For this season of Battlebots, The Young Folks’ music editor Ryan Gibbs and staff writer Joey Daniewicz will be giving their impressions of each episode in our new feature Battlebots Chat. These will be a little more informal than our regular reviews – after all we think it’s a little complicated to review something that we both consider to be a competitive sport as opposed to a game show or a reality television program.
If you want the history on Battlebots and robot combat in general, SB Nation ran an oral history on the show that is well worth your time to read. You can also read more about this season’s competitors over on the show’s official site. You can also read a bit about the robots that battled in this week’s episode on the show’s website. Also worth reading is Battlebots Update, which, like us, provides analysis of each Battlebots episode.
Because the show did not air in every North American market this week because of pre-season football, and because the show is now airing throughout the world, please note that there are SPOILERS AHEAD. We will not be marking them when they come up. If you missed the episode because your local ABC station was airing a Cincinnati Bengals (or whatever) game that doesn’t have any bearing on the rest of the NFL season instead, proceed with caution.
Chomp vs. Yeti
Tombstone vs. Beta
Poison Arrow vs. Bombshell
Bronco vs. Minotaur
Semi-finals and finals…
Ryan Gibbs: so, what did you think of the overall presentation of the finale?
Joey Daniewicz : Quick! I don’t know if I wanted it to be one episode or two.
Ryan: Technically, it was two episodes. I feel part of this is because of how badly Battlebots got screwed over by the schedule this season
Joey: .During a year that isn’t divisible by four, Battlebots will move forward just fine.
Joey: So I predicted Yeti for this one, and yeah. Was not hard. Chomp looked a lot like a tin can.
Ryan: I’ve said before that I like Chomp alot, but I was thinking something like this would happen. We’ve kind of never seen a robot before that was both this weird and as successful as it was before this match
Joey: This was actually probably the least cool of the four matches to start. Chomp was done away with very straightforwardly, with little fanfare.
Ryan: I honestly hadn’t really paid much attention to Yeti this season. Probably got overshadowed by cooler robots
Joey: Yeti early on had a pretty good path to final four. But yeah, for how far it got, it wasn’t that good. It’s notably an inferior Minotaur.
Ryan: Out of the three drumbots that went far, it was certainly one I didn’t think much about
Joey: Yet it and Poison Arrow made DEEP runs.
Ryan: But its deep run wasn’t was surprising as another bot that we’ll be talking about soon. I do hope Chomp comes back though. Hopefully it’s run into to Elite Eight silenced some of the people who hate it simply for existing
Joey: I’m sure Zoe Stephenson will be back, provided Battlebots is. I still don’t think it can reliably get far, though. This match was very uncomplicated.
Ryan: Next one wasn’t though!
Joey: Now, on the polar opposite of the complicated scale….
Ryan: Okay so this was a match I needed to track down to rewatch as soon as possible. Reddit really loved this match, and from the looks of John Reid and Ray Billings in the clip, they did too.
Joey: There is one good thing about Beta that I’ll give it: it can win purely by virtue of being maybe the second best armored bot in the competition.
Ryan: I remember Killerhurtz being very sturdy and it’s basically Killerhurtz with a new weapon.
Joey: I think Beta has a mostly ineffective weapon but I think its deep run is largely thanks to how durable it is, and it’s part of why Tombstone could have been thrown like that.
Ryan: I wouldn’t say ineffective! He dented Tombstone pretty badly there in this fight! This was probably the most trouble that Tombstone has ever been in in either ABC season.
Joey: This was a less sensational fight than it probably seems on paper, I think. In most universes, a double KO is an all time great Battlebots fight.
Ryan: Beta took hit after hit from Tombstone. We’re so used to seeing Tombstone shred its opponents into pieces that it was a shock to see Beta no-sell 80-85% of Tombstone’s blows
Joey: I thought judges would give it to Beta. Beta had control of the fight for about two thirds of the time.
Ryan: Ray Billings certainly thought that! Did you see how he went over to John Reid and hugged him as if to say “Hey, someone finally beat Tombstone”?
Joey: Oh, wow. I remember there was camaraderie! Did not pick up the exchange, though.
Ryan: I think what did it for Tombstone was when it nearly severed Beta’s hammer at the very end. Those last few seconds, before they both stopped moving, were very crucial for Tombstone winning this thing.
Joey: In the fighting game community, there’s a meme for hype matches to say “fixed” or “staged.” This started after in an exhibition, the two most famous players ever, Daigo and Justin Wong, ended in a double KO. This felt a little like that.
Ryan: Well, that must be annoying. I get it’s being funny, but it makes it seem like legit, edge-of-your-seat matches are unlikely
Joey: I mean, to that extent, they are!
Ryan: Well this was. This was legitimately an edge of your seat thing. You and I both thought Tombstone was toast.
Joey: Can YOU think of another double knockout?
Ryan: Yes I can! Remember this thing? This kickass Nightmare KO that I’ve brought up all season? Slam Job is destroyed, but Nightmare stopped moving too.
Joey: I forgot that Nightmare went out, too! Is this the one like a match before the SOW hit?
Ryan: There’s a Reddit thread on the scenario where Andrea Suarez from the Witch Doctor team weighs in on the scenario too
Joey: Neat! But yeah, good fight, though not quite as legendary as the ending I’d suggest, I feel.
Ryan: Was that really a double KO or did both John and Ray simply decide to stop moving in the last few seconds? We never got any sign from either driver.
Joey: Who knows? Also it was a time-out, so it wasn’t technicallyyyyyy a double KO.
Ryan: Uh so, where the hell did Bombshell come from and how did we not see it coming?
Joey: So this match was actually pretty fucking neat, despite two drones. And Bombshell had a moment of TRUE SPORTSMANSHIP when it righted Poison Arrow, who had the great idea to crash its drone into itself (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) but that wasn’t enough.
Ryan: One of the few times where a drone did something all season.
Joey: Then Bombshell sent Poison Arrow FLYING in….was that the biggest hit of the night? Might have been.
Ryan: No! You know what the biggest hit of the night was and we’ll get there when we get there!
Joey: Oh RIGHT that. I forgot rumbles existed. But biggest hit of the top eight in the tournament proper?
Ryan: Maybe! Bombshell got three terrific shots, all in a row in this fight. That’s what really made me take notice of that thing.
Joey: This was a VERY hype moment in a fight that beforehand….I frankly didn’t care about.
Ryan: I liked its performance against Cobalt in an untelevised where it chopped its wheels off…but I didn’t expect something like this at all!
Joey: But surely that was the end for Bombshell, right?
Ryan: Haha, so we thought!
Joey: Doesn’t matter what else happened, Minotaur is officially a god. This season and last the two bots on everyone’s mind were Bronco and Tombstone, regardless of last season’s fluke. Now Minotaur SURELY joins those ranks.
Ryan: Right? This is a fight between two robots we both really love. And um…Inertia Labs predicted exactly what would happen to them didn’t they?
Joey: Yup, Inertia Labs said “he’s gonna go for the wheels.” Maybe it’s that they had no answer, maybe it was that Minotaur put on a driving clinic and took off all six wheels, but Minotaur TOOK OFF ALL SIX WHEELS.
Ryan: It decimated Bronco, a great bot with a great driver. But Minotaur has probably the best driver in this whole tournament period! I don’t think I’ve ever seen an Inertia Labs robot this battered before!
Joey: This was amazing. Minotaur for President.
Ryan: But props to Bronco, which kept going until every single wheel was off!
Ryan: Yeah, what an excellent fight. I liked all four of these!
Minotaur vs. Bombshell
Tombstone vs. Yeti
Rumble: Bite Force vs. Witch Doctor vs. Wrecks
FINALS: Tombstone vs. Bombshell
Ryan: Um, well. Talk about a 180 from that last match!
Joey: Not just for this bot losing, but for the matchup we missed.Minotaur was dominating and then Bombshell got in one dink and it seems like something dumb happened inside of Minotaur.
Ryan: Minotaur looked indestructible all season long. Amazing driving, brutal fights…and then one hit. From Bombshell, a wildcard with a loss on its record that we both discounted even though we just watched it deliver three nasty blows to Poison Arrow
Joey: Minotaur seemed like it could maybe somehow put on a show with only one side operating for a second. Which I wouldn’t have any hope if they had any other driver in the world. And yeah, the hit wasn’t even very big.
Ryan: Minotaur’s driver Daniel Freitas is crazy good. I could imagine he could have made that thing mobile just by walking it on the sides all fight, Wrecks style. If it went to a judge’s decision before Bombshell hit Minotaur, Minotaur would have won. It was so aggressive that one of the hits it got sent a piece of Bombshell into the freaking ceiling!
Joey: Props to Bombshell…..I guess.
Ryan: Even they must’ve been shocked
Joey: They seemed so!
Ryan: When this started did ANYONE think Bombshell would be in the finals? Especially as a wildcard? I bet Complete Control’s team, which beat it in the qualifiers, was pissed.
Joey: I wonder how much hope they had going into the final.
Ryan: I bet they felt really good! Wouldn’t you if you just took out Minotaur?
Joey: Taking out a small bot that takes more than one hit to kill you is different from…..well, we’ll get to it.
Ryan: They came out of a quadrant with a lot of possibility. Son of Whyachi and Witch Doctor were both in there. If either had gotten into this spot we could have had a very different final, either way. What would have happened in a Son of Whyachi vs. Minotaur fight?
Joey: I still have yet to be convinced that Minotaur could beat Tombstone or SOW. It’s just such an untested idea. I guess if Minotaur did what Poison Arrow did to SOW. It would just need to get around it and be elusive as HELL.
Ryan: Or hoped that Son of Whyachi had a control accident like that one time where it KO’ed itself right on the starting square
Joey: Minotaur is maybe the biggest thing I want out of next season. It needs a nut.
Ryan: It’s definitely earned a higher seeding for sure
Joey: Seed it higher than Bite Force or Witch Doctor for sure.
Joey: SURPRISINGLY TOUGH for Tombstone.
Ryan: This was a tough match for sure. Another judge’s decision for Tombstone, although one I thought for certain it won.
Joey: Yeah, no way it lost. But it won the shoving match, by a lot.
Ryan: They both lost their weapons, but Yeti looked it was in rough shape for a lot of the match. Other than losing its spinner, Tombstone looked fine.
Joey: I didn’t know Tombstone had the know-how or build to win a shoving match. Good to see Ray can adjust.
Ryan: Well, Yeti losing a tire also hurt it, too. I felt that this could’ve been a KO at any moment. Yeti was smoking badly, looked really rough, got hit by the screws really badly
Joey: Tombstone got in the most primary weapon damage before they were reset to neutral. Tough fight for Tombstone, emphasis on FOR TOMBSTONE.
Ryan: And yet, at the end, you were like “watch as this goes to Yeti”
Joey: I was just funning.
Ryan: You were still mad over the Minotaur KO this whole fight
Joey: I was just devastated.
Ryan: Now before we get to the final, only one of the several rumbles they had was televised. I imagine they would have picked this one anyway because it had bigger names in it, but uh, let’s say this was a doozy!
Joey: I think I speak for both of us when I say that Wrecks is the best Battlebot of all time.
Ryan: We haven’t gotten to talk much about our buddy Wrecks this season have we?
Joey: I think that when we have, we’ve gone in. Wrecks is just the worst. The absolute pits.
Ryan: God bless Wrecks. It tries. It tries so hard.
Joey: It’s AWESOME hit here wasn’t even its own setup. Bite Force knocked Witch Doctor into it.
Ryan: No matter how sick its weapon is, there’s literally everything else about it. If it had just two wheels, It would be a threat. But it has the most awkward waddle walking i’ve ever seen on a robot. It has a weirder propulsion system than Snake or Mechadon
Joey: I think that maybe the greatest Battlebots moment…….ever?????????, was Wrecks’ self-own.
Ryan: No it wasn’t. Not even as a joke. Although in an untelevised match this year, it tore a huge gash in the floor that was there for the rest of the season.
Joey: The one that sent it flying, probably.
Ryan: But enough about Wrecks being Wrecks, let’s talk about the rumble
Joey: But yeah, Bite Force and Witch Doctor went at it and kind of…….disrespected Wrecks along with the announcers.
Ryan: The start of this was mostly Bite Force and Witch Doctor with Wrecks waddling itself in the wrong direction
Joey: AND WRECKS ALMOST WON Pretty good job by Bite Force righting itself.
Ryan: Wrecks was more or less a stationary arena hazard for 90% of the fight. The two of them ganged up on Wrecks, smacked it into the screws and um…that’s where it later flung Witch Doctor out of the arena.
Joey: That was awesome. Wrecks responsible for some amazing moments this season. Owning both Witch Doctor and itself.
Ryan: As much as I like Witch Doctor, that was the hit of the episode
Joey: I’ve always felt like Witch Doctor, a lot like Bite Force, was overhyped.
Ryan: Witch Doctor could be better if they consolidated things. Bite Force is deffo overhyped. Won last season by sheer luck, and heavily ignored season by the producers along with Icewave. Anyway, a solid weird job Wrecks!
Joey: Time to make some Battlebots fan music videos. Although it might be hard to get 3:34 of Wrecks footage.
Joey: Tombstone hit Bombshell, and that was it. Supposedly Bombshell had a shot at dislodging Tombstone’s belt? But it didn’t happen. And then that was it.
Ryan: After those two crazy fights, where Bombshell proved its mettle, this kind of felt like a fight Tombstone would have had in the round of 16 or 32. It chopped Bombshell to pieces
Joey: Ultimate anti-climax, and because Ray knew he had no more fights, well, he could go to town and give the people what they wanted.
Ryan: It was over in seconds. A good Tombstone display though! And I’m so glad Ray Billings and Hardcore Robotics finally won.
Joey: Yeah, Ray deserved this so bad.
Ryan: Tombstone/Last Rites was one of the stars of the post-Battlebots underground fighting robots tournaments. It’s been a pleasure finally seeing it do its thing on TV and not in shaky Youtube videos
Joey: Kinda sad that his matchups were never that crazy, though? Like, had had to go against Bronco last year, and I think his victory there was a bigger accomplishment than any win this year.
Ryan: Except for Beta maybe
Joey: “I beat Bronco” versus “I beat Beta,” nah, sorry, Bronco is the bigger, more impressive win. Luckily there was some down to the wire stuff at the end to make it impressive, but Tombstone’s biggest competition immolated before it could face ’em.
Ryan: At least the Bombshell team was entertaining. Not many Battlebots are driven by some one like Michael Jeffries, who wears goggles and poses with a wrench over his shoulder
Joey: How sustainable will Bombshell’s success be? In my estimation: about as much as, say, something like Bite Force
Ryan: I don’t know, but it’s definitely made a name for itself.
Ryan: And can you believe Ray Billings actually fought on the Comedy Central Battlebots with an okay but not impressive thwackbot? Who would’ve thought?
Ryan: And what would it have been like to see Tombstone/Last Rites in the CC era? In, I dunno, the Heavyweight class?
Joey: I still don’t know what they’re doing with weight right now. Is it just Super Heavyweight rules?
Ryan: I think so? There’s a weight limit of 250lbs
Joey: Super heavyweights were 220 to 340. So I guess the limit now is closer to heavyweights.
Ryan: Final thoughts on the episode and season 2 as a whole?
Joey: I don’t know, I wasn’t watching. PRESEASON BABY
Ryan: Yeah, one of the reasons we’re gonna be late putting this up? It’s Saturday evening when we’re writing this. I’m guessing it’ll be up on The Young Folks on Sunday afternoon. That’s already a few days later than usual and the fights still aren’t up on Youtube. Because of pre-season football there are some markets that either got Battlebots at 1am or not at all.Joey lives in Vikings country, and i’m in the heart of Patriots territory and we were both lucky that we got Battlebots
Joey: Yeah, that sucks so much for other people. But yay us!
Ryan: Battlebots was also really unlucky, between this, the Olympics and the DNC/RNC. Hopefully ABC doesn’t take that against the show and renews it. it’s gotten huge Youtube and Facebook views and it’s not like they got anything else to run in August
Joey: But apparently its ratings were…..good?
Ryan: Allegedly something like 5 million views, but who knows how many of that was because of pre-season football in some markets?
Ryan: What do you hope for next season? Hope any old competitors come back in? Aside from the obvious (as in the final 8 or so) who’d you like to see again?
Joey: Obviously Son of Whyachi. It’ll be good to get more data on if Witch Doctor is actually very good or not. Somebody wake up the Hazards, both Bio- and non-Bio.And the Ziggo guy. Find him.
Ryan: Yeah what happened to that dude?
Joey: I don’t know what literally any of them are doing.
Ryan: I agree. I’d love to see what Carlo Bertocchini or Tony Buchignani or Jonathan Riddler or gee, Mark Setrakian would come up with. Also, maybe they should have a third commentator that knows tech stuff? Adam Savage would be a great choice. I imagine his schedule is clear now that Mythbusters is over.
Ryan: I honestly wasn’t huge on UFC Charlie Day Lookalike and Football Guy Whose Name I Do Not Know, but they weren’t awful. They clearly got more and more into it as the season went on. You can tell they’ve grown to really like Battlebots. Same thing happened with Bil Dwyer on the Comedy Central show. But obviously the MVP out of the show talent this year was Faruq Tauheed, the ring announcer.
Joey: What was the joke I made right before he made? That was weird.
Ryan: You made a Lose Yourself/Mom’s spaghetti joke about Yeti like 45 seconds before he introduced Yeti with the same joke
Joey: Hahaha, so good.
Ryan: I hope the Witch Doctor and Hypershock teams continue that Tale of the Tape aftershow. it’s really good! Any final thoughts on this? Are you looking forward to ABC’s fall lineup which looks mostly ridiculous from the commercials we’ve seen all summer?
Joey: I am not. But I’m just sad that we won’t be getting any more preseason football until next year.
Ryan: Really? “Designated Survivor” and whatever that show is called that looks like “The Newsroom” but stupider don’t strike you as interesting television? And aren’t you excited to watch more of whatever the hell this “I Can Find $3000 In Your Home” show that ABC insists is more popular than Battlebots?
Joey: Oh, absolutely. Just a good reminder that the impoverished just need to get off their asses.
Ryan:I’m gonna eat that “Newsroom but stupider” joke when “Notorious” or whatever it’s called wins an Emmy aren’t I?
Ryan: So that’s Battlebots for season 3 Gonna miss doing this
Joey: Yup, same. SEE Y’ALL NEXT YEAR If we don’t get a next year, blame us.