Ah, I missed this. Haven’t we all missed this? Remember the good old days of 2016 when only hitting your opponent with your primary weapon counted for anything? Rules that Chomp and Mega Tento took full advantage of to defeat Bite Force and Stinger and go on a deep run into the tournament? Or even as recent as 2018 when DUCK! didn’t make it through the last chance rumble despite being the only working bot left, because Bombshell had gotten in one good hit on Red Devil earlier in the bout?
Yes folks, it’s been a while, but now, only two episodes in to this glorious new season of BattleBots, that dreaded word rears its ugly head once more… controversy.
If you’re some sort of sadistic sucker for controversy, then this episode was for you. Only two episodes in and we’re already questioning the integrity of this great sport, this great show, this great institution. But we’ll get to that later. All in all, this episode wasn’t actually too bad. It wasn’t the rip-roaring explosion-fest we witnessed last week, but for a second episode it wasn’t that bad. Now, allow me to guide you through this whirlwind of a week and take a look at the “action” that unfolded before our eyes.
Shatter vs Ghost Raptor
This was actually a pretty decent fight to kick things off. Shatter, as Chris and Kenny made a brutal point of in the introduction, has come back with a point to prove after a 2-2 showing in 2019. They’re back hoping to show that even though their omni-wheels can move them in any direction, the only way they want to be going is forwards. Against them, the returning bot that nobody asked for, Ghost Raptor, comes in claiming to be a whole new bot, causing severe doubt in the mind of yours truly. Yes, that’s a tasty new bar they’re sporting, but what else have they got to them? How else are they going to justify this long spell on the sidelines?
Turns out they aren’t, because Shatter disables Ghost Raptor’s weapon after about 5 seconds, then proceeds to pummel Chuck Pitzer’s bot until it eventually catches fire. Yup, one fight in and we’ve already got more fire. Credit where it’s due though, Ghost Raptor did get a couple of good lifts in on Shatter, and could have gotten the double KO, since it managed to get its hammer-wielding foe off the floor and caught in the screws, but some questionable editing saw Shatter break free and (deservedly) win the fight.
To me, that was always how it was going to go. Shatter might need to face a stronger opponent to really show its worth in the tournament, but it was still a really convincing showing from the Wrigley gang. Even if they managed to lose half their armour before the fight even started. As for Ghost Raptor, who knows. We know they’ll be up against Chomp later in the series, and if this display is anything to go by I’m not sure how much hope I have for them. Let’s just hope they can justify being here over Bite Force and DUCK!.
Ribbot vs Tracer
If the Plunderbird boys were to posit the question “’Ave you got a srimech?” to the Tracer team prior to the filming of the 2020 season, they wouldn’t have said “’Course we ‘ave!”, they’d probably have said something more akin to “No, but our super awesome spinner and sick prongs mean no one will ever flip us over, so we won’t need a srimech!”. How naïve they’d be for thinking that.
In a demonstration of the importance of self-righting, it took Ribbot approximately ten seconds to turn Tracer on its head, after a pretty encouraging start where it ripped off a wheel from everyone’s favourite robot frog. And in a display of sheer disregard for the laws of mercy, Ribbot then started laying into Tracer’s minibot until it was wires and scraps. Brutal.
A very decent, if not flawless start for team Ribbot and co., and a steep learning curve for Tracer.
Kraken vs Black Dragon
Here we are, folks. We have arrived at our next stop, called “Controversy”. Now, before the battle, I fully expected Black Dragon to walk away with this fight. Am I happy it got the win? For sure. Do I agree with it? Not entirely.
This battle has ignited a whole lot of controversy in the wake of its airing, and it’s pretty easy to see why. If you watch the fight just on its own, Kraken is the clear winner. It had near total control over Black Dragon, clamped down on it with its gnashy gnashers to good effect, and even seemed to detach one of the Brazilian boys’ weapon belts (ONE of, because no-one goes into the arena these days with only one working weapon belt). They got underneath Black Dragon at almost every chance they could, whose wedge seemed to just keep missing Krakens’ narrow front. It seems a clear victory. However, lest we need reminding that damage is weighted higher than control and aggression these days, and with Black Dragon taking a few chunks off Kraken, no matter how superficial it seemed, it proved pivotal in it taking the win.
A lot of people aren’t happy, Matt Spurk of the Kraken team definitely didn’t seem happy, and here we have a key example of why damage isn’t always everything. Fortunately the scoring cards have been published, and we can see how the judges voted, proving it to be such a tight call. But again, take away this certain points system, and Kraken is the clear winner. No question. I’ll take pride in my correct prediction, but it’s tinged with sorrow.
So it’s a win for Black Dragon to start the new season with, but, if they hopefully get a few wins to their name, this will still leave Kraken in a solid position to make it to the tope 32.
HUGE vs Mammoth
From the ridiculous to the sublime. And I don’t mean Jerome Miles’ classic series bot.
I swear this fight was hyped up more than the main event itself. The two biggest robots in the field, the two most mental robots on show, up against each other for the first time. The teams looked so up for the battle as well, with both knowing their bots are there to confuse everyone, and now they end up confusing each other.
It was simply spectacular. I don’t know what I expected from it, but I expected none of what happened. Mammoth got itself a well-deserved win, by virtue of playing keep-away with HUGE but getting its flipper/lifter/whatever-the-f*ck-you-call-it under HUGE and chucking it aside before its bar could do any real damage. It was later revealed to Jenny in the pits that Jonathan Schultz and co. were about half an inch from disabling Mammoth’s weapon, which would have changed the whole complexity of the fight. If it had, we wouldn’t have seen Mammoth doing f*cking somersaults and backflips all over the box, and we sure as heck wouldn’t have seen it just casually place HUGE’s wheel behind the surrounding lexan. A big brain IQ play from probable Rick and Morty fan Ricky Willems. As much as it pained me to see my beloved HUGE defeated at the hands of the only Chungus bigger than itself, hats are being doth’d all-round to a phenomenal display from Mammoth.
Who knows what this means for the rest of the tournament. If this display is anything to go by, Mammoth has the durability and weapon power to potentially stun any and all who challenge it. As for HUGE, whilst I have faith they’ll recover their footing and find a way into the bracket, it’s a rough start that leaves them needing some big performances in their next fights.
Hijinx vs Claw Viper
Ah yes, the one where I had no idea what do expect or what to predict. Two robots I’d never seen in action before, based solely on appearance, going toe-to-toe against each other in an epic slugfest. In the end, I edged towards HiJinx, despite its potentially fragile design, because I wasn’t sure how sturdy Claw Viper’s weapon looked, and how effective it could be against an undercutter. How wrong I was.
How was I to know that Claw Viper would add that tactical wedge to its front, rendering almost any attack from HiJinx irrelevant? How was I to know that Claw Viper can apparently do the Kessel Run in less than twelve parsecs? How in the f*ck was I meant to know that HiJinx wasn’t actually built by the Battle Royale with Cheese team??
All great questions, all brutally answered within the space of two minutes. Claw Viper just took that chonky wedge and threw it head-first into HiJinx until it broke, speeding across the box like it was Lewis Bloody Hamilton. For an opening fight, that couldn’t have gone better for Claw Viper, and if they keep this level of performance up they’ll be onto a high seeding for sure. As for HiJinx, there’s still time for plenty of top-quality hijink-ery, but whether they’ll be able to recover and produce a solid record seems a bit of an ask right now.
Extinguisher vs Perfect Phoenix
Imagine coming home from school one day and your mum tells you about her new boyfriend she wants you to meet. You’re naturally skeptical about the credentials of said new boyfriend, and whether they’ll be able to fill the void of your absent father who’s been out shopping for milk for the past six years. Will they be cool biker dad? Will they be deadbeat junkie dad? How about it’s neitherof these and instead you get RAY F*CKING BILLINGS?
Because that’s exactly what Tyler Nguyen got. Well, he has Ray Billings, the rest may or may not be a complete shot in the dark. You know what else this eleven-year-old wonder-kid has got? He’s got current Giant Nut holder Paul Ventimiglia’s old championship-winning bot Brutality, under a new guise of Perfect Phoenix. This kid literally has it all, and he’s only been in existence for half the amount of time I have. He’s younger than The Dark Knight for crying out loud.
I wish I had the same amount of things to say about Extinguisher, but unfortunately, much like the battle, it’s going to be a short one. Extinguisher’s been waiting a whole year to make a televised appearance (the Science Channel doesn’t count), with upgraded drive and weapon to mark the occasion. They certainly made the most of it, slamming into the screws and being immobilised from one hit within the first five seconds. That’s it, that’s the fight.
Seeing as I spent longer writing about absent dads than the actual fight for this segment, you can tell I don’t have a whole lot else to say. All I can say is it’s pretty hard to judge Perfect Phoenix’s credentials off this one performance since it did barely anything, and as for Extinguisher… well, it tried. Maybe bring the actual extinguisher in next time.
Witch Doctor vs Hydra
And finally, it’s time for the main event. Last seasons’ runners-up, against one of the most confident teams in the pits with a point to prove, Hydra. Seriously they’re so smug I kinda just want to slap Jake Ewert in the face just to break him out of his trance.
Sadly, as the fight proves, they have every reason to be cocky because my goodness they just bullied Witch Doctor about here. They were on them from the start, getting their flipper under the spinning drum and launching the children of voodoo at least ten feet in the air more times than I can count. It was like watching salmon jump out of a river. Even when Witch Doctor managed to get a good shot at Hydra, a tooth broke off its drum, leaving it out of commission and the robot out of balance. I’m pretty sure they spent a good two thirds of the fight on fire as well, so who knows how they managed to make it to the end of the bout.
Hydra did have a scare when it appeared to get caught on something on the arena floor (although apparently it was later revealed to be a speed controller issue), and was midway through being counted out before “springing” back to life again. It was, on the whole, an easy victory, and one that will put it in good stead for making it further in the competition. Witch Doctor I’m sure will also join them, but they need way more convincing displays than this to stand any chance of making it through.
And there we have it, folks, another week, another belated review of your favourite robot fighting show. Promise I’ll try and have a better upload schedule in the next week or so, it’s just a bit hard fitting in regular updates with a 45-hour working week. Trust me, I wish I could live up to the high standards I set myself as much as you.
There’ll be another very belated post on the predictions for the third episode very shortly, which, much like the previous two episodes, will probably go horribly wrong since this week’s fight card is packed to the rafters with mutually assured chaos. But I like a challenge. Remember to follow the blog on WordPress, and on Twitter @robosocks14, it means a lot to know that people actually read my content because they want to. Y’all are great.
Oh, and before I sign out, apparently the BattleBots crew are contemplating changing the arena so there’s no ring-outs anymore? From myself, and literally every person who watches the show, please don’t. OK?
Stay safe everyone, and remember to keep your heads up, even in the most ridiculous of judges decisions.