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.
This article will cover episode 20, which covers the finals of the 2018 Battlebots tournament. 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.
Final Four Results
Minotaur (W) vs. Lock-Jaw
Bite Force (W) vs. Whiplash
Finals: BITE FORCE (W) vs. Minotaur
Ryan: So, Joey, what did you think of the tournament this year, now that it’s all over?
Joey: Mostly pretty good! Some stuff to fine tune for sure.
Ryan: Particularly with the play-in spots.
Joey: Unfortunately I didn’t think this last episode was that satisfying?
Ryan: How so?
Joey: But that’s due to uh…..circumstances. We’ll get to that.
Ryan: So the first fight was Minotaur and Lock-Jaw. We all knew where this was heading.
Joey: Yeah, so. My thing throughout the episode was that there was generally not a ton of suspense. Any suspense that was ever present quickly evaporated once the fight started and you saw who had control.
Ryan: I think Lock Jaw should have maybe used its actual jaws for this one.
Joey: But I’m very glad Lock Jaw did not win and got destroyed. I will continue to not respect it.
Ryan: I’d like Donald Hutson to maybe bring something else next time. Although he probably won’t. Lock Jaw made the final four after all.
Joey: Yup. That’s the problem. Lock Jaw for SURE hit its ceiling. Maybe he can work up something better about the bot itself, IDK.
— BattleBots (@BattleBots) October 6, 2018
Ryan: He should make it a grappler again. I like grappler robots. They’re weird and they’re not spinners
Joey: Too bad this stupid ruleset basically makes grappling impossible.
Ryan: Hey, the ruleset was /better/ this year, but yeah. They need to get rid of that primary weapon thing. Bring back the wedgebot.
Joey: But yeah I don’t have anything more to say about this fight. Minotaur won, Lock Jaw lost, it was brief, it was a relief.
Ryan: It was what we expected. Now, Bite Force vs. Whiplash, we thought that was a toss-up. Both robots have beee so good this year.
Joey: Bite Force is pretty good.
Ryan: Bite Force’s 2018 season > Tombstone’s 2016 season.
Joey: Whiplash’s only real strategy was ramming Bite Force it seemed, right? Did Tombstone KO everyone in 2016?
Ryan: Tombstone had two judges decisions in 2016. Bite Force had 1.
Joey: Bite Force had one??? Who?
Ryan: Blacksmith. Bite Force won that by a judges decision.
Ryan: And that was its first fight this year. Ever since it’s won everything by KO
Joey: That bot is good for something I guess.
Ryan: Bite Force is the best vertical spinner ever made.
Joey: Including drums and blades.
Joey: THAT. SAID I think it was somewhat fortunate to not run into two bots in particular.
Ryan: What Tombstone and Bronco? Or SOW?
Joey: I think those would have been rough, yeah. Although yeah SOW could’ve.
Ryan: Whiplash did so well this year, and probably had one of the best strategies for Bite Force I’ve seen this year.
Joey: I think Whiplash was EXACTLY the right bot for Bronco. We don’t seem to have much to say about this match, are we just talking about how Bite Force won? It seems like we are.
— BattleBots (@BattleBots) October 6, 2018
Ryan: Basically, yeah. As much as I like Whiplash.
Joey: Tombstone did a thing but w/e.
Ryan: Oh yeah, that. You know there were more exhibition matches and that was just the only one they showed?
Joey: I did not.
Ryan: There was a Megabyte vs. Duck one.
Joey: Do you know results?
Ryan: Who knows where those will wind up.
Joey: Probably Not On YouTube, with the rest of them.
Ryan: Lol right. But as for the final, Minotaur and Bite Force were really evenly matched coming in. Minotaur is no joke and it’s so compact and optimized. There were some nasty hits in this fight too. Some real weapon-to-weapon action.
Joey: The final seemed suspenseful for a bit longer than the other matches but yeah it soon started to feel like “uh, what can Minotaur actually do here?”
Ryan: I’ve never seen Minotaur actually seem like it was on the losing side of a fight before. Even in the Bombshell fight it lost last season.
Joey: I mean, Tombstone.
Ryan: A little. But that could have easily gone to judges if Minotaur didn’t get stuck on a literal chunk of the floor
Joey: That looked very uphill for Minotaur.
Ryan: I suppose, but not in the way it felt here. After a while it felt like there was no way Minotaur could win.
Joey: I mean, its weapon died. It was done.
Ryan: Even before that!
Joey: So yeah, what about Bite Force makes it so much better? Is there just way more inertia in its weapon?
Ryan: Bite Force got some nasty hits in early on. There’s one where it sends Minotaur spinning on its side. Like it hits Minotaur, directly in the weapon as that loud drum spins up, like it was nothing. Bite Force basically went into this fight like it was fighting a robot that was half Minotaur’s reputation.
Joey: They were pretty confident, I think. Poor Team Minotaur. I’d really like for them to have a championship.
Ryan: I don’t think Paul Ventimiglia wanted to lose ever again. You know who took out Bite Force last time? Chomp. CHOMP!
Joey: Yup. Insane.
Ryan: The one and only time Chomp’s LIDAR system got a perfect precise hit exactly where it needed to be. What are your thoughts on Bite Force being the champion?
Joey: It’s both unexpected while feeling very expected, weirdly. I’m not, like, an enormous fan.
Ryan: This season made me one. You can’t help but be impressed with it and Paul and his team.
Joey: I like it, sure. I’m impressed with it, sure. I’m not as excited about it as I would be about Whiplash or Minotaur.
Ryan: That being said, if this all went differently and Minotaur won? I’d be happy too.
Joey: Not even close. I would be much happier if Minotaur won.
Ryan: Apart from those two robots, were there any others you would have wanted to win? Not just the tournament bots but the whole field?
Ryan: Oh yeah that would have ruled. As much as I like the robot, I don’t think DUCK would have made it to the finals even if it won that rumble.
Joey: Still would’ve been sick
Ryan: What are you looking forward to the most for next season?
Joey: I dunno! Seeing if anybody else steps up given an easier timetable, it sounds like this one was pretty short notice. Son of Whyachi, of course. More Whiplash. DUCK!
Ryan: I agree on DUCK. More DUCK pls. I’d like to see Beta come back. Nightmare too I guess. It seemed weird to have Battlebots and no Nightmare. It’s like watching Wrestlemania and there’s no Undertaker.
Next week: More Battle… Oh right, it’s over. Um… Ryan’s starting a column on Phish soon. You’ll stick around to read that, right? Right?