Some process notes first.
Sorry folks, these predictions are late in coming this week, we are ironing out the details of how to go forward with these predictions as a weekly publication. I have some helpers this week. They have been a great resource. PM me if you are interesting in joining the team.
Also, I am travelling for work these days and it is putting a spanner in the works so I am later than I wanted to be.
Thankfully, there are only 4 Tourneys to get to this week, so let’s get to it.
This week we have 4 regionals (I am making the arbitary dicision to put the midweek GM/Technion Israel Regional in week 5):
- San Diego
50 Teams, no 2007 Regional Champs attending and a boatload of rookies and 1 year teams. Also, almost 3/4 of the teams in Boston will be out on the field for there first weekend of the season. That could spell dissaster this late in the season. Let me bottom line it for you: The Boston Brahmins play in the muck and mire this weekend. It is going to be a Bashfest in the elims. Even with 50 teams, the drafting teams will not find enough good tubers to make the rack any more useful than modern art.
As to favorites, I am going with the robot from Rhode Island, Team #121. I know some old timers who never forgave the Rhode Warriors for their infamous flipper robot of Torroid Terror (1997), but I have always liked Navy Undersea Warfare (#121). They are a great team on 100’s different measures. I would expect good things from them.
Of course, Clinton Nypro (#126) has got to be considered a strong contender. Even though they didn’t have that strong of an outing in NH, they I expect that they will be in high form this time out. BUT, they’ll have to be able to take a licking and keep on ticking if they want to take home another trophy for their bulging trophy case.
Another easy pick to be fighting for a spot on the top of the leader board is HYPER (Gillette - Quincy #69). They were #1 Seed in FL in Week 2. Their experience should be enough to keep them competitive in Week 4 as well.
The big question for me from CT is what about The Rage (#173)? I want to pick them, but let me down last week when I had them going all the way. So I am going to take a pass on them this week. It is up to the former FIRST Champions to prove me wrong – if they can have a good showing this week, I may give them the nod for the Championships…
My Heart goes to Team #88, TJ2. I still have a pair of of signed Tie Dyed Mo Socks from years ago (Even though they’re collectors items, but my Daugher still wheres them as good luck tokens to FIRST competitions – I could use another pair if anyone on TJ2 is listening, Sarah’s heading off to College and I fear they may end up in her dorm room
The Buckeye should see the highest scores of Week 4. It has a lot of things going for it. It is one of this year’s larger regional (58 teams). Perhaps as important, unlike Boston and San Diego, there will be a much smaller percentage of rookies and 1 year teams.
Even more important, this regional is packed with teams that have demostrated experience and success THIS SEASON. 65% of the teams in OH will have played Rack & Roll at an earlier regional. 3 of them will have WON a regional (and each of these champions were each drafted in the first round so save your e-mails trying to convince me that they were just lucky in seeding or the only team left hanging around in the 2nd round of the draft)
Great Lakes Champs and Regional Chairman’s Winner, Frog Force (#503) take another swing for the fences this week in OH. This is going to be a tough field but I suppose they have a shot at it. They have a more than serviceable double ramp and they can score too. Look for them to go early in the draft if they don’t seed high.
Charger Robotics (#537) is quickly rising in the ranks of powerhouse teams. Of course, they course tased victory in WI in Week 2 of this season but in 2004, they won ST. LOUIS… … in 2005 they won CHICAGO… …in 2006 the won ST. LOUIS again. Now they start the 2007 with in MILWAUKEE. I’d be a fool to think could win in CLEVELAND.
Yet ANOTHER Regional Champion heading to OH this week is #1270. They Seeded #7 in FL and were drafted 4th. This is a home game for this team from Cleveland so look for another strong outing by YTA Robotics.
A tipster said this:
Don’t discount 1038 in Buckeye. They were finalists in Pittsburg, and the only team (to the best of my knowledge) to score on the top spider during autonomous. A quick and deadly scorer, I think they could emerge on top, especially if they get paired with 503 and/or 1270.
This tip supports my claim that there will be a lot of scoring going on in OH. If you agree with me, you may want to keep on eye on Team 1038, East Robotics 
My Heart Pick from Ohio this week goes to another team from Pontiac, MI, The Huskiebrigade (#65) GM & Pontiac Northern HS. Ken Patton & the rest of the Huskies have build a real scoring machine. These guys were unbelieveable tube scorer at the Great Lakes Regional. Don’t turn your back on them this week or you’ll be see tubes hanging from the rack like ornaments on the Yule Tree. These guys can put 'em up. I will be pulling for them to get a good set of partners and to have a long run after lunch.
** San Diego:**
San Diego is similar to Boston in the number and mix of teams (approx 50 teams, only 15 teams with less than 4 digits in their team number). Again, look for a whole lot of bashin going on. The only thing that may make CA different from MA is that the field in San Diego is much more experienced THIS SEASON. Like the Buckeye regional, this is the second regional this season for 2/3rd so the teams competing. But a second competition doesn’t make a basher become a tuber. If anything, I expect many may become even MORE agressive their second week out. Bottom line, Lots of broken bots and low scores the whole weekend, but most especially in the later rounds of elims.
The Beach Bots (#330) will be working hard to make SD work out like LA. Don’t be muddled by the fact that these guys had the mighty Cheesy Poofs as partners in LA in Week 2. The Beach Bots can really do some heavy lifting and notice that Poofs proved they were mortal in SJ in Week 3. While Beach Bots will have a hard time finding another partner in SD as good as the Poofs, looking at the Beach Bot and knowing what I know about this team, I think Team #330 is going to have things go their way in Week 4.
Another two teams to watch in California this week are Teams 980 and 696. These two were Finalists in LA. They were a very powerful combination and came so close to taking the Finals to a 3rd match against #330, #254, & #4. I wouldn’t be surprised to see either of these teams take home a banner this weekend. Though to be honest, I am a bit worried about that arm on Team 696. A big storm is brewing. Can that arm weather the storm? Time will tell.
Waterloo is not just where Boneparte’s 100 Days came to an end, it may just be the end of scoring on the rack as well.
This is one of the smallest regionals (just 30 Teams) and fewer than 1/3 of the teams have 3 digit numbers. Even worse, this is the first regional for over 75% of them. I predict will be the FIRST 2007 Season Bashfest Kings. I hope am wrong, but I don’t think so…
Who do I like in this regional? This is Karthik’s Home Regional, so I have to go with #1114 and #1503 at a minimum. Woburn (#188) was impressive the first year I saw them and I expect that they have aged well so you have to give them a tip of the hat as well.
#1114 did a great job in Ypsilanti. Seeded #1, they looked awesome from start to finish. Well, not exactly to the finish. They were out played on the rack and their pick for a ramp partner proved their undoing. But… …that was Week 2. I think that the Simbotics folks will have studied their game tapes. I doubt that #1114 will be denied in Week 4. But as one tipster put it “#1114 has to be the favorite… …but Waterloo is going to be a defensive meat grinder… … If 1114 wins, they are going to need to use their ramp more, especially in the qualification matches.”
Other notables. Truck Town Thunder didn’t seed well at the Great Lakes Regional and almost missed the draft. I think they were the victims of the Great FIRST Seed Pairing Fiasco of 2007 and perhaps some first regional jitters. Don’t count them out to be both a High Seed and/or an early draft in Waterloo.
My Heart this week goes out to The Rat Pack (#830). They had a tough outing in Ypsi in Week 2 and in St. Louis in Week 1, missing the draft entirely both weeks. I spoke with Lisa Perez, a former member of #573 and now a double major engineering student at U of M and a mentor on The Rat Pack. She has high hopes for Waterloo. I have a ton of faith in Ms. Perez. No one will cheer louder if Team #830 has a good run in Ontario this weekend.
The Wrap Up:
Okay folks, that’s how I see it this week. If you like Defense, Boston, San Diego and, most especially, Waterloo are your towns this weekend. If you want to see some tubes on the rack, get ye to Cleveland.
Talk at you next week. That’s all for now.
 Anyone within 5 counties of Plymouth, MA during the Rumble at the Rock that year heard the cries of “TIMBER” and that sickening THUD as Team #88’s wicked awesome tall robot hit the pavement (and I DO mean pavement, the Rumble was held in a parking lot that year). FIRST’s rule against tipping mechanisms is a direct result of the Rhode Warrior 1997 robot.
 Keep those tips coming. We have 10 regionals in Week 5. I can’t dig up all the dirt myself. Get out your shovel and see what you can find. If you do find a gold nugget, feel free to tell me about it (and tell me if you want it to be an anonomous tip or for attribution).
 For comparision, Detroit had 34 teams (slightly bigger than Waterloo) and 50% with team numbers < 1000 (better than Waterloo) and the 2nd regional for over 50%of the teams (again better than Waterloo). Detroit was brutal. Teams that could score where sufficiently rare that they were savaged – they just had to be stopped (ask the Thunder Chickens if you want a first hand account). Waterloo will make Detroit look tame.