PCH District: 2020 Gainesville Predictions

Infinite Recharge
Infinite Recharge marks a return to the fast-paced shooting games that FRC is best known for. We’re not really talking about Steamworks, where shooting fuel was hard and not worth it for many teams, but games like Stronghold and Rebound Rumble are some of the most iconic and fun games from the past decade. Teams have no choice but to get involved, pick up a few cells, and make a play for the power ports.

What’s even more exciting is that many FRC participants haven’t seen a real shooting game since 2016’s Stronghold. Most current FRC seniors were just freshmen when Steamworks was being played! What does all this mean? Well, teams can’t brush off the elevator designs they used last season and use that as a starting point. Teams will be getting somewhat fresh starts, and we’re liable to see some growing pains as students figure out shooters for the first time.

But, let’s dig into the game and look at some of the juicy tidbits:

Don’t Forget about The Inner Port - With the race to score as many power cells as possible, it’s easy to forget that the inner port is worth 50% more points than the outer port. To that end, run-and-gun teams may find themselves being eclipsed by teams that take the precious extra seconds to sink those 3 pointers.

Don’t Sleep on the Control Panel - It can be daunting to think about the control panel bonuses in terms of power cells. After all, scoring 49 power cells is quite a bit. However, break it down into cycles (roughly 10), and it’s not that bad. Spread it across 2 (ish) robots, include autonomous, and remember the bottom port, and all of sudden, those 30 bonus points and the oh-so-precious bonus RP point seem within reach.

Climbing Matters - By now, the cat’s out of the bag about climbing. It matters. So much so that even for a top-tier, run-and-gun team, climbing will account for at least 25% of their offensive output. So, for an average team, climbing’s value only goes up. With all that being said, teams might be able to squeak by without a climber at early events like Gainesville. However, at later events like Carrolton, DCMP, and Houston, teams without climbers will see their alliance-selection stock take big, automatic hits.

Typically, Gainesville’s story is nothing new. As a week 1 event, we see a wide range of performances from a variety of teams. Some teams will have simple, well-practiced machines while others will be firing up some of their mechanisms for the very first time.

However, with no more stop build, we’re likely to see a new dynamic emerge at Gainesville. Obviously we don’t know for sure, but our guess is that we will see a widening of the preparation gap that teams typically display. Teams that are usually well prepared just have another week for autonomous testing and practice. However, teams that have failed to pace themselves may find themselves in even worse shape this season.

Regardless of stop-build’s effects, one thing we know for sure: unless you’re planning on seeding high, day 1 at Gainesville, and maybe even all of qualifications, doesn’t really matter. As a matter of fact, over the past four years, the 1st seed has only won the first PCH qualifier once. Just once.

The Early Birds:

Last season, 832 came out strong with a robot that could handle cargo and a level 3 climb. Ultimately this propelled them to a finalist berth at Gainesville and an event win at Albany. Historically, Oscar has been good at handling spherical game pieces, so we look for them to make another strong start early and lead the pack going into the playoffs on Sunday.

At Gainesville, 1648 typically has a rough outing in qualifications, but they seem to get their act together for the playoffs. That didn’t really pan out last season, but with a tall robot that’s looking to shoot from the Target Zone, look for G3 to get back on track and get going late in the event.

Ultimate Contenders:

You may as well not even pay attention to 1746 during qualifications. However, they’re one of those powerhouses that gets warmed up late in the game and can deliver stellar performances in the playoffs. We’ve said it every year, but we’ll say it one more time. Do. Not. Sleep. On. Otto. They have a short machine that’s looking to pack a robowrangler-sized punch. When, not if, they get their act together, they’re sure to make a deep run into the playoffs.

4188 struggled a bit last season with a robot that was as quirky as it was difficult to control. However, this season, CSP has finished up early and has reportedly racked up thousands of practice shots. This season has the signs of their 2017 season, which, by all accounts, wasn’t too shabby. We look for 4188 to lead the pack early, but they’ll need a strong, surging partner to clinch the banner on Sunday.

6829 really caught fire last season. This young team built a sophisticated machine, took home three banners, and eventually earned themselves a ticket to Einstein. However, with all that being said, Ignite lost some of the speed and scrappiness that they had in their rookie year and found themselves lagging behind the district’s top performers. If 6829 can find the same speed and energy that they had in their rookie year, they may just have another banner-filled season.

1414 has been on a bit of a streak for the past two seasons, and it doesn’t look like it’s going to end anytime soon. With another beautifully machined robot, IHOT is hoping to add to their success with another banner at Gainesville. However, IHOT’s problem isn’t technical sophistication - it’s consistency and having a competitive edge. If their drivers can wrangle in their machine, then we can definitely see IHOT taking home the gold from Gainesville.

In the Shadows:

It’s no secret that 1261 has struggled for a few seasons, but their last hyper successful season was 2016, where they established themselves as a top-shooter and were just a few points shy of a district championship. What’s more is that the Robolions have been relatively strong at shooting games. If they can just tap into some of that old magic, we may see this former powerhouse stage a resurgence.

It’s hard to believe that 7427 is just in their 2nd year, but this “rookie” team shocked the district last season with a swerve drivetrain and they even implemented a suction climber for Worlds. Protocol X has shown that they have the ability to implement some pretty sophisticated concepts, but they’ll need to show more competency at the core game mechanic this season if they want to establish an upward trajectory.


I’m watching 5109, but concur with a lot of the summary, nice job!

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