We’re halfway through the 2019 Battlebots season and man what a trip! We ended on a high note with the crazy Desperado Tournament with Black Dragon winning against Minotaur in a Brazilian Battle for the ages! With that said, let’s take a look at this season so far before it resumes tonight.
First, the negative. This season has been wonderful so far but it’s bogged down by some flaws that I feel should be addressed. The biggest complaint I’m seeing, and I agree with, is the Battlebox’s floor. The infamous gash on the arena floor is so prominent that robots racing at top speed can be stopped dead in their tracks by its protrusion. It can even temporarily wedge a robot onto the ground and even stop it completely like Cobalt who was straight up destroying Duck! before dying to the arena floor. Drivers now have to plan for that dent and wedges are suddenly at a disadvantage.
On the positive side, the move to two hour episodes is very welcome and a smart choice. We now watch a steady stream of battles that give us a whole variety of robots fighting each other. We also saw a full Desperado Tournament episode which was great! They cut some of the Desperado battles from airtime last year so I’m glad they have the whole package this year (and a bonus battle with Deep Six which FINALLY made an appearance after nine episodes).
This additional air time also gives us a lot of clips and interviews on the Builders’ Floor which I always appreciate. Jenny Taft, the interviewer on the Floor, is a great conversationalist and does a good job asking questions and gleaming answers from the builders. These segments also show the work the builders go through to get their robot up and running for the next fight as well as their strategies. One thing I would like to see more of is builders’ reactions to fights since that scene when Mammoth YEETED Axe Backwards out of the arena was hilarious! I still feel they can cut down on the pre-battle filler where we have to wait for the teams to get in place…press the button…wait some more…and finally start the battle. You could pare a lot of those segments down and squeeze in an extra battle that may not be as stellar as the other fights but still worth the watch.
The stars, the robots of course, this year have been most wonderful giving us a lot of thrilling battles that get my heart racing. While a lot of the new robots are having trouble making an impact (besides Black Dragon, of course), we do see middle-tier robots make a surprise shake up in the arena and suddenly become the buzz of the internet like Rotator and Deathroll. It is equally surprising to see high tier robots like Minotaur struggle to deliver KOs and wins that we come to expect. This gives the show a pulsing excitement that’s satisfying to watch and can keep us guessing what happens next.
We also had some great battles so I’m going to list my top four favorite 2019 battles so far and I’ll update it to a top 10 by the end of the season.
Minotaur vs. Lucky
By itself the match isn’t too special but with the story of Minotaur’s downfall this season there was A LOT hanging in the balance. A Minotaur loss would’ve spelled the end for its 2019 season career. Instead, we saw a return to form for Minotaur as it was aggressive and hit hard. I was still worried though as the smoke coming from Minotaur had me on edge as that’s never a good sign. But Minotaur prevailed and was able to beat Lucky down until it couldn’t move any more. The best match moment was when Lucky flipped itself over immediately preceding Minotaur delivering the knock out blow. Minotaur had won and although he lost the Desperado Tournament, he was back.
Rotator vs Tombstone
The 2019 season has so far, unfortunately, given us fine, but not stellar, Main Event matches as they are usually one sided and end quickly. I thought this match would be the same and boy was I wrong! Lasting 2:58 long by a KO, Rotator defeats Tombstone in a blaze of glory! Every time those bots clashed, shivers would ripple through my body! I could only imagine how much it would hurt if I got hit by one of them.
Anyway, Rotator’s plow-shape design was the surprising key that unlocked Tombstone’s defeat. Tombstone has been defeated before, sure, but not like this! The consistent hit after hit after hit was incredible, especially since Rotator’s blade was basically blown off and Tombstone could drive totally fine excluding weapon malfunctions and all. The thing that just blows me away was how long Tombstone could drive while on fire! Imagine if Rotator suddenly died and Tombstone kept going while on fire! I could honestly see that happen considering Tombstone almost went the full three minutes.
This battle shows Battlebots at its greatest. Don’t take everything for granted because the underdog might just topple a giant.
Mammoth vs. Axe Backwards
Ever since I saw Mammoth on the Battlebots’ website I hoped and prayed that we would see this gorgeous creature launch a small robot out of the arena. And although it was more of a toss than a yeet, we got what we wanted! God, those precious moments when Axe Backwards was on the edge of the arena and barely on the screws while Mammoth was trying to push it off was so tense! And when it finally tossed Axe Backwards over I couldn’t help but cheer and holler!! Seeing this big clunky creature stumble around the arena and go at Axe Backwards was a thing of beauty.
What also makes this battle fantastic was the unique design of both robots. A typical Battlebot has a square design, with a vertical spinner, and four rubber wheels. These two robots threw that design out the window and did their own thing! Axe Backwards with its barrel-shaped design and Mammoth with its weird, Knex-like design of pipes and gears. Variety is the spice of life and this battle was most tasty.
Deathroll vs End Game
Before this season, Deathroll was your average, middle-of-the-road robot. It was okay. Cool theme and design, but a pretty average track record. But this season has been a blessing for this robot and nowhere did we see this better than when we saw it fight End Game.
The New Zealand robot End Game was the favorite for this battle due to its past record of aggression and KOs. So imagine our surprise when Deathroll defeated it in a KO! But Deathroll winning is only half what makes this battle so entertaining. The two clashed and it was beautiful. So many delicious hits and sparks with both bots flying. Deathroll rolling around in the arena was the funniest thing this season has shown us so far! What’s funnier is that End Game was flipped over once and that was it!! It couldn’t do anything else than sit there! And when parts of the ceiling came crashing down onto the arena due to spray carnage was extra crazy! God that was great, I’m hoping Deathroll is the dark horse for this season because that would be fantastic.
Son of Whyachi vs Whiplash
The other Main Event match that I really enjoyed was the SOW vs Whiplash battle. I love the angle the battle had; two robots representing the next generation of Battlebot competitors, sons of former builders, go head to head in a terrific clash! SOW’s rise from an okay robot to a powerhouse against relatively new but already great Whiplash made a great matchup. I was honestly torn who I should root for which made this battle extra heart-wrenching.
But man, can Whiplash take a hit! Bits and pieces of it flying over the arena made it a wounded animal desperately trying to stay alive. For a few moments, I thought Whiplash had it because it pinned SOW against the wall and almost flipped it over. But when SOW escaped I thought, man, that was it, they lost! They can’t win! But Whiplash came back and was able to cleanly flip over SOW! That was sooooo good. This was definitely worth of being a Main Event. Well done.
That’s all I have for now, looking forward to the rest of the season!