American Team MegaBots Wins First Ever Giant Robot Duel Against Japan

MegaBots MkII robot built to kickstart a giant fighting robot league.
Eric Risberg / AP

On Tuesday, October 17, the first real-life giant robot duel was streamed on the Twitch channel of the American company Megabots Inc., New Atlas reports. The duel pitted the machines created by MegaBots against the Suidobashi Heavy Industries’ Kuratas robot from Japan.

The streaming started at 3 a.m. GMT with a pre-duel show that lasted for almost an hour. It presented the teams and the work that went into making this duel a reality. At 3:45 a.m., the event finally started in earnest.

The first round of combat saw the American Iron Glory facing against the Kuratas. The fight was disappointingly short, as the American robot’s air gun suffered a misfire. Capitalizing on this failure, the Japanese managed to land a hit with its punching claw and tip over the clumsy Iron Glory.

At 3:49 a.m., the audience finally got to see the Eagle Prime come to the arena. The American machine was clearly larger and more powerful than the Iron Glory. Even so, the Kuratas strove forward. It started by launching a small drone of unclear purpose, which was quickly swathed by the Americans.

As the two machines moved forward, they collided and promptly got stuck, forcing a stop of the battle.

The third round of the duel, and the second of the Eagle Prime-Kuratas match, started at 3:58 a.m. and was much more conclusive.

Both teams had also changed the configuration of their machines. The Kuratas was now equipped with a Gatling gun along with the punching claw, while the Eagle Prime also kept its claw but traded its gun for a massive chainsaw.

The two machines wobbled along the arena for a few moments. Then, the Eagle Prime went for the lighting rig and broke it apart to grab a piece of scaffolding. The Kuratas fired away with the Gatling gun, while its opponent used the scaffolding as an improvised shield.

Then they collided again, and the Eagle Prime used the chainsaw to tear the Kuratas apart. As the American machine started to push the Japanese robot against the lighting truss on the other side, the commenters pretended to be scared and ran away.

By this point, the Kuratas was unable to move anymore. The battle was over, and the Americans had won.

There was still a post-duel show, but the main event was already over. So, how did it stack up?

This duel has been gathering some relevance online for a few years. MegaBots was created ostensibly with the aim of promoting and creating a league of giant fighting robot duels as a new sport.

This competition was envisioned as something akin to a combination of the BattleBots competition and pro wrestling.

This is more or less what the audience got to see in the stream. The arena was set in an abandoned steel mill in Japan and shaped like a somewhat narrow corridor furnished with obstacles like barrels and cars.

Chinese Monkey King fighting robot, made to challenge the MegaBots' Eagle Prime.
With the growing awareness of MegaBots and the duel from this Tuesday, others are rising to the challenge. Pictured is the Chinese Monkey King fighting robot. [Image by Mark Schiefelbein/AP Images] Mark Schiefelbein / AP

The robots themselves were clumsy, standing on tracks or wheels instead of actual legs. They moved slowly but still looked like the mechanical nightmares their creators wanted to invoke.

The Iron Glory was little more than a refurbished MegaBots Mk.II robot, and it felt like it was there to give the Kuratas something within its weight class that it could fight on roughly equal terms. The Eagle Prime was much more powerful and seemed to outclass the Japanese machine.

Moreover, the event was recorded prior to the stream, with the rounds being spread across several days so the teams could repair the robots and prepare for each fight.

The whole stream was also full with jump cuts and editing tricks to make it feel more exciting. Truth be told, the event felt staged, especially during the last fight.

However, one could say it was somewhat like wrestling, and if that was the intention, then the organizers did meet their goals.

From a personal standpoint, the duel felt both underwhelming and exciting. While the wobbly machines and the staged feel of the duel were a disappointment, one cannot deny the appeal of seeing these machines dueling in an arena.

Only the future will tell if something like this will actually become a sport. Interestingly enough, there are contenders interested in joining in. According to Business Insider, a group of Chinese inventors spent $14 million to create a robot, named the Monkey King, to challenge MegaBots, so maybe audiences will get to see at least one more giant robot duel.

For now, though, the U.S. won against Japan, and everyone had a lot of fun.

[Featured Image by Eric Risberg/AP Images]