Robot Combat

BattleBots Season 2 Review: Episode 2

BattleBots SOW vs Ghost Raptor

BattleBots season 2 episode 2 review of the killer moments

“I’m back just so I can kick the shit out of Chuck [Pitzer] and Ghost Raptor.”

And with that toss of the profanity laced gauntlet from Son of Whyachi driver, Terry Ewert, Episode 2 of BattleBots is officially underway!

With an extremely high bar set by the opening episode last week, episode 2 felt a bit like the leftovers peeled off the editing room floor and pasted in a collage of rivalries, would-be interesting match-ups and bizarro world intro sequences (looking at you, Mobius). We had an hour less action, and few big names to carry the massive expectation set forth by the 2-hour season premier.

That’s not to say we weren’t left with some intriguing match-ups this week. Where the four featured bouts lacked in substance, they certainly made up for in spectacle. We still saw some great bot-on-bot action, and a few delicious tears that more than satisfied viewers as we look forward to the elimination rounds next week.

Typically, I’d do a bit of a recap of what happened last week, but there were a staggering 16 matches to cover. So, if you missed it, jump over to last week’s review to get yourself up to speed. Let’s review our reviewing system:

Each of the featured bouts will be graded on the following criteria:

Carnage
This scale is based on how many interior robot parts are strewn about the battle box floor by the end of the match. If Chris Rose jumps out of his seat as a reaction to a spinning metal blade screaming through the air at his face, chances are marks will be high in this category.

Technique
How well do the drivers…well…drive? Did flippers flip and burners burn? This scale measures how well the drivers exploited weaknesses and protected strengths.

Evenness
I thought about it. I thought real hard. And the best name I could come up with for this category is “evenness.” I’ll just let that explain itself and cry myself to sleep.

Entertainment
Was the match fun to watch? Were there unexpected twists, insufferable drivers, and enough Kenny Florian to fill up an octagon shaped container of some sort? If the answer is yes to any of those, then scores will be high. This is by far the most subjective of all the subjective categories.

Each match will then receive a final point score out of ten that is less of an average of the above scores, and more of an overall gut-reaction number that just feels right. Make sense? Good.

Let’s get into this week’s bot battles!

Bout #1: Brutus vs. Moebius

Brutus Driver: Adam Bercu

Brutus BattleBots Season 2 Team

Remember last season’s team of exuberant young robot builders slash legendary nerds from from MIT? Well, guess what?! They’re back with not one…not two…but THREE spin off teams in this year’s competition. That’s right! Team cat ears is back with a trio of teams headlined by Adam Bercu, the none-too-impressed-with-Lock-Jaw guy who stiffed fellow competitor, Donald Hutson, after a late-hit in an opening round match a year ago.

Adam is back with a brand new Asian girlfriend and an even brander newer robot named Brutus. I make many jokes, but don’t mistake this impressively constructed spinner bot for one of them. Brutus boasts a powerful vertical spinner in the vein of Minotaur and Witch Doctor, and a pair of cheap looking fake guns that no one is particularly sure what to make of. Brutus is big, bruting, and could quickly become a force to be dealt with.

Moebius Driver: Weirdo. I mean Michael “Shaggy” Macht

Moebius BattleBots Season 2 Team

The fact that Mikey self-nicknamed himself “Shaggy” only adds to the bizarre heap of weirdness team Moebius has brought to the competition. In fact, I predict a new recurring nightmare in my future and it wears dot pupil contact lenses and drives a unibody spinner robot named Moebius. Shaggy seems to have missed the exit for Coachella about 500 miles south of the Battle Box.

Moebius is a bit of a mystery as a contender (shocking).

We’ve seen unibody spinners before – albeit without this much glittery green paint – and they all have the same fatal flaw: too much coiled up energy and no control of how to unleash it. Many of this brand of bot end up doing more damage to themselves than their opponent, yet they keep cropping up because people are stubborn assholes.

This guy doesn’t blink. Seriously, I haven’t seen him physically blink once.

Let’s Battle Some Bots!!

“Ready to toss you like a Caesar salad!” That’s just Faruq unleashing some high brow comedy for you Shakespeare buffs.

If you ever asked me what the robot equivalent of shitting your pants would be, I’d just show you the opening 20 seconds of this fight. Moebius starts out flailing with no control whatsoever until its motor spontaneously combusts and comes flying out of its underbelly. It’s almost as funny as the look on “Shaggy’s” face as he realizes (painfully) his ridiculous entrance that featured an emo guitar player actually was.

Brutus comes out and money shots a few fake projectiles around the Battle Box as Moebius self destructs, lands a few teed up hits with that vertical spinner and calls it a day.

The Numbers
Carnage: 8
Technique: 6
Evenness: 1
Entertainment: 6

Bout Result – KO. Brutus.

Total Score (not an average): 6

Hot Take: I’ve never been more confused about…what the eff Moebius? It makes sense.

Bout #2: Ghost Raptor vs. Son of Whyachi

SOW Driver: Terry Ewert

SOW BattleBots Season 2 Team

Ahhhh! The revenge match we’ve all been waiting for! Terry Ewert promised to retire after losing to Chuck last year. But the smug look on legendary asshole Chuck Pitzer’s face was enough to pull him from the clutches of oblivion and back into the Battle Box. He’s bringing SOW out of a 14 year retirement for the sole purpose of knocking out Mr. Pitzer. And I, for one, couldn’t be rooting harder for him to do so.

Son of Whyachi won the giant nut equivalent 15 years ago when battling bots was but a whisper in the wind. SOW is a legend in the game, and this year it’s back with a rusty thirst for destruction. As per usual, Terry has brought along the whole damn family with his son driving a mini wedge bot that probably doesn’t do anything other than give his unemployed next of kin something to spend his summer doing. SOW will ratchet up its infamous spinner in hopes of giving Ghost Raptor the exit it deserves.

He’s back with a mini bot driven by son of Terry (the real Whyachi?)

Ghost Raptor Driver: Chuck Pitzer

Ghost Raptor BattleBots Season 2 Team

If there were ever a BattleBots driver who lived up to the insufferable, slimey, punchable face reputation his name would indicate, it’s Chaz Pitzer. He managed to run amok on last year’s competition with a half-crippled robot that snaked its way through the ranks of better robots en route to an elite eight appearance. The devil indeed appeared to be funding Chuck’s deep run a year ago.

This year, Ghost Raptor is back with a beefier blade and a more sniveling, sweatier-faced driver. Ghost Raptor’s only chance against SOW is to take some hits and hope some sort of higher power wills its way into the next round.

Let’s Battle Some Bots!!

“That’s right bitches!” Good god. Please go away, Chuck.

SOW comes out swinging haymakers and lands a brutal hit to Ghost Raptor, who’s yet to get its horizontal spinner up to speed. I’m confused as to if Chuck’s taking on a ‘Rocky 3’ strategy here looking to use SOW’s strength against him, or if his robot is just not responding. Whatever the case, it doesn’t appear to be working. GR takes slam after smash after bash before son of Terry Ewert wedges the mini bot underneath the badly damaged robot to put an end to the match.

Sweet justice! Not only did Ghost Raptor lose, Chuck didn’t even get sweaty enough for one way-too-close close up! I haven’t been this satisfied by the ending of a battle since (Ed Note: A current Game of Thrones spoiler was here, thanks a lot Peter)! A little harsh? That was a little harsh.

The Numbers
Carnage: 9
Technique: 8
Evenness: 4
Entertainment: 10

Total Score (not an average): 8.5

Bout Result – KO. SOW

Hot Take: And all is right in the world again.

Bout #3: Lock-Jaw vs. Yeti

Yeti Driver: Gregory Gibson

Yeti BattleBots Season 2 Team

If Gregory Gibson were an American city, he’d be Detroit, Michigan: gritty, blue-collar, and without a strategy in the world on how to get what he wants. Gary builds robots to take damage, get hits when he can, and let the cards fall where they fall. It’s a refreshing approach in a sport filled with over-thinkers and ego-strokers.

Greg is here to fight. If he wins, he wins and if he loses, he loses.

That’s not to undersell the fierce robot he’s brought in Yeti. Gregory was laughed out of the ring a number of years ago in his first couple of attempts to compete in robot fighting competition, but it didn’t deter him from learning the craft, getting better, and coming out tough with mystical, snow-loving beast of fury. Yeti is all about mobility and control, bearing almost no armor at all in favor of a powerful drum spinner and a heap of moxy. Let’s see if this redemption story is worthy of a bad Jerry Bruckheimer movie.

Lock-Jaw Driver: Daniel Hudson

Lock-Jaw BattleBots Season 2 Team

Daniel didn’t do so hot last year. He suffered two humiliating losses – one of them in particularly embarrassing fashion to team MIT and Overhaul that left him handshake-less and bitterly confused as to why those nerds were all so angry.

But he’s back with a lockier jaw and an unbroken spirit. I like Daniel. He emits a childlike enthusiasm for robot fighting that constantly teeters between ‘weird for an old ass man’ and ‘endearing as hell.’ It’s a shame Lock-Jaw just never seems to hit the reputation Daniel has established for himself over the years. It’s a bit of a one-trick pony – and has never seemed to be on par with some of the more dominating bots in the field. Prove me wrong?

Let’s Battle Some Bots!!

Yeti comes out swinging! That vertical drum spinner is digging right into Lock-Jaw sending a hot shower of sparks cascading down the Battle Box walls, prompting Chris Rose to oddly say, “It’s like we’re reheating something in the microwave!” Yeah, maybe if you’re actually trying to reheat a giant robot.

Yeti takes it right into the exposed rubber tires of Lock-Jaw, rendering it immobile and reeling. Towards the end of the match Lock-Jaw fights back and gets a few decent holds to hold off the constant beating it was taking, but ultimately didn’t do enough to sway the judges in his favor. An entertaining match that went the distance!

The Numbers
Carnage: 8
Technique: 8
Evenness: 10
Entertainment: 7

Total Score (not an average): 8.0

Bout Result – Yeti. Unanimous Decision.

Hot Take: “I am the yeti” (100 dollars to who gets that 90’s PC gaming reference).

BattleBots Quick Hits

Now it’s that time in the show when we quickly gloss over fights that don’t matter! *sarcasm.

Mega Tento vs. Poison Arrow + an inneffective flame drone
Poison Arrow wins. Decision.
Hot take: I’m already over drones.

Cobalt vs. Overhaul
Cobalt wins. KO.
Hot Take: Poor showing from Overhaul and team cat ears.

SawBlaze vs. Razorback
Razorback wins. Decision.
Hot Take: The third prong from dismantled team MIT goes down in a largely forgettable fight.

Red Devil vs. Wrecks
Red Devil Wins. KO.
Hot Take: Still not sure having your robot ‘walk’ is the best idea in this competition.

Back to real action!

Bout #4: Rotator vs. Witch Doctor

Rotator Driver: Victor Soto

Rotator BattleBots Season 2 Team

Victor Soto is this year’s feel-good story. He designs and builds surgical robots, and got into building fighting robots with his dad, who is currently in a battle himself with lymphoma. It’s hard not to get all the feels hearing Victor talk about competing for his dad, but he’s got a tough fight going up against last year’s breakout robot, Witch Doctor.

Rotator features a double horizontal spinner that operates exactly the same whether right side up or upside down. Call it a ying-yang bot. Or don’t. I’d be surprised if these spinners have enough firepower to upend Witch Doctor, who took an insane amount of damage from Tombstone last year before losing on a technicality.

Witch Doctor Driver: Andrea Suarez

BattleBots Season 2 Team

And that brings us to the final bot in the season 2 qualifying rounds! I’ve said a lot already about Andrea Suarez and Witch Doctor’s improbable run deep into last year’s tournament. No one expected that tiny little vertical spinner to pack such a vicious punch, but pack a vicious punch it does.

Witch Doctor is sans Shaman this week (that means ‘without’), but we’ve been assured by Andrea that future matches could see everyone’s favorite useless minibot depending on the competition. Here’s to hoping!

Let’s Battle Some Bots!!

I love Faruq, but he did recycle what was probably his best announcement from…well…ever (glippity gloppity, glippity goo!). 10 points because it’s still funny.

And it’s over before it begins! Witch Doctor lands a clean direct hit, effectively reducing rotator to a sack of miscellaneous hardware store purchases. Disappointing but not altogether surprising considering Witch Doctor’s reputation. Unfortunately, the feel good story of Victor Soto ends short of a proper ending. Here’s to hoping his dad is able to help him come back even better next year.

An impressive opening showing from Witch Doctor, who hasn’t seem to have lost a step following up last year’s run.

The Numbers
Carnage: 7
Technique: 7
Evenness: 3
Entertainment: 7

Total Score (not an average): 7

Bout Result – KO. Witch Doctor.

Hot Take: Faruq’s announcement was longer than the fight.

Wild Cards

That’s it for the opening round folks! With a flash in the pan and a kick to the junk, we’re getting into the high stakes rounds starting next week.

In BattleBots tradition, 8 losing teams from round 1 were awarded wildcard positions and will be allowed a spot in next week’s round of 32. Here are the lucky teams:

  • Blacksmith
  • Ghost Raptor (NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOoooooooooooooo……Eh whatever)
  • Bombshell
  • Jock-Jaw
  • Lucky
  • Mega Tento
  • Nightmare
  • Overhaul

Episode Review: 7

Hot Take: This week couldn’t possibly live up to the strong showing last week, but these leftover scraps were just enough to keep momentum going into the knockout rounds.

 

Image credit: battlebots
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