While it’s not yet a curse, Archimedes is enduring a prolonged championship drought. Once a hotbed of Einstein success, no alliance to emerge from this ancient Greek’s division has claimed gold in the finals since 2006. Being the statistically “weak” division doesn’t help their cause this year, but there is still enough talent on the field to assemble some formidable alliances. The division possesses a healthy mix of finesse and grit, and a blend of all-around competitors and some of the more interesting role players in Aerial Assist. Expect some fierce contact, as defense and counter-defense will take center stage in the division.
- Scoring may be glamorous, but the little things are often what make the difference in Aerial Assist. Both RUSH and the WARLords can score easy enough, but they’re willing to get their hands dirty and do the little things incredibly well. 27
's defense stole the show in the MSC finals, earning them their first win of the season. 2485 operated in tandem with the High Rollers at wrangling the mid-field balls and finishing plays in Vegas, and were equally successful in each role. Both of these teams always seem to be in the right place at the right time, and have drivetrains that don’t relent under pressure. It wouldn’t be surprising to see one, or even both, in the division finals.
- It took Texas Torque four events to earn a spot at Championship last year, but as defending world champions they didn’t need to worry about it this year. It still took them a little while to find their rhythm, but 1477
improved notably at Lone Star. Winnovation also took a little while to get rolling, with a quarterfinal exit in Wisconsin giving way to their dominant elimination run at Midwest. While 1625 and 1477 don’t look very similar, they will be among the best trussing robots in the division. 1625 is the better inbounder of the pair with their asymmetric loading mechanism and practice in the role. Texas Torque plays more of a prototypical midfielder style. Both teams are quick and can get the ball to the downfield human players from within the white zone, and could be dangerous with the right partners.
takes a very different approach to inbounding and trussing. The Zebracorns long-range launcher turned heads this season, firing the ball from one corner of the arena to the human player all the way downfield. They aren’t strategically flexible, as they lack the ability to ground load and aren’t a refined finisher, but their strategy creates the opportunity to shave significant time off of cycles. There’s no guarantee that they’ll be in the eliminations, but it only requires one alliance captain to buy in. They could provide an interesting shift in dynamic coming off the bench for an alliance.
- Ironically, 2590
‘s biggest nemesis for much of this season was their own robot. Puncher issues limited Team Nemesis’ effectiveness at various points this season, but they managed to settle into a groove with their reduced power launcher by the end of MAR championship. 2590 is an aggressive power forward that’s not afraid to challenge defensively, and usually comes up big when the chips are on the table. With a double-hot autonomous and their second consecutive MAR championship victory in tow, Nemesis is poised to reach eliminations at championship for the third consecutive season. Whether or not they can finally earn some hardware in St. Louis will depend greatly on their alliance partners.
- When your team name is a combination of a school mascot and a robot-oriented prefix, it’s not surprising if you end up sharing that name with another team in FIRST. What is surprising is how good both sets of “CyberKnights” are this season. 195
has a track record of FRC success, winning at least one event every season since 2011, but PNW rookie sensation 4911 only previously demonstrated their abilities in the FTC ranks. The Seattle version seeded within the top 8 at each event they attended, but the Southington team managed to take the #1 seed at all three of theirs. 4911’s team JVN-style machine may have to take a more limited role if they want to advance far in the Archimedes eliminations, but they stand a solid chance at being among the final 32 teams standing. 195, on the other hand, has demonstrated the rare ability to take over matches in Aerial Assist, and if they play well will have an excellent chance at being one of the first handful of teams off the board during alliance selection.
- The Rocketeers won both upstate/central New York events as the #1 overall selection. They were the cycle finisher in Tech Valley, and swapped over to serve as the inbounder and red zone trusser in Finger Lakes. 20
has demonstrated their ability to be a high caliber offensive performer in multiple aspects of Aerial Assist, and has fit well with some novel and alliance designs.
- Buzz used to work their magic at championship, but they’ve won just a single elimination series since the last of their three consecutive trips to Einstein in 2005. 175
was stopped in the semi-finals three times this season before being bounced in the first round in Boston, and their scoring machine requires a little more finesse than usually works in New England-style eliminations. Yet Buzz is quick and shouldn’t be taken lightly, and with a bit of luck they could find themselves an alliance captain.
- A ton has changed in Aerial Assist since the Killer Bees won Southfield in week one by running a lot of one-assist cycles in qualifications and 30-point cycles with Holland Christian in eliminations. Yet 33
's low-release launcher continued to demonstrate why it’s a terrible idea to give them any open looks as the season continued, as they’re one of the most effective open-floor finishers in FRC. Persistent, stay-at-home defense has given them trouble at times, but they’ve generally been agile enough to get open and convert their cycles. Their range has also made them a viable home zone trussing option, and their catching ability has been utilized to help them inbound on either end of the floor. Given partners that can draw traffic away from the Bees, 33 can be incredibly efficient.
- After nineteen consecutive regional victories, three IRI victories, and two trips to Einstein, 2056
has one item left to add to their resume, a world championship. Despite thier launcher issues at Windsor-Essex, OP Robotics is a good enough scorer to make the Simbots and Poofs feel comfortable relinquishing the front court to them at times (and complete several perfect cycles with 254 and 865 in the process). They’re also well practiced at bumper-to-bumper passing, both whel dishing and receiving the ball, and spent plenty of matches getting the ball to the Poofs, both over and under the truss. They aren’t as exceptional at any one aspect of the game as is sometimes expected of 2056, but they can play the game tremendously fast without sacrificing much efficiency, which makes them incredibly hard to defeat.
Just a reminder, these predictions are not meant to be comprehensive or even necessarily “the best” teams on the field. Rather, they provide a glimpse of some of the most interesting competitors. If you don’t like the predictions, go out there and prove them wrong!