From April 27 to April 30, ailment the ThunderChickens competed at the World Championship, the last and biggest FIRST Robotics Competition tournament of the 2016 season. The Championship was held at the DeltaPlex arena in St. Louis, Missouri.
600 FRC teams were invited to compete at the World Championship. These teams hailed from countries across the world, including Israel, Australia, China, and Canada.
Because there were so many teams invited, the teams that competed at the Championship were split into 8 divisions, with 75 teams in each division. These divisions are named after famous scientists, such as Newton, Curie, and Tesla. The winning four-robot alliance from each division then went on to compete against the other 7 winning alliances on the Einstein field, which are the final Championship rounds.
Our team was randomly placed in the Newton Division, which we found out days before leaving for the Championship. The division, as noted by many, represented one of the most difficult and competitive divisions in FRC history because it was packed with Hall of Fame teams, past World Championship winners, and other powerhouse teams well-known in their communities.
The team entered the competition with optimism, knowing we were bound to be chosen to compete on a strong alliance since there were so many outstanding teams. Against the odds, the Chickens ended the qualification matches ranked eighth place out of 75, with a record of 7 wins and 3 losses. With a ranking score of 31.0, we were only 4 ranking points away from the first place alliance. The high rigor of the Newton Division can be seen in the score records of the top 4 alliances: each had 9 wins and 1 loss.
During the Selection process, the Chickens became the seventh-seeded alliance captain after the first-seeded alliance chose the second-seeded alliance. At the World Championship, alliance captains are allowed to select 3 other robots, with one of the robots becoming a backup bot. The Chickens selected Code Orange (Team 3476) from California as our first robot, CyberCavs (Team 4678) from Canada as our second robot, and Blizzard (Team 188) from Canada as our backup robot.
Division elimination matches began early Saturday morning. In the Chickens’ first match against the second-seeded alliance, our alliance and our team scored 260 points in a match, setting a world record for most number of points scored in a single match. After defeating the second-seeded alliance in the Quarterfinals, we moved on to the Semifinals, scoring two consecutive wins against the third-seeded alliance. We continued to set the bar during our matches in Quarterfinals and Semifinals, consistently scoring above 200 points per match.
The Chickens and our alliance were up against the first-seeded alliance in the Finals, which consisted of the first and second ranked teams from the qualification matches. The first match was close; our alliance managed to win by 20 points, 197 to 177. Hopes were riding high for the second Finals match; against the odds, we defeated the first-seeded alliance by 44 points, 225 to 180. As a result, the ThunderChickens and our alliance members became the winners of the Newton Division.
This is the first time since 2014 that we received a blue competition banner, and the first time since 2011 that we won a World Championship division. The team was ecstatic, especially when we realized we were the champions of the most competitive World Championship division in history.
Because we were the winners of our division, our alliance moved onto compete on the Einstein field for the chance to be crowned the 2016 winners of Stronghold. Our first match was against the winning alliance from the Hopper Division. After our alliance won that match, the judges and referees called a match replay because the scoreboard wasn’t showing throughout the match. Unfortunately, we were unable to win our second match or the third match, losing by a mere 5 points in both matches.
The Chickens were very satisfied to know that the last in-season match we will play this year was on the Einstein field, which we haven’t played on since 2011. We left St. Louis late Saturday evening with Division Champion medals, and we returned home to Michigan early Sunday morning.
This was an incredible experience that many of our members will not be forgetting for the rest of our lives. For our seniors, this was the last FIRST Robotics competition they will experience as a member of the team.