Predictions Week 2: Slamming on the Brakes

Sorry for getting this out so late, but I was in transit to my regional this weekend. :rolleyes:
Week 1 gave us higher scores than just about anyone expected, but I don’t see that trend continuing into week 2. Many fewer of FIRST’s juggernauts are on display this weekend, meaning for lower scores, more focused defense, and likely more defensive penalties given the difficulty of effective defense in this game. Hopefully we’ll see a reduction in the amount of (line crossing) infractions this weekend, but none of these teams [that I could find] competed week 1 so I don’t see these penalties going down much. There will be some bright spots though, and the elimination rounds at these competitions have the potential for some great matches.
Without further ado onto the PREDICTIONS:

ARIZONA:
This regional packs some punch at the top, but the depth is questionable at best. Twenty-one of the fifty-two teams have numbers over 2000, but only thirteen are under 1000. An upper crust of teams are likely to rule over most of the matches, which means we’ll likely see several blow-outs.

How many teams are good enough that they decide to retire their number? I can only think of one, the Gila Monsters (64). After winning more awards than any other team has ever won in one season (in 2005), 64 opted to retire their number and resume competing in 2006 under the number 39. The GM Desert Proving Grounds team is not too be trifled with, and they are the reigning champs of the Arizona regional. The 39th Aero Squadron’s bot is another of the low-profile shooter stock, with some sort of akerman/car steering system and curved prong loading (similar to 71). They look to call up the success of 71 and 103 from the previous weekend, and should minimally be playing well into the afternoon.

39 isn’t the only bot with the low-profile shooter design in Arizona though. 125 is coming all the way from Boston with a similar style to join the fray. 1726 has shown an impressive shooting machine as well, and has been one of the highest profile versions of the design on Delphi so far. Both teams should be competitive and will be in the eliminations if they don’t hit mechanical issues.

Kingman is one of the most storied teams in FIRST, and I have little doubt that 60 will continue their tradition of success in 2008. This five time regional champion paired up with 39 last year to win Arizona, and was in the finals here the year before. Look for a strong outing by these AZ natives and for them to be leaving with some form of hardware.

60 - Hasn’t been the same since Glenn Thoroughman left, but 2007 was by far their best robot since the collaboration in 2004 with the poofs. No pictures yet, but don’t be surprised to see a robot that looks like their 2004 creation, with a bigger gripper. For the past few years, they’ve tried their best to change as little as possible.

VCU:
Despite this regionals massive (63 teams) size, none of them are considered among the national elite. Several of them have had success at the championship level one year or another (435 even has a championship banner), but none do it consistently. Expect for the level of play to be similar to what we saw last week in Jersey, with a lot of stale qualifications, but enough competitive teams to make some interesting eliminations.

122 is one of the most storied veterans in the Mid-Atlantic, but has fallen on a bit of rough times the last couple years (although they somehow found a way to the Newton finals in '06 for reasons that still amaze me). Their four sportsmanship awards are no coincidence either, 122 is one of the class-act teams in FIRST. The NASA Knights are likely to be a solid competitor at VCU this year, and I fully expect them to be in the mix after lunch after saturday.

Hawai’i Five-One-Oh (510) won’t be the only Hawai’i themed team at VCU this year, as 359 is actually making the journey all the way from Hawai’i to play Overdrive in Virginia. The Hawai’in Kids have clearly borrowed a page from 254’s (very successful) design book with their 2008 machine, and their robot appears to be poised to compete. Claw based manipulators haven’t had a great amount of success yet, but given the relative strength of the other teams at VCU, 359 should be able to produce a solid outing. It will take a great deal of help for them to get further than the Semis though.

Last year VCU was stunned to see some full blown collaboration when the Henrico triad rolled into town. Last year’s regional winner, 540 broke away from the triad in '08 (and built a very interesting machine of their own). 384 and [newly renamed] 1086 have continued this collaboration though, and have produced another set of quality machines. Sparky and Blue Cheese have also created low-profile catapults with extending knocker-bars and two-prong herding mechanisms. Unlike many of their cousins, this pair sports a Mecanum drive. We’ll see if they can summon the luck of 103 or if they’ll be out early like 1425. My money says that one of them brings home a medal of some form.

435 is pretty easily the most decorated team in VCU history. Aside of an off-year in 2007, the Robodogs have dominated Richmond. I think they’ll rebound from a disappointing 2007 season with a very strong outing in Overdrive. Watch for 435 to fight for the top spot, and I doubt they’ll be around after the first few picks.

This regional also has a bit of a youth movement, with several younger teams having strong efforts the past few years. 1610, 1731, and 1885 will all be playing Saturday afternoon, and at least one of them will be in the finals.

KANSAS CITY:
Due to a lack of time, and mainly, a lack of information, KC is going to have to take one for the team. I hardly know any of these teams, and none of my sources knows much more. The lowest numbered team is 476, and only six teams are under 1000. Expect for this young regional to have low scores and lots of lap bots (or failed hurdlers turned lap bots).
1730 is my current favorite to win the event. These guys and gals were solid last year, and their website shows off a competitive-looking bot. Their “mortar” will likely launch their bot over the rest of the competition.
925 also looks like they can compete. Their roller-claw lift coupled with their mecanum drive is likely to lead them to contention. I expect them to be playing during the semifinals at least.

FINGER LAKES:
Finger Lakes actually has several great teams, and even with only 40 teams attending, might be the deepest regional of week 2 to to bottom. Canada seems to have vanished, with the GM Spartonics (1503) the lone representative.

I can count the amount of teams with 4-digit numbers who have made it to Einstein on my hands, but 1126 has done it twice. Sparx is a dominant young team, that doesn’t look to relent. Expect them to be playing late in Saturday afternoon, and they have as strong a chance to win FLR gold as anyone.

229 is the most well-known of the upstate New Yorkers coming out to play this weekend, and for good reason. Division by Zero builds some pretty serious robots, and has a serious chance at taking home a big blue banner. I don’t see 229 making an early exit.

It looks like GM decided to come play in Rochester this year, with three of the best-known Michigan teams attending. 65, 67, and 68 are all competing at FLR this weekend. All three will easily make the eliminations, most likely as first round selections. HOT’s bot looks impressive, but I don’t know if it’s on-par with their 2004, 2005, or 2007 efforts. Regardless, I think HOT will be a top contender. At least one of these teams will be in the finals, guaranteed.

The Miracle Workerz look to compete for the first time since joining the hall of fame, and their robot looks to be cut from a similar stock to some of the competitive teams (such as 126) from last weekend. It does have some pretty significant differences though, namely that it has more movements in their scoring device, which could either spell an advantage or extra time required to hurdle. 365 will be a upper-echelon team, but I don’t see them exiting with a championship trophy.

A couple from the informants:

There are a few teams to look for in this regional. The biggest one is team 2228. HFL Robotics put up a great show last year with a robot that seemed to have been built by “professional FIRSTers”. If they make a robot as good as last years this team will surely be in the finals.

Three Hall of Fame teams competing at a regional, for only the second time in FIRST history, will be interesting to see how they interact.

if everyone can remember back in 2004… 1126, 340 and 67 all teamed up at buckeye and won the regional. they then went on to nationals to team up once again.

San Diego:
San Diego is the most interesting regional of the weekend, with many of the western powers coming out to play for the first time. 50 teams, split pretty evenly by age (roughly 1/3 of the regional <1000, and 1/3 >2000) should lead to a healthy mix of robots. Several powerful teams will be ruling the top, but there’s a definite second level that will give them some heat.

While the Cheesy Poofs and Pink typically get the mentions when people talk about elite NASA teams, 330 is often an afterthought. The Beachbots are not only one of the NASA elite, they are one of the cream of the crop in FIRST. Their entry for Overdive is no different. Many consider their 2007 bot the best of ’07 because of its speed, efficiency, simplicity, and full functionality. Well this robot is 33% faster, every bit as clean and efficient, and can once again compete in every aspect of the game. Beyond that, their driver is one of the best, if not the very best, in FIRST. He’s driven them onto Einstein twice, and won it all in 2005. If you doubt the capabilities of arms in Overdrive, look no further than this beautiful blue and yellow machine. 330 will be taking home a medal from San Diego, no doubt about it.

330 - The highest scoring team in FIRST in 2007, makes their 2008 debut. The Beachbots are the kings of simple yet effective designs. The early pictures from their 2008 design reflect this. Many people will scoff at the simplicity, once again. Once again, look for the Beachbots to prove them wrong. I expect to see them on the winning alliance come Saturday afternoon.

We also get to see another one of the NASA elites’ bots in San Diego, but in the form of it’s twin. The Robotics Alliance of West Covina has stepped beyond their collaborations shadow though, and emerged as one of the dominant forces on the west coast. 968 will be a fearsome competitor in San Diego. I don’t know if the RAWC/Poof design has what it takes to get to Einstein, but I do know never to doubt either of these teams. They will be in the mix in the end, and if they can pair up with another superpower, the regional might as well be over.

It would have taken one heck of a High Roller to bet on** 987** to win the Championship last year, but that’s exactly what they did. The High Rollers won’t be letting Southern California off the hook either, and I expect this machine to be every bit as competitive as their 2006 and 2007 entries. There are a few rumors drifting around that these guys have started working with a certain other inland southwest power, and after this weekend we’ll know how high the Bulldogs can roll. 987 should be a first-round selection, if not a captain themselves. Their partners and their opponents will govern how far they can go.

987 - Defending World Champions, who’ve been very quiet except for an allusion to a collaboration with Team 60.

After spectacular 2004 and 2005 machines, the Thunderbots looked like they were on the verge of joining the top tier teams in FIRST. They were a top-10 selection in “fantasy FIRST” pools and were mentioned in the same sentence as Team Hammond, Wilstang, and the Poofs. 2006 and 2007 saw them plummet from that discussion. Even though they managed to pick up a finalist award in ’07, their machines were nowhere near the caliber that they used to be. My heart still says that 980 is a competitor though. Their machine looks impressive in 2008, but I don’t know if it’s impressive enough to come out on top of San Diego. They’ll need some serious help if they want to win, but I expect them to make some noise.

Some from the tipsters:

610 - A very under the radar Canadian team. For the past two years, they’ve been a very strong offensive robot. This team has been known to start slowly, last year only playing defense at their first event in NH. If they can come out of the box without any technical issues, they’ll be a serious contender.

1717 had hands down on of the best ramp bots in 2007; If you disagree, you weren’t at LA/SD last year. Nobody saw that impressive machine coming, and they still seem to be off the radar for this year. Despite losing part of a finger, 1717 has revealed no details about this years robot; but I’m sure it’s a good one.

Ive been waiting for this! Now I’ve got to read it.

Good luck to all teams!

Do you have any predictions for the rookie regional in southeast michigan this wknd?

We’ll see how the scores play out, but 150+ can likely be achieved at FLR if the three Hall of Famer’s get their way.

As for the Kansas City Regional, one thing is for sure: the BBQ will be amazing in the other type of pit.

Good luck to everyone competing Week 2!

The tipster was dead on about 1717.

You’re leaving off one team that will give 330 a run for their money again, though–294. The Beach’Bots’ next-door neighbors are no slouches either, with a championship banner of their own (2001) and a brand-new drive system. 2007 saw them playing defense on 330 more often than not, except the final match of San Diego, when both played defense on each other. They took 330 to a third round and had a shot at winning. They’ll be out to try for a blue banner again. Will they make it?

BTW, 330 has so far won every single event in San Diego–2007 regional, 2004 Battle at the Border, 2005 Battle at the Border. (2006-2007 Battles were called off or never held.) Can they keep that record up?

I’m liking what i see… good luck to all.

(I apologize in advance for this…)

Does this mean that 1/3 of the entrants are Team 1000?

(Sorry again…)

Small correction–968 is not a NASA team.

You’re not helping. If 1/3 of the entrants have numbers under 1000 and 1/3 have team numbers over 1000, then 1/3 of the entrants must have numbers = 1000.

I think Looking Forward means that 1/3 of the teams have numbers < 1000 and 1/3 have numbers > 2000. (Which would make more sense.)

I hope we do well ay VCU…We had planned last year to be able to do everything, but ran into weight issues so had to delete our ramp. We had a
very good ramp system planned which no one thought of,but due to time, mentor and weight issues had to let something go.

This year we had also wanted to do more, but still the robot can play the whole game unlike last year. We also have added a couple things we haven’t done in the past. We’ll see when we start playing and i hope you are all glad we play.

A word here…if we had had a good Mecanum drive in 2006 we would have done even better than we did during regular matches. Our driver and a bit of luck is what got us the win that year. We could have used a different drive
last year, but were not up to that yet and while the mast system worked well
the tube gripper could have been better. The alliances we had last year did’nt help either, hopefully that will be fixed this year.Another thing to think about is that there might be a large percentage of new drive teams at VCU this year. Only time will tell.

Don’t rule out new rookie teams…we were in the top 8 seeds in 2005 (our rookie year) and it was a rookie who won last year. We’ve learned the difference between have a robot that does well at VCU and one that should at Atlanta. We haven’t built one well enough for Atlanta , but we’re working on it.

I’ll fill in some of the gap.

After 8 teams from Oklahoma were in Kansas City last year, Team 476 is the only one that opted to attend both the OKC Regional and the KSC regional. Last year team 476 won four awards and also the Lone Star Regional Championship. Since 2006 they have received 3 Industrial Safety awards, and have won at least one award every season they have even competed(dating to 2000). They have been working diligently in Oklahoma to get legislature to pass a bill that granted $100,000 be used to start FIRST teams. They also are the leaders that helped the Oklahoma Regional to get off the ground. I am not sure which regional they have submitted their Chairman’s too, but I expect them to at least get the Engineering Inspiration.

Team 935 and 1775 dominated the regional easily last year, 2165 and 1806 were the next best two robots but were unable to keep up in the finals. 935’s drivetrain as stated looks very nice and very similar to lasts years which was the only mecanum bot on the field. I have no information on 1775 this year, and 2165 will not be at the Kansas City Regional this year.

That bring us to 1806, team SWAT. Last year they were the 2nd seed alliance captain after 935 picked 1775. for being in the 1800’s, they build a very nice robot. This year they come packing with a forklift with a wheel to be able to hurdle. I am expecting them in the finals again.

Team 1448 is a team that knows how to design. They are most memorable for their HUGE tank treads in 2006, but last year their unique robot made it in the 2007 FIRST Design Book. They are another team that has won an award every year they have competed, dating back to 2004.

I think he was referring to 254 being a NASA team and us getting to see 254’s design in RAWC form.

No one’s mentioned 116. They have to be one of the most visible teams with no regional wins to their credit. Can they break the “curse”?

Pretty hard to predict based on history for rookies. I can tell you that it will be pretty cool to watch. I know rookies come up with some of the more innovative designs.

My prediction, it may not be as high scoring as some other competitions this weekend but it will be pretty good in its own right, who knows maybe a team or two will surprise us and just be stunning. I hope so.

To anyone in the southeast michigan area, the competition is Friday and Saturday at Kettering University.

That would be kinda cool to see 330 become a consecutive regional champ like 254 does up at the Silicon Valley Regional. With the robot Beachbots have this year, it isn’t too hard to imagine that 330 could pull it off.

They are–L.A. 2001-2002. Still working on San Diego…We’ll see in a couple of days. (Also, 4 regional wins and 3 regional finals in L.A., with 2003 the only year they didn’t make the finals, but they were in the eliminations.)

are any of the regional webcast up yet? I have no video coming through.

During the first day of matches at the Finger Lakes regional today, few teams were really dominant.
Team 67 did really well with their robot.
Team 20 was up there, as were 378 and 365.
229 didn’t have a manipulator attached to their robot Thursday, they put it on early today but took it off before the end. They did pretty badly without it, and are 2 & 7 right now.
2228 was also not performing up to predictions, with problems with hybrid mode causing them to accrue penalties. They were 2 & 7.
Both Sparx and the X-cats did very well today, both were 7 & 2.
Also, 340 was 3 & 6 while 424 was 6 & 3. I was a bit surprised by that.

Check That sentence. Apology to Team 2004 who is in attendance at the KSC Regional, and was also their last year. Also, there were 5 teams that attended from Oklahoma in 2007. This year it is 476, 2004, 2376, and 2385.

From what i was told, 229 was having trouble with the motor getting their arm up and over. Im really excited to see what the top 4 teams will do with picking aswell. I have a feeling its gonna be a shock to who they end up picking