BattleBots Beat: Honest-to-Goodness Playoff Pictures?

Senor Weaselo

Senor Weaselo

Senor Weaselo plays the violin. He tucks it right under his chin. When he isn’t doing that, he enjoys watching his teams (Yankees, Jets, Knicks, and Rangers), trying to ingest enough capsaicin to make himself breathe fire (it hasn’t happened yet), and scheming to acquire the Bryant Park zamboni.
Senor Weaselo

Welcome back to the Beat! Last time out, the Desperado Flash Tournament rolled through and Lock-Jaw became the first robot to punch their ticket to the BattleBots World Championship. Oh, and somewhere along the way we made the sidebar, so that’s cool too. This week, we’ve got some legitimate bracket-making fights, topped off with a youth vs. experience headliner. But more on that later. Onto the fights!

RotatoR vs. Skorpios
 2-1 (L, JD 3-0 to Petunia; W, KO 1:07 over Predator; W, JD 3-0 over Warrior Dragon)
 2-0 (W, JD 3-0 over Lucky; W, JD 2-1 over Icewave)

After a loss to Petunia where the disks didn’t do much other than burn out, and a win over a non-contestant Predator, RotatoR managed to get a solid fight in with its win over Warrior Dragon with a strategy of not spinning up both weapons at the same time. As this is their fourth fight, their tournament hopes very possibly ride on this fight, where it’s time to put all the chips on the table and damn it I’ve made another 13 Black reference. That’s the wrong robot, Senor!

Meanwhile Skorpios has come a long way from nearly breaking the screws by slicing up Lucky en route to a dominating win, and then scoring the upset of the tournament with the shock split decision over Icewave. For one, it was a shock they lasted the full three minutes, and then to win it, even if what aggression means is still up for debate? That win alone could get them in even if they go 0-2 the rest of the way.

As for this fight, it began with Skorpios box rushing RotatoR, who had just its top disk spinning. RotatoR was able to get out of the way and get that one disk up to speed, but Skorpios was ramming towards the other side, only getting a chance to hit when getting spun around. Skorpios got a chance to push, but they didn’t have a chance to get the saw down since RotatoR was still moving, this time starting to spin both weapons. They got a nice shot, drawing sparks, but Skorpios’s strategy was similar to the Icewave victory, so they just stayed on the twin spinner.

They finally started to bring the saw down but nothing happened, no sparks or anything, so clearly something was up with Skorpios’s saw again. It came down but it didn’t look like it was entirely spinning, and Skorpios had to adjust as RotatoR was able to take shards off of Skorpios’s plow and then use the ancient strategy of running away. When they did engage they could do damage with both blades, because if one disk hit the recoil would spin around and hit with the other one. That’s close to the old 13 Black strategy, used by the Robot Wars competitor.

Skorpios had to use its saw like a clamp but true to the Icewave fight, around the midpoint it started to take RotatoR to the rails, just missing the pulverizer (interestingly enough, RotatoR’s controlled hammer, as determined by the paint color on the floor where the hazard would strike). And then… they got stuck under the wall. RotatoR could use this as a chance to finish the fight and started to spin up their higher disk. Skorpios was able to get out from where they were wedged, but right into the weapon, and then the fight was back on with around a minute left. Skorpios chased, RotatoR spun and struck, and all of a sudden there was a giant hunk of metal and gears on the floor, and wait holy shit that’s Skorpios’s weapon totally torn off. They tried bring the saw arm down to clamp onto RotatoR, missed, and it cost them big time when disk hit saw.

From here on out, Skorpios was just a plow, and because that upper disk was that perfect height it could take another piece off the top of Skorpios. It was the perfect height to hit the arm. Of course, they got a little cocky and hit the killsaws, but at this point it was a matter of survival. RotatoR wins an impressive fight via unanimous decision and moves to 3-1, and with a win like that, seriously enters the postseason discussion.

Ultimo Destructo vs. Witch Doctor
Ultimo Destructo:
2-1 (W, KO 2:04 over Valkyrie; W, JD 3-0 over Parallax; L, KO 2:15 to Axe Backwards)
Witch Doctor: 1-1 (L, KO 1:24 to Yeti; W, JD 3-0 over Blacksmith)

Florida bots do battle! It’s not quite as interesting as Florida Man doing battle, but it’s the best we got. Ultimo won its first two fights, but considering Valkyrie broke down and Parallax is the only robot to have not made it to TV, they probably weren’t fantastic, although Sean Irvin says that the Parallax battle was pretty good and could have made TV. In fairness, it is his bot. The loss to Axe Backwards didn’t do any favor though, so even though Ultimo’s 2-1 it’s still considered a bit of a paper tiger. Witch Doctor needed every bit of voodoo (and updated screw-doo… design) to escape what would have been both a shocking and a crippling loss to Blacksmith, as they were dominating the fight throughout.

Witch Doctor came to take a look since Ultimo, in its “Techno” formation (the flipper), was slow coming out of the gates. Witch Doctor slowly and steadily outflanked the rather large Ultimo and pushed towards the screws until Ultimo ended up on top and lost a chunk of a tire, the front left. The rest of that tire quickly fell off. Witch Doctor came in for another strike and Ultimo lost the right rear tire and then the entire right side of the robot. And for added bonus, it was under the pulverizer. Sean Irvin put his hands up, he knew it was over, and with that being Ultimo’s fourth fight, there might have gone any chance to get into the selection discussion. Witch Doctor wins in 54 seconds.

Overhaul vs. WAR Hawk
Overhaul: 1-1 (L, KO 1:34 to SawBlaze; W, JD 3-0 over Chomp)
WAR Hawk: 1-1 (W, KO 1:30 over Axe Backwards; L, KO 2:33 to Brutus)

This fight pits a pair of 1-1 robots, both probably in need of two wins. They both lost via KO to pretty good bots (the “other two MIT bots” if you’re Overhaul—SawBlaze and Brutus, respectively), and they both beat robots who’ve had less than stellar marks; Chomp is 0-3 so far, and Axe Backwards has had reliability issues leading to its 1-2 mark. A win over the other would at least get them into my discussion, though since I don’t know who’s fighting who yet, I can’t be that helpful, right?

Overhaul was the one coming out of the gate first as WAR Hawk spun up, tusk and all, but had to slow up to avoid a minibot. This gave WAR Hawk enough of a chance to sidestep and damage the right side of Overhaul’s armor, overturning Overhaul to boot, leaving them a sitting duck for a second shot from WAR Hawk sending bolts and Overhaul’s tusk flying. The mobility was limited by the armor hanging off dragging on the side, a wedgelet was damaged after running into WAR Hawk’s flywheel again, and even the clamping jaw was bent. But they still managed to lift WAR Hawk up by, something, I’m not sure how, as Overhaul tried to get back some momentum. After the first 40 seconds, both robots were already hurting a bit. Overhaul was trying to get a lift in, but kept getting popped.

Then WAR Hawk’s minibot did something, getting under Overhaul, which started smoking. And then caught fire. Overhaul was sort of high-centered on WAR Stop (apparently that’s its name?), which proves that minibots are better than drones, the end. From then on it was the two main bots crabbing around for the last minute and change, which meant it went to the judges, who went for WAR Hawk via unanimous decision.

Chomp vs. Warhead
Chomp: 0-3 (L, JD 2-1 to Warrior Dragon; L, JD 3-0 to Overhaul; L, JD 3-0 to HUGE)
Warhead: 1-0 (W, JD 3-0 over Sharkoprion)

I’m intrigued by this matchup, and of what to call it. Like, the others you can do something with, but I wouldn’t say Chomp’s artsy enough to be an “art-bot.” Technology bot, sure. Ooh, I got it! It’s an evolution fight, since Chomp has the technological evolution with the tracking, and Warhead’s giant head was referred to as an “evilution.” Bang!

As for actual “how are they doing” and all, if you asked Chomp that, the answer would be not great. The new srimech didn’t work as well against Warrior Dragon, the tracking saw ghosts or something against Overhaul and lost because Overhaul was saved by the bell, and the hammer just got ripped off against HUGE. And now they get Warhead, which looked completely fine in its fight against Sharkoprion, with the bonus of holy fuck that’s a lot of fire. Because holy fuck, it is a lot of fire. It was Kenny’s birthday in the cold open and nobody had a match, so the dino-headed Warhead lit the candles. And the cake. Oops.

Zoe Stephenson decided to turn Chomp’s hammer power down for this fight to help with stability. And interestingly enough, Warhead went for the giant gaping jaw for this fight. I was surprised (as were the announcers) because I was wondering if it would be able to get its mouth around, but then I also remembered Chomp has an added belt of AR500 steel on its bottom portion to be a spinner deterrent, so I guess that’s the strategy?

Sure enough, Chomp and Warhead’s jaws are about the same height, as they met side by side at the beginning of the fight, as the two bots met, flamethrowers blazing. Chomp got a couple shots to Warhead’s skull, which also had some sort of cape on to prevent neck shots. Because protecting yo’ neck is important. They also had some tire pieces actually covering the skull which you could see later on in the fight. After Chomp got another shot to the head, Warhead got a hold of the hammer, but lost the handle as Chomp went free.

Chomp fired the hammer, but turned turtle, as Warhead got another clutch on the hammer, holding it and using the flames. After letting go, Chomp was able to push back and re-right herself. After the two came back to the middle Chomp fired again with a glancing blow and toppled over, letting Warhead go for the hammer again while Chomp squirmed around. After letting go, Chomp re-righted rather dramatically. So it’s good they got that sorted out, better late than never. But Warhead came from the side with another bite, this time more of the bot than just the hammer. But then they both briefly got stuck, since Chomp ws rocked to the side and as a result Warhead was off its wheels. They were able to get re-sorted after they were forced to let go since you can only hold for 20 seconds. Chomp got one more strike in but Warhead had to jaw open so the hammer head didn’t hit, and she did a 180 into Warhead’s jaws as the fight concluded. Warhead gets the unanimous decision, as Chomp’s rough season comes to a close, winless.

Bonus fight: Sharkoprion vs. Gemini
1-1 (W, KO 2:22 over Deviled Egg and Kraken; L, JD 3-0 to Warhead)
Gemini: 1-1 (W, KO 2:43 over Mohawk and Kraken; L, JD 3-0 to Lucky in Desperado QF)

Both of these bots won their opening rumbles but lost to more established robots in their follow-ups. For Sharko (that’s the nickname, yes) after blitzing Deviled Egg and Kraken it was out-bitten by Warhead in the “art bot” battle. That’s not meant to be perjorative, of course, because Sharko’s become one of the teams I root for and my love of Razer and Warhead are well-documented. Meanwhile after surviving its first rumble thanks to Mohawk breaking at a terrible time, Lucky flipped each twin over and over again in the opening desperado fight. I’m not gonna write the whole tournament name out every time, it’s really long.

Anyway, I got home late, so I didn’t have a chance to see the whole fight. I did get home in time to see most of it, however, as Sharko went after each Gemini bot as they came, as they tried to circle and flank the shark. As a result rather than predominantly use the saw they actually spun around for much of the fight, using the tail like a thwackbot would. The saw did hit Gemini a few times, but the improved Gemini strategy as compared to the Lucky fight meant that they didn’t give much of a chance for a prolonged attack with the front.

While Gemini tried to turn the fight around with things such as taking Sharko towards the screws, the biggest hit from the fight, again, seemed to be from Gemini onto Gemini. It was the red bot taking out the black bot, including removing a wheel and as a result that one was out for the last bits of the fight. Though the remaining Gemini robot was able to push the spinning Sharkoprion by getting under in the closing seconds, it was awfully close to call. You figure due to the self-inflicted wounds Sharko gets the damage points, with the other three up for discussion. Which sounds about right, as Sharkoprion wins by split decision. Yeah, I’d give Gemini the aggression point and the strategy point, but the self-inflicted wounds mean Judge Senor gives Sharkoprion the control point and the fight 3-2. Either way, this puts Sharkoprion at 2-1 for the season and onto the fringes of the playoff hunt. They absolutely still need to win the last fight, but would you have expected a robot that looks like a shark to be at this point? I sure didn’t.

Main event: Tombstone vs. Whiplash
Tombstone: 2-0 (W, KO 2:22 over Minotaur; W, KO 1:09 over Gigabyte)
Whiplash: 2-0 (W, KO 1:27 over Hypothermia; W, KO 0:52 over Mecha Rampage)

So I apologize to the Vasquez family for calling them upstarts. They seem like it because Splatter was kind of useless in the previous season after being an alternate in the first, but they built upon it the following RoboGames with Whiplash, where they were the 2017 runners-up. You can catch all their fights from that tournament here. That includes a win over Touro Maximus (the 220 lb. RioBotz drum spinner) and the all-timer Sewer Snake (the 220 lb. version of Stinger from the first two seasons), and Hardcore Robotics’ “other” robot, Swamp Thing in a rematch (as RoboGames is double elimination). Matt Vasquez, the driver, is 19, and this season of BattleBots they’ve beaten Michael Mauldin of Team Toad and Christian Carlberg, and I’d like to apologize to him as well for the bit where the only robots to repeat on BattleBots were Vlad the Impaler, Hazard, and BioHazard—Carlberg’s signature super heavyweight, Minion, won the Las Vegas ’99 and Comedy Central Season 1 titles (and was runner-up in Season 3), making it four BattleBots competitors currently on that Mount Rushmore that Tombstone hopes to join.

Speaking of, what do I need to say on Tombstone? Defending champ, 2-0, 2 KOs, KOed Minotaur and Gigabyte and did some serious damage to both. So, Ray Billings and team picking up where Ray Billings and team left off, basically.

The fight began with Whiplash coming after Tombstone and actually popping the champ up with the first shot, though I could see something red come off of Whiplash. That was a piece of the plow up front, and the entire left side of it broke off when Whiplash charged again. Whiplash was game and was the early aggressor, taking Tombstone to the corner to try and stop that lethal bar. But in going for the pin with the lifter, they let Tombstone get away to try and spin up in the middle of the arena again.

Tombstone ran away and spun to the side as Whiplash tried to use the flywheel part of the weapon to attack the wheel. But that is Ray Billings’s oldest trick, and that’s why Tombstone is two wheels. It can turn on a dime and as your squaring up that wheel shot, Tombstone spins around and hits around the side, in this case taking out Whiplash’s tire instead, before spinning back around and getting a big shot that sent both bots spinning. A couple shots later (including Tombstone cartwheeling from the recoil of one) took a second tire off Whiplash. they went head to head, sending Tombstone cartwheeling a second time, but Whiplash had nothing left, a little bit of smoke emanating from it. It might’ve still been a little mobile but there’s a decent chance these two might meet again. Tombstone wins by KO in 1:14, going to 3-0.

That does it for the fights, but at the beginning of the episode, Kenny gave a quick breakdown of where some of the robots stand with the bracket, so with the fights that just happened, let’s see what I can do, right? Let’s try and do a little bit of that Bubble Watch thing ESPN does in February/March. Please note that this is all my opinion, I have absolutely zero official standing with BattleBots, and will most likely be wrong.

Locks: Lock-Jaw (4-2, Desperado champ), Tombstone (3-0), Bronco (3-0), Bite Force (3-0), SawBlaze (3-0), HUGE (3-0)

In as of now: Icewave (2-1), Son of Whyachi (2-1), End Game (2-1), DUCK! (2-1), Monsoon (2-1), Brutus (2-1), Whiplash (2-1), RotatoR (3-1), Skorpios (2-1), Yeti (2-1)

In the discussion: Minotaur (1-1), Witch Doctor (2-1), Red Devil (2-1), Petunia (2-1), Warhead (2-0), WAR Hawk (2-1), Lucky (2-3), Blacksmith (1-2), Sharkoprion (2-1), Valkyrie (2-2)

So yeah, I’ve gotten it down to 25 robots or so with a fighting chance, but there are by my count, something like five more Fight Nights left to cull this to 16. What’ll help is the main event for next week, the sequel we didn’t know we needed to a fight we didn’t realize would be as crazy as it was the first time, Blacksmith and Minotaur. Care to jog your memory?

I’m not expecting this to be The Godfather: Part II, but it should be a good matchup to help cut down on the crowding that is the playoff discussion. And on that note, feel free to call me wrong about who should be in and out, and see you next week!

Senor Weaselo
Senor Weaselo
Senor Weaselo plays the violin. He tucks it right under his chin. When he isn't doing that, he enjoys watching his teams (Yankees, Jets, Knicks, and Rangers), trying to ingest enough capsaicin to make himself breathe fire (it hasn't happened yet), and scheming to acquire the Bryant Park zamboni.
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Moose -The End Is Well Nigh
Moose -The End Is Well Nigh

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Moose -The End Is Well Nigh
Moose -The End Is Well Nigh

I know some of these have escaped their owners and are living a quiet but active life as a lawnmower in New Jersey.

Moose -The End Is Well Nigh
Moose -The End Is Well Nigh

….. and others who want to.

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Moose -The End Is Well Nigh
Moose -The End Is Well Nigh

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Moose -The End Is Well Nigh
Moose -The End Is Well Nigh

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I’m sure this joke has been made before, but I for one welcome our new pigeon overlords…

Moose -The End Is Well Nigh
Moose -The End Is Well Nigh

Much more intelligent and image aware than our current flock.


It seems like one of the only ways to take out Tombstone is to get him off-axis – when he’s cartwheeling around and that blade hits the floor, it’s got the potential to wreck him completely. A pure wedge won’t do it but a sloped one might.


Getting a rematch against Blacksmith is a gift to Minotaur; that should cement their place in the top 16.

Also, Sharkoprion rulez. I would love it if they did another tournament that was just animal-inspired robots only.