We are now at the end of the second week of competition for 2023 and I will now run down not only what happened at each of the four events, how my predictions were from earlier in the week, and lastly my experience at Kettering 2/thoughts on the game.
Week 2 Recap
Takeaways from Week 2:
Not Much different from last week, the general strategy and gameplay seems to be the same. In qualifications the links RP still seems extremely uncommon, and the general strategy in playoffs is to fill the top row of the grid and then the bottom row. The only variations I did see was an increase on the defensive end, with varying success. One thing of note though, is that I am seeing more backup robots this year when compared to most, not sure if this shows the high amount of collisions in the game causing this, or some of the more advanced arm designs failing teams. Nothing too crazy, as most of the teams this week are also playing for the first time, so we will have to see how the strategy changes in later weeks.
In Summary, Lansing looked to be my best event in terms of prediction, at least through qualifying, as all four teams I had listed made up the top 2 seeds. Instead of my predicted 862 and 3536 pairing up top, it would be 51-The Wings of Fire who would finish first, and thus pick 862-Lightning Robotics for their partner, and later on choose 5697-Bearcats, as well as use 9241-EV Robotics as a backup. 3536 then would lead the second seed and choose 7056 to challenge the 1 Seed, but they ultimately would not be the real challenger.After a first round loss in the playoffs the 5 Seed alliance, made of teams 1481-The Riveters, 3655-Tractor Technicians and 5674-Gearhounds, they seemed to be on the ropes, as the Gearhounds had some issues moving in this match, they would call on 6610-Robot Roll Call to fill in for the remainder of the playoffs. So this 5 Seed had to fight through the losers bracket, that would culminate in a rather tough matchup with the 2 Seed just a few games later, where it would be rather close, but with a triple balance at the end would seal the deal, and with a few more, much easier wins, would meet the 1 seed in the finals. This was fated to be a competitive matchup, but game 1 would have 51 fail to get on the charging station in auto, starting in around a 20 point deficit, and then later having their arm caught on the high shelf of the grid, that caused some sort of failure so that they could not continue in the finals. With this, the 1 Seed didn’t have enough fire power to go against a well rounded 5 Seed, as they would take the next game by a surprising close 15 point spread. Congrats to 1481, 3655, 5674 and 6610.
862,51,3536,7056-Favorites/Contender-This is the closest I have come to being 100% correct on guessing the 1 and 2 seeds. Definitely all should be great MSC competing teams. 2 seed underperformed, but other than that, a spot on prediction.
3655-Contender-Ranked lower than I would have guessed, but ultimately got the win.
6078-Contender-I actually think that 6078 had a good event/robot but definitely not contender status
6570-Had a rough Jackson event, but had a bounce back and did quite well here.
1481-Leader of the winning alliance, not mentioning them is pretty bad, especially when considering I mentioned 2 of their 3 partners.
St. Joseph District:
In Summary, St. Joseph looked to be an easy event to guess, given my preview from last week, but would be taken over by team 6002-ZooBOTix, this Kalamazoo Central Team would come in with an undefeated record in qualification, along with one of the most unique autonomous periods I have seen this season. They would of course land as the number 1 Seed and make the easy decision to partner with 2767-Stryke Force, and later choose 5247-Red Devil Robotics to round out the alliance. They wouldn’t be the only competitive team though, as St. Joseph would end up being a super competitive event. The 2 Seed of 4237 and 5152, looked to be ones to watch, but it would be the home team, 3620-Average Joes, 5712-Hemlock’s Gray Matter and 5843-Flurb who would be the real challenge. The 1 and 3 Seeds would meet in the winner’s bracket finals, which we all knew would be nothing but a preview of the finals, would be surprisingly close even though 6002 would be unable to move with around 70 seconds left in the match. A close loser bracket final, on account of a crazy triple balance from the four seed, would scare the 1 Seed, but wouldn’t stop them from going a few more rounds with the 3 Seed in the Finals. The first game would show the scoring prowess of the first alliance as they would lose a robot early, but still be able to pull off the win. However, the next two games would not go as well, as the third alliance would continue a triple offense strategy along with a triple balance in both matches to secure the upset victory and win St. Joseph. Congrats to 3620, 5712 and 5843.
3620/5712-Challengers-The ultimate winners of the event, glad to see Average Joes regaining the crown at home.
2767-Favorite-Debating putting this in miss, considering I was so high on them winning, but still being part of the 1 Seed and only losing to the combined strength of my two challengers, I am still happy with my pick.
5152-Contender-My Contenders picks were all over the board this week, but this one was actually right, and a great event for the Alotobots.
6002-Playoff Team to Make a Jump-Can’t call it a full hit or miss, but ZooBOTix at least made my list, where I know a lot of people didn’t have them on the radar, but definitely didn’t see them doing this well. This could be the breakout season that puts them on the map, and a contender for years to come.
4237-Captain of the 2nd alliance, not even mentioned, and nearly tied with Stryke Force in OPR, definitely a miss.
2959-Contenders-Biggest miss of the week, failing to make the playoffs
5462-Contender-Decent showing, but not as high as I had them.
Kettering University 2 District:
Before I get into what happened at Kettering 2, as I was there for the whole weekend, I have a few thoughts on Charged Up I want to talk about.
Scouting in this game is really difficult in the fact that it is nearly impossible to see all scoring locations on one side of the field. The only real way was from up above the opposite side of the field, which then makes it impossible to see the other side, as the driver stations block it, and most teams have their scouting group in one spot. This is not practical for teams, and we had to wait until they removed objects from the field to figure out if certain areas were scored; mainly the close side to the wall where the refs were standing. Next is something that I saw people discussing on reddit but I hadn’t seen discussed for other events besides Kettering 2, was the lack of calls of G201. There were multiple instances of teams pushing opposing robots into zones they were not supposed to be in, and the robot being pushed called for the foul, not the one who pushed them. Even if the pushed robot was forced into that zone, or worse, could barely move as is. So that was rather unfortunate to see, and I hope this doesn’t happen at other events/in the future. This definitely decided quite a few qualification matches, but did not seem to happen in playoffs, to my knowledge. Lastly, I think the breaks between Finals matches are too long. I don’t know if this happened elsewhere, but the 15 mins in between, was more than enough time for the awards segments and more often than not we saw both sides drive teams just standing around and waiting, rather than fixing and repairing robots. I think 10 mins is more than adequate, but every event may not have run this smoothly.
Now to Kettering 2…(where I apologize in advance, is a bit of a rant. If you just care about the end result skip this next long paragraph)
I don’t know where to start with this, but I first want to say that I love Kettering 2 as a venue and all of its staff, and I have gone to this event nearly every year since they decided to host multiple events at Kettering, but this might be one of the worst events I have been to. There may be some recency bias, but the playoffs and alliance selection were an absolute mess, to the likes I have ever seen. Let’s start with the obvious problem, and no offense to Team 5603-The Warrior Bots, but they were ranked far too high for their performance, and looking at the schedule you can see why. 5603 did not have to play against the 2nd ranked team,5166, or the 3rd ranked team,1718, but played with both. Then their one match against 494 who finished 4th, 5603 was partnered with two other top 10 finishers, 68 and 4779. So they didn’t have to play any of the top finishing teams, which resulted in them landing in the number 1 rank spot, which is only where the problems started. The rest of the finishes were fairly standard, with the top four or five robots all making it into the top 10 or so spots. So alliance selection begins with 5603 choosing the best robot at Kettering 2, 5166-Fabricators. As expected, 5166 declines as there are a lot of top teams they could choose from that would be better teammates. This then domino effects 3 more times, as 494 declines as the 4 Seed Captain, 1718 declines as the 3rd Seed Captain and 1684 declines to become the 6 Seed Captain. We literally knew 5 alliance captains before a single pick was solidified. They then must have gotten tired of this rejection, so instead of picking who I believed to be next in line, either 68 or 4779, they chose 3534 who ranked 29th, and literally couldn’t say no. Also a quick note, as I couldn’t believe 3534 ranked as low as they did considering their quick scoring and rather high advanced stats; they had to play 5166 twice but never with,1684 twice and with once, and finally 1718 once but never with. The absolute opposite of 5603’s schedule. Now 3534 wasn’t a complete out of left field pick, but they seemed to only score low, apart from autonomous, so still a rather odd decision considering some of the teams still left on the board. Now comes the next problem, which was the best team at Kettering 2, 5166 choosing to select 5235 with their first pick. Which if you didn’t know, didn’t have any scoring mechanism on their robot, at all. Please, if someone knows anyone from the Fabricators who can answer as to why they chose them, let me know. This had to be a mistake, or a misread, or they chose them to give them points for states at the cost of tanking their own event. I have no idea, but would like to find out. (Edit:Was answered below, leaving my initial thoughts in to show my reaction,for replies to make sense, but 5166 did make a sound choice to go with double defensive strategy which we discussed in the replies) So through just two picks, this is absolute insanity, culminating in probably the weakest top 2 alliances at an event I have ever witnessed. The rest of the draft is fairly normal, but when looking at the end result, this event shows one of my huge issues with alliance selection, which is drafting teams who are just simply boxes on wheels. No shame to the teams who have limited resources, and just putting a functioning robot on the field is difficult enough as is, but this is crazy. Kettering 2s playoffs had a grand total of 6 robots that couldn’t even pick up a single object, 25% of the field. I understand that a good defensive bot is useful to the strategy, but when teams would have better odds of making the playoffs if they removed the scoring apparatus of their robots, it makes me very upset. This makes the experience less enjoyable to watch, and not fair to the teams who have robots that can play the game as it was intended. The last part of my rant is match 4 of the playoffs, where 3 robots died on the field, including 1718 which never even moved in auto or teleop, but given no explanation or field fault, so I would also like clarification on that, as 1718 and 4779 was my favorite to win the event after alliance selection, but when they were handed a loss immediately, it changed the outlook of the playoffs.
But if you want to know what happened, the alliance selection split the top tier teams through multiple declines, and the front runners that would be noticed out of the gate were the 4 and 6 Seeds. Both teams would play each other in the winners bracket final, where the 6 Seed would be victorious, composed of 1684-The Chimeras, 3667-Mecanum Knights and 322-Team Knight Riders. Then apart from a tighter than expected loser final, the 4 Seed would come back to play for the real matchup in the Finals. The 4 Seed, made up of 494-Martians, 68-Truck Town Thunder and 3098-The Captains, looked solid as 68’s small frame size made balancing the charge station a lot easier for them. But T3 had a bad auto to start the finals that put them in a bad spot against the community wall, and only got worse, as they flipped on their side just a few seconds later. Down one match, the 4 Seed needed to play perfect to make the comeback. They did pretty much that in match 2, and didn’t even need to in match 3 as they absolutely blew the opposition out, by a score of 120-52. Congrats to teams 494, 68 and 3098.
Also one final ranting note, how did 1684 not win a single award?, it absolutely blows my mind.
494/1718/1684-Favorite-All had completely amazing robots that should all make my top 25 list later on.
68-Contender-Had some troubles as their arm fell off the robot on Thursday night, but were able to fix it by Friday and came out as winners; absolutely incredible that they were able to turn it around.
5114/3534-Contender-A solid robot that just didn’t seem to be running at its full capability.
5166-Outside Looking In- Best Robot at Kettering 2 bar none; apart from the worst drafting in alliance selection history, the robot was incredible.
4779-Great Robot, that seemed to have some issues along the weekend, but definitely worth a mention.
3667-Another notable robot that I missed, but may want to change their name to swerve knights if they wish to well down the line, as the mecanum drive limited them on the charging station.
Wayne State University District:
In Summary, Wayne State was probably the event of the week, as the top 3 Seeds were phenomenal. 1189-Gearheads and 7769-The Crew along with 6029-Railbots would make the 1 Seed. A strong comeback for 2 historically great teams 469 and 217, as well as 5555, would make the 2 seed and finally 226-Hammerheads, 3539-Byting Bulldogs and rookie team 9207-Redneck Robotics would be a strong third. All three teams would consistently score over 100 points each match except when playing each other before the finals. The 1 Seed and 3 Seed would get the chance to show the strength of Michigan in the finals as each team put on an absolute show, going to 3 games and with the lowest score being 102 points, as well as 5 triple balances, absolutely incredible! Ultimately the 1 Seed would win out, making it the only 1 Seed in Michigan to win this week. Congrats to 1189, 7769 and 6029.
7769/3539-Favorites-Absolutely incredible machines as always.
1189-Dark Horse-Gearheads came to play as they finished 1st overall and won the event, definitely higher for the coming weeks.
469-Dark Horse-I think they might be back, after a subpar 2022. Hopefully with a banner next time, at one of two Troy Events.
3572/5498-Contenders-Good robots but hopefully can improve as season progresses.
201-Favorite-Too high but not a bad machine, i will say robot is absolutely massive though. Congrats on the Impact Award though, the real prize.
The Big Question from my preview-Yes, 217 does seem to be back, as they return to top competitive form, but I can see them doing even better, later in the season.
Coming Tomorrow I will work on and hopefully post my Michigan Top 25 Tomorrow Night. Thanks - Jess