Mountain Man’s Summit: Week 2

Last week was very eye-opening to me. I simply cannot believe how much of a difference a reliable climb makes. Most of the time, that was what decided the matches.

Further, I was shocked that there have been more alliances that have completed the airship than alliances that have completed the pressure requirement. It completely shocks me. It would definitely appear that STEAMworks is a formidable game, and one that leads to very competitive events. Of the 21 events occurring this week, excluding the district event currently occurring in Israel, just seven of the number one alliances went on to win the event. This could be an upset-heavy year.

Anyways, on with Week 2! This week contains the first few mountain events, and both look exciting!

What’s Going on this Week?

Arizona North (Follow it here!):

This year, the second competition in Flagstaff is sure to be a good one. With the Utah Regional being a much closer option for many teams that attended last year, most of the attendees will be Arizona teams. The field may not be as deep as it was last year, by it’s still pretty deep! I don’t expect to see any four rotor or forty kPa matches, but I still expect a competitive event from these teams. Here’s who to look out for.

The Biggest Teams to Watch:

Last year, 842 had a rebound season with a robot that got better as the weeks went on. They made a finalist appearance in Flagstaff, and then went on to win Las Vegas with the Highrollers. On Carver, they seeded 5th overall and went out in the quarterfinals. It was the best season in a long time for Falcon Robotics, and they have a chance this year to make it even better. They haven’t put out much info on their robot, but they were able to turn their robot from a drivetrain to a vision targeting menace at Arizona North last year. With talent like that, Falcon Robotics seems set to have another great season with another stellar robot.

4183 is a living testament that wooden robots can be capable. They’ve done well recently, having won the Arizona West Regional two years ago and appearing as the captain of the finalist alliance in both Flagstaff and Phoenix last year. A poorly-timed flip cost them the regional last year, and they’ll be sure not to make the same mistakes again. They weren’t selected at the Championship, but they still performed well. The Bit Buckets will be hard-pressed to perform well at Flagstaff before their trip to Denver, and I have confidence that this team from Tucson will be in the final rounds of the eliminations.

Was 1011 a one-hit wonder or have they entered the Arizona elite? They’ll be answering that question at Flagstaff this week. Their breakout season last year contained their first regional win in Denver and a semifinalist appearance on the Hopper field. They had a simple robot, but an effective one that played the game well. Crush had never really been in the FRC spotlight until last year, and I’ll be curious to see if they build another great machine this year. They’ll be heading to Flagstaff to prove they’re not a fluke, and they’ll be one exciting team to watch.

When talking about the Arizona North Regional, you can’t leave out 2486. They secured both a regional win and a Regional Chairman’s Award early last year, having competed in San Diego the week before Flagstaff. At Arizona North, they were semifinalists, then quarterfinalists in Vegas. They may be known more for their Chairman’s program than their robots, but the CocoNuts have robot capability. They had a few reliability issues last year, and if they can fix them they’ll be poised to make a deep run this year. Also, the CocoNuts have won the Chairman’s Award at every one of their first events since 2013, and they’re my pick to win it at Flagstaff.

Other Teams to Watch:

It’ll be interesting to see what 60 builds this year. They were once the top team in Arizona, but have fallen off of the track in recent years. Last year, they started out slow in Flagstaff and then led an alliance to the finals of Las Vegas. At the Championship they were not selected, but they had improved massively from the beginning of the season. If the Bionic Bulldogs can start off with a functional robot, their chances of winning Arizona North Regional increase significantly.

After a disappointing outing at Hub City for New Mexico teams, 4153 has a solid chance of bringing home some hardware. Project Y was selected for eliminations last year at Flagstaff, and although the went out in the quarterfinals they still had a capable robot. They’re the only New Mexico team in history to get to the finals of an event, and they have a solid chance of making their mark on history and becoming the first New Mexico team to win one.

Utah (Follow it here!):

If you consider Average OPR of all teams attending to be a measure of how competitive an event will be, then Utah should be the eighth most this year. The lineup of teams at Salt Lake this year is the most star-studded cast in the history of the regional, and it may be one of the most competitive events the FRC community sees this year. Very few teams attending have put out any information about their robot, so this will be an exciting and fun regional to watch.

The Biggest Teams to Watch:

The newest member of the FIRST Hall of Fame will be making their first trip to Utah in history. 987 is coming off of a trip to Einsteins, helping cap off what was probably their most successful season yet. Due to the complexity of their robot last year, it took the Highrollers until Championships to really start playing at their full potential. However, they still picked up three regional wins before then, meaning that even when their robot isn’t completely refined they can still play at the highest levels of competition. Some HOF teams in the past have tried some very interesting strategies since their spot at the championship is already secured. It’ll be interesting to see if the Highrollers are the same way or if they continue to build robots like they have in the past; strong and capable.

Over the last five years, 2122 has turned what was just another team in Idaho into an Einstein Quarterfinalist alliance captain. The Tators will be rolling into Utah looking to continue their streak of dominance in the West. They’ve been to the final rounds of Utah three times over the last four years, with two of them resulting in wins. Last year, they won in Arizona North and lost the finals of Idaho before captaining their alliance to victory on Carson. They’re going up against teams that are very familiar and formidable to them; they lost Utah to Up-A-Creek and ATA two years ago and they were eliminated on the Einstein Field by the Highrollers last year. It may very well end up being a rematch of either in the finals, so Tators will need to be performing at their very best to secure yet another victory in Salt Lake City.

This event will be a stern test for 1619. They’ve been rising stars in the FRC for a while now, and they’ve made their mark in their area. Last year, they won the Chairman’s Award for the first time in Flagstaff, and then went on to sweep the regional in Denver. On the Carson field, they captained an alliance to the semifinals of the division, beating out a very strong #2 alliance to do so and marking the second year in a row they had made it to division semis. Their name is becoming more well-known across the FRC community, and I’d expect their expectations are high coming into Utah. The last time they attended Utah they won, and I’ll be looking for a very capable robot that could do so again.

Last year, 4334 impressed when they entered the field as a very capable robot, an enormous turnaround from the previous year. They won the Utah Regional for the second year in a row, and picked up an easy win in Western Canada. Then, on Hopper, they captained their alliance to the semifinals, losing out to the eventual division winners. ATA has a good chance to start this year strong after a very successful season last year. Their sister team, 6082, decided not to compete this year, and I’m wondering if the talent that was in that successful rookie team is now on ATA. Even if it isn’t, I think the momentum they carry to Utah will result in a high-performing robot that has a strong chance of winning at Salt Lake for the third year in a row.

Other Tips:

I’m really not sure what to think about 3166. They started last year as the second pick of the winning alliance in Utah, and ended it being the captain of the finalist alliance on Archimedes. How does a team go from those two points in one season? Regardless of how they did, it was the best season in their history. The First Year Ravens will have to prove they’re not a fluke, but I have hope for this team. The defending regional champions are going to be one of the most interesting teams going into this competition.

It took them three regionals to qualify for the Championship last year, and I wouldn’t be surprised if 3230 is looking to secure a ticket in fewer this season. Their low goal only robot is a curious choice, but their gear system and climber seem to work well. They qualified for Championships last year by beating Tators in Idaho, and they might have the chance to go far on the right alliance. In an event usually dominated by out-of-state teams, PrototypeX appears to be poised to represent Utah well.

As one of the first reveal videos I saw this season, 2403 has continually been on my mind. They were semifinalists in Phoenix last year, also picking up their first ever Regional Chairman’s Award. This year, they look like they have a solid robot that can do all three things. They’ll have some stiff competition from the other teams attending, but they could legitimately challenge one of the top alliances at the event. They may not be well-known for robot capability, but this could be their breakout season.

2996 has had a rough last few seasons. They haven’t appeared in the finals of any regional since 2014, and this year they’re hoping to return to the standings they were once in. Their robots over these last few years have been capable, but due to various factors they haven’t been the dominant force they once were. This year, they have the chance to come back and play along with some of the best. Look for Cougars Gone Wired to rebound this season, if not at Utah then at Colorado.

Other Teams and Regionals:

Besides Salt Lake and Flagstaff, there are a few mountain teams attending other regionals.

Although Utah is traditionally their first regional, 1410 decided to forgo Salt Lake and go to St. Louis. They’ll be the first Colorado team there in a long time, and they’re looking to secure their first regional win. In Flagstaff last year they just barely missed out on the finals, and in Denver they came within five points of securing a win or a wildcard, either of which would have sent them to the Championship. Their robot this year looks promising, but they’ll be hard-pressed to perform well in an unfamiliar location. They made it to the semifinals in the brand-new Arizona North Regional last year, though, so my money is on The Kraken to make a deep eliminations run.

Last year, 4388 captained an alliance in the eliminations for the first time in its history. Although they’re closer to Flagstaff or Salt Lake City, they’ve decided to try their luck at San Diego this year instead. Their robot, Wibblebot, seems like it has the capability to perform well, and I’ll be watching them closely this weekend to see if they can compete with what California has to offer.

In their third year of competing, 5429 will be attending an out-of-state regional for the first time in its history. The Black Knights haven’t yet won a regional, but they were Rookie All-Stars in 2015 and quarterfinalists in Las Vegas last year. Another regional may give them the chance to improve their robot before Las Vegas this year, and they may end up doing well in San Diego. I’ll be sure to watch for both.

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