As you may have noticed, content has been a little thin here on BattleBlogs the last couple of weeks, but allow me to poorly make excuses for myself:
- BattleBots has been off the air for a couple of weeks due to the Olympics
- I missed episode four of Robot Wars because Comcast is a load of garbage
- I watched episode five last Sunday, but didn’t do a recap because I was busy working on my own bot that afternoon (You’ll hear more details about this soon. Don’t get too excited, it’s just an antweight)
Anyway, BattleBots is finally back, and hopefully I’ll get back to writing more often about it as well. We wrapped up the round of 16 this week, and from a production standpoint this was the best episode so far. We can argue about which episodes had the best fights, but the pit coverage this time around was fantastic. They really went more in-depth than usual with the teams during the rebuild process.
We also saw some other interesting behind the scenes stuff like Zoe Stephenson going over her strategy to target Bite Force’s exposed weapon chain (which worked magnificently, by the way), and Ray Billings from Tombstone watching the Brutus vs. Lock-Jaw fight and saying which bot he’d rather face. During a lot of the episodes I can sort of tune out the minimal pit coverage or team backstories, but it was really well done in this episode and hopefully it continues in the final episode next week and (hopefully) Season 3.
Now, for the actual fights, of which there were some real good ones.
Brutus over Tombstone was one of my favorite upset picks of the season. Maybe it’s because I’m an overly attached Witch Doctor fan, but I thought Brutus had a chance to channel its inner Season 1 Witch Doctor and put a surprise hurting on Tombstone.
It did not exactly work out like that, but Brutus did manage to give Tombstone its toughest challenge of the season. Now granted, that isn’t saying a whole lot, but whatever, it’s true.
Going into this fight, the Brutus team only packed enough batteries to last about two minutes. That’s a bold strategy, Cotton. It wasn’t totally irrational though. This fight was almost definitely ending in a knockout, and they used the extra available weight to add some additional armor. So why didn’t they get rid of the pointless gun on the top instead? …Um… well that is a great question.
Brutus was able to land a big hit that sent Tombstone reeling to start the fight, but in the process Brutus’ two front wedgelets were ripped off. This was the first major sign of trouble, because theoretically the wedgelets deflect some of the kinetic energy from Tombstone’s spinning blade and help Brutus from suffering too much damage. With those gone, there was nothing standing in the way of Tombstone and Brutus’ flat front.
Brutus got another good hit in, but this one seemed to have broken the drive train on one of its sides. Tombstone was able to recover, and with Brutus only being able to circle at this point it was an easy target. Brutus was able to deliver one last blow, however, it didn’t matter much. With Brutus unable to run away, Tombstone ripped it apart, eventually stopping Brutus’ spinner and flipping it over for the knockout.
This was the first time we’ve seen Tombstone fight with lighter blue tires and a heavier spinning blade, and it was certainly effective. While Brutus put up a fight, it was totally shredded by the fight’s end. Tombstone moved on to the quarterfinals in convincing fashion.
Man… this was disappointing. For the newer BattleBots fans who might not be aware, Nightmare is perhaps the most iconic robot in the sport. That being said, it has never really been the most effective. Entering tonight’s episode it held an all-time record of 9-10, and it’s never won more than two fights in any single BattleBots competition.
Adding onto that, Nightmare looked to be just about done at the start of this competition. There have been some changes to the design, but this is a robot that has been competing since the 90s, and with the sport evolving around it over all that time it seemed to have finally been outclassed. It was KO’d by Warrior Clan in the first round last season, and by Stinger to start this year. But Nightmare earned a wildcard to the round of 32 from that fight, where it was able to defeat IceWave. It was a somewhat flukey victory, but a victory nonetheless.
Now in the Round of 16, Nightmare had a fantastic opportunity to make the quarterfinal. I love to see it do well, but I didn’t think Nightmare had much of a shot against BETA, so I was pleasantly surprised to see it completely dominate this fight.
The bout started off a little slow, with BETA hanging back and Nightmare’s unconventional design leaving it unable to turn and take aim easily. But once the bots finally made contact, it was Nightmare’s fight to lose. Nightmare was able to damage something with BETA’s weapon system, leaving the tournament’s deadliest hammer mostly motionless throughout the fight. Nightmare continued to land hits with its spinner, and the fight seemed just about over.
The only thing hanging in the back of my mind was that before the fight they showed a clip of the Nightmare team expressing concerns about being unable to repair the bot’s self-righting mechanism, so if they got flipped over they were done. That, kids, is called really unfortunate foreshadowing.
In the final 30 seconds of the fight BETA was able to ram Nightmare’s side and wedge itself between the wheel and the tail, and it used this leverage to push Nightmare across the arena, eventually turning it over. It became a race against the clock, and Nightmare was rule knocked out with two seconds left. The better bot won, but this was pretty heartbreaking.
BETA will now face Tombstone in the quarterfinals next week.
Yeti (12) vs. Mega Tento (21)
There have been a few things consistent in Mega Tento’s two fights this season: They’ve gone to the judges, been relatively boring, and very controversial.
If you thought those trends would continue this time then you were terribly mistaken. We’ve seen what Yeti’s drum is capable of in its fights against Lock-Jaw and Lucky, but it still shocked me with its pure destructive force. Mega Tento stood up well to Poison Arrow which was strong enough to later send former champion Son of Whyachi to the moon. However, against Yeti it stood no chance.
Yeti charged right for Tento to start the fight, connecting on a hit that sent Tento slightly airborne. Yeti nearly got stuck under the ladybug, but escaped and then came storming back for more. Mega Tento was quickly pushed into the arena screws, where Yeti delivered the kill shot that ripped one of Tento’s wheels off. This fight was over fast, and Yeti makes a surprise trip to the quarterfinal after starting the tournament as an alternate.
Bite Force (4) vs. Chomp (13)
I’m gonna preface this fight by saying this: If you’re one of the many that’s furious about this judges decision, read this that I wrote a couple of weeks ago. If you want to get mad at the rules then fine, but by those rules the judges got it right, much like they have throughout this season.
As for the fight itself, the start could not have been more perfect for Chomp. Before the fight Zoe said that she was hoping to take out the exposed chain driving Bite Force’s weapon, but while the chain is exposed, it’s in a relatively tight space that would require a very precise hit with Chomp’s hammer to take out. Once the fight started, Chomp snapped that chain in the first five seconds of the match with its very first attack.
It was a dream start, and it left Bite Force’s weapon totally disabled. Bite Force was transformed into a push bot, and an effective one at that. Similar to its match against Disc O’ Inferno, Chomp spent a good portion of the fight on its back after being pushed around the BattleBox. Chomp was able to land a couple of hits, but even with the rules valuing active weapon damage so highly I think it could have lost. That all changed though about halfway through when Bite Force drove over its own snapped chain, getting it stuck in its wheel. This severely limited Bite Force’s mobility, and while it was eventually able to free itself, it took a good 30 seconds or so and it changed the course of the fight.
Chomp won the unanimous judges decision, and will attempt to infuriate the masses once again when it faces Yeti in the quarterfinals.
The Round of 16 fights were worth 20 points each, so here’s the updated standings, and as usual you can go here to view everybody’s brackets.