Welcome to West Coast Predictions, where we conveniently forget that Oregon and Washington exist, (mis)use data to analyze events, and ship you products as quickly as the real WCP.
While it’s still week 1, we’ve had the opportunity to watch two events play out already, and Infinite Recharge is . After the very defense-heavy 2019, where we saw alliance captains at champs defending instead of scoring, 2020 brings a much more balanced game, with enough defended zones that offense is highly incentivized, but enough options for defense – blocking, mid-field defense, herding balls – to give alliances many ways to play to their strengths.
Infinite Recharge also learned from the past two games’ autos. In 2018, the ability for a match to be won in auto, even on Einstein, was followed by the complete removal of auto in 2019, where the hab levels limited the auto paths that were feasible. This year, the variety of ball placements, teams’ ability to shoot from many locations, and the option to start anywhere along the auto line will make coordination and flexibility key. On top alliances, one or two teams may take most of the balls with the other robots driving out of their way to shoot, while on lower seeded alliances, all three teams can split up the zones to score all their available balls.
Similarly, the endgame looks to be more balanced than 2017’s very easy and very high point value climb or 2018’s very difficult double climb RP. Double, balanced climbs have still been rare, even a single climb has been enough points to swing many matches, and the frequency of the climb RP will continue to increase as we progress through the season.
Los Angeles North
Socal may have lost many of their top teams over the past few years, but LAN is still slated to be one of California’s most exciting regionals. The opportunity to see the game played at a high level this early in the season will give an insight as to how the game is likely to develop, especially regarding autonomous and defense in playoffs. With the wealth of balls on the field, human player loading may be less useful at this level of play, with top teams focusing more on overloading their opponent’s HP station and playing front field.
In Israel, this game was won in auto and endgame – a reliable single climb and consistent auto shot was enough to rank you at the top. The first part will largely hold true at LAN, but top teams will push the limits, bringing in buddy climbs and more complex autos. At least two teams have designed for opponent trench autos, and several have combined trench/rendezvous zone autos. Second picks that can drive forward and then shoot will likely be in high demand as alliance captains try to find complementary autos.
Coming off a 15 regional and 7 division win streak, 1678 shows no indication that their streak will end there. Demonstrating their 10 power cell auto video over two weeks ago, they show that even in a week 1, your far trench balls will likely be gone before you get there. Their short, turreted, spindexer hopper and buddy climb robot won’t be the last of this robot archetype we see from top teams, but will very likely be one of the best. While the first seeds from both Israeli events finished with just 2-3 climbing RP, Citrus is leaving nothing to chance, ensuring their ability to finish stage 1 in auto and achieve a bonus RP by themselves.
4414 came in like a wave last year, washing away their competition to bring home two regional wins in their first year. Back with another white and teal robot, Hightide is here to show the advantages a few smart design tradeoffs can bring you. Going tall, funneling balls outside their robot, and focusing on a reliable single climb allowed them to tune a very fast and consistent turreted far shot, with their shooter inspiring Citrus’s. With an 8 ball trench + rendezvous zone auto, it’s possible that a CitrusTide alliance could score all the balls on their side in auto.
Hightide isn’t the only tall robot looking to complement Citrus: 973 has also designed for the far field, with a fast, far-side of control panel shot. In addition to leaving off a turret, they’ve also skipped a control panel mechanism – considering exactly 0 points have been scored on them so far, seems like the reigning world champions have made the right call here.
359 brings another buddy climb to LAN, but instead of wrangling, they use their partner to hold down their forks which they lift themselves up on, hook the bar, and then bring their partner up with them. Complementing the climb is a tall flywheel without a turret and a full width intake. No strangers to competing early or often, their first regional last year was their only one of four without a banner, so they’ll be looking to make this year an even four.
We’ve heard plenty about the 2019 world champions 4481, with their early spindexer and funnel hopper ideas inspiring many designs. With a short, fixed shooter optimized for the near zone and an against-the-wall shot, they’re well positioned to alliance with the many good tall bots.
2102 has a tall, turreted shooter and a full width intake, and is looking to break a two year dry streak. While they’re facing steep competition, they have typically done well at their first competitions, with a win in 2017, silver in 2018, and second overall pick in 2019 (alliancing with Hawaiian Kids).
3863 and 6560 are also tall turrets, and both competed at LAN last year, making it onto the second and first alliances respectively. Panterbotics’s alliance captain, 696, is also returning, and is expected to bring the third buddy climb in their usual white aesthetics.
114 and 115 are coming down from norcal, MVRT bringing a tall robot with a fixed shooter, and both teams are looking to get their first win since 2017.
3309, 5012, and 2659 all have different takes on the short bot. Friarbots have another well designed robot, but are often working out some bugs at their first event. Sometimes one flywheel just isn’t enough, and Gryffingear is quadrupling up on an adjustable angle shooter. RoboWarriors have a very short turreted shooter at the end of a long funneling hopper.
These predictions are just for fun, and we aim to highlight both the top teams playing as well as bring attention to local teams that may not be as well known. Tips, leaks, and suggestions are always welcome. Finally, as Looking Forward used to say: if you don’t like these predictions, go out and prove them wrong!