It’s back! And my god is it back! What an episode to kick off the 9th wars. The weird and the wonderful, the powerful and destructive. Damage levels off the charts and the most impressive equipment ever seen on the show. We have spinners and axes and flails and flippers galore. 8 robots, but only 1 can win. Who? Well you’re going to find out. It is so good to be back.
A lot of this year is similar to last year’s 8th wars. 40 competitors split into 5 weeks of 8 robots each, narrowed down to 5 winners and a wildcard to compete in the week 6 grand finale. We kick things off with 2 4-way melees and trim the competitor numbers in half, before a round robin league system that favours robots that can stay in one piece. 3 points for a knockout and 2 if you win via the judges. The two robots with the most points go on to a final 1v1 battle, in which the winner takes the spot in the final week. The house robots are all back- Sir Killalot, Shunt, Dead Metal and Matilda- as are our presenters, Dara O Briain and Angela Scanlon. Of course we couldn’t forget legendary commentator Jonathan Pearce, along with the 3 judges that determine the outcome of a battle in the case that there is no clear winner- Dr Lucy Rogers, Professor Sethu Vijayakumar and the head man himself, Professor Noel Sharkey.
But onto the battles! Because that’s what we’re really here for, isn’t it? It’s make or break (Or even both) for the 8 competitors battling it out in week 1, and this is how we line up:
Melee 1: Nuts 2 v Jellyfish v Terrorhurtz v Rapid
Let’s start with Rapid, a robot that looks sleek and shiny, well polished and very well engineered. It doesn’t have any wild edges of pieces hanging off- it’s a very efficient design. Then again, Rapid cost somewhere in the region of £25,000 and so you would expect it to do well. It comes equipped with a rather large flipper, the kind that makes you wonder if anything is actually going to stay in the arena once this battle is over.
Next up we have Jellyfish, which brings a whole new side to robot combat, and is the complete opposite to a robot like Rapid. For a start, Jellyfish is massive. It’s like Gabriel from the last series, but extremely low to the ground. The actual weapon is a movable grabbing arm that slides along the robot to trap competitors. Oh, and it had googly eyes, because Jellyfish wouldn’t be complete without them. The robot may look like it was built on a budget of £3.50, but that doesn’t mean it can’t do the job.
We now move on to Nuts 2. Nuts of course were one of the crowd favourites last year, defying the odds to get through to the head to head battles, even though they were eventually taken apart by Carbide. Nuts 2 comes around this year as a bigger, more badass machine. It’s bulkier and has flails the size of Liechtenstein, which should make for an interesting show.
Finally, we have Terrorhurtz. The axe of doom returns to try and get revenge for finishing 3rd in the round robin last year. They’re placed in Heat A once again, and come up against Nuts again (The two having been in the same melee last year too). The axe system has supposedly been upgraded, which is useful considering it barely worked last year. But can they go one (Or two) better than they did last time around?
As is the norm with initial melees there is just one house robot to contend with. This time round it’s the lady of the war zone, Matilda. Are we ready? Are we? Let’s get the 9th wars underway!
Now 4 way melees are always hectic, but Rapid lives up to their name by being the most rapid out of the starting blocks, going straight for Jellyfish and tossing them up into the air! The flipper already proving its usefulness. Jellyfish though is unharmed despite having just somersaulted through the air. Terrorhurtz is also looking to get in on the action, quietly waiting in behind to pounce. Nuts, completely out of that mini battle has taken a liking to Matilda. Or should that be the other way around? But the minibots are seemingly having fun, darting about all over the place. A good start to proceedings.
There’s still the robot threesome between everyone else to keep an eye on, especially Rapid, who are looking good early on. Terrorhurtz too are laying the hurt on Jellyfish, who actually seem to be taking things quite well. They still have the googly eyes attached too. Infact, basically this entire fight is everyone versus Jellyfish. Except Nuts- Nuts are busy having their own problems in the middle of the arena away from the action. But just to compound Jellyfish’s troubles, Rapid comes in and flips them AGAIN!
One of the few problems in this melee for Rapid is that the flipper takes a short while to close. And this time, just as the flipper was closing, it got caught in one of Nuts 2’s flails. Cue Rapid taking Nuts for a drive across the arena before they managed to shake them free. Now I don’t know what exactly was going on with Nuts, but something wasn’t right. Fortunately now we have Matilda to take care of them. Out comes the flywheel, and Nuts goes flying out of the arena! How about that! There’s no way they’re getting into the H2Hs this time around. But what power from Matilda’s flywheel.
Back to the threesome, and Rapid are going for Jellyfish- again. But this time when they flip them, Jellyfish no longer seem to be moving. Terrorhurtz go on the hunt for Rapid, landing a good few blows with the axe before John Reid starts shouting for them to stop using the axe. No the first time we’ve had an axeless Terrorhurtz. Either way, Terrorhurtz are now chasing Rapid across the arena. It’s all a bit of fun because Jellyfish have well and truly gone now. Ah well, it was fun.
Terrorhurtz and Rapid through!
So onto the second of our melees. The other 4 robots contesting to join Terrorhurtz and Rapid in the head to heads. Who are they? Let’s find out.
Melee 2: TMHWK v Sabertooth v Aftershock v Crank-E
First robot we see is Sabretooth, a robot that has changed a lot since it was turned turtle by Eruption in week 4 of the 8th wars. The giant scoop is gone and the self righting arm that never was is gone too. Now it’s purely a drum spinner mounted to a yellow and black box and powered with all the might of the nearest sun. Basically, the drum spinner is deadly. But Sabretooth have never won a televised fight in their career, will that end now?
Next is TMHWK, or Tomahawk for people that like to put vowels into their words. A robot that has come all the way from The Netherlands to compete over here in the UK, TMHWK is a robot with a double bladed axe. One end has a sharp point to skewer robots, whilst the other is a Terrorhurtz style blunt end to cause all manner of internal damage. It’s scary, if it can get the hits in.
Thirdly is Crank-E, as opposed to last year’s offering, Kill-E-Crank-E. Crank-E has undergone something of a makeover. It now has large buffers on the front of the robot, as well as a buffed out look for the main body so that it no longer looks like it’s just a drainpipe. Also the spinning blade in the front and centre is far, far faster than it used to be. Be prepared.
Saving the best to last? Maybe, because Aftershock looks menacing to the nth degree. From the same team that brought you Shockwave last year, Aftershock is fitted with a vertical spinning disc a la 259. Can Aftershock self right? We don’t know that yet. But maybe it won’t need to if it has already destroyed everything in its path.
Shunt is the resident house robot for this battle, let’s get things underway!
It’s a start for the spinners as Aftershock and Crank-E go after each other. They make brief contact, before TMHWK come in and push Crank-E onto Aftershock’s spinning disc, which sends them flying into the air! And Aftershock don’t let up, going in with hit after hit on Crank-E, sending them sprawling with each. Eventually Aftershock get Crank-E all the way into Shunt’s CPZ, and that brings even more peril their way. Now trapped on shunt, Crank-E are trapped as Aftershock’s next attack rips the entire top panel loose.
Now we haven’t talked much about the other competitors. TMHWK helped Aftershock out a little bit in attacking Crank-E, but are now under attack themselves from Sabretooth. Sabretooth’s drum spinner has the power, the power to start tearing off the side panels from TMHWK. And TMHWK have no response, eventually allowing Sabretooth to just push them across the arena.
Aftershock decide to switch things up and go for the pit release button. Now that button has two functions this year: One, it can open the pit as normal, or two it can set off one of the house robots, letting them go rogue for 10 seconds to do as much destruction as they can. This time, however, it’s just the pit. But maybe soon…
Crank-E meanwhile have had it. They get nudged in the direction of Shunt, who just makes their misery even worse by trying to put their axe through them. The robot is barely holding itself together at this point, but the same can also be said for TMHWK, who end up losing one of their front wedges to a powerful Sabretooth attack almost straight afterwards. Just to compound this, TMHWK then get turned over by the arena spikes, and with the axe non-functional, that’s them gone too. Both Crank-E and TMHWK are out!
So that means Aftershock and Sabretooth go through to join Terrorhurtz and Rapid in the head to heads. And how about this, Sabretooth have actually won a televised fight! It’s about time! But how will they fare in the next set of battles? Well that’s what you’ll find out next time…
Until then. Viva la Robot Wars.