Defense at NC Regional

Hi everyone,
I just wanted to share my thoughts on how defense played out in the elimination rounds at NC this year. I know this is long, but I found it interesting as I watched yesterday. This is basically a recap of Eliminations from my team’s perspective in them.

Mechanical Mayhem (1519) and Robodogs (435) were both undefeated until the final match of Qualifications when they faced each other. Robodogs won, and thus were seeded #1 followed by Mechanical Mayhem ranked #2. During selections, Robodogs chose Mechanical Mayhem. This meant that the top two scorers of the competition were on the same alliance.

My Team, The Hitchhhikers (2059), was ranked 6 and we were picked to be on the #3 alliance. We wound up with another shooter, Clover Robotics (1539) and The Flying Platypi (2655). Both Playpi and Clover are 20pt climbers and have solid drivetrains so defense could be played.

We should have mathematically lost round 1 – we were against two 30pt climbers, one of which dumped for 50, and a shooter. Somehow we managed to pull off the win by playing defense well enough that in match 1/2 we stopped both climbs from being successful – one only got 20 and the other didn’t climb at all. We won that match 61-48. Second match was much closer – both climbs occurred for the other alliance, though they gave up on attempting the dump because of Platypi’s defense the previous match. We managed to win that one too, but only by one point. 88-87

Round two was against a shooter (1287), a dumper (1225) and a 50point climber/dumper (587, Hedgehogs). We lost the first match of that round, 61-67. Second match, Platypi just climbed for 20 and Clover played defense on the shooter. We bumped Hedgehogs hard enough that their climber broke, preventing their 50points. Note: we did not intentionally break their bot – we’re good friends with their team and I rushed over to see if I could help them in any way, and they were able to play the next round. We won the second round 77-54. Final match went similarly to the second, we outscored thanks to defense, and the Hedgehogs were only able to get a level 2 climb. We squeaked a win in there, 65-61.

So, we made it to the finals against the two highest scoring teams against all odds. Their alliance had averaged 100.5 points a match against an average of 57 points. Basically, they were nearly doubling their opposing alliance’s score. Mechanical Mayhem just lobbed 2 pointers in from full court nonstop and Robodogs shot 3’s from their pyramid. We had almost no chance against them.

Platypi fitted a poolnoodle net to their cimber arms and could use it to raise up and block Mechanical Mayhem, and Clover played defense on Robodogs and their aliance partner, RoboEagles (a rookie team). We focused on scoring 4 rounds of 3s into the 3point goal. Round 1 was awful. We lost 49-109. At the 30second mark, Platypi went for their climb, letting Mechanical Mayhem score nearly 30points after being blocked the whole match.

We adjusted our strategy so Platypi didn’t climb unless Mechanical Mayhem ran out of discs, preventing them from scoring as many towards the end. Clover also did their defense and then tried to climb for 20. We stayed with our strategy. This match was close. Mechanical Mayhem was blocked nearly every shot, and Robodogs were struggling against the defense. This match came down to only 4 points, but we still lost 72-76.

My point here is that though the top two scorers still won, we were able to really mess them up with defense. The match had really changed from blowouts each time, to nearly an upset. Had the autonomous shot we missed gone in, we would have won by two and had a final round. I know many people insist that defense is pointless, but I object in this game. It can work, as demonstrated at NC this year.

Congrats to Mechanical Mayhem, Robodogs and RoboEagles – y’all did a fantastic job and it was a pleasure playing with you at NC. Good Luck in St. Louis! Also, Good Luck to The Flying Platypi in St. Louis!
(They won Engineering Inspiration in SC.)