For this new season of Battlebots, The Young Folks’ music editor Ryan Gibbs and contributing writer Joey Daniewicz will be giving their impressions of each episode in our recurring feature Battlebots Chat. These will be a little more informal than our regular television, film and music reviews – after all we think it’s a little complicated to give a rating to something that we both consider to be a competitive sport as opposed to a game show or a reality television program.
Battlebots is a robot combat program that aired on Comedy Central for four seasons between 2000 and 2002 and then on ABC for two more in 2015 and 2016. In 2018, the show was revived by Discovery Channel,.
If you want the history on Battlebots and robot combat in general, SB Nation ran an oral history on the show’s first run in the late 1990s and early 2000s that is well worth your time to read. You can also read more about this season’s competitors over on the show’s official site. Also worth reading is Battlebots Update, which, like us, provides analysis of each Battlebots episode.
You can watch this week’s episode of Battlebots over on Discovery Channel’s website.
Joey: I enjoyed this episode quite a bit.
Ryan: I was not expecting the most memorable fight to be the one it wound up being.
Joey: It was more anticlimactic than I wanted it to be, but I lowkey think the title card was a foregone, unexciting conclusion no matter what.
Ryan: Yes, that fight was anticlimactic for a really weird reason we’ll get to soon.
Joey: But yeah! Really fun episode! Let us TEAR IN.
Fight One: Warrior Dragon vs. Rotator (W)
Warrior Dragon: Entered by Team Whyachi of Dorchester, Wisconsin, built by Terry Ewert and driven by Clint Ewert. Warrior Dragon won its first fight of the season against Chomp in episode 6. Team Whyachi are also the only team to have entered two robots in the tournament, the other being their famed Son of Whyachi. Warrior Dragon’s primary weapon is a lifter powered through kinetic energy by a spinning disc…
Rotator: Entered by Team Revolution of Doral, Florida and built by Victor Soto. Rotator lost its first match of the season against Petunia, but won an untelevised match to increase its record to 1-1 going into its fight with Warrior Dragon. Its primary weapons are two horizontal spinning discs, which have been switched out for a different spinning weapon for this fight.
Ryan: I really didn’t have a horse in this race.
Joey: I was not totally sure who won that when it ended. That was a very bizarre fight.
Ryan: One of two very strange fights of the night. They bookended the show. Rotator’s change in weapons had me intrigued.
Joey: That it….rotated the other way, right?
Ryan: Yeah, and that it changed from those discs to little blade things. Also, the hit of this match was that dumb drone wrecking itself on the screws. That was pretty funny.
Joey: LOL, FUCK DRONES.
Ryan: This was a very close match. Apart from the drone thing I wouldn’t say there was specifically a highlight reel hit in this one the way there was with others in this episode. Rotator and Warrior Dragon consistently traded hits, none of them were particularly splashy. There were a couple pieces from one or the other on the floor. And that was your fight.
Joey: Then they were both broken for half the fight.
Ryan: Yeah that was interesting.
Joey: I was like uhhhh. But yeah. Uh, not wonderful stuff. I don’t have really anything else to say other than that I’ve never been less sure about who’d win a decision.
Ryan: I believe this means Rotator has the better record of the two, because of one of those untelevised matches that didn’t even make it onto the Science Channel. Wonder if we’ll ever seen those or find out what happened in them.
Joey: I can’t imagine why. Rotator isn’t the most beloved of all robots.
Ryan: This fight was good, but in a way that doesn’t really benefit from being recapped in the way we write these things, huh?
Joey: It was also, in a few ways, kinda bad. But it was interesting.
Fight Two: DUCK! (W) vs. Reality
DUCK!: Entered by Team Black & Blue of Hillsborough, California and built by Hal Rucker. DUCK! won a rumble against Free Shipping and Mecha Rampage in its first fight of the season. Its primary weapon is a lifting plow with a spike designed like a duck’s beak on the front, but the real story of this robot is its tough, titanium body and superb ramming power. It is the closest thing to an old-school rambot in the tournament this year.
Reality: Entered by a consortium of four teams from The Netherlands and built by Tim Bouwens. Reality lost its first fight of the season against Sawblaze. Its main weapon is a drum spinner.
Ryan: So, was your #DUCKHYPE satistfied?
Joey: Sort of. I have to confess, it’s not going to be as reliably good as I thought it might be.
Ryan: It didn’t land any big hits, it didn’t neccesarily damage Reality, I don’t believe. All DUCK did was what it was designed to do.
Joey: F*CK a primary weapon. But yeah, uh, it kind of didn’t control its own destiny, which felt weird.
Ryan: DUCK lost a wheel and kept on going like it was nothing.
Joey: Did DUCK! get lucky?
Ryan: I don’t think it would have won the inevitable split decision had it gone to the judges, but Reality would have been in a tough spot too. Apart from that wheel, it didn’t noticeably damage DUCK in any major way
Joey: I mean, a wheel is kind of a big deal, especially for lack of anything else.
Ryan: Like I said, it kind of brushed off that hit though.
Joey: It did!
Ryan: Reality’s drum is pretty solid, but DUCK went straight at that thing and it wasn’t really hurt by it.
Joey: DUCK! is a missile.
Ryan: This fight reminded me of the last time one of Hal Rucker’s “titanium box and nothing else” bots, Whoops! took on a drum spinner. The fight where Touro Maximus, RioBotz’ larger version of Minotaur, launched it so hard at the protective glass that it NEARLY SHATTERED THE DANG GLASS. Go to 1:50 on that video.
Joey: Yeah. Damn.
Ryan: IDK how far DUCK’s gonna go because it has no real primary weapon to speak up, but if it can withstand a direct hit from Tombstone – which it has, by the way – it could make the Top 16 even if it winds up with a 2-2 record. But now it’s 2-0.
Joey: Hell yeah. Quack. So next is your favorite robot…
Ryan: Wait no, we got to talk about how Reality just up and died for no reason.
Joey: Oh. Yes, that happened.
Ryan: It was..spontanious I’d say the fight was pretty even. Like, I said, would have probably gone to a judges decision and it could have gone either way. But then. Boop, done.
Joey: Yeah it just kind of happened. I don’t think it was particularly even. Duck was surviving, but was way behind.
Fight three: Hypershock (W) vs. Battle Royale with Cheese
Hypershock: Entered by Shenanigans & Co. of Miami, Florida and built by Will Bales. Although it performed impressively in 2016, Hypershock lost its first fight of this season when it was torn apart by Bite Force in 36 seconds in episode three. Its primary weapon is a dual blade set up in a drum spinner-style configuration.
Battle Royale with Cheese:Entered by Team Poor Life Choices of Oakland, California and built by Miles Pekala. Battle Royale with Cheese lots its first fight of the season against Tantrum. It is shaped like a hamburger, with a horizontal spinning blade shaped like a piece of bacon. If you can’t guess, neither of our writers particularly like this robot.
Ryan: Joey, this week was really awful, due to horrible events outside this coverage that, as a journalist, really hit home for me. And you know what? Hypershock ripping Battle Royale with Cheese a new face was exactly what I need to see after a hard week. it was cathartic.
Joey: So do you think A. they don’t have a weapon that can actually speed up, B. they have a weapon that takes way too long to speed up, or C. they have two fights in a row fucked up their weapon? Cuz that thing was gonna do zero damage, it was ridiculous.
Ryan: Allegedly, their weapon spins faster than Megabyte, but they’ve just never got it to work. At all. But even if their weapon was at full speed, I have doubts whether it could have dealt with Hypershock. That thing is so fast.
Joey: Hypershock is impressive, and man, they went for it.
Ryan: Hypershock messed up that burger’s whole scene. By the time this fight was done it looked like what would have happened if Justin and Griffin McElroy had done a Monster Factory to a Wendy’s Baconator.
Joey: Hypershock hit it once. Then kept deciding to Double Down. Wow, sorry I don’t know what came over me.
Ryan: No, no worries I loved seeing that burger all wrecked.
Joey:If it actually got its weapon working would you still hate it that much?
Ryan: No, because I hate jokebots. You get to hate all robots with flamethrowers, this is my thing. Also I loved that the minibot that just got destroyed. “Shorter Pounder” is arguably a much worse pun than “Battle Royale with Cheese”
Joey: It’s not even a good pun.
Fight four: Witch Doctor (W) vs. Blacksmith
Witch Doctor: Entered by Team Witch Doctor of Miami Beach, Florida and built by Andrea Suarez. Witch Doctor lost its first fight of the season against Yeti in episode 2. The robot’s main weapon is a vertical spinning disc
Blacksmith: Entered by Team Half-Fast Astronaut of Edison, New Jersey and built by Al Kindle. Blacksmith currently stands at 1-1 going into this fight, having already lost against Bite Force and won against The Four Horsemen. Its main weapon is a hammer with a flamethrower inside the head.
Joey: Well, wow.
Ryan: I was not expecting this to be the most dramatic fight of the episode.
Joey: So you know those charts for sports where win probability is charted from moment to moment?
Joey: This probably had the greatest sum of overall change in Battlebots history. Not really sure what would even come close.
Ryan: Talk about a fight though
Joey: Witch Doctor, for most of this, looked better than it ever has.
Ryan: Witch Doctor couldn’t attack Blacksmith from the front because of those spikes Al Kindle had installed, so it got the sides and back and did some real solid damage. Blacksmith just never really seemed to get that hammer working
Joey: Yeah, it seemed unable. But yeah, the thing is that it’s very hard to knock out Blacksmith, and it works amazing as just a ramming tool.
Ryan: I think it had a lower accuracy in this match than Chomp did last week, and Chomp straight attacked a wall in that one.
Joey: To be fair, Chomp’s hammer worked last week.
Ryan: Blacksmith is very durable though. Can take a lot of hits. You remember the Minotaur fight right? The one that got nearly 6 million views on Youtube?
Joey: Really? Whaaaaat how.
Ryan: 5,848,915 views.
Ryan: The fight was great + Battlebots doesn’t air in Brazil, does it?
Ryan: Now back to Blacksmith vs. Witch Doctor, we gotta talk about the last 20 seconds When Witch Doctor, who is winning the fight, is driven onto the screws by Blacksmith. And when I say “onto”, I mean, like, wedged all up in them. It’s being counted out. A real heartbreak for that team…and then holy shit, Andrea Suarez manages to get her robot out of there and back fighting. I’ve never seen anything like it.
Joey: It was the greatest comeback of all time…followed by a totally opposite miracle. I believe it was counted up to seven.
Ryan: I think so? And I wasn’t surprised by that judges decision. The screws hit was the only big thing Blacksmith really did all fight.
Joey: Neither was I. I was wondering if they might go the other way but I wouldn’t have agreed.
Main event: Bronco (W) vs. Lock Jaw
Bronco: Entered by Inertia Labs of Sausalito, California and built by Reason Bradley and Alexander Rose. Bronco won its first fight of the season against Bombshell. Its weapon, as always, is its extremely powerful pneumatic flipper.
Lock Jaw: Entered by Mutant Robots of San Diego, California and built by Donald Hutson. Lock Jaw currently stands at 1-1. It won its first fight, against Bombshell, but lost to End Game in its second. It’s primary weapon is a vertical spinning blade and two grappling claws..
Ryan: So how about this one? They hyped it up by digging footage of the 1999 Long Beach pay-per-view that pre-dated the Comedy Central series out of the archives. Nice to see old stuff on TV again.
Joey: I thought Lock-Jaw had almost a zero percent chance of winning this in the first place. Then it was worse than that. But yeah, nice to see the rematch.
Ryan: So….what happened here?
Joey: Both bots went insane.
Ryan: It looked like both robots had something unexpectedly wrong happen. Radio interference?
Joey: Lock-Jaw worse than Bronco.
Ryan: If I was in charge of the show, looking at the way these robots were acting, I would have considered stopping the fight.
Joey: Yeah, it was pretty bad.
Ryan: It’s really hard to gauge this one, because I feel like we got maybe 25% of the fight we would have gotten if everything was okay.
Joey: We got some satisfying flips, though. One was like insanely high.
Ryan: Yeah, Bronco definitely put on a show despite the issues. That one super high flip was awesome, as were a few of the other high flips.
Joey: But yeah, I think Lock-Jaw is butt and I think they can maybe do better.
Ryan: I’m surprised by how much you don’t like Lock Jaw. What’s changed this year with you from past Mutant Robots designs?
Joey: Mostly just its own apparent futility. I’m used to MR succeeding, so seeing them sticking to something that demonstrably does not work is disappointing.
Ryan: My major problem with Lock Jaw is that it feels like another vertical spinner to me
Joey: How much can that grappling tool even do?
Ryan: Remember how cool Diesector was with its hammers and its jaw? That’s what i’d rather see.
Joey: Yeah. Not only is it bad, it just feels derivative, with its most original feature mostly being useless.
Ryan: I guess Donald didn’t want another repeat 2016 where his bot did good in fights but it kept losing judges decisions because the scoring was against him. It isn’t anymore. He should have kept the jaw.
Joey: I got nothing.
Ryan: Well, maybe we can talk about the episode’s opening, which starts with Chomp right on its side in that test chamber thing
Joey: I don’t even remember that. Remind me.
Ryan: It opened the sketch where Will Bales drove a cardboard box around?
Joey: I vaguely remember that. I might have been kind of not paying attention haha
Ryan: It was Yet Another Goofy Battlebots Sketch
Joey: I can’t wait to buy the collection on DVD.
Ryan: Oh, before we go, here’s Inertia Labs’ take on those control problems in the Bronco / Lock-Jaw fight.