Predictions Week One: Starting to Stack

The intrigue and anxiety of the first week of competition season is upon us. How will Recycle Rush transition from the hypothetical to reality? The first matches are around the corner, where all the hard work of the past months will be put to the test. Every season is unique, but the tension that comes before each competition is universal. It’s time to see which designs are up to the task.

Without the real-time scoring woes and overloaded refs of Aerial Assist, hopefully the field will run smoother during the initial week of Recycle Rush than it does for many games. However, expect week one to be much of the same as it often has been in the past. Even without defense, expect a lot of slow game play, inefficient strategies, low scoring matches, and teams still working out the kinks in their robots. Most qualification matches are going to be much more like household jenga than any professional sport. As always, play will pick up in eliminations, but don’t expect high level strategies to be crucial at most events.

Watch for co-opertition points to be huge factors in qualifications (and, in turn, for district seeding as well) during the early weeks of the season. Only the top tier teams will be able to seed highly without regularly scoring the yellow totes on the step, yet those elite teams will often be the ones who best know their value. Further still, some will also have the distinct advantage of having a three tote stack completed in autonomous. While the 20-points from an autonomous stack alone would be an appealing draft selection early in the season, once combined with the co-opertition bonus, it should come as no surprise that the teams that can complete autonomous tote stacks will frequently be alliance captains.

There’s a new format for the Looking Forward predictions in 2015. The previous format had become quite cumbersome, and often difficult to find specific teams or events in question. While everyone is encouraged to read the whole piece to get an idea of how game play is unfolding around all of FRC, each event is once again broken out separately. A few events each weekend will get full spotlights, while others will get readily digestible chunks of information. The spotlights will be varied geographically and the season progresses, to get an idea of the best events, teams, and play styles in each region. Let LF know what you think!

Dallas Regional:
Texas has hosted some competitive regionals in recent years, but Dallas 2015 takes the cake. It’s unquestionably the most competitive event in regional history (and in Texas this season), and offers easily the best chance to see some high-end game play during the first week of competition season. This will be especially true in the eliminations, where the top handful of teams will really shine, and the first paces in the step arms race are likely to unfold. Despite multiple great events with and against 148 in Texas, this will be the first time that 118 ventures up to the Robowranglers’ home turf. 987 will also be starting a home-and-home series with 148’s tethered contraption. With a championship spot already in pocket, 2848 felt comfortable building a machine designed to support the highest levels of alliance partners. No surprise that 624, 1477, and 3310 will almost certainly be in the mix of things, while 3735, 1296, 2468, and 3005 have a puncher’s chance at pulling off a playoff upset if their machines are firing on all cylinders. The semi-finals here should be among the most exciting matches all weekend, as the new round-robin format will really be put through its paces for the first time this season.

Inland Empire Regional:
Despite being a smaller regional event at only 38 teams, Inland Empire is sporting a number of teams with lofty ambitions. Defending IE champ 399, 2014 Einstein participant 973, fourteen time regional champion 359, and rising star 2485 all will be gunning for the recycling cans off the step at this event, with the Greybots potentially the fastest but the WARLords the only aiming for all four of them. Yet, this early in the season, even stronger events like this are still likely to be determined largely by the scoring platforms. While you can’t count out any of the previously mentioned teams in that department, it’s 3476’s human player loading machine that may be the most ready to shoulder the load. Without quite the depth of some other premiere events, seeding an alliance structure will be incredibly important here.

(MAR) Hatboro-Horsham District:
Based on resumes alone, it’s hard to top the line-up at Hatboro-Horsham, inside or outside of MAR. Even with only 37 teams in attendance, all nine previous MAR championship banners are represented at the event, with all of 11 (2014), 25 (2012), 341 (2012, 2014), 1640 (2012, 2013), 2590 (2013, 2014), and 2729 (2013) in attendance. Beyond that, both Nemesis and Sab-BOT-Age were on Einstein last year, with Miss Daisy and Vulcan Robotics (1218) falling in the division finals. Even MAR’s annual contenders without national accolades are in attendance, such as 2607, 1089, and mecanum pioneers 357. The field is deep, and those who are best prepared for week one will have the best shot at stopping 341 from claiming their 4th consecutive victory. However, despite this event’s ever prestigious line-ups, it has often failed to impress to the extent expected. Much of that is the fact it’s week 1, and many of these teams fail to hit their stride until later in the season.

(PNW) Auburn-Mountainview District:
Small events are packing plenty of punch in week one. Despite having a meager 32 teams in attendance, Auburn-Mountainview is about as deep as you can get at a tiny event and appears like it may be the most competitive PNW district to date. Five of the six teams that played in the last match of PNW championship last year are in attendance, headlined by defending champs and frequent partners 1318 and 1983. Skunkworks and IRS once again boast impressive machines with potentially complimentary features, and if they’re close to 100% during their first outing (which isn’t always the case, especially for 1983), they’ll be among the top favorites. 2046 walked away with two banners from Auburn-Mountainview last year, and the black and yellow beast is back looking for a reprise. If they can work out their quirks, a deep run in the playoffs may be in the cards. In a game that seems to rewards outside the box thinking, 2557 is anything but conventional. SOTA is poised for a strong season, but a top tier result isn’t guaranteed in week one. After a simple design led to being PNW’s most feared rookie of 2014, 4911 embraced the complexity for 2015. Along with 4450’s 6CIM landfill specialist and 3663’s effective robot, the CyberKnight’s will among the dark horses looking to breakout in Recycle Rush.

Georgia Southern Classic Regional:
Favorites… if they can figure it out in week one - 233, 4265
Looking for a classic finish at the first classic - 1311, 1319, 1648, 1902, 3506

Lake Superior:
Cleaning up the landfill - 1816
Contenders - 93, 1714, 2177, 2220, 2977, 3042

Northern Lights:
Finding their way under new leadership - 2169
Sophomore standout? - 5148
In the mix - 27, 525, 2175, 2491, 2500, 2512, 3883

Palmetto Regional:
Four straight seasons of regional finals - 836
Mecanum specialist - 3824
Other potential contenders in the field of 66 - 422, 1261, 4451

South Florida Regional:
Escaping the snow - 125, 2016
Floridian contenders - 108, 179, 180, 1065, 1592
Aiming to take some banners to the other coast - 192

(FIM) Howell District:
Simple and reliable often lead to success- 862
Has won at least once for the past six years- 1918
Hopefuls- 245, 3322, 4003

(FIM) Southfield District:
Will generate the most buzz- 33
Veteran contenders in a young field- 548, 573, 910, 1023, 3604

(FIM) Standish District:
Rookies or sophomores- 27/40 teams at the event
Last year’s rookie standouts- 5193
Seasoned contenders- 503, 1025, 3602

(IN) Indianapolis District:
Trying to forget last year: 829
Getting a cross-district warm-up: 2474
Frequent contenders: 234, 447, 868, 1024, 1501

(NE) Granite State District:
Always thinks outside the box - 190
Consistent contenders - 131, 885, 1519
Dark horse candidates - 246, 4905

(NE) Waterbury District:
Usual contenders hit hard by snow - 176, 195, 228, 558, 2067
Ready to go in week 1 - 230, 236, 1099, 2836
Riding their 2014 momentum into 2015 - 4055

(PNW) Oregon City District:
2014’s breakout contender- 4488
Might be PNW’s best landfill specialist- 2471
Contenders and dark horses-1540, 2811

Absent any inside info and off the top of my head, here’s what you need to know about Howell:
1918 is the obvious favorite. 107, 862, and 494 are certain to contend as well. Recently, 245 has been much more competitive in the odd years (2009, 2011, 2013) than in even years. We’ll see if that trend continues. 5114 was one of the breakout rookies in Michigan last year. Other teams I’d make sure to watch are 4362 (another breakout team), 3572, and 2771. I’d tell you to keep an eye out for 3322, but I think the LEDs will catch your eye all on their own.

You did a good job with Southfield and Standish. At Southfield, I’d make sure not to overlook 2960, and I’d personally watch for 5090, who last year were capable and willing rookies. At Standish, there are no obvious locks, though 1243 is a pretty good bet.

900 is probably going to build a nice robot but w/e

Yes we are!

I predict 5172.

Mix up a few digits? How on earth are we on this list and how on earth isn’t 5172?

Though it’s interesting to see that LF may know a thing or two about the internal affairs of some of these teams …

Thanks for the mention! Sounds about right… also keep an eye particularly on 95 and 138, who are always relevant and often top contenders. 811, 1517, 1922, 2084, and 3958 will also likely be in the mix.

2496 is also going to be going to Inland we are fast at the HP station and also have a good intake from the floor.

Love the new format for Looking Forward! Star studded lineups across the board this week.

LF knows all. Looking Forward knows what to look forward to.

Palmetto Regional:
Four straight seasons of regional finals - 836
Mecanum specialist - 3824
Other potential contenders in the field of 66 - 422, 1261, 4451

Must not know much of the Palmetto state’s teams and it’s teams recent success and or otherwise.

343 has always been a team to watch. From my view it seems that this year may be one of their strongest robots in recent history.

1319 always comes very close to having a blue banner in their pocket. Their performance last season was very good and I wouldn’t be surprised to see that high level of play from them again.

2059 also has been consistently a high performing team and seeing their reveal video for this year leads me to believe they will end up in a top seeded position.

3489 always builds some very solid machines even winning the Peachtree Regional as Captain of an alliance in 2013.

900 though not as SC team wowed us with a very innovative strategy last season that ended with them winning the North Carolina regional.

1102 has not missed an elimination bracket at event that they’ve attended in the past 4+ seasons with the past two years leading them to alliance captain positions.

2815 though having a dry spell recently still holds a standing record number of blue banners within the past 5 years.

Finally both 4935 (NC team), and 4901 were rookie season regional winners last year at Palmetto and Orlando respectively.

LF knows all.

343 hasn’t been the same since before 2010. If they have a good robot this year, that’ll mean they’re finding their old self again.

1319 is coming to the southern classic regional over Palmetto this year.

I’m sure 900 will have a good robot this year too though.

We’ll see how 2815 does, but keep in mind they hold a lot of banners due to the Billfred effect :slight_smile:

We’ll see how both rookie teams do, but also keep in mind they were both 3rd robots on their alliance (Not taking anything away from their achievements last year, but I don’t think you can say they have the potential to win the event based on that).

I see what you did there.

Nice breakdown, can’t wait to see how week 1 shakes out!

I’d bet on 3130 for Northern Lights-- they were stacking like no other during Week Zero.

Can’t wait to see all the matches up close and personal!

Thanks for the mention. Congrats to our friends on 4055 for their mention as well. We partnered with them several times last year with great success. Hope we all have another great year.

We were all hit hard by the snow… missing lots of work days:yikes:… hopefully we are also all ready to go! It is a “Make it Work” moment. :smiley:

Growing up in GA and the SE region, I would get excited about the little snow flakes that would line my lawn. We don’t have the powerhouses and world champions of other regions, but we like our robots and are proud of what we have.

As a young FIRST-ling, it was exciting to open up a LF post and feel that someone else is paying attention to our little corner. Perhaps someone saw the cool robots we made and the cool strategies we’re putting together.

I suppose the new format is more “digestible” and some like it, but in my opinion…the word escapes me. Call it boring? lazy?

Color me disappointed.

  • Sunny G.

I’ll second that, they were really doing well at Week 0.

After watching 836 at North Carolina and 3824 at Palmetto last year, I can’t wait to see what kind of awesome beastly machines they bring to Palmetto. As for 900, well… um… we will bring a robot. Which we will improve on before week 4.:o

836 was also superb in Pittsburgh.

I am familiar with this story.