Team 254 just returned from the 2014 FRC World Championship held in St. Louis. The team went undefeated in the qualification rounds of the Curie Division and paired with teams 469, 2848, and 74 for elimination matches. After a hard fight through the elimination rounds, the team was crowned the champions of the 2014 FRC season after winning the Einstein finals.
The team had some awesome meals while in St. Louis. On Wednesday night the team had BBQ from Pappy's Smokehouse, on Thursday 254 ate with Team 1114: Simbotics, and on Friday and Saturday the team enjoyed local St. Louis eateries.
Curie Qualification Matches
On Thursday, Friday, and Saturday morning, 254 competed in the Curie division qualification matches (the other divisions being Archimedes, Galileo, and Newton) and held a match record of 10-0, seeding first among the 100 teams in the Curie division, 400 in the Championship, and about 3000 current FRC teams in the world.
After a night of intense strategy talks on Friday, 254 made its alliance selections on Saturday after the last qualification matches. For its first pick, 254 chose Team 469: Las Guerrillas from Michigan. The team was excited to get to work with such a strong, compatible, and versatile alliance partner, who could play hard defense and strong midfield during the tele-operated period. In addition, it successfully played the role of autonomous goalie, a rarity in the competition field. 254's alliance strategy talks the previous night had operated on the goal of creating an alliance for winning Einstein, the "Final Four" competition among the division champions, as opposed to winning just the division. As a result, teams were ranked and chosen by virtue of their versatility, since the winning Einstein alliance generally proved the most unpredictable. 254's second pick was Team 2848: The All-Sparks, from a fellow Jesuit school in Texas, for inbounding and defense on powerful opponent finishers. Finally, 254 chose its fourth and backup alliance member, Team 74: Team Chaos from Michigan, to be switched out with 2848 for defense and inbounding.
Curie Elimination Matches
In the Curie division elimination matches, 254 faced stiff competition and was said to have had the most difficult elimination bracket. The alliance had a tough quarterfinal match against a surprisingly powerful offensive 8th alliance, comprised of Teams 624, 987, and 3476, who had already played a nearly unstoppable strategy together in Qualification Match 26, which saw a score of 320 - matching 254’s high score. 254's alliance won the quarterfinals in two matches and faced an even tougher semifinal round against a defensive alliance of Teams 118 (another NASA House Team), 359, and 4334, and lost a very close and hotly contested first match. 254 eked out victory in the next two matches and advanced to division finals. 254 won in two matches and became division champions for the first time since its 2011 World Championship victory. The team also won its first ever Innovation in Control Award for its creation and open sourcing of Cheesy Vision, the hot goal detection system used during autonomous by an estimated 50% of teams at the Championship.
Einstein Eliminations and Finals
Having won the Curie division, the alliance went on to the Einstein field. The scouting and strategy team particularly feared the Newton division champions Team 1114: Simbotics (254's rival in blue banners, friends from the Waterloo regional, 2008 World Champions, and the 2012 Championship Chairman's winner), Team 1678: The Citrus Circuits (the finalist team from 254's home event, the Silicon Valley Regional and with back to back Einstein appearances), Team 1640: Sab-BOT-age (division champions from previous years), and Team 5136: The Mechapirates (one of our favorite rookie teams from the Central Valley Regional).
254 first faced the Archimedes Champions 1477, 2590, and 1625 in the Einstein semifinals and won in two exciting matches, scoring 320-235 and 261-245. The Curie alliance went on to face the formidable Newton alliance in the finals. Undaunted by the supposed "Curie Curse," the fact that the Curie Division winners have never won the World Championships, the Curie alliance won its first match 361-236, celebrating madly as 254's 3-ball hot goal autonomous scoring bypassed 1114's attempts to block it by driving a rarely seen autonomous path that drove 254 out to the wall to shoot over the low goal to prevent goalie interference. In the second autonomous match, 1114 pushed Barrage, and 254 hit only one of three autonomous balls. The match was lost from the outset and was scored 240-153 for the Newton alliance. The crowd immediately attributed this sudden unlucky loss to the Curie curse, and the various song-and-dance numbers thrown in by FIRST did little to raise the spirits of the shocked supporters of the Curie Champions. In an intense third and final match, 254's autonomous was successful thanks to 469’s foregoing the use of its goalie pole and instead blocking 1114's movement. Some observers compared the Einstein finals autonomous battle to that of two chess grandmasters. In teleoperated mode, the two alliances went back and forth, but the Curie alliance's incredible defense on the opposing finisher 1114 picked up momentum and resulted in a close 280-250 victory when 254 scored a last-second shot under heavy defense. The crowd exploded in cheers as 254 became World Champions for the second time in four years and simultaneously broke the Curie curse. Cheers included "Curse goes Poof" and the ever-popular "Yeah buddy!"
Team 254 would like to congratulate its alliance partners 469, 2848, and 74 for their invaluable contributions to the Championship victory and Teams 1114, 1678, and 1640 for the most intense matches that 254 had ever played. 254 also welcomes Team 27: RUSH into the Hall of Fame.