State of the District
Destination Deep Space marks the 4th season for the PCH district, and we have absolutely no reservations in saying that FRC has never been better in our state. We probably sound like a bit like a broken record, but it’s worth taking a step back and looking at where the district stands:
- For the first time ever, GAFIRST hosted 6 official FRC events
- 10 PCH teams went into eliminations at worlds (~59%)
- 2 PCH teams (1648 & 1414) captained alliances at worlds (~12%)
- PCH teams have access to four, full-sized practice fields throughout the state
- PCH teams have access to free sheet metal parts throughout the state
- District events have created strong partnerships with sponsors and established deep roots into local communities
Competitively, the district also took an exciting step forward last season. For most competitive teams, getting into the district championships is never much of a question. However, for the first time, we noticed that competitive teams really had to fight for a ticket to worlds. When teams like 1746 and 6829 don’t make the cut, it’s a sign that teams can’t afford to take anything for granted.
Every match matters. Every award matters.
As nerve wracking as that may sound, “a rising tide lifts all boats,” and this hyper-competitive environment is exactly what’s going to collectively inspire all PCH teams to be better.
Destination Deep Space
Destination Deep Space (DDS) presents a variety of strategic and robot-building challenges to its teams. With a new “autonomous” mode, a variety game pieces scored at various heights, and a challenging end game, there’s something in DDS for everyone. In order to break the game down for our district, we have a few strategic predictions:
Vision is Hard - With the new sandstorm period, FIRST is intent on having teams use their cameras. Computer Vision (CV) is challenging enough, but integrating it into driver control is truly difficult. Top teams might be able to pull it off, but many teams would be better served with simply a high quality stream to the driver station. However, those that can pull it off are set to be highly rewarded.
Lowbots Will Compete - Lowbots, or robots that score in the cargo ship and level 1 on the rocket, will be more competitive than people realize, and we believe they will play an integral role on many winning alliances.
Defense Matters - While FIRST has limited the number of defenders, a complete lack of safe zones around scoring targets makes defense much more potent this year. As teams figure this out and targets become more scarce, we expect defense, or at least counter-defense, to play a critical role in a winning strategy.
The Rocket RP is Hard - It takes 12 game objects to secure the Rocket RP. Even if a team was fast enough, a single defensive robot can easily shut that down. We believe the rocket RP will only be secured a handful of times during each district qualifier, with it being secured slightly more frequently at later events.
The Climbing RP Imbalance - Given a team can climb onto level 3, the climbing RP is trivial. However, climbing onto level 3 is not easy, and integrating that solution with cargo and hatch scoring solutions is top-team caliber challenge. Dedicated level 3 climbers will consistently find their way into the top 8, but their path to ultimate victory will narrow as the season progresses.
Hatches might win some matches, Cargo will win championships - Hatches are the fresh game piece this year and people love seeing and sharing hatch mechanism prototypes. But keep in mind Cargo is more valuable and ultimately makes the hatches worth doing. A strong cargo strategy will be necessary for any alliance hoping to take home a blue banner this season.
Pre-Season Power Rankings
There are many factors that impact a team’s overall performance throughout the season. Some of these factors are directly in a team’s control, such as a robot’s design, programming, and driving. However, there are other factors that fall outside a team’s circle of influence, such as qualification schedules, alliance partners, and overall luck.
When creating power rankings, we focus on the factors that teams can reasonably control and determine their general ability to execute on the field.
The 2019 Pre-Season Power Rankings are as follows: