(The following was written during the time the BattleBots tournament that will air during season five was taking place. I was never there -- I either made up my information or got it from other sources. If nothing else, this shows that on some days, I just can't think of anything funny to write.)
Right now, Treasure Island in San Francisco is bustling with activity as hundreds of robot builders prepare for a new BattleBots tournament. Unless you're there, you won't get to find out what happens until sometime during late summer, when Comedy Central airs the fifth season of "BattleBots."
But I'm impatient. So instead of waiting to actually watch the episodes to see what goes down, I thought I'd just make up my own tournament highlights right here. Check out all the cool stuff that I say has happened already!
(For true facts about new robots and other interesting news from the tournament, please scroll down or click here.)
It's the first day of check-in, where all the unseeded robots start getting inspected to make sure they're safe and fit for competition. Over 75% of the new robots are spinners based on Hazard's design. Confusion already sets in as several robot builders accidentally mistake somebody else's robot as their own due to similarities in shape and color.
Check-in and technical inspections continue. Now the place is really crowded, as the rest of the approximately 500 teams who didn't want to pay for an extra night in a hotel arrive. The quantity of Hazard clones is now at 80%. With so many robots to examine, and with actual competition beginning tomorrow afternoon, the safety inspectors start to become lax in determining whether a robot is allowed to compete. By the end of the day, the safety inspection consists of one question, to be answered orally -- "If I asked you to turn this robot on, would I shed blood in any way?" All responses of "No" (and some particularly enthusiastic responses of "Yes!") result in clearance of the robot. Construction of additional Lexan walls in front of the audience seating areas begin.
Inspections for the unseeded bots end today. To speed things up, inspections consist of turning the robot on and forcing a member of the team to place their hand on a part of the robot of their choice. This cuts down on the number of full-body spinners that will be competing this time, as several builders can no longer properly operate their radios. After inspections are completed, everybody is gathered together for a final meeting before competition begins. Final safety recommendations are given to the builders, such as, "You probably shouldn't be standing in the BattleBox while a fight is going on." Finally, the first fights of the tournament begin. Before every team's first match, each team member is required to bow down and kiss one of the legs of Mechadon. The audience is allowed into the building. Several crowd members are upset at learning that Treasure Island contains no gold and is in no way related to Robert Louis Stevenson. During the third fight of the tournament, small holes are drilled into the additional Lexan surrounding the audience due to problems with suffocation.
Preliminary fights continue in this, the first full day of fighting. Sometime around 1:00, it's decided that to speed things up, there will be a preliminary rumble with all of the spinners and Hazard clones. Fifty-seven robots are placed into the Box, and any that are no longer functional after two minutes of fighting are automatically eliminated. And that's just for the super heavyweights. By the end of the evening, the working competitors are down to a manageable number.
Oh, and the most spectacular fight of the tournament took place, with tension, excitement, and spectacular damage. But since Comedy Central wasn't there, you'll never get to see it! Ha ha! Sucks to be you!
Today's the day the seeded robots arrive for their safety inspections. Okay, this really isn't that big of news, since the majority of the builders of seeded robots have unseeded robots, as well. So the only three people to show up that haven't been at the tournament since Monday are Derek Young, Carlo Bertocchini, and Tony Buchignani. All middleweight activity stops as Hazard (now gold-plated) enters the testing box. Three or four voodoo priests are called to the scene. Tony is asked to spin Hazard's blade, so he presses the button to do so. Within one second, Hazard's blade becomes invisible. Before continuing with their fights, the middleweight builders demand to know how much money they will receive if they appear in a fight on Comedy Central. If the quoted amount is less than the cost of the robot itself, they forfeit.
Meanwhile, in a secluded room off of Treasure Island, a very anxious Peter Lambertson becomes increasingly twitchy as he awaits Saturday, when he is finally allowed to operate the BattleBox weapons (there are no hazards during the preliminaries). The CrewBots quickly mock up a board of functionless buttons for him to press until the big day.
Believe it or not, at the end of the day, the field is narrowed down to only 16 competitors in each weight class. These 16 will face the 24 top seeds starting tomorrow. Since each of these 64 preliminary winners have all had to face at least one powerful spinner during their matches, they are all weakened. This is to make the top seeds look all-powerful, kind of like "American Gladiators." "Oh! OverKill defeated that pneumatic lifter in under one minute! Amazing!"
Speaking of "American Gladiators," to kill time, a game is set up in the parking lot where a robot is placed in a large metal sphere and controls the sphere's motion by driving inside of it. While wearing Spandex.
Also, the builder of a lightweight spiked box that was knocked out of the tournament on Wednesday agrees to let Toro throw the robot into the air at full power outside. It takes out a passing seagull.
The seeded vets (i.e., the robots you recognize) are battling. Vladiator can now travel the 48-foot length of the box in 0.7 seconds. Now, don't tell anybody, but Gage Cauchois isn't really driving Vladiator anymore. He's set up a program that accelerates Vladiator's wheels at random times and in random directions, allowing the robot to simply bounce around the box and occasionally run into its opponent. Observers note that "Vladiator is moving with much more control this time."
This is the first day we get to see the arena hazards in action. The weapons embedded in the floor are all the same as last season. However, every single spike strip has been replaced -- the walls of the Box are now lined exclusively with screws. In addition to the traditional screws, they have added an Archimedean screw, which sends a steady stream of water pouring into a grate in a corner.
The whole schedule starts to get screwed up when Carmen Electra takes twice the expected time to do a bit while standing in the BattleBox. The line that keeps tripping her up? "Or until its opponent is incapacitated." The builders agree that Jim Smentowski should just send Nightmare into the box to chase everybody out so they can get back to fighting robots. Nightmare heads up the entrance ramp, into the box. Its disk isn't spinning, but everybody scrambles to leave as quickly as possible. Carmen panics, forgets where the door is, and starts hitting the Lexan panels like a fly, trying to find a way out. This is the take that will air on Comedy Central next season.
In the spirit of the shirtless "TORO" guys from season three, six people get together to spell the word "MAULER" with their chests. Due to a coordination error, though, for several of the fights, they instead spell out the phrase "RUM ALE." It is decided that this is an equally important concept to root for, and they remain in that configuration for the rest of the day.
The winners have been determined... the tournament is over! Not that I want to spoil anything, but the winners are Hexy Jr., Complete Control, Warhead, and Toro.
That's right, Hazard finally loses. Though it does make it to the finals again. But Complete Control finally figures out how to defeat the champion -- it simply shoots a tethered projectile into Hazard's heel. KO in 53 seconds.
The rumbles also take place. You won't be seeing these, either -- not because Comedy Central didn't plan to air them, but because in the first rumble, three super heavyweight spinners simultaneously break out of the BattleBox. In the rush to escape the crowded drivers' platforms, several drivers suffer eye injuries from transmitter antennas. And all of the cameramen run away, locking themselves in the porta-potties and refusing to come out until Tuesday. So there's nobody there to tape the rumbles.
At the end of the night, everybody gathers their robots or robot parts and leaves the area, stimulated by the excitement of a really good tournament and brimming with ideas for robot improvements to be built over the next few months. After everybody leaves, it is learned that Treasure Island has sunk three inches into the bay over the course of the week due to the weight of all the robots and builders, as well as the force of hammers hitting the ground.
This season rocked! Get ready to watch it on Comedy Central in a couple of months. And by "watch the tournament," I mean, "look at the many, many shots of Carmen Electra loosely connected by robotic combat of some kind." That's "Comedy Central Sports Presents ModelShots," this July! Sandwiched between episodes of "South Park" and "The Man Show"! Be there!
Facts about what's taking place at the current tournament
Oh, man. The more pics I see from the event, the more I wish I was there. So many cool robots that I won't get to see in action!
Here are a few facts:
Inertia Labs' new robot this time is a super heavyweight spinner called "The Butcher." No info on how it works/what it does.
The Judge's armor is black again. Not Kevlar, but it is black. Hooray!
Yes Virginia, there is a Vlad the Impaler II. Unfortunately -- and believe me, I'm very sad to report this -- its body is shaped like Vladiator's. I've seen a couple of unidentified appendages attached to it... not sure how exactly the robot works. Especially since I didn't see anything designed to impale.
By my count, there are at least three middleweights that have been designed to defeat Hazard by being built very low to the ground. We have Huggy Bear. There's ZiggZagg, which first appeared at the last tournament and is a low wedge built by Jonathan Ridder (of Ziggo fame). And new to the box this time is Red Square, a non-spinner built by the Whyachi guys. It's a sloped box, a whopping two inches tall, with a flipping arm in its center.
And those are just some facts on the robots from builders we recognize! There are also literally tons of awesome-looking robots that we've never gotten to see in action. And only 16 unseeded bots from each weight class get to advance to the televised rounds...
Nothing new to report, but a couple additions on robots mentioned above.
The Butcher has a spinning blade, and is powered by a huge air tank. It's at this point in its description that my eyes glaze over, so I'm not sure what exactly that means. Something to do with a lightning-fast spin-up time.
My fears have been confirmed... Vlad the Impaler II is a heavyweight version of Vladiator, more or less. Another ridiculously fast box. The main difference is that instead of a spike, its weapon is a lifting plate. Which raises the question of why the robot has the word "Impaler" in its name, but at least it has a better chance of actually controlling its opponent than Vladiator does.
You get some right, you get some wrong. There are a lot of spinners, and they are doing a lot of damage. But safety inspections are really strict this time around. The creators of KillerHurtz planned to debut its successor at this tournament, but they didn't pass safety and had to forfeit. To make an understatement, that has to be really frustrating.
All the new spinners are causing lots of damage to the spike strip during these preliminary fights. Which means that if the screws return, they'll all be destroyed by the end of the first day. We can only hope...
Facts become scarce at this point, as fighting's been going on for four days and of course, the results of the fights cannot be disclosed until they air on Comedy Central. It's about this time that I start getting twitchy until the new season airs...
Pack Raptors are the only robots (is the only robot?) from Team Raptor to be at this event. It doesn't take too much cogitation to assume a link between this fact and the Anheuser-Busch lawsuit.
UPDATE: Bad info here. Gamma Raptor and Carnage Raptor (renamed simply "Carnage") were also at the tournament. Tripulta Raptor was not there, though I don't think that would surprise anyone.
Hope you didn't just eat before reading this... Carmen Electra is back on the show for another season. So is Arj Barker. Brad Wollack, however, is gone. Once again, Bil Dwyer showed up to watch the actual tournament, because he's cool.
Apparently the screws are different this time, designed to drag robots up and against the wall. And Pete is going really easy on the hazards to ensure that first and foremost, it's about robots fighting. This is also a good thing.
Not that it matters if you weren't there, since Comedy Central had no plans to show them, but the rumbles were cancelled after some particularly violent action in the box caused something (whether it was a piece of bot or piece of box is unclear) to come down from the roof of the box and into the audience. Gulp.
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