Sorry. Had to make it.
Welcome back to the Beat, and welcome back from the break! Everything’s all caught up now, Shark Week has come and gone, though the last Sharknado movie isn’t for another couple weeks, and it’s not even by the original writer. (Fun fact: We went to the same high school. Funner fact, I am rooting for Lin-Manuel Miranda, Bobby Lopez, and Thunder Levin, all alumni—yes, the writer of the first Sharknado movies is named Thunder, what of it—to collaborate on Sharknado: The Musical. I would watch the ever-loving shit out of that and the tickets would probably be easier to come by than Hamilton. I still haven’t seen Hamilton.)
Where was I? Oh yeah. So from here on out it’s the old schedule, ten more weeks of BattleBots until the Giant Nut gets decided. But to start it off, a special event, the Desperado Flash Tournament, a tournament for teams down on their luck or with something left to prove to get a chance to prove it. Teams threw their hat into the ring if they were overly concerned about their robot’s chances to make the big dance at the end, and from that group the producers chose eight robots to duke it out. At stake, an automatic bid into the championship tournament at the end of the season. As for the losers, this would count as one of their Fight Night fights, giving them one fewer chance to impress who they needed to to claw their way back in. Let’s take a look at the bracket:
So we have a wide array of teams. Some teams had won a couple fights but felt like due to the competition they were fighting, or the fights they had had, the wins weren’t enough. This would be teams like Gemini, Double Dutch, and to an extent Valkyrie. Others had lost some fights, or in Gigabyte’s case, one fight, and this tournament served as a Hail Mary to their tournament hopes, like Kraken, Hypothermia, Lucky, and Lock-Jaw.
Onto the fights!
(6) Gemini vs. (3) Lucky
Gemini: 1-0 (W, KO 2:43 over Kraken and Mohawk)
Lucky: 0-2 (L, JD 3-0 to Skorpios; L, KO 1:34 to Son of Whyachi)
The 3-6 matchup pits another one-fight robot taking on a robot with a couple under the belt, except the wins are flipped around. Gemini’s only fight of the season was a rumble against Kraken and Mohawk, though Kraken was a non-factor in that one. The twin spinners only won that fight because Mohawk’s reliability issues reared its ugly head at the worst time. (Seriously, it has to be a Bales family thing at this point.) Meanwhile, Lucky has been anything but. They got cut down by Skorpios in their first fight, and smashed by Son of Whyachi in their second.
As the fight started, Lucky looked like they hesitated for a second, as if they were figuring out where to go. This was strategic as the thing about fighting a multi-bot is you have to be extremely aware of the area. So the red Gemini robot strayed too close, and Lucky went for it. Then the black robot came, and Lucky went for that one. And for the first minute it seemed like the pair would come one at a time for some odd reason, which was fine with Lucky who could come in and toss the smaller robots aside, including a flip off the wall.
Lucky also made sure to use the arena, mostly keeping its back near the wall to prevent being outflanked. The referee actually reminded the team that they had to show movement once or twice, because hunkering down does not count as moving, obviously.
The fight started to turn after Lucky’s flipper jammed. After flipping robots one by one, something happened, which meant that the flipper’s flipper, its primary weapon, was out of commission. Sensing this, they turned around and used the rear of the robot. And it was at this point that both Gemini robots started to simultaneously attack. And they did a little bit of damage, gashing that rear armor and damaging a wheel.
But it turned back after a problem that’s plagued both multibots this year struck again: friendly fire. In the rush to hit Lucky the Gemini bots hit themselves a couple times. And then one lost its weapon functionality, the horizontal disk, as a result. The other lost its function after hitting Lucky. And with all three weapons out it moved to the shoving match portion, and do you think the two 124-lb. robots or the one 250-lb. robot would have the advantage in that situation?
So Lucky used its rear to push both of its opponents around. And actually, the red one looked like it was out cold, but because 60% of the robot by weight must be immobile to be considered a KO, the fight was still on. Yeah, I still don’t love that they adopted the RoboGames rule. The Comedy Central era rule was that a majority of the robot by weight must still be mobile. I don’t know what would happen if, in theory, one twin was out, and then the other lost, say, the wedge at the back. It that enough of the robot to make 60% out? I think these are important questions. Either way, Lucky pushed around the black Gemini bot for the end of the fight, where the judges picked Lucky as the winner by unanimous decision, where it would face Gigabyte in the semis.
(8) Kraken vs. (1) Lock-Jaw
Kraken: 0-2 (L, KO 2:22 to Sharkoprion with Deviled Egg; L, KO 2:43 to Gemini with Mohawk)
Lock-Jaw: 1-2 (W, KO 1:53 over Bombshell; L, KO 2:01 to End Game; L, JD 3-0 to Bronco)
Ah, yes, the 1-8 matchup, “nothing to lose” vs. “I have to make this seeding look justified.” The “nothing to lose” bot would be Kraken, who has fought twice, but hasn’t gotten a one-on-one fight since they’ve both been rumbles, and lost both of those fights by KO. The pneumatic crusher hasn’t been effective at crushing, and if anything the teeth have fallen out at times. Lock-Jaw, meanwhile, has had a weird season. The quick KO win over Bombshell had nothing working right for Bombshell, and at that time everything looked fine for Mutant Robots. Then their luck turned in the fight against End Game, where they looked to have gotten around to the Kiwi’s flank except then they got one of their lifting arms caught in the killsaw well, so it was End Game that had the shot lined up and Lock-Jaw couldn’t recover from it. Then the Bronco fight neither robot was at full form, for reasons I think we still don’t know. So a weird, slightly cruel 1-2 record puts Lock-Jaw in more dire straits than expected, even though Chris and Kenny think that another win would put them at a strong enough 2-2 that they’d get one of the last spots. Risk vs. reward.
Like any 1-8 matchup, the fight naturally started with Kraken getting the upper hand and wait a minute. Yes, Kraken got the first grab, and it was near the weapon area for Lock-Jaw, so it was as good of a start as you could hope for, even though it looked like the crusher was unable to get one of the chains and do damage. And Kraken was actually the speedier bot at first, as Lock-Jaw especially wanted to get to the back and try and get under and flip Kraken, which is neither invertible nor can it self-right. Lock-Jaw was able to start getting around and take Kraken to the rails but the weapon wasn’t doing much damage. If anything Kraken’s was being slightly more effective, getting its teeth around but just missing one of Lock-Jaw’s tires due to the gap between the teeth being too wide.
It remained a close fight until Lock-Jaw finally got to the side it wanted. They finally got behind and with their weapon combination overturned Kraken. Matt Spurk yelled to get hit again for the hope it would put Kraken back on its wheels, but in a last-ditch single-elimination tournament? No chance. Lock-Jaw escapes to the semis with a KO in 2:25.
(7) Double Dutch vs. (2) Gigabyte
Double Dutch: 2-0 (W, JD 3-0 with Basilisk over Parallax and Bale Spear; W, KO 2:04 over Gamma 9)
Gigabyte: 0-1 (L, KO 1:09 to Tombstone)
After we saw Ultimo Destructo take its first loss of the year against Axe Backwards (in a fight that was filmed after this one, the tournament was filmed before Episode 10 apparently), Double Dutch is currently the “wait, how are they undefeated?” leader in the clubhouse. The tag-team fight is again best-known as the Jurassic World commercial, yada yada yada, and the fight with Gamma 9 didn’t make TV either so it couldn’t have exactly been an all-timer. It hit Gamma 9 and lost its top bar, for starters. On the other hand, Gigabyte’s one and only fight was entertaining albeit disappointing, but they return with properly-made, correct alloy aluminum, so that’s a start.
Double Dutch rightly went for the box rush because letting Gigabyte spin all the way up would be a mistake. Unfortunately it led to them losing a wheel. And then they lost a second shortly after. And then they lost their bottom bar. Then they lost the top one and got flipped over from the force of Gigabyte’s spin. Gigabyte went for one more shot, sending both robots flying, and Gigabyte pinballing a bit and eventually landing on top of Double Dutch, actually damaging that pipe on top. They could still get up from it, and good thing because this fight was over. Gigabyte wins by KO in 1:29.
(5) Hypothermia vs. (4) Valkyrie
Hypothermia: 0-2 (L, KO 1:27 to Whiplash; L, JD 3-0 to Minotaur)
Valkyrie: 1-1 (L, KO 2:04 to Ultimo Destructo; W, KO 1:54 over Predator and Bale Spear)
It’s been a surprisingly tough season for Team Toad and “Fuzzy” Mauldin. They got jumped on by the upstarts that is Whiplash in a surprising KO, and then fought Minotaur coming off of a loss to Tombstone. They survived the bell but you can argue they were in as bad a shape as when Blacksmith survived the bell, and they were slightly on fire when that happened. Meanwhile, Valkyrie has shown that they can be a powerful robot, doing damage and taking wheels off Bale Spear, but they can also be unreliable, like when their weapon came off and they got high-centered on it against Ultimo. Oops. So really anything could happen in this one. Valkyrie went with their two-toothed disk spinner, appropriately named Dr. Tooth.
Valkyrie immediately got sparks from hitting the plow on Hypothermia, but that’s the plow’s job. So they came via the side, and that shot tore up a tire and flattened the other one. But, from the recoil Valkyrie lost its weapon function. It quickly became a pushing match, and if both robots were fine this would be Hypothermia’s kind of fight. But it wasn’t fine since one wheel was tattered and the other was askew, so they didn’t have much to push with and Valkyrie didn’t want to push too much. I understand why this fight got highlighted.
It went to the judges who deemed that the damage done early in the fight was enough, as Valkyrie took the unanimous decision.
Well, all that and we got chalk in the quarters. Onto the semis!
(1) Lock-Jaw vs. (4) Valkyrie
Lock-Jaw went for a different configuration for this fight. Whether it was the “second” Lock-Jaw I don’t know, but they went for a more defensive approach, reverting to one of the lifter arms, a rear plow, and lighter vertical disks. To counter, Valkyrie went with its bar spinner, named Spirit of Boston. Yes, each of its three weapons have a name, I went over them earlier this season.
The fight began and Lock-Jaw came rear first to try and stop Valkyrie’s questionably reliable blade. After four hits they managed to do one better. The Spirit of Boston broke, a phrase I wished I could have said this past weekend,
and Valkyrie was in serious trouble as they could still spin, but spinning around half a weapon bar means that the weight distribution is all fucked up. Oh yeah, that’s what I meant that it broke. I mean, in two pieces.
From there, the wily veteran used the arena to help ease along the rookie Valkyrie’s self-destruction. Okay, and the disks took off one of the armor bits. Either way Lock-Jaw wins by KO in 1:32 and moves to the final.
(3) Lucky vs. (2) Gigabyte
Gigabyte re-welded their srimech pipe, but it’s a little shorter now due to the piece breaking off against Double Dutch due to landing on it. Lucky didn’t escape its fight unscathed either. It took some damage around back, the flipper jammed so they re-worked it for this fight, making it more of a chucker than a flipper (Chris Rose called it a “puncher”), and a new big wedge up from to try and keep its weapon away from Gigabyte’s spin.
Lucky charged with the box rush and sent Gigabyte pinballing a bit. They met in the middle, and both robots met and were both fine, though Gigabyte was popping up a little. Lucky got a legit lift in, throwing Gigabyte, which bounced around a little as it spun. Sensing on this Lucky charged again as Gigabyte tried to stabilize and flipped Gigabyte. Gigabyte tried to self-right, but its pole broke again, which meant now they had to find a way to spin themselves right around while spinning like a top. They might have been able to do it but they were too close to the sides, and the screws and the walls didn’t help matters. They were counted out, and it was Lucky making its way to the finals, winning by KO in 1:07.
(3) Lucky vs. (1) Lock-Jaw
Winner gets an auto-bid! I do think it’s possible for Lock-Jaw to get in if they lose this fight; they’d be 3-3, and the losses would be to three teams in or virtually in the tournament, so they’re not devastating losses. But, better to remove all doubt, right? For this fight they went to the “Bronco configuration,” which is just the normal configuration. Lucky went for that big wedge, though it’s their last big wedge so that’s part of it.
Lock-Jaw got under the wedge quickly and after a second run put Lucky into the wall. Lucky responded with a flip, but since Lock-Jaw is invertible it’s not as much of an issue. From here it was nip and tuck in the middle of the arena. Lock-Jaw was steadily controlling the fight but couldn’t seem to get that big shot in. But it was getting enough little hits here and there, which led to Lucky’s left side drive jamming. And then Lock-Jaw could go for the kill, and get some of those bigger hits. But Lucky was still moving. However, as it wasn’t considered sufficiently controlled translational movement, they started getting counted out. So your winner, by KO in 2:46, the Desperado Flash Tournament champion, and first entry into the BattleBots World Championship is…
Lock-Jaw! For their efforts, they also get a Giant Bolt to go with the approximately eleventy bajillion Giant Nuts that Donald Hutson and Mutant Robots have thanks to Diesector and Karcas 2 and Tazbot, which won one of the royal rumbles, that counts. (Did they give out Giants Nuts for the NPC Charity Open? I don’t actually know.)
Next week, we’ve got a doozy. The champ Tombstone is in the main event taking on Whiplash. Though this sounds like a mismatch, it was Whiplash, not Last Rites, taking home the silver medal at RoboGames 2017, losing to Original Sin (who else) in the final, and judging by the clips, the champ will indeed be in for a tough fight. The bonus battle will be Gemini, fresh off getting tossed around by Lucky, taking on everyone’s new favorite apex predator, Sharkoprion.
On the Science Channel after BattleBots is now the new seasons of Robot Wars. Which makes Senor a happy chappy when he gets out of rehearsal, except for one thing. Who the fuck did they get to do the voiceover, and why isn’t it Jonathan Pearce? And why is their only limited Dara O’Briain and Angela Scanlon? Actually, like no Angela Scanlon. They got some random dude! We could have had this:
There has to be a Robot Wars drinking game, right? Every time Jonathan Pearce says “armament” when he means “armour,” take a drink. If you watch a full season you’ll have cirrhosis!
All right, that does it. See you next week!