Insomnia (insomnia) wrote,

Battlebots season 4 finals & semifinals

First, a few comments on the event. One thing not as visible by watching Battlebots on television is that effective aggression is a rare and hard thing to come by. Driving and steering the bots is not easy, and even when you do so effectively, you have to get in some damage too. In short, it is a lot harder than it looks.

Also, this season featured a significant increase in branding on the 'bots, as sponsors seem to realize that getting their name out in front of millions of geeks / future geeks might not be a bad thing... This, combined with a flood of new Battlebots toys and merchandise, will mean a lot more money for Battlebots in the future. Right now, the top prize for winning is $8,000 plus a welding machine and various welding supplies and equipment. That's not a lot, considering the cost of building some of these robots. Branding and merchandising is where the money is, I suspect... which might lead to some teams being able to build 'bots for a living, while others spend money trying to break into the sport, only to have their 'bots converted to scrap metal by the more experienced and better funded.

Ok... here are the details (and a few photos) of the BattleBots tournament.

The show started shortly after 5 pm with the lightweight semifinals. Ziggo (sponsored by Jetstream Communications) vs. Death By Monkeys. Ziggo had several successful attacks on Death by Monkeys, which was largely ineffectual throughout the match.

Next match - Another lightweight semifinal match, featuring a newcomer called Big B vs. Carnage Raptor. Big B is a parallelogram-shaped 'bot designed to be just as functional when flipped on its back as when not. Carnage Raptor seemed to do more damage to Big B, but lost in a decision due to hazard damage. Big B was occasionally effective pushing Carnage around, and Carnage got whacked twice with by the Pulverizer. Carnage held up amazingly well to the hits, however.

Next contest - Middleweight semis. Newcomer Heavy Metal Noise vs. Hazard. What can be said about Hazard...?! It is a killing machine; an undefeated whirlwind of death that scatters its opponents pieces mercilessly across the arena. The first few hits by Hazard were "light", with sparks flying from HMN's armor plating, ripping apart the twin vertical discs of HMN... but the next few hits gutted Heavy Metal Noise, which died all too quickly. I wanted to see more destruction, but Hazard was entirely too sportsmanlike, doing a victory dance instead.

Middleweight semis #2 - Complete Control vs. Zion. It was a very close match, but Complete Control won in a 23-21 decision. Zion suffered more at the hands of the killsaws, but had its lifter under Complete Control at the end.

Heavyweight semis #1 - Surgeon General vs. Overkill, (which was prominently advertising Magic, the Gathering). Surgeon General lost this match, mainly due to a design weakness. The drive for their spinning blade died on them, leaving them weaponless.

Heavyweight semis #2 - Tazbot vs. BioHazard. Tazbot, with its rotating turret, was interesting, but the wedge of BioHazard made it more effective in pushing the other 'bot around. Interestingly, Tazbot managed to ride Biohazard around the ring at one point, and Biohazard's arm wasn't able to push it off... despite some killsaw hits, BioHazard eked out a victory with a 24-21 decision.

Super heavyweight semis #1 - Diesector vs. new cruelty. This was a close fight, with a narrow decision for New Cruelty. Frankly, I thought Diesector would win, since he got in the most hits with his hammers, but New Cruelty withstood damage well and got under Diesector and gave him a ride to the pulverizer, which got in a whack or two. The decision upset the crowd on this one...

It really impressed me throughout the contest how well most robots withstood the pulverizers - those things hit hard! Armor must be getting better out there... In general, it seemed like scoring is slanted towards damage doled out by the hazards and by being pushed around as opposed to actual damage caused by other robots.

Super heavyweight Semi #2 - Toro vs. The Little Blue Engine that Could.
Well, it couldn't. LBE was cocky, with "Ole this!" on its front, while Toro's front was used up for sponsorship from ICQ. Toro flipped LBE repeatedly, getting him on his less effective side. LBE also lost a wheel in the process. It's lifting arm was completely ineffectual. 38-7 decision for Toro.

Following the semifinals were the rumbles in each of the different classes. These were a lot of fun, if perhaps a bit crowded at times. Got to see a lot of old favorites and watch Dr. Inferno Jr. and Mouser Super Mecha Catbot kick each other around. Catbot got stomped by multiple robots, losing part of his faceplate.

At one point during the fights, I got filmed taking notes on my Handspring, with the cameraman zooming in repeatedly at close distance. As much as I liked being in front, It was difficult at times; cameramen were always moving around in front of us, blocking views. Although it wasn't my intention, I have a feeling we'll make it into the footage somewhere, since we were in first row.

The middleweight and heavyweight rumbles were less interesting to me, but the super heavyweight rumble was brutal. I was about 10 feet away from Minion (labeled with endorsements from Magic, The Gathering.) During the course of the rumble, Minion would be hoisted on a robotic petard, carried around like something that didn't weigh 325 pounds. The front faceplate of Son of Whyachi was ripped off in a shower of sparks, flying 35 feet across the arena, hitting the mylar, landing in a jagged, crumpled mess. After particularly destructive matches, crews would come into the arena and spread out sand or something of the sort, then sweep it up, gathering up all the robot fragments and juices in the process...

Did I mention how much of a good thing THICK, bulletproof plastic barriers are? At one point, Nightmare damaged their left wheel near where we were sitting, allowing it to only pivot slightly. This, of course, meant that all it could effectively do is slice deeply and ominously into the barrier about 12' away from me... still, it damn near cut a hole right through the 1" thick protective plastic, which, fortunately is not an easy thing to do. Way to go Dupont...

On to the finals! Lightweight finals - Ziggo vs. Big B.
Close match... Spinner Ziggo took hazard damage and got pushed around a bit.. he even got a whack from the pulverizer which caused a bit of smoke for awhile, but probably was the least seriously damaged when the fight ended. Ziggo almost completely ripped Big B's front wedge off. Final outcome, 23-21 Big B. Wedges without weapons though?! Bah.

Middleweight Finals - Hazard vs. Complete Control.
Some people think that wedges are the ultimate design for killer robots. Some people, of course, are weenies. Why push something around when you can hurl it forcefully across the arena? Hazard may not be subtle or elegant, but therein lies the beauty and the source of the destruction. Yea, verily sparks will spring forth and robots will be torn asunder.

These fights are what people remember... Hazard ripped into Complete Control with a few 'light' hits... sparks everywhere. Then came the big hits, metal flying asunder, cables, smoke, exposed robot innards... Chalk this one up to Hazard, who wins his third championship and remains completely unstoppable.

Heavyweight championship. BioHazard vs. Overkill
A much closer fight than I would have suspected. Overkill was lofted a few times, but BioHazard's arm died, possibly due to a few hard whacks from Overkill. The judges scored this one 27-18 in favor of Biohazard, but i think Overkill walked away the least damaged. Hazard damage ultimately decided this one. Biohazard, was just more mobile and had an easier time avoiding the killsaws and "encouraging" Overkill to visit them...

Super heavyweight final - Toro vs. New Cruelty.
Matches with Toro are a lot of fun, because nothing flips robots quite like it. Toro flipped New Cruelty repeatedly and won decisively. Frankly, I don't think New Cruelty deserved to make it to the HW finals. Just because you are strongly defended and have a bunch of wheels, that doesn't make you effective at damaging opponents... and if you can't damage your opponents, why bother building a fighting robot in the first place?

After the finals, the awards for the Big Nut were given out (with cheering by the somewhat skanky Oakland Raiderettes...) followed by the Royal Rumbles, with the finalists from all the earlier rumbles they had throughout the competition. Much damage everywhere.

All in all, a very good night, despite the benches from hell. Bring cushions. Afterwards, I met Team BioHazard. The general consensus was that the old bots are still the best. I'm looking forward to seeing people come up with ways to exploit the weaknesses of 'bots like Hazard and BioHazard. They are definitely there, if only builders bothered to look for them...

Now, some really crappy pictures that I snuck with the Handspring camera add-on. Never used the camera before, and I can tell you, it's not very well suited for anything other than close pictures, but you might appreciate the surreal nature of the images anyway. Cameras were strictly verboten at the taping, so I consider myself lucky to have anything to show for it. If you want clear, crisp images, watch the bleedin' show, 'k!

I kinda like this one.

A wedgebot in the distance...

Team BioHazard not quite in frame.

Team BioHazard not quite in focus or in frame... ;->

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