KOB2 Diary – Part 5

Day 19

  • Read the plan for the day on WeChat. The production crew plan an attrition style competition. So many teams complain about this style of competition. I have to go and watch. Relax day cancelled.
  • The main complaints (mostly from English teams) are based on not being able to recharge or repair between rounds and that this will make the competition boring to watch. The production crew disagree, and I actually agree with them.
  • I arrive at the event and go to the tv to watch the filming of the team selections. I’m the only international person watching, as per usual. I don’t understand why the international teams don’t want to watch the selection process. It seems that they don’t care about who they’ll be fighting, or care about the tv side of the competition. No wonder they don’t understand what is going on.
  • While watching the celebrities chose their teams, Emma insults the other celebrities, who end up ganging up against her. She yells and storms out of the film set. I burst out laughing and none of the chinese people around me understand why. I realise I was they only person watching who understood what she was saying as I was the only person who spoke english. The TV version of the team selections on the show was edited. When the Soccer commentator celebrity ran to join a team, Emma stamped her feet and screamed, yelled that it was all unfair and ran out the door before the chinese crew could stop her. The rest of the TV version was filmed the following day, which is why Emma noticeably changes.
  • When Emma left the filming set, she ran past the tv that I was watching and toward the real pit. Her security team were caught off guard and couldn’t keep up. She went through the pits and her teams thought she was coming to talk to them, but she pushed past and went through the catering tent and toward the main road. Everyone was confused.
  • While I am explaining what happened during filming to the other international teams we get news that the Chinese government have decided to ban Americans from appearing on Chinese tv. Donald Trump seemed to have had another anti-china press conference. Filming and production seems to stop. The entire area goes silent for the fist time since I have been there. The fights were scheduled to start at 3pm. Nothing was happening.
  • There seemed to be panic from the TV and KOB production teams. People start discussing that they might need to refilm the show with Americans removed, including Emma. But that seemed impossible.
  • The production crew start asking the American teams if they had someone of a different nationality on their teams. Every team had someone, except Megabyte. I jokingly said I could join the team. Would have been cool to drive Megabyte.
  • Production magically starts up again. Fights start at 7pm. In hind sight I think the anti-america thing was just misinformation and the actual problem was the missing Emma. It took over 4 hours to find her and production had to stop with one of its stars missing.
  • The attrition competition actually runs well, apart from the judge screwing it up and awarding a tie for one of the fights. There was supposed to be three judges, each awarding their own score that add up to an odd score. It should have been impossible to award a tie. But since the head judge was the only one actually submitting scores (he usually handed over the final score card before the other two judges finished writing), the tie was based on the fact that he was a boxing/mma judge and it is acceptable to have ties in that sport. Ties in robot combat, and especially an attrition competition, should never happen. He was an absolute muppet. The production crew had to convince him to re-score the fight and not ruin the show. He was angry that they told him he was wrong. I overheard him say that he has more experience judging fights than any robot builder and therefore he has the right to change the rules and we shouldn’t complain. (can you tell how much I hate this guy?)
  • Head back to hotel at 10:30pm. No chance to have another underground fight.

Day 20 (Ep 9,10 and 11 filmed during these 2 days)

  • Deicide to stay in the hotel and relax. Leslie has left on a pre-planned holiday and won’t be back for a few days. We didn’t tell the production crew that we let her go as it would have got her fired.
  • Ask Melissa for another fight. Keep waiting for time in the arena
  • Hear that fights are running late again. Also that Emma has been replaced. Probably slowing things down. She probably had more tantrums that the show was unfair or rigged against her. She didn’t need to leave early for study. This was a friday and filming finished sunday. How bad was your time management?
  • Don’t end up going in.

Day 21

  • Decide to keep waiting in the hotel as Leslie is still away. If I went to the competition without her, she would not get paid.
  • Hear that fights are running late, again.
  • Also hear that Orby missed out on an after-hours fight again. Lots of teams still asking for this. Hear that the directors have organised some 4-way rumbles, but no idea if that involves us.
  • Don’t end up going in.

Day 22 (Final day of filming)

  • We wait for the last bus to allow Leslie time to arrive from the airport.
  • When we arrive Melisa finds us to ask if we will be ready for a rumble at 6pm. This will be a warm up for the grand finale. Also included in the rumble is 2BBQ, Purple Minotaur and Pink Beater. I finally get another fight.
  • Spend 4 hours putting the batteries in and chatting to random people. Find that the battery with a hole in it is actually holding charge better than the good battery.
  • Told to weigh the robot and move it to the arena at 6pm, so far on time.
  • One rumble is scheduled before ours. 3-way with Orby, Fire Wheel and Earth Mover. Was thinking these were not to be filmed and just for fun, which is why I was allowed to officially drive.
  • Fights getting delayed. First see the referees and judges turn up. But then the presenters turn up and the audience get excited. Then 4 knocked out celebrities turn up. The 3 team captains have to film a walk-on introduction and we are moved to wait in a war-room. We suddenly realise that this will be filmed and will be our only fight in front of the audience/celebrities. Only had to wait until the last day of filming for this to happen.
  • Watch the previous fight in the war-room. Feels strange to finally be on set.
  • I was then told that I couldn’t be in the filming. Connie had to do the entrance and drive the robot. I was allowed to do the weapon and stand behind her. But because they waited until 10 minutes before the fight to tell me, I actually left Connie’s radio at the hotel. I run to the pits and ask Cat King if I could borrow a radio. I give it to Connie and she pretends to use it. She was driving the robot with another teams radio that wasn’t even turned on.
  • Fight finally starts. Plan to be calm and watch the spinners. But Pink Beater charges at us and I take a swing. I fitted the robot with the spiky axe (was the only chance to use it) and it got stuck in the floor. I didn’t realise that 2BBQ was also coming and hit a wheel while I was trying to retract the axe. I felt that the fight was screwed in less than 15 seconds, again. One side of the robot just didn’t want to drive.
  • Spend the rest of the fight trying to be mobile enough not to be counted out. End up breaking two count downs and taking a few swings at other robots. However I don’t remember any details and the tv view of the fight was focusing on the other robots as it was thought that we were out. We ended up outlasting 2BBQ and Pink Beater before being counted out. I didn’t realise that the referee was looking for 3m of movement from the point of counting. I was just trying to move toward the robot that was circling me. This means that I was moving the robot in circles during our third count out and the referee counted us out.
  • I did a nice spin and axe at the end that launched the robot a good distance into the air, as a victory dance, because I thought the referee counted the other robot out. This wasn’t shown in the final edit of the fight. And the fight didn’t make it to air, probably because the elimination torniment ran so well and filled the show.
Link for rumble video (not on youtube)
  • While moving the robot to the pit I realise that a short has come back. But are then told to return to the arena for more filming before I can remove the covers and find the problem.
  • We get told that we have to film an advertisement for the energy drinks. Connie can’t drink it because she is pregnant, so I need to be a stunt drinker. Connie stuffs it up by pretending to drink.
  • Run back to the pit to make the robot safe and pack it in the crate. Connie wants to return to the hotel with Alice to begin packing there. I’ll stay at the competition to watch the finals.
  • The robot only takes 30 minutes to pack while watching fights on the TV. A lipo fire causes a delay, so I walk with Connie and Alice to the taxi.
  • Once back I follow the English teams to watch the fights from the audience. So much fun.
  • The final judge’s decision of the final fight between Vulcan and Drift is scripted. First close decision of the competition that was correct. I am sitting behind the judge and watch the whole thing happening. The fight involved a lot of attacks by Vulcan that caused it to drive up Drift’s wedge. Using the muppet’s judging system this would have given all the aggression point to Drift and thus he wanted to give the fight to Emma’s teams. The production team didn’t want this to happen and wanted the chinese team to win. I could see the main director tell the judge to make sure he scored the fight the correct way. So the aggression points went to Vulcan, which is how everyone is the audiance judged the fight. I could see the muppent going back to check his rule guidelines after handing over the envelope and looking upset that someone was telling him what to do.
  • The English guys that I was sitting with are told to move to arena to film a group of robot builders during the decision. I decide to follow and get in the way. I was in the group of cheering builders, see if you can find me. I walk out before filming has finished and the director’s laugh when they realise I was there.
  • We think there would be a bus for the hotel as a lot of teams need to catch early flights, but we are all told to stay.

Day 23

  • At 12:30am I am told I am needed for filming. Not sure why.
  • Realise they need to refilm the energy drink advertisement because Connie stuffed it up. They didn’t even use the add in the show.
  • Finally get on bus at 1:30am.
  • Wake up at 8am to finish packing.
  • At 11am I check the flight status of the flight to find that the flight from Shanghai to Guangzhou was cancelled. Message Leslie and Melisa to get it fixed. Lucky I checked, as no one was aware that it was cancelled.
  • Told we are moved to an earlier flight and to go to the airport immediately.
  • Arrive at airport at 12:30pm. 1.5 hours to get through check-in. Bloody slow line, trouble with Connie’s passport, extra check on suitcase and other stupid Chinese shit.
  • Check the ticket and find that it is for a 11:50am flight that started boarding 1:20pm. Fuck.
  • 30 minutes to get through security. Needed to have the batteries scanned twice. Why?
  • Arrive at gate at 3pm. Flight still delayed. WTF?
  • Go to find food. Eat quick. Hear the call for boarding. Arrive at gate and find everyone already boarded. How?
  • Get on plane, which sits on the tarmac for 30 minutes.
  • Arrive in Guangzhou with 3 hours to make the connection. Easy. No security checks and immigration was quick. Batteries stayed in the bag this time.
  •  Plane for Brisbane boards on time, but delayed on the tarmac for 45 minutes. What is wrong with Chinese air traffic control?

Day 24

  • Arrive back in Brisbane. Hooray.

Day 100

Once Huntsman arrived back in Australia I finally found what happened during the final rumble. The drive with the issue wasn’t the side that lost the tyre chunck. Instead it was a broken receiver wire that was cause intermitted loss on the other side. Should have added a cable tie to stop the wire from rubbing on the drive outrunner. No other damage and the robot was fine at the end of the rumble.

Day 365

Still haven’t received the second half of the build stipend.