IN 2012,

A public high school in Kingsport, Tennessee decided to open a new chapter in their extra-curricular activities. Eight dedicated, young students banded together and formed the Cyber Tribe Robotics Team. That year, they joined the FIRST Robotics Competition community as Team 4020.

These 8 students, along with 7 mentors with no robotics experience, built a heavy, lumbering robot out of a lot of hardware store items and even some junk, traveled to the Smoky Mountains regional for their first competition, and placed 23rd out of 54 teams.  Finishing above mid-pack for a rookie team in a sea of veterans (FRC started in 1992) was an outstanding accomplishment and an indication of future success.

2013 Season - ultimate Ascent

Cyber Tribe built an accurate Frisbee-shooting robot that could climb to the first level of a tall pyramid.  This robot and its drive team was good enough to be the first pick of the #6 playoff alliance at the Smoky Mountains regional.  This was the first time Cyber Tribe participated in the elimination rounds of a competition, and as the first pick nonetheless.  They were eliminated in the quarterfinals, but that is what often happens when the #6 alliance plays the #3 alliance.  Cyber Tribe was thrilled to become a playoff-level team in just its 2nd year of existence.

2014 Season - Aerial Assist

The game this season involved launching 2 foot diameter exercise balls through vertical goal openings above the alliance wall.  On a wide-open field, this was one of the most fun games in FRC history.  Cyber Tribe built a machine which picked up these balls with ease and was very accurate at scoring them from a generous area of the field.

Again playing in only the Smoky Mountains regional, the Cyber Tribe robot and drive team earned the 2nd highest Offensive Power Rating of the 49 teams there.  They were the 1st pick of the #4 ranked playoff alliance, but were eliminated early when the alliance captain was disabled because its pneumatic shooter tubing was ripped out by an opponent robot and there was no disqualification or even a penalty.

This season, Cyber Tribe was ranked 211 out of 2696 teams worldwide in Offensive Power Rating, putting them in the 92nd percentile, their first time being in the top 10% of OPR worldwide.  Performing at this level in the team's 3rd year was stunning to all involved.

An especially memorable moment from this season was when an opponent robot drove up into the 4020 robot and the Cyber Tribe driver flipped them over by driving back at them and using the intake.  There was no penalty since the opponents were the ones at fault for getting inside the 4020 frame.  The ensuing ruckus and the Cyber Tribe response of ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ "what do you expect", was a classic.  This was the first (and so far only) time Cyber Tribe flipped an opponent.

2015 Season - Recycle Rush

The team ventured outside of Tennessee for the first time, participating in the Peachtree regional in Atlanta, GA.  This season was memorable for mostly the wrong reasons.  The event started with a bad omen when the team bus broke down in Northern Georgia, and a mentor used their own truck to pick up the robot and a few students to be able to load-in to the World Congress Center before loading was closed.

The robot had a problem connecting wirelessly whenever the team was in the Blue 3 driver station.  The problem was never diagnosed by the event staff and it cost the team a critical round win.  Nonetheless, they finished qualifications ranked 12 out of 66 teams.   Despite this ranking that left them 2 positions away from being a playoff alliance captain, they were not selected by any playoff alliance in either the 1st or 2nd rounds.  Regardless of whether this was skittishness because of the connection problem or was Georgia teams not being familiar with a Tennessee team, the outcome was heartbreaking.

The Recycle Rush game is panned by many as one of the worst games in FRC history, if not the worst.  It's fitting that Cyber Tribe's most disappointing season coincides with the worst game.  The truly unfortunate part is that this was Cyber Tribe's 4th season and the Seniors that were the driving force in getting the team off the ground had to finish with this being their last experience.

2016 Season - first stronghold

There were a couple firsts for Cyber Tribe this season.  It was the first time the team participated in two regionals.  Getting the extra experience from at least two regionals and having extra chances at qualifying for the World Championships is standard practice for the best FRC teams.  They attended the inaugural Rocket City regional in Huntsville, AL, were selected to the #4 playoff alliance, but unfortunately were eliminated in the quarterfinals. It was a good performance, but the Tribe got to play with and against some truly powerhouse teams they hadn't seen in Tennessee, such as team 16 Bomb Squad from Mountain Home, AR, 118 Robonauts from League City, TX, and 179 Children of the Swamp from Riviera Beach, FL.  Seeing the caliber of these teams gave Cyber Tribe a new level of challenge and motivation for the future.

The second regional was in Knoxville at Smoky Mountains.  The Tribe was selected to be part of the #4 ranked playoff alliance by captain 3959 Mech Tech from Somerville, AL. This playoff experience was special since it was the first regional where Cyber Tribe won a playoff series and advanced to the semifinals of an event.

2017 Season - first steamworks

Cyber Tribe participated in two regionals, the Palmetto regional in Myrtle Beach, SC, and the Smoky Mountains regional in Knoxville.  The team did well at Palmetto, making the playoffs, but enduring a quarterfinals loss as part of the 7th ranked alliance.  The good news is that there were 3 weeks between regionals for the team to make some improvements to the robot that could be installed at the 2nd competition.  They also had an opportunity to refine gameplay strategy.  At Smoky Mountains, Cyber Tribe finished qualifications ranked 8 out of 48 teams.  This put a Cyber Tribe student on the field for the first time as a potential playoff alliance captain.  In a fateful way, they passed up this opportunity because the team ranked #1 in qualifications wanted Cyber Tribe to join their playoff alliance.  The Tribe had an opportunity to decline this invitation as is a privilege of only the 8 potential captains, but they gladly accepted.  The #1 playoff alliance wins the event 40-80% of the time depending on the game, so accepting was a no-brainer.  Unfortunately, the first time Cyber Tribe was part of the #1 playoff alliance, they lost in the quarterfinals.  Elation turned to crushing disappointment, for sure.

The disappointment turned to embarrassment when Cyber Tribe won their first-ever event award, the Industrial Design Award sponsored by General Motors.  The team left the event before the closing ceremony and was not present to accept their first award.

Cyber Tribe had an especially strong robot this season, and ended the season ranked 139 out of 3331 robots worldwide in Offensive Power Rating.  This position was almost at the 96th percentile, putting Cyber Tribe in the top 5% of OPR worldwide for the first time.

2018 Season - first power up

There were two very critical firsts in 2018.  This was the first year that Cyber Tribe built a practice field.  With the help of Eastman and Streamworks, the team rented a vacant building in downtown Kingsport and built a practice field big enough to hold replicas of the actual field elements.  The field was carpeted to enable realistic drive practice.  Cyber Tribe also built two robots for the first time in 2018.  At the time, the competition robot had to be sealed in a bag between stop build day and the first competition, and also between competitions.  By having a duplicate 2nd robot, the team could continue to practice while the competition robot was bagged.  Any improvements to the robot could also be tested and fitted on the duplicate robot and then quickly retrofitted onto the competition robot when it was un-bagged at an event.

Cyber Tribe participated in two 2018 events, the Palmetto regional in Myrtle Beach, SC and the Buckeye regional in Cleveland, OH.  At Palmetto, the team was ranked 10 out of 64 teams in qualifications and for the first time, became an alliance captain of the #6 alliance.  They selected team 263 Aftershock from Ronkonkoma, NY, and team 4582 Robohawks from Myrtle Beach, SC as playoff alliance partners.  At both Palmetto and Buckeye, Cyber Tribe was eliminated in the playoff quarterfinals.

2019 Season - destination: deep space

Cyber Tribe upgraded its practice field location from a downtown building to the Streamworks converted insulation warehouse. This space was larger and enabled an even more realistic practice field.  They participated in the Palmetto regional in Myrtle Beach and the Smoky Mountains regional in Knoxville.

At Palmetto, Cyber Tribe achieved what is arguably its best-ever first, which was winning the event and qualifying for the World Championships.  With the help of an amazing climber they called "The Claw" and which was the namesake of the robot, Cyber Tribe qualified 1st out of 64 teams and captained the #1 alliance.  They chose a team they would have a long history with, 4451 Robotz Garage from Laurens, SC, and also chose a local team, 5022, Rat Rod Robotics to complete the alliance.  The #1 alliance narrowly missed sweeping the playoffs in 6 straight matches, but had to take the finals to a 3rd match after a close 59-62 loss in Finals 2.  The finals win against the alliance captained by 11-time World Championship qualifying team 379 RoboCats from Girard, OH and containing Hall of Fame team 2614 MARS from Morgantown, WV was especially satisfying.

At Smoky Mountains, Cyber Tribe did not control its playoff destiny due to qualifying 3rd even though they ranked 1st in Offensive Power Rating.  After some shenanigans by 2nd qualifier 4329 Lutheran Roboteers from St. Peters, MO, the Cyber Tribe plan to pick 4th qualifier 4265 Secret City Wildbots from Oak Ridge and almost certainly win the event was thwarted.  Cyber Tribe and Secret City were forced to captain separate alliances.  The #3 and #4 alliances captained by Cyber Tribe and Secret City made it to the finals.  Cyber Tribe's #3 alliance satisfyingly dispatched villain-of-the-day 4239 and their #2 alliance in two straight semifinal wins.  The finals went to 3 matches and in Finals 3, Cyber Tribe's 2nd pick, 3966 L&N STEMpunks from Knoxville, was disabled mid-match when an opponent robot got inside their frame perimeter and managed to hit their main breaker, shutting off the robot power.  No foul, disqualification, or replay was awarded.  Cyber Tribe barely lost that last match 83-90, despite finishing the round with only two functioning robots.

A highlight in spite of the event loss is that Cyber Tribe selected team 2386 Trojans from Burlington, Ontario, Canada to their playoff alliance.  The Canadian team was a blast to play with and they gave the Tribe a toy hockey stick as a memento.  They display that stick in the build room to this day.  It's right up there with the blue banners, trophies, and plaques.

One last, but certainly not least, note about the 2019 qualifying season is that Cyber Tribe won the Autonomous Award sponsored by Ford for the first time at the Palmetto regional and then earned it again at Smoky Mountains.  This was the first season for that particular award to be offered, but it would not be the last season Cyber Tribe would win it.

The team traveled to Houston, TX to participate for the first time in the FRC World Championships.  Despite the competition against the best teams in the world, Cyber Tribe managed to qualify 19th out of 68 teams in the Hopper Division.  They were selected with the 1st pick of the #8 playoff alliance captain, 1477 Texas Torque from Conroe, TX.  Being on the 8th alliance is somewhat a kiss of death as that means playing the #1 alliance in the quarterfinals.  Cyber Tribe was eliminated in the quarterfinals by the eventual Division-winning #1 alliance captained by team 2122 Team Tators from Boise, ID.

The team acquired more treasured mementos from team 4063 TriKzR4Kidz from Del Rio, TX, another member of the #8 alliance.  They wear "bunny ears" in reference to the mascot of Trix breakfast cereal that is the source of their name.  Each of the Tribe's drive team members got some bunny ears.  They lasted a while around the Cyber Tribe build room, but all of them now appear to be lost.

Cyber Tribe finished the season with a 1726 long-term Elo strength rating, which was the first time they had the #1 Elo rating among Tennessee teams.  The long journey to surpass Secret City Wildbots from Oak Ridge and 3824 HVA RoHAWKtics from Knoxville was finally complete.

2020 Season - Infinite Recharge

Cyber Tribe started 2020 the same way it started 2019.  They went to the Palmetto regional in Myrtle Beach and defended their championship by winning again.  It was a little less straightforward this time, though.

The Tribe lost only one qualifying match, but with their qualifying alliances missing a few ranking points here and there, they finished qualifying in 4th place out of 63 teams. As fate would have it, Cyber Tribe played with team 694 StuyPulse out of Stuyvesant H.S. in New York City in the first qualifying match.  694 had a problem with their communications bus on the robot and did not move at all during the match.  4020 easily won the match essentially by itself, more than doubling the score of the three opponent robots combined.  This is one of the classic match videos that has to be seen.  The Tribe gifted 694 a win and 694 went on to win all the other matches they played at the event and qualify 1st.  They remembered 4020 when it came time to form playoff alliances. Cyber Tribe did not hesitate to join the #1 playoff alliance when asked. 694, 4020, and team 1758 Technomancers from Florence, SC did not lose a playoff match, running the table in 6 straight with no match particularly close.

The Palmetto regional win qualified Cyber Tribe for the World Championships again.  Unfortunately, this was the first year that an FRC season was cancelled.  COVID emerged in the United States between competition weeks 2 and 3, causing a cancellation of week 3 events.  Although the entire season was not immediately cancelled, it eventually came to that after "two weeks to slow the spread" became two months and two years.

Cyber Tribe has one of the few Blue Banners signifying an event win from 2020.  They display that rare gem proudly.  4020 also won the Autonomous Award sponsored by Ford at the Palmetto regional.  Cyber Tribe finished the season with a long-term Elo strength rating of 1688, which continued to be the top Elo rating among Tennessee teams.

2021 Season - Infinite Recharge at home

COVID was still prevalent and a worry as the 2021 season approached.  FIRST decided that the best option was to offer an "at home" competition.  If teams could meet, they could use their 2020 robot, a modified 2020 robot, or make a new robot to compete in "challenges" that were designed to be playable by the 2020 robot.  The challenges were completed locally and teams submitted scores with video evidence.  All the teams worldwide that registered to compete (about half of the typical number) were divided into groups which were labeled with the chemical elements.

Cyber Tribe competed in the Ag (silver) group against 29 teams from across the United States as well as Mexico, Turkey, and Vietnam.  When looking at the long-term power ratings of the top 5 rated teams in each group, the Ag group had the strongest 5 teams of any of the 52 groups.  How could Cyber Tribe get so lucky to be in the most-stacked group?

The team modified the 2020 robot a bit to improve its performance in the challenges.  A two-position shooting hood was added and sensors were added in the cargo conveyor to be able to pre-load cargo right up to the shooter wheel.  The drive motors on the swerve modules were replaced with Falcons to get a little more speed.  Completely new and complex autonomous routines had to be created for driving and cargo pick-up challenges.

The end result of this season's work is that Cyber Tribe finished 2nd in the Ag group, earning it's first and hopefully only Finalist Award for an at-home competition.  The Blue Banner went to team 2337 EngiNERDs from Grand Blanc, MI who built an entirely new mini-bot that could not shoot and was only able to complete 3 of the 5 challenges.  The overall score was the best 3 scores from the 5 challenges, so this team cheesed the system a bit, but did so legally and managed to barely outpoint Cyber Tribe.

Since performance this season was by challenge scores rather than head-to-head competition, it was possible to compare all robots worldwide in a direct way that is not possible in normal seasons.  Cyber Tribe's challenge scores ranked 10th worldwide out of 1412 teams that competed.  The team was thrilled by this performance and felt even better knowing that the 9 teams scoring higher all built new, optimized robots for 2021 while the Tribe used a slightly modified 2020 robot.

2022 Season - rapid react

This season forced a move to a new practice field.  The Streamworks facility closed, but Kingsport City Schools was able to offer gym space at the former Sullivan North H.S., which was being remodeled into a middle school.

Normal competition returned in 2022, although FIRST mandated masking at events due to the persistence of COVID.  The Palmetto regional was retired in favor of a new Electric City regional in Anderson, SC which the team attended. Cyber Tribe continued it's recent dominance in early-season competition in South Carolina by qualifying 1st out of 38 teams, being ranked 1st by a comfortable margin in Offensive Power Rating, and eventually winning the regional in an alliance with team 4265 Secret City Wildbots from Oak Ridge and team 1293 Pandamaniacs from Columbia, SC.  This was the Pandamaniacs first Blue Banner in 19 years of trying. To say they were grateful for the opportunity to contribute to the #1 ranked playoff alliance would be huge understatement.  This win qualified Cyber Tribe for the World Championships.  Cyber Tribe also won the Autonomous Award sponsored by Ford at the Electric City regional.

Smoky Mountains regional was the Tribe's 2nd stop.  Ultimately, this event turned out to be a war of attrition that the team did not win. A combination of things breaking from heavy (sometimes illegal) defense, damage from being knocked off the 8' 8" high traversal rung by a teammate, other teammate interference, and some self-inflicted wounds like not turning on the targeting light in one round resulted in an 11th place qualification ranking.  The robot and drive team was much better than that, though, and the #2 ranked team 181 S.P.A.M. from Stuart, FL invited Cyber Tribe to the #2 alliance with the second selection in the playoffs.  Playoffs were going well until half of the 4020 robot stopped working in the semifinals.  The problem could not be found and corrected in time to finish the semifinals. The #2 alliance was eliminated when they had to compete with a backup robot rather than 4020.  After the event, a disconnected wire was found that was likely loosened by some of the repair work that was needed throughout the event.

At the World Championships in Houston, TX, Cyber Tribe competed in the 76-team Roebling Division.  With 76 teams and only 10 qualifying matches, luck-of-the-draw in which teammates and opponents you get makes a huge difference in your ability to win matches and qualify well.  As seems to be tradition, Cyber Tribe's draw was terrible, having the 15th most difficult schedule strength out of the 76 teams.

Cyber Tribe did what it could to help win qualification matches, but ended up with a 3-7 qualification record. As an example of 4020's capability, the team scored 73 points by itself in one match at Worlds.  The average score for an alliance of three robots in Electric City qualifications was 39.  The average 3-robot alliance qualification score at Smoky Mountains (a later-season event) was 63.

Despite the Tribe's qualification record, they were the 17th team (the 9th selection) to make the playoffs. Note that only 32 teams make the playoffs and 44 Championship-level teams do not. Unfortunately, this selection position was by the 8th ranked playoff alliance, captained by 2075 Enigma Robotics from Grand Rapids, MI.  Fun fact: 4020's OPR at Worlds was 42, exceeding our captain's OPR of 41. The Tribe got the same kiss of death with the #8 alliance at Worlds as in 2019.  Amazingly, though, alliance 8 almost beat alliance 1 this time around.  In the first quarterfinal, a spirited hybrid offense/defense strategy by alliance 8 resulted in a loss by only 3 points, and that was with alliance 1 being gifted 12 penalty points because the climber on the alliance 8 captain robot broke and hung too far outside the frame perimeter multiple times.  The alliance 8 captain probably took gracious professionalism too far in the 2nd quarterfinal, swapping out 4020 for the 3rd pick robot, replacing a 42 OPR team for a 34 OPR team.  That match was a loss and another very successful season ended for Cyber Tribe.

Cyber Tribe finished the season ranked 108 out of 3053 teams worldwide in Offensive Power Rating.  They were hoping to break into the top 100 for the first time ever, but narrowly missed that goal.  They also finished with an long-term Elo strength rating of 1801, which was 121 out of 3053 teams, best of Tennessee teams, and only the second time in FRC history that a Tennessee team has had an Elo rating over 1800.

2023 Season - Charged Up

Coming Soon!