Predictions Week 6: Familiar Faces, New Places

With fives weeks in the books, competitors are getting plenty familiar with Ultimate Ascent. And despite a couple notable exceptions where many teams are unbagging for the first time this season, competitors will be plenty familiar with each other in week six. A number of teams have already competed with or against one another, both this year and in the past. Obviously the FiM and MAR events will pit teams against each other multiple times in a season, and the same can be expected with closely packed regionals (like Boilermaker and Crossroads). But it goes beyond that this weekend, as there are plenty of inter-state and even cross-continent connections. 2012 MAR champs 25 and 341 already saw each other in week one at Hatboro-Horsham, and will meet again in Vegas. Home town 987 bested 341 in the Curie finals last year, lost the Vegas finals to 25 in 2010, and won the same event with 25 in 2006. 330 and 1717 have paired together once in each of the past three years, and will both be in Las Vegas as well. 118 and 148 won Lone Star together and will join 233 (who lost to 118 in the Bayou semis) as the premier out of town guests in the Bay Area. There they will find 254 (who has a long standing friendship with 233, including a trip to Einstein in 2010 together), 971 (who has paired with 254 to win SVR three times), and 973 (who won the FRC championship with 254 in 2011). But perhaps no history is quite as tantalizing as hearing the names Team Hammond and Wildstang in association with the Midwest regional. The prologue for week six is rich and interlaced, and there’s little doubt that this chapter of Ultimate Ascent will live up to the hype.

Even with all that previous records, don’t expect much to stay the same in week six. Ultimate Ascent has proven itself a game with plenty of tricky technical challenges that can hamstring teams’ performance. Yet, once those challenges are overcome, teams can quickly become legitimate scoring machines. Week five offered two great examples of this, as 116 and 639 went from missing the eliminations at earlier events to captaining alliances to the finals at DC and Buckeye respectively (with 639 taking home gold, thanks in large part to the quality work done by their scouting team). It doesn’t just apply to teams that struggled at their first event, either, as competitive teams have utilized upgrades and fixes to raise their game to the next level. There should be plenty more improvement from teams in week six, as teams work out technical issues and elite teams start prepping for Championship.

  • Crossroads will almost be a like a Boilermaker regional reunion, as a large portion of its attendees also competed at the other Indiana event. And for those who didn’t, Queen City and St. Louis were also popular destinations. 868
    is the strongest pyramid shooter heading into the event, but 234, 48, and 1501 won’t be far behind. 2481’s ability to shoot, climb, and dump all in the same match may be tough to beat if they can align with another high powered scorer, though.
  • It’s week six, and so far 217
    , 1023, and 2337 have a cumulative total of zero finals berths between them. Only the Thunder Chickens have even escaped the quarter-finals. Relative unknowns 1684 and 2959 have earned three finals appearances in four tries (with 2959 winning once). It will be interesting to see if the bigger names can right the ship at Bedford, or if the upstarts will continue to outshine them.
  • The two biggest powers at Bedford seem very similar on paper. 33
    and 469 are both capable of scoring seven discs in autonomous, ground loading rapidly during tele-op, can put up huge disc points from around the pyramid, and have each won two events. Las Guerillas likely have a slight advantage (especially given that they started demonstrating their ability to shoot full court as well).
  • 1772
    has been on the #8 alliance twice this season. Team 1772 has defeated the #1 seed twice this season. It’s unlikely the Brazilian Trailblazers will need to pull off another upset of that magnitude again this weekend at the inaugural Western Canadian regional, as they should be off the board well before the #8 alliance, especially given that more than half of the 30 team field numbers over 4000. 1334 is the only team that has already proven themselves to be notably ahead of the Brazilians, but 4334 demonstrated exciting potential as a 2 pt full court shooter last week in Seattle and could be a major player if they can dial their shot in quickly.
  • There’s no team better than 2169
    at scoring three point shots from the feeder station. King TeC’s full court shooter is incredibly precise, finds the mark quickly, and is among the hardest to block in all of FRC. If they can pair up with 701 or 2996, it may prove all but impossible to stop at Colorado this weekend.
  • 1983
    has shown what they can do as a compliment to a full court shooter in each of the past two weeks, taking home gold at each of the two previous Washington state regionals. This weekend they’ll gun for the trifecta in Spokane, and a pair with full court launching Oregon champ 2471 seems like a natural fit. But don’t count out 2907 or 1595, especially if the Dragons can decrease their load time or add a hanging mechanism.
  • Bridgewater-Raritan will have a number of solid and experienced scoring machines in attendance. 11
    is leading the pack, and if they can seed near the top it may become a battle to become MORT’s partner. 56 may be the best bet to support MORT right now, but there are plenty of teams that will be in the mix. 2016 showed much improvement at Buckeye last week, but still has work left to do. 1676 came out stronger than they figured at Mount Olive, but is short of the level of play they’ve demonstrated the past few seasons. 1626, 193, and 3314 (who’s competing for the fourth time this season) have effective shooters, but it remains to be seen if they can get any more from their machines than they already have. 303’s full court shooter likely needs to improve its rate of fire if they want to finally advance past the semis.
  • After flirting with victory earlier in the season, redemption will be the name of the game for some of the top players at Razorback. 1477
    will give it one more go to qualify for Championship after failing to reach the finals at their first three events of the year, but should have excellent odds with their quality shooting machine and center line autonomous. 16 reached the finals back in week one, but was far behind the pack at Wisconsin. 1730 and 3847 are both sporting quality scoring machines that captained #4 alliances to the semi-finals at their last event. 1421 may be the most dangerous team at the event, with their relatively quick ascent and dump maneuver, but will need proper support to improve upon their finalist result at Bayou.
  • With New England moving towards a district system for next season, it appears this year will be the only opportunity for teams to win a “Pine Tree Regional” banner. Plenty of grizzled vets will be in attendance in what should be a wide open event. 125
    is the most proven team of the bunch. 172, 1153, and 2648will be some of the stronger contenders, but 1922, 78 or 176 could emerge as legitimate threats as well if they can continue improving.
  • For the second straight year, an international team will win the Rookie All Star Award at the Hawai’i regional. There are five rookies attending, three from Australia and two from China.
  • With a 32-2 record and a pair of regional victories from the #1 seed under their belt already, there’s little question that 359
    is the favorite heading into their home regional. But without McKinley competing this season, the battle to be their partner will be wide open. 2438 should be much improved after a middling performance at Lone Star. 2439 played well enough to earn an alliance captain armband at Long Beach. This being the second event for both teams should give them a leg up on a vast majority of their opponents.
  • Just about everyone attending SBPLI is either competing for the first time this season, or is coming off of an event that fell well short of their expectations. 3171
    is one of the exceptions, as captained the #7 alliance to the finals at NYC. Defending champs and four time winners 870 should be among the stronger competitors, but if 527 or 358 can hit their stride, they could be in the mix as well.
  • The Midwest regional doesn’t have the same aura it once had, as the event doesn’t draw as many heavyweight visitors as it used to, specifically from Michigan and Indiana. Yet there will be several robots with high end potential competing this year. 111
    is the favorite, and has easily proven the most among the competitors so far with a lightning quick drive and shooter backed up by an extra disc autonomous. The marks against 71 are common issues this year, in regards to taking too long to load, requiring the back bar to target the 3 point goal, and having a finicky and difficult to align climbing mechanism. 1625 will have to boost its tele-operated scoring if they want to seriously contend, namely by raising their accuracy and reducing improving their ground loading system. 2512 declined the first selection at Northern Lights, but their full court shooter may have the opportunity to join a high ranked alliance again this weekend.
  • The first fifteen seconds of elimination matches in Vegas are going to be nuts. There’s a plethora of quality ground loading machines that will be attempting 5 and 7 disc autonomous routines. If the stars align right, there even exists a real possibility that teams like 25
    , 330, or 987 could end up in a mid-field collision as they pursue the center line discs. 3309 may end up being the only serious contender that doesn’t score more than 3 discs in autonomous.
  • Nothing is ever a safe bet in Vegas, and this weekend should be no different. The High Rollers have dominated the regional in the past, and 987
    is among the elite teams in FRC once again this year. But there will be plenty of stiff competition ready to pounce on the slightest misstep or failure. 341’s fast ground loader has limitless potential if they can wrangle the mechanical issues that have plagued them so far and start hitting 7 auto discs more consistently. 842, 25, and 3309 all have the ability to shoot and climb to 30. Falcon Robotics is the best shooter of the three and climbs the quickest, but the Friarbots have a proven 20-pt dump feature. Raider Robotix has shown flashes of elite potential, but needs to overcome accuracy and jamming issues. 1717 was a well above average shooter once they found their stride at Long Beach, and should continue to improve in their second outing. 330 and 2849 are capable scoring machines, but lack some of the upside of other competitors.
  • At an event as stacked as Silicon Valley is this year, it’s hard to consider a team that has ended up playing defense in the eliminations at their previous two events a contender. But 233
    has the potential to be just that. Their scoring, particularly in autonomous, improved greatly at Bayou (though it was completely non-existent at Orlando, so anything would have been an improvement). Pink still has a lot of work to do, but we’ve seen them go from missing the eliminations at their first regional to being the #1 pick in their division and reaching Einstein in the same season before.
  • Aside of the big names in San Jose, there’s a strong group of teams that would be serious contenders at many other regionals this year and could end up playing important roles. 192
    , 840, 846, 1662, and 1868 are likely going to be at the mercy of the alliance selection to determine how far they go. If one can slip into the 2nd round and find themselves in a support role, or end up with a big gun on a lower seeded alliance, they could be very dangerous.
  • The Cheesy Poofs have a historical dominance over SVR that is unmatched by any other team at any other event. Both 254
    and the regional started in 1999, and the Poofs won every single one aside of 2007. But they’ve never had to face as much competition as they will this year. 118 is the most threatening of the visitors, as they’re both very consistent and have an incredibly high ceiling. 973 doesn’t have quite the upside of several other teams, but their reliability makes them a strong candidate to seed high enough to be an alliance captain for the 3rd time this season. 971’s zippy, ground loading scoring machine is everything you’d expect from a west coast powerhouse. But Spartan Robotics can’t afford any of the technical issues that cost them the semis at Sacramento. 148 has yet to reach the level of some of the other machines at the event, but their difficult to block full court shooter and hanging mechanism are perfect for creating mismatches, and their 30-3 record and two regional victories are proof of that. If 254’s hanger can perform on the real field close to as well as it does in practice, they’re the favorite. But no team is going to be able to win without terrific alliance partners in this field.

Unfortunately, 842 won’t be in Vegas.

I would also like to point out that we were having huge jamming and accuracy issues in az. 25 from what I saw of them are shooting fine right?

Actually it’s four times (2004, 2009, 2010, 2012), all four with 971 as the #1 seed. Incidentally, since 2004 the Poofs have only missed being the #1 seed or #1 selection once: their one loss from 2007 (as a member of the #3 seed alliance).

Would just like to point out that our scouting team (head scout in particular) is ecstatic about the fact that they were praised by Looking Forward.

118 is the most threatening of the visitors, as they’re both very consistent and have an incredibly high ceiling.

I chuckled at this reference.

They certainly deserved it. No disagreement here. :slight_smile:

Based on video, their practice space does have a rather high ceiling, enough for a (small) helicopter.

And its the lyrics to the song…

Yes. That’s what I get for watching the video without audio :stuck_out_tongue:

2471 plans on showcasing more than just their full-court shooter at Spokane.

I’d watch out for 2130 also in Spokane. They had a very strong robot and were finalists in Oregon. Good luck to everyone competing this weekend, we look forward to seeing everyone in St. Louis.

:yikes: What do you mean? You can’t say stuff like this and leave us hanging :wink:

*Side note, bummed that my buds Natalie and Kirstie won’t be there…

You’ll have to wait and see.:smiley:

Still thought it should have been a country song.

Lol, I think everyone thinks we’re bad because we had a slow robot at TCNJ. I’m excited to demonstrate our “modifications” at Bridgewater :wink:

?

Nobody said anything about your robot…

That said, I look forward to seeing your modifications this weekend.

Exactly lol, that’s why :stuck_out_tongue:

Prophecy Fulfilled.

I think we made it clear today that in our 6 hours we were able to make the changes necessary to improve our shooting rate and consistency.