We are now at the end of the first week of competition for 2023 and I will now run down not only what happened at each of the five events, but also what we learned from week 1 and how my predictions were from earlier in the week.
Week 1 Recap
Takeaways from Week 1:
First, I am glad that there hasn’t been a single robot that has completely blown the competition out of water. I like staying competitive amongst ourselves so that we can make everyone strive to be better. Not to spoil the Michigan Top 25 I am also working on, but there was definitely not a clear choice for the top few spots.
Second, This game is hard. No designs vary, but overall there were similar problems with most robots, that shows just how much harder this game is to play than last year and 2020. I saw way more dropped game pieces than most years, either by not grabbing a cone or cube in the right spot, or getting into contact with another robot and it popping out. Also when going to score those pieces, i saw quite a lot of robots drop cones, and then fall into the 2 point zone, whether through a lack of vision through the driver station or lack of automated scoring through the newly implemented April tags, I am not sure. I hope that this gets fixed as we get farther into the season and teams continuously improve their robots. The main showcase of this is the Ranking Point for 5 links being only reached a total of 13 times across all events, mostly by the same handful of teams that seemed to focus on it, 4362-CSPA Gems accomplishing it the most.
Third, the role of floor pickup. Looking at all the districts this weekend, there definitely seems like a lack of quick floor pickup. This shows, as a large amount of the qualification matches had pieces from the starting positions that got pushed out of the way, as teams made their way to the player load station. With this in mind, the more obvious issue was most floor pickups that I saw were slow and had to be very accurate in picking up the piece. The only ones apart from this had over the bumper intakes that seemed to be cube only or only the flange side of the cone. So if your team has something with a quick floor pickup of all objects, you could be looking good for week 2.
Lastly, so far it seems we are in for more 1 Seed dominance. Other than a small hiccup at both Jackson and Escanaba, the 1 seeds reigned supreme winning all districts. Now it does some that the finalist selection seems up for grabs as we had two 2 seeds, a 3 seed, a 4 seed and an 8. So we got a good variety there. I am still out on how I like the new playoff format, but I think I will have more thoughts as the season progresses.
In Summary, Escanaba seemed to be a near repeat of last year as 857-Superior Roboworks finished as the number 1 ranked team, and 5505-V2-Volts Squared ended up on the second seed again, but 857 would select the newcomer to Escanaba, 3175-Knight Vision to make up the 1st Seed, along with 8382-Pebbles-Robotics of Kingsford. Then 5505 would select 4391-Bravebots and 7244-Huskies Robotics to make the 2 Seed. The second seed would have a great start to the playoffs as they would win their 3 playoff matches by an average of 40 points to make it to the Finals, the first seed would not have a similar story. They started with a near 100 point victory on the 8 seed, but then would get pushed to the Loser bracket as the 4 seed, led by 7782 and 573, defeated them by 12. So they had to fight back, and fight back they did as they eventually rematch against the 4 Seed farther down the line, and would have the last laugh, winning by 45. Then in the finals of 1 v 2 we start with a 106-106 tie, as we anticipated a close finals matchup. But this was too early of a call, as the 1 Seed then proceeded to win by 44 and 40, to win Escanaba. Congrats to 857, 3175 and 8382.
3175-Favorite-I was right on the money here.
573-Favorite-Nervous after a lower Ranking in Qualifying, but showed their strength as a part of the 4 Seed that was the only to defeat the eventual 1 Seed Winner.
857-Contender-A little low but still right in line with my thinking, especially when paired with 3175.
5505-Contender-Right on the money again, as they finish as Finalists.
6637-Contender-3 Seed Captain, had bad matchups as they faltered in the first round and had to play the 1st seed as they tried to make their way back to the winner bracket.
4391-Dark Horse-Finished as a Finalist, happy to see them do well.
2586-Favorite-Seems they are on their way to another slow 2023, mirroring last year. I was nervous about this, and I hope they improve as they have to settle for tied for 5th.
6569-Gladiators, were not on my radar and played a great event and ended as the 3 Seed Partner. Looking forward to their second event.
Calvin University District:
In Summary, Calvin University was very similar to Escanaba in which our 2 finalists had very different paths, but this event was a clear statement for 3357-COMETS. They had an absolutely dominant weekend as they finished as the Rank 1 and would lead a 1 Seed consisting of 6081-Digital Dislocators and 2771-Code Red Robotics the Stray Dogs. Now the 3 Seed ended up losing in the very first round to the 6 Seed, but would ultimately fight in some very close matches to challenge the 1 Seed in the Finals. This underdog 3 Seed would include 1918-NC Gears, 2054-Tech Vikes and 8612-Squires Robotics. However, they couldn’t stop the juggernaut that was the COMETS led 1 Seed, as they lost in 2, by a combined 112 points. Congrats to 3357, 6081 and 2771.
3357,2054,1918-Favorites-3 of the 6 Finalists.
85-Contender-2 Seed Partner, Finish in 3rd.
6081-Biggest Miss of the week as I didn’t even know this team before yesterday, as they pair with 3357 on the 1 seed and carry their weight for an easy banner. Definitely will be a team to look out for at their next event.
4967-Contender-Definitely was too high on them, but hope to see them improve as the season progresses.
1711-Contender-Have a good weekend, but anticipated a lot more out of them; exaggerated through my miss of 6081.
3767-Playoff Team looking to make a jump-2 Seed Captain that fell just short of a finalist appearance, definitely a part of the upper tier as of now.
In Summary, Jackson showed what the new playoff bracket does well. In the old system you would never know if the 8 Seed was truly a force to be reckoned with, unless they win twice in the first round. At Jackson we learned that the 8 Seed v 1 Seed matchups, would be the closest thing to a rivalry this week as the 8 Seed consisting of 7501-Golden Gears, rookie team 9312-NERD Spark and 3322-Eagle Evolution would win their best of 1 matchup against the 1 Seeded team consisting of 302-The Dragons, 4381-Twisted Devils and 4453-The Red Hot Chili Bots; Also later on 9210-Fighting Falcons would join as a backup to 4381 for a match. This win was mainly due to Twisted Devils being largely not moving just after Auto, but even so the 8 Seed was able to score 123 points. So both seeds win then fight along their sides of the bracket, 8 in the Winners Side and 1 in the Losers, but would ultimately meet in the finals for a best of 3. With the 1 Seed back to full strength, they would still have to fight in two close games of 127-119 and 106-104 to secure their victory, but they would complete the comeback. Congrats to 302, 4381, 4453 and 9210.
1023-Favorite-Had Some tough luck with Qualifications but would end as the first selection to the 2nd Seed and a 3rd Place Finish.
3322-Favorite-A slight hit, as I definitely saw them landing higher in the alliance selection, but the end results put them right where I expected them.
4381-302-Contenders-Winners of the Event, Definitely a hit.
5084-Favorite-Tough Week 1 for FridgeBot, that proves that not every season is like the last, and results vary year to year.
2834-Contender-7 Seed Partner, that couldn’t get the same magic as the 8 Seed.
4422-Twisted Angels-Better Results than I expected, definitely didn’t see them being higher ranked than Twisted Devils after qualifying, but a 2 Seed Captain is a great start for this rookie team.
Kettering University 1 District:
In Summary, 1506-Metal Muscle would roll into their home event and only lose a single match all weekend, and holding a 3 RP advantage on the next closest teams(a 3 way tie for second) and would make a winning 1 Seed Alliance with 5460-Strike Zone and 8728-Argonauts. But the real matchup was between the 2 and 3 seeds, which showed the weakness of this new playoff system. The 2 Seed would lose the winners bracket matchup with the 3 Seed, but would win the second game in their eventual meetup in the losers bracket, meaning they get the finals appearance. Under the old system they would have played a 3rd game to show the real winner of the matchup, but as the new system, only cared about who wins the 2nd matchup, and no tie-breaker is considered. The 2 Seed 70-More Martians, 3668-Trobots and 5282-Railroader Robotics would luck out with the new system, but would have to settle for the Silver, losing to the 1 seed. Congrats to 1506,5460 and 8728.
5460-Favorite-Winner, knew they would be successful in 2023
33-Favorite-A lower than usual qualification ranking would make them the 3 Seed Captain, but would be in heavy contest for the a medal, but would fall short.
70-Contender-Finalist, What I expected
1506-Contender-Winner, can ultimately say this new era of Metal Muscle is a force to be reckoned with, at least in districts…
4130-Contender-4 Seed Captain, Definitely in contention, but could have had better success at a less competitive event.
1701-Favorite-Finished 5th as the last member of the 5 Seed, but 13th in OPR, so they might have better luck at their next event.
3668-5660-Outside Looking In-They are Fully in, competitive with the top group.
Milford 1 District:
In Summary, Milford was by far the most competitive event this week, as expected, and definitely had some surprises. 27 would have a tough weekend, but still get selected by the 2 Seed captain 4362. They would play a pretty standard Winners bracket, eventually meeting the 1 Seeded 3538-Robojackets, 67-The HOT Team, and 9204-Hidden Treasures, but would lose by 29. They hoped to meet them again in the finals, but would get their socks blown off by the 4 Seed made up of 1025-Impi Robotics, 308-Monsters and 7225-Mechatronic Mustangs, by a staggering 51 points. The Finals would be a high scoring shootout, but the 1 Seed would be victorious. Congrats to 3538, 67 and 9204.
3538-Favorite-Looked good all weekend, focused on maximizing RP, and was rewarded for it.
67-Challenger-I was harsh on them in the preview, but they have fought their way back to being Milford Champions, and will look to return to Einstein in 2023.
4362-Challenger-Did better in qualifying than I noted, but sadly would settle for 3rd after playing an elite 4 Seed. Still a great performance.
503-Contender-Great Design, 4th Place Finish, at a different event they would place much higher.
548-Team I Hope Returns to Form After a Poor 2022- I think I can say they are back, I still think they could go higher, but definitely worth the mention.
27-Favorite-Finished Rank 11, and didn’t think they looked well for most of the weekend, definitely have a lot to work on before their next event. Far from the dominant favorite I predicted, even at this competitive event.
3414-Contender-8 Seed Captain, had higher hopes, but still far from a bad performance.
1025-308-Playoff Teams to Make a Jump-Definitely made their jump, all the way to Finalists. Will have to see if they can qualify higher in their next events, but a fantastic performance for Week 1.
Coming Tomorrow I will work on and hopefully post my Michigan Top 25 Tomorrow Night. Thanks - Jess
Edit 1: Added Jackson.
Edit 2: Added Kettering 1.
Edit 3: Added Milford.