Successful teams in FRC history

“Successful” teams that come to mind in Northern California include 701, 1868 and 604. They’ve won regionals but haven’t won a Champs division. However they’ve developed overall programs that we are trying to emulate. They could win the World Chairman’s. They may approach building their robots differently than we do, but they produce very successful student team members, which is the true definition of success in FRC.

Your questions seems to focus most on how teams do it from a robot standpoint, but there is so much more that goes into making Einstein than the robot.

There are many, many factors…but they start with the Team. Robots make it to Einstein once, but Teams make it there multiple times.

Some of the factors are:

**Leadership: ** The team must have quality leadership to help guide them through the early stages of the build. Leadership with both fore-sight to see what Einstein will look like, and also hind-sight to know what has worked in the past. Since students are on a 1-4 year cycle, the best teams draw their leadership from their mentors. Not saying students aren’t leaders, but the best teams draw from that partnership and usually have a mentor as the final decision maker.

Expectations: The top teams expect to get to Einstein! They focus all of their effort to attempt to achieve their goal.

Quality Game Analysis: This is a must! Need to understand the game and decisions that will be made at the start of the season and all the way though to Einstein. This is a continuous improvement process. Analyze, Adapt, Analyze, Adapt…

Engineering and Design: Very few (if any) robots make it to Einstein that aren’t high quality machines. Since you are playing though an entire regular season and the division, your machine needs to be designed for robustness.

Driver Skill/Practice: To compete to get to the biggest stage in FRC, your drivers better be well versed in how to operate their machine. Either through practice or match play, by the time you get to the division eliminations, they should be as good as they can get.

Hardwork / Preparation / Determination: Be prepared to put in the work, either through efficient time usage or brute force hours… the top teams are focused and determined to not get knocked off their pedestal. From Jan - April there is usually something going on to design, iterate, test, practice, fix, improve, etc…

Execution / Continuous Improvement: Einstein level teams have a hunger to drive for perfect execution. They continously work on every detail of positioning, machine operation, strategy, communication, etc… to hopefully continue to improve every step of the way.

Scouting: Good scouting is essential to making it to Einstein. Without it you won’t make it through a Division qualification without issues that may or may not damage your chances at making it to Einstein. Additionally, a successful alliance selection at Champs is probably the #1 way to get onto Einstein. Recognizing that team that exactly fits the strategy that compliments your machine or picking up that team @ the 18th pick that should have gone in the top 8. These are the ways that improbable, but dominant allliance are formed (ex; 1477, 1241, 610).

Luck!: Sometimes it just takes a little luck to make it to Einstein. Having a good qualification schedule, not having robot issues in eliminations, someone else having issues, being on the right side of the bracket, etc… there are just so many variables that have to fall into place to get your one machine onto the correct alliance, against the right opponents, etc… that even with all the above a little luck always helps.

Even with all these factors well in your control, the best robots don’t always make it to Einstein. As Peter pointed out above, such a small percentage of teams make it to Einstein, that we should all be considered really lucky just to make it there once!

But even with that said, talking with the Teams that make it there consistently, you know they will be working as hard as they can to be in position to make it there year after year.

Another piece of being successful on Einstein: interteam relationships. Get to know people from successful teams and build up relationships with them. I believe EJ mentioned on Gamesense that a large part of their division picking strategy (specifically picking 2848). While an excellent robot certainly played into their decision, being able to work with other drive teams and having those relationships can help teams on the edge up their game and get into eliminations and Einstein.

For a lot of teams, building these relationships is something natural in their own area, but at Champs, long-distance relationships is key.

This isn’t to say that you can be one of those incredibly successful teams with a mediocre robot, but soft skills are what separates teams with great robots from great teams with great robots.

Adam’s post pretty much sums it up.

The only modifier I would add is that the decision to be a winner is made in September. What your students do in the Fall (positive or negative) will have long lasting impact for the entire team. I have always impressed upon our team that the game starts as soon as we return to school. Your level of preparation will shape your build season actions and decisions. Early and thorough preparation ultimately determines your long term success.

I would argue that the decision to be a winner starts right now.

Getting to Einstein takes a lot of luck with respect with being in the

  1. right division
  2. right schedule
  3. right alliance
  4. route through elims to get to division finals

in addition to fielding a competitive robust robot.

I’d argue that you have to be either the one of the top 2-3 robots in your division, or ranked somewhere between the 10-15th best robot.

Like small regionals, many good teams never make it on the #1 or #2 seeded alliance, yet are good enough to replace the second pick on the #1 or #2 alliance, always getting stuck somewhere in between.

Not always the case, but happens quite often.

Robot-wise, successful teams have to push for victory. Off-season training of new members, development of engineering practices/methods, a proper grasp of the game’s strategy from kickoff weekend, remaining diligent during build season to produce a quality, top-tier robot, and preforming well at competitions are all things I would bet winning teams would agree is crucial. Strong mentors and sponsors help propel many winning teams forward as well, in addition to $$$.

EJ Sabathia’s (“254 Mentor Extraordinaire”) appearance on FRC Game Sense Friday Finale shows why 254’s appearance & ultimate success on Einstein was not an accident. If I could be so bold as to summarize some of the the discussion: They were open minded about the game and correctly identified what it would take to win. They prototyped a variety of mechanisms, not just ones that had worked in previous games. They didn’t limit their efforts to simply building a robot - they focused on building alliances.They practiced on a full field with two complete alliances, not in an assist-free, defense-free vacuum. They worked with their partners in advance of their matches, rather than just talking to them. They were able to step into whatever role the alliance needed. They did the hard work on and off the field.

It is easy understand this after the fact, but figuring it out and making it happen before you see others doing it isn’t so easy. The “Successful Teams in FRC History” (not just 254) are the ones that approach the game with a clear mind, have the ability to “get it right” before “right” has been defined by others, and never quit doing the hard work.

Thank you all for the great comments! I really hope others who are reading these posts are as inspired as I am to work hard and try to make it to Einstein. :slight_smile:

A couple of people have mentioned the need to accurately analyze the game before prototyping/building. I’m not sure I agree with that being an necessity for all teams. Earlier on GameSense Tom from 254 said they thought the game would be more run and gun opposed to the focus on assists (turns out the traits needed for the 3 ball auto allowed it play the assist game very well!). I believe there was a post from 33 after their first district stating they were surprised by the game play, expecting to use their well-practice solo-cycles more often.

I think the take away should be that the high resource teams can over come a mis-step in strategy but the average or below average teams wanting to compete with those high resource teams need to nail the strategy as their margin for error is much smaller and they cannot waste precious time on functions not directly tied to winning (such as catching in 2014, climb/dump in 2013, suspension in 2010…).

True, but functionally both 33 and 254 were able to pick up the ball and score it quickly and efficiently. Their robot did not change, though their strategy might have.

I think one of the biggest things to consistently perform well is team organization. Every effort you make needs to be organized so as to minimize the chaos during Kickoff, build season, and through competition. Being open to all kinds of ideas also helps, but know your limits, both as per the robot but also the amount of manpower you can dedicate to a task.

True. Can I change my examples to 469 in 2008, 67 and 33 in 2009, and 2337 in 2010? :smiley:

We were a little bit undecided at first as to what the best way to play the game would be. Our initial attempt at modelling the game (a) severely underestimated how much time it took for balls to be re-entered into play and (b) underestimated the ability of the average robot to acquire an assist, making single robot cycles (with a truss toss) look more appealing. But after about a week into build season it was starting to become clear that assisting was the way to go.

We were able to postpone the conversations about teleop strategy until late in build season because we realized that regardless of your role on the alliance, or whether you are doing 10, 20, 30, 40, or 50 point cycles, it really doesn’t make a lot of difference in the robot you want to build. You need to be able to acquire balls (from the ground, from a partner, from a human player) and exit them from your robot (to the ground/low goal, to a partner, to a human player) and truss/score high. You need to be able to play defense, and function in the presence of defense, meaning you can’t fumble the ball every time you get hit. The only point of contention was whether catching would really be worth it - even then, designing for loading from the top was advantageous for other reasons.

I would also say getting your team out there and getting the other teams to recognize you. becoming friends with other teams is a key part to sucess.