Robot Combat

BattleBots Season 2 Review: The Gears Awaken

Creepy Crawlies BattleBots 2016

Review and highlights from the BattleBots season 2 special episode: The Gears Awaken

The bots are back baby!

After a way-too long hiatus that had me making Chris Rose pancakes and bleeding my eyes out on last season’s re-runs just to get my BattleBots fix, we are finally hopping back in the BattleBox arena. The robot Gods have gifted us with this one hour pre-season spectacular featuring four rumble style matches that will determine the last four spots in the 48 bot tournament that starts in June. What luck!

If you remember from last season, I made it abundantly clear the rumble format was a favorite of this bot blogger and I’d stop at nothing for them to include more this season.

So you can go ahead and thank me now for what amounts to an entire episode of three-way action.

Looking ahead to season 2, which officially debuts on June 23rd, we’re in for a few major changes this year. Most notably, and something we got a taste of in last night’s special, drones will be shown in the BattleBox for the very first time. DRONES! I’ll hold my enthusiasm for now as I’m not quite sure how effective a drone will actually be in combat, but I’ll be damned if it isn’t a titillating prospect. More on this later. Also, our charismatic female host from last season, Molly McGrath, has been replaced by an equally charismatic and equally as blonde female host, Sam Ponder. Some might have a preference, but to me its’s not a major change. Now we have someone different for Chris Rose and Kenny Florian to be awkward around.

With no further ado, let’s get into this week’s Rumble-rama!

Rumble Bout 1: Son of Whyachi (S.O.W.) vs. Creepy Crawlies vs. UltraViolent

Son of Whyachi Driver: Terry Ewert and son Luke Ewert

Son of Whyachi BattleBots 2016Terry Ewert does his best Michael Jordan impression and unretires to revive the legendary bot that is Son of Whyachi. Last season, Terry’s tournament life ended short when his failed family project Warrior Clan got ousted by a crippled Ghost Raptor and a sweaty-faced Chuck Pitzer. Just when he thought he was out, the prospect of glory in the form of a Giant Nut pulled him back in. S.O.W’s powerful spinner might get him that Nut.

Creepy Crawlies Driver: Kelly Smith

Creepy Crawlies BattleBots 2016Keeping with the long BattleBots tradition of brilliant young female builders, and the even longer tradition of Brits, Kelly Smith enters the BattleBox with her unusual 5 bot contender in Creepy Crawlies. We’ve seen mini-bot sidekicks before, but this project appears to be 5 small robots all designed in the fashion of bugs. 5 bots in an already 3-way match adds up to some kind of wizard math that I can’t begin to compute.

UltraViolent Driver: Andrew Peterson

Andrew is one of those guys who’s probably a lot smarter than me, so I’ll try not to say anything that will make me look stupid in the future. He’s a master builder who built the US Navy a catamaran for his dissertation. And now he builds robots that fight each other. I’m glad he’s put his education to good use! Sorry I couldn’t resist. The sleek build of Ultraviolent sure is nice to look at though.Ultraviolent Battlebots 2016

Let’s Battle Some Bots!!

As predicted, Son of Whyachi dominated every second of this all-too-short rumble match. The Creepy Crawlies team ended up being about 47 family members, friends, and people they pulled out of the stands deep. But their effort was in vain as a number of their bug bot buddies got completely eviscerated at the hands of S.O.W.’s powerful spinner. Ultraviolent tried its best, but ultimately the only bot in the Box worthy of a spot in the championship tourney was Son of Whyachi. It may have been the worst possible bot for the two grappler teams to face on their first (and only) bout.

Winner: S.O.W. KO.
Hot Take: Welcome back Ewert family. Welcome back.

Highlights:

Creepy Crawlies minion numbers 3 and 5 get tossed like a Japanese stir fry by Son of Whyachi. Can I get some extra soy sauce with that massacre?

Bugs go flying – BattleBots 2016: The Gears Awaken – Streamable

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Ultraviolent makes a feeble attempt to saunter away from Son of Whyachi before a direct hit sends it straight past visible light and into infrared. Science jokes!

Run away! – BattleBots 2016: The Gears Awaken – Streamable

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Rumble Bout 2: Basilisk vs. Blacksmith vs. Gemini

Basilisk Driver: Lucas SloanBasilisk BattleBots 2016

Finally! A Canadian in the field! No, I’m not Canadian, but being someone who lives just a stone’s
throw away from the B.C. border, I’ve become quite fond of their antics. The mug shot of Lucas donning orange-tinted shooting range goggles and a tight, black “Basilik” t-shirt that I can only assume is tucked into jean shorts is an easy answer as to why. Oh, and the gold chain. Lucas will also be giving us our first look at drone combat in the BattleBox! I told you Canadians were awesome.

 

Blacksmith Driver: Al KindleBlacksmith BattleBots 2016

Al is an easy guy to root for. He’s a pie-faced nice guy who’s been battling bots as long as some of the legends in the sport, but he’s never came out on top of a tournament before. His hammer-bot Blacksmith looks to change all that. While I’ve long criticized the use of flamethrowers of any kind as effective weapons in the BattleBox, I can’t find it in my heart to turn my nose up at a flaming hammer of power. I’m a big softy like that.

 

 

Gemini Driver: Agustus “Ace” ShelanderGemini BattleBots 2016

Captain Agustus “don’t call me Zoolander” Shelander brings not one, but TWO rolling heaps of destructive steel into this three-way rumble. An interesting wrinkle in the Gemini duo’s story is they are both the exact same weight, meaning both will need to be incapacitated in order to count as a knock out. Old Augustus must’ve spent many a lonely, sleepless night combing the rulebook to come up with this technicality. If you ain’t cheatin’, you ain’t tryin’!

Let’s Battle Some Bots!!

Before the match I’d like to quickly interject and slow clap for the work ring announcer, Faruq is putting in thus far. He’s clearly upped his game this season with introductions like “your horoscope reads: you’re about to die!” Genius. Moving on.

This match certainly didn’t bode well for the future of drone-bots in the BattleBox. The Siegfried to Basilisk’s Roy didn’t do so much as attempt an attack, instead deciding to helplessly float overhead as its big brother got hammer slammed by the flaming fist of Blacksmith. Meanwhile, Gemini’s horoscope didn’t come true as neither bot managed to make anyone die. In the end, it was Blacksmith who came out with a unanimous decision victory even as its motor came to a smoldering halt towards the end of the match.

Winner: Blacksmith. Decision.
Hot Take: I’ve decided I only like flame-bots if attached to a massive hammer of death.

Highlights:

Blacksmith rounds up both Gemini brothers and hammer-slams them into the corner as Basilisk’s drone hovers inconsequentially above.

Pow!Pow!Pow!Ow! – BattleBots 2016: The Gears Awaken – Streamable

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The poor drone drops unceremoniously to the ground and is run over like an ant on the sidewalk before getting pounded into the arena floor by Blacksmith. I hope this doesn’t signal what’s to come from future drone competitors.

Drone tactics – BattleBots 2016: The Gears Awaken – Streamable

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Rumble Bout 3: Invader vs. Mohawk vs. Lycan

Invader Driver: John MladenikInvader BattleBots 2016

Anyone with a last name that puts consonants ‘M’ and ‘L’ next to each other is alright by me. John is a long-in-the-tooth veteran of the sport who’s returning to the BattleBox after a seven year sabbatical. He brings Invader to the party: an alien green uni-body spinner bot with various fins and blades welded around the perimeter. As we’ve seen in the past, full-body spinners are often their own worst enemy, so we’ll see if John can keep the bot together as it attempts to rip the other bots apart.

Mohawk Drivers: Korey Cline and Tom BalesMohawk BattleBots 2016

You may remember Mohawk from last season’s championship tournament where Mohawk lost in the opening round to Tom’s son Will Bales and his patricide-bot Hypershock. Tom is back again with Mohawk and looking to avenge his humiliation at the hands of his own flesh and blood. I bet he wishes that apple fell just a bit further from the tree. Mohawk shoots flames out of it’s ‘crazy’ metal hair and really does little else. If you can sense my muffled enthusiasm it’s because I’m laying it on pretty thick.

Lycan Driver: Ravi Boboolal

Ravi is an early contender for best name in the competition, something I can’t exactly say about Lycan BattleBots 2016his robot, Lycan. Ravi is the SECOND Canadian in the field, and has a reputation for his lack of respect for the elder bot builders in the sport. Lycan has a gaping, jagged chomper that hopes to chomp its way into the championship tournament. And if the overwhelming chomper to body ratio weren’t indication enough, Ravi wears a sweatshirt that insufferably presents the phrase: “yes, he bites.” Thanks for clarifying.

Let’s Battle Some Bots!!

This rumble started out promising, with Invader flying around the Battle Box with reckless abandon for its competitors and its own well being. A few early shots on Lycan left both bots reeling, while Mohawk shot tall flames out of it’s metal hair but did little to actually affect the match. In the end, Invader was its own worst enemy, knocking itself around the arena before losing all control and spinning in place for 45 MINUTES before officials could safely get in a stop the madness. Mohawk sat back and outlasted the self destruction of Lycan and Invader on its way to the championship tournament. One spot left!

Winner: Mohawk. KO (I guess)
Hot Take: Mohawk would have had the same result if it watched from the stands.

Highlights:

Invader sends Lycan for a ride while consequently sending itself into the screws. Lycan is one of the fastest bots we’ve seen, which ended up working against it as it got Babe Ruthed into the left field bleachers.

Lycan’s speed – BattleBots 2016: The Gears Awaken – Streamable

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Invader is completely out of control, bumping around the arena like a drunk clown in a small bar. Meanwhile, Mohawk’s flame-hair looks cool but literally does nothing.

Invader out of control – BattleBots 2016: The Gears Awaken – Streamable

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Rumble Bout 4: Bad Kitty vs. Skorpios vs. Black Ice

Bad Kitty Driver: Bradley HanstadBad Kitty BattleBots 2016

Bat Kitty has a face only a mother could love, and even then I’d be skeptical. It’s a bot fitted with a vertical spinner that comes out of a terrifyingly crafted cat face that will now and forever haunt my dreams. The creepy shot of Bradley stroking the head of a stuffed animal cat tells you pretty much all you need to know about this feline fanatic. Here’s to hoping he loses and we never have to see this monstrosity again (I’m sorry, but I’m really not).

Skorpios Driver: Orion Beach

Skorpios with a ‘K’ is what happens when the Greeks get a hold of robotic engineering. Orion Beach is a name you get when your parents point to things on a starlit night of their Jamaican honeymoon. Both are here tonight with hopes of sneaking into the coveted championship tournament. Orion has mucho experience as a technician and a builder, but not a ton as a team captain and driver. Let’s see if he can bring his game to the next level and OH MY GOD I’M STARTING TO SOUND LIKE KENNY FLORIAN.

Black Ice Driver: Dan Barry

Black Ice BattleBots 2016This dude’s been to space, something that can only be said of about 100 people in the history of earth. Whether or not that has a grain of salt to do with his ability as a bot fighter remains to be seen. Black Ice, which sounds like a name pulled straight from the internet’s finest ‘fighting robot name generator,’ has an extremely sturdy build quality and a ‘scary’ pair of painted-on eyes, to boot. Although its “roadblock” barely qualifies for the independently powered weapon rule. Dan is another BattleBots rookie looking to make a name for himself in the sport.

Let’s Battle Some Bots!!

Unfortunately, the showrunners did not leave the best for last. Black Ice made nice on some decent driving, but it was easy to see the distinct lack of Battle Box experience in this one. Case in point: about 30 seconds into the match Skorpios decides to wedge himself unprovoked into the dormant screws, effectively rendering it incapacitated. If there were Darwin awards handed out to BattleBots competitors, Skorpios would be first in line. In the end, Black Ice softly turns Bad Kitty onto its back while Skorpios makes feeble attempt after feeble attempt to uncork itself from the screws in a scene that pretty much sums up the entire foray. At least the sparks were cool?

Winner: Black Ice. KO.
Hot Take: Take your creepy cat abomination and GET OUT.

Highlights:

Skorpios swings and misses sending him straight into the screws and out of the tournament. Bad Kitty and Black Ice bring up the rear for a bit of a bot-centipede action.

Bot-centipede – BattleBots 2016: The Gears Awaken – Streamable

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I wish there were more highlights, but that was pretty much it. I give that match two flaming spinners of death DOWN.

. . . . . . .

Aside from a few aforementioned dull moments, all in all not a bad way to kick off a brand new season and a brand new tournament! We’re bound to see a wide variety of faces new and old come the opening episode on June 23rd. We are just over a month away from more bot on bot madness, and we’ll be providing some bot-centric content here at Third Law Sports in the meantime to help bridge the gap, so stay tuned!

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