Written by Kevin Zimmerman
The excitement of Aerial Assist did not end in April with the FRC championship event in St. Louis. On June 28th, 32 teams came together for the second annual MidKnight Mayhem off-season event hosted by the Midknight Inventors, Team 1923. Following our first place victory at the Hoboken Engineered Robotics Event at Stevens Institute of Technology the previous weekend, we hoped to keep the season’s spirit going strong and have a good competition, which the attending teams delivered.
Having only five qualification rounds put emphasis on making each match count. Continuing the strategy we adopted during the World Championship elimination rounds, we took over the inbounder spot on our alliances, focusing on receiving human tosses and freeing up our scoring oriented partners to finish cycles. Meanwhile, we pounded the defense home to prevent the opposing alliance from scoring. During our first match, a little rust on our alliance kept us from gaining the upper hand, but a foul on our opponents put us ahead following the final buzzer. We claimed out first victory of the day,
Moving into our second match, the team decided to switch things up a bit and let new team members step in the shoes of our drivers to feel the heat of competition. The match was mostly controlled by the outcome of the autonomous mode, which put our alliance ahead. Partners on our alliance focused on moving the ball downfield where we finished off at least two full cycles and played some defense. Then the mayhem ball fell off the truss and entered play. Originally hit out of play, it was given to our human player to inbound near the low goal where we had just scored. After tossing it our robot, a driver error failed to close the net in time, but the ball bounced off the back of our robot and was inadvertently scored, earning our alliance an extra 20 points. Once the dust cleared following the buzzer, a high score gave us a record of 2-0 for the event.
The lineup for our third match looked fierce going up against the blue alliance, which had Archimedes Division Champion, team 2590, Nemesis. Scoring was fast and furious coming out of the gate, seeming to favor our opponents following autonomous mode. They unleashed a full salvo of high scoring from a 2-ball auto, trusses, and high goal shots. Things then changed dramatically. While trying to defend our alliance partner, team 225, from inbounding on the far side of the field, 2590’s robot was tipped over after some inadvertent entanglement. Our alliance got the break we needed to pull ahead and hold on for the victory.
Our remaining qualification matches were relatively routine in strategy and outcome. In the next match, we made a catch and scored another mayhem ball that was introduced from accurate trussing from team 3015. Getting lucky with good partners helped us to clinch another two victories and hold our spot in the qualification rankings. By the time the rest of the matches were said and done, our morning ended with a 5-0 record, having scored two of the elusive mayhem balls, and saw ourselves seeded in first place. As alliance selection came and went, our representative picked up good partners in teams 225, Techfire, 1626, Falcon Robotics, and 329, the Raiders.
While most teams left to prep their robots for the elimination rounds, our robot rolled onto the field for its best match of the day, the mentor match. Tapping alumni and former drivers alike led to an interesting lineup for the match, which saw Kristan driving, Bharat operating, Howard barking orders as drive coach, and Cokeley running around as the inbounding human player. While they dueled it out on the field, the rest of the team was able to catch a short break and enjoy a spectacle that happens rarely during a season. The action during the mentor match was great: our robot managed to catch a ball trussed by team 1640 and Cokeley lost his shoe while inbounding the ball.
With the fun matches in the books, it was time to focus on the elimination rounds. Being the #1 seed, we felt ready to take on the #8 alliance of teams 4575, 316, 2495, and 810. Autonomous modes in the opening match fell short of the mark, leaving two balls of each color bouncing around the field. The first balls were cleared in short order, but our tough defense made it hard for 2495 to get rid of their second ball. Beginning to cycle, we had some issues passing to 1626 due to our robots’ varying designs, but were able to keep the ball moving down field. The match continued on as a good defensive effort kept us on top to gain a win. To begin our second match, we decided to swap 329 for 1626 to get a fresh look to our offense while abiding by the Mayhem rulebook that every team must get a chance to play. Both sides started off the match with improved play, each side only missing one ball a piece. Defense was found on both sides of the field, as blue kept messing with Techfire’s firing solution while our robot hammered any robot that had a blue ball. Passing the ball became easier with 329’s similar intake that ran the ball to the floor and into their robot. One interesting moment from the match occurred when a truss pass was inadvertently blocked by another truss shot. As 329 trussed a ball, our opponents also shot, but our red ball deflected theirs and it bounced out of play. When the buzzer sounded, our alliance stood on top and moved on to the semifinals.
After the valiant effort we saw from the number 8 alliance, we were amazed that the number 4 alliance composed of teams 2016, 3015, 87, and 1257 had even more heart. Some passing practice with 1626 while waiting to learn who our semifinal opponents would be brought back high hopes for an agile assist bot to scoot around. In the first match, autonomous mode was in favor of the red alliance, with us scoring all four of our autonomous balls while blue only scored two of their four balls. Some minor issues and robot interference made passing difficult but getting our assist, dumping off the ball, and shifting into defensive mode helped to stifle any offense from our opponents during match one. Moving into match two, our alliance decided to tag 329 back into the mix and saw almost instant results in the form of reduced cycle times. Rough defense was continued by both sides, but the stronger drive trains in the red alliance helped us break through the blue alliance wall. Around the 30 second buzzer that traditionally signaled the endgame, the mayhem ball came into play and robots swarmed its smiling face as 329 performed a snatch-and-grab that gave our red alliance a 20 point bonus. In the end, the mayhem ball’s smiling reward helped to push us up and over our opponents and advance to the finals.
With the semis all said and done, the stage was set for the finals. Sporting red was the #1 alliance of 25, 225, 1626, and 329 facing off against the boys and girls in blue, the #2 alliance of teams 11, 193, 369, and 4954. Scoring was fast and furious from the start of round 1, both sides using 4 ball autonomous routines. When the buzzer to end autonomous mode rang, the blue alliance had the upper hand from one red missed ball that rolled back down the field. Tough defense was found in every zone as neither alliance wanted to give an inch. MORT collided with us in ways that would have damaged many robots, but ours refused to back down and was saved as all the red robots converged on the blue zone and became too much for them to handle. Overwhelmed, our alliance was finally able to effectively pass the ball off to 225 who brought us ahead until MORT scored a ball and finished blue’s first cycle to regain the lead. Our alliance was able to make up some lost ground and then pull ahead with a last-second truss shot from 329, which put match one down as a red victory. After a short reset period, both alliances met under the truss for handshakes and then the mayhem was on for finals match 2. The first round had bolstered our confidence, but 11, 369, and 4954 (subbing for MORT Beta, but driven mostly by 193) wouldn’t go down without a fight. With Final Countdown setting the tone for many a finals match, both sides readied for a battle. In the early going our alliance took the lead with a perfect 4 ball auto while blue missed one of theirs. Since MORT BETA wasn’t on the field to provide a 2-ball autonomous mode, blue was down by a total of two high-goal autonomous scores. Blue worked their hardest to overcome the deficit, but small mistakes, such as a trussed shot that bounced off the truss and flew backwards, kept piling up and hindered their progress. Balls flew everywhere as both sides trussed back and forth like there was no tomorrow up until the buzzer sounded. When the dust settled and the robots were powered down, the referees declared the match had been clean. After a few announcements updating the crowd with the current World Cup scores (thanks Jeff!), the score from the last match was posted. It showed that our alliance had won, thereby making us MidKnight Mayhem champions.
We would like to thank the MidKnight Mayhem crew for running a wonderful event, our partners 225, 1626, and 329 for being great elimination partners, 11, 193, 369, and 4954 for a superb effort in the finals, and all the teams that made the event fun. We hope to see some of you at Brunswick Eruption, and, until we meet again, thanks for the memories.