There are 5 Michigan districts this week and I have now done a preview for each event, as well as ranked each event. This is my top ranked event for 2023 Week 1, Milford. I sadly won’t be able to attend in person, but this will definitely be the event I watch from home.
I know a lot of you have been waiting for this. So here you go.
Last Year Winners (4362-1502-862)
Favorites: As most of you have assumed, Milford is the last district to be covered this week. I said in my Calvin University preview that the average Michigan District has 3 top tier teams that could feasibly win. Milford is not the average event. This may be the most competitive District I have seen in a long time. There are six teams that could easily be in the favorites tier of any event attending Milford this weekend. So instead of 3 Teams in Favorites, I have 2 here and another 2 in a brand new Challenger Tier, which I will explain below. Now getting into the Favorites, I have to start with the current Michigan State Champion, 27-Team RUSH. Not only were they captain of the MSC winning Alliance, they also happened to win 5 Blue Banners, winning every event they attended, apart from Worlds. The other thing that made this first team placement so easy, was that I am under the belief you could take Rush’s old 2019 Robot and play the 2023 game with it. It is just that similar to the robots that I have seen compete in week 0 events. Now I thought hard about this second position for a while, and have swapped different teams in this slot, but I have settled on 3538-Robojackets. You may say this is obvious due to them winning both of their districts last season as the captain of the number one alliance or that they were the runners up at MSC for the past 2 seasons, but this was not an easy decision. That is just how competitive this event is. The team in teal would be the highest favorite at any other event this week, but today they will have to settle for second, just like last year’s MSC.
Challengers: This tier is new specifically for Milford, as both of the teams I list here belong in Favorites, but there was just one thing that was holding them back. Let’s start with the most obvious absence from the Favorites tier, 67-The HOT Team. Milford is 67’s Home event, where they are currently hold a 50% win rate, so odds are pretty good they will be winners this weekend. However, the one thing that kept me from putting 67 in the favorites category, was that they were a part of the 1 seed at every event in 2022, apart from MSC where they declined and instead made the second alliance, and somehow only won a single event. Specifically in a year that was absolutely dominated by the 1 seeds from across the world (Link), so I held them back as I have confidence they can make the top seed, but no confidence they can capitalize on it. So I decided to put them here in the challengers tab, as they look to retake the title as the Milford District Champion, but if they want to do that, they will have to beat out the favorites, and the current reigning Milford District Champion, 4362-CSPA Gems. The Gems are a team I like quite a bit, not to mention their great robot reveal, that I am very excited to see compete on Friday. But like I said previously, there is just one thing that I could see holding them back, and that is their qualification ranking. Looking not just at last year, but since their 2018/2019 breakout, they always seem to rank in the 4-6 range in qualifications, and have only ever been the number 1 rank team at a single event in their entire history, I fear this could hurt them as finishing low could have them hoping someone higher up picks them to join their alliance. Since this event is so tough, I can’t imagine they want to leave their alliance partner up to fate, and would rather make the selection themselves, so they will need a strong qualification record if they wish to control their destiny and win the crown jewel, or rather gem, of week 1.
Contenders: The last two teams I want to talk about are sadly the two teams I think will make up the 3rd seed as the powerhouse favorites and challengers duke it out in the finals, but with the new playoff format this year, anything is possible. The contenders start off with the Chairman’s favorite team, 503-Frog Force. Now don’t hold that against them as “only a Chairman’s Team, not a robot team” as I have heard many times. Frog Force had a great year on the field, making it to Fimstein for the first time, alongside my current Michigan favorite going into 2023, Stryke Force. That being said they will have to right the wrongs from last year, as they may have to rematch both 4362,whom they lost to in the finals at Milford last year, and 3538, who defeated the frogs at both Saline and MSC. The final team to keep an eye out for is 3414-Hackbots, who I think are a very strong team that could make a run for the finals along with help from another elite team, but sadly have run into bad luck as the top talent at the event look to defeat any challengers in their path. But like I said, with the new playoff format, anything is possible, and I’ll be hoping for some upsets to see the Hackbots walk away with their 4th Banner in school history.
Outside Looking in:
7056-The F.A.S.T. Team
Playoff Teams to Make a Jump:
Second Year Team to Look out For:
Team I Hope Returns to Form After a Poor 2022:
1 Seed 27-67 v 2 Seed 3538-4362 v 3 Seed 503-3414
Thank you to everyone commenting on my Previews, very happy to see great discussion and interaction. Good luck to all teams competing in Week 1! Next up will be my Week 1 Recap on Saturday, followed by my Top 25 Michigan Teams on Sunday. Then after that we start all over and preview Week 2.
2) Kettering 1
3) Calvin University