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Unread 05-16-2017, 01:00 PM
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The 4 Team Alliance

It's now been 3 seasons with 4 team alliances at the championship, so now is a good time to reflect on the decision that made this happen. Overall this was one of the most popular changes FIRST has ever made to anything at the time.

I think there's definitely some positives, such as being able to have more strategies to pull from and being able to have 3 working robots in any given match. This also eliminates teams waiting to see if they will be pulled as a backup.

However the last two years the alliances I've been on (and others as well) have definitely had some awkwardness with this alliance structure. Being told to sit out is hard for both sides to do, especially when most teams have seniors on their teams down in the playoff pit who want to play in the last matches of their time as a student. I've seen it lead to lots of tough arguments and hurt feelings.

The alliances that seem to have the most success with this are the ones that have a captain who makes it clear to everyone what their role in the alliance is, but unfortunately most captains can't seem to do this effectively.

So overall, what is your thought on the 4 team alliance?
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Unread 05-16-2017, 01:08 PM
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Re: The 4 Team Alliance

I honestly think that 4 team alliances in eliminations should be implemented FRIST wide. While I realize that district events are smaller and so the amount of rotation of the 4th robot into the alliance will probably not be as high because of decreased comparative ability, the strategy decisions that this opens up for regionals and district champs would elevate game play to a new level.

Also by doing this teams will be better able to utilize a 4 alliance team at champs because they already thought about the different ways that these alliance could be formed and potential uses for such robots. Also this would increase the number of teams that would qualify for champs based on an event win, be that a regional or district championship.
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Unread 05-16-2017, 01:18 PM
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Re: The 4 Team Alliance

FIRST could go back to the old way, and the 4th team could be sitting in the stands or packing up instead of hanging out in a playoff pit and fieldside with a chance at a medal and trophy...or yes, getting into a match if the situation is right.

Yeah it might be rough that a 4th team doesn't get to play more often than not, but they should be proud they made it to the dance at all. They should also understand the alliance captain has zero obligation to play them. Should they still keep their heads in the game and contribute to match strategy and periodically suggest their involvement in a particular match might be beneficial to the alliance? Sure - nothing wrong with that, and their coach can even stand with the rest of the alliance behind the glass and directly contribute. But in the end, the AC's decision is final and should be respected. If a 4th team persists in lobbying for themselves despite the AC's judgment, I don't view the AC being the problem in that situation.

Same thing goes for a team who gets subbed out for the 4th. Perhaps the AC feels the 4th team's robot is better suited for a particular matchup and decides to run with them. Perhaps the AC decides to keep playing the hot hand if the 4th team does well. Whining from the displaced team isn't going to help matters.

As long as everyone views the 4-team alliance as a group of interchangeable parts and not 3 teams plus a "backup robot", and everyone respects the ultimate decisions of the AC, there shouldn't be any problems. And all four teams should be proud to be a part of the process.

On the topic of 4th robots at regionals/districts - I would LOVE to have more choice as an alliance captain on who subs in for a disabled robot. I don't like the rankings dictating which robot I get as a backup. I'd rather run one more round of the draft (same order as the CMP's) to select what would TRULY be a "backup" robot. Keep all other backup substitution rules in place. The 8 selected backup robots would remain in the pits unless called upon. The only drawback to this plan is a bit more time dedicated to alliance selections, and perhaps a longer load-out time as more teams have to hang out waiting for the playoffs to end.

Perhaps a compromise to the "designated backup draft" would be to let teams at districts/regionals select from a pool of 4 or so backup robots instead of automatically assigning the highest-ranked unselected robot as their backup. FIRST makes the top 3 or so unpicked teams hang around anyway, right? Let the AC pick from the backup pool. At least then perhaps they could acquire a robot that better matches the capabilities of the robot being subbed out.
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Unread 05-16-2017, 01:22 PM
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Re: The 4 Team Alliance

Just figured I'd throw this out for the sake of discussion. I don't know if it's still like this, but when I did VEX, in eliminations it was 3-team alliances with 2 robots on the field, with the caveat that every team had to play in each best-of-three set. So you had to choose who to rotate out after the first match. This way no one was left out entirely (although you might only play one match out of three).
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Unread 05-16-2017, 01:25 PM
Lil' Lavery Lil' Lavery is offline
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Re: The 4 Team Alliance

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Originally Posted by Jamie Kalb View Post
Just figured I'd throw this out for the sake of discussion. I don't know if it's still like this, but when I did VEX, in eliminations it was 3-team alliances with 2 robots on the field, with the caveat that every team had to play in each best-of-three set. So you had to choose who to rotate out after the first match. This way no one was left out entirely (although you might only play one match out of three).
This was based upon 2v2 era of FRC, which had 3 team alliances in the playoffs and required each team to play a match in each set.
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Unread 05-16-2017, 01:29 PM
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Re: The 4 Team Alliance

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Originally Posted by Jamie Kalb View Post
Just figured I'd throw this out for the sake of discussion. I don't know if it's still like this, but when I did VEX, in eliminations it was 3-team alliances with 2 robots on the field, with the caveat that every team had to play in each best-of-three set. So you had to choose who to rotate out after the first match. This way no one was left out entirely (although you might only play one match out of three).
I think I could get behind this if their was a single championship with only four divisions. The problem with doing this now is that a deep division will already have a huge advantage on Einstein and will be even more powerful with a change like this. The power of a well rounded lower seeded alliance would also be gutted as they get the last pick of fourth robots.
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Unread 05-16-2017, 01:31 PM
Andrew Schreiber Andrew Schreiber is offline
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Re: The 4 Team Alliance

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Originally Posted by New Lightning View Post
I honestly think that 4 team alliances in eliminations should be implemented FRIST wide. While I realize that district events are smaller and so the amount of rotation of the 4th robot into the alliance will probably not be as high because of decreased comparative ability, the strategy decisions that this opens up for regionals and district champs would elevate game play to a new level.

Also by doing this teams will be better able to utilize a 4 alliance team at champs because they already thought about the different ways that these alliance could be formed and potential uses for such robots. Also this would increase the number of teams that would qualify for champs based on an event win, be that a regional or district championship.
God no. 24th pick at many district events is painful. I can't even imagine 32nd pick.

Re 4th bots sitting out, I'm with Travis on this one. Would they rather MAYBE be contributing if the situation arises or sitting in the stands done for the season?

I know where I'd rather be.
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Unread 05-16-2017, 01:34 PM
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Re: The 4 Team Alliance

In one of the competitions that we were in, we had to sub out one of our partners because they weren't working. The team that got subbed in was ecstatic that they got to play, at least for one last time.

Once the 4th picks roll around at champs, teams should happy just to be picked. I'd rather be picked to lend a hand to a captain whether it be with our robot or through strategy than not to be in the eliminations at all.

So I guess it just depends on the perspective and the attitude of the team, if they want to be sour about being the 4th pick then that's their problem. If we were to have been picked for an alliance at Worlds we would have been happy just to help our captain strategize. The way the system of FIRST works is you have to rely on other teams in order to succeed, and other teams know that. Different perspectives of a game are what make strategy work. So despite what it might seem at first glace, the 4th pick can be vitally important.
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Unread 05-16-2017, 01:38 PM
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Re: The 4 Team Alliance

One thing that I want to point out is some of the backups I've played with and watched all feel in a similar way, that they thought they should've been picked higher and playing. So it creates a bad relationship from the beginning.

Also, while it's nice to think teams should all have a mindset of working for the alliance and be willing to sacrifice for each other, that just simply doesn't happen all the time. Teams aren't always going to play nice and it shouldn't be expected that they will.
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Unread 05-16-2017, 01:42 PM
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Re: The 4 Team Alliance

It's far, far better than the alternative, it allows more teams to participate in the eliminations, and it adds a ton of strategic depth to the Championship. Tossing that all because it's a little awkward sometimes when an alliance partner is being a bad sport? Bad idea. I hope it's here to stay.
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Unread 05-16-2017, 01:43 PM
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Re: The 4 Team Alliance

Quote:
Originally Posted by New Lightning View Post
I honestly think that 4 team alliances in eliminations should be implemented FRIST wide. While I realize that district events are smaller and so the amount of rotation of the 4th robot into the alliance will probably not be as high because of decreased comparative ability, the strategy decisions that this opens up for regionals and district champs would elevate game play to a new level.
While I think that 4 team alliances are great because allowing an alliance to choose their own 4th robot instead of being given the next highest ranked team leaves fewer things to chance, some small district events are actually too small to do that. Some examples are MAR-Westtown, NC-Pitt County, NC-UNC Asheville, and probably a few others. Israel and North Carolina District Championships were only 32 teams large haha. But it would be cool, I think, if this was a possibility.
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Unread 05-16-2017, 01:43 PM
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Re: The 4 Team Alliance

Quote:
Originally Posted by New Lightning View Post
I honestly think that 4 team alliances in eliminations should be implemented FIRST wide.
FTFY

I wholeheartedly agree with this. Since I've been on 74, we've been in a few different positions at CMP events. We've been alliance captains, we've been 4th robot, and we've sat out elims entirely. While it may seem awkward for the whole alliance to have a robot sit out for (sometimes) all of elims, I know I would much rather be on an alliance and not play than be in the top 8 unpicked with the hope of being a backup. The 4-team alliance was a great addition to Champs, and could easily be implemented in all FIRST events. This allows alliances to form good, well rounded alliances, and have a solid contingency plan in case something goes wrong. At the Shepherd District event this year, we had the privilege of competing against the great alliance of 4970, 5162, and 5712 in the finals. After the first match, something went wrong with 5162 (I'm unsure of exactly what it was), and they had to sit out for Finals 2. The alliance chose to compete with 2 robots, because if they were to call in a backup, 5162 would not have been able to return to match play if they were able to fix themselves (which they were). Having 4 robots on an alliance would've allowed for that alliance to swap in their chosen 4th robot, and put 5162 back in when they were ready. It must've been a tough call by the alliance captain to play with only 2 bots in a Finals match, and having a 4 team alliance would've eliminated that tough call.

I know that being a 4th robot on an alliance is hard, but it's still a great opportunity to help out your alliance when you can, even if that means watching matches and helping your alliance to develop a solid strategy, and not playing. It was an honor to be on an alliance with 1885, 229, and 5036 this year, and we were glad to help out where we could.
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Unread 05-16-2017, 01:49 PM
Andrew Schreiber Andrew Schreiber is offline
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Re: The 4 Team Alliance

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jay O'Donnell View Post
One thing that I want to point out is some of the backups I've played with and watched all feel in a similar way, that they thought they should've been picked higher and playing. So it creates a bad relationship from the beginning.
I don't know how to say this nicer so I'm just going to say it and take the red dots.

They weren't. They were picked as a backup, they can play as a backup. If they don't like that they can decline the invitation to play and pack their pit early. This isn't the rules or the AC creating a bad relationship, this is solely on the backup team.

Again, sorry for not knowing how to say it in a nicer way.
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Unread 05-16-2017, 01:50 PM
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Re: The 4 Team Alliance

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jay O'Donnell View Post
One thing that I want to point out is some of the backups I've played with and watched all feel in a similar way, that they thought they should've been picked higher and playing. So it creates a bad relationship from the beginning.

Also, while it's nice to think teams should all have a mindset of working for the alliance and be willing to sacrifice for each other, that just simply doesn't happen all the time. Teams aren't always going to play nice and it shouldn't be expected that they will.
Those teams would likely not be picked in the future then. Problem solved. As the 4th team on an alliance, I'd want to show the great teams that we are fun and easy to work with.
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Unread 05-16-2017, 02:44 PM
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Re: The 4 Team Alliance

1511 has made it to Einstein two years in a row without playing a single playoff match. While I wish we did get a chance to drive, I'm certainly glad we got picked onto alliances with great teams. In my opinion its much better to be out on the floor than up in the stands. I love 4-team alliances because they are the reason for our appearances on Einstein.
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