BattleBots season 2 review of episode 5, the one with the rake
We’ve done it, folks. We’ve made it to the halfway point of this glorious robot fighting tournament spectacular you and I know formally as BattleBots.
It’s weird to say because it barely feels like this year’s story has hit its stride yet. As we get into the next rounds and the show starts to build a more focused approach to each episode, I hope we get more substantial versions of the builders’ backstories, motivations, relationships, and personalities. That’s what I loved so much about last season, and I think a bit of that has been diluted by the massive number of competitors we started out with.
But enough of that talk about the past. This week we look to the future as the round of 16 really begins to take shape. We’ve already seen a host of enthralling matches as the field gets whittled, parsed, skimmed and shaped into the best robot fighting machines on the planet.
This week we finally get to see “Mad” Matt Maxham and wife Wendy put their bot Stinger on center stage. Stinger isn’t an overly impressive robot, but the personality and passion of its builder pours through its hydraulic delivery lines, making it as hard to defeat as it is entertaining to watch.
Also…a rake. More on that later.
Let’s get to it!
Bout #1: (9) Beta vs. (24) Overhaul
Beta Captain: John Reid
John’s an interesting guy. He’s spent 14 years of his waning life designing, testing, refining, and putting his own hard-earned money into a robot with a confusing name and one seriously insane hammer. It’s probably the most vicious hammer weapon the sport has ever seen, and the passion John shows for building and fighting robots shows up in the craftsmanship and precision behind his creation.
This robot does one thing: rain down the wrath of a thousand robot Gods onto whoever gets in its way. That’s going to be John’s strategy going into all fights, including this one against Overhaul. There is little room for error when it comes to lining up that powerful hammer, so John’s driving skill is going to have to be on point to get enough hits into either sway the judges, or pound Overhaul into a sloppy mess on the Battle Box floor.
Overhaul Captain: Charles “cat ears” Guan
It’s redundant to make fun of a dude for wearing cat ears with the kind of pride our friend Charles does, so I’m just going to stay away from it (starting…now). As one of three teams that splintered off last year’s Overhaul super group of MIT students, Charles and his team represent the zaniest of the bunch. Wow…they’ve uh….they’ve really embraced this whole cat ears thing this year, haven’t they (okay starting…now).
Overhaul lost it’s first round match via knockout to tournament rookie Cobalt, and honestly didn’t look super impressive doing it. I was a bit surprised to see them squeek their way into the 24 seed, but hopefully there’s enough left in the tank to make for an entertaining match tonight.
Whatever you do, just avoid the hammer. Avoid the hammer and jab your way to a decision, because that might be Overhauls only chance going up against such a weapon in Beta.
Let’s Battle Some Bots!!
Side note: listening to Faruq ‘meowing’ like a kitten when announcing Overhaul is now one of my fondest memories as a human.
Both robots come out performing a delicate and tentative robot tango, neither being super aggressive in the early going. Beta looks to line up that hammer and Overhaul looks to be wanting no part in that. It’s literally a game of cat and mouse (starting now).
At least that was before Beta decided to go all Chuck Norris on Overhaul by way of a relentless offensive attack. Beta’s hammer and John Reid’s driving are proving to be too much for Charles and Overhaul to overcome. Hit after hit after hit is punishing Overhaul, who can’t seem to do a thing to stop the onslaught.
After probably the seven thousandth body shot dealt out by Beta’s hammer, Overhaul finally goes down in fairly unspectacular fashion. There was nothing flashy about this knockout, just the well deserved result for a robot and driver that was just better. I don’t know how Beta will hold up against some of the more devastating robots in the field, but this was an important win for John. He’s put his life into this robot, and it’s paid off so far.
Total Score (not an average): 7
Hot Take: Cats.
Bout #2: (11) Hypershock vs. (22) Warrior Clan
Hypershock Captain: Will Bales
What Hypershock lacks in an interesting name, it more than makes up for in solid construction, a powerful weapon, and a team captain with enough enthusiasm and personality to fill a grain silo.
And this week, Will has brought something we’ve never quite seen in the Battle Box before: a rake. Yes, you heard me. A rake. A run-of-the-mill, off-the-shelf, green hardware store rake that Will has frankensteined to Hypershock’s lever arm creating a one-of-a-kind drone killer. Now, up to this point drones have done little more than prove that one can, in fact, make a drone and bring it into the arena. Beyond that, they’ve been a pile of useless flying trash. Kind of like seagulls.
But, Will’s approach to dealing with this benign nuisance is hilarious and inventive and I can’t wait to see it in action.
Warrior Clan Captain: Clint Ewert
With the weight of the Ewert family legacy landing square on the shoulders on young Clint, he brings Warrior Clan into the arena once again. This time, WC has an aforementioned drone friend by its side. By now, we all know what Warrior Clan needs to do to win matches: get that flipper underneath the opponent and pray to the robot Gods.
Based on Hypershock’s street cred, I don’t love Clint’s chances in this one. Warrior Clan has proven to be a bit of a fragile machine when compared to other robots with more substantial protection. And after suffering a massive hit to the drivetrain in the opening round match, this one could be an uphill climb. If Hypershock lands a few direct hits with that jagged vertical drum spinner, we could see Warrior Clan open up like a can of beans.
Let’s Battle Some Bots!!
A wry, semi-maniacal smile is squeezed out of Will Bale’s face as the match begins. Hypershock looks ridiculous with that giant green rake as a relentless series of opening attacks send Warrior Clan reeling against the screws!
AND THE RAKE ACTUALLY WORKS! The drone is taken down with a feathery swipe from the rake arm of Hypershock, who follows the swat with an explosive blow that literally explodes the drone in a glorious plume of compressed air. The drone is officially dead, and Hypershock turns its focus back at Warrior Clan, who simply sat around and watched as it all went down.
An impressive bit of driving from Will Bales as Warrior Clan tries to get in a position to flip. The two bots chase each other in circles around the discarded wreckage of the once-airborne drone.
The rest of the match is ripe with high comedy as Warrior Clan is ushered into the corner where a pulverizer simply sits atop the immobile robot. Will Bales laughs like a crazy person as the dead drone carcus is swept around the arena floor like the piece of trash it is.
Total Score (not an average): 8.5
Hot Take: I hope every drone we see from now on explodes like that.
Bout #3: (5) Stinger vs. (28) Mega Tento
Stinger Captain: “Mad” Matt Maxham
My hero! My shining star! My guiding light! The emergence of Matt Maxham and wife Wendy as major players in last year’s tournament was my favorite robot storyline in 2015. They didn’t have the best robot in the field (made apparent by the whooping it was handed by Bronco), but Matt’s scrappy and bombastic personality translated through his bot, Stinger, who climbed through the ranks for a deep run.
This year, we’ve yet to see much action from Team Stinger. It’s a robot whose vulnerabilities show up in the form of six rubber tires, which have the unfortunate tendency to remove themselves from the body of the robot. Stinger relies on mobility and quickness to win matches, so losing those tires could be the achilles heel against Mega Tento.
And Stinger has brought a mini-bot to the table this year! It’s small, adorable, and shoots flames that probably won’t do a damn thing to win this match. But, I digress.
Mega Tento Captain: Lisa Winter
Lisa has been around fighting robots almost her entire life. Mega Tento is a well known commodity in the BattleBots community because it’s been around forever and it looks like a giant freaking lady bug for nuts and bolts sake!
Mega Tento lost a controversial decision in the opening round. Lisa attributes this to the judges not being able to see the damage being done by the vertical spinner concealed behind the ridiculous guise of a massive plastic ladybug. To remedy this, she’s flipped the spinner to the backside of the chassis, giving the judges a full frontal view of the havoc that spinner can wreak. Expect Mega Tento to be attacking Stinger with it’s ass. Read that sentence again.
Let’s Battle Some Bots!!
Side Note: Since Faruq’s “Uranus” comment last week, his intros just don’t feel as good by comparison. Has he peaked too early? Is the bar now set to high? Only time will tell…
Mega Tento put its thang down, flipped it and reversed it right into Stinger in the early going (any Missy E fans out there?). Stinger looks a little tentative but manages to shoot a fire blast right into the rear end of Mega Tento.
Stinger’s trying to control the fight and flip Mega Tento, but sheer size of the plastic lady bug face is making things incredibly difficult. Stinger, so far, is dominating the fight, but not enough to do anything substantial to Mega Tento.
And Mega Tento has come to life! Stinger has lost a wheel! There’s fire everywhere! What is happening! The spinner of Meta T is taking its toll on Stinger, who is without a wheel and perhaps even without a will to continue living. It looks like this one is going to the wire. Stinger tries again and again to flip Mega T but to no avail.
Game over! It’s going to the judges!
Split Decision. Mega Tento wins!
Total Score (not an average): 8
Hot Take: I’m sad to see Matt Maxham go. But at least I still have my dreams…
Before we get to our final feature fight of the evening, the producers have sped things up again in this episode with a few “quick take” fights to gloss over. I’ve made my feelings about these segments well known, so all I’ll say is this: next year I’d prefer a narrowed field to an underdeveloped field. I want to know all about all teams and all drivers, but I suppose I might be in the minority there. For fans who follow this sport closely, it’s more about spectacular fire and robot carnage. It’s about the people who facilitate it.
(8) Icewave vs. (25) Nightmare
Icewave lands a few massive hits before its drivetrain goes out and sends Nightmare into the next round by default.
(16) Brutus vs. (17) Lock-Jaw
Actually, seeing the highlights I’m not surprised this one didn’t make it to center court. A whole lot of nothing happened before a split decision win was awarded to Brutus. Yay.
(14) Cobalt vs. (19) Bombshell
Bombshells adjustable height horizontal spinner proved a formidable weapon as it strategically took out Cobalts exposed rubber tires. Bombshell wins via knockout.
(4)Bite Force vs. (29)The Ringmaster
Bite Force landed enough massive hits early to win by decision despite its main weapon being disabled for most of the fight. Will last year’s winner have what it takes against better robots?
Back to the final feature fight!
Bout #4: (13) Chomp vs. (20) Capt. Shrederator
Cptn. Shrederator Captain (that’s a little redundant): Brian Nave
If Donald Trump were a robot builder, his name would be Brian Nave. All it took was a short on-screen bio for him to climb the ranks of most hated BattleBots driver for what can only be described as deep seeded ego and disrespect for his opponents. I can respect the fact that he wears awesome American flag shirts at every available occasion (which is always), but his arrogance could be his downfall in this competition.
He’s not happy with his relatively low seed, but out to prove the judges wrong with a Texas-sized chip on his shoulder. Shrederator boasts a powerful horizontal body spinner that will look to take chunks out of Chomp on its way to the next round. In his own words, “Chomp is a chump.” So clever.
Chomp Captain: Zoe Stephenson
Chomp has a few glaring vulnerabilities that make it ripe for attack when that powerful hammer doesn’t land squarely. Our friend Brian Nave will try and exploit this by avoiding the primary attack then going after Chomp if it topples over. In the last round, Zoe had a hard time keeping Chomp upright even after it landed a massive hit.
Zoe’s strategy here will be to keep Shrederator at bay while reigning down hammer blows from afar. If Shrederator can get close, this one could be over quick. Brian talks a lot of guff, so I’m guessing it will give Zoe great satisfaction if she can put his reign of verbal terror to an abrupt end.
Let’s Battle Some Bots!!
“Her Facebook status reads, ‘it’s Chomp-licated.” Faruq is back, guys.
Apparently the only time Brian Nave doesn’t wear American flag garb is when he’s wearing denim. This is me not being surprised.
Chomp makes a couple of hard-earned attempts at landing that hammer blast early on, but Shrederator’s nimble movement avoids the attack. Chomp loses balance before taking a few body shots from CS.
And Chomp lands a huge hit! Shrederator looks dazed, but the blast also flips Chomp and gets its flipper flapper thing stuck in the saw blade hole (technical term). Shrederator can’t capitalize on the incapacitated bot before Zoe self-rights and goes in for more blood.
And Shrederator can’t move! The countdown begins! But wait! Now it’s back!
And now it’s dead.
“Shit.” Great quotes from Brian Nave.
Total Score (not an average): 7
Hot Take: The robot God is a good God.
Episode Review: 7
Hot Take: We are finally out of the opening round after what seemed like a month. Oh wait, it has been a month. On to the next round!