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Storm 2/Controversy

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"What the audience wants is a robot that when they see it on display or just entering the arena, they think...WOW! Rambots never really have that appeal, as they’re usually just boxes on wheels. With robots with moving weapons, there is a sense of theatre and drama; when sparks fly from the attack of a flywheel, or a robot flying in the air after an attack from a flipper. All that rambots seem to deliver is a push and a shove, yes they win the battle, but it doesn’t win our imaginations, or the fans’."
— Old Mentorn Blog

Despite achieving tremendous success in later series of Robot Wars, Storm 2 was unpopular among the show's crew and producers towards the end of the series' original run. After seeing it compete in - and win - the New Blood Championship during the second series of Robot Wars Extreme, they were concerned that the show's viewers would find Storm 2 boring, due to its functional design, lack of weapons and the brevity of the majority of its battles. As a result, they carried out changes to the regulations and made some arguably questionable decisions in response to its performance in Series 7, in alleged attempts to favour its more 'exciting' opponents.

Weapon RegulationsEdit

Following Storm 2's victory in the New Blood Championship, it was granted automatic entry into Series 7 as the sixteenth seed, but only under the condition that it was to be fitted with an active weapon of some form. Team Storm were taken aback by the implication that their robot was allegedly 'boring', but complied anyway, electing to install a four-bar lifting arm and modify the robot to incorporate the new weapon.

"To be honest we didn't think that the rules needed to change. A flipper or a spinner with a naff weapon makes a boring fight - and it is the job of qualifying to ensure that those robots don't appear on TV."
— Team Storm website[1]

Storm 2 returned to compete in Series 7, with the lifting arm somewhat begrudgingly added. Nevertheless, it still mostly relied on its ramming power to attack its opponents throughout its Heat and allow it to progress to the Semi-Finals. Indeed, its rams proved powerful enough to immobilise opponents and even throw The Steel Avenger out of the arena during its Heat Final. However, the producers were not satisfied.

"Our emphatic win in the heats of Series 7 hadn't gone un-noticed by the crew and the company that make Robot Wars. Worried by Storm II's cruise to victory in the New Blood competition they had brought in a new rule (to try to exclude heavily armoured machines like Storm II) from taking part. Now Storm II was looking as unstoppable as it did during the New Blood competition of Robot Wars Extreme, and the rumours around the pits was that Mentorn (the company that make Robot Wars) weren't happy. The last thing they wanted after Tornado's win in Series 6 is another 'box' winning the competition"
— Team Storm website on the producers' views of Storm 2's Series 7 performance[2]

Firestorm 5Edit

Storm II pits Firestorm

Storm 2 pits Firestorm 5

After defeating The Grim Reaper on a judges' decision in the first round of the Semi-Finals, Storm 2 faced three-time Grand Finalist and the second seed Firestorm 5 in the second round. Although it proved dominant during the fight, and pitted Firestorm 5 to win via knock-out, there was discussion behind-the-scenes of Storm 2 being potentially disqualified on a technicality. According to Team Storm, the producers argued that since Storm 2 had not used its lifting arm at all during the fight, that it had broken the 'active weapons' rule, in spite of previous instances throughout Series 7 where robots were allowed to fight with their weapons disabled. The judges however, refused to share this reasoning, and did not disqualify Storm 2.

"Before Craig Charles announced us the winner there was a long pause. It would appear that the producers of Robot Wars tried to persuade the judges that we shouldn't win the fight. The reason was - although we had an 'active weapon' we didn't actually use it in the fight. There was even a discussion in the interview booth between us all about it trying to understand the logic. Ed couldn't remember if he'd used the weapon or not, but surely that didn't make any difference ? In the end the judges stood firm and refused to be swayed by Mentorn's interpretation of the rules"
— Team Storm website on the producers' attempt to disqualify Storm 2[3]

TornadoEdit

Tornado Pit Controversy

Tornado "miraculously" escapes the pit

In the Grand Final, Storm 2 fought reigning champion Tornado in the eliminators. It dominated the battle and won the subsequent judges' decision, although a brief moment before the end of the battle caused controversy as whether the battle should have gone to the judges. At the same time that Refbot pressed the pit release button, Storm 2 shoved Tornado over the pit square, trapping Tornado in place and allowing it to descend into the pit. Team Storm celebrated what they thought was a certain knock-out victory, but to their surprise, the pit's smoke plume did not go off and 'cease' was not called. Instead, it was raised back up to let Tornado continue fighting, and immediately lowered again after Tornado drove clear. The pit's full descent was not shown on TV - the camera immediately cut to Tornado being released from the pit after Storm 2 pushed it over, giving the impression that Tornado had 'escaped' from it seconds before it began descending. However, if one watches closely, the pit cover can be seen moving upwards just before Tornado drives off. Despite accusations that the producers directly manipulated the battle's outcome through Tornado's un-pitting, they made no further interference when the judges ruled in favour of Storm 2.

"We found ourselves again looking at going into another fight with another example of the producers using what control they had of the arena/rules to try to remove Storm II from the competition. That's twice now.... what next?"
— Team Storm's reaction to the pit controversy[4]

Typhoon 2Edit

7thWarsGrandFinal1

Storm 2 lifts Typhoon 2

Storm 2's Grand Final battle with Typhoon 2 proved to be one of the most controversial in the show's history. After Typhoon 2 broke the wall upon hitting it with its spinner, the fight was stopped in order to carry out repairs to the arena. According to Team Storm's website, in order to maintain continuity, Team Typhoon was allegedly allowed to repair the damage sustained by Typhoon 2 and to get the robot's weapon spinning when the fight resumed. Team Typhoon refute this claim, with then-captain Gary Cairns stating that it would have been impossible for the team to dismantle and repair Typhoon 2 within the allowed timeframe, and that both robots were kept separate from their teams during the time in which the arena was repaired.[5] When Team Storm launched a formal complaint to the producers, they were informed that the plan was to edit out the wall breaking, and broadcast the fight as if it had never happened. However, this plan never went ahead, as the moment Typhoon 2 damaged the wall and the battle's subsequent restart were both aired in the final broadcast.

7thWarsGrandFinal2

Typhoon 2 breaks the arena wall

"We were assured that this wasn't being done to be unfair, but was being done to maintain consistency in the show. We pointed out again that Typhoon had been having problems long before they hit the wall, but it was clear Mentorn didn't care."
— Team Storm website[6]

The fight was resumed, with Storm 2 repeatedly pushing and slamming Typhoon 2 around the arena even as it lost a small front panel in the closing seconds. In doing so, Storm 2 managed to dislodge a drive chain from Typhoon 2, which Team Typhoon stated had previously come loose during its previous fight with X-Terminator. This did not immobilise Typhoon 2's weapon or impact its driving ability due to it using two sets of drive motors, despite Team Storm claiming that Typhoon 2 was driving 'erratically' towards the end. Needless to say, both robots were still mobile at the end, and the final went to a judges' decision. The production crew began clearing the arena, found Typhoon 2's drive chains, and offered to toss them up to the control booth. At the same time, Craig Charles was interviewing both teams, and asked Team Typhoon what state their robot was in.

"Knowing that their robot had a damaged weapon system, knowing that they had lost drive to some of their wheels (we all saw Chris Reynolds who looks after the house robots pick up the chains from the floor and tell the Typhoon team they'd put them with the robot) in the interview the Typhoon team claimed that their robot was totally 'undamaged' and that it was 'like new' - not something that we expected, we'd at least expected honesty."
— Team Storm website[7]
"As the robot was designed with two independent drive systems, either of which could drive the robot with the other down, I had no reason to suspect there was damage to the robot and so it didn't cross my mind during the post match interview."
— Gary Cairns of Team Typhoon refutes Team Storm's suspicions[8]
Panel

The panel that fell off Storm 2

In the end, the judges ruled that Typhoon 2 was the winner and the Series 7 champion. The key factor behind their decision was damage, which they gave Storm 2 no points due to it losing the front panel. Later on, it was revealed that the judges had not inspected the machines personally, as they did in some fights, but had been told that there was no damage to Typhoon 2. Craig Charles even went to asking the audience to who they thought had won, in which Storm 2 got the resounding cheer. Some fans went as far as to call for Cairns to hand his trophy over to Team Storm following the fight.Citation? The judges would later apologise to Team Storm for the decision, although this had no bearing on the outcome of The Seventh Wars.[9]

AftermathEdit

Later that day, shooting began for The Third World Championship, as well as other side events such as the Middleweight Championship final. Team Typhoon only had one set of batteries between Typhoon 2 and their middleweight, Typhoon, and would have not been able to compete in both events. When they chose to withdraw from the World Championship to concentrate on the Middleweight Championship, their decision aroused some suspicion among the members of Team Storm:

"Typhoon 2 should have entered the World Championships too, but it mysteriously retired - apparently so that its batteries could be used for a sideshow 'middleweight' final. A strange mix of priorities when you have a robot that's apparently 'fighting fit' and the World Championships to film that day."
— Team Storm website on Typhoon 2's withdrawal from the Third World Championship[10]

Gary Cairns refutes Team Storm's suspicions, stating that the Middleweight Championship was a larger priority for Team Typhoon as they were entering it as the defending champions.[11]

SupernovaEdit

Another controversial incident occurred during the final of the Third World Championship. During the battle, Storm 2 managed to tip Supernova onto its side, the gyroscopic forces of the latter's disc causing it to drive up and get itself stuck on the arena wall. Rather than count Supernova out, however, Refbot freed it from the wall while Shunt stacked Storm 2 against an angle grinder, leaving it stranded and vulnerable to attacks from Supernova's disc. From the audience's perspective, this seemed like another alleged case of producer interference, intended to give the more 'exciting' Supernova a greater chance of victory. However, the battle's outcome was a direct result of behind-the-scenes issues that the audience were not made aware of:

"There was total confusion as to what was going on after the fight. No-one seemed to quite know what was happening."
— Ed Hoppitt on the Fighting Robots Association forum

After Supernova got stuck against the wall, Refbot came in to count it out, but his counter was not working at all, a problem which was not communicated to anyone but the producers. Left to make their own conclusions, the house roboteers inferred that Storm 2 had won, and allowed Shunt to stack Storm 2 against an angle grinder for fun. Team Storm obliged, as they also believed they had won the battle. However, unbeknown to the house roboteers or the competitors, the producers had ruled that because Supernova was never counted out, it wasn't officially considered immobilised, and ordered Supernova to be freed from the wall in the hope of giving the battle a more exciting conclusion. However, Storm 2 was still left inverted and beached on the angle grinder, and sustained damage from Supernova once it was freed. Although the televised version of the battle went to a judges' decision, the judges ruled that Supernova should have been counted out in the first place, awarding Storm 2 the victory and the Third World Championship. Needless to say, both teams were disappointed that the full version of the fight was not shown.

"What was not shown in the coverage was that, 2 of the 3 titanium panels at the front of Storm had been torn away. We had some good hits on Storm, eventually immobilizing them. The judges decided the Storm had won the fight when we were propped against the wall and so gave the fight to them. The fight was a good one, wish they had showed more of us hitting Storm when they were upside down. Think it was a dodgy decision, think the judges owed Storm from a certain previous fight…"
— Suren Balendran, captain of Supernova, on the FRA forum

ReferencesEdit

  1. Team Storm website (archived)
  2. Team Storm website (archived)
  3. Team Storm website (archived)
  4. Team Storm website (archived)
  5. Gary Cairns' Reddit post on the Series 7 Grand Final
  6. Team Storm website (archived)
  7. Team Storm website (archived)
  8. Gary Cairns' Reddit post on Typhoon 2 and the Series 7 Grand Final
  9. Team Storm website (archived)
  10. Team Storm website (archived)
  11. Gary Cairns' Reddit post, clarifying Typhoon 2's absence from the Third World Championship

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