BattleBots Beat: Some of This Might Go Badly

Senor Weaselo

Welcome back to the Beat, where we get severals, nay, fews of +1s on the Reddits! Good news, I haven’t gotten angry cease & desist messages from anyone, so… yay? Anyway, last time was the midseason roundtable where robots got together and yelled their opinions on this season. As for this week, Nelly is back from getting her face caved in, Deep Six is back from caving Axe Backwards’s face in (yes, that means something), and a potentially really good fight between Whiplash and Witch Doctor. No bonus fights for the foreseeable future though, the Science Channel episodes are on break until later in the fall where’ll they’ll pick up from the Desperado tournament. That makes my life easier since it means I don’t have to run on continuous fight delay, so that’s nice. To the fights!

HUGE vs. Gigabyte
HUGE: 1-1 (L, KO 1:36 vs. Son of Whyachi; W, KO 1:25 vs. Jasper)
Gigabyte: 2-0 (W, KO 1:24 vs. Chronos; W, JD 3-0 vs. Minotaur)

Robotic Death Company is back, baby! I mean, Megabyte’s been a contender in King of Bots, but this is the biggest competition going. And Invader shorted out and may still be spinning from the Bots Awaken rumbles way back in 2016. But Gigabyte’s 2-0 with a feather in the cap with a win over Minotaur, and a win over a second 2018 tourney bot would all but clinch a spot.

Meanwhile HUGE has to go up against a second big horizontal spinner, and Son of Whyachi wrecked their anti-horizontal wheels. So they needed to make new wheels that would still have a chance to deflect giant full-body spinner blows. And they did, and made them big enough to regain normal HUGEness. Plus they rewired the bar to spin backwards to try and hit the top of Gigabyte’s shell. There’s a chance this might not go well.

Both bots spun up, so then there was an even less likely chance it would go well, as HUGE came forward. And then Gigabyte drove backwards… straight into the wall? GO HOME GIGABYTE YOU ARE DRUNK. Or something. That was strange and probably not ideal for a full-body spinner. It did hit HUGE after that moment of madness, where Gigabyte got hot under the shell, smoking. So that was a, um, huge advantage for HUGE because now it didn’t really have to worry about the shell ripping the wheels up. So HUGE was the spinner to fear and Gigabyte had to figure out how to win the driving battle, how’s that for odd?

And Gigabyte was doing it fairly well, thanks to the sides being wedge-shaped. It was able to tank HUGE’s hits well enough to keep driving, and though the shell is weakest at the top it wasn’t losing massive chunks, just tiny chunks. It did take a fair few shots from the vertical bar, and the after-fight pictures especially show that, but Gigabyte was doing its damndest do control the fight. It was charging at HUGE and at least getting the redirect on the blows since some of HUGE’s treads on the wheels were coming off, minor in the scheme of things but it means something.

Gigabyte actually was on the upper hand of the best moment in the match, which was HUGE’s most hazardous. HUGE came for another strike with the bar but was unable to get quite the flush shot it was hoping for, and Gigabyte responded by using its mast and sides and was able to get an easy time of pushing HUGE, right to the screws. And because HUGE is as big as it is, it popped right over and had a wheel on the other side of the screws, and for a moment it looked like Gigabyte was to score a late KO via some great defense, a la the Brutus fight last year. But there was fancy driving on the other side to get HUGE off the screws as Gigabyte tried to keep pushing. And it started to smoke again as the buzzer sounded. Somehow Gigabyte’s had two fights go to the judges this year, but this one wasn’t going to happen. HUGE gets the win by unanimous decision (Judge Senor has it 3-0 HUGE in damage, 1-1 in aggression, and 1-1 because though Gigabyte controlled the fight for large portions that unforced error basically doomed it). Both bots go to 2-1.

Breaker Box vs. Uppercut
Breaker Box: 1-0 (W, JD 2-1 vs. Falcon)
Uppercut: 1-0 (W, KO 1:05 vs. Mammoth)

College kid rookies take on Jim Smentowski who’s been fighting robots since there were robots to fight with. If there’s a safety rule in the States for the arena, it’s probably due to a Jim Smentowski bot. Hercules getting torn up by Blendo is why there’s an arena with Lexan and not robots right up with the fans. Nightmare’s why there’s a ceiling and why everyone’s scared of rumbles. Breaker Box does not have that fortunately. And of course neither does Uppercut. They have a much-smaller-than-Nightmare’s vertical weapon. And both have minibots.

Durability would be a question in this one, as Breaker Box had its wedge lifter (rather than the plow) to tank hits, but it essentially died against Falcon and had to do the Breaker Box dance to have some kind of movement. We haven’t seen whether Uppercut is durable since its fight with Mammoth was pretty quick.

Also, moral of the story. Don’t headbutt the button. Don’t hurt yourself, just your opponent’s robot. Yeah, the kids did that.

Uppercut went wide and was able to use its weapon but started to tip, which meant that Breaker Box could push and shove and flip and roll. The good news for Uppercut is that it’s both invertible and/or has a way to get to its preferred angle so the weapon’s going the right way. The bad news it the gyro dancing meant that Breaker Box had most of the pushing going on, even if there was some damage to the bottom of the wedge. And the eyes on the wedge, those got taken off and there was much sadness.

Breaker Box was controlling the fight, and it was a lot of “decent shot by Uppercut, then Breaker Box would push and Uppercut would self-right or whatever it is,” because it works with those pegs keeping it relatively stable. But then Breaker Box started to smoke. And the drive died, maybe from the box-long runs where the wedge was the first thing hitting, since the wedge it at a low enough angle to get the opposing robot totally under. Maybe too far under. Maybe the plow would have worked better, I don’t know. Either way Breaker Box tried to do its lifter dance but that wasn’t flying, the judges knew it wasn’t moving and counted it out. So Uppercut wins by KO in 2:17 and moves to 2-0. And a kid in the stands gets backfisted in the gut by probably his brother. It’s probably wrong to laugh at that though.

Wan Hoo vs. Mammoth
Wan Hoo: 1-1 (W, KO 1:49 vs. Captain Shrederator; L, JD 3-0 vs. Shatter!)
Mammoth: 1-1 (W, KO 1:36 vs. Axe Backwards; L, KO 1:05 vs. Uppercut)

Well this one’s interesting. Take the biggest robot in the field and have it square off against one of the smallest robots. Honestly, can Mammoth’s spinner get to Wan Hoo? The “tusks” will need to come into effect. Also holy shit, that’s the coolest fire I’ve seen, if the spinner were faster it could be a flaming wheel of awesome.

Well from the beginning the tusks worked and they got under Wan Hoo. The spinner isn’t exactly effective, as we can guess, and basically just swatted it away. And it’s weird that it’s never fluid. Which meant that as it wasn’t moving then Wan Hoo could come in and work the body, work the tusks, get under and tear stuff up. Well, until it threw a belt and the weapon died, which gave Mammoth a great opportunity to do whatever it does. Push mostly?

It was basically Wan Hoo trying to ram against Mammoth trying to use the still working spinner to push, and it was semi-mixed results. Mostly not very effective, but there was one nice shot to get Wan Hoo to the screws. And on it went until whether from the repeated rams of turnabout being a thing Mammoth threw a chain. It went to the judges, who went for Wan Hoo by unanimous decision.

Apparently all three judges had it 4-3; 2-0 aggression for Wan Hoo hitting and running, 2-0 control for Mammoth, 2-1 damage for Wan Hoo for what was done to the tusks (the weapons cancel each other out). Yeah, okay. I said 1-1 for each instead because I again know nothing between 2-0 and 1-1 and what counts as aggression when you don’t have your primary weapon but I am not in the “Mammoth got robbed” community.

Son of Whyachi vs. Texas Twister
Son of Whyachi: 1-1 (W, KO 1:36 vs. HUGE; L, KO 1:46 vs. Whiplash)
Texas Twister: 2-0 (W, JD 2-1 vs. Black Dragon; W, KO 1:26 vs. Axe Backwards)

Now we get an old-school matchup, though I’m fairly sure Team Toad and Team Whyachi never crossed paths. If you told me it was Texas Twister at 2-0 and Son of Whyachi needing the win to stay relevant I probably wouldn’t believe you. And that win over Black Dragon looks even better for Texas Twister (no matter what you think about the outcome) because Black Dragon is in the tournament thanks to winning the Desperado. Michael “Fuzzy” Mauldin talked to Jenny Taft about why Texas Twister starts in what would be considered a reversed position, regarding contact points, and nobody is expecting this to go 3 minutes.

Considering the first blow after both bots spun up they were very right, as Texas Twister nearly bounced over the inside wall from how hard it landed on its tire. Instead it was on top of the screws for a moment, where it should have stayed. Because it came down back facing the hammers of Son of Whyachi which took the back plate off and bent a wheel and stuff was hanging out. So yeah, not three minutes. Or even one minute. Son of Whyachi wins by KO in 49 seconds, as yes, it still is lethal.

SubZero vs. P1
SubZero: 0-1 (L, KO 1:08 vs. Cobalt)
P1: 0-1 (L, KO 0:48 vs. Sidewinder)

After two seasons we finally get to see Aberrant Robotics in action! Do you remember Parallax? No? Well of course you don’t, they had two fights last and neither of them were televised. Neither was their first fight where they lost to Sidewinder in under a minute. Considering we’ve seen Sidewinder that’s probably not a good sign. Parallax wasn’t great either, losing to Basilisk and Double Dutch in the tag-team fight (you know, the one that got CGI’d to become a Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom commercial, and from what I heard, was probably the best part of the movie), and then losing to Ultimo Destructo. But at least they’re on TV, Ma!

SubZero’s on its last legs. Jerry Clarkin’s retiring after the season, possibly selling the robot, and cursed out almost everyone, including his driver, after the bot got torn up by Cobalt. Hey, you said yes to the swap, Jerry. Anyway, Kuai Liang has not done any better than Bi-Han so far if you can guess, considering Cobalt did its best Kung Lao impersonation. Because the disk is like his hat! …I’m gonna finish this now. But yeah, Jerry gave an extensive list of what got fucked up against Cobalt. Like the pneumatic ram, and the entire frame so the robot is on a new frame that’s 10 lbs. heavier and thus has no dedicated srimech, just the flipper. Basically everything except the arm was damaged, and 60% of the robot was a write-off.

Hey, we get our first televised flipper vs. flipper matchup since… BioHazard vs. Voltronic? No, BioHazard was a lifter rather than a flipper. So, T-Minus vs. Short Order Chef? Maybe? (Launchers are types of flippers, flippers are types of lifters, lifters are not types of flippers.) SubZero is the standard kind, P1 is the front hinge variety, most well known by Firestorm from classic Robot Wars. And it has a spoiler. Which if you ask me is hilarious. Oh, and the sparks out the back are deliberate, like an F1 car going over the curb. So if you see that, don’t worry.

The mighty wing falling off from the beginning of the fight was not supposed to happen by my knowledge, and neither was SubZero flipping it. And then again. And again. It’s not the Hydra/Bronco 10 feet kind of flips, but it’s 3 or 4 feet, and enough to keep the string going. There were 7 flips on P1, which show that those smaller flips give some control to get more flips. And the flips were still high enough to get P1 over and out of the arena. Well actually there were 8 flips. The 8th flipped P1’s minibot Burnout over and out. SubZero gets the win by KO in 2:06.

Deep Six vs. Nelly the Ellybot
Deep Six: 1-0 (W, KO X:XX vs. Axe Backwards)
Nelly the Ellybot: 0-1 (L, KO X:XX vs. Rainbow)

Yeah, there is a chance this one’ll go very badly. We’ve seen Deep Six’s bar in action now where it managed to break Axe Backwards’s drum open. Hell, it’s heavier than Nelly’s captain Sarah Malyan. We’ve also seen Nelly’s plastic shell in action, which is not a good thing being that it’s plastic and all. The Hardox steel wedge doesn’t suck, so if anything hits that it has a chance to rebound off it. Or much more likely, rebound off the shell and bad things happened. It’s a new shell with ANGRY NELLY! Determined to BONK. Also she has a lance-like thing in order to try and corral Deep Six, kind of like Bugglebots runner-up Limpet.

Nelly getting her lance stuck on the floor made it even more of a “this will not go well” moment. Because let’s give the hilariously large spinner even more time to spin up because the box rush failed because of a seam. So Deep Six got a hit which took off Nelly’s right ear which I’m pretty sure is illegal considering poaching laws. But that was nothing. And it did free Nelly to move so that way Deep Six could even it out and lop off the other ear. Into the lights. With enough oomph to have glass crashing down on the bots. But the fight went on, and Nelly went for the death or glory charge.

Oh it was towards the death end. Nelly got a lobotomy because her right side was gone. But Deep Six had toppled over from the force of the hit, which I think hit the wedge, hit Nelly, put Deep Six off balance, where it caught into the floor and made a Deep Six-inch long gouge in the floor and fell over face down. Deep Six couldn’t self-right from that, and Nelly couldn’t drive. Surprisingly the only reason was one cut battery wire, but that obviously counts. It’s a double KO!

As per the rules, that means it goes to a judges’ decision. That’s a pretty easy one then. Deep Six wins by unanimous decision in a 1:01 double KO and moves to 2-0. They’ll probably fight a robot that’s actually won a fight next, as Axe Backwards and Nelly have combined for zero.

Main Event: Whiplash vs. Witch Doctor
Whiplash: 2-0 (W, JD 3-0 vs. Minotaur; W, KO 1:46 vs. Son of Whyachi)
Witch Doctor: 2-0 (W, JD 3-0 vs. Shatter!; W, KO X:XX vs. Captain Shrederator)

Well this’ll be a good one, a battle of undefeateds where the winner is a shoo-in. The loser’ll have to win that fourth fight but should be a favorite in it. And Whiplash has had a hell of a schedule thus far. Witch Doctor’s has been slightly lighter but Shrederator is still dangerous, and again, it has hardware in the future. Witch Doctor has its plow setup instead of the wedge setup, possibly a bit of a surprise considering the plow and lifter on Whiplash. It’ll be a driving battle, because as good as Matt Vasquez is at the controls, Mike Gellatly’s no slouch.

Witch Doctor went wide and just missed, trying to go for Whiplash’s exposed wheels. It meant Whiplash could get under and try for a lift though they couldn’t get Witch Doctor all the way over. The bigger problem was Whiplash’s disk didn’t seem to be working, kind of an important detail, even if in the Vasquez family’s eyes Whiplash is a lifter first. The other bigger problem is that Witch Doctor was able to come back down and then take off one of those wheels and a piece of the plow. It’s always the plow.

And with that Witch Doctor could really take hold of the fight, keeping Whiplash on the run. Witch Doctor’s plow was working fine, and pushed Whiplash into the screws. And for most robots from the way Whiplash was in there, the fight would be over. But some excellent use of the lifter was somehow able to get the robot out of the screws. So Witch Doctor could push it into the screws next to it.

Whiplash was doing everything it could to stay in the fight, including a flip on Witch Doctor (where we finally saw the ribcage srimech in action) but didn’t have a chance to get back into it until Witch Doctor started smoking, probably the weapon motor since that stopped. But there was nowhere near enough time for Whiplash to take over the pushing match and come up with a big play. It went to the judges, who went for Witch Doctor, the winner and mover to 3-0, by unanimous decision.

With that, another episode down, and probably 5 more before the championship begins, let’s take a look at the undefeated bots.

3-0: Death Roll, Witch Doctor

2-0: Skorpios, HyperShock, Hydra, Bite Force, RailGun Max, Deep Six, Uppercut

1-0: Rainbow, Tantrum

That’s 11 robots. We know one will slip from the ranks tomorrow night, since the main event is Bite Force vs. HyperShock, and I’m obviously not sold on the 1-0 bots continuing that trend. So out of 8 bots, I imagine some of the 2-0s will fight each other. I’m not totally sold on Uppercut. I am sold on Deep Six being powerful and being something like this season’s HUGE, the lower seeded concept bot. Unless HUGE is this season’s HUGE again. And that’s nothing regarding all the robots at 2-1—Tombstone, Son of Whyachi, Cobalt, RotatoR, to name a few. It’ll be a crowded field for 16 robots, and the projections will start soon.

Before I forget, Tuesday marked the 20th anniversary of the first BattleBots competition in Long Beach. Well, the health and safety inspection parts. The fights were the 14th and 15th, in the kilobot (lightweight), megabot (middleweight), and gigabot (heavyweight) divisions, all double-elimination formats. Some brand names from the old days won hardware: Jonathan Ridder’s Ziggo won the kilobot division, the first of its three lightweight titles. Derek Young’s Son of Smashy won the megabot division, and as he was living in Vancouver at the time, it’s the first and only time where a non-US builder has won a BattleBots championship. And Carlo Bertocchini’s legendary BioHazard won the gigabot division, the first of its four BattleBots championships. Plus there were the three rumble winners, HammerHead, Deadblow, and Razer. Fighting robots has come a ways since then.

As for a look forward, I said the main event is Bite Force vs. HyperShock, round 3. Will Bales has to win one of these eventually, right? Maybe? We’ll see. See you next week!

Senor Weaselo
Senor Weaselo
Senor Weaselo plays the violin. He tucks it right under his chin. When he isn't doing that, he enjoys watching his teams (Yankees, Jets, Knicks, and Rangers), trying to ingest enough capsaicin to make himself breathe fire (it hasn't happened yet), and scheming to acquire the Bryant Park zamboni.
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I liked the Kawhi-Leonardesque bounces that P1 had before falling out of the box. That was an incredible fight for Subzero.


My reaction to the Texas Twister / SOW fight was basically “See all those wires in there? That’s why your robot never worked.”


Are these Reddit users with the +1s trying to sign up for DFO? We could use some users other than Russian bots…