Tough Decisions and the Clutch Factor

The New York Tech Valley Regional was an awesome event, and thank you to everyone that made the event possible.

Coming into alliance selections, 5254 had some difficult decisions to make. After 3990 stepped in up on Saturday morning, and looked impressive in their last match, we were no longer 359’s first selection, and we had to figure out what alliance we wanted to form from the second seed.

Goal #1 was to get to qualify for the Championship event, and to do that, all we had to do is reach finals, because 359 was already qualified for the Championship, so if they beat us in finals, we qualified via Wildcard.

There were a number of good robots at the event, but our pick boiled down to three alternatives:

Team 20 was the most consistent of the three picks, with also a ton of potential. In qualifications, 20 was focused on getting breaches and low goals, and their shooter wasn’t dialed in yet.

Team 2791 was the team with the highest upside, having scored 4 high goals at one point in qualifications. But they were highly susceptible to defense, and had their gear drive break at one point in qualifications. From working with 2791 before too, they have the “Shaky Factor”. If 2791’s data says they score x goals on average, in eliminations, they might score 2x goals, or x/2 goals. And that kind of standard deviation could be seen in our data for 2791 as well.

Lastly, Team 3419 was a middle ground between 20’s consistency and 2791’s variability. 3419 had a crazy swerve drive with pneumatic wheels, a 20 point autonomous, and could potentially put 4 balls into a high goal in a match. However, they shot from space, in that any defensive robot with a 54″ blocker could hop on up in front of them and block their low, powerful shot.

At this point, we were leaning toward 3419 or 2791, depending on what game plan we wanted to run. Then we looked at the alliances that could potentially form, and that’s where things changed.

The seeding was as follows:

We then went through a number of hypotheticals:





The only hypotheticals where I wasn’t pretty positive we went to finals were against 5236-20. In these, 5236 and 20 are difficult to defend, because they’re both low goal-scoring, and they throw their defensive robot on us and 2791, forcing us to score low goals or miss high goals. Every other alliance I felt we could defend well enough to outscore, even if they shut down our high goal shooting.

This cemented Team 20 as our pick, over 2791 and 3419. We ended up picking up 229 as our third, forming an alliance that seemed pretty formidable.

In both quarterfinals and semifinals, 229 ended up throwing chains, causing them to be immobile for much of the match. This was mostly contrary to their qualifications performance, and lost us the first match of semifinals. In addition, 2791 scored 6 high goals in their second quarterfinal match, making shutting them down with defense a necessity. We had to call in the backup robot, 1665. 1665 had some issues with their arm that prevented them from being able to consistently cross most defenses, and they did not have a 10-point crossing auto. 1665 did, however, come in clutch, shutting down 2791 in semifinals 2 and 3, winning us the matches. To get them back to the batter to challenge, we had a robot open the sallyport for them, letting them through and also getting the 10 additional points for having two robots cross the sallyport.

Finals-1 we lost by a significant margin, but after the match, 359 was off the field repairing their intake, and they barely got back on the field in time to compete. They started the match with no air and missed some shots because of it. This seemed to be our chance until 1665’s battery came loose, fell on the ground, and came disconnected. At this point, we had nothing to lose, and 20 pulled out the high goal shot for the first time during the event, scoring 3/5 high goals they shot. Then, 359’s third robot, 4508, lost connection a few feet from the batter in the last 10 seconds, and neither alliance got the capture. We ended up winning Finals-2 136-134.  Finals-3 was won again by 359’s alliance, despite our best efforts. We lost by 17 points. The difference-maker was autonomous. 359 shot in the high goal during auto, and 1665 did not cross during autonomous.

In the end, I think we made the right choice given our goals and the results.
But I do keep thinking about the hypotheticals. “What if we picked 2791 or 3419 instead?”
We’ve got another chance to potentially pair with 2791 or 20 this weekend at the Finger Lakes Regional, so we’ll see what happens.

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