Robot Wars Legacy: Controversial Battles! The Series.

I said I’d keep to the new rota didn’t I? This is a new part covering the original Robot Wars show. My last two articles reviewing the original series were received rather well, and because it seems people love debate and drama, I figured I’d keep that going. This will be part of a series where I’ll go through the more questionable Judges Decisions in the original run of Robot Wars, and view what made them so controversial. I’ll also give my viewpoint on the battle as I remember it, and wonder who I think deserved the win. It’s a trip down memory lane, but many are still talked about to this day.


Firstly, a bit of background information for those who didn’t watch much of RW. Often, robotic combat ends without either side being able to knock each other out. Whenever a battle ended with no clear winner, a panel of three judges would decide on the outcome by scoring each competitor on style, control, damage and aggression. In total, six different judges appeared across the course of seven series. A lot of this is taken from the Robot Wars Wikia, so I’ll give them credit where credit is due. Here is the link, hopefully it works!

Robot Wars Wikia: Judges

A Judges’ decision would be made at the end of a battle if:

  • There are a sufficient number of mobile machines when time runs out such that there is no clear winner(s)
  • The machines fighting become immobilized at roughly the same time (the judges may call for a rematch in this case)
  • There is a rule infraction, for example a health and safety hazard.
  • The match must be halted early for any reason (the judges may call for a rematch in this case).
  • It is decided that the house robots improperly influenced the outcome. (Believe me, this happened a lot. Mentorn really told the House Roboteers to go nuts, resulting in a lot of trigger-happy destruction. Great for entertainment, not so much for victims)

Now, because matches were edited, there was times were matches would be seen as dodgy for the viewer. Regardless, there were a lot of controversial decisions over the series, some being relatively minor to outright criminal lapses of judgement. Some have been hotly debated about to this very day (No guesses on who’ll win that particular reward, now is there?) So, welcome to Part 1 of this series! None of this will be in any particular order, I’ll pick my choices and talk about them as they come.

Further Note: As another little part of this series, I’ll be going through judges decisions and ranking them through the (easier to understand) Battlebots scoring of their original run. As in, it’s best of 45 points, and the result is announced live with the scoring. Robot Wars never had this, which made it a little bit strange, despite there being a score-sheet.

Series 1 Heat B final: Mortis vs Recyclopse

I’ll happily start off with this battle, because it was important for a number of reasons:

  1. It was the very first Judges Decision in the history of the show
  2. The first controversial match
  3. The first time the losing team opposed the decision.

The match was an interesting one; Mortis and Recyclopse were two very strong machines for that time period; Rex Garrod’s machine being the first robot with a hinged flipper, and actually flipped Matilda over during the trial. Mortis was probably the most fancied and hi-tech robot of the first three wars, and was heavily favoured by the producers. Before the battle, Mortis’s axe broke down, so they modified it into a battering ram.

After a lot of aggressive ramming by both robots, Mortis pushed Recyclopse onto the sidebars, immobilising them. Shunt then rammed Mortis onto the sidebars, knocking them out too. Both machines in the end were trapped, and cease was called, leading to the first judges decision. They went with Recyclopse in the end, a decision very popular with the other roboteers in the pits, but the Mortis team rightfully strongly disagreed with the decision:

They’re not working – we’re working. We pushed them out, we had all the attacks, and we think we should’ve won.“— Chris Sorsby, team member of Mortis.

It was a very tough match to call, but I feel Mortis was by far the most aggressive throughout the match, shoving Recyclopse onto the arena sidebars and immobilising them. It’s argued it should never have gone to the judges because of that (The timeframe for seeing if a robot was immobilised in the show was incredibly small in Series 1, a few seconds) I think the only thing which went against Mortis was bad control, but aggression should have counted a lot more. Even head judge Noel Sharkey wasn’t happy with this decision:

We could not really see a way to decide and kept asking for it to be a draw. But, in those days draws were not allowed and so we were forced to make a decision with a very aggressive crowd screaming in our ears and pushing us into the barriers. We decided on Recyclopse but none of us felt good about it.“— Noel Sharkey

Battlebots score: It was still a very close battle, but I would have given the nod easily to Mortis, if it even went to the Judges. 25-20 to Mortis, in my opinion.

You can watch the battle (and end of the episode in fact) right here 🙂


Series 1 Heat E final: Bodyhammer vs REALI-T

Not a judges decision, but very controversial nonetheless. Bodyhammer was created by Team Cold Fusion (The builders of the excellent Pussycat of series 3-7) and it was a very powerful machine despite having no working weapon. However, it really should have lost this battle. Dominating up to this point with its pushing power, it started off well against the underdog, pushing REALI-T around the arena, but poor driving made it stop on a grille, the Series 1 variant of the later Pit of Oblivion. Usually, this would make the machine lose virtually automatically, but Shunt came in and freed Bodyhammer from the grille. This allowed the lucky machine to beat it’s opponent by ramming it onto the side spikes.

Now, why the hell did Shunt intervene? Bodyhammer had driven onto the arena hazard of it’s own doing, so should have been judged immobilised. Instead, we got a very stupid intervention by the house robot, affecting the course of the match. Since a machine in an earlier heat lost after dominating its opponent by driving onto a grille (Cruella vs Robot the Bruce), it makes little sense why this was allowed.

Series 4 Grand Final Eliminator: Stinger vs Chaos 2. 

Oh boy. This was an interesting one I have to say. Series 4 was arguably the best series of all time (See my earlier blog! Robot Wars: The Fourth Wars) After a brutal semi-final clash, the final four machines had come together. The number 1 and 2 seeds Chaos 2 and Hypnodisc were pitted against the two very low ranked but deadly Stinger and Pussycat respectively.

The Chaos 2 vs Stinger battle was probably the most controversial of the series, on the skin of things anyway. It was extremely close and violent it has to be said. Chaos 2 got some huge flips in on Stinger, managing to control it around the arena, but in turn had suffered serious damage to its back panel (Stinger smashing the plate off after Chaos 2 reversed into its tail after driving into Matilda’s CPZ). Neither were able to finish each other off, leading to a judges decision:

  • Damage equal
  • Aggression equal
  • Style equal
  • Control by 1 point to Chaos 2.

Now, I can understand aggression being equal. Style…sure, I get that too, but Style was a pretty crappy criteria, getting removed for the 2016 reboot. Control, I can sort of see why, Stinger’s design makes it naturally hard to control. But damage? No way in hell was that equal! Sure, Chaos 2 wasn’t actually slowed down by the cosmetic damage, but it had suffered a lot more then Stinger, which should have counted against it. Now we come to the big thing. This battle took place after Hypnodisc’s shock defeat against Pussycat. in the earlier eliminator. Now, had Hypnodisc went through as planned, I feel the judges could have been inclined to give it to Stinger. But because Pussycat went through, some believe they gave it to Chaos 2 on the grounds of it being anti-climatic for the Series 4 final to be between two low-ranked robots (Pussycat being seeded 19 and Stinger seeded 30). Controversial? Yes, certainly. I really think Stinger could have won this battle. Were they robbed? No, I think it was still hard to call, but it was very suspicious.

Battlebots score: Another close decision, but based solely on damage I would’ve given Stinger the nod, 23-22. It really was that tight, but should have gone the other way in my mind. Chaos 2 had no real way of threatening Stinger besides just throwing it out of the arena or down the pit. I’d say it won on aggression, but lost on damage. Reminds me of a certain Storm 2 v Typhoon 2 match in Series 7. . .or Firestorm vs Razer in Series 5.

Here is the battle for your viewing pleasure. Maybe let me know your thoughts?


Series 3 Heat G 1st round: Henry vs Haardvark. 

What a disaster. I try to give every robot with the guts to enter this show a good name for taking part, but Henry really was an awful robot. Terrible design, bad engineering and won this bout through sheer luck. It was a tough ask going up against the Series 2 semi-finalists, who had brought a hard-looking machine to Series 3. In this fight it dominated throughout, pushing Henry around and causing damage with its grinding disc (replaced to stop it shattering). Then, by some miracle, Haardvark stopped moving in the final seconds of the fight. In the non-edited battle, the match did go to the judges, which gave it to Henry. Now, you need to be immobilised for a lot longer then that for it to be judged fairly. Haardvark absolutely dominated this match, and breaking down 7 seconds before the end should not have been grounds to put Henry through, I’m sorry.

It also goes against later battles (Series 6 melee with Sir Chromolot speaks out to me most) Of course, there is another argument. In the video of the battle, you do see Haardvark’s drive train snap, which was a lot worse damage. I just feel that it should still have gone to them because Henry did nothing worthy all battle. I can understand why Henry won, but I don’t agree with it nonetheless.

This was one of the incidents which led to the creation of the Refbot to avoid such confusion. Here’s the battle.


That is all I have time for this installment. I will be back soon with part 2 of the journey! Expect a lot more posts in the future!


6 thoughts on “Robot Wars Legacy: Controversial Battles! The Series.

  1. To be honest I don’t think Stinger should have even been in the final in the first place as they should have lost to panic attack in the semi’s as panic attack dominated the battle but some how won on a judges decision.


    1. I’ll be going into that battle at a later date. I think that one was harder to call, and 50/50. Yes, Stinger was lucky to knock out PA in that battle, as it was extremely tough (I think more the case that PA could do nothing to Stinger but push it around while stinger’s weapon was naturally more aggressive.) That I think was swung it, but it was an unpopular and controversial match which I will discuss at some point!


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