What an episode we had in week 1! Aftershock went from 0-100 in about 2 seconds flat and pretty much demolished anything in sight. Can this episode live up to all that has so far been accomplished? There are some very good robots in this heat, so much that it was very hard to pick a winner. The mixed bag of weaponry is back again, with spinners, flippers (Including the first front hinged flipper of the revived series), grabbers and a robot that does handstands.
We saw last week that the format takes no prisoners; Rapid fell victim to the round robin second round format when they got defeated by Aftershock, then couldn’t reach their gearbox in the 2 hour time slot for repairs and had to pack their bags. That was great for Jellyfish who replaced them, but not so much for Rapid. It’s a no prisoners, no holds barred kind of competition, and there’s always a very good chance that your robot is going home in pieces. But just incase anybody needs a recap of the format- we start off with two 4 way melees, which can be as manic as they are destructive. The 2 robots from each melee that qualify go through to the round robin tournament that constitutes the second round, with each robot fighting everyone else to score point and make it to the top of the leader board. 3 points for a KO, 2 if you win via a judges’ decision. Top 2 from there go on to one final head to head battle to decide who goes through. All clear? Good, let’s get one with the battles.
Melee 1: Cobra v Hobgoblin v Behemoth v Eruption
First up we see Cobra, a robot that comes all the way from Belgium to try and crush the competition. It looks like a snake on 4 wheels, which was probably the aim to be fair, and has a nasty looking crushing jaw that can clamp down on their rivals and not only inflict damage, but give them complete control. Can apparently reach 20 mph in just 1 second, which is an impressive feat if ever I saw one.
Eruption come into this series having fought in the last series but come off second best to robots such as Storm 2 and PP3D. An early exit is something they don’t want to repeat, and so Eruption comes in with better armour, better weapons. It still has an immensely powerful flipper, but has also added a little rotating drum at the top of the robot, not that I envisage that actually doing much. Still, Eruption are 2x UK Champions, so you know they’ll always be there to put up a good fight.
Hobgoblin are a ‘beater bot’, which is really just a fancy way of saying that they have an unconventionally styled spinning bulk attached to the front end. It’s not a disc or a drum but it certainly looks powerful, spinning at approximately 2,500rpm. It has a low scoop to try and entice robots into the beater, but it has the small problem of being largely untested, to the point where they don’t actually know if the robot can self right or not.
Behemoth is back, after getting all the way to the heat final last year, only to get unceremoniously eviscerated by Carbide. This year the robot with the giant scoop has a few new designs up its sleeve, including an angled scoop to protect against spinners (Like Carbide), and another attachment, a grabber, that makes Behemoth look like a construction vehicle. As you’ll see later on, the less said about that attachment, the better.
Your house robot to get this battle started is the almighty war lord himself, Sir Killalot! Episode 2 is go!
The first few seconds of the battle don’t actually involve any robots hitting each other for once, although Behemoth do crash straight into the always annoying lip of the pit, which is still a problem. Somebody needs to fix it for next series because it’s quite honestly ridiculous. But this does open up an opportunity for Cobra, who come crashing into Behemoth, forcing them into the arena side wall. It definitely seems Cobra’s aim to just ram other robots into submission, which is possible thanks to their great speed.
Cobra v Behemoth seems to be turning into a nice little rumble, one Eruption tries to get in on. Hobgoblin meanwhile is doing their best rendition of last year’s Foxic by aimlessly wandering through the arena and not actually attacking anybody. This makes them a great target for Eruption, who take aim and flip them over. But this allows Behemoth in, who flip Eruption over. So now 2 robots are overturned. Eruption (eventually) manage to flip themselves back onto their wheels, but Hobgoblin… Er…. Nah. Other that their 2,500rpm beater taking large pieces out of the arena floor, they’re not doing anything.
What happens next is one of the most entertaining sequences of this week’s episode. Eruption get in underneath Cobra and flip them over- Cobra can run both ways up, but now they only have 2 wheels on the ground because of the snake head that’s scraping along the floor. To try and get themselves back over, Cobra drive straight onto the floor flipper! And it works! Except then Eruption come back in, and flip them straight back onto the floor flipper, which flips them again! Confused.com? It was certainly entertaining.
Cobra is quickly turning into the robot that everybody likes to turn over. Eruption have done it, Behemoth have done it. Hobgoblin have done sod all but I’m sure they would have if they could. Cobra run away to hit the pit release button, which does release the pit. They then run into Sir Killalot, who is kind enough to pick them up and start roasting them over the fire, before being released back into the wild.
Meanwhile the pit has inexplicably decided to come back up in a shroud of smoke. I don’t know if this means the pit has caught fire or something, but the smoke show was certainly unexpected.
The end part of this melee turned into a right royal rumble. IT was literally everyone tries to bash chunks out of each other, with Behemoth and Eruption occasionally trying the odd flip too. But it’ more a war of attrition now, and one that Cobra seems to be bearing the full force of. Push and shove and push and shove. Nobody is going to win this outright, and so with the clock ticking down, it’s going to have to go to a judges’ decision. Not often you see one of those in a melee.
Aggression, Damage and Control are the criteria that the judges mark the battle on. For me it’s a tough one- Eruption definitely have to go through, and because of the amount of times Cobra was attacked, and mainly by Behemoth, I’d have to put Behemoth through too. And good for me, the judges’ all agreed! It’s a shame for Cobra, who were great competitors, but Eruption and Behemoth into the next round!
So, with that melee going the distance, how will our second melee shape up?
Melee 2: Push To Exit v Cherub v PP3D v Draven
The unholy Lord Draven return, having been torn apart by M.R Speed Squared in last year’s 8th wars. This year the robot has been completely overhauled, and now features a tracked locomotion system and a crushing jaw that can actually move. The robot’s armour is still something that could be considered susceptible to attack, but the robot has most certainly been improved.
Push To Exit come from Team S.Tek, who last series got all the way to the heat final with Dantomkia before being defeated by TR2. This series Shane Swan is back with the first front hinged flipper of the reboot, and a robot that looks menacing, even if its name doesn’t. It features a custom made drive system that allows it to get up to 22mph, which is even faster than Cobra. Front hinged flippers are awesome, but can Push To Exit make it a success?
Cherub come from the same team that entered heat finalists Gabriel last series, but are instead piloted by the younger members of the Colliass family. A team known for their wacky but effective designs, Cherub may not be too much to look at, but you underestimate them at your peril. The weapons are two small lifting forks, which are also good for making the robot do a handstand.
The spinner from Scotland is back and looking to create more carnage than ever before. The crowd funded PP3D is improved and more powerful than ever, with the undercutter disc design ready to get in underneath and tear pieces out of robots, usually their wheels. Fell victim to Apollo and Storm 2 in week 4, but the promise of a rematch with Eruption if they get through could be enough to take them to victory.
Shunt is your house robot for this battle, ready to bring the axe down on the competition. Let’s do this!
Now even if we ignore the fact that Push To Exit jumped the start, it is such a fast robot, that all it did was slam straight into the arena side wall in its first attempted attack. Talk about out of control. That doesn’t stop them coming straight back onto the attack, driving underneath both Draven and then Cherub. The thing is, it’s so quick, that by the time it could fire the flipper, they’ve already gone straight past their opponent.
PP3D meanwhile have set their sights firmly on Draven, and their first attack is enough to send sparks flying across the arena. Draven don’t exactly have much of a comeback either other than just get out of there and hope. PTE are themselves going after and getting underneath Cherub, but lack of control again comes back to haunt them as their attempted flip misses its mark. This however lands Cherub in the vicinity of PP3D, who put on a spark show of their own by hitting Cherub head on.
PP3D are basically running the show. After recovering from their clash with Cherub, they go back after Draven, who are struggling to bat away their advances. Eventually PP3D get Draven over to the CPZ and Shunt, who joins in with the action, bringing down the axe with such force that it goes straight through Draven’s armour. And not only did it go straight through, but it must have hit something important internally because that one blow with the axe has knocked Draven dead. Completely and utterly dead.
And then there were 3. Except, not for very long. After doing away with Draven, PP3D come in on the fight between Cherub and Push To Exit. And you know what, why not just go in for an attack? And that attack hits PTE head on, sending everyone sprawling around the arena- but in the case of Push To Exit, out of commission entirely. And with that, PP3D and Cherub are going through.
And so there we have it, at the end of the melees we have our four that are going through. PP3D, Cherub, Behemoth and Eruption. It promises to be an electric round 2, so you don’t want to miss it. Until then…