Robot Wars Episode 2 Recap: Thor and Hypershock Highlight Otherwise Dull Heat B

When Robot Wars made its long-awaited return to British television a week ago, it didn’t disappoint in the slightest. A stacked Heat A featuring long-time veterans Terrorhurtz, Razer, and Behemoth had no shortage of thrilling, tightly contested battles, and at the end of it all Carbide and its deadly horizontal spinner came out on top, earning a berth in the grand final.

It was everything I hoped for in Robot Wars’ return, and it set a high bar for the second heat. Let’s just say that the bar was not cleared. The Heat B bots left quite a bit to be desired, and the majority of the fights were rather dull. Let’s go over how each of the bots performed.

Chimera

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Watching Chimera was almost like stepping into a robot combat time machine. It seems like ages since I’ve seen a thwackbot (probably because it has been ages), and with those tires it just looks like a bot straight out of 1999. Those tires are apparently taken from a Ford Fiesta, by the way.

It’s pretty rare to see a combat robot with car tires, and if you wondered why, then Chimera gave you your answer pretty quickly. The ring spinner of M.R. Speed Squared targeted Chimera right from the start of their four-bot qualifying rumble, and immediately shredded one of the wheels. Not too long after that, the tire was ripped clean off and hurled across the arena. That was the end of the road for Chimera, and I get the feeling it’s going to be quite a long time before we see another thwackbot again.

Disconstructor

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Disconstructor is certainly not the prettiest robot in the competition, and it is not the most effective one either. It faced Shockwave, Tough as Nails, and Thor in its qualifying rumble, and it found itself shoved into the pit almost immediately. We didn’t even really get a chance to see what its spinner could do before it was eliminated.

Draven

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Draven competed in the weaker of the two group fights, meeting Chimera, Foxic, and M.R. Speed Squared. It lasted longer than the likes of Chimera and Disconstructor, but Speed Squared delivered a brutal hit that ripped open its side armor and appeared to damage some of its internals, and it was knocked out soon after.

Foxic

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Folks, this robot had less control than Louis Tomlinson

Along with Tough as Nails, Foxic was one of my favorites to advance to the grand finals from this heat. I’m a sucker for the sleek design, and in theory it should be an effective pusher that can scoop bots up, carry them across the arena, and flip them into walls, the house robots, the pit, etc.

In theory it’s all great, but Foxic ended up being a hot pile of trash. It advanced to the round robin stage despite doing almost nothing in its rumble against Chimera, Draven, and Speed Squared, and it had some major driving problems all throughout the episode. It seemed to never have control over its turning or its weapon.

It was easily KO’d by Shockwave in its first battle of the group stage, but this match did bring us one of the highlights of the episode, when Foxic’s lack of control sent it driving straight into Dead Metal. However, instead of getting decimated by the house robot, Foxic showed off its potential by pushing the 343 kilogram (756 pound) bot all the way across the arena. There was a brief moment when I thought Dead Metal was going to find itself in the pit, but unfortunately it was not meant to be. It would have been glorious though.

In Foxic’s second contest it lost a judges decision to M.R. Speed Squared in what was undoubtedly one of the worst fights in Robot Wars history. Both bots were barely functional from the start, and couldn’t really do anything to each other. I couldn’t give you much more detail than that even if I wanted to. The fight went the full three minutes, but most of that was edited out for TV. They didn’t want us to see how awful this really was. It was almost some Abbatoir vs. Ricon level garbage. If you don’t know what that means, then please, I beg you, do not click this link. Head judge Noel Sharkey said after the Foxic vs. Speed Squared match that it was one of the worst fights he has ever seen. I would have to agree.

In its final fight, Foxic faced off against Thor, and this was probably the best it looked all night. For most of the fight it seemed to actually be in control, but ultimately it was knocked out, and Foxic finished the round robin stage with zero points.

M.R. Speed Squared

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M.R. Speed Squared really started off quite well, but its armor is weak, and the bot seemed to perform worse and worse with every fight. Speed Squared is equipped with a decently strong ring spinner, and it showed its power in its opening rumble, destroying one of Chimera’s tires and then opening a gash in the side of Draven.

Unfortunately, it was all downhill from there. In its first round robin match vs. Thor it struggled to get its spinning disc up to speed, and that was an issue that persisted throughout all of its remaining fights. The weakness of its aluminum armor was apparent in this fight, when a shot from Thor’s hammer cut clean through and created a gaping hole in its top. Thor won by knockout, and Speed Squared then moved on to earn two points from a judges decision in that pitiful match against Foxic. I’m not talking about that fight again. That was awful.

Despite a pretty lackluster showing from M.R. Speed Squared in its opening two fights of the group stage, it entered its third and final bout against Shockwave with a chance to go on to the heat final. Speed Squared held two points compared to Shockwave’s three, so the winner, whether by judges decision or knockout, would advance.

Speed Squared may have had a chance if its spinner was operating as it did in its very first fight of the evening, but with it barely spinning up at all there really wasn’t much that it could do. I give the team credit for surviving for longer than I expected, but Shockwave managed to push Speed Squared into the pit and move on to the heat final.

Shockwave

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Shockwave separated itself from the rest of the pack by being one of only two robots in this episode that wasn’t totally awful, and for that it is worthy of commendation. The best way to describe Shockwave is that it’s Foxic, except it actually works. In its rumble it helped a trapped Thor knock out Tough as Nails, and then it was on to the group stage where it squared off against Foxic, quickly earning three points via KO.

Shockwave’s biggest issue came when it met Thor in its second match, and that problem had more to do with strategy than anything else. The team totally overthought Thor’s hammer, and decided that they’d replace their steel wedge with a larger, bulldozer-like plastic scoop. The idea was to lift the scoop into the air and let it take the impact from Thor’s attacks, protecting its otherwise vulnerable top plating.

I understand the thinking, but it’s a conservative strategy, and with the plastic scoop Shockwave loses much of its pushing power. To make matters worse, the scoop didn’t even work. Thor’s hammer broke it into about three or four separate pieces by the end of the fight, and warped Shockwave’s lifting bar in the process. In the final minute of the fight Shockwave managed to make a small rally, initiated by Thor being launched skyward by the arena launching trap, but ultimately the fight would go to the judges where Thor was declared the winner.

Shockwave nearly blew its chance at the heat final when it fought Speed Squared and nearly drove itself into the pit while attempting the takedown, but it managed to avoid disaster and send Speed Squared to the pit in its place.

Shockwave then faced Thor for a second time in the episode’s heat final, and this time it entered the arena with its steel wedge for the first time since its first round robin fight. Almost immediately you could tell the difference. Shockwave was much more aggressive with the wedge, pinning Thor to the walls and controlling the fight. Shockwave managed to push Thor into the pit, securing the upset and advancing to meet Carbide and the rest of the heat winners in the grand finals at the end of the season.

Thor

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This photo makes me uncomfortable

I wasn’t sold on Thor after its opening group fight, but I learned pretty quickly that it’s the real deal.

Thor made it to the heat final, but at the start of the episode it was in real danger of being eliminated in the rumble. Thor was trapped within the jaws of Tough as Nails and could’ve easily been driven into the pit, but Shockwave intervened, and the three-bot pileup in the corner of the arena eventually resulted in Thor escaping and Tough as Nails being the bot disabled and left out of the round robin.

After that close call, Thor didn’t have much trouble at all in the group stage, taking eight out of nine possible points from the round, only losing the one point for failing to knockout Shockwave within the three minute limit.

As I mentioned in Shockwave’s section above, everything changed when Shockwave replaced its scoop for the steel wedge in the heat final, and it was Thor that was bossed around the arena and sent to the bottom of the pit.

It’s a disappointing result for Thor, but with it being so dominating in the round robin stage I think that right now it has to be considered the favorite for the wildcard berth to the grand final at season’s end.

Tough as Nails

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Tough as Nails is a Robot Wars veteran, entering Sunday’s heat with an all-time record of 5-3, and it was my personal pick to advance to the grand finals from Heat B.

It got off to a promising start, clamping onto Thor with its jaws, but once Shockwave intervened it was the beginning of the end for Tough as Nails, as it was rendered immobile and exited the competition earlier than most probably expected.

If Tough as Nails was slotted into the other rumble of the episode, replacing one of Chimera, Draven, Foxic, or M.R. Speed Squared, you’d have to think that it would’ve advanced to the round robin stage and had a chance to make the heat final, but instead it appears that TAN and the team will have to sit at home and hope for a second season in which it can make a comeback.

Final Thoughts

This was not nearly as thrilling as the first episode, but Heat B still delivered some fun moments and a handful of surprises with Tough as Nails failing to qualify for the round robin and Shockwave knocking out Thor in the heat final.

Next week Dantomkia, Supernova, and six other bots will enter the arena hoping to meet Carbide and Shockwave in the grand final, and hopefully we’ll see the quality of the matches exceed what we saw this week.

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