On Sunday, March 13th, Concordia hosted the season-ending VEX robotics tournament for the International Schools of Shanghai. The High School gym was converted into a brilliant spectator arena for the event on Saturday, and at 8 a.m. Sunday morning the teams started to show up.
The Spin Up
There were 20 teams taking part, coming from six schools: Concordia, Dulwich, SISS, BISS, SAS Puxi, and SAS Pudong. Concordia had been planning to host the competition in 2022, but due to complications with Covid, the event had to be canceled. This meant there was real excitement and anticipation for the tournament this year.
The premise of the competition was simple, each team had to produce a robot made from VEX V5 parts. The robot had to be designed so that it could successfully take part in the game (which changes each year). This year’s game was called ‘Spin Up’. Robots had to be able to fire small, yellow discs into a high goal (five points per disc), push the discs into a low goal (one point per disc), and spin rollers (10 points per roller) which were situated at four locations around the arena. In the last 10 seconds of the game, the robots could also employ a horizontal expansion to try and cover as many floor tiles as possible (three points per tile).
The Qualification Round
On the day, the competition was split into two parts. First, a qualification round of 20 matches took place. In each match, four teams took part: two working together as the red alliance against the other two working together as the blue alliance. The matches were split into two sections, a 15-second autonomous period and a 95-second driver-controlled period. The winning alliance was the team that could score the most points overall.
The qualification matches were fast-paced and great fun for everyone. Since the red and blue alliances were different in each match, students from all different schools had to work together to plan their strategies to try and win. The level of collaboration and respect between all teams was fantastic to see and led to some great and tense matches.
As the qualification rounds progressed, several clear favorites emerged. Among them were Concordia’s Phoenix and Gear Ratio teams as well as the SAS Puxi 2 and SAS Pudong two teams. Unsurprisingly, the ability of these four teams to score regular high goals was a clear difference-maker between them and the rest of the competition field.
With the qualification rounds complete, the teams were ranked from one to 20 based on the number of wins and points scored in games. Concordia’s three teams took first place (Gear Ratio), position five (Phoenix), and position nine (Catalyst). It was now time for the alliance formation for the finals. At this point, teams had to pick another team as their permanent alliance partner, but the catch was that teams didn’t have to accept the proposed partnership! This meant some secret backchanneling and deals had to be made prior.
The alliance formation was masterfully conducted by the resident MC of the day; Mr. Kask and the seedings were set for the finals. Concordia Phoenix and Gear Ratio formed a very strong alliance and took the top seeding spot, whilst Concordia Catalyst made an alliance with the Big Chonkster team from BISS and took third seed spot. The other big contenders of the day, SAS Puxi 2 and SAS Pudong 2 (SAS United as they came to be known) took the second seed spot.
The finals followed a straight, knockout competition format. The time for playing nice had come to an end and some ruthless scoring ensued. The Concordia Phoenix and Gear Ratio alliance started strong, dismantling their first-round opponents 184–17. But on the other side of the competition, SAS United was also looking good and took their first-round opponents to the cleaners; 114–43. Sure enough, after 30 minutes of further play, the final that everyone had wanted was set: Concordia Phoenix/Gear Ratio vs SAS United.
The final was a tense, high-scoring battle. The autonomous period was a highlight of the game, with the Concordia teams just edging it after a double-high goal shot from across the arena to the cheers of the crowd. During the driver-control period, control of the spinners went back and forth between both teams throughout with some physical tussles in the arena corners.
There were also high goals galore including some incredible, triple-disc catapult shots from the Phoenix team. And in the 10-second endgame period, a fantastic horizontal expansion from the Gear Ratio team looked like it might have tipped the match in Concordia’s favor.
Sure enough, a final score line of 200–83 saw the Concordia Alliance crowned the competition winners and take home the trophy after a fantastic day of competition. Special awards were also given out to the BISS Big Chonkster team for sportsmanship, the Concordia Phoenix team for design innovation, and the coaches’ award went to the Dulwich Crossbow Thingy team.
A big thank you must go out to everyone that contributed to making this such a successful day:
- The Operations and IT teams for all their help setting up and taking down the arena, scoreboards and tech.
- The student volunteers for helping everything run so smoothly on the day, assisting in the set-up of the arena, resetting the fields, checking in teams, and ushering everyone to the correct areas throughout the competition.
- The staff volunteers who gave up their Saturday and Sunday to come and help.
- Mr. Knight, for his invaluable contribution supporting this event, not to mention his sharpness as the main referee.
- Dr. Fujiwara for all his hard work in planning and coordinating the entire event.
- Mr. Winkelman and Ms. Beckman for giving the opening and closing ceremony speeches.
- And last, but by no means least, all the Concordia VEX Club coaches and students who worked tirelessly throughout the year to produce such fantastic robots and did such a great job on the day.
We want to recognize Kabir G. and Daniel H., our seniors, for their dedication and passion for the robotics club in their high school careers. We also want to recognize Sophia C. for her talent in coding and commitment to the club. Their contribution and leadership will leave a legacy in the teams to come.
So, 2023-24. We don’t yet know what the game will be. But we do know that we will be ready. Ready to take part, and ready to bring home the title again.