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.
Note: We skipped episode 15, which was a “USA vs. the World” exhibition card, because those fights did not count for the tournament.
Ryan: So what were your thoughts about this episode? I think we only have one more before the tournament starts.
Joey: We only have three tournament episodes? I’m kind of not happy about that.
Ryan: Thereabouts. They padded the episode count with that international fight episode that had fights that didn’t count in it. Forgive me, but when I found that out, I decided to skip it and listened to Phish all night instead. You watched that international episode though. What were your thoughts on it?
Joey: It was unnecessary and mostly boring. The final fight was very close in a judge’s decision that could’ve gone either way, but that’s about it.
Ryan: Captain Shredderator won a fight I heard?
Joey: Yup! Don’t remember who.
Ryan: It won and you don’t even remember who to. That’s pretty funny.
Fight One: Warhead vs. Whiplash (W)
Warhead: Entered by Team Razer of Poole, England and driven by Simon Scott. Warhead is 3-0 going into this fight. Its weapon is a dinosaur head with a crushing jaw.
Whiplash: Entered by Fast Electric Robots of Newbury Park, California, built by Jeff Vasquez and driven by Matt Vasquez. Whiplash is 2-1 going into this fight. Its weapon is a vertical spinner mounted on a lifting arm.
Joey: I dig Whiplash! I’m not as big a fan over Warhead but respect it after this season. But yeah, we saw its limits.
Ryan: Whiplash was not a robot I was thinking about going into this season, but now it’s one of my favorites.
Joey: My third favorite bot in the episode, doing cool stuff. What its record now?
Ryan: 3-1. Warhead is too after that fight.
Joey: But I think Whiplash has more impressive wins.
Ryan: but man, I dunno how I feel about Warhead getting into the tournament, even with a 3-1 record, over End Game or Duck.
Joey: Interesting to note that the final sixteen will all be chosen by committee, meaning 3-1 bots with easy schedules might not make it.
Ryan: It has never impressed me this season the way that other 3-1 robots have.
Joey: Yeah, I’ll be interested to see if there’s any surprises in the bracket. I assume Whiplash is in.
Ryan: Oh yeah, Whiplash has gotta be in after that It did really well in this fight. Vasquez figured out all of Warhead’s weaknesses and went right at them.
Joey: I hate flamethrowers and they shouldn’t be in this competition.
Ryan: Well, we got a lot of flamethrower action this week lol.
Joey: Battlebots is mostly a good spectator event because of intertia and physical interactions. Flamethrowers provide absolutely none of that and are just a shiny dumbass thing.
Ryan: I don’t think the flamethrowers are as egregious as Team Razer having Warhead for over 15 years without adding a self-righting mechanism to the thing. Put a piston at the top for goodness sakes, or weight one of the wings.
Joey: It looked like they KIND of had something if they timed it right, you saw it rocking back and forth?
Ryan: Yeah, that probably has more to do with Warhead’s weird design than it being a true self-righting rig.
Joey: Still hate flamethrowers though!!!!!!
Ryan: Well speaking of flamethrowers, we got the most useless ones up next.
Fight Two: Reality (W) vs. Mohawk
Reality: Entered as a shared entry between four robot combat teams from the Netherlands and driven by Tim Bouwens. Reality has a 1-2 record going into this fight. Its weapon is a spinner drum.
Mohawk: Entered by Euclid Robotics of Miami, Floria, built by Korey Kline and driven by Max Bales. Mohawk is 0-2 going into this fight. Its weapon is a crushing beak.
Ryan: Mohawk is not a good robot.
Joey: Mohawk is like if Petunia was bad, and Petunia already isn’t that good. Mohawk is bad enough that they might actually send Reality through.
Ryan: I was going to say that Mohawk was Razer if it was made on Junkyard Wars, but yeah, same idea. Reality was impressive in this fight though!
Joey: It was! I do think it helped, though, that its opponent was a complete sitting duck,.
Ryan: Mohawk just didn’t do anything at all in this fight aside from let Reality smash itself into it over and over again.
Joey: Yup. I don’t think it was hard to look impressive in this fight.
Ryan: No, really any robot could have done Mohawk in here.
Joey: Even the burger.
Ryan: I wouldn’t go that far.
Fight three: Free Shipping vs. WAR Hawk (W)
Free Shipping: Entered by Team Special Delivery of Oakland, California and built by Gary Gin. Free Shipping is 1-2 going into this fight. Its weapons are a flamethrower and a forklift.
WAR Hawk: Entered by Western Allied Robotics of Seattle, Washington and built by Rob Farrow. WAR Hawk had a 2-1 record going into this fight and its primary weapon is a vertical disc spinner.
Ryan: Hi Joey, I heard you like flamethrowers.
Joey: Hell yes. Remember how hype you were about this team, Ryan?
Ryan: Yeah. :(
Joey: Ugh, this felt good.
Ryan: I was like, “Gary Gin’s one of the best drivers in this sport. I can’t wait to see what Free Shipping does.” And, um, hmm…
Joey: Just seems like a bad design. Not sure what it could have really done.
Ryan: The problem is that Gary’s best known robots is basically a box with a wedge, and he can’t enter those kinds of robots in Battlebots. So he had to stick a bunch unnecessary stuff onto it. like Original Sin, which is Free Shipping without all the forklift gubbins, did this to Tombstone/Last Rites
Joey: Sad. But yeah, seeing its shit on the front just absolutely torn from its body
was very satisfying.
Ryan: Thing is, you can’t say this fight wasn’t entertaining. I had a blast watching this, more than the Minotaur fight after it, even. And part of what made it so entertaining is that Gary Gin and Free Shipping kept going. Never once did it seem like Free Shipping was going to be knocked out.
Joey: This was probably the fight of the night, yeah.
Ryan: It fell apart in the ring, sure. It had its forklift basically chopped off of it. But it kept driving. Mostly into walls, or in one case, the Battlebots sign.
Joey: Oh yeah! That was great. I never really realized there was a physical sign in the arena.
Ryan: I never realized that it could be unplugged by a robot driving into it. Who puts a sign like that internally into the box side of the wall?
Joey: Especially when that box has had some stuff happen in it.
Ryan: War Hawk got some great hits in this match, but I don’t know about in the tournament. It’s another 3-1 robot that really hasn’t distinguished itself to me.
Joey: Who are its wins?
Ryan: Axe Backwards, Overhaul, Free Shipping. Its loss was Brutus.
Joey: Yeah, that’s not a very strong trio of wins.
Ryan: There are a lot of wedge and a vertical spinner robots this year. I’ve made that observation nearly every week. And I don’t think War Hawk is a better robot of that design than End Game, which has a worse record.
Joey: Who are End Game’s losses again? TOMBSTONE, and also…?
Ryan:Not Tombstone. SOW and Bite Force. Two of the best robots in this season.
Joey: Pretty solid losses. End Game is amazing. Yeah I hope we see it again.
Fight four: Witch Doctor (W) vs. Overhaul
Witch Doctor: Entered by Team Witch Doctor of Miami Springs, Florida and built by Andrea Suarez. Witch Doctor has a 2-1 record going into this fight. Its main weapon is a vertical spinning saw.
Overhaul: Entered by Equals Zero Robotics of Cambridge, Massachusetts and built by Charles Guan. Overhaul had a 1-2 record before this fight. Its weapon is a grappling claw.
Ryan: We forgot about this fight, and talked about it after we talked about Minotaur. Because, like, it’s one of those fights that’s all down to one hit and it wasn’t a super dramatic one either. Witch Doctor was extremely impressive though.
Joey: So what’s WD’s track record now?
Ryan: It’s one of the 3-1 robots
Joey: Its one loss was to…..Bite Force?
Joey: Same thing. Either way, solid loss.
Ryan: Yeah a totally acceptable robot to lose to/
Joey: It could make it in! Lord knows the show is in love with it.
Ryan: I expect to see it in the finals. As for Overhaul, it has 1-3 record. And its one win is Chomp, the only robot with a worse full record than it, (aside from Bombshell)
Joey: Ouch! Speaking of. Guess who is 3-0
Main event: Minotaur (W) vs. SubZero
Minotaur: Entered by RioBotz of Rio de Janiero, Brazil, built by Marco Antonio Meggiolaro and driven by Daniel Frietas. Minotaur currently stands at 2-1 for the season. Its main weapon it an extremely loud drum spinner.
SubZero: Entered by Team Hammertime of Malvern, Pennsylvania and built by Jerry Clarkin. SubZero also has a 1-2 record. Its primary weapon is launching arm.
Joey: Eat shit, Sub Zero.
Ryan: This was never SubZero’s fight and never could have been. It got real smashed up by Minotaur.
Joey: Which is crazy, cuz SubZero is built like a tank.
Ryan: Yeah it’s a pretty sturdy robot.Which goes to show how destructive Minotaur is. SubZero was a twisted mess by the end of this one.
Joey: We haven’t seen enough Minotaur destruction this year, glad we got some. Didn’t a SubZero tire like hit the ceiling?
Ryan: Oh no, it was like the whole top panel of SubZero.
Ryan: Yeah, good show by Minotaur. Will be interesting to see what’s in store for them in the finals.