Robotics team ends season at Las Vegas, falling just short of qualifying for worlds

May 3, 2017 — by Leena Elzeiny

Team 649 M-SET Fish traveled to Las Vegas for a FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) tournament on April 5. There, Saratoga faced top-tier teams and aggressive competition, and managed to place second, a game away from qualifying for the world competition.

On April 7, the team played through the qualification matches, a series of games meant to rank the robot and demonstrate its ability to shoot, climb and maneuver. By the end, the team won eight games and was ranked seventh out of 47 teams.

“We were doing most of the heavy lifting in the matches, and I am really proud of our robot because of that,” sophomore Akhilesh Bellathur said. “It reflected the design and the dedication we put into it.”

M-SET’s high rank allowed the team to continue to the finals as the captains of an alliance, a group of three teams that choose to be on the same side in this season’s game, “Steamworks,” where a robot tries to shoot balls and set up gears in order to “prepare for flight.”

However, a set of well-known and highly skilled teams, 118 from Houston and 148 from Greenville, Texas, also advanced to the Las Vegas Regional’s final rounds.

“We were nervous, but we just had to take it one step at a time and not psych ourselves out,” senior Samay Garg said about the tough competition.

In the finals, the alliance with 118 and 148 won the first game out of three, but in the second game, the M-SET alliance made a comeback and won by 120 points, tying the overall match 1-1. Their robot was one game away from worlds, and the team was ecstatic.

“After that match, we were jumping around like crazy,” Bellathur said. “I almost went deaf from the cheers.”

In the final game, Saratoga’s alliance lost by a mere 60 points and placed second behind the powerhouse schools from Texas.

Though they didn’t manage to qualify for the world tournament, they did relish the spirited competition in Vegas.

“We weren’t expecting to come through,” Garg said. “But we were expecting a great tournament, and that is definitely what we got.”