BattleBots Season 2 Review of Episode 7, a return from the Olympics
Finally, the Olympics are over, and BattleBots are back! And while I certainly enjoyed watching the sexist announcers, doping Russians, and floating body parts in the Guanabara Bay, I couldn’t be happier to venture back into the BattleBox.
Something else that’s finally over? The sweet sixteen! Well, after tonight it is, anyway. After 6 weeks of heated competition and an uncountable number of matches behind us, only 8 will emerge next week as we near the home stretch of this year’s tournament. We’ve seen tears, laughs and maniacal smiles (looking at you, Ray Billings) up to this point, where the competition looks to get even fiercer as the glorious giant nut begins to come into focus.
Speaking of Ray Billings, we get to see Tombstone in action this week! With such a larger field of competitors this year, we’ve seen very little of the sport’s most ferocious spinning block of cold steel. It’s a shame, too. As much of a hard time I give Mr. Billings for being a tad insufferable, he really is one of the most interesting characters in the game. It helps, too, that his robot could literally tear the front fender off a semi truck without breaking a sweat.
What will Tombstone have in store for us tonight? Chaos?! Mahem?! Destruction?! One can only hope.
Bout 1: (1) Tombstone vs. (16) Brutus
Pre-match disclaimer: If I hear Chris Rose make one more “et tu brute” ‘joke’ I’m going to lose my shit. You’ve been warned.
Tombstone Captain: Ray Billings
I’ve said so much about bad boy Ray Billings over the past few seasons I’ve run out of superlatives and below-the-belt commentaries to describe him and his robot powerhouse, Tombstone. He’s the best there is in the sport today, and if he can reel in his ingrained tendency to overplay his hand, he has the best chances of taking home the giant nut when it’s all said and done. Don’t get cocky.
For his match against Brutus, Ray is going with the shortest of the 4 blades be brought along this year. This much strategy is new this year for Tombstone, so it’s good to see Ray’s eyes have been opened to the potential of him not winning after being ousted by Bite Force a year ago. He knows Brutus doesn’t have much reach, but is wary of it’s vertical uppercut spinner that could be an issue if he gets in a hit to Tombstones blade. Ray wants to work around Brutus’ weapon and attack from the flank.
Also, watching Ray stand up and puff his chest at team Brutus as they walk into the repair shop backstage is hilarious and legendary.
Brutus Captain: Adam Bercu
I’ll give him this, Adam has got a lot of gusto. He’s probably the only personality in the competition who rivals Ray Billings for ego and confidence. And while Brutus is a fine bot and has done well to make it this far, it’s no Tombstone. Adam know one way or the other this match is going to end quickly and end in a knockout. He thinks Brutus has what it takes to take a direct left hook to the chin and stand tall. I can’ say I share his optimistic outlook.
Team Brutus has taken out one of their battery backs to beef up on defense. Because Adam knows this fight is going to be a short one, he doesn’t anticipate needing the extra power. It’s a smart move, but one that ultimately may have little to do with the outcome. If Brutus can’t take a direct his from Tombstone, it can’t move on to the elite eight.
Let’s Battle Some Bots!!
How many Gladiator references did Faruq just jam into the Brutus introduction? I counted five. Well played, sir.
Brutus opens up flying around the side of Tombstone looking to get a hit on its broadside but Ray was ready for him. A huge collision only 5 seconds into the match! Brutus’ beefed up armor has already been sent flying!
Tombstone gets back up to speed and goes in for massive hit after massive hit before Brutus lays dead and motionless in the corner of the Battle Box. Ray give out his customary series of high pitched ‘whooos’ and this fight is over.
I guess Adam was right about one thing: this match didn’t last long.
Chris Rose…I hate you.
Overall Score (not an average): 8.5
Hot Take: It’s a good day when there’s more Ray Billings on the horizon.
Bout 2: (9) Beta vs. (25) Nightmare
Beta Captain: John Reid
Mr. Reid is a hard guy not to root for. He poured his life, his money, and his passion into Beta, and I’m sure I’m not alone when I say I’m surprised he’s made it this far. It has nothing to do with John as a person, or even his technical skill when it comes to building robots. It has everything to do with Beta being such an unorthodox battle bot design. It’s basically a wedge bot with a comically large mechanical hammer sticking out like a giant lollipop in a baby’s hand. Physics tells us this just won’t work. It’s unstable, lacks mobility, and is extremely vulnerable to losing it’s only real weapon.
Yet here sits John in the round of 16 with a very good shot at reaching the elite eight with a favorable matchup against Nightmare. I say this without even a glimmer of sarcasm: it couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy.
Nightmare Captain: Jim Smentowski
As John Reid so aptly puts it: “that’s a brutal big disk it’s got there.” Imagine that being said by a charming old Englishman and have yourself a laugh. Nightmare presents another rather unusual design. It features a tripod wheel base wit a massive disk spinner out front. To be honest, Jim was lucky to make it past well-known bot Icewave in the previous round due to a fried battery pack of it’s competitor. However he got here, Jim is looking to keep his lucky streak going against a robot with a few vulnerabilities of its own.
This is actually a pretty even matchup on paper. These robots couldn’t be more dissimilar, but the fact that they both have glaring weaknesses could add up to a lengthy bout.
Let’s Battle Some Bots!!
Both bots come out dancing around, sizing each other up as Beta keeps the hammer cocked back looking for the perfect opportunity to unleash the power of Thor. Nightmare looks incredibly unstable as each sharp turn sends its non-pivot wheel hanging precariously in the air.
Nightmare is doing a great job of avoiding being squared up by Beta. We are already about a minute into the fight and Beta still hasn’t thrown that hammer.
And Nightmare lands a huge hit! Beta tries to land a couple of blows with the hammer after being chopped down and can only manage a weak overhead blast. Beta has lost its hammer!
At this point, Beta’s only chance is to flip Nightmare over as the time winds down and OH MY GOD!! Beta has flipped Nightmare!! Nightmare won’t be saved by the bell and once again Beta dishes out the most improbable of victories!
Overall Score (not an average): 9
Hot Take: Ray Billings must be licking his chops right about now.
Bout 3: (12) Yeti vs. (28) Mega Tento
Yeti Captain: Gregory Gibson
“I like to keep things pretty simple: take what we have, drive forward, BANG!” And if y’all didn’t know, Yeti captain, Gregory Gibson is a straight gangster.
I’ve been enamoured with Yeti since the pre-season BattleBots special that seems like it aired a thousand years ago. The bot is scrappy and relentless and is self-aware enough to know what it is an, more importantly, what it isn’t(Note: not self-aware in the Terminator 2 fuck the world with nuclear war and robots that look like Governors of California. Self-aware like knows its strength and weaknesses. Got it? Good you can stop panicking now).
Yeti has scrapped its way into the round of 16 and will continue to do one thing: put its head down and go at its opponent like a bull in a china shop. There’s an endearing self-deprecation that Greg carries along with him. It’s a refreshing outlook on the competition that has so many larger than life egos and personalities. Yeti will go right at Mega Tento with reckless abandon.
Mega Tento Captain: Lisa Winters
It’s really hard to hate something that looks like a giant robot driven by a woman who has been fighting battlebots since she was twelve, but the fact that Mega Tento knocked out one of my favorites in Stinger just doesn’t sit well with me. I’ll admit it: I’m petty and unforgiving.
All jokes aside, Mega Tento has been a surprising treat in this year’s tournament. The robot’s bizarre design and eccentric driver are a much-appreciated shot of weirdness to a sport that needs weirdness to keep people interested. I never thought that giant plastic ladybug shell would ever be effective as a fighting tool, but it has caused real problems for some of the best drivers in the field. Let’s see if it stacks up against a driver that has no will but the will to live on. Mega Tento will look to go after Yeti’s wheels and come out on top just like it did with Stinger. It’s a solid plan.
Let’s Battle Some Bots!!
Yeti comes out hot! That bot has got some serious speed and uses it to get around Mega Tento and land a direct his sending MT flying in the air. Did I mention this robot was scrappy?
Mega Tento gets iselt stuck up on the screws and Yeti comes in with a massive hit with its drum spinner as Mega Tento’s wheels fly into a hundred tiny pieces! Mega Tento jirates back and forth on the screws but is ultimately suck and counted down to zero. Yeti with a decisive win!
Wow, that was fast. All that was left to do was for Chris Rose to make three too many ‘bug against the windshield’ comments.
Overall Score (not an average): 8
Hot Take: Guys, Yeti is the new Stinger.
Bout 4: (4) Bite Force vs. (13) Chomp
Chomp Captain: Zoe Stephenson
Chomp won an impressive and emotional match in the last round against Captain Shrederator. There was no love loss between Zoe and CS’s driver, Brian Nave. But she outlasted the grump of an old man in a classic match that came down to a photo finish split decision.
The challenge for Chomp and that fierce ice-pick hammer doesn’t get any easier this week as reigning BattleBots champion Bite Force steps up to the plate. Chomp has had a history of being a bit unbalanced and top-heavy – something Bite Force could exploit with its speed, mobility, and dangerous vertical spinner. Zoe is looking to target Bite Force’s exposed weapon gear drive and take it out early in order to take control of the match.
Bite Force Captain: Paul Ventimiglia
Paul got lucky to make it out alive against The Ringmaster in the previous round. Bite Force lost its weapon early, and managed to win a pushing match against the incapacitated opponent to make it into the round of 16. They’ve repaired the weapon, but questions still float around about this robot’s newly designed artillery.
Bite Force is going to need to avoid that ice-pick hammer at all costs. A single direct hit could end this match early and send Bite Force home early.
Let’s Battle Some Bots!!
OH!!! Out of the gate Chomp lands the money shot! A direct hit to Bite Force’s gear box severs the pull-chain and leaves it motionless on the floor. Only 10 seconds in and Bite Force’s main weapon has been completely neutralized!
Even without an active spinner, Bite Force catches Chomp off balance and drives it into the corner of the BattleBox. Chomp is feverishly trying to right itself and shooting flames in all directions as Bite Force regains control.
Chomp is pulling no punches! Forget opportunity, Zoe is letting that hammer fly at will as its massive steel frame flops around the arena floor like a robot fish out of water.
Bite Force accidentally drives over its own broken chain and gets stuck in the middle of the BattleBox! Chomp rights itself and sends flames and a relentless beating all up over and around Bite Force.
Bite Force gets free but Chomp lands another huge hit to the exposed drive train. Bite Force sends Chomp into the screws! This match is going down to the wire! Chomp gets stuck on the kill saws before the timer reaches zero – leaving the judges with an incredibly tough decision ahead of them.
And it’s Chomp!! In a unanimous decision!
Overall Score (not an average): 9
Hot Take: One of the best matches we’ve seen all season.
Episode Score: 9
Hot Take: This season’s best episode yet! Expect the heat to get turned up next week as we edge ever closer to the hoisting of the nut.