BattleBots Beat: Who Will Survive in the BattleBox?

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

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Hey everyone, and for the last time this year, welcome back to the Beat! Last time we covered the right side of the BattleBots championship bracket, where Bite Force dominated and Whiplash drove daringly. They joined Lock-Jaw and Minotaur in the semifinals, the final four fearsome, uh, fighters, I guess, in what’s been a grueling, brutal season for the lot. A recap of the bracket:

So, for the last time, onto the fights!

(4) Minotaur vs. (9) Lock-Jaw

How they got here:
Minotaur: 3-1 in regular season
L to Tombstone, KO 2:22
W over Hypothermia, JD 3-0
W over Blacksmith, JD 3-0
W over SubZero, KO 2:53

W over Witch Doctor in Sweet 16, KO 1:39
W over Monsoon in quarterfinals, KO 1:00

Lock-Jaw: 4-2 in regular season, winner of Desperado Flash Tournament
W over Bombshell, KO 1:53
L to End Game, KO 2:01
L to Bronco, JD 3-0
W over Kraken in Desperado quarterfinals, KO 2:25
W over Valkyrie in Desperado semifinals, KO 1:32
W over Lucky in Desperado final, KO 2:42

W over #9 Son of Whyachi in Sweet 16, JD 3-0
W over #16 Bombshell in quarterfinals, KO 0:36

As I mentioned when the seeding came out, the Brazilian Bull Minotaur felt a tad bit overseeded coming in as the #4 seed. Yes, it went 3-1, but everyone except for the three 4-0 robots and Bombshell went 3-1 so that doesn’t mean much. It dominated the fight against Hypothermia but didn’t score the knockout; and it controlled the fight against Blacksmith, but again, didn’t score the knockout and Blacksmith was in far better shape than the first fight that it technically survived. The KO over SubZero was the first time we saw Minotaur doing its thing, which I don’t know if it warranted the 4 seed, the highest of the 3-1 robots. It was probably a little more based on reputation than performance in this event. We saw Minotaur start to do Minotaur things in the championship, taking out all four of Witch Doctor’s wheels, then flipping Monsoon around and pinning them bar down in the quarters.

Lock-Jaw has fought more than any robot this season, with the semis being its 9th fight to the other semifinalists’ 7th. But it’s been a five-fight winning streak for the Mutant Robots bot, which if anything, finally has everything working. It’s showed its offensive capabilities, one-shotting Bombshell, twice, really thrice. It’s showed its defensive capabilities, using its plow setup to great effect against both Valkyrie and Son of Whyachi. But at this point in the competition, everyone’s running low on spares, even if the Season 2 Lock-Jaw was there to potentially cannibalize parts from.

I was also wondering which tactic Donald Hutson would choose for Lock-Jaw against Minotaur, whether he’d choose the twin forks and heavier disks, or the plow, with the lighter disks and only one fork. I think I expected the plow, but there was no plow for the fight. I guess when it’s the semis you have to throw caution to the wind. You’re trying to win the Nut, not not-lose it.

The two robots met in the center, with Lock-Jaw the aggressor at that first exchange, but the drum popped Lock-Jaw up, worth noting that Minotaur could do that. From that Minotaur was trying to outflank, circling Lock-Jaw to try and get around and attack the exposed wheels. Lock-Jaw stayed face up though, and decided to cut the ring and attack. This didn’t work because again the forks couldn’t get under, either it wasn’t a square shot or something, leading to Lock-Jaw briefly riding on top of Minotaur, a dangerous place.

Over the course of time, with sparks and frontal collisions, the forks got more and more damaged—apparently the strategy for Minotaur was to go after one fork at a time to prevent riding up on both. You could actually see the amount the forks had gotten bent by the time Minotaur finally got its chance to get a big hit in, flipping Lock-Jaw. From there it was also easier to get under, and Lock-Jaw went for another ride, and Minotaur must’ve hit something the right way on top, because Lock-Jaw came back down and was out. Minotaur wins by KO in 1:44 and becomes the first South American robot to reach a BattleBots final. (The only other non-North American robot to do so? KillerHurtz, John Reid’s original axe-swinging robot. Back in the first BattleBots tournament, Long Beach ’99.)

(3) Bite Force vs. (10) Whiplash

How they got here:
Bite Force: 4-0 in regular season
W over Blacksmith, JD 3-0
W over HyperShock, KO 0:36
W over End Game, KO 1:02
W over Bombshell, KO 0:47

W over #14 HUGE, KO 1:37
W over #11 RotatoR, KO 1:19

Whiplash: 3-1 in regular season
W over Hypothermia, KO 1:27
W over Mecha Rampage, KO 0:52
L to Tombstone, KO 1:14
W over Warhead, KO 2:04

W over #7 Yeti, JD 3-0
W over #2 Bronco, KO 2:57

For the third-seeded Bite Force, the lowest seeded of the three 4-0 bots, it’s been dominant fight after dominant fight. The lone non-dominant fight was actually the fight against HUGE, where the weapon was disabled. Then HUGE broke apart. But hey, sometimes you can be a little lucky, even when you’re good! You know what they call those types of things? Championship runs, and Bite Force could be the fourth different Paul Ventimiglia BattleBot to win it all, assuming you count the two Bite Forces as different since they have different weaponry. It’s a bit of a Ship of Theseus question, I think, with Bite Force the clamper vs. Bite Force the vertical spinner.

For Whiplash and the Vasquez family, this is proof that Whiplash’s 220-lb. RoboGames silver medal was not a fluke. Not that it should be a fluke, wins over Sewer Snake, Swamp Thing, and Touro Maximus is pretty damn impressive, and to do them all in the same tournament? Yeah, let’s add Team Toad, C2 Robotics, Team Razer, and Inertia Labs to the mix. But there are two more giants to slay before they can claim the Nut. And Paul’s probably the best driver they’ve faced this year. Which is saying something.

Bite Force’s four wedgelets (the front setup for this fight) got under Whiplash immediately, under the plow, and used that to control the early portion, including the very stylish “hit them with the weapon and bounce them off the wall” move that seems to be all the rage. Except Paul isn’t as ice water in the veins as Jamison Go, because hey, two for flinching Paul! Also you’re supposed to bounce them off the Lexan in your opponent’s face. Either way the combined shots bent up Whiplash’s front right wheel.

Bite Force continued to control the tempo and the fight and not let up, taking off that jammed front right wheel, and also the back right, and getting a pulverizer hit in to boot. One more hit by Bite Force sent Whiplash into a very nice somersault, and Whiplash was crabbing immensely. I would’ve thought that the crabbing would have counted as sufficient movement, but the refs deemed otherwise and began the count-out. As Kenny Florian put it, “Bite Force did to Whiplash what Whiplash has done to its opponents all year long.” Bite Force wins by KO in 1:32, and Team Fast Electric Robots’ll probably just have to settle for the Giant Bolt for Best Driver.

Exhibition fight! Tombstone vs. Tantrum

When you’re the three-time #1 seed and unfortunately knocked out of the tournament early due to throwing a chain (though if Ray hadn’t driven over it Bombshell might have smoked out first), you can throw out a general challenge on the whiteboard for the ol’ end-of-tournament whiteboard fights. Apparently it would have been End Game, but the fight needed to be done ASAP to make way for the final and they would have needed to switch setups to the horizontal spinner fighting kit. Which I thought was just the triangular spinner rather than the disk, but apparently that was still too much work and time, which was apparently only 20 minutes. Which is really unfortunate, because everyone wanted that fight, no one more than Jack and OYES Robotics. But instead we get Tantrum.

Tantrum, if you recall, had a total of two fights. After beating Battle Royale with Cheese via no contest unanimous decision, the spring-loaded flipper took on Mecha Rampage. They got KOed in under a minute. They said if you knock off one of the fists you can keep it. Which Mecha Rampage did. So this could be interesting, but kudos to Aren Hill and Team Seems Reasonable for being willing to take on the big boys. Meanwhile Ray’s noting that he’d probably mount the fist (heh) between the Giant Nut and Giant Bolt from the past two seasons. Better than nothing, I suppose.

Tantrum knew they needed to box rush to be effective, and as the fight began that must have been the slowest box rush in history. Or they just didn’t do that. Either way Tombstone took one of those fists off like Tantrum was standing still. Because it kinda was.

Tombstone got a couple nibbles and then went for the other fist, and, uh, this happened. Yeah, we were all wondering what this was from, and now we know the answer. Tombstone took that fist and sent it through a PVC pipe or something, there to protect the wires for the lights. A few more inches one way or the other and that might have been a breach. I mean, holy hell, that’s dangerous. Also, that’s like six, seven feet high. It’s above the height of that corner’s pulverizer.

Tantrum was still kinda moving… well it gave a flip, turned over, got back on its wheels and stopped. So all in all, not the trophy Ray Billings and Hardcore Robotics wanted, but I think they’ll take it over nothing. Ray said they left it there for the final and waited until the arena was powered down before taking it out. Tombstone wins by KO in 1:19.

BattleBots 2018 World Championship Final:
(4) Minotaur vs. (3) Bite Force

Well here we are. Over a hundred fights later, we’re down to two robots. Minotaur, the dense drum spinner, the Brazilian Bull trying to win a Giant Nut for the homeland, for South America. Bite Force, the vertical bar by the golden child—Paul and I graduated with our respective Bachelor’s degrees the same year. He’s 28.

Hold up, if Green Wave was Aptyx Designs’ robot and it competed in BattleBots with their version of Tantrum starting in Season 3, and Green Wave was competing in 2002, I may have my team vs. person off. But no, it says Paul was at the helm of Team Demolition/Aptyx Designs and Green Wave in 2005 at R3. But that would have meant he was 15? Shit, I’m slacking either way.

Both machines recoiled from the opening hit, and what I think was the weapon guard on Bite Force went flying. And from there, it was a street fight. Minotaur with a jab. Bite Force with an upper cut, and another blow to send Minotaur spinning, flipping, self-righting by the power of its drum. It went for the big one, as the death hum became a death scream as it charged Bite Force, and it was plenty potent. But it came at a cost, as the drum died from that hit. But Bite Force wasn’t spinning its weapon either.

So that made it a shoving match, which Minotaur gained an upper hand with its power. But Bite Force’s weapon wasn’t dead and started spinning, getting at the side, Minotaur down its left side panel with its wheel exposed. Hell, could that have been what went flying from that opening hit? Marco Meggiolaro responded to a question about Bite Force ripping off that wheel guard that easily:

The fracture against Tombstone was very brittle, just like cast aluminum. Since both sets of side walls had been machined from the same batch, I feared it would be a material problem. Bite Force won fair and square, but the fractures were brittle once more. We have fought with drumbots made of 6061-aluminum chassis for more than 10 years, and it always bent instead of break. We later found out that our 6061-aluminum supplier in Brazil sells plates made in the US only up to a certain thickness. They later informed us that our 8″ plate bought in 2016 came from China. The chemical composition was near 6061, and hardness not too different from T6 treatment, so we never suspected any problem. We’ve had it recently examined in our university and it seems that, believe it or not, it was actually cast recycled 6061 aluminum, which is very brittle. I am surprised it endured 2016 without breaking, but it was not enough against Tombstone or Bite Force. We will never buy from that supplier again. Only chemical composition and hardness are not enough to trust the material. (Source)

That last hit killed Minotaur’s gearbox, by the by. So your winner, by KO in 2:05, a perfect 8-0 on the season, and now TWO-time winner of the Giant Nut, is…

Bite Force!

It’s Aptyx Designs’ fourth championship, as I mentioned, and yeah, if those are all with Paul at the helm, that matches Carlo Bertocchini of Team BioHazard as the most championships won in BattleBots history with four. Which would be fitting, as Paul’s Brutality was BioHazard’s last-ever fight at Combots Cup 2005. (Paul gave him as much time as needed to try and fix the legend to get that last fight. Because it’s BioHazard. I also say BattleBots history because to this day BioHazard is the only robot to win both BattleBots AND Robot Wars, winning in 1996 and 1997. Razer only won the rumble.)

Also, in three seasons of BattleBots Bite Force is now 16-1. The only robot to beat it?

Yup, Chomp. That’s it. And for those of you making “Giant Nut” jokes, oh, they know. Also from the AMA:

We’re not even gonna try and do phrasing on this one. So, that does it for the recaps, as a champion has been crowned. HOWEVAH.

/Stephen A. Smith

We have some awards to give out. Now, some of them are the actual BattleBots awards that builders get a Giant Bolt for, and those will be revealed by BattleBots in the coming days and relayed here. But, like any good BattleBots recap site (okay, just BattleBots Update and I borrowed the idea from him), we’ll have our own awards to give out. And unlike last time, these awards will have audience participation! This will be for the two big awards: KO of the Year and Fight of the Year.

Your nominees for KO of the Year:

Tombstone over Minotaur: “Sorry about your floor.” Ray Billings was not sorry about having the opponent get stuck on the ripped up floor, though.

Icewave over Vanquish: The shot we saw approximately one million times as Icewave broke Vanquish in half.

Bite Force over HyperShock: Not content with flipping HyperShock over, Bite Force took the entire top off the Tron-yellow bot, having its electronics spill out.

Son of Whyachi over End Game: One hit, two bots getting sent all over the place, damage to the arena… and that was from the robot that won the fight.

Monsoon over Petunia: It had a somersault, leaking hydraulic fluid, and copious amounts of fire. It’s impressive enough that Petunia fought for the rest of the year.

Vote now!

BattleBots Season 3 KO of the Year

  • Icewave over Vanquish (57%, 4 Votes)
  • Tombstone over Minotaur (14%, 1 Votes)
  • Son of Whyachi over End Game (14%, 1 Votes)
  • Monsoon over Petunia (14%, 1 Votes)
  • Bite Force over HyperShock (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 7

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And lastly, your nominees for Fight of the Year:

Tombstone vs. Minotaur: It was the first main event, and it had damage, destruction, and Calvinball-esque ways to win a fight.

Red Devil vs. Monsoon: Or, “how the hell did Red Devil survive the fight considering the first 20 seconds?”

Icewave vs. Skorpios: Arguably the most controversial non-rumble of the season, vaulting Skorpios from “That robot that drove into the screws in a rumble to 2016 on go” to potential championship contender.

Warhead vs. Blacksmith (USA vs. The World): A fiery battle that was too close to call.

Minotaur vs. Bite Force (Championship): That final wasn’t a battle. That was a war. Imagine how it would have been if the spare chassis hadn’t gotten Gigabyte’d? Yeah, that’s the term now.

BattleBots Season 3 FIGHT OF THE YEAR

  • Tombstone vs. Minotaur (29%, 2 Votes)
  • Warhead vs. Blacksmith (29%, 2 Votes)
  • Minotaur vs. Bite Force (29%, 2 Votes)
  • Icewave vs. Skorpios (14%, 1 Votes)
  • Red Devil vs. Monsoon (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 7

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The answers to these polls, along with all the other awards, official and unofficial, will be revealed next week, probably. See you then!

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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One thing worth mentioning as the season comes to a close – I have reached out a couple of times to make the Battlebots community (and some of the builder) aware of DFO’s versions of the bots. These efforts have NOT been well-received.

Low Commander of the Super Soldiers

It’s been a fun season of this. Are there any confirmations on if Discovery is bringing them back next year or do they have to go find another format/channel?


My own fight of the year was Bombshell’s upset of Tombstone. I was about as shocked by the result as I was by the Minnesota Miracle.


Bombshell, eh?
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Yup. Bombshell.


First the Raiders and now Bronco? It’s been a rough fall for RTD. I hope know one tells him about John.

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My favorite ‘bot is actually Minotaur. I’m not too disappointed that they didn’t get the Nut though, it was a great final and Bandleader Bite Force absolutely deserved it. They were an absolute juggernaut this year.


Even though I’ve no idea what i’m reading, I’ve enjoyed these. Thanks for writing them!


Put another onion on yer belt, old man!

I started watching this season, then kinda forgot about it, so I appreciate these recaps for keeping me somewhat “on point” as the youths today like to say.

Gud jerb, Senor Weaselo!