Four things I love about Discovery’s Battlebots (and four things they should do)

As I write this article, Battlebots is currently airing its third season on Discovery Channel making it the fifth season since its revival started on ABC in 2015. I predicted Battlebots move to Discovery would fit better for its audience and I was right! Discovery has been doing an amazing job lately with Battlebots that I think should be praised for! Even so, there is still room of improvement so here are four things I like and four things that Discovery should do for Battlebots!

BattleBots 2019 World Championship bracket – BattleBots
2019 Bracket

Like: Determining which bots make it to the tournament
I know I’m saying this when we’re already three seasons in but I really like the regular season (or “Fight Night” as they call it) of Battlebots. ABC and Comedy Central did NOT have these fights and it makes it hard to root for a Battlebot who may get knocked out early. Having a Battlebot fight four fights (or three for this 2020 season) before the tournament gives them a chance to shine even if they may not make it to the bracket. It also gives us a great idea who the big dogs are this season. I also LOVE how Discovery gives the builders a chance for glory via the Desperado Tournament, or in some cases a mini rumble. THOSE…are excellent! It gives us an extra flavor on who should be seeded and who shouldn’t.

I also like how, particularly in this latest, 2020 season, Battlebots has been pitting robots with a similar win record against each other. A 1-0 bot will fight a 1-0 bot while a 0-1 bot will fight a 0-1 bot and so forth. That really shows who are the best bots and gives us a GREAT idea who to look out for! I’m really excited what Discovery has planned for our good but not great bots and determining how they will be ranked. Here’s hoping for more rumbles!

Improvement: Less pre-match fluff, more battles
I’ve been saying this since ABC but it’s especially important now given the massive roster we have this season (62 robots!!). There is a lot of time before each match spent on bot entrance, setting up the bot, discussing strategies, pressing the button, waiting, and then finally beginning the match. We don’t need that. Save that for the tournament and the main event!

I would say the only thing I would like to have pre-match is the team’s strategy for the match but that should be it. It’s also important because you could get easily disappointment if a hyped match is boring. If you cut down on the time spent here, you could squeeze in one more match into the episode. And we all love to see robots fight each other!!

DeathRoll (2019) – BattleBots
Deathroll (2019)

Like: Low tier robots are given a second chance the following season
Many robots that have an especially poor or just uneventful season usually don’t come back the following season and that’s totally fine in my book. It gives us a chance for new robots to come in and get a chance to shine without overcrowding the field!

HOWEVER, I like it that Battlebots gives some robots a chance to redeem themselves and it has paid off magnificently. Most prominent was 2019’s Deathroll and, so far, this season’s Kraken. Kenny and Chris have both been commenting this season that there are a lot of rookie robots in previous years that take a step up and I really like that! They understand what works and what doesn’t and now that they have a feel for the field; they can really shine a second time! We’ve seen this in numerous teams like Mad Catter, Uppercut, and recently Valkyrie getting some amazing KO’s! I think that’s amazing.

Improvement: Give “control” more weight in a judges’ decision
The current judges scorecard is 5 for Damage, 3 for Control, and 3 for Aggression with the points split between the two bots. Unfortunately, I think this gives it a disadvantage to lift, grip, and flip bots who rely on arena hazards and out-of-arena KOs for a win. There’s a reason why vertical-disk spinners are a very common design for Battlebots because it’s an effective weapon that can give those damage points. However, if Battlebots really wants those bot varieties they should strengthen that “Control” decision (like 4 for Damage, 4 for Control, and 3 for Aggression) and I think that could make a big difference in fights and give a lift to bots like DUCK! who rely on their lifting arm to push the bots around. Hydra vs. Witch Doctor is a good example because even though Hydra kept flipping Witch Doctor in the air, WD kept coming right back and was not phased at all by the fall damage.

Taken from Battlebots Season 5, Episode 6. Note the plexiglass separating Chris and Kenny.

Like: Battlebots taking COVID seriously
I was really worried that Discovery would cancel Battlebots this year due to COVID. But I was really surprised that they went through with it! Watching the first episode this season was just so strange but at the same time reassuring for the new set up. Like the plexiglass between Chris and Kenny, the after-match interviews done at a safe distance, and the warehouse where the teams are all spread out from each other. I also like how the teams make up the audience and given how many teams are participating this year they do a decent job filling in for the crowd! It’s also really insightful when the camera cuts to the teams after a controversial decision. Makes me feel validated when I feel like the match went the wrong way!

And supposedly no one got sick during the whole process! That’s pretty amazing. Way to go Battlebots and Discovery for making the season safe but still entertaining! My hats off to you!

Improvement: Give me that technical good stuff
I grew up watching Mythbusters and I know whenever they brought up a STEM lesson they kept it simple enough for the public to understand but still interesting. I would love to see more scenes of the builders going through their robot and talking about what they upgraded, how they fared in the fight, and so forth. I find it really fascinating. Like the bit this season on Ribbot having that cool remote control?? That was excellent! And Chomp’s crazy ass mechanical ingenuity?? Give me more of that!

Dare I say that if we followed a builder and went through their process of building a combat robot it may get other people involved knowing how they can build their robot which leads me to…

Sporkinok (2020) – BattleBots
Sporkinok (2020)

Like: Team Diversity
Admittedly, this can be also seen as a “necessary improvement” but I like how Battlebots is really trying to expand the diversity in their teams whether its their age, gender identity, or nationality. People bring different ideas to the table! They can also be fantastic role models for other would-be engineers! It looks like COVID may have hampered this season’s International teams, so I’m hoping the next season will bring in more non-American teams.

Granted, this still has a way to go before we seem some improvement but this season’s Malice, Pain Train, and Sporkinok are great examples of things to come for Battlebots.

Improvement: Release the best matches on YouTube
The one thing that ABC is kicking Discovery’s ass in was their social media because they released a LOT of great fights from those two seasons on YouTube! I dare say that Minotaur is now a famous bot because of all those millions of views it garnered online. Discovery…WHY AREN’T YOU DOING THAT TOO?? Seriously. I know Battlebots has the “Basement Tapes” or whatever for unaired matches but we want the GOOD STUFF.

I seriously think they could get a crap ton of views from the recent Rotator vs. Valkyrie and Uppercut vs. Sawblaze fights. Those are PRIME examples of Battlebots at its peak! A very evenly, exciting match and an explosive, one-sided fight is GOLD for those internet views. Releasing these videos online will not only spread the word about Battlebots but also get new people interested and excited to join in and try out robot fighting!

What do you think? Do you have things you like or things that could be improved on? Let me know! GO MALICE!!

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