The Tech Valley Regional was both explosive and brutally defensive. Congrats to the winners, Teams 20, 2791, and 7651, as well as the deserving Chairman’s award winners, Team 3044. This week features two regional events in Rochester and Utica, New York.
The Central New York Regional
Likely the most competitive event of the season out of New York, CNY will surely be the event to tune into this weekend. Not only will there be perennial powerhouses from all over the Northeast, most will all be coming prepared from previous competitions.
- The favorite, however, is the team from Latham, NY, who dominated Tech Valley this past weekend. Team 2791 pretty much soloed the rocket in their first three qualification matches at the RPI event before teams wisened up to keep them from doing it for the rest of the event. The big differentiator this past weekend was just how much faster and more consistently they picked up and placed hatches than the rest of the field.
- Having released a compelling robot reveal, the “Cheesy Poofs of the East” are coming into Central New York to not only get some practice before their districts, but to perhaps secure an early flight to Detroit. The Cyberknights have been known to start off slow, but managed to win their first competitions in 2014, 2016, and 2018 anyway. If 195 can get their turreted scoring machine working at full blast for eliminations, it wouldn’t be surprising to see them walk away with one of New York’s banners.
- StuyPulse qualified for the championship at Tech Valley via wildcard, and their suction-based climber impressed and amazed at RPI as well. However, Team 694 needs to more consistently play the teleop portion of Deep Space. In their best matches, StuyPulse looked dominant, but they were hurt by their inconsistent placement of game pieces, especially Hatch Panels. Last season they swapped out end effectors after their first event and went on to be arguably the best team in the state. We’ll see if they can repeat their successes this year.
- Two of the Northeast’s household names competed this past weekend, but instead of dominating their respective districts, they were out in the quarterfinals and semifinals respectively. Teams 125 and 2590 have a lot of work to do to work back to the top of their respective districts, and an early championship bid would be nice too.
- 4930 lost a close semifinal bout at Montreal after being the second overall pick, largely for their consistent climbing mechanism. Their opponent’s captain wasn’t a consistent climber nor a rocket-capable machine. Do you know how many “advanced” features the 229 machine had? Zero. And yet, with an excellent driver and solid game piece scoring, the Clarkson-based team was able to captain the third seed to the finals. Central New York is a lot more competitive, however, and it’ll be interesting to see how they adapt.
- 6300, 145, and 639, all built solid machines to explore the depths of Deep Space, and were captains/first round picks in Troy this past weekend. The Northwood School machine especially deserves a mention, as their best robot to date. 6300 built a swerve robot with an excellent wheel-based hatch mechanism reminiscent of 973/1684’s. If they could just learn how to utilize these qualities to win in Deep Space, they could take home their first banner.
- A ton of teams are heading up from Long Island this weekend to compete in one of the two upstate New York events this weekend. The ThunderColts (3624) and Mechanical Bulls (810) are both coming in with level 3 climbing mechanisms, which makes them deadly in the rankings, but It’s Floyd (287) and the HURRICANES (3171) who have spun out more consistent success over the past few years. And for the first time, the Kingsmen (5736) are travelling outside their golden circle and attending two regional events. Those without familiarity of Long Island might not know these teams, but a few are going to end up in the top 8 guaranteed.
The Finger Lakes Regional
Only a few of the teams at FLR have competed already this season coming into the Finger Lakes event. And so most of the event will be exploring Deep Space for the first time.
- The favorites at this event all have yet to play this season. Last year’s #1 seed and champion, Team 340, is debuting this weekend at RIT. Their robot has all the features you’d expect out of Rochester’s most consistent powerhouse, including rocket and L3 HAB capabilities, and their experienced driver knows how to win when the pressure is on. It would be surprising to see 340 not in the finals again, and after they broke their FLR curse last year, another one is likely in the wings.
- Returning champion 1507 and returning finalist 1559 have a track record of success at the Finger Lakes event. The Warlocks machine in particular is another atypical, yet well-thought out yellow and blue robot that is sure to make top 8 at an event they consistently contend st.
- Last year, Ranger Robotics lost a heart-breaker in the semifinals in Rochester, but went on to dominate in Hofstra later in the season. This year, 3015 has built an excellent rocket-capable robot with a solid level 3 climb.
- At the end of every one of Ranger’s elimination losses in 2018 was the little team from Trumansburg, Team 5254. HYPE is the best team in New York to have not won a Regional event in their history, maybe in all of FIRST. This year they’re bringing an all-low robot with a third level climb. While we’ve seen a number of low robots have success this season, it could be difficult for them to break up the tall robots mentioned above without seeding above them.
- Last year’s Einstein finalists, Team 217, are thundering into Finger Lakes for the first time since 2011. They competed last weekend at Kettering, and while they won plenty of matches, they failed to seed high enough to break up some of the higher powered scoring machines due to the lack of climb. They’re sure to be improving in their weaknesses to power up for their next district.
- Downstate visitors include Team 2638, who, with their speedy low robot and effective level 2 climb will be looking to pair up with a powerhouse robot and take eliminations by surprise. Not to be outdone, fellow Long Island visitor Team 870 looks to build on their recent success with another solid elevator design.
- The group of teams that previously competed this season includes 1551, 4361, and 1511. The Rolling Thunder are the most notable of the bunch, having made the finals in Montreal back during week 1, proving to be a solid rocket-capable machine capable of completing a solid chunk of a rocket undefended.