BattleBots Beat: The Flipper Frenzy

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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Welcome back to the Beat! Last time, RailGun Max won the battle of Shanghai, “Holy crap Bronco’s 0-2” got replaced with “Holy ultra crap Bronco’s 0-3,” and a whole bunch of cut fights that will go onto the BattleBots YouTube page sometime after the season ends. Oh, and Gigabyte might have finally landed. This week, a whole buncha robots are finishing up their seasons with their fourth fights, including a trio of 3-0 robots in Skorpios, Hydra, and Bite Force. There’s also plenty of 2-1 robots trying to separate from the scrum by going 3-1, since the scrum is the 2-2 robots. And borrowing one of those 3-0 robots for a second, the main event is

Of course the Robot Wars Wiki had this!

none of these robots! But it does have 3-0 Hydra and 0-3 Bronco duking it out for flipper supremacy. Also in Bronco’s case to figure out what the fuck has happened to a season that’s gone terribly off the rails. Which, granted, included the defending champ and a bad matchup, but still, that “bad batch of titanium” hurts. Now it’s about salvage.

To the fights!

Breaker Box vs. HyperShock
Breaker Box: 1-2 (W, JD 2-1 vs. Falcon; L, KO 2:17 vs. Uppercut; L, KO 1:36 vs. Bloodsport)
HyperShock: 2-1 (W, KO 2:14 vs. Valkyrie; W, KO 0:41 vs. Monsoon; L, JD 3-0 vs. Bite Force)

A battle of Florida, and one where I’m assuming Will Bales and the rest of Shenanigans & Co. were thinking “Holy shit we’re fighting Jim Smentowski at BattleBots.” Because that would be my reaction, and unlike the teams behind Uppercut and Bloodsport this team is old enough to remember watching BattleBots on Comedy Central. Of course, they also need to win the fight, lest HyperShock figuratively flame out late in the season, as opposed to literally smoking out all last season.

For Breaker Box, it just hasn’t seemed to work right, having drive problems throughout, and the hammer we were hoping to see we haven’t. We don’t get to see it for this one either, as against the vertical spinner (this time the double-toothed disk for HyperShock, interesting) the plow returned, back with arms this time.

It wasn’t the HyperShock rush as both bots came out and circled each other. The plow did its job at first as HyperShock went up it rather than ripping into it, and Breaker Box could try and just miss taking HyperShock to the screws. But to do that Breaker Box got itself stuck and had to reset, and since HyperShock wasn’t on the screws it could quickly get its disk laying into Breaker Box, sending it flipping, taking out what looked like pieces of tires and tattering some of the top armor, trying to push back into the screws. But the disk did stop, so HyperShock tried to do some driving and ramming. Which minibot Hacker took advantage of and the two Team Nightmare bots flipped HyperShock over.

The srimech was having issues on HyperShock, plus the disk wasn’t spinning, but they could still drive with the back wheels. Kind of. There was more wheelspin than wheels moving, and an attempt to use the screws for self-righting also weren’t working too well as HyperShock nearly got stuck, letting Hacker use the flamethrower on HyperShock, and Chris Rose to give the minibot a voice. Your mileage may vary.

The good news is HyperShock’s weapon was spinning back up, but there wasn’t much bite. Repelled, HyperShock wheeled around, and got the weapon bracket, which it was using for stability at this point, stuck in a killsaw port. That’s disastrous, as Hacker went to check on it.

But good guy, that Jim Smentowski. Breaker Box came in for a look when Hacker probably could’ve just stayed there and tried to get the remnants of flamethrower going to keep HyperShock stuck, but Breaker Box was able to free it. Where HyperShock went into a different killsaw port, thoughthe chasing Hacker was able to free it, or HyperShock was less stuck and got out under its own power. Either way.

The fight continued, hobbling along as HyperShock’s disk wasn’t doing much and Breaker Box was starting to smoke and spin. And totally die. Its front was totally missing and torn from HyperShock’s early onslaught, from a shot that sent Breaker Box somersaulting, and that was electronic bits and not (only) tire pieces, and it finally became too much. HyperShock wins by KO, just under the bell, and moves to 3-1, just barely. I’m wondering how the judges would have scored that because it would not have been an easy fight in terms of aggression and control. Damage goes to HyperShock 2-1 even though the flip counts.

Oh, and next season Jim’s planning a Nightmare 2.0. Rejoice greatly.

Yeti vs. Tantrum
Yeti: 2-1 (L, JD 3-0 vs. Bite Force; W, JD 3-0 vs. Free Shipping; W, KO 0:56 vs. Rainbow)
Tantrum: 2-1 (W, KO 2:34 vs. Jasper & Upper Cut; W, JD 3-0 vs. Gemini; L, JD 3-0 vs. Skorpios)

There’s a difference between these 2-1 bots, namely things like size. Tantrum is somehow roughly the size of one of the Gemini bots, while Yeti is quite a large box. I’m pretty sure that size difference is why they had Mammoth vs. Foxtrot.

There’s a difference in strength of schedule too. For one, Yeti got the privilege of losing to Bite Force, but Yeti also gave one of the great fights of the season against Free Shipping, where if Original Sin had been allowed to compete it would have lost, but it got to hit the lifter mechanism because you need the lifter there because BattleBots active weapon rules. Yeti’s win against Rainbow was acting as gatekeeper in a way to see if Rainbow is ELITE. Which was a resounding no. In a way the fight against Tantrum is like that, because Tantrum is 2-1 and could potentially get in with a 3-1 record and one of those wins being over Yeti. Its heavy armor would be up to the test against Yeti’s smashing.

Naturally curse of the commentator, as one of the fists (one out of one, don’t know why the other one wasn’t there) fell off from the first approach of Yeti’s drum. It didn’t go flying or anything, just fell, as Yeti’s drum hummed away, still without the lifting forks to be a pain in Greg Gibson’s ass. Meanwhile Tantrum was punching but not doing too much with the punches, as it’s been an interesting idea but not worked as well as Boxing Champion did during King of Bots, where it won three fights in a row. No, I mean consecutively, without repairs or charging. Yeti wasn’t in full smash mode, not wanting to get under Tantrum’s forks, but since the drum was hitting first when Yeti did charge it was winning the exchanges, slowly pushing Tantrum into a corner with its back to Yeti, which could grind away at that back, pushing the tiny Tantrum towards the pulverizer. Tantrum was slowed but still barely mobile as Yeti went to work, damaging some of the top armor and continuing on the back, where it finally got to a wheel and tore that off. The drive problems and traction were too much for Tantrum, as Yeti wins by KO in a definitely edited 2:45.

Copperhead vs. WAR Hawk
Copperhead: 1-2 (L, KO 2:37 vs. Skorpios; W, JD 2-1 vs. Gruff; L, KO 1:04 vs. Chronos)
WAR Hawk: 2-2 (W, KO 1:51 vs. Petunia; L, KO 1:36 vs. Hydra; W, KO 2:45 vs. Ragnarök–Desperado QF; L, KO 1:01 vs. Black Dragon–Desperado SF)

Copperhead doesn’t really have much to fight for in this one. It’s 1-2 this season and even with a win here, if it goes into the group of 2-2 bots it’s not going to be that special in it. WAR Hawk with a win could move to 3-2, and considering the losses are to Hydra and Black Dragon that’s not too bad. At the least it could get them over many of the 2-2 bots, even if the 3-3 Minotaur would probably still be the leader of the multi-loss bots.

And WAR Hawk came out quick, charging and spinning while Copperhead stayed still to spin up. But Copperhead got the better of the first exchanges, once, twice, thrice, because its front wedgelets were repelling WAR Hawk’s plow, even with the forks on WAR Hawk, which were bent already.

Neither bot had full mobility and you could see some discoloration and damage on one of Copperhead’s tires, but the drum bot was able go get to WAR Hawk’s left side and take a piece off, even if was plastic according to Kenny. But the front forks coming off from the next shot was a bigger piece and with that Copperhead could get under WAR Hawk, driving it to the rails and flipping it. WAR Head could drive inverted, but it wasn’t really going anywhere quickly as Copperhead tried to pick on WAR Stop before deciding “nope” and hitting WAR Hawk once more with the drum, sending the vertical spinner back eight feet back and onto the screws. The screws reversed to get WAR Hawk out, but it was stuck on its side.

The count started, and the question was whether WAR Stop would be saved by the bell. It wasn’t either, as the big bad bot caught up to it. Copperhead plays spoiler and wins by KO in over a minute, in all likelihood finishing at 2-2. WAR Hawk drops to a disappointing 2-3.

Bite Force vs. Monsoon
Bite Force: 3-0 (W, JD 3-0 vs. Yeti; W, KO 2:48 vs. Bronco; W, JD 3-0 vs. HyperShock)
Monsoon: 1-2 (W, KO 0:44 vs. Ragnarök; L, KO 0:41 vs. HyperShock; L, JD 3-0 vs. Valkyrie)

It hasn’t been the best season for anyone on last season’s Team Monsoon. For one, Monsoon’s 1-2, and the weapon’s been a bit finicky, whether not working (like the Valkyrie fight) or falling off (like the HyperShock fight). And then of course Tim Rackley’s Ragnarök went 0-3 with zero wins, one or two decent axe strikes against WAR Hawk, and zero riots. At least Tom Brewster gets the chance to fight the defending champ, and let’s be real, probably lose.

As for Bite Force, it’s Bite Force. It’s been slightly less invulnerable this season as Yeti and HyperShock each had some good shots against the champ, but 3-0 and a 12-fight winning streak starting from the Season 2 rumble against Witch Doctor and Wrecks is a 12-fight winning streak, since Chris Rose either forgot or didn’t count that one. And that still doesn’t include the future wins against Icewave and Whiplash. In theory if Bite Force wins this fight and then the championship, it would have a 19-fight winning streak, and that’s just unheard of. Hazard’s BattleBots-record win streak was 17 over four seasons. If Bite Force wins it all again it gets there and beyond, and we all get to have a conversation in earnest not just about greatest builder in BattleBots history, but greatest robot in BattleBots history.

Bite Force looked like it had longer inner forks, to avoid the weapon on weapon hit. Monsoon went to the two-toothed bar, partially because the single-toothed had taken some lumps from the last two fights. Especially the Valkyrie fight. The ballsy thing was to go with lighter armor for a bigger, more powerful motor to cut down on spin-up time. And Faruq went for the Mary Poppins joke. And Tom Brewster went for the Mary Poppins, uh, what would you call that, mixture of amused and bemused look?

Anyway, both bots went wide, giving themselves a chance to spin up. And dammit, those altered forks on Bite Force worked again, would you believe it? I mean of course you would, it’s Bite Force. It unsettled Monsoon just enough that Bite Force could give the full brunt of its bar without getting smashed by Monsoon’s, and send Monsoon flipping backwards, a nice controlled one to get a second hit in.

You could tell as a result of that Monsoon was in some peril. The weapon hub looked okay but drive-wise something was up. Another hit from Bite Force sent them flying and definitely proved they were dead. Apparently it wasn’t a link issue with it falling out, but a wire had been cut somewhere and that killed power. Rough season for Tom Brewster, as this year Monsoon acted a little bit more like Tauron from Robot Wars, the original plan for Monsoon—it would have been Tauron Mk. III except then Robot Wars got cancelled and all, so some new paint and a rechristening later it became this. 1-3 won’t get the job done, so hopefully we’ll see if Drizzle’s more stable than its heavyweight knock-off version Deep Six. WEN BUGGLEBOTS?

Oh yeah, and Bite Force wins by KO in under a minute, moves to 4-0, and in all likelihood locks up the #1 seed.

Free Shipping vs. RailGun Max
Free Shipping: 1-2 (L, KO 2:05 vs. Hydra; L, JD 3-0 vs. Yeti; W, JD 3-0 vs. Bronco)
RailGun Max: 3-0 (W, KO 0:57 vs. Mad-Catter; W, KO 1:03 vs. Shellshock; W, JD 3-0 vs. Wan Hoo)

From a death and taxes 4-0, to a potential surprise 4-0. RailGun Max, one of the two Chinese robots, looks to go 4-0. You can argue it’s had a soft schedule, and you’d probably be right. It’s a bit of an indictment that this fight against Free Shipping is the toughest fight they’ll have in the Fight Card format. But Free Shipping is nothing if not a sturdy bot, kind of similar to Blacksmith, with the difference being Free Shipping’s biggest drawback is its domino mask lifter. I mean, without that Gary Gin’s non-union BattleBots equivalent El Picado Original is 2-1 and fighting for its own championship spot, because that’s the reason why Yeti won that fight. Sorry, that’s Señor Picado Original to me. Yeah, I don’t think Original Sin’s beating Hydra, it’s a bad matchup and the “break your fist on my face” strategy doesn’t work against a flipper and all.

It’s the plan against RailGun Max though, which has had weapon issues, as it slammed right into Free Shipping’s wedgelets trying to look for a way to do some real damage. RailGun Max managed to get under them and get a shot on the underside, though somehow Pog-flipped its own helper, as Platypus took a stray eggbeater shot and went flying, bouncing off and then getting smushed by Free Shipping.

RailGun Max got, yes, the theme for today, stuck on the killsaws, but Free Shipping, trying a lift or a clamp, freed it. RailGun Max repaid the favor by flipping Free Shipping over. This would have been a perfect time to really capitalize because it takes Free Shipping a while to self-right with the lifter, but self-right it did. I was impressed by RailGun Max’s ability to actually get under Free Shipping and get some hits in at this point, and it started to get the upper hand because of it, actually getting a hit towards the side of Free Shipping and pushing it to the rails. Platypus wasn’t totally dead and was helping as well as the combination flipped Free Shipping over again.

Free Shipping was able to get under and push Free Shipping into the rails, and stop the eggbeater drum or some time, and unfortunately the lifter was in the back position so it was more of the drive around type of attack, as eventually RailGun Max was able to spin away and spin back up. And Free Shipping was getting under more often, but this being the Free Shipping outfit there’s stuff on top, like the weapon and flamethrower hubs and RailGun Max took the casing off one of them, I think the flamethrower. Free Shipping was undaunted, but from the next exchange lost a wheel—it was the front right and it got hit towards the rear left because I don’t know. The problem is then RailGun Max’s eggbeater ate it, which jammed it for a time until it was spat out. But after it was spat out RailGun Max’s weapon still wasn’t spinning and what looked like a small belt was on the floor. I don’t know if that was it, but with about 30 seconds left it was getting intriguing. With this opening, the last 20 seconds were Gary Gin taking RailGun Max in using Free Shipping as a clamp bot to the pulverizer, as Platypus joined the scrum too.

It went to the judges, who gave a split decision… to Free Shipping.

I’m not sure I agree. Let’s check my card.

Damage: 2-1 RailGun Max. The sparks and flamethrower and wheel give points to RailGun Max, but Free Shipping did kill RGM’s drum, and I don’t think that was the wheel unintentionally.
Control: I think I have it 1-1. RailGun Max controlled much of the early portions of the fight, with Free Shipping coming on late.
Aggression: I also have it 1-1. RailGun Max had more weapon use on account of point and spin, but both bots showed aggression mostly throughout.

So I would have to disagree and say I’m with the minority decision of Jason Bardis on this one. Which happens from time to time. There’s been a few I’ve been on the wrong side of the split. I’d have to assume that Lisa Winter and Derek Young gave either control or aggression 2-0 to Free Shipping, because they couldn’t have gone 2-1 in damage with a wheel gone. Well, RailGun Max at 3-1 should still be in, but now Free Shipping joins the 2-2 crowd.

Upper Cut vs. Skorpios
Upper Cut: 2-1 (L, KO 2:34 vs. Tantrum with Jasper; W, KO 1:05 vs. Mammoth; W, KO 2:17 vs. Breaker Box)
Skorpios: 3-0 (W, KO 2:37 vs. Copperhead; W, KO 2:52 vs. Sidewinder; W, JD 3-0 vs. Tantrum)

This would be a pair of surprises. The lesser one I think is that Skorpios is 3-0. It did make the quarters last season by being reliable and able to control fights, even as the weapon arm was destroyed in the final couple fights thanks to RotatoR, leading to beating HyperShock with a hardware store angle grinder. And then it beat Chomp (okay) and Lock-Jaw (oh) in the BattleBots Challenge, so it shows it’s a pretty good bot. Win, lose, or draw, Skorpios should be in.

Upper Cut needs a win, and not a lose or draw. The loss is to Tantrum, so meh, but even the wins aren’t amazing, as it’s Mammoth and Breaker Box. The better of the two is Mammoth. So they definitely need a win, and possibly a convincing one if not a KO, in order to have a good shot at whatever.

Skorpios went back to the percussive disk, and both bots went wide to start it off. It tried to go wide, but that was a clear mistake, because Upper Cut had a free run at one of the wheels which took damage. And then the other one. Last I checked, having two wheels damaged is bad for a two-wheeled bot. Last I checked it was bad for a four-wheeled car, but hey, that was six months apart, so fuck you buddy! (I’m not your buddy, guy; I’m not your guy, fwend; I’m not your fwend, buddy.)

With the greatly diminished mobility Upper Cut could essentially pick its shots, and spin up delivering hits on Skorpios. And for a control bot not having any control is kind of a major issue. Upper Cut had some damage to its one of its wheels but it could stay in the middle and let Skorpios limp and land a shot to send it sprawling back or flipping over, even with the self-right. Also one fucked-up wheel is much nicer than two, though whatever filling was inside was going all over the place.

Eventually the strain on Skorpios’s drive from bouncing around proved too much to handle and it started to smoke. And there was some slight fire. Well then. Upper Cut wins by KO in just under 1:30 and moves to 3-1, getting its signature win. Skorpios is 3-1 and should be safe, but that hurts the ol’ seeding.

And then Zach Lytle and Alex Hattori had a yo-yo battle, or yo-yo-off, or whatever, in the pits. This was a filmed segment and not an impromptu thing, Zach Lytle had referred to it. But Alex Hattori is a many times national champion of yo-yoing. Of course that’s a thing.

Main Event: Hydra vs. Bronco
Hydra: 3-0 (W, KO 2:05 vs. Free Shipping; W, KO 1:36 vs. WAR Hawk; W, KO 1:29 vs. Petunia)
Bronco: 0-3 (L, KO 2:48 vs. Bite Force; L, JD 3-0 vs. Free Shipping; L, JD 3-0 vs. HUGE)

Here we fucking go. I don’t need to talk about what each robot has done, how Bronco’s struggles have been a foil to Hydra coming up with new and innovative ways to get KOs. Like breaking the modular robot, or behind the pulverizer. It’s like a particularly violent game of HORSE, and so far Bronco’s been the one taking the letters by taking Ls. It once again has the pwangers on, for, reasons. I guess like vertical spinners it’s a matter of reach? Not that it’s worked for the vertical spinner fights. Hydra has  a little extra wedge attachment, which looks like a way to get in between the pwangers and push them out of the way. Also whoever’s daughter that is on Inertia Labs was not having any of this. And Faruq went for the Udder Gun jokes!

Hydra very much has the ability to self-right, as we saw it in testing, but Inertia Labs is thinking that that will make the difference. Also making a difference is that Bronco is a long boi, as the two bots wheeled around, jostling for position, but Hydra was that one step more agile at changing directions each time. And those steps added up to getting the angle that wasnt head-on and getting that all-important first flip, about fifteen feet back and twelvish feet? More? It was close to a second of hang-time, so in my brain physics says a little less than five meters, call it 4.5. So 13 feet let’s say. Bronco self-righted, but it shows that the power is at least equal between the two.

Hydra got a smaller flip in and corralled Bronco, flipped over but close to Hydra which meant that Jake Ewert could try and go for a big flip. Except Bronco got the big flip in first. Granted it was on itself to self-right, but that looked even higher than Hydras flip. It also didn’t get it over so there was a smaller self-righting flip afterwards. But the tail was facing the Hydra head, which lined up the big flip which will be the gif-able one, because Bronco did a very large number of rotations in the air and landed near Hydra. I counted over 1.5 seconds of hang time, which means it went, what, 17 feet in the air? That’s bordering on hitting the roof, are they going to have to work on that for next year? Jim Smentowski didn’t have anything to do with it! (Yes, but it is a Whyachi bot Senor. That’s why we don’t have nice big shufflebot bonuses anymore.)

Anyway after a re-right and a whiff it was Bronco hitting the Lexan instead of its opponent, and then Hydra could get the combo it wanted and get Bronco to properly “do the thing,” as it’s known, since it was on its side, and guess what, the pwangers made it worse since those were touching the top of the rail wall instead of the wheels. So the pwangers still dont work. The wheels were stuck between the two sets of walls, because it was the corner where it worked like the pinball flippers at one point, and the flipping arm was stuck between the wall and the smaller inner plexiglass wall. It was not technically an out of the arena, but it was stuck on the arena in a way it wasn’t going to get out because of design flaws. Hydra by KO in 1:12 and is the only bot to go 4-0 with 4 KOs. Bronco goes 0-4, and though it saved some face with the revenge KO over Free Shipping in the Challenge, the loss to Witch Doctor meant that 2019 was a 1-5 year for the Sausalito Stallion. Where do Mssrs. Rose and Bradley go from here to make Bronco turn better? Or is it a complete reworking, maybe to a two-wheeled flipper in the T-Minus style rather than Bronco’s style a la Toro and The Matador? We’ll have to see what they do in 2020. (Nobody says “Bring back The Butcher!” That was their pneumatic horizontal disk bot they used for an exhibition way back when.)


So that does it for the week. What’s in store? Well apparently you need to be a Supporter on Facebook and I keep not doing that because, reasons. The fight card’ll inevitably get posted after this so I won’t be able to adjust it, check the comments below once I find it on the Interwebs/come to. Most believe that these will be some types of play-in matches, with a big-ol’ rumble as the main event, presumably this iteration of the Last Chance Rumble. (Late update: the main event is Minotaur vs. Cobalt.) With that, 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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