Welcome back for another season of FaNCiful Analysis, the extremely unofficial North Carolina recap and prediction account! As always, feedback is welcome!
Week 1 is in the books in NC with the Wake County District Event. Just like last year, teams that could climb from match 1 raced out to a lead and never let up. 5160 and 5511 dominated qualifications, as 5160 rolled in with an Everybot and 5511 similarly had an Everybot-inspired climber, but with a high release-point shooter that reliably scored 5 from the trench. Together, they combined to go 36-0 and won the event together. Congratulations to 5160, 5511, who repeated as Wake County champions, and 7763 for their dominating event win! Congratulations to, 4828 and 4561 who secured their first Chairmans and Engineering Inspiration awards respectively, and 8090 who won the Rookie All-Star award.
5190 also saw their incredible 2-year streak of making finalists or winning district events come to an end, despite having some promising shooting performances and great endgame leveling. The 7-seed alliance was able to pull off the upset due to having a consistent double climb and a good shooting team in 6908, who had one of the few effective trench shots, scoring right up until the buzzer.
Eliminations were some of the most exciting at the district-level in recent NC memory, with the 1, 3, 4, and 7 alliances all looking competitive to take the event at times. The 3rd seed of 4561, 6502, and 5607 had unmatched power cell firepower and the 4 seed of 2642, 6004, and 6500 demonstrated the only eliminations triple climb. At the end of the day, the consistent shooting and climbing of the 1st seed alliance, along with the solid defense by 7763, won out.
Teams to watch out for
2642 Pitt Pirates are running swerve for the first time, and have essentially a giant cannon on their robot that has been able to shoot well from the trench. With improved software in both autonomous and teleop, and a better rate of fire from their indexer, they could become elite.
3459 PyroTech had a particularly consistent climber from very early matches which helped them to secure a high ranking at the end of qualifications. Their shooter exclusively scored from their protected target zone, however they will have to shoot faster and more quickly if they wish to torch the competition.
4561 TerrorBytes looks to continue their 4-year Championships qualification streak with another solid robot, shooting from the protected zone, cycling through the trench, and climbing. As do many teams, they need to work on their indexing and climbing consistently.
5160 Chargers galloped away with this event, and the lack of a high goal did not slow them down at all as they cycled far faster throughout the event than any other team. They will continue to be a force to be reckoned with throughout district events, but it remains to be seen if they will reach a ceiling at DCMP and beyond.
5190 Green Hope Falcons had many matches where they looked like they would be again in contention for a winner’s banner, boosted by their signature motion profiled auto routines. However, as a result of some climber mishaps and errant shooting they were unable to keep their district finals streak alive. Nevertheless, the Falcons can soar if they can refine their autonomous, climb consistently and get their computer vision controlled turret dialed in.
5511 Cortechs Robotics was head and shoulders above the competition in their consistent ability to both shoot and climb. Not being able to go under their trench with a tall shooter did not inhibit these event winners who were able to shoot easily from the trench run. If 5511 can maintain their consistency they’ll contend for a fifth straight NC event finals berth.
6502 DARC SIDE looked like the best team in NC when firing on all cylinders. This year’s robot looks very much to be the spiritual successor of Dropkick, their 2018 robotic Steph Curry. They single-handedly scored 24 Power Cells and climbed in SF2-M2. However, they had very few matches where both their intake and climber worked, and they ran into foul issues with their intake extending beyond their frame. If DARC SIDE fixes the little things, they may be the first in three years to overthrow the 5190-1533 DCMP winning streak.
6908 Infuzed is the only robot on this list without a climb, but they will prove to be an interesting case study on whether you can fuze together a winning alliance with just good shooting. They were one of the best shooters at the event and are mostly immune to defense on their shot. They were vital in pulling the 7-2 upset, but it’ll be very interesting to see whether they can continue to perform at a high level in eliminations without being able to climb.
Takeaways and Observations
- The same first takeaway as last year - unpracticed climbers, meet Sir Isaac Newton. Lining up climbs, especially with flimsy hook attachment mechanisms, is very hard without practice, and many teams hit the deck due to misaligned climbs or malfunctioning climbers.
- The teams who played the best defense did so through very careful positioning in two specific spots. The first is right outside the trench, but in such a way that if they were pushed they slid out of the way and not into zones where they would accrue fouls, as many teams did when faced with multi-NEO or Falcon 500 drivetrains. The second, which saw much less use but could have been used more against the 1st seed alliance who could not pass through the trench, would be to camp out right in the rendezvous point.
- More teams are able to contribute in every match, and far more teams show up ready to compete than ever before in NC!
As usual, early NC events are decided by who shows up with a completely working robot that can execute their tasks and work towards earning extra RP’s every single match. 5511 and 5160 did this, and outperformed teams even if they had higher ceilings. Expect to see a similar situation at the UNC Pembroke district event next week with only three teams having already played an event. The amount of parity so far in North Carolina is significantly greater than in previous years which means that teams will have to claw for every advantage and every event will be close and exciting.
Now we look forward to Week 2 in Pembroke, where we’ll see the first out-of-state teams visit NC for the first time in a few years in 4541 CAV-ineers and 6177 Atomic-Robotic-Dogs. Very few teams have played an event, so most of these predictions will be going off of past event data. Overall expect the event to play out very similarly to Wake, with the few teams that are able to climb and score any power cells coming into the match separating from the field early.
1533 Triple Strange: Expect to see another swerve robot that attempts all the game tasks from 1533. As always, the question will be whether they are able to manage their complexities to be able to perform well from the start of the event. With two extra weeks to work on the robot without a bag, our guess is on yes.
1225 Gorillas: They had an everybot-inspired robot at Gainesville, and with a full event of drive practice, they very well could repeat 5160’s performance at Pembroke especially if they work on their autonomous.
2655 The Flying Platypi: Will they make a lightning fast low robot for the third year in a row? It’s a formula that has taken them to Einstein and 4 event wins in the last two years, but don’t be surprised to see them stray from it. Their reveal video didn’t have a climber, but that was two weeks ago. If they’ve added one, they will be very much in contention for their 3rd straight district-level blue banner.
435 Robodogs: The Robodogs have an event of practice under their belt with a high-goal shooter and a good climb, helping key the upset of the 2nd seeded alliance at Wake. If they up their rate of fire, climb every match, and improve their drivetrain stability, they’ll be in the running to take a bite of the top prize.
4795 Eastbots: The Eastbots have captained the 2nd seed alliance at 3 straight NC district events and look to continue or improve upon that here. Similarly to Platypi, they have gone with low-scoring robots the last two years and may continue that formula to success.
2682 Boneyard Robotics: Boneyard returns as the first pre-qualified team from NC in over a decade with their Chairman’s Award Finalist win at Houston last year. They will be running swerve for the first time, like many NC teams. This additional complexity and flexibility can be a boon or a curse for a first event, so we will see how Boneyard handles that at Pembroke.
4541 CAV-ineers are from the CHS district, where they won Chairman’s and DCMP last year. They have a consistent track record of bringing home blue banners, and while we don’t know as much about them as their NC counterparts, are always a threat.
3506 Yeti Robotics, perennial District Chairman’s Award winner, are always a threat to bring home the winner’s banner. While they haven’t been able to put it all together in the last few years, never count these mythical beasts out.
3737 Roto-Raptors are also joining the #NCSwerve gang this year and are looking to build on their Roebling finalist performance from last year. Like all other first-year swerve teams, it will come down to how they handle the additional mechanical and software complexity in whether they’re ready to defend FIRST City in their first event.
Bell Pepper Take: There will be no stage 2 activations at this event
Banana Pepper Take: There will be at least 1 triple climb in qualifications
Jalapeño Take: The climb RP rate will be less than 15%
Carolina Reaper Take: A buddy climb will be attempted