PCH District: 2019 Gainesville Predictions

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:

  1. 4910
  2. 2974
  3. 4188
  4. 1102
  5. 1746
  6. 1648
  7. 6705
  8. 1414
  9. 832
  10. 4941
  11. 4189
  12. 1002
  13. 6829
  14. 1311
  15. 4026
  16. 6177
  17. 2415
  18. 1683
  19. 4468
  20. 6340


After two seasons, the narrative at Gainesville has proven to follow the trends of week 1 events around the world: refined robots and prepared teams dominate early and seed high. However, many local powerhouses take some time to warm up and tune their machines. As such, day one at Gainesville almost doesn’t matter if you can’t string together a few early wins; it’s all about getting robots functional and getting on the right alliance for eliminations.

The gameplay at Gainesville will develop very quickly. Our strategic expectations are noted above, but early-on we expect a lot of sandstorm chaos, dropped hatches, and dead robots. However, as teams get warmed up, the gameplay will take shape around hatches as teams settle in to focus on tuning those mechanisms first. In the end, the best eliminations alliance, and ultimately the winner, will be the one that balances hatches with cargo.

Hometown Hopefuls

1102 is determined to show that last year’s run to the state championship was not a fluke and they look to be serious contenders right out of the gate. They have a feature-packed machine with a octocanum drivetrain, level 3 climber, and a 180-degree rotating intake that’s sure to pack a serious punch. If 1102 can put a fraction of those tools to work, they’ll be in strong contention for another banner at Gainesville.

It looks like 1746 is literally building off their 2018 season with a robot that gives us a serious sense of deja vu. With a 3-stage elevator and do-it-all carriage, their robot isn’t anything special. However, there’s one thing to keep in mind: Otto. Does. Not. Lose. At. Gainesville. 1746 has been on the winning alliance at every event at Riverside Military Academy, regular season or offseason. They may get off to a slow start, but anyone betting against 1746 may be sitting on the sidelines watching them collect another banner.

Power Up was a breakout season for 1414 and they’re back to show that it was no accident. This year they’re fielding a robot with a massive cargo & hatch hybrid intake, their typical elevator, and a fast level 3 climber. However, last season 1414 really struggled to execute with their machine on the field. If iHot can bring their robot under control, they certainly have all the pieces to make a serious run at Gainesville.

Last season, 4188 got off to a slow start, but ultimately made their way to the DCMP finals. This season, 4188 finds itself on a little better footing to start and a robot that’s looking to do it all. However, the robot’s complexity might prove to be a challenge, especially at an early event like Gainesville. If things work out, CSP may break out early and dominate the event. Regardless of the start, we expect CSP to be in the thick of it at the end.

In 2018, 1648 placed one cube on the scale during all of Gainesville qualifications and then proceeded to hammer the scale and carry their alliance to the semis. They followed that up with a sweep through Georgia and a run to Newton semis in what should probably be considered one of the most impressive seasons in district history. This year, G3 is featuring an eccentric design with a large, low-slung arm wielding a massive intake. As impressive as it may look, designs like that are notoriously difficult to control and program. If G3 can bring the design to heel, we may see them stage a late rise at Gainesville, but we worry that they may have bitten off more than they can chew.

6705 is going into its third season, and like any young program, it’s having to deal with life after it’s founding core leaves the team. As such, this season has been a bit of a rough one for the Wildcats, but they have an ambitious design that has the potential to be better than what they fielded last year. If the wildcats can pull the pieces together on their machine, they have the potential to run away with the banners and the competition.

Last year 4189 came out of the gate with a solid scalebot. While their robot fell in competitiveness as the season went on, it was more than enough to put up a good fight at Gainesville. With a mecanum drivetrain and a wide intake that looks perfect for corralling cargo, the Chargers are looking like strong contenders for Gainesville.

New in Town

It’s really no surprise that teams want to go out of district for their first event. Teams get the opportunity to warm up and get their robots tuned at an event that doesn’t count towards their district points. Add that to the fact that the PCH district is still relatively weak, and an out-of-district team may even hope to walk away with a banner.

With that being said, the PCH district has proven relatively resilient. Last season, 5 out-of-district teams came to Gainesville, and although they put up a good fight, our local powerhouses managed to keep all the banners in the district.

This year, we once again welcome 5 teams from outside our district: 166 from New England, 1747 and 3494 from Indiana, and 2655 and 4795 from North Carolina. While it’d be nice to see the Gainesville banners stay in the PCH District, a strong batch of teams that includes a 2018 district champion and a 2018 Einstein team have something else in mind.

1747 is the juggernaut out of Indiana. After winning their DCMP and getting all the way to the finals on Curie, they’re looking to warm up their 2019 season with a jaunt in Gainesville. While 1747 is definitely a strong program, they’re not immune to the early season jitters that Gainesville has come to be known for. Ultimately, the Harrison Boilermakers are the heavy favorites. As such, we expect them to warm up throughout the event and make a strong run in eliminations.

Last season, 2655 started out as a scalebot, but after a rough first event, they decided to redesign their machine into a switchbot. Ultimately, this strategic shift allowed the Flying Platypi to push all the way to Einstein and make a name for themselves. This season, 2655 is taking the lessons from last season and going straight for a lowbot. Judging by the Platypi’s Einstein performance and early prototypes, it looks like 2655 is going to be a contender right out of the gate. We expect they’ll have no trouble making it into eliminations and if their lowbot is refined enough, they may just hold off the rest of the field to a banner.

166’s visit to Gainesville is the first time in PCH District history a team from New England has come down to visit, but it’s hard to classify the Merrimack, NH team as a powerhouse. After an impressive 2016 season, Chop Shop has made the playoffs once in NE District events in four tries, and neither in their first two events in the past two years. Of course, it does not take much to show that New England has been a tougher area than Peachtree in previous years. Could a weaker event and an upswing in 2019 combine to save the Chop Shop a spot in the elimination bracket?


Thanks for providing this! We are excited to start competing this season.

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Good luck 1747 and 3494! All of Indiana will be rooting for you guys.


I’m honored that you mentioned 166. We’re looking forward to competing with you all!

Side note: I have 3 XL t-shirts that I’ll be trading at the event. PM me for details if interested.


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832 is looking forward to trashing your expectations!:grin:
Good luck to all the teams competing in Gainesville.


Woot Woot, Bring back some Blue to Indiana! Good luck 3494 and 1747!

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1746 here excited to compete !
(On another note im up to trade 2 medium shirts at the comp PM Me)

Thanks for a great competition everyone, 166 had a lot of fun! Shoutout to 832 and 1102 for letting us join them in scouting and to 2655 for picking us! Maybe our paths will cross again.



It was great seeing all of the out of district teams in Gainesville! Best of luck with the rest of season.


1747 had an amazing time in Gainesville!!! We thank all the teams in PCH for their warm hospitality throughout the event especially our alliance partners 6919, 6705, and 4112!!! All the best for the rest of the season!!!


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