! :slight_smile:

Ribbot (1-0) vs. Madcatter (1-0)
Trivia: Madcatter’s driver, Martin Mason, is a loudmouth who blows a lot of smoke in prematch comments. Generally these are the types of competitors 1. I hope get creamed at some point and 2. usually do. Ribbot gets some nice hits in the beginning, but Madcatter fires back with a big tumbling shot. Ribbot loses most of its cosmetic face, which happens pretty much every time and I wonder why they keep putting those useless parts on. Madcatter flips Ribbot over! It can still move but its handling is severely compromised. And…both their weapons shut down, and we’ve just entered the “Break! Box! Break! Box! Break! Box!” portion of the fight. A bit of pushing, and…Madcatter’s weapon fires up! And gets another hit…which does little but flip Ribbot right side up. And Ribbot pushes Madcatter back, and…they get locked up. Will…no, disengage, more maneuvering. And…time. If nothing else, we got to see different flavors of ineffectual futzing around. Predictable UD for Madcatter.

Now a sneak preview of one of the most unusual entrants we’ve ever seen here, Chomp, a machine with no wheels whatsoever. It’s a walker, moving around via two rows of three jointed legs; perched atop it is a rotating turret bearing its weapon, a pick-hammer. (And some little torch thing, which I expect to accomplish precisely jack and squat.) By rule a walker has double the weight maximum of a normal bot, 500 pounds. This allows it to be as sturdy as a turtle, which is fortunate as these things are about as quick as one as well. Rose calls it an impressive feat of engineering, which I’m guessing is the only time the word “impressive” will ever be used in association with this cement-foot. (1-2, all decisions, almost no real damage dished out or taken, manages to avoid being a total embarrassment which counts as its “triumph”. You heard it here first.) Its first opponent is Gamma 9, a…wedge lifter? Oh gods.

Chomp vs. Gamma 9
Gamma 9 moves around a lot! Gamma 9 slams into the wall for no apparent reason! Gamma 9 goes for a lift! Gamma 9 lifts Chomp a few inches! Gamma 9 drops Chomp! Chomp fires the pick-hammer and misses! Chomp fires the pick-hammer again and misses again! Now Chomp is atop Gamma 9! What was that about these not being sumo bots? :roll_eyes: In the end, Chomp gets the nod by the score of Didn’t Not Do Any Damage to Did In Fact Not Fail To Do No Damage. Learning process! :woman_shrugging:

Malice (1-0) vs. Shatter (1-0)
Malice’s owner, Bunny Soriel, is going with a more compact spinner for this match, while Adam Wrigley of Team Shatter has switched to a shorter hammer arm. There’s plenty of fine tuning in this sport; making adjustments is simply a necessary part of staying competitive. (Got that, Ninja vs. Ninja schmucks? :stuck_out_tongue:) The first few seconds see several of Shatter’s panels fly off, but don’t worry, that’s supposed to happen! Then a weapon-to-weapon…and that certainly wasn’t. Shatter’s hammer head goes flying off, reducing the remainder of the weapon to ineffectual karate chops, but Malice also loses a belt and its spinner stops functioning. In valiant “Double Monty Python And The Holy Grail Black Knight” style, they whale away on each other with aplomb. The furious struggle sees both of them smoke a bit, and still they push and shove like stubborn rams. And that’s how it ends. If any fight deserved to be called a straight-down-the-pipe draw, this one did; honestly I wouldn’t be surprised by any decision. Splitter for Malice. Soriel is literally so joyous she’s crying, and…ooh, I have a feeling she’s going to regret calling out Tombstone.

Oh, take your medicine like a damn man, Wrigley. :roll_eyes: You lost a close one. It happens. Geez.

Main event - Endgame (1-0) vs. Bloodsport (1-0)
Featuring two of the heaviest hitters we’ve seen so far, this is definitely a match with tournament implications. The start is energetic, the two bots chasing each other and trying to get a favorable angle. After a few seconds, they say the hell with it and slam into each other headfirst. Bloodsport’s driver eases off, apparently trying to save energy or avoid burning out; Endgame gets hung up on the killsaw notches and can’t press the attack. Both get fired up again, and…it’s another head-on collision. A wepper (my shorthand for “weapon to weapon hit”…hey, I like this show, may as well get started on these now! :slightly_smiling_face:) duel is the most brutal type of fight there is and usually ends quickly, with the edge going to the team that prioritized durability. And…it’s Bloodsport. Endgame’s weapon slows down and it’s all downhill from there, first the weapon stopping, then a lot of smoke pouring out, and then half of the steering shutting down. An agonizing slow death. Well, minus the “slow” part.

I just recently ( 3 or 4 weeks ago ) discovered BattleBots and now I’m hooked. I’m not at all into ( read: I hate ) watching athletic competitive sports, but this kind of competition is thrilling. As a gearhead, the cool machines with all their diverse tech and cool mechanisms are interesting as all get-out. The strategies, and of course the bashing smashing banging mangling fiery fun.

Thanks for the superb battle synopses DKW.

Mrs. L and I watch it religiously. In fact, I got her a tee shirt showing the one that defeated Tombstone for Valentine’s Day. We skip over Faruq because the rhymes are just lame (do the teams write them?) and stick to the battles.

For what it’s worth, there was a UK version known as “Robot Wars.” I liked some elements of it better.

For one thing, the floor had a flipper and the pit of oblivion. Also there were “house robots” which were typically bigger and defended their corners. If you could push an opponent to the house robot, it was often bad news. And at least one year I think Jeremy Clarkson of Top Gun hosted.

Some of the better robots in there were named Hypnodisc (a horizontal spinner), Chaos 2 (a flipper), and Razer (had a piercing beak), but they may have been in earlier years.

IIRC there was one on an earlier Battlebots that had guns. Mrs. L and I had seen some that claimed you could shoot salt balls or balls, like this:

They had somehow mounted them flat on their side…packed a punch, but they weren’t devastating to the opponent’s bot.

And in case you didn’t know, you can buy miniature versions, fight with them, etc.

My WAG would be that robot fighting is a little like pro wrestling–there are colourful characters who want to look intimidating and/or unique entering the ring, though everybody knows they’re going to lose the accessories before the match, or shortly after it begins. If Ribbot’s opponent rips off the cosmetic face, but does no damage to Ribbot’s workings, it adds a bit of drama.

I enjoy Battlebots. I’m surprised at the skill that the operators display–I well recall trying to operate a friend’s RC car some years ago, and it wasn’t easy. The announcers add fun, and I don’t mind Faruq’s rhymes.

I am a big fan. You never really know how these matches are going to play out. I think Ray Billings is an arrogant jerk, but his robot is a dominant force. I really enjoy Martin Mason of Mad Catter and his WWF style in interviews.

His rhymes are a hoot and set the stage nicely IMO.

There are people out there that edit the broadcast down to only the fights and result announcement if it’s not a knockout. It’s not exactly legal, so I won’t link to anything.

As far as the designs, it’s way more diverse now than when Biohazard and Vlad the Impaler were rolling. Now the most successful bots cause destruction, rather than simple incapacitation. This allows more visually engaging matches, but also allows teams to choose the delivery method of said destruction.

But on top of that, you have crazy stuff to round things out. Mammoth, Huge, Smeeeeeee and plenty of others keep things creative.

I prefer Robot Wars, but Battlebots was always fine.

(Apologies if I get some of these name spellings wrong…I’m guessing most of them since Discovery Channel never bothers to actually put them on the screen. I know, I know, website. Sometime.)

Brickbat - You’re welcome! :grin: Honestly, I’ve been so completely burned out on reality TV that the idea of a show that isn’t full of irritating music, isn’t plagued with toxic personalities, isn’t hacked and butchered to within an angstrom of its life, isn’t UTTERLY WEDDED TO ANUDDA WUN BI DA DUS, is so completely refreshing that I have to take notice. In the land of the blind yada yada. Throw in plenty of honest, hard-fought competition, with plenty of explosive action and no injuries whatsoever, and hey, this is exactly what I need in my life right now.

Lobotomy63 - Thanks for the link. From what (little) I’ve seen so far, Robot Wars seems like a more gritty, primal contest, geared toward maneuverability and steadily chipping away at the opponents as opposed to flashy looks and big hits. It looks interesting. Definitely check out more of it when I have the time.

Re. Faruq. The really cool thing about him is that he mixes it up. Sometimes he can fire off rap battle-style rhymes, sometimes he’s laudatory, sometimes he goes into Michael Buffer hype up mode, and if appropriate, he keeps it simple, even going so far as to say the name of the hometown and nothing else. There are a lot of entries in this event and not all of them deserve a full-service kingly flourish. I’m pretty sure he gets at least some outside assistance, but he’s smart enough to know what works, so I don’t have a problem with that. Simply put, the man is a real professional and I’m glad he’s here.

PRELIMS DAY 5 1/7/21 (First episode that actually took place in ’21! Better late than never! :slightly_smiling_face:)

Claw Viper (1-0) vs. Black Dragon (1-0)
The speedy Claw Viper charges in head-on and misses by a good two feet as Black Dragon sidesteps. Black Dragon then gets the first hit which flips its foe around. And then some fire. And then a few more love taps and…Claw Viper comes to a halt. BUT BEATS THE COUNT!!..and is promptly rewarded with more punishment. A second count begins, and this one won’t be halted. You really need something more than “move stuff from one place to another” if you expect to get anywhere in this sport.

Jackpot (1-0) vs. Ghost Raptor (0-1)
Fun fact - Chuck Pinzer of Team Ghost Raptor is returning after a long hiatus. He’s been out so long that even a single win here can be considered a success. A mark that’s going to be extremely difficult to achieve if he continues fighting like he does here. He begins the match by turning his back to his opponent, taking a hit, then taking a second hit which knocks the blade completely off. And then gets partially split for good measure. More like Give Up The Ghost Raptor, am I right? :woman_facepalming:

Let’s take a look backstage. Hydra is going to face Huge today, and Jake Ewert goes on at length about the adjustment he’s making. He unveils it, and it’s…a guardrail. Huh. Hopefully the weight of that doesn’t compromise its defensive capabilities too much.

Sub Zero (0-1) vs. Grabbot (?)
All right, let’s see here…Grabbot has…hands. And a little chain attached to them. Beauty. The match is roughly 75% Sub Zero flipping its opponent a not-insignificant distance and 25% Sub Zero getting the flipper pointed the wrong way and tossing itself. Grabbot, on its end, does a fairly decent show of spinning its wheels and waving its arms around a bit. It’s a clumsy but still pretty quick knockout, all things considered. Logan Davis wildly celebrates beating the most freaking pathetic bot in the entire competition, which gives me flashbacks to some truly atrocious Street Fighter fanfics. Hey, if you need “A WIN! A WIN!” that freaking much, why don’t you take on a Roomba. Punk. :rage:

Hydra (1-0) vs. Huge (0-1)
Hydra, a flipper now sporting an extremely incongruous-looking Hugebuster Guardrail, takes on the perennial underdog that somehow never gets beaten up enough to put it out to pasture. Aaaaand we’re treated to three minutes of both machines being able to accomplish bolt-all and the announcers loudly cheering teensy little hits. Jeeziz, that clown hammer is getting the most action of anything in the box. Oh, and Ewert repeatedly ignores the referee’s command to back off. The buzzer sounds, and now the judges really have to earn their keep. My glasses are more banged up than either of those bots. :angry: Hydra wins by the score of Didn’t Get Tapped By The Clown Hammer to Did Get Tapped By The Clown Hammer. Ewert takes win #2 without suffering a scratch to his machine. Yeah. :+1::man_facepalming:

Jonathan Schultz, Huge’s master, has some harsh words…uh oh. Goddesses, this is bad. He’s griping about that guardrail. One thing you never do is complain about a certain tactic or method someone used against you, because now everyone knows how to beat you. Huge has always been something of a novelty, and its big-wheels-keep-on-turning style was never going to translate to dominance, but now it could be in for a very long, very cold winter. “Yeah, it kinda caught me off guard, but next time I’ll use my special spinner!” That’s what you say! Act like it doesn’t bother you! Protect your weakness! Any fighter worth his salt knows this, dammit! :man_facepalming::woman_facepalming:

Fusion (0-1) vs. Aegis (?)
Aegis resembles a low, wide helmet with a flipper built in. It’s designed to not take a lot of damage, which I hope does not mean what that usually does. The match begins, and…it seems both machines are having trouble getting going. Aegis can’t get its spinner going and is getting stuck on everything, while Fusion can barely move. Fusion’s spinner finally comes to life. First hit! And Aegis’ entire side comes off. Shouldn’t a bot with that much kevlar be a bit sturdier? Aegis is stone still, and Fusion’s driver debates whether to hit it again. He does. Aegis is dead and a complete mess now. Fight over. Boy, it’s great to see all these newcomers, so the producers can see how completely crappy they are and we never have to see them again! :woman_facepalming::woman_facepalming::man_facepalming:

Back in the pits, where there is plenty of fresh grumbling and groaning about Hydra’s win. Apparently this event is supposed to follow Super Punch-Out rules, where if the fight goes the distance, the win automatically goes to nastier-looking contestant. :roll_eyes: These people, man… :angry:

Lock-jaw (1-0) vs. Big Dill (1-0)
Both of their wins came over unimpressive opponents and they have to build on them if they’re going to merit serious consideration for the tournament. A cautious start, Lock-jaw getting a few hits but smoking a bit. Donald Hudson, Lock-jaw’s driver, eases off, and the smoking ends. Then a couple more hits badly bend Big Dill’s right fork. Lock-jaw’s spinner has been going on and off, and now it’s off; we have entered the “hoi hakkeyoi deadlock” part of the match…Big Dill is stuck on something? There’s a count!..which ends as Dill lurches away. I can’t remember a season where there have been so many stopped counts! The clock goes off soon after, and I’m not seeing any scenario where Lock-jaw doesn’t win. Sure enough, despite the usual “you never know how the judges will go!” from Rose, it’s a predictable yooner (Unanimous decision. Sorry, don’t feel like punching out that many syllables every time.) for Lock-jaw. Thinks are looking bright for Donald Hudson…that’s two unimpressive opponents trashed now! :grin:

Main event - Witch Doctor (0-1) vs. Kraken (0-1)
Kraken captain Matt Spirk blames his close loss to Black Dragon on a hydraulic hose that got loose, so he’s taken steps to protect it better and ensure that it can do several ineffectual chin-ups this time. You do you, champ! :+1: Witch Doctor gets a couple of nice hits before Kraken swallows it up and takes it for a ride. Uh oh, Witch Doctor looks wobbly; its handling has been compromised, allowing Kraken a second mouth-carry. And…this is one of those fights where it’s really hard to tell which side actually has the upper hand. Kraken has a strip of metal comes loose but still presses the very gentle attack…which is more or less how the fight ends. Another unenviable job for the judges. I never really noticed it before, but there seem to be a lot of machines here designed not to defeat the opponent so much as to fulfill the builder’s personal fantasies, with victory being just an occasional bonus. “Grr! I’m gonna eat you up! Gotcha! Ahhhh ha ha ha ha ha! You can’t escape from me!” And…it’s a yooner for Kraken! That’s actually surprises me a bit (but just a bit); guess control counts for more than we first thought.

The episode closes with a haunting shot of Paul Ventemelia and Bite Force, Battlebots titans who have smashed pretty much every other bot worth a damn and won something like six Giant Nuts. Their absence here is starting to loom large, as the machines that were supposed to step up and contend have fallen by the wayside, with Witch Doctor being the latest stunning collapse. Could an upstart like Uppercut run the table and seize the crown? With each day it looks more and more likely.