We’re down to the Sweet 16. The fights are getting fiercer, the bots are getting better, and I’m running out of alliterative cliches to lead off this recap, so I’m just gonna leave it at that.
This is the last BattleBots episode until August 25th because of the Olympics in Rio (in which I hear Minotaur is not competing, for reasons entirely unknown to me), and thankfully we got a pretty exciting one to tide us over on the three week break. In this week’s episode we saw, in order:
- Minotaur trying to take the head out of Warhead
- Hypershock attempting The Rakening Part 2: Electric Boogaloo against Poison Arrow
- Bombshell pulling another brand new weapon out of its mechanical ass to face Red Devil
- Razorback facing Bronco in the most SEC sounding robot fight of the season
Minotaur vs. Warhead. Brazil vs. England. I’m going to be honest, I’m a little surprised that Warhead didn’t find a way to lose this fight on penalty kicks, but it still managed to lose nonetheless.
Ian Lewis and Simon Scott left the dinosaur head in the pits for this one, instead opting for the massive spinning disc, presumably because it has to fight an actual combat robot for the second round in a row. This didn’t matter to Minotaur too much, but it did make things a lot more entertaining than they would’ve been otherwise.
The two bots collided in the center of the arena for a decently large hit to start, with both robots flying in opposite directions. The bot from Brazil then managed to collide with Warhead at the perfect angle, decapitating it and transforming the spinning disc into the world’s most dangerous frisbee, as it rose into the air, hit the screws, and then spun around the BattleBox like an out of control top for a few seconds.
The fight continued for about 30 or 40 more seconds, but this was just a formality. It was all over by this point, and Minotaur quickly won by knockout.
Hypershock (11) vs. Poison Arrow (27)
After the complete and utter annihilation of Warrior Clan and its flying drone last week, Hypershock has gotten people way more excited about common gardening rakes than I ever thought possible. I’m not entirely convinced that this isn’t some sort of viral marketing trick by Home Depot, but people are pumped about rakes.
With Poison Arrow employing a fire-breathing drone of its own, #TheRakening is back, and that’s not the only noteworthy thing about Hypershock this week. The team has cooked up a new configuration for this fight, ditching most of the bot’s top armor in favor of a Witch Doctor style front-mounted armored wedge.
For the first half of the fight the strategy paid off. Hypershock disabled its own weapon on the first major hit of the fight, but it was able to totally dominate the next minute or two with the wedge. All of Poison Arrow’s blows seemed to do much more damage to itself than Hypershock, and it was constantly slammed up against the walls and unable to do anything.
But much like last season in its fight against Bite Force, Hypershock suffered some sort of failure with its internals at the worst possible time. The bot was left motionless, and then Poison Arrow drove in for the kill shot, ripping off one of Hypershock’s wheels and sending it flying across the arena.
Both the Hypershock and Poison Arrow teams are two of the more likable in the entire tournament, so it’s a real shame to see one of them have to go home, and to make things even worse, #TheRakening was a total non-factor this time around. It would’ve been unrealistic to expect as epic of a success as it was against Warrior Clan, but this time it just did absolutely nothing at all.
This was a difficult fight to predict, since both bots have multiple configurations they can swap in and out, but ultimately Red Devil took a “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” approach by entering the BattleBox with the same grappler/saw combo that it used to upset Witch Doctor and rip the heart clean out of my chest.
Meanwhile, Bombshell did the exact opposite, equipping its third weapon in three fights, this time a front wedge with a vertical spinning disc. The disc looked great for one hit, after which it totally broke and didn’t spin up again for the rest of the match. According to the team on their blog, the weapon failure was due to a battery wire becoming disconnected.
Once that happened, things looked a little grim for Bombshell, since due to the new judging criteria it’s very, very difficult to win a judges decision if your primary weapon breaks early. Bombshell was able to counteract this however, by employing some impressive driving, staying on the offensive and bullying Red Devil around all while avoiding contact from Red Devil’s saw blade. It certainly helped that Red Devil appeared to be hurting from the opening big hit, but regardless, it’s incredibly impressive to avoid an active weapon for three consecutive minutes.
Bombshell was rewarded with a unanimous judges decision and a trip to the quarterfinals against Poison Arrow, so the driving skills definitely paid off.
Bronco entered this one as pretty heavy favorites, and considering their history over the last two seasons, it’s easy to see why. But as effective as Bronco has been so far this year, I have one simple request: MAKE. BRONCO. FUN. AGAIN.
Bronco was one of the most fun bots to watch last season, with its fights against Stinger and Tombstone becoming instant classics. That hasn’t been the case this time around. Its opening fight against Blacksmith was thrilling, but after that it equipped a rear wedge and deployed what I like to call the booty bump strategy on Chrome Fly.
The booty bump strategy is simple. You put a wedge on your booty, and you bump an opposing spinner, causing it to do damage to itself. As we’ve seen, it’s very effective, but it’s also a lot more boring than a match where Bronco is flipping bots all over the arena. I can forgive the strategy if it’s against an incredibly powerful spinner like Tombstone, but Chrome Fly and Razorback’s drum configuration aren’t exactly that.
Anyway, booty bumping ethics aside, this fight was relatively dull. The most interesting part about it was that twice Bronco was able to actually get all the way underneath Razorback, and then utilize its flipper from behind to launch it. It doesn’t have the same force as a full frontal flip, but it certainly wasn’t something that I expected, so that was neat to see.
Ultimately Razorback ended up rolled over onto its side, unable to self-right. The Inertia Labs team was happy to leave it there, and Razorback was counted out. Bronco now moves on to the quarterfinals, where it will square off with Minotaur. That’s gonna be a fun one.
With the round of 16 underway, the stakes of every fight in our bracket challenge just got bigger. Individual fights are now worth 20 points instead of 10, so here’s a look at the updated standings after this week’s battles. As always, you can go here to take a look at everybody’s brackets.