While most metrics put Newton as the weakest division, don’t interpret that to mean that there won’t still be a very high level of play or that the Newton champs won’t be a force to be reckoned with on Einstein. The division perhaps possesses the deepest field of standard cycling machines and numerous robots who can climb to the second and third rungs of the pyramid. It has a healthy population of full court shooters who can impact the game and a number of teams whose floor acquisition abilities have been improving as the season progresses. The level playing field should make this quite an exciting division to watch.
Two of the better ground scoopers will have some kinks to work out, but have terrific potential. 2054 has played extraordinarily well all season long, and their robot fits the “sweeper” title very well. Yet, they had issues with jamming, shooting low, and acquiring discs during the MSC eliminations. The district formats puts a ton of “mileage” on robots, and it will be interesting to see if the TechVikes still have more left in the tank. If they resolve their issues, expect them to seed very well. 341, on the other hand, has still yet to really hit their stride. Numerous mechanical issues with their shoulder and loader have cost them all season long. But they have a quick and powerful drive train and have done whatever it takes to win en route to two district banners this season.
It’s impossible to find a more consistent rookie out there in 2013 than 4451. Their climb and dump routine earned them early selections at both events they attended, and they almost ended up with gold in Orlando. 54 points per match won’t buy as much at Championship as it does at the regional level, but they’re very difficult to shut down and their consistency will help them outshine many other teams. They’ll most likely be a second round selection, but with the right partners, they could be playing for a long time on Saturday afternoon.
Two of the best cycling machines on Newton aren’t able to fit underneath the pyramid. 79 and 1718 both won two events this season, and both can put up an excellent amount of disc points. Krunch was part of two 1-2-3 punch alliances that helped spread out the defensive pressure, but they excel at playing through it despite not being able to cut under the pyramid. Their improved loading system at DC also allowed them to load without fear at the unprotected station. The Fighting Pi had much of the defense taken off of them by the Killer Bees’ presence next to them, and might suffer a bit more if they are targeted by an elite shutdown team. Yet, they can still post very good totals and are incredibly accurate from the side of the pyramid. Both will likely be in the big dance, but are going to need high quality partners to make it past the quarterfinals.
1538 is probably the best team that nobody outside of California is talking about. The Holy Cows are essentially the Killer Bees, west coast edition. Their 7-disc autonomous isn’t quite as consistent as the Bees, but their wide ground pick-up works just as well, if not better. Their rapid fire shots and ability to sweep the floor led to some awesome scores with the WARLords at Inland Empire. They should be a high seed or very early selection, and it would be very surprising to see them not win at least one round in the eliminations.
There are some full court shooters with serious success playing on Newton. 195 had issues in Virginia, but sorted them out in time to win their third consecutive Connecticut regional. More impressive still is that they won without very large autonomous scores, as their shooting was good enough to make up the difference. 225 got better as the season progressed, even if the hardware doesn’t show it. Powerhouse alliances knocked them off in Lenape and MAR champs, but their ability to drain threes consistently makes them a much more threatening team. 2471 took home banners from both Spokane and Portland. Once they find their target, they rarely miss. They’ll need to continue improving their ability to reach the loading station quickly if they want to be selected ahead of TechFire or the Cyberknights, though.
You don’t need to be flashy to be good, and both 128 and 1676 are proof of that. The Botcats were the #1 selection at two different events this season, and ended up winning Pittsburgh. The PIoneers reached the finals at both of their districts, winning Bridgewater-Raritan, and helped push the #1 alliance at MAR championship to their limit in the semifinals. Neither cycling machine is going to turn heads, but the scouts should notice the solid totals they put up.
There is so much parity between most cyclers, that even the slightest edge is a big deal. For 1985, being able to climb to the second run is that edge. It helped them come out on top in Queen City as part of a well rounded alliance. They’re not going to be able to carry the load themselves in Newton, but should be a nice complimentary bot in the eliminations.
1640 has had plenty of success in the past few years, but has really stepped up their offensive game this year. SaBOTage battled issues at the MAR championship that led to them being the last selection, but they showcased their abilities once more during the eliminations. Their swerve drive helps them dodge defenders and makes them very difficult to slow down. Their climbing is very inconsistent at this point, even at getting only ten points. If they don’t climb at all, it essentially sacrifices a cycle’s worth of points and it will put them on the elimination bubble. If they can start climbing for 30, they’ll end up as a very early selection.
2826 might be the biggest wild card in the division. They can cycle well, can full court shoot, can ground load, and are working on a number of center line autonomous modes. Yet, they haven’t been able to put it all together and take home a gold in 2013. Wave Robotics fits well on any alliance and has a number of highly advantageous features, which is what earns them the “lock” status (even if they wouldn’t be a lock in any other division). They’re going to have to continue improving, but the pedigree and the potential is there.
It’s difficult to top the list of abilities that 1986 has. Arguably the best 7-disc autonomous in all of FRC. Crazy low cycle times. The ability to shoot from multiple positions (even if under the pyramid is definitely their most accurate). A relatively quick and reliable 30-point climb. All of this has led to them accruing a phenomenal 48-1 record this season and three regional victories. While they still need to continue improving against quality harassing defense, they’re clearly the favorite in the division.