Here is my question for Karthik: How do you think defense will be played on Einstein (if at all)? Will it be the strategy we have been mostly seeing so far, blocker bot in the courtyard? Or will defensive play move into the neutral zone with boulder starvation strategys similar to the one 610, 1421, and 3560 played at Waterloo?
I believe that defense more akin to what 3560 played will be more likely on Einstein. It’s been clear from Week 1 of build season that the top tier teams would take advantage of G43 and protected shooting zones. Even then, many of the teams (best demonstrated by 118 in their reveal video) set up their release to be above the 4’ 6" limitation. Because of these two factors, it’s pretty clear that courtyard defense will be a fairly moot point. There are, however, certain robots that can be disrupted during their shooting process (16, 2771, 1806, etc) by application of force at the correct moment.
On the other side of the equation, 3560 showed at Waterloo that properly applied defense adding the slightest time to a cycle to the secret passage is nearly crippling to the opposition. However, this kind of defense requires a strong drivetrain and a savy driver. Additionally, with a defensive robot preventing access to the secret passage, a strategy such as that of 148 at Waterloo can be applied, where you apply a “soft lock” to the opponent where you score a boulder, they’re forced to re-enter the boulder, you steal the boulder out of the secret passage, rescore said boulder, and repeat. Note: This strategy is risky and only works if you manage to get at least 7 boulders into the opposing castle.
I agree neutral zone defense will be the most effective way of defense at champs. I don’t think it will be worth it in eliminations though to have a robot solely dedicated towards defense. I think contesting balls and slowing down your opponent in the neutral zone is something I think will turn into the meta. An alliances third robot is looking to have some very strong high goal scorers come championships that I think having one robot on your alliance not score is very risky. Especially if the alliance would have the strongest scoring potential. A potential world championship alliance is going to have a long road and all it takes for them to lose is for their defensive bot to not be effective for one or two rounds. I think 3 scorers that contest balls in the middle and slow down the other alliance in that sense will be the way to go. A mix of offense and defense from all robots on an alliance is what will secure the win I think.
I’m sure that 2771 is pretty happy that teams tried to disrupt their alliance by the application of force at just the right moment. The 25 foul points they gained earned them just enough points to make it to the finals.
2771 did not shoot from the outer works, they shot from about one robot length off the batter. However, not many defenders made them miss. Defense is not something to delegate to your alliance’s weakest driver – it takes skill, and that requires practice.
In contrast, look at their score during quarters, where no defense was played. They had much higher scores with no foul points to boost them. It was still effective, just not clean, which cost us a finals run.
I was there and saw all their matches. The outer works shot was a rarity for them, but you are right, they can hit it when needed. 4819’s defense is not a good example, because all five fouls they picked up were useless and avoidable – only one was committed while 2771 was lining up to shoot, and that shot was good anyway.