MAR Championships 2015

For the first time since 2012, the Daleks made it to the Mid-Atlantic Robotics District Championships!

Having completed our second MAR District event in week three, all we could do was wait. Thankfully, at 45th place out of 121 teams, we qualified to go to Championships at Lehigh. We were very excited and eager to make an impression.

As 45th out of 55 qualifying teams, we tried to keep our expectations modest, since we knew our competition would be the best of the best in the region. However, we were still hoping for a repeat of the great successes we had achieved in our previous events. We had already seen that we had the potential for it.

On Thursday, the first day, we had 2 practice matches and just one elimination match. Our alliance scored 100 points, and we were thrilled! Although we would later see that such scores were typical, our spirits–just like the match scores–were raised as we saw the great things we could accomplish.

Friday and Saturday saw some intense competition from every team. We proved ourselves as a versatile robot, capable of building gray stacks as well as completing co-op, pulling recycling cans from the center … More

Springside Chestnut Hill Competition 3/13/15-3/14/15

Our second competition was at Springside Chestnut Hill Academy, and it sure was exciting!

A few of us went down on Thursday to set up the pit, and on Friday, the matches began. Our robot performed very well, but that was far from our only accomplishment. We also made great use of our new electronic scouting system, allowing our scouts to push data to a pair of tablets that our strategists use in the pits. Our spirit team (including a dancing Dalek) also worked hard, both in the stands and the pits. Watch one of our favorite matches below:

The second day (Saturday) was just as fun as Friday, and Dalek morale was high. Other teams seemed to enjoy our special Pi Day buttons as much as we enjoyed the high scores that we and our alliance members were achieving. At the end of the qualification matches, we were in 13th place, and we were picked by Team 484 and Team 321 for the 8th-seeded alliance. Together, we reached second place in the quarterfinals, but we were knocked out in the semifinals. Nonetheless, we were all extremely proud of our performance, because despite not making it as far, all aspects … More

Hatboro-Horsham Competition 2/28/15-3/1/15

The Daleks were very excited to participate in our first competition of 2015!

Saturday, the first day of matches, got off to a bit of a rough start. Our tote staging hooks broke in a practice match after getting caught, and we had to hurry to fix them before our qualification matches began. Then, a few low-scoring matches did little to help us in the rankings, and we found ourselves with some ground to make up. However, as the day went on, our drivers got more practice, we developed some strategies, and we were on a few high-scoring alliances.

On Sunday, there were two more qualification matches to go before eliminations started. In the second match, we debuted a large hook that pulled a recycling can off of the center platform, which few other teams had done up until then. We must have made an impression, because we were selected by Team 1403 and Team 1640 for the #1-seeded alliance!

We made use of our hook as well as our tote lifter as our alliance powered through all the way to the finals! Although we didn’t win, we are thrilled to have made it so far, and we offer our … More

News from our Scouting App Team

This year the Daleks have a new scouting app, to be used in the stands and in the pit. A few members of our programming team took on this new project. Everyone involved taught themselves new skills to pull it off. Last Saturday they trained a lot of team members on how to use the app.

We will have six scouts at a time using Netbooks to record specific information about the performance of the robots in a match. This includes details ranging from Autonomous Mode and Cooperitition abilities, to Tote, Container, and Litter handling, Robot speed and agility characteristics, and finally noteworthy features and failures as well as alliance score. We will also have two Android tablets used by pit scouters for taking robot pictures and recording technical observations about robot design and construction. Our electrical team also designed and built a power supply and network switch, that will keep the Netbooks powered and communicating in the stands.

When it’s time to plan for an upcoming match, the drive team and strategists will evaluate the technical robot information along with a scouting report that will provide averages of all the accumulated match performance for the robots in the match.… More

Last Build Weekend

The Daleks are hard at work to finish the robot. Despite a few snowy delays, the robot is coming together well, and several builds ago we were able to lift the totes and bin with the secondary robot. Today, it’s just about finished—the functions all work, it is operable wirelessly, it has been coded to be controlled by our driver console, and the camera has been attached and works nicely with its maneuverable mount.

Now that the secondary robot is working well, our next task is to recreate the parts to put on our primary robot. We already did all the measuring, cutting, electrical work, etc. on the secondary robot, so now we have the opportunity to adjust anything that needs to before we finalize it on the primary robot. In keeping with this year’s theme of recycling, we are reusing pieces of old metal rulers on the robots.

The electrical team is working to finish the setup on the primary robot, which is different this year—most of the electronics are attached to three vertical cards located above the gearbox and the battery. That way, they are easy to access, and a cable can be run under them to operate … More

Building Underway

By Emily R. and Abby R.

The Hunterdon Central Robotics team is working full-force towards building the robot for this year’s competition. The drive train team is working on fixing the Mecanum wheels and is getting ready to mount them on the chassis. In order to set up the drive train, they are putting gears inside of the nanotube frame and connecting the motors to the gear system to run the wheels. The drive train is a really important part of the robot because everything needs to be built upon it.

Those working on a lifting mechanism are testing out different motors for the lift and ordering the right gears and motors for it. The prototype for the hook itself is becoming finalized. The programming team is starting to put together code for this year’s robot as well as creating an app for scouting in the pits.

The Business & Outreach Team is working on an event to teach kids at Hunterdon County Prevention about robotics. We are going to work with them to build a small robot from a kit and hopefully develop their interest in robotics. They have the option to build a grandpa-bot, cricket-bot, a beast-bot or … More

Brunswick Eruption 13

It’s been a while since the last competition season, and we were eager to take last year’s robot out for one last spin. The 13th annual Brunswick Eruption gave us the perfect opportunity to do just that. Earlier in the week, we Daleks had worked on the robot a little, fixing some code, wiring, and mechanics, just to make sure the bot was still in fighting shape.

BE is a one-day event, so there were only five qualification matches before the elimination matches. We decided to rotate drivers so more people could gain valuable experience, and the results weren’t too shabby—by lunch, we were 3-2, and in 20th place out of 41 overall.  The morning wasn’t without its frustrations (how on Earth do you break a roller off of a Mecanum wheel if you aren’t actively trying?!), but we faced our setbacks calmly and ended up quickly fixing all our issues.

We were then selected as the 4th team on the 5th-seeded alliance. Along with our partners (Team 25, Team 56, and Team 1302), we advanced through the quarterfinals only to be defeated in the semis. We’d like to extend our hearty congratulations to the winners, and we hope to … More

New Year, New Daleks

The new school year is well underway, and the Daleks have already begun planning for the 2014-15 season.

First, thanks to Central’s new Robotics classes, lots of new people are expressing interest in joining our team. We’re looking forward to seeing what great things our new members will contribute to Team 3637!

Several of us also represented the team at Homecoming Fest on Wednesday. We sold hot chocolate as the school celebrated Homecoming Week.

Our after-school meetings have also begun, and we’ve been giving the newcomers a brief overview of what life on Team 3637 is like. We’ve also set up our first fundraiser of the year: Innisbrook gift wrap! The holidays aren’t quite as far away as they seem, so please support our team and order today!

That’s about everything so far, but keep checking back for more updates as the season progresses. Go Daleks!… More

Off-Season Outreach

The Daleks haven’t stopped working since the end of competition season!

You may have known we were volunteering with the Lego and Robotics Clubs at Desmares Elementary School. Both clubs have officially concluded, but not before we could give them over 125 pounds of donated Lego and a total of 25 man-hours! We sure had fun, and we sincerely hope the kids did too.

We’ve also been reaching out in our community. On May 1st, Hunterdon Central once again hosted its annual Family Science Night, and the Daleks put on quite a show. Some of our activities included driving/maneuvering demos, letting the kids drive our robust practice bot, playing catch with the competition bot, and a Lego area for the youngest attendees. Our end of the hallway quickly became very crowded…everyone wanted to check out our team!

Finally, we were featured during Teen Tech Week! Teen Tech Week took place in our library (the IMC), and it showcases our school’s coolest gadgets—our radio station, 3D-printing, and of course, our robot. Team 3637 is making a presence!

Now that the school year has officially ended, our graduates are going their separate ways, but not before we honored them at our banquet. … More

Bridgewater-Raritan District Event—3/28/14 to 3/30/14

The Bridgewater-Raritan competition was the Daleks’ last of the season, and it was certainly one to remember.

We arrived Friday night, speedily set up the pit, and made some adjustments on the robot. When we took the field Saturday morning, our robot was sporting new surgical tubing, and a working hot-goal autonomous mode! A few matches in, it would also be fitted with a fresh-out-of-the-box D-link, thanks to a damaged port on the old one that plagued us with communication issues. However, when everything on the robot did work, we were a mighty force on the field. We could shoot high and low, we could go over the truss, our roller scooped up stray balls in seconds, our Mecanum wheels let us maneuver around defenders… in short, we could do almost everything short of catching a truss shot. Our strength was our versatility—whatever role needed to be filled in our alliance, we were up for the task.

Unfortunately, this became reality less often than we had intended. It seemed as if every part of the robot (save the catapult) decided that breaking would be a fantastic idea, and that it would be more fun to break during a match than … More

Mount Olive District Event—2/28/14 to 3/2/14

Team 3637’s first competition was an eventful one. We arrived at Mount Olive High School on Friday to set up the pit and worked until they cut power at 10PM. The next day, we all woke up with competition fever. Since we hadn’t had a principally-offensive robot in years, we were eager to see how we would fare against other strong competitors. In addition, we had an autonomous mode that could attempt a shot, which we hoped would make us a valuable addition to any alliance.

At the end of Saturday, we were 5-6. Our catapult certainly had no shortage of power, but at times we had trouble holding onto the ball. This was soon fixed, thanks to some truly massive zip-ties. Our autonomous mode also gave us a little trouble, but we quickly got it to get us the mobility bonus. The next day, it would be fully up and running, and we would be taking shots. At the end of the day, our robot had made an impression as a versatile machine. The roller worked like a charm to pick up balls in seconds, and by running the motor in reverse, we could send a controlled, easy pass … More

Countdown to Mt. Olive

by Ashley S.

The team has had a very busy week. We had our final build last Tuesday and worked all day Saturday, Sunday, and Monday before that. We spent most of the time doing some last minute tasks and cleaning up some of the sharp corners on our robot. The bumper team has been working very steadily to build the frame, glue on the pool noodles, and cover our bumpers. Our button team has also been very hard at work. With the numerous designs and the number that they have made, I am sure there is no way we will run out.

Saturday we spent figuring out the final tasks that the mechanical and electrical team need to complete in order to get the robot running. The catapult system was on the robot and running rather smoothly. We did a lot of pneumatics work for the pick-up system, making sure everything was wired correctly. The programming team worked to get our catapult working off of code and began programming for the solenoids on the pick-up system.

On Sunday, some of us met at a team member’s house to continue running the robot and checking to make sure everything was … More

The Final Week of Build

Build season has concluded and the Daleks are in good shape.

This year, we actually had the robot in the bag before 11:00 on Feb. 18th, and it was ready. The winch and the shooter worked together nicely, successfully scoring from the back of the closest zone. The roller also did its job, scooping up the ball from a few different angles and feeding it right to the catapult. And of course, Mecanum wheels give the robot beautiful handling. (Many thanks to Ethicon and Team 56 for letting us use their field!)

Now, as our first competition approaches, Team 3637 is still busy. We’ve been making buttons, bumpers, banners, and a battery cart—and those are just the things that start with “b”! The drive team and pit crew have also been selected, and there have been discussions of strategy and scouting.

As fun as the six weeks of build have been, it’s a big relief to have a working robot sitting patiently in the bag. This week, we’ll be making minor adjustments and fitting the bumpers during the six hours we can have the robot out of the bag. Then, on Friday, we’ll be more than ready to take the … More

The Third Week of Build

The Daleks are on a roll…literally! Despite losing several build days due to poor weather, we still made a lot of progress this week, including a nearly-finished drive train. The drive team and the electrical team have been working hard together in the workshop, and by the next build, the wheel base should be fully up and running. Team 3637 is so big that we’ve expanded into nearby rooms—our ball launcher has been flinging with such power that we’ve stationed it in the stairwell. Here’s a gif of it in action!


Meanwhile, the programmers have been working hard in the computer lab across the hall, and the non-technical team has been busy planning fundraisers and designing our competition t-shirt in a physics classroom. Back in the workshop, our ball retrieval mechanism is almost finished, and once we get some parts we ordered, we should be ready to mount it on the robot.

At the rate we’re going, we’ll be very ready by the time February 18th rolls around…and we might have commandeered a few more classrooms along the way.

Click here to see more pictures.… More

The Second Week of Build

By Anna T.

Sparks fly as the robotics team is hard at work on this year’s robot. After a grueling consensus, the team has come up with the final idea for the robot. With the first prototype injured, the team hopes “second is the best” while they simultaneously work on the chassis, base, frame, and throwing arm of the robot in different groups. The lower 1-point goal for Aerial Assist has been delivered and set up for practice and testing. Meanwhile, ideas for a logo for Team 3637 are a work in progress.

Special thanks to Mr. Nunez last week and Ms. Pierle this week for providing us with breakfast and lunch for the Saturday workshops.

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Kickoff ’14

As everyone in the robotics world knows, today was Kickoff, which officially marks the start of the build season. This year’s challenge: Aerial Assist®, in which teams have to score 2-foot-diameter balls into goals in the corners of the field or into wide slots at either end of the field. Here is FIRST®‘s official game animation:

Team 3637 watched the Kickoff broadcast at Central today, so we could save time in transit and get right to work brainstorming. We broke into groups, filled a few whiteboards, and went home eager to study the manual before our Monday night build. Several graduated Daleks were there today to add their input, retrieve the Kit of Parts, and help strategize with us and our mentors. We thought of many good ideas, and we’ll start narrowing them down after a good night’s sleep. We can’t wait to get started!

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Workshops, Preparation, and Anticipation

As the build season approaches, Team 3637 has been building, coding, wiring, writing, and fundraising in preparation. We have a lot of new members and we are also lucky to have several great new mentors this year. They have also been helping us during our evening workshops, which are going very well—we have been assembling two different practice frames from kits, one of which is now assembled and wired (and the other is almost done). Building these two very different designs should give our members valuable experience with the many different possible configurations a good robot can take.

We’re all eagerly awaiting Kickoff on January 4th, and we are hoping to have our practice bots done in time for a driving competition shortly after the big reveal. It will test the abilities of both our drivers and our programmers, and everyone will need to work hard in order to claim victory! And of course, the regular build season is in our minds as well, and we are confident that 2014 will find the Daleks at the top of…whatever it is this time.

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Gearing Up for 2014

The new school year is well underway and Team 3637 is already at work! Starting in early September we resumed meeting every week in room 902. Since then, the 60+ strong Daleks have fundraised, done team-building exercises, broken into technical and non-tech subteams, and held our first workshop of the new year. This one was about fundraising and marketing, with presentations by our new mentor Mr. Atkinson.

In addition, we have been working to establish a big presence in both our school and community. Within the school, we have attended Activity Fairs and Homecoming Fest, recruiting members and raising money. But our biggest (and most recent) fundraiser was definitely our event at Five Guys of Flemington. If you’ve been on our Facebook page recently, you know that from November 13-15, everyone who turned in a flyer helped our team as Five Guys donated 100% of the profit from those sales! In addition, we held a bake sale on the premises, where we had delicious treats including brownies, cupcakes, and Dalek cookies. Not only did we raise money, but we also raised awareness of our team, answering questions and talking about our organization from behind the sales table. We’d like to … More

Happy New Year!

The new school year is almost upon us! Say goodbye to your free time while you have the chance, or for those of you in marching band, think really hard and you might be able to remember a time when you still had it. So as the fall approaches, keep a couple things in mind:

  • Team 3637 is always looking for members. With a new school year right around the corner, that especially means freshmen! Does your younger sibling know a frosh who is a skilled programmer? Suggest joining robotics! Have you heard legends of some incoming freshman who builds working water guns out of spare parts in his garage? Suggest joining robotics! Non-technical areas are just as important; we are also always looking for writers, artists, aspiring businesspeople, and photographers. Whether an aspiring FIRST® member has a talent in a specific area or a broad interest in engineering, robotics is the perfect place to develop it, and Team 3637 values the contributions of all its members.
  • Upperclassmen are encouraged to join too! Whether you weren’t able to join earlier or just hadn’t heard of it, we want you if you’re willing to put in the effort to help

Bridgewater-Raritan Competition 4-6-13 to 4-7-13

The Bridgewater-Raritan Competition was full of downs and some very high ups.

On Saturday, the first day of actual competition, the Daleks were 2-7-0. At first, one might think it was a disappointing day. But there were a lot of good things as well. We had new pit walls, which looked sharp in team colors. We had a lot of fan support, which we didn’t have nearly as much of last year. And most importantly, we had also redesigned part of our climber, and we were confident that we could contribute valuable points to our alliances. Sure enough, in match 43, we made it to the top of the pyramid–a feat only accomplished by one other team during the entire competition!

We all went home happy about having finally achieved our season-long goal: to get to the top. We would never do it again.

At the end of the day, both figuratively and literally, we had a very inconsistent robot. We only accomplished a handful of 10-point climbs, a few 20-point climbs, and that one amazing trip to the top. But our amazing senior leaders showed incredible strength–they worked nonstop throughout the competition, even when we were about to go … More

TCNJ Competition 3-15-13 to 3-16-13

When we arrived at TCNJ on Thursday night to set up the pit, we still had not yet tested our climber with the rest of the robot. We knew we were going to face a big challenge the next morning, but we were determined to face it with strength and resolve.

On Friday, as soon as the pits opened, we went to work attaching it. We knew we had to be fast, since there was a lot to do in the short time before our first match. We didn’t even put our dumper on the robot in an attempt to make it easier to reach the climber. Despite our efforts to work quickly, some code refusing to deploy still forced us to miss our first two matches (one of which our alliance partners were able to win without us).

Even once we got on the field, we were still plagued with breakdowns, mechanical failures, and whatever other issues the robot gods decided to throw at us. In one of our matches, we were able to get off the ground and score 10 points for our alliance, pushing us to a 102-100 victory. However, the next match in which we tried … More

Countdown to the Competition

Although the 6 weeks of the build season have ended, the Daleks continue to work on our robot. We have taken full advantage of the rule allowing us to keep 30 pounds of the robot out of the bag so we can modify it. Thanks to some recent donations by our supporters, we have ordered some new parts to get the climber climbing, so we are still making progress despite the challenging end to the build season.

In addition to the climber, we have also been working on things like materials for setting up our pit, buttons, t-shirts, banners, and improving our bumper design. By the time our first competition comes around, Team 3637 will be ready to play!

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(Like Rita Fang’s amazing button art? We sure do! The images have been posted on our Facebook page!)… More

Last Build Day

The build season is over at last, and the robot is in the bag.

Unfortunately, our build ended on a slightly disappointing note. To our surprise, the climber was not strong enough to pull the robot up the pyramid. However, we can still work on the climber, since we are allowed to keep up to 30 pounds of our robot out of the bag.

Other than that, the build went rather well for us. We worked on some code, fixed some wiring, and we also finished the dumper mechanism. That is the part that holds the discs, and during autonomous, will dump them into the lowest goal, while during teleop, it will dump them into the pyramid goal.

The build season is over, but our hard work will continue throughout the competitions. Go Daleks!

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Saturday Double Build

Yesterday, Team 3637 and Team 869 joined forces in a double build.

At Middlesex, Team 869 and some of Team 3637 went to work on the robots. We helped them put together the frame we had given them, and we both continued to work on the climbing mechanism that they will be giving us. By the afternoon, The Daleks’ robot was moving, and shortly afterwards, it was still moving, and no longer making a horrible noise (it was the belt skipping when the robot made a sharp turn). In addition, we made a lot of progress on the code, fixing some serious bugs and creating a precision driving mode for when the robot will be approaching the pyramid.

Back at Central, the rest of the Daleks were working on the bumpers for both robots, as well as other miscellaneous tasks. These included planning a layout for our pit (to improve efficiency during the competitions), spirit, and working on our Bill of Materials.

So overall, both teams got a lot done, and on Team 3637, the technical and non-technical groups both did a lot of work.


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The Clock is Ticking!

We have only a few days left to work on the robot, and Team 3637 has been working hard.

One of the most important things we’ve accomplished recently is getting our frame–we designed it in CAD and had it plasma-cut. However, the frame came with “some assembly required,” so our robot is still not quite done. But now it looks like a robot, and thanks to some hard work on the part of our programming and electrical teams, it can move like one too.

The next step is to attach the climbing mechanism, which we will be getting tomorrow from Team 869 (Power Cord), our sister team from Middlesex. In return, we will be giving them a frame just like ours. This exchange is part of a collaboration effort that we began this year, called MCR (Middlesex-Central Robotics). Since we have two teams working together to make similar robots, MCR can build (and compete) more efficiently, while also promoting the ideas of FIRST® through “Coopertition.”

Stay tuned as we dive into those exciting final days of the build season!

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Week 3 of Ultimate Ascent

We did a lot of work this past week, and it’s really paying off.

Some of it was non-technical, like designing a newsletter for our sponsors, ordering parts, touching up artwork, and organizing our finances. Some of it was technical as well. Our accomplishments include finalizing bumper designs, prototyping, working in CAD, teaching useful skills to our newer members, and getting the computers to talk to the cRIO and spin the motors. (Previously, we had been having issues making the motors move, and we weren’t sure why. But upon discovering that one of the modules of the cRIO was bad, our coders were relieved that it wasn’t something they had done!)

Anyway, Week 3 of build was very productive for us. However, we’re still very aware that time is always of the essence, so we will continue to work hard during the next weeks to finish the robot. Keep up the good work, Daleks!

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Kickoff and Beyond 2013

All of us were excited for January 5th, when we would learn what the new game would be. After a fun and informative day of workshops, socializing, and speculating, the moment we were all waiting for arrived, and the 2013 build season officially began! After the kickoff, we all went home to read the manual and think of ideas. The next day, we would go to a brainstorming session with our friends on Team 869, Power Cord. After considering a wide variety of ideas, strategies, and designs, we eventually decided to build a robot that would focus on climbing the pyramid more than shooting the discs.

(Discs? What am I talking about?)

The next few weeks were all about making that idea into reality. We knew we had to climb the pyramid; the next step was figuring out how. As time went on, we spent our build sessions thinking, prototyping, and measuring. We decided that we would climb up the edge (rather than the face) of the pyramid, and we designed a system of hooks and other mechanisms that will allow us to do just that.

All things considered, the time since kickoff was very busy, but … More

Brunswick Eruption 11

The new school year brought some new changes for our team, including an offseason event: the 11th Brunswick Eruption, hosted by Raider Robotix on November 17.  After so long without using the robot, we thought it would be fun to take it for a spin one more time.

We arrived with our robot at the competition at 7:00 in the morning. We quickly set up our pit and signed up for a practice match to warm up. After the opening ceremonies, the competition got started. However, the qualification matches did not start off well. Plagued by communication errors, our robot could barely move, and we lost our first three matches. However, after taking a match off to work on the problem without being distracted by having to change bumpers, we started to turn our day around. The remaining two teams on our alliance won without us, we fixed the communication problem, and we won the next match as well.

But after losing our final match and breaking a chain in the process, we found ourselves at the bottom of the standings, in a 7-way tie for 23rd out of 29 teams. As the top eight teams began to make … More

New Season Underway!

The new school year has brought some exciting times for Team 3637!  We have new mentors, new members, new ideas, and a new partner: this year, we look forward to working with our sister team, Power Cord (Team 869)!  We will be working together during the build season, sharing parts, designs, and code to efficiently make our robots as effective as possible.

This Saturday, we are also looking forward to attending an off-season event, the 11th annual Brunswick Eruption, hosted by our friend Team 25, Raider Robotix!  Brunswick Eruption will be a fun way for us to get back in the competitive mood and give our new members the experience of what a competition is like.

Team 3637 is back and better than ever.… More

MAR Championship 4-12-12 to 4-14-12

After three days of competition, the MAR Championship (held at the Liacouras Center in Philadelphia) is over! For us, this also means the end of the season, but I know all of us are very proud of our achievements.

Thursday the 12th was the first day of competition (a few of us went and dropped off the robot at our pit the day before). The event started in the afternoon, and we only had one match.

Friday the 13th was when most of the action happened. We started off slow, losing our first three matches, but then we heated up, winning matches and scoring from Coopertition. By the afternoon, we had recovered from our poor start, usually staying around 15th or so in the standings.

Today was the last day of the event, and we had three matches. We won the first two, but we lost the last one, and failed to earn any Coopertition bonus as well. This hurt our position in the standings significantly. After all the qualification matches were over, the top eight teams took turns picking other teams for their alliances. Being in 32nd place, we were obviously not one of the eight alliance captains, and … More