Predictions Championship 2012: Newton

No division has produced as many champions as Newton, with five of the twelve champions since the introduction of divisions emerging through Newton. Once again, Newton looks to be a highly competitive field, where it’s strong in virtually every metric. This division has just about everything, with terrific key shooters, fender scorers, triple balancers, hybrid scorers, wide bots, long bots, catapults, top level teams, and depth. This division could break any number of ways, but the level of play is guaranteed to be incredibly high and even the slightest mistake could lead to the end of your tournament.

There are a ton of teams with similar designs this year, but it’s usually something along the lines of “polycord conveyor carries balls from the floor to a single-wheeled, hooded shooter.” 548 and 330 have similar designs that buck this trend, with single jointed manipulators that suck in balls then rotate into firing position. Both teams prefer the fender, but can shoot from the key when necessary. The Robostangs have performed at a higher level so far, and likely have the higher upside due to their proven triple balancing ability and superior intake. But, their key shooting is slightly beneath the Beach Bots’ and it causes them to suffer when defense is played against them. The additional flexibility of 330’s game might provide them more strategic options come eliminations, especially when it comes to their back court presence.

G.R.R. created a fair bit of buzz with their simple and elegant solution to the game, and are probably the most noteworthy “lay-up” machine in Rebound Rumble. 340 really stepped up their game at Buckeye when they began scoring from the sides of the fender, which helped them avoid defensive pressure. It will be interesting to see how they perform in a much deeper field loaded with successful 3 point scorers. Their acquisition and bridge manipulation leaves a bit to be desired, which may cost their chances at a second round selection. It may come down to if teams trust the new stinger they added.

1983 and 2122 were two of the best in the Northwest this season. Both were outstanding key shooters that earned their way onto #1 alliances all season long, but had early season disappointments before combining forces to win Spokane in week 6. Skunkworks brings more of a full court game, and they managed to hold off the #5 alliance in the Spokane semis by keep the fender clear themselves. Team Tator really broke out last year, knocking off the Robowranglers and Cyber Blue on Newton and reaching the IRI finals. Neither team should be at risk of missing the eliminations, but will likely be more of role players than the teams to carry an elimination alliance.

365 and 1023 didn’t have their greatest weekends at their region championship events, but both have the potential to be huge threats on Newton. MOE brings a coop bridge auton that could be very dangerous. Bedford Express was a terrific key scorer for most of the FiM season, but they can’t cross the barrier which effectively limits them to a front court game when Rebound Rumble is played at the highest level. Both teams are wide and skilled balancers, but 1023 has tripled several times before (though they didn’t use their stinger). If either team gets back on track, they could seed high or be an early selection. If they don’t, they’ll likely face an early exit.

Despite the long frame, 175 could prove an incredibly valuable 2nd round selection if they drop that far. Their catapult was terrifically accurate at shooting from the corners of the field, and their speed at crossing the barrier, smart play, and ability to human load could make them a terrific supplementary scoring machine on an alliance that emphasized ball possession. It may come down to how reliable their triple balancing measures are and how well they mesh with other triple balancing devices.

Wildstang can never be counted out at any event. 111 is a quality key shooter, with a lightning fast intake and drive system. Despite an undefeated run at North Star, their high score is only a modest 66 points. Wildstang hasn’t demonstrated their ability to completely take over a Rebound Rumble match, but there’s little doubt that they’ll get the most out of their alliance and will be a serious challenge to eliminate.

While fire rate might not be a huge concern for accurate key scorers, it definitely is for teams that prefer the fender. 488’s slow rate of fire exposes them to fender defense, but they’ve claimed to have decreased their cycle time. X-bot was the #1 and #2 seed at their events, so it’s obvious they can play smart and win matches, but the stakes are much higher now. If they do reduce their reload time, they could be dangerous.

Only attending one event doesn’t garner as much hype as the teams that do very well at multiple events. But the low profile, despite their hall of fame resume, may help 842 avoid the defensive pressure for a while. Their spot at the side of the fender is hard to defend anyway, especially given that they can score easily from the front of the fender as well. They were the primary scoring machine on their alliance with 610 at Arizona. Their autonomous hits the center bridge before scoring, though it doesn’t pick up and score those balls. Expect them to make some serious noise in the division, and possibly seed high enough to control their destiny.

Their awesome videos have often outclassed their actual results, and to an extent that is true of 118 again this year as they lost their first two events in the semi-finals. But the Robonauts definitely earned their #1 selections at all three events they attended, and their scoring ability is unquestionable. Even without their innovative (but ultimately illegal) triple balancing method, 118’s wide frame and two speed drive should have little issue completing a triple when the time comes. Expect the JSC team to be an early selection and to at least win one round in the eliminations.

When HOT experienced issues in the MSC eliminations, it was Las Guerillas who stepped up to the plate and carried the alliance to victory. 469 is among the elite in every aspect of the game. The basket that is possibly the best ground acquisition in the game doubles for rapid human player loading (all three balls can be dropped in simultaneously). They’re incredibly accurate from both the fender and the key. They have been both the first and last robot on the ramp in triple balance situations, and have completed the maneuver far more than any other team in FRC aside of 67. And, yes, they have triple balanced without 67 on their alliance (Detroit District). Their balancing arm helps them co-op balance in a similar fashion to HOT as well, meaning they should stand a solid chance at reaching the #1 seed. Perhaps the only knock on their machine is they don’t handle ball variations quite as well as some other elite teams, but that flaw is relatively minor (especially when fender shooting). Anything short of the Newton finals would be absolutely shocking.

D’Penguineers first few matches at Los Angeles weren’t very inspiring, as their rookie group were getting a hang of their machine and they worked out some issues. By the end of LA, they were rolling and carried their alliance through the eliminations, preserving 987’s undefeated record while the High Rollers struggled. 1717 then followed that up with arguably the best tournament of the season in Central Valley, crowned by their dominant shooting performance in the finals where they hit 35 of 36 shots in two matches. Without question, they can clean up the front court like nobody else in FRC. Their shooting position is absolutely sensational, as it takes up virtually none of the key, simultaneously leaving space for their partners and obstructing the penalty-free travel of defensive teams. Their swerve is dynamic and quick, and when combined with their scoring positions makes them difficult to defend. Their barrier crossing and dual-sided intake makes their ability to reload an elite feature of their machine. Yet, they haven’t triple balanced (though some would argue they might not need to) and they haven’t demonstrated the ability to score balls from a bridge in hybrid. Some questions exist, but if they can maintain their level of play from CVR (no small feat in itself), it’s hard to see them heading home empty handed.

If I remember correctly, although they were neck and neck for most of the regional, 1983 was the number one seed on the Cascade field.

Small correction: X-bot was 2 seed at Seattle Olympic, selected by the 1 seeded 1983.

EDIT: Beaten to it

And also 1983 was not the #1 seed or picked by the #1 seed in Portland.

Yes, Skunkworks was the #1 seed on their field in Seattle, but it was Olympic, not Cascade.

Nice to get a mention from “Looking Forward”. I’m very excited to play with 330 at some point, seeing their robot online showed me our design wasn’t insane! Whoever manages to maneuver their way through this division and onto Eisenstein defiantly has a great chance at world champions! See everyone tomorrow at load in!

Yep – we had some trouble making coop balances happen on Saturday morning and they didn’t, so they jumped in front of us.

In addition to the changes we made to reduce reload time, we’ve ditched our camera-based ranging and have dialed in preset key shots and given our driver a camera-based aiming reticle. He’s had good success in practice; hopefully that will give us a bit more versatility and flexibility on the field, though I’d like to note that, even at the fender, we’re really hard to move. :slight_smile:

We’ve made some awesome additions and changes that will definitely shake things up… :slight_smile:

Can’t wait! Good luck everyone!

We did the exact same thing with our camera between portland and seattle. Every shot we made in seattle was manually aligned and used preset distances. This worked out VERY well for us, and we made improvements for worlds to make it even more accurate and useful.

I love being in a division with such great competition. It’ll be very interesting to see if the stuff we cooked up at the shop will translate into improved performance on the field. I know I’ll have fun, win or loose, watching 111 and 118 in particular, who together beat us at midwest last year. Have fun everyone!

175 can hang almost half their bot off the bridge, and has a brake. They will have no trouble pulling a triple.