PCH District: 2023 Gwinnett Preview

Charging… 50%

Anderson Review

Things got off to a very slow start in Anderson. Scores didn’t break 100 points (penalty-free) until Q51, which was the only match that it happened. Dalton broke 100 in Q8. It should of course be stated that random qual match seeding will determine a lot about when you get to see a high score, but 2974 broke 100 with multiple teams throughout the tournament at Dalton. But we’ll talk more about that later.

The early going showed 4451 came prepared to execute the strategy they had chosen by focusing on the auton and endgame balance and low/mid node scoring through cycles of pieces on the floor primarily. 4189 proved with their design that looks can be deceiving, in that they were one of the more consistent early scorers of the event even without the kind of mechanism you would expect for playing this game. For a long time, it seemed that 4189 might stay undefeated ahead of 4451. 343 was another decent game piece mover, but a lack of charge station engagement in auto hurt their ranking. 3489 and 2815 were top auto bridge balancers, which helped them seed high, but they couldn’t keep up in terms of game piece movement overall. 1102 was slow out of the gate. They had matches where they would display a great autonomous as the only team at the event scoring 2 game pieces and balancing during quals. Later into the event their consistency seemed to improve drastically and their position in the pecking order became more clear. 1287 showed they had the most consistent drivers in game piece movement at the event throughout quals, but their lack of auto bridge balance and endgame consistency/general robot width held them back.

The final round of quals matches significantly disrupted the standings, taking away the first seed from 4189 and putting 4451 back on top. Robotz Garage chose to take 1102 as their first selection and 6961 with a well driven dozer bot as their 2nd pick. This alliance cruised straight through the upper bracket with every match score exceeding 100 pts en route to face off against the strong 7 seed alliance in the finals that charged their way through the bracket competition consisting of 1051, 3490, and 3091. The finalist alliance put up a tough fight even scoring a full 3 links across the top grid row, out-scoring the #1 alliance in driver control in F-2! But the overwhelming advantage that came from 1102 scoring a 3 cube auton along with 4451’s balance was too much for anyone to overcome and the #1 alliance secured the inaugural PCH Anderson event’s blue banners.

Congrats to 3489 CatEgory5 for taking home the first SC team Impact award in the SC PCH District era. Congratulations to 1319 and 8575 students for being selected as Dean’s List Semi-Finalists.


Dalton Review

Never doubt Walton. Last year their small bot started out strong and got stronger (unless they were moving at the end of the match, then it might’ve fallen over). Things have continued this year. In their first match, 2974 won by 10 points and nobody came within 25pts of them for the rest of the event. 6340 Marist Manatees showed that it’s all about drive experience. Their practice before the competition helped propel them to a solid 2nd place finish in quals. 6341, Firestorm Robotics had a great competition claiming the 3rd spot. 2974 teamed up with 6340 and 8865, making easy work of the playoffs. The change to a double elimination format continued to bring excitement to the arena. The 7th seeded alliance of 4516, 8866, and 832 upset the 2 seed as well as the 3 seed alliances. In the end, the 7th seed had a great run making it to the finals, but couldn’t match the firepower of the top dogs.

1648 won the FIRST Impact award with 7451 taking home Engineering Inspiration Award, showing everyone it’s not just about the robots. Congratulations to the two students from 7451 and 2974 on being selected as Dean’s List Semi-Finalists.


Gwinnett Preview

Gwinnett’s lineup of teams is the most stacked PCH event of 2023 thus far, by a long shot. Though only 9 Gwinnett teams have already competed, expect to see a lot of higher-scoring alliances throughout quals, and decent parity across the top several playoff alliances. This is bound to be a very exciting event!

Contenders:

1771 - After last season’s absolutely dominant performance, North Gwinnett Robotics is trying to be the hometown heroes and show once again they are a force to be reckoned with. With their classic mix of wood and aluminum, plus a carbon fiber arm to top it off, 1771 is swinging for the fences with this robot. The big question is whether or not they’ll be ready to go right off the bat.

1683 - Round 2 for the Techno Titans! They are coming into this event with experienced drivers and a couple of blue banners from Albany. Their ability to intake game pieces from both the floor and the substation helped them consistently have a high number of cycles. They looked to be cooking with gas in the late playoff matches and we expect to see them continue to improve in this likely more competitive event.

4509 was one of the top scorers at Albany, and even showed the beginnings of a multi-piece auton in playoffs. If that path is dialed in now, the Mechanical Bulls are likely to find themselves towards the top of the table again this week.

6829 is hoping to start hot this season with an elegant, tilted elevator+arm design. Last time Ignite built an elevator, they won 3 banners and even made a run on Einstein field. Will they elevate to the top again, or has their fire turned into a smolder?

4188 - “How much time has Columbus Space Program given their programmers to improve the robot software?” is the question of the day. Maybe some more drive practice was in order. They have a beautiful machine, but it needs some polishing to really shine. Will Gwinnett be the event they break out at? Also, with 1683 having already secured a 2023 District Impact Award, it appears that 4188 may be the only plausible Gwinnett Impact Award recipient.

In the Hunt:

1261 has developed a solid and consistent history of improvement since their 2017 downfall. In a game where lots of teams are reaching for more complex design concepts, Robo Lions are keeping it simple. Will slow and steady win the race, or will they struggle to keep up with the faster bots at Gwinnett?

1746 plans to hit the ground runnin- wait, hold up, is that an actual treadmill? OTTO has once again found a unique solution for the challenge at hand. With the ability to intake and index game pieces from possibly any orientation with a literal treadmill, 1746 might have the most versatile robot in the field.

1414 - If you want to see the most attractively machined robot in any given year in PCH, IHOT is probably your best bet. Consistency in match play, however, historically eludes them. They have chosen to go with a 2018 971-esque carbon fiber arm design this year; we will see how it performs when it counts.

8736 knocked it out of the park last year walking away with a blue banner at their first two events. However, rookie struggles caught up to them at DCMP. They join the list of teams with an intake, indexer and a separate placement mechanism. Can the Mechanisms dial in their mechanisms, or was last year just beginner’s luck?

Impact Award Top Contenders:
4188

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