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.
Breaking from how we normally cover Battlebots, this article will cover both episodes 18 and 19, which comprise the sweet 16 and quarterfinals of the 2018 Battlebots tournament. The next article will cover episode 19, which includes the semi-finals and the finals. As opposed to previous articles, this one is a free flowing conversation about both tournament episodes as opposed to a discussion about each match one by one.
How the tournament went down
— BattleBots (@BattleBots) September 20, 2018
Round of 16
Sawblaze vs. Monsoon (W)
Tombstone vs. Bombshell (W)
Lock-Jaw (W) vs. Son of Whaychi
Minotaur (W) vs. Witch Doctor
Bronco (W) vs. WAR Hawk
Yeti vs. Whiplash (W)
Icewave vs. Rotator (W)
Bite Force (W) vs. HUGE.
Bombshell vs. Lock-Jaw (W)
Minotaur (W) vs. Monsoon
Bronco vs. Whiplash (W)
Bite Force (W) vs. Rotator
The Final Four robots are Lock Jaw, Minotaur, Whiplash and Bite Force
Joey: Let me start. First thing I’ll say is that we have two dark horses in the semifinals and we didn’t get to see either of their first fights.
Ryan: Right? And it’s not like they beat nobodies to get there.
Joey: Hopefully they can do away with this nonsense next time. But it’s funny how they didn’t really show us the story of Whiplash or Lock-Jaw, which would be funny if either won.
Ryan: Let’s focus on the left side of the bracket first, because that has the “shocking” elimination of Tombstone.
Joey: Ugh. Yeah, Bombshell beat Tombstone. You HAPPENED to get lucky with your prediction. And now you feel very good about it!
Ryan: It’s almost like Bombshell was specifically designed to knock Tombstone’s weapon chain loose and literally nothing else
Joey: Tombstone getting stuck on its chain hurt.
Ryan: This was Michael Jeffries’ strategy for Bombshell to beat Tombstone in the championship last year. To destroy its weapon chain. He missed that time and got torn to pieces, so hey, good for him getting it on the second go.
Joey: So yeah, we got to see Bombshell, a bot that I was not particularly pleased to see on my television, make top 8. But good show this time.
Ryan: I still would have rather this been Duck.
Joey: Obviously. So we got Bombshell versus another bot that I’m not terribly pleased to see.
Ryan: Which is Lock-Jaw. Who didn’t do that badly in either of its tournament fights!
Joey: Yup! Congrats to SOW for fucking up so consistently.
Ryan: Yup, it cleanly beat SOW in a very entertaining fight.
Joey: So that was one that i didn’t watch at all. What happened?
Ryan: It was a very wild fight that went all over the Battlebox. It’s not up on the Discovery Channel’s site in full and I don’t want to watch 5 full minutes of ads just to pull the highlights again.
Joey: Heh. But yeah! Then Lock-Jaw had a less difficult matchup in the round of eight and, uh, is in the semis. Great.
Ryan: Well, because it beat one of the robots that could have really messed it up, and Tombstone, well, yeah.
Joey: If it makes the final, I will be greatly displeased. You know who’s great? Minotaur. Minotaur is super great. Praise Minotaur.
Ryan: That’s right, the other robot in the semi-finals is Minotaur. Let’s talk about how it got there. By, y’know, being good, as opposed to lucky.
Joey: Uh, what was its path again?
Ryan: Witch Doctor and Monsoon
Joey: Ah, yes. Witch Doctor. The bot that the show likes disproportionately to how good it is.
Ryan: This was the one quarter of the bracket that I got every fight right, by the way.
Joey: Minotaur absolutely destroys those vertical spinners. Well, their wheels. Still!
Ryan: I really like Monsoon a lot, but it did not stand a chance against Minotaur.
Joey: Monsoon’s great! But yeah. Those Minotaur fights were just fun tire-poppers. Not sure what else to say. More interesting was Monsoon, a pretty decent vertical spinner, taking down Sawblaze, the, uh, greatest saw bot in the history of the game?
Joey: I am beginning to think that one strategy might be better than the other.
Ryan: Sawblaze has impressed me this season, considering how bad it was in the past. Possibly the most improved robot in the field this year?
Joey: Probably! Unless Lock-Jaw wins.
Ryan: Even if Lock Jaw wins, as it was not impressive in the regular season as Sawblaze was.
Joey: Yeah. Sawblaze is great not because of its saw, or because of its blaze, but because of its wedge. Wedges are great! Fuck primary weapons!
Ryan: Now to the other side of the bracket!
Joey: Which one next? Let’s do Bite Force. Close with the feelgood story.
Ryan: Yeah Bite Force is in the top 4. As expected.
Joey: Would not have expected it to start the season. But daaaang.
Ryan: In 2015, Bite Force deserved to be in the finals. It did not deserve to win because Tombstone wasn’t at 100%.
Joey: I do want to point out that Bite Force might have had a weird amount of trouble if Icewave had not split Huge in half.Hard to say.
Ryan: This year, Bite Force might be one of the most impressive robots I have ever seen in Battlebots. It’s the only undefeated robot still standing. And every one of its fights was excellent. Except for Huge falling apart all by itself in the first tournament match.
Joey: Bite Force may have helped it! But hard to say. I think Huge could have maybe done it. That would have been wiiiiiiild.
Ryan: Oh, Bite Force helped. It didn’t cause Huge to tear itself in half, but it definitely helped get it to that point.
Joey: Speaking of, who did Bite Force face, and not face, in the round of eight?
Ryan: Well it beat Rotator in the elite 8.
Joey: Yup! Good show by Rotator, but it was doomed there. But MORE INTERESTINGLY….
Ryan: I see where you’re going. Rotator had its most impressive fight of the season in the Sweet 16 when it ripped Icewave to pieces
Joey: Icewave is the most disappointing robot in Battlebots history.
Ryan: Let me repeat that, it ripped Icewave. To pieces.
Joey: Rotator had a real face off with Icewave.
Ryan: When it started digging into Icewave’s engine, I thought there was going to be an explosion.
Joey: It ripped of its entire head.
Ryan: That thing is an internal combustion engine. ICE-wave. Get it? And that could have been not good.
Joey: I did not get that until now. Makes sense.
— BattleBots (@BattleBots) September 29, 2018
Ryan: Now let’s talk about Whiplash, the Cinderella story of the season.
Joey: Whiplash rules. Its design rules.
Ryan: What a great driver Matt Vasquez is.
Joey: Whiplash hype. Let’s get some WhiplashWs in the chat.
Ryan: We have no chat, Joey.
Ryan: Anyway, Whiplash beat Bronco! Specifically it knocked out Bronco! Didn’t you have Bronco going all the way?
Joey: I did! They looked invincible.
Ryan: It’s weird seeing Bronco on its back as much as it was in that match.
Joey: Is it just me or did they seems slower than usual?
Ryan: Well, maybe that’s because Whiplash is incredibly fast
Joey: Whiplash had a kinda close fight with Yeti, seemed like. So was encouraging for them to have something more convincing.
Ryan: Like, Whiplash and Bronco squared off, were keeping pace and doing circles around each other. And then Whiplash pounced and never let go of control for the entire fight
Joey: Whiplash controlled Bronco so hard I kept thinking “they have to let go after ten seconds!”
Ryan: I think Bronco went overboard on wheel protection. What even are those spikes.
Joey: I think they work in most scenarios! Damn well would’ve stopped Minotaur.
Ryan: But did they really think Whiplash would go for the tires? That doesn’t seem like its MO at all. Whiplash a robot whose flywheel is on a jointed lifting arm a la Biohazard. It had better targets than the tires in this fight.
Joey: Also, I’ll say it, kind of a sad story for Inertia Labs in this revival. What did they get last year again?
Ryan: Elite 8. It hasn’t been in the final 4 since the first revival season.
Joey: Jeeze. Rough life!
Ryan: It also lost to Minotaur last year. No shame in losing to Minotaur. Granted, no shame in losing to Whiplash either, that robot’s on the roll of the season, apart from Bite Force maybe.
Joey: Tombstone, Minotaur, Whiplash. Minotaur hasn’t lost since Tombstone, so maybe Minotaur.
Ryan: How do you think the finals are gonna go? We got Lock Jaw vs. Minotaur and Whiplash vs. Bite Force
Joey: Minotaur is heavily favored against yet another vertical spinner. Obviously things happen, but I think Minotaur is in the finals.
Ryan: Same. The other side of the bracket though…
Joey: Whiplash and Bite Force could go either way, and I’m not sure what’s more likely to beat Minotaur.
Ryan: I think Whiplash/Bite Force is a toss up.
Joey: The percentages favor Minotaur, but I’m not totally sure.
Ryan: Whiplash could do something with Minotaur? It has that lifting arm. Bite Force, on the other hand, could probably withstand a face-to-face hit from Minotaur. But I don’t know, this might be Minotaur’s tournament to lose now.
Joey: Minotaur is faster and can pop those tires. I give edge to Minotaur in both. Will be fun either way.
Ryan: Yeah, I’ll be interested to see how these last three fights go. And how they fill the rest of the time! Will we get some more rumbles? No way that’s the last we see of Tombstone this year.
Joey: No more rumbles please! But I guess we can’t have an episode of three fights. Sigh.
Ryan: Would you rather have more rumbles or some other filler?
Joey: Fair point.