No rookie has earned as much hype as Celt-X coming into a Championship event since Team Overdrive in 2009. While comparing them to a rookie that was the primary scoring machine on an alliance that reached Einstein is certainly lofty, 5406 proved they can hang with elite teams at Waterloo. 5406 is a simple, but efficient and reliable, human player stacker than frequently put up multiple 42 point stacks and captained the #2 alliance to the finals at their lone regional outing. They’ll have to raise their output even higher if they want similar results on Carson, but these rookies will get a shot to show what they can do in the playoffs on Saturday.
While the Robowranglers are the most notable Texans on #teamtether, they aren’t the only ones capable of putting up a bunch of stacks. 1296 and 4587 both have robots with similar concepts, and 4587’s robot name is even inspired by 148. Jersey Voltage got their machines operating at full capacity in Lonestar and were putting up as many as three stacks on the finalist alliance that twice broke the 200 point barrier. The Full Metal Jackets’ averages raised at each event they attended, though they couldn’t quite close the deal in Oklahoma after winning as the number one seed in Alamo. Both of these teams will need assistance in other phases of the game, but they will be first round selections or alliance captains.
Speed has been the primary focus on canburglar discussions, but consistency is important in every aspect of FRC. No team has been more consistent at acquiring the center bins than 3339, who grabbed both containers they went for all eleven times they tried in Israel. While they’ll likely have to speed up their can grabs to contend in the top end races in St. Louis, they’re no slouch as it is. BumbleB backs up their can grabbing with scoring from the human player, and should be a solid pick-up wherever they are drafted.
HOT’s streak of finals appearances at MSC was finally snapped by a 116 point match in the quarters, but 67 still won both of their previous events and were selected 2nd overall in Grand Rapids. HOT isn’t quite up to their typical standard, but they have all the tools required to be a force in the playoffs and they know what it takes not only to get to Einstein, but emerge victorious.
2471’s ability to mine the landfill and steal cans made them the top selection at the Pacific Northwest Championship, and could have them off the board early at the FRC Championship as well. Team Mean Machine can work to make their partners better, by capping stacks, righting cans, or installing can grabbers. Don’t take that to mean they aren’t productive in their own right, though. 2471 can produce multiple 36 point stacks from the landfill if allowed to focus on stacking rather than multiplying their partners’ efforts. Mean Machines’ versatility will make them appeal to a wide range of captains or give them plenty of flexibility for their own selections.
Team Driven’s consistent human player scoring made them a favorite at both of their regionals this season, taking the number one alliance to the finals twice and winning once. 1730 is looking to up their tele-op scoring even more in St. Louis, and has been practicing in an effort to pump out a third full stack in each match on top of their 20-point autonomous. Recycle Rush present the best opportunity for 1730 to make a splash at championship since at least 2011.
While most second year teams are still getting a grip on FRC, 5254 was the driving force behind a pair of trips to regional finals. The Robot Raiders stepped up their game in the TVR playoffs to edge out the favored #1 alliance in the semi-finals by a single point, and then maintained that level for most of Finger Lakes. At their best they can score three max stacks from the feeder station, but they still have too many matches where they aren’t at their best. Most notably they had two dropped cans during the third finals match at FLR, which they only lost by three points. With some additional stack security and good partners, they could surprise some people.
It’s very odd to call two teams with a combined seven event victories (all from the #1 alliance) this season “sleepers,” but given how they won and how the metagame of Recycle Rush has evolved, it’s one way you can consider 225 and 1519. Most teams that favor 4-stacks would be immediately written off as 3rd or 4th robots, at best, coming into the divisional playoffs. However Mechanical Mayhem and Tech Fire lived off of shorter stacks all season, and managed to pick up a ton of hardware. Both teams work the landfill and have consistent routines to earn a lot of points. Both are also qualify co-op machines and can grasp containers from the step to cap their stacks, boosting their alliances’ point potential during qualifications. 1519 is more comfortable at making 5 stacks compared to 225, has one more event victory, and managed a ridiculous 200.08 point QA during NECMP qualifying (which raised to 228.43 during eliminations). However, it’s Tech Fire that may be better suited for the playoffs. 225 can run either a quick can burgle or a 20-point autonomous to their alliance, and can contribute plenty of ways aside of stacking. During the semis and finals at MAR champs, 225 spent the bulk of the beginning of their matches acquiring and righting cans for their human player stacking partners in order to boost their alliances’ total scores, before building and capping their double 4-stack out of the landfill. 225 can also build 6 stacks (even double 6-stacks), though their success rate plummets. The biggest boon to both of these teams is the scarcity of landfill bots in general, though the Carson division is far better equipped in this department than others. Neither will be able to carry an alliance in the Carson playoffs, but they could be an x-factor for the right group.
4488 exploded onto the FRC map like, well, a shockwave last season. With another impressive robot in 2015, Shockwave cemented themselves as a PNW powerhouse. Unfortunately for them, they haven’t been able to seal the deal in some of their biggest opportunities, falling in the PNW finals in each of the past two season and the Galileo finals last year. With a robot capable of putting up three stacks and stealing cans from the step (though it slightly limits their output from the human player station if they run their canburglar autonomous), they may have another opportunity to compete for gold.
For most teams a #2 seed, top selection, 169.86 playoff average and regional victory would be considered a rousing success. For the Cheesy Poofs people thought it was a somewhat disappointing outing. The reigning world champions upped their ante at Silicon Valley, as 254 drew inspiration from their Einstein adversaries last year in order to improve their tote throughput. As a result they posted 200 or more points nine times over the course of the event, including twice scoring exactly their team number. About the only thing the Poofs can’t do is secure a container set on their own during autonomous. The bar for the Bellarmine Prep team is set high, and they have every expectation that they will rise to it.