Here is my “Car Nack” style prediction for the game. I wrote it a week ago, and I’m hoping to see if it comes true.
This year, due to the unique single-ball game, we will see a huge difference in match quality between the qualification rounds and elimination rounds at all events, including the championship. In years prior, there were few random alliance pairings where all three robots were able manipulate game pieces well, so teams will be forced to deal with the sticky situation of telling a partner that they don’t want them to touch the ball the whole match, or sacrifice points.
That being said, a defensive robot can be really powerful and high seeding. A good defense bot can completely shut down scoring for a robot with a kit drive. The most successful qualification round robots will be the ones who can score quickly and accurately while avoiding passing or getting the ball on the ground. The top teams will do cycles by themselves in teleop, with the better ones scoring truss points and catching their own ball, and few may be able to make the “running truss goal”, where the ball is launched by a moving robot over the truss and into the goal, with the robot reaching their zone before the ball goes through the goal.
Now for the elimination rounds. We’ll see quite a few inexperienced teams in the top 8 this year, so the elimination alliances might not always be the greatest. OPR and the w/l/t sorting methods will be pretty useless. In the elimination rounds at regionals/districts with a deep enough pool of robots to choose from, elims will be really cool. Assists are more viable, and there will be a lot of fun pushing matches.
Finally, the two (three) biggest things that teams will miss. This happens every year.
1.) Catching. It’s really useful. Being able to get the ball from a throw from the human player instead of picking it up from the ground is a huge time saver, especially if you’re going the truss points too.
2.) Pickup. The build blitz/Ri3D style pickups work, but they aren’t perfect. A great pickup will make the difference between top 8 and not playing in elims. Being able to pickup the ball if it’s moving, not moving, from the side, and straight on are all important.
(3.) The 1114 design. I don’t think it’s great for this year. It works really well in 2008, but I would be really surprised if 1114 went with that design again. It lacks the ability to catch, and while it does have a decent intake, it could be better.
Also, one more prediction, this year is the year of swerve. I think we’ll see at least a few of the big teams that haven’t done swerve in a while (like 111, 118, 254, 1114, 148) go swerve this year.