A Comparison of Streaks: 1678 and 177

In 2013 many teams around the world, and in California for that matter, had not heard of Team 1678. That year, however, they would start a dynasty and begin a rapid transformation from unknown team to one of the best in the world. After a surprise first seed finish on the Curie Field that year, Citrus Circuits used their shortcomings to their advantage by scorching the field; they were rejected by an FRC record four teams before 148 finally accepted. They would go on to win the division, and in the years after they would become a powerhouse. It culminated in this season, when Citrus Circuits beat 3310 on Newton to clinch a sixth consecutive year on the Einstein Field. Those newer to the FRC would likely think this is the first time this has ever been accomplished. However, though the feat was incredible, it was not original.

If you been in the FRC for less than five years, there’s a good chance you’ve never heard of Team 177, Bobcat Robotics, unless you live in the New England District. Though they’ve had a resurgence in recent years, they are not the household name they once were in the mid-2000s to early 2010s. However, seven years before Citrus Circuits won their sixth, 177 celebrated for the same reason as they defeated 2054’s alliance on Archimedes. That’s right, Bobcat Robotics once captivated the world’s attention by reaching Einstein six years in a row. Just like 1678.

Though the two streaks seem similar, both teams had very different paths to and results on the Einstein Field. Analyzing the streaks further reveal a few major differences between Citrus Circuits and Bobcat Robotics when it comes to their six-year tenures on the field of champions.

1. 1678 has had a much more dominant run in qualifications and divisional eliminations than 177 did.

There are two factors to consider when it comes to qualifications, qual records and seeding. Citrus Circuits has been unbelievable in the divisional qualifications during their run, compiling a combined 50-8 win loss record* across their six years. 177, on the other hand, compiled a less stellar 36-17 record during theirs, but it’s still a record most teams would kill for at the championship. When it comes to seeding, the two teams differ starkly. The table below shows just how strong Citrus Circuits has been.
1678                                                  177
Year  Rank in Qualifications Position in alliance     Year Rank in Qualifications Position in alliance
2013            1            Captain, Alliance 1      2006            2           Captain, Alliance 2
2014            1            Captain, Alliance 1      2007            50          First Pick, Alliance 8
2015            2            First Pick, Alliance 1   2008            26          Second Pick, Alliance 3
2016            3            First Pick, Alliance 1   2009            25          Second Pick, Alliance 5
2017            3            First Pick, Alliance 1   2010            41          Second Pick, Alliance 1
2018            2            Captain, Alliance 2      2011            6           First Pick, Alliance 1

Incredibly, during 1678’s run, they’ve never dropped below the third seed in the qualifications. Even more unbelievable is the fact that they’ve been part of the number one alliance five of their six appearances, with the only exception being this past season.

177, on the other hand, was in control of their own destiny just once. They were nowhere near as dominant in the qualifications, and their seeding was reflected because of it. Stooping as low as the fiftieth seed in their division at one point, they’ve reached Einstein more times as the second pick of their alliance than they have the first. It’s difficult enough to reach the finals of a regional that many times as a second pick, and on a Championship field it is even harder to do so.

Now, when it comes to divisional eliminations, 1678 once again asserts themselves. They’ve only needed three divisional elimination tiebreaker matches, while 177 needed seven in order to keep their streak alive. Both teams required one of them due to a red card in their alliance, but that still means that Bobcat Robotics had to come back and win the series three times as often as Citrus Circuits. Taking into consideration Bobcat’s standing on their alliance most of those years, that’s even more inconceivable.

*Statistic includes the 2015 season, where wins and losses did not matter.

2. 1678 had more hardware to back up their streak, making 177’s streak even more notable.

1678                                                    177
Regionals won before Champs (2013-2018)                 Regionals won before Champs (2006-2011)
                15                                                           2
Robot-related awards received before Champs (2013-2018) Robot-related awards received before Champs (2006-2011)
                12                                                           2 
Average event seeding before Champs (2013-2018)         Average event seeding before Champs (2006-2011)
                2.35                                                         14.56 

Citrus Circuits’ dominance also trickles down to the regional level. They’ve averaged a seed at all of their events twelve positions higher than 177 ever did during their run. Also, 1678 had more gold medals entering the Championship year after year. Of the seventeen regionals 1678 attended since the beginning of 2013, they only lost two. (One was against 254 and 971 in the finals of Silicon Valley in 2014, and the other happened when they were swept in the quarterfinals of the 2013 Sacramento Regional.) In contrast, 177 only ever won two of their regionals during their streak, both in the first year of it. They would fail to win the next seven regionals in a row after 2006, and they would not win gold at that level again until 2014.

Also, worth noting is that 1678’s robots were more decorated and recognized than 177’s. From 2013 to 2018, Citrus Circuits won twelve robot-related awards at their regionals. 177 won two, both in the final year of their streak. 1678 has been renowned for their elegant and effective robots during their dynasty. 177 didn’t make flashy machines, but they performed when it mattered most and were an excellent team player.

1678                                       177
Year  How they reached the Championship    Year  How they reached the Championship
2013  Regional Win                         2006  Regional Win
2014  Regional Win                         2007  Waitlist
2015  Regional Win                         2008  Champion
2016  Champion                             2009  Waitlist
2017  Regional Win                         2010  Waitlist
2018  Regional Win                         2011  Champion

What is even more mind-blowing is how each team reached the Championship each year. Unsurprisingly, 1678 did so by winning a regional each year, though they were already qualified in 2016 having won the year before. 177 had a much more turbulent journey, as they only qualified by a regional win once. In fact, for half of their appearances Bobcat Robotics qualified for the Championship by nothing more than being offered a waitlist spot. Had they not won in 2007, that number may have been four instead of three. Few teams nowadays are lucky to get into the waitlist even twice in a row. Luck was certainly on 177’s side.

3. Even though 1678 has been more dominant in the divisions, 177 has taken home more hardware on Einstein against tougher opponents.

1678                                                177
Year  Finish         Alliance they lost to or beat  Year  Finish         Alliance they lost to or beat
2013  Semifinalist   33, 469, 1519                  2006  Semifinalist   968, 195, 25
2014  Finalist       254, 469, 2848, 74             2007  Winner         233, 179, 71
2015  Winner         987, 2826, 4265, 2512          2008  Semifinalist   67, 16, 348
2016  Semifinalist   330, 2481, 120, 1086           2009  Semifinalist   67, 111, 971
2017  Finalist       973, 1011, 2928, 5499          2010  Winner         1114, 469, 2041
2018  Third Place    4911, 2910, 4499, 5006         2011  Finalist       254, 111, 973
1678’s only Einstein finals win came in 2015, when they defeated 987 in two matches. In contrast, 177 claimed the victor’s crown on two occasions. The alliances both defeated to win it all, however, were very different. For Citrus Circuits, they did not have a brutal battle to fight. Though 987 had performed admirably until the finals that season, the Highrollers were a tossup to win the Championship at best. When Bobcat Robotics won the Championship, both times were as massive underdogs. They shocked the world first when they and their eighth seed alliance stopped 233’s championship effort in 2007 by five points and then again in 2010 by defeating what was considered to be an unstoppable combo in 1114 and 469. 

Both have also had finals appearances where they came up short, however. 1678 has had two, losing once to 254 in 2014 thanks to a brilliant last-second change in strategy by the Poofs and once to 973 in 2017 due to 4188’s unfortunate disconnection. 177’s only Einstein finals loss came in 2011 against a 254 that was steamrolling their way to their first Einstein win. Each team has also been eliminated before the finals on three occasions; both Citrus Circuits and Bobcat Robotics have been eliminated by the eventual champion once, and the finalist twice. Also worth noting is that Citrus Circuits has forced more tiebreakers on the Einstein field against their opponents than 177 has.

4. While 1678 got their streak because of their offense, 177 got theirs because of their defense.

With the exception of 2013, every single one of 1678’s robots has been in the top tier of the world when it comes to scoring. They’ve found ingenious ways to play the game and have been some of the best in the world when it comes to doing whatever it is that puts your alliance ahead. From shooting frisbees to placing cubes, they have been one of the best in the world offensively. 177, on the other hand, was not the primary point scorer for most of their alliances on Einstein. However, they were among the best in the world when it came to playing defense. Watching old match footage will reveal that when it came to close matches and playing against alliances where they were clearly overmatched, Bobcat would play shutdown defense and prevent the primary scorers of the other alliance from scoring. Even more importantly, they would do so and avoid getting fouled. This was critical not only to reaching Einstein but beating teams like 233 and 469. Though offense may have been the answer for Citrus Circuits, defense was the game of 177.

So, who had the more amazing run? I’m not sure that question can be answered, as both of these Einstein runs are incredible. However, I think I’m safe in saying that while 1678’s run has been more dominant, 177’s was by far the most improbable.

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This is amazing! I had no idea this was a thing! Thanks for writing this! Honestly if seems like 177’s streak is a statistical unicorn compared to 1678’s more calculated one. Making it to Einstein as a 3rd bot isn’t a hard science which makes it all the more amazing! I keep laughing in disbelief! This is insane!:smiley:

Does anyone whose was around while 177’s streak was active have any cool insights as to how they managed to do it?

Each and every one of 177’s Einstein appearances during their streak came in an era in which only 12 teams total made Einstein. 1678’s started at the very tail end of the 12 team era in 2013, but 16 teams made Einstein in 2014, 32 teams made Einstein in 2015 and 2016, and 48 teams made Einstein (total, 24 from each Championship) in 2017 and 2018. I know both Championship and the total FRC population has grown across that span, but being a member of an exclusive 12-team club six years in a row is absurd.

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Love this breakdown. Both organizations are top notch - but I never realized the connection between the two.

I agree this is significant. To go along with this, 177’s divisions had between 85-88 teams and had has few as 7 qualification matches per team. 1678’s divisional team counts are: 100, 100, 77, 75, 67, 67 and had 10 matches per team 5/6 years. For a top tier team, it’s significantly tougher to seed high when there are ~25% more teams and ~30% fewer qualification matches (and 177 also had to deal with the 2007 schedule as well).

It’s an interesting debate because, while its most certainly easier to make Einstein during 1678’s run, I think most would agree they were ‘better’ during the stretch, shown by being on the top alliance as captain for first pick most of those years.

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Having worked with 177 on numerous occasions throughout the Connecticut regional, CT State Champs, NE District and Worlds, both during their streak and after, they are are one of the most strategic teams I’ve worked with. They understand how to perform in even the worst circumstances and adapt to the challenge ahead of them. They’d have no problem picking deep into the seeding for an unconventionally strong alliance and many alliance captains would pick them due to how well they can analyze the competition and act on their strengths and weaknesses. When we were at the CT State champs together in 2013, our teams worked together to shut down the seemingly unstoppable full court shooter of 195 without greatly effecting our scoring cycles. 177 may not always be the strongest or flashiest robot on the field but they know what it takes to win and are ok with sharing the lime light with their partners. They’re a strategic powerhouse.

Strategy, Teamwork, Hard work, have fun, and Never give up. We had an **amazing **group of mentors/students every year that worked really well together. The importance of team dynamics can never be understated.

That might sound cliché, but we prided ourselves on never believing there was such a thing as an unwinnable match, prided ourselves on believing that we could always make our robot better; we changed things in season, and at events that I’m not confident many teams would have bitten off back then. In season re-builds, and massive improvements have become much more common now than they were back then, when a lot of teams had 1 regional and then had to go to the one championship.

During the 177 streak three of the years were single regional years for 177 (2008, 2009, 2010). 2008, 177 wasn’t even selected for the eliminations at the lone regional we attended.

I don’t think any sane person would argue that the six 177 robots were somehow better than the six 1678 robots. However, you also can’t argue with the new Einstein math of how many teams make it now vs back then. It was darn hard to make Einstein from those stacked divisions back then and many amazing teams missed out every single year.

Both streaks are improbable, both steaks are impressive, it’s a fun topic.

Correction to original poster 177 was the second pick of 190 in 2007

When I participated as a member of 1625, we ran into 177 on multiple occasions at champs during their streak and always came out on the losing end. All 3 of the series below went to 3 matches. While frustrating to always be on the losing end, it is neat in hindsight to have been a participant of sorts in such an amazing accomplishment.

2006: Lost to 177 in Galileo Finals
2009: Lost to 177 in Newton Semis
2010: Lost to 177 in Einstein Semis

Both streaks are beyond impressive in their own ways and I look forward to seeing 1678’s efforts to extend their streak next season.

Agreed completely. A few interesting things I’d like to add to this fun discussion:

  1. We’ve always looked up to 177’s streak, and still do. As many have already said in this thread and elsewhere, it was a special accomplishment that will never be truly matched.

  2. It is worth noting that both 177 and 1678 skipped Einstein 2012, which was probably a good call :frowning:

  3. Keep an eye on 2056, who has four straight Einstein appearances and counting. I’ve heard 2056 knows a thing or two about streaks… :wink:

  4. The 1678 class of 2018 participated in 16 official FRC events over their student careers, and came home with at least one winner blue banner from every single event :ahh:

Fun thread, thanks for putting this together!

-Mike

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1678 has been by far more dominant during their streak, but 177’s streak is the rarer accomplishment (both because of the scarcity of Einstein spots in their time, and because they so consistently threaded the needle and landed on the best alliance without usually being in control of their own destiny).

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177 wore a lot of different hats over those 6 years, and their flexibility was always impressive to me. But 1678 played their fair share of defense in 2014, and they did a pretty darn good job.

Goldarn.

EDITOR’S CORRECTION: The original post states that team 177 was the first pick of 190 in 2007. They were the second pick, not the first. That means they were the second pick of their alliance four years in a row. (!!!)

177 was indeed the second pick of 190 in 2007, immediately after 987 was picked. Thanks to the serpentine process as an eighth seed 190 could have as easily chosen 177 as their first pick and still pick us up to make a “wall of maroon”:slight_smile: I believe we were chosen first in part because of our autonomous performance. 177 earned every single run to Einstein and I still remember how fired up we were when we learned that we were going to get to play with 177. Watch the Einstein rounds to see just how special the final result was…:wink:

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I think very few teams are good at digging out value picks deeper and deeper in the draft. Surprised they haven’t done better in more recent years even with somewhat weaker performances on the robot side.

This comes down to better, more intricate robots (1678) vs. the better streak of 177. Everyone loves a Cinderella story, and 177 delivered that to the FRC community 6 years running.

Super fascinating stats :smiley:

I was out of country when this thread went up and just saw it. I wanted to add in with some of what Chris responded to.

To those of us on the team and most of FIRST at the time the 2007 Championship was not about stopping 233 but finally beating Beatty (Team 73).
They were 4 time champions who were still unbeaten on Einstein and had knocked out 2 of 177’s best championship runs, 1997 in the semifinal and 2001 in the Einstein Semi-final.

I was a mentor for 177 from 2003-2014 so feel free to ask any questions, I will answer if I can.

I will reiterate what Chris said about our team’s continuous improvement and our ability to not get so attached to one mechanism or way to play. The willingness to do a major redesign or rebuild late in the season was always a strength.

We also would have competing groups working on critical devices whenever possible so we could choose the best option.

Also reliability was huge in this streak. This may sound odd to modern teams, but in the early part of this streak, before districts, having a robot that could last 14 matches at championship to get to Einstein was not really common. For most teams 14 matches was the entire season.

In the pre-district days you would have a lot of robots slowly get worse all Championship weekend and have major failures in the eliminations.

2006 did not go to 3. We did not lose a match on Galileo that year going 13-0. Our first loss was the second match on Einstein against 25, 195, and 968 so we had 14 strait wins at championship which was a record until 111 won the championship without a loss at the Championship in 2009.

Oddly The Blue Alliance shows us winning 3 Finals matches which may have the demo match that was played for CNN that year.

I recall we ended way ahead of the other divisions because we never went to a third match on our field.

One more thing I wanted to point out.

The first “Streak” was held by 175 from 2002-2005.
177’s started in 2006 and ended in 2011.
1678’s started in 2013 and is still active.
It seems the next team inline starts up right after the previous streak ends.

Pete

Well, here’s a bunch of ways to compare the streaks using Elo:

Divisional playoff sets won:
177: 18
1678: 16 (darn 2015 still messing things up)

Average playoff set win probability:
177: 65.5%
1678: 84.7%

Probability of winning their respective consecutive divisional playoff sets:
177: 0.011%
1678: 1.9%

Average sum of playoff opponent Elos – partner Elos (or, what Elo would be required to on average have a 50% chance of winning each match)
177: 1541
1678: 1629

Average Elo in playoff matches:
177: 1650
1678: 1907

6-year season long average Elos (strongest “dynasties”):

rank	team	year range	average Elo
1	1114	2010-2015	2013
2	1114	2011-2016	1978
3	1114	2009-2014	1975
4	1114	2007-2012	1972
5	1114	2008-2013	1972
6	2056	2010-2015	1968
7	1114	2006-2011	1967
8	2056	2011-2016	1963
9	254	2013-2018	1953
10	1114	2012-2017	1941
27	1678	2013-2018	1874
931	177	2006-2011	1625

I’d do an analysis of their respective alliance selection processes, but I still don’t have a good enough data set of alliance selections to be comfortable working with.

Hot takes:
1678 has been consistently excellent 2013-2018. Their 1.9% chance of winning as many divisional sets as they did is low, but it really isn’t shocking that some team ended up doing this given how many teams have had as good or better 6-year dynasties as them. This isn’t to take anything away from them, just saying they are still in the realm of possibility.

177 is a statistical abnormality, they have the 931st best 6-year dynasty according to average Elo and had really no meaningful chance of winning as many divisional playoff sets as they did. I’m planning to add in a playoff Elo-boost into my model at some point, which I’m sure will help make 177’s chances look a bit better, but even with this they will still have one of the luckiest streaks of all time.

It’s pretty clear to me that 1678’s playoff gauntlet has been fiercer than 177’s though, so I think that’s a poor argument for 177 having a better run. This could be in part due to 177 joining up with already strong alliances whereas 1678 often had to make do with late draft picks. It could also be due in part to that there have been more great teams playing in divisions in recent years than ever before, which offsets or even overcomes the dilution we’ve seen in team quality in recent years at champs.

IDK, think what you want, I just made this post as an excuse to casually remind everyone that 1114 was actually the best. :smiley:

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I suspect that next year, once 254 drops 2013, they jump to the top of the list. :yikes:

I don’t have any first-hand insights into 177’s Einstein streak, but I do want to let anyone who’s curious know a few things that have changed about the team since 2011. I recognize that most of these are things that every team has to deal with at one point or another, and there are teams out there that would kill to have these be the worst of their problems. I just wanted to provide some context for anyone who may be wondering what’s different about the team now vs. 2006-2011.

1) The waitlist is no longer a reliable way to get to Championship. This isn’t a team-specific one, but as has been mentioned already 177’s streak was heavily reliant on getting to Championship off the waitlist. Reliably qualifying for Championship through a Regional was something the team was never that good at, which made us very glad when New England went to Districts in 2014. We didn’t make it to Championship in 2012, which ended the team’s Einstein streak with a bit of a fizzle. I’d argue that our 2012 robot was more competitive than some of the robots that the team has taken to Einstein, but our reliance on the Championship waitlist finally caught up with us.

2) We lost our primary mentor pipeline. We were very fortunate to have a major sponsor that not only supported the team financially, but also provided additional paid time off and subsidized travel for any of their employees who mentored the team. This resulted in a reliable stream of dedicated mentors. In 2013, that sponsor was sold by their parent company. We continue to receive generous grants from that parent company, but those mentor perks are gone. We have had to look for new sources for mentors, and have been fortunate to find them among our parents and alumni.

3) Our founding teacher retired. After the 2016 season, our founding teacher Al Mothersele retired. He was the driving force behind starting the team in 1995, and his (very well-deserved) retirement left a big hole in the team. It was not easy for us to find another teacher willing to accept the time commitment involved in running the team, and there was a period of time where we weren’t sure we were going to be able to compete in the 2017 season.

4) I rejoined the team. There’s a running joke on the team that it’s more than just coincidence 177’s streak lined up almost exactly with my last year as a student (2004) and my first year as a mentor (2012).

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Related to this is probably one of the most under rated things I kind of forget about myself, is that we had a huge mentorship change out after we won our first Championship in 2007. We lost 3 mentors that had been with the team since 1995 that decided they could now walk away, and then 2 more who were former students who worked with me at our primary sponsor moved away.

Also from June of 2012 to December of 2013 at least 5 of our mentors got married, it was a pretty crazy stretch in the personal lives of the group of people running the team.