Predictions Championship 2013: Curie

“The Curie Curse” has survived for yet another year, despite another powerhouse alliance reaching Einstein from the division. Time and time again, Curie has managed to assemble top notch alliances that fell just short of claiming a banner on Einstein. After not being able to win at all on Einstein, Curie has topped Archimedes in four of the past five years, but has been unable to beat Galileo or Newton. This year’s division has a strong group of cycling machines, and some of most feared and proven defensive specialists in St. Louis. Not to mention the field reset crew should get plenty of work cleaning out the pyramid goal, with several teams that can score on the pyramid and a few more who can target it from the floor.

TIPS:
Curie sports a deep field of quality cycling machines. Among the best will be 234 and 359. Cyber Blue had a solid performance at Boilermaker, but modifications led to an even better showing as part of the dominant #1 alliance at Crossroads. The Hawai’in Kids can unload very quickly and it’s no fluke that they seeded #1 at all three regionals they attended. Both teams should bring very consistent offense and will likely be rewarded for it during alliance selection.

So long as the Robowranglers can stay upright, their long range shooting and hanging ability makes them a legitimate threat. 148 can score from either the pyramid or the load station, and has what is best described as an acrobatic ascent to the second tier of the pyramid. They’re the type of team that is very difficult to game plan against, especially when they have another partner that can help shift some of the defensive pressure away from them. They didn’t have their strongest performance at SVR, and are still a notch behind the top teams in the division, but they will be a noteworthy contender on Curie.

1918 was a solid enough shooting machine back in week one to captain the #1 alliance to victory at the Traverse City district, but they’re robot really began to turn heads when they added a 30 point corner climb and 20 point dump to their arsenal. They were the lead scoring machine on the #4 alliance at MSC, who was best known for their ability to score 70 climb points and score all six colored discs in the pyramid goal. Their well rounded game (including the ability to score extra discs in autonomous) makes them a huge threat, but they’ll likely need the help of a top notch disc scorer if they want to make their first appearance on Einstein.

There are quality candidates to fill the sweeper role on Curie, each of which also sport a 7-disc autonomous. 3539 is perhaps the prototype robot for this role, as their performance in front of 469 in Ypsilanti was exactly how this position should be played. They consistently drained their autonomous shots, and then expertly scooped up discs from everywhere on the field and accurately drained 3 point shots. 1717 will be the most difficult to defend, as their nimble swerve drive allows them to maneuver around and through traffic with ease. It’s no mistake that they were selected ahead of the High Rollers in Vegas and ended up with two regional victories this season. 1310 sports the ability to load directly from the human player (and usually puts up better totals playing a cycling role than ground loading) and can even full court shoot in a pinch. But they put up some terrific scores scooping up the discs that 610 missed during the Waterloo finals. They’ll have to up their consistency if they want a deep run, though.

DARK HORSE:
862 won two districts as a member of the #1 alliance and was the second pure cycler selected at the Michigan State Championship. They aren’t flashy, but they get the job done quickly and efficiently. On the right alliance, they could put together some impressive upsets.

SLEEPER:
It hasn’t been a year to remember for the Cybersonics, and Championship is rarely an event that treats them well. But each of 103’s two previous appearances in the division finals came on Curie, and their robot has more potential than their results would indicate. While their disc scoring may not be able to blow away the top tier teams, their ability to climb for 20 and dump for another 20 certainly grants them value to many alliances. If they can continue improving their autonomous routines (especially if they can get score the center line discs), they could be an asset in the eliminations.

LOCKS:
Putting the HOT team as a lock requires some faith that they’ll fix the mechanical issues that have dogged them all season long. 67’s potential is as high as any other teams’ out there, and with three FRC champions banners already hanging in Milford, they know how to win on the big stage. They are arguably the best full court shooter in all of Ultimate Ascent and aren’t bad at running cycles, either. With a fully functional climber at MSC, they earned the #1 selection and were the driving force behind a long elimination run that fell just short. If they can keep their robot working, they have a very legitimate chance of securing their first gold of 2013.

2056 is still perfect at regional events, going three for three once again this season. More impressive still, they were the #1 seed at all three events and had a maximum of one loss at each. Their 51-2 record on the season is no fluke. OP Robotics has a terrific autonomous mode, an excellent floor pickup, and very rarely jams or misses the target. They’re one of the most consistent scoring machines in Ultimate Ascent, and will likely go deep in the eliminations once more.