BattleBots 2020: Episode 1 in Review

Whoa. That one was one heck of an opening. All this time waiting, all the expectation, and it didn’t disappoint. In a glorious hour and twenty four minutes, we were treated to explosions, upsets, tears, and giant robot sharks. It was almost too much to handle, as, all of a sudden, it felt as though my life had purpose again.

Chris and Kenny were back in their self-proclaimed new roles as “Generic Host” and “Awesome Analysis Guy”, and Faruq returned to the outside of the box to hit us with some fresh rhymes for the awesome new team intros. The referees are now hiding in the corner (not because of Covid, but because everyone complained about the really loud one shouting right in their ears, probably), and were kept busy at the behest of the judges, who were sat in their booths without a whole lot to do. The Bot Whisperer also made his debut, but sadly we didn’t get to see much of him. Hopefully things will pick up in later episodes. But essentially, the whole gang was back together, and it was awesome.

“I am the number one BB host, this geezer don’t know sh*t”

And now it’s everyone’s favourite part of the aftermath of an episode of BattleBots – the opinions of your average person on the internet. And because there just isn’t enough room in the Facebook comments section for me to accurately convey my definitely well thought-out and unbiased opinions, I have taken to this, my very own platform, to enforce all my ramblings upon, you, the BattleBots fan. I know, it’s exactly what you were all after.

Without further ado, let’s review some bot fights. The spoiler warning is officially now in effect.

SawBlaze vs Whiplash

What a tie to kick us off. Two massive names, two similar bots, two fantastic drivers. A real clash of the titans, one almost impossible to predict. Which is why it was all the more impressive that SawBlaze totally dominated the fight.

I had a feeling Go and co. would end up winning, because of their bigger frame, but the show they put on was so impressive. I’m still reeling from their killer hit where they literally broke the top armour of Whiplash in half. It was brutal, it was dominant, it was just how we like it.

Ooh wee that’s gonna leave a mark

It’s not like Whiplash didn’t put up a good fight, the Vasquez clan still showed off some solid driving and some creative overhead hits to SawBlaze with their disc. To be honest, I think taking the wedges off the front and replacing them with flat panels was probably a mistake (though I understand the logic), but I also think that SawBlaze would have ended up winning the fight even with their wedges still attached. A perfect start for SawBlaze, and while I’m sure Whiplash will bounce back for a respectable seeding in the knockout bracket, it will have to up its game a bit.

A proper knockout, and a great way to start the new season.

Fusion vs Mad Catter

Oh boy, where do we even begin with this fight?

In my predictions, I wrote Mad Catter off as a no-hoper. A gimmick bot with no durability, a tendency to fall apart, a hammer that doesn’t work. I made fun of Martin Mason for bigging up the power of Mad Catter’s new wedge against a bot that looks as deadly as Fusion. I laughed, thinking “Martin, you’re incredible, but no. There’s now way you’re winning this”. And now, Martin is the one who laughs.

From now on, I vow never to underestimate the importance of the wedge. The wedge is incredible. The wedge can do no wrong. The wedge can have my babies. The wedge will never be questioned again.

Mad Catter looked like a bot with a point to prove, box rushing Fusion from the get go, deflecting its mighty horizontal spinner away with barely so much as a scratch, and it eventually took its toll on Team Whyachi’s machine, with Fusion going up in a ball of flame. Now, Mad Catter and Even-Madder-Mr.-Mason don’t look like such a gimmick any more. I mean, Mason is still mental and we all love him for it, but Mad Catter could actually put in a strong showing this year, if this battle is anything to go by. They aren’t to be messed with.

Not the ideal situation is it

As for Fusion, it still has potential, but the team will have to iron out some flaws in its game to progress much further. Most notably the fire.

Two battles in and my predictions are already out the window.

Axe Backwards vs Malice

Even for the most unpredictable of fights, I didn’t expect Axe Backwards to literally explode in a big ball of fire. That’s two big-ball-of-fire related victories we’ve seen in the first three battles, and my expectations are now unrealistically high for the rest of the season.

The same can be said of Malice, because that weapon is certainly a powerful chonkus. It only took a couple of hits for it to firstly obliterate Axe Backwards’ flamethrower (fantastic addition by the way, very effective), before completely immobilising it. It still looks a bit of an unstable machine, and I think a battle against a better robot than Axe Backwards will be able to give us a better judgement for its destructive capabilities. I mean, even Deviled Egg and Marvin (remember them?) have beaten Axe Backwards before. It doesn’t really mean anything.

I swear Axe Backwards is in there somewhere

Shout out to Bunny from the Malice team too. That was some proper shit-talking going on, and those tears seemed pretty real to me. The sweet thrill and emotion of winning a robot combat battle on display for all to see. Even if it was against Axe Backwards.

Skorpios vs Bloodsport

All I can say about Bloodsport is this – that bar is f*cking deadly.

If for some reason you decided to shut your eyes and only appreciate this fight for the audio, you’d be forgiven for thinking you were listening to the sounds of a jet engine taking off. But I assure you, that’s just the ferocious power that Bloodsport now wields with its mighty weapon.

I honestly thought that Skorpios would have enough in it to take the punishment from Bloodsport and stall its weapon, because it’s front armour is mighty thick. However, it was made to look like cheap tin foil against its opponent, with half of it being ripped away effortlessly. In all honesty it was pretty generous to predict them a victory in hindsight. But in my defence I imagined they’d go into battle with their hammer disc, not a cheap saw they picked up from BestBuy, or wherever it is Americans do their shopping.

Fs in the chat for the advertising hoardings

Either way, big up Bloodsport, what a performance, and a strong contender if this is anything to go by.

Lockjaw vs Captain Shrederator

When I first saw this matchup, I thought it was a total formality. The unreliability of Captain Shrederator, against the efficiency and power of Lockjaw, I thought it was a no-brainer that Donald Hutson’s bot would come out on top. And while it did, it was a much closer encounter than I thought possible.

Shrederator looked aggressive from the start, but then again it always does and it always f*cking loses, but managed to get a few good shots to Lockjaw’s wheels that seemed to somewhat shake it a bit, even taking off part of its defensive plough. But Lockjaw came back strong, and after a few shots that saw it being frisbee’d into the walls, Shrederator’s spinner was disabled in classic Shrederator fashion, and was then pushed into the screws by Lockjaw, where it became stuck and counted out. Great to see that anti-jamming reversal tech on display, am I right?

Sometimes you just have to question whether it’s all worth it

We later learn in the pits that Shrederator’s brake pin shattered and caused the spinner to stall. Sometimes I guess you can’t catch a break. It was an interesting look into Shrederator’s technology, and a rare appearance from Jenny, who to my mind was criminally underused in this episode. But obviously the main talking point is her lack of face mask, which has apparently outraged the general public. I guess this is what the world has come to.

Rusty vs Sporkinok

If it was pure slapstick entertainment you were after, then this fight provided it in spades.

In the briefest timeline I can give, the battle went something like this;

  1. Rusty drives into the wall and is flipped over by Sporkinok
  2. Rusty self-rights, much to its builders surprise
  3. Sporkinok’s lifter gets stuck and starts to have steering problems
  4. Rusty brings its mighty needle down on the back of Sporkinok, causing mild scratching to the protective plastic on top of it (which Chris and Kenny think is causing actual damage)
  5. Sporkinok stops working

Yes, this actually happened.

And look, Cassius Chrome came back too

I didn’t have a whole lot of hope for Rusty going into this, and I was amazed to see that it actually moves faster than 1mph when it first set track in the box. So my expectations were already shattered. The fact that it’s actually sitting at 1-0 after the first episode is probably the most confusing thing I’ve seen in a while.

I’m not really sure why Sporkinok took its hammer off for this battle, as a lifter/hammer combo would have worked a lot better against a robot like Rusty. And I do think a large part of the win is down to Sporkinok’s drive malfunctioning rather than Rusty actually doing anything. But for now, all we can do is bask in this glorious moment, and do the Rusty shake together.

Sharko vs SMEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE

This fight was dull. Let’s all just face it, it was dull as sh*t.

In a nautical match-up that promised, well, something, and delivered little, SMEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE came out on top after locking up one of Sharko’s wheels. It didn’t really do much else other than wrap itself around everyone’s favourite art shark a few times, and driver Joseph Fabiani got excited a bit too much about the “power” in his bots weapon. Let’s just wait a few episodes to see how that statement holds up.

I expected Sharko to throw some sick flames over in SMEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE’s general direction, but alas no flames came. All Sharko could really do was scratch SMEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE’s front paintwork, which in terms of damage won’t really score you many points, and style points haven’t existed since 2004. Sharko will hopefully have a few good battles in its locker, and while SMEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE, well, got the win to its name, I can’t see its “innovative” design carrying it to many more.

Arrrrr me wheels have been devoured laddie

It was great to see Sharko here regardless, after the passing of Ed Robinson’s team partner John Hoffman, and in what will be Robinson’s subsequent last season. Here’s hoping to see him bow out with a win at some point this season.

Tombstone vs End Game

And so we end on the big one, a match-up two whole years in the making. I said before that I was hoping for a display that would last more than a minute, and to see sheer mayhem unfold between us. It may only have lasted about seventeen seconds, but I’ll allow it. This was f*cking awesome.

Seeing Tombstone being launched out of the arena at quarter to four in the morning on Friday left me open-mouthed, buzzing and high on life, which probably isn’t good for me, but I’ve accepted my insomnia won’t be cured any time soon. I didn’t see that coming, I don’t think anyone did. Jack Barker looked like he could hardly believe it. Neither could Ray Billings, who was mocking his opponents in classic fashion before the fight, sure his bot was going to get the win. It’s an iconic moment, an iconic victory for End Game, and hopefully the start of many great wins to come for them.

Good thing there’s glass there, or social distancing would go out the window

As for Tombstone, it officially has a worse record than Rusty after one episode. You couldn’t make this up. What if this is the start of Tombstone’s decline? Is this the end of Ray Billings? So many questions, so many thoughts, so many episodes left to answer them.

And that’s it for today. What a start to the new season, I don’t think we could have wished more much more, an episode jam-packed with fantastic moments. The bots weren’t the only thing that were on fire. It’s hard for me to pick one individual moment of the week, but how about Will Bales suggesting roboteers dye their hair to look as fabulous as him? Donald Hutson looking like he’s become lost in the eternal abyss? Or the David Eaton and the Rusty shake? It’s probably the Rusty shake to be honest.

The Rusty shake, directed by Ryan Polito

Predictions for episode two will come to you when everyone knows the fight card, and there’ll be another review for that episode when the time comes. If the next episode is anything like this one, we’re in for one heck of a show. If you enjoyed what you read today (which I’m sure you did, wink wink), then why not follow my blog so you know when new posts are up? Or just follow the site on Twitter @robosocks14. Please guys, your love means a lot to me.

Thanks for reading, everyone, and happy bot bashing.

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