No team in FRC history has earned more banners during a regional/district season than Skunk Works did this season. 1983 claimed victories at three PNW events before winning the whole PNW district championship, with a Chairman’s Awards at Philomath and the PNW championship on top of that. 1983 came close to claiming their first Championship banner on Newton last year, losing in the finals, and banners from St. Louis are about the only things missing from their rapidly filling rafters. They’re a very capable rear-ramp human player stacker, but so are many other teams in the division. If they can’t start pushing out a third complete stack, they’re going to have to rely on their canburglars to set them apart from the crowd.
Skunk Works aren’t the only PNW champion in the division. 955 was scoring two or three full stacks from their tethered ramp at EWU. The curse of #teamtether is that they can’t use their canburglars unless they tie their ramp to a partner. Still, with the capability of pushing out a third stack and the potential to steal cans from the center, CV Robotics will have some real appealing traits that could differentiate them from some of the other corner loaders in the division.
Technically speaking, Classified Robotics took home a regional victory in their rookie season. However, they were the second-to-last selection in the draft and were replaced by a back-up bot after the quarterfinals. In their sophomore season, Area 5188 may not have claimed a victory, but no team in Indiana was better at scoring 42-point stacks. 5188 doesn’t have a flashy autonomous routine or the ability to steal cans from the step, but they’re a very reliable corner loader. They’ll need to find partners that can raise their alliances’ maximum point potential, but they should have no issue finding a home in the playoffs.
The Buchanan Bird Brains have an argument that they’re the best team not to win a regional this season. Heck, they have an argument that they’re among the best teams without a regional victory in their history. 1671 were finalists twice last year, and were ousted in the semis at both of their events this year. The Bird Brains are capable of posting three stacks of 42 points a piece from their rear-loading ramp. There are numerous other similar stacking machines on Newton, but 1671 has one of the most established track records of completing that third tower, especially if they can work the right side feeder station.
Finding teams that specialize at working the landfill is an issue on many fields this year, including Newton. 3130 will fill that void on a playoff alliance. ERRORS won both of the events they attended this year as members of the #1 alliance, and can create multiple stacks from the midfield totes. If their alliance can manage to keep cans upright for them to use, 3130 could post some impressive scores.
When you bring up teams capable of creating multiple stacks from either the human player or the landfill with canburglars and the capability of creating an autonomous tote set, most would assume you were referring to one of the household names from Canada or California. Argos meets those criteria, too. 1756 is at their best when working from their tethered ramp, but they can put up multiple stacks from the landfill as well. Their high scoring upside and strategic flexibility earned them the top pick at both Central Illinois (where they won) and Midwest (where they were edged out in a 3 match finals). 1756 is no stranger to St. Louis either, as they were the #1 seed on Galileo last year. They don’t have a widespread reputation yet, but Argos could change that this weekend.
Viewed individually, each of 3310’s skills are quite impressive. With their latest gripper modifications they can build multiple stacks from the feeder station and cap six stacks. They were the first to debut wicked fast canburglars, and that skill alone should be enough to land them an elimination spot. However, Black Hawk hasn’t been able to really tie everything together just yet, despite the win in Hub City. They’re much better at stacking if they don’t have to move during a match, which obviously conflicts with their can grabbing. Their capping can be time consuming, and may be better left to a partner. The elements are all there, but at this point they aren’t going to carry an alliance on their own. Even at it’s current speed their 2-can will get them picked certainly, but if it gets even faster, they might be a dangerous playoff weapon regardless of if they improve their transition into the stacking game.
The Robonauts are riding a 10 regional winning streak heading into Championship, and are looking to start a winning streak on Newton as well. 118 was last on Newton in 2012, where they were selected first and went home with some blue banners. This season, 118 can clear a landfill by themselves, earn the autonomous tote stack points, and quickly acquire cans from the step. They have the whole suite of scarce abilities, and are top tier with all of them. The astounding 268 points they posted in F1 at Lonestar is the second highest playoff score this season. Barring disaster, it’s hard to imagine the Robonauts not having the opportunity to play on the #1 alliance in Newton, one way or another
Put simply, this game is about stacking totes and containers to score points. And very few teams do that better than 195. The Cyber Knights improved dramatically after a disastrous Waterbury event that saw them score a mere 8 points in QF4. They went on to win their next three events with increasingly higher scores, culminating in a 256 point outing in F2 at WPI. 195 consistently contributes three full stacks to their alliance, and because of that they haven’t needed any flashier aspects so far this season to ensure victory. Will their tele-op scoring be enough to propel them to Einstein, or will they need to contribute more in the other phases of the game?
No team has been as vocal about the importance of winning the can battles than 1678. The Citrus Circuits dialed in on canburgling as their key to not only reaching Einstein for the third consecutive season, but hopefully to their first victory on FIRST’s biggest stage. They have been among the fastest burglars shown so far, and they have further improvements planned for the initial second of the match. Yet, with only the ability to stack 5-high, their eggs are invested pretty heavily in the can burglar basket. It remains to be seen if they are indeed the fastest at grabbing cans in the division, or if their inability to create 42 point stacks will doom them in a can stalemate (either on Newton or Einstein).