Anyone there who knows us knows we didn’t perform like our normal selves. In an attempt to keep the spirits high for next week at West Michigan I was hoping there was someone out there who has some solid advice on how we can realistically get our team to states. Awards, competition ability, etc.
I would also like to extend a very gracious thanks to Richard Wallace. You really helped us when we were down. Also thanks to all of the teams that held us up and talked us through what we should do. Its been a rough year and it was a rough competition. I’m just trying to convince everyone its going to be okay and trying to keep the fun train rolling.
Understanding what it takes to get there is a good start. You got 24 district points in your first event. The cut off for MSC is usually between 60-75 pts, likely lower this year with MSC getting larger. This means you need a minimum of 35 points to have a chance at getting into MSC, and likely 45-50 points to guarantee yourself a spot.
Let’s look at the MSC point break down.
Between 4 and 22 points. You got 12 last time. Seeding higher will help this.
You don’t stand a chance at MSC if you don’t make elims at your district.
Making Semifinals gets you 10 more points. You probably need to do that too.
Pick one you know you have a chance at and sell hard. Read the criteria, prepare a little something. There’s a lot of content on CD about how to win awards. If you’d like to talk more about this feel free to PM me. As much as I hate to say it (because FIRST safety culture annoys me) a safety award plus another award is the only way to get more than 5 pts from awards besides winning one of the big awards (EI / CA - which if you weren’t already planning to compete for you don’t stand a chance now).
Let’s run through a scenario.
8th seed captain (presumably 15th best robot at the event, potentially a realistic goal) would get you ~15 pts for where you seeded (assuming some inpicking) and another 9 for being the 8th seed captain. This puts your total at 49 for the event. If you win an award that’s 54. So you need to make semis to have a chance at getting to MSC in this scenario.
Not sure what your team already does, but if you don’t already, work on pursuing various judged awards. Most awards are worth an additional 5 district points which can help make up the difference (or 8pts for Engineering Inspiration, and 10pts for Chairman’s). Keep in mind that judges will almost always only give a maximum of 1 award to a given team (usually the highest-level award a team is the most qualified for). The exception is the Safety award which is judged by a different group of judges, so pursuing safety plus another award is a good way to get an extra 10+ points.
Additionally, do what you can at your next event to get as many ranking points as possible, not only will this help you in the rankings, but it also directly affects the amount of district points you get from qualifying matches. Know you’re probably going to loose a match going into it? Prioritize ranking points instead! 2RP gained from auto and climbing is equivalent to winning a match without RP, and will greatly help your standing and the district points you earn. Being an alliance captain or an early pick can also help, and every match you win during playoffs is good for another 10 points.
Now, if you’re looking for ways to actually accomplish any of the above items, that’s a different question that will require some more information (what your robot does currently, what your robot is supposed to do, how your team currently interacts with judges, etc.) in order to properly give you advice.
While MSC is competitive, I don’t think you guys will have any big problems. Teams almost always do much better in their second competition than their first (just look at the Cosmos this year!).
Awards are always a nice fail safe. Spirit is gonna be your easiest one to get (IMO). Cheer loud, cheer for others, and always keep your spirits up, even if you guys aren’t doing well. If you guys did a lot of specialized designing for this year’s theme as well, Imagery is in your reach. Make sure your safety/entrepreneurship presentations are ready and set to go. Make sure your whole team is made aware of entrepreneurship since I believe the judges just ask whoever is in the pit.
The real problem is that our teams standard has been set to well above the top 32%. Our previous success have set us up for emotional failure if West Michigan goes poorly. We are really relying on our friendships to carry us a bit but that’s a reach if you know what I mean.
You are correct, I think I had heard somewhere that they were thinking of expanding it again (making larger divisions or something) and I couldn’t remember what the total number was last year to compare.
With a single climb, switch bot (capable of place 10-12 cubes a match), that can place one cube on the switch in auto, what would be a realistic ranking to expect. All of the auto and climber came together at the end of the event so we don’t have anything to go off of. Combined with one award would that be enough to push us over the edge?
A bit of general advice, coming from someone who’s been there before: as hard as it may be, try to not focus on the match outcomes at your event, the rankings, or points counting. There are a LOT of factors outside your control. Mike did a good job describing what it takes from a performance standpoint to reach the points total you need to expect to qualify, but the process has a lot of luck involved, and focusing on where you stack up or your performance against the magic number through the whole event will wear people down emotionally and result in effort expended that does not help your team reach that goal.
It gets really easy to feel like you “have” to win matches and that puts a lot of emotional stress on the team to do extraordinary things and change circumstances that may be well out of their control. Instead, focus on what is within your control. Your robot, your match plan, every match. Focus on executing your strategy, on having your team prepared to present for awards, and seek success through striving for excellence, and not by measuring yourself against the results. This is especially true for a team that, as you describe, as traditionally set the bar high for themselves and is feeling the pressure of underperforming to those expectations. Don’t let that get away from you and devolve into a finger-pointing exercise about why you should have won X match or Y award.
Put your best effort forward, plan well, execute the plan, and let the rest fall where it will.
Apex started following this approach in informally for the latter half of 2016 and formalized it starting in 2017. At this point our drive team, including the drive coach, doesn’t know where we’re ranked or how many matches we’ve won or lost until the end of day 1 and right before alliance selection. It really helps them focus on just executing the match plan the strategy team gives them and being consistent, rather than getting caught up in the emotions of “must win” matches.
Nathan, I can speak from experience as someone who was in your exact position this time last year. We finished St. Joe 2017 ranked 23rd and got kicked out in Quarters. As a team who also performed well in our young history, this was a reality check for us.
I’m cautious to bring up past success as an indicator of future success. The people that make up the team change, and with that come and go different skill sets. I understand and agree with the goal of setting a team standard for what competitive level you want to be at. Sometimes though, the honest truth is that an “off” event may produce more learning opportunities for improving your team.
All that said, I’m sure your season is far from over. Mike laid out a very clear explanation of the points you will most likely need in order to qualify for state. His big takeaways are rank high, perform well in playoffs, and earn an award.
To rank high, you need to focus on ranking points and winning matches.
Have a switch auto that works every time. Have a backup side switch auto that can score if your partner fails. If you have the weight, invest in developing a climber solution that can share the bar, or show a proficiency at getting on other bot’s ramps.
We took what we learned at St. Joe in 2017 and applied that to the East Kentwood event. It took a lot of hard work and planning between those two competitions, but we walked out of the event with a blue banner as a result.
Hone your strategy, think about mechanical, software, and drive team improvements. Go out there and compete well! If I can I’ll be stopping by the event to see how all my West Michigan robot friends are doing!
+1^ to what Mike, Evan, and Jarren said above. These guys know a thing or two about turning challenges into opportunities.
I will echo Jarren’s point about consistent switch auton. That one is well within your reach – just needs rehearsal to make it routine. Another area to rehearse is quick intake. Again, your robot is already good at that, and with practice you’ll be filling the exchange fast enough to move on to other priorities, like defending your switch or attacking the opponents switch.
Which seems like the best use of redesign time to you: getting the hanging hook to set more easily, or placing cubes on the scale quickly? Either of those would be good stretch goals, after you’re comfortable with the ones in the paragraph above.
BTW, I like your turret. You should put it to work making your team an all-purpose switch auton threat, freeing up BOTH of your alliance partners to attack the scale.
Isn’t that exactly what you need to sort out? How many points will it take to qualify for DCMP?
You can use last year’s cutoff threshold as a starting value, subtract how many points you currently have, then evaluate the balance. How many qualification and eliminations matches will you need to win to exceed that threshold? Do you need an award or a minimum ranking/pick position to round out those numbers? How many paths to success exist?
Analyze the data, answer those questions, then it will become obvious what you need to focus on.
With a little over a week before your next event, I would focus on improving what you already have rather than trying to add any significant new features. Bring a reliable switch auton.
Is your turret truly improving your effectiveness? What about any other features of your robot? Make an honest assessment of your strengths and weaknesses - even if that is uncomfortable. If you are confident that things are fundamentally sound, then make the best of what you have. If not, then make changes soon and focus your practice time on your “revised” status.
Thanks for the advice. We would love to host you if you come to West Michigan
Thanks also to everyone else who contributed advice and ideas. I’m realizing it’s possible, while I also recognize it’s going to be tough. If you’re at West Michigan next week, take pity on us were making do with what we’ve got. Hopefully I’ll see all of you at MSC, although I don’t want to get my hopes too high.
I have not seen your robot (I will try to see at least one match after this post), here is a fact: every team will go through a bad day, sometimes 2 bad days in the same event.
For your next event, keep your drive team focused, let them watch matches. While mechanical/electrical teams are working on improving robot, have your drive team practice driving, if you have practice bot. In many matches you see how switch and vault are important (I know scoring scale is great), but if you take ownership of switch/scale before your opponent, you could be scoring. Other common mistake is dropping cubes while delivering, its a big waste of time. Drive coach should guide you to get he closest cube and guide your drive to avoid penalties. Watch your matches and see how you can improve. What driver sees from driver station is different than 300’ view, mistakes become very obvious.
Just say three matches and your robot is doing good. One of the match, it stopped after auton, did you guys figure out why? One of the common issue is radio, secure the power and network cable just before the radio and near the roboRIO. Sometimes due to robot vibration it looses contact and loses connection and takes some time to reconnect.