Look Back: Week 4

Ideally, the fourth week should have straightened out which teams are dominant, which are not, and what strategies are the most successful. That’s not what happened though.
Week Four just brought more murkiness to the picture, as teams that fell short earlier in the season won, teams that won previously lost, and different strategies prevailed at different events.

After dominating DC together, 45 and 234 couldn’t seal the deal back in Indiana. 868, 292, and 1024 knocked them out in the finals, the first regional victory of the year for all three teams. The Technokats clearly weren’t as dominant here as they were during week 1, as they were defended heavily, but still able to do well enough to earn the #2 seed and reach the finals.

After struggling to score with any degree of success in Chicago, the Bomb Squad was reborn in St. Louis, capturing the #1 seed and the regional. Of course, they didn’t have a bad partner either, with 71 also winning their first event of the year. The Beast played at a similar level to what they did in Chicago, and BBS’s new design elevated them to the same plateau as Beatty.

2056 was the clear top team at one of the shallowest events in FIRST history in Waterloo. Very few teams could score reliably, and most teams were better suited to moving empty cells than attempting to score moon rocks. While somewhat risky to hinge your fate on scoring objects that can only be played in the last 20 seconds, there’s no mistake that 2609 and 2200 made the finals in Waterloo, as they were the two best teams at moving the empty cells at the event.

1726 wasn’t mentioned in the predictions, and 1726 finally won. The NERDS eliminated what they viewed as potential strengths (range and automated turret) going into the season and became far more effective with their “hooded” shooter and manual aiming. Of course, having two of the defending champs as partners doesn’t hurt either, as they aligned with 39 and 1165 to take gold in Arizona.

If you’re not from Texas or Louisiana, you probably would not guess that 1477 has now won three consecutive regionals. They had a solid scoring machine, and aligned with another solid scoring machine in 624. 2173 then applied enough defense on the opponents to help them notch up a regional victory. It wasn’t the most glamorous alliance, but it worked.

88 lost their first match of the weekend, then didn’t lose again (though they did tie) en route to their first ever regional victory. They were selected 2nd by 346 (who went undefeated after a 3-6 record in DC) and grabbed defending champ 1086. Blue Cheese won both the Championship and Regional Chairman’s for the second year in a row in Richmond.

1195, 768, and 1893 managed to knock off the high-octane pairing of 40, 2199, and 134 in the finals in Maryland. Counting their qualification match pairing, 2199 and 40 averaged 107.67 points/match together and broke 100 in 6 of their 9 matches together. But the #4 alliance managed to disrupt their assault enough to eliminate them (similar to what they did to 190 in the semi-finals) in 3 matches.

The Huskie Brigade certainly did much better in qualifications in Detroit than they did in Kettering, and it showed when they were invited to join the #1 alliance. But their elimination fate was much different, as they were knocked out in the quarter-finals. The #3 alliance (818, 66, 515) would ultimately top the #4 (910, 1856, 2620) in the finals, and five of those teams would virtually guarantee themselves a spot in the state finals. And 2620 is in very good position as well, with 34 points and one event remaining.

No team has emphatically said “we’re good at Lunacy,” as well as 67 has. After 36 matches over two events, they still have yet to lose. Despite actually recording two fewer points than in Cass (no technical award, but no ties and added a GP award), they have a whopping 19 point lead over 245 (finalist at Lansing) for the lead in the FiM standings. 217 is the only team with even a remote chance at catching HOT, and they would have to either beat them, seed ahead of them and pick them as a partner, or earn multiple awards to do so (however, if 217 were to earn 73 points again, like they did in Cass, they would tie HOT). 67 is averaging 87.3 points/match so far this season, and has broken 100 in more than 33% of the matches they’ve played in. There have been moments where the defense has hurt them and they’ve needed their alliance partners to help them, but they still score enough (and during the eliminations can pick pretty good partners when they seed #1 all the time) to overcome the other alliance.
Oh yeah, there were 39 other teams in Lansing too. Truck Town Thunder rebounded well from a mediocre event in Kettering, notching up the #1 selection by HOT. They’re one of many teams that tend to play much better with good partners than without. 245 also had a very nice outing, being selected 2nd by a good Juggernauts team, and reaching the finals.

Philly was perhaps the most interesting event in terms of strategy and gameplay. No single team stood out, either from the rest of the top or as a team that would do incredibly well in Atlanta (although several are elimination worthy at Championship). While not every team at the event could score, the vast majority could drive well and make it very difficult for other teams to score on them. A handful of teams embraced the physical “bully” role that Philadelphia is known for, but their play ultimately didn’t translate well in the elimination rounds, which were far more offensive than in the past at this event.
103, once again, seeded 1st in Philly. And 103, once again, didn’t win. The Cybersonics selected 1153 first and 708 with the last selection. Other alliances played them smart though, forcing 103 and 1153 to work very hard and chase them around to score, limiting their productivity without direct defense (which also allowed the opposing alliances to keep scoring). 708 split duty between scoring and defense, and 1153 would typically land one huge score towards the end of matches, which propelled their alliance to the finals.
They met the three-headed monster of 395, 365, and 56 there though. There was no way that Robbe should have still been around in the 2nd round of the draft. 56 was inconsistent to a degree in quals, but they lasted far too long. The #6 alliance had three scoring machines and split the balls fairly evenly between the three, making it very difficult to find any way to defend against them. 708 converted to a full-time offensive role, and managed one HUGE dump in the first match, but it wasn’t enough. The Blue alliance played very smart and were very aware of their trailers. The three scoring machines and three good human players left nowhere on the field for the opposing alliances to hide.

No clear strategy has emerged as the top. Sometimes defense appears the key. Other times its the super cell. Others its a full-blown offensive powerhouse alliance. And others its a hybrid of any of the above. The Michigan State finals and much of Championship will be similar to Philadelphia in that they have no easy targets, and it’s interesting to see how the game changes then.

Truer words have yet to be spoken.

Teams won’t be able to rely on Easy trailers for much longer. We learned that the hard way.

looks like LF is missing sources in Israel…

What I have seen is a “Rock, Paper, Scissor” play style.

Rock is the heavy defence, Paper is the Super Cells, and Scissors is all out offense.

If an alliance plays Rock (defense), they can overtake Scissor’s play style (offense) but can not deal with Paper (Super Cells). If an alliance plays with a Scissor (offense) style, they can easily score more points then those who play with Paper (Super Cells) but can’t compete easy against incredible Rock play (defense). And finally those who go for Paper (Super Cells) can take over Rock (defense) as they can score many points with just one game peice but struggle against teams that score constantly with Scissor (offense) play.

EDIT: It’s generalized for sure, and there will always be exceptions to this, but the idea is generally stable thoughout the past regionals

Well what if you pick one rock, and two scissors, however, the scissors can become paper if and when needed. That way you can adapt against defence and you aren’t relying on supercells, plus you also are implementing defence which slows down both paper and scissors without relying on it or any other strategy.

What you cannot do is have one of each on your alliance.
2081 scissors, 1741 paper, and 1646 rock saw this to be true.
While we thought we had an unbeatable strategy, it seems that you definitley need to devote at least two robots to one cause as we saw the end of our runs in the quarterfinals as the #3 seed.

Nope, you guys covered it in either the Week 3 lookback or the Israel Regional thread. How’s LF going to top that?

Thanks for the compliment!

Just a side note:
Everyone needs to watch out for 2775 in Atlanta. They were definitely one of the most competitive robots at St. Louis. They are a great team with an amazing robot.

We have not been on an alliance with 71 in the eliminations since 2000. It was a real treat. They are dear friends whether we are with them or against them and that is a sign of true robot love! Also, thanks to 1706 for a job well done as our other alliance partner after finding yourself in a sea of type A mentors.

For all the upsets and excitements at the BMR, I’m surprised to not see more on it here. Oh well, the predictions are the ones that matter most.

Just to clarify this, 71 was the top seed at Midwest and one of the best robots, but they did not win (111, 1625, 1675 did). They were knocked out in the first round. Like I said though, they did look like one of the best robots. So winning at St. Louis was not a big surprise.

Neither really matter at all…and are just for amusement…

Well if definitely helps when your rock doesn’t have a wire come lose in the 2nd match and essentially become a rock :] We put up a good fight though and I still think our 2 on offense 1 on defense strategy was the correct one to go with given our alliance and robots. You guys have such a great robot, one of the top ones at BMR by far.

But in all honesty, I think Atlanta is really going to depend on the mix in the divisions. Some divisions may have so many good scoring robots that you’ll see offensive powerhouse alliances. In other divisions, dominant scorers may be more rare and a great defensive robot may be needed.

This.

And yet not so much. I believe its all about whom you play against.

Absolutely true. The division you’re in has a huge impact upon this though :]

A little further testament to the defensive strategies: In our last match during BMR, we were up against 135, 234 and 393. Our partners were 292 and 447. 292 later went on to win the regional, obviously they were our scoring machine. However, we knew we could not outscore 234 and 135, so 1646 and 447 decided to run some killer defense on 234 and 135. 135 didn’t unload a full robot of balls the entire match; we won by 2. If you can’t outscore them, pin them - just make sure you keep an eye on your own trailer because you’re probably a sitting duck.

Yes, this is true pinning can really cripple a high caliber scoring team like 1625, 234, 1114 and 135(from what I’ve seen). I personally think though at nationals you will not see as many defensive teams as you see in the regional matches. Esp. in the Finals there. Teams want to score as much and as quickly as possible. Therefore most defensive game-plans wont really work when you’re going up against 3 high scoring powerhouses. (A little clarification for the above statement for my team: we had a ton of mechanical flaws Sat. at the BMR. Balls were entering our control system o the bot and somehow wedging themselves under our bot rendering us unable to move. Since the 2nd Quarter Final match our bot has been finally working the way it was built to.)

I agree. Some very high scoring teams (67, for example) have skid steer. My team built a crab, and it has helped us out of a lot of pins. But I’m sure someone has tried to pin 67 before, apparently without much success.