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: This was a fun episode! Lots of good stuff.
Ryan: Yeah. They really heavily promoted the Minotaur/Blacksmith rematch. 10 million something views their first fight had.
Joey: They kept saying 100 mil. Which would be, uh, wrong.
Ryan: Actual official Youtube upload: 6.3 million. Impressive, but not the wild number they had.
Fight One: Red Devil vs. Valkyrie (W)
Red Devil: Entered by All Black Robotics of Cambridge, Ontario, Canada, built by Jerome Miles of Spanish Fork, Utah and driven by Ravi Baboolal. Red Devil has a 2-1 record going into this fight. Its weapons are grappling arms and a vertical saw blade on a movable arm.
Valkyrie: Entered by Questionable Designs of Cambridge, Massachusetts and built by Leanne Cushing. Valkyrie has a 1-1 record going into this fight, plus a loss and a win in the Desperado Tournament. Its weapon is a horizontal spinning disc.
Joey: Red Devil got messed up and would have gotten messed up even worse if Valkyrie had been controlling well. Not sure what the deal was there.
Ryan: Red Devil has been driven well this season and in this fight it just fell apart. Figuratively and literally, in this case.
Their tank tread just left.
Joey: Oh yeah, that was funny. They maybe focused on that a LITTLE too much.
Ryan: Yeah they made it into a comedy bit.
Joey: And they’re SUPER at comedy.
Ryan: As for Valkyrie. It did pretty well here. I want to like it more than I actually do. That horizontal saw did some good damage here
Joey: Yeah, I’m not really a fan. It seems like it might make the knockout rounds, huh?
Ryan: It’s 2-1. It needs to win its next fight to get in the tournament, and if it does that it will be a surprise entrant in the round of 16.
Fight Two: Gigabyte (W) vs. Brutus
Gigabyte: Entered by The Robotic Death Company of Escondido, California, built by John Mladenik and driven by Brent Rieker. Gigabyte has a 0-1 record going into this fight, as well as a win and a loss in the Desperado tournament. The robot is a full body spinner, which means its entire spinning shell acts as a weapon.
Brutus: Entered by Team Brutus of Somerville, Massachusetts and built by Adam Bercu. Brutus has a 2-1 record going into this match. Its primary weapon is a vertical spinning disc.
Ryan: There were a couple really violent hits in this fight. One that sent both robots flying in different directions for instance. Never a dull fight when a full body spinner is in it.
Joey: Honestly, Brutus looked like it could take this. The wedge did reallllllly good.
Ryan: Yeah, if it went to the judges, Brutus would have probably won
Ryan: It was really fast. It kept Gigabyte in check in terms of not letting it get top speed. And then it all ended for them because they couldn’t self right
Joey: Gigabyte got under them literally once, and then it just flipped over. I hadn’t even thought it could end like that. All the fast little vertical spinners like Brutus usually work upside down, right?
Ryan: Yeah or they have enough energy to flip themselves over.
Joey: This was actually a pretty good fight. It was kind of a shame for it to end like that.
Fight three: Bite Force (W) vs. Bombshell
Bite Force: Entered by APTYX Designs of Mountain View, California and built by Paul Ventimiglia. The 2015 Battlebots champion has a 3-0 record going into this fight. Its weapon is a vertical spinning disc.
Bombshell: Entered by Chaos Corps of Atlanta, Georgia and built by Michael Jeffries. The 2016 Battlebots runner-up has not had as great of a season as its opponent, going into this fight with a 0-3 record. Its weapon is a vertical spinning saw.
Joey: Bite Force looks like one of the top three scariest bots going into the knockout round, yeah?
Ryan: Oh yeah. Far and away the top vertical spinner + a wedge. Maybe even the best robot of that design in the entire history of Battlebots.
Joey: Bite Force got its Bronco on.
Ryan: Yup, first ring out of the season not by Bronco. This fight was over in seconds. Bombshell, for the record, finishes this season 0-4, and they arguably looked worse than Chomp this season. At least Chomp took it to the judges every time.
Joey: And Bombshell had EXPECTATIONS.
Ryan: Bombshell was the runner up last year! Arguably that felt like the flukiest thing, but still! They were contenders last year!
Joey: I mean, another thing that felt fluky was Bite Force beating Tombstone. Two bots in this fight with a lot to prove.
Ryan: Yeah but at least I was impressed by Bite Force in season 1 at some people. Never once was I impressed by Bombshell in season 2. But! I get why people thought Bite Force was overrated before this season. Especially with how back its last season was. And now it’s finished 4-0. Undefeated, automatically in the tournament.
Joey: I’d seed it way up there.
Ryan: The only robots I’d have ahead of it are Tombstone and Bronco. Maybe Minotaur.
Joey: I wouldn’t have Minotaur ahead of it. Agreed on the other two.
Fight four: End Game vs. Son of Whyachi (W)
Son of Whyachi: Entered by Team Whyachi of Dorchester, Wisconsin, built by Terry Ewert and driven by Luke Ewert. The former Battlebots heavyweight champion is 2-1 going into this fight. Its weapons are three horizontally spinning hammers laid out in a triangular shape.
Joey: So this was ridiculous.
Ryan: Absolutely nuts.
Joey: What’s there to even say?
Ryan: It was shorter than the Bite Force fight
Joey: I thought SOW was out.
Ryan: Two really excellent robots in this fight too. I really like End Game, and it’s a shame it’s ending its season 2-2.
Joey: I was kind of mad! They should have showed the slow motion while focused on End Game. I wanted to see what it looked like as its guts collapsed.
Ryan: SOW BROKE THE GLASS. This fight was over in 5 seconds. They hadn’t even gotten rid of the clock yet.
Joey: Has the glass been broken before?
Ryan: Nightmare broke the roof once by putting the piece of another robot through it. It’s why all the rumbles got canceled in the final Comedy Central season.
Ryan: This is the second time that SOW has decimated a really good vertical spinner this year. Monsoon was the other
Joey: What’s SOW’s record now?
Ryan: 3-1. It’s almost certainly in the tournament
Main event: Minotaur (W) vs. Blacksmith
Minotaur: Entered by RioBotz of Rio de Janiero, Brazil, built by Marco Antonio Meggiolaro and driven by Daniel Frietas. One of the most popular and feared robots in the show, Minotaur currently stands at 1-1 for the season. Its main weapon it an extremely loud drum spinner
Blacksmith: Entered by Team Half Fast Astronaut of Edison, New Jersey and built by Al Kindle. Blacksmith is 1-2 going into this fight. Its weapon is a hammer with a flamethrower in its head.
Ryan: So did this live up to the hype to you?
Joey: Hahahahahahaha no. Blacksmith’s little front-end adjustment made sure of that.
Ryan: Yeah there was a little less damage in this one. Not the piece-by-piece playout that their first fight had.
Joey: And it was never Blacksmith’s fight. I never really feared that he was about to win.
Ryan: Neither did I. Honestly, I kind of feel like this overhead giant hammer set-up is outdated in robot combat now. Not many of the robots doing it now have really impressed me.
Joey: Not a fan! Minotaur deserves better.
Ryan: Even robots from people who did well with them before. Like Chomp? Aside from Zoe Stephenson, Jascha Little – the dude that built The Judge – worked on that hammer. Beta was of course the Killerhurtz guy. And you know? Beta is probably the one hammer bot that really works well. Gave Tombstone a tough fight at least. But it’s not here this season. Only Blacksmith is.
Joey: Yeah I’ve long bemoaned hammers. I just don’t think they’re good!
Ryan: They were really good 20 years ago. Now they’re not. I also don’t love that Blacksmith’s hammer is a fire one.
Joey: When’s the last time a bot got knocked out by the pulverizer?
Ryan: Last week? Ultimo Destructo?
Joey: I don’t remember that for whatever reason.
Ryan: I mean, It was a funny one. It broke apart like a Kit Kat bar.
Next week: Tombstone will have its final regular season match! Will it go 4-0? Find out next time!