Between you, me, and the rest of CD, I’m not a fan of the Round Robin format for Einstein.
There are a bunch of reasons but the big ones are the following:
Hard to follow. Yes, FIRST will not doubt have a leader board based on Championship Points but nothing as clear as “You win, you advance. You lose, you go home.”
Finals are a Repeat. I just don’t like the fact that the finals on Einstein are 2 (or 3) repeats of a match up we’ve already seen in the Round Robin. Steals some of the drama in my book.
Potential Skulduggery. In the later rounds of the Round Robin, it is very possible that some teams are going to be mathematically out of it while others may be mathematically in even if they lose a match. This opens up the potential for teams to influence who goes to Einstien in ways that are… …unsavory. I know FIRST and I think it is unlikely that something like this will happen, but why even build a system where the appearance of throwing a match to influence what teams got to the Finals is possible?
So… …what would I put in its place?
I think it would not be too hard to rank divisions. I know FIRST is not particularly happy about the idea of ranking divisions but personally, I think the benefits outweigh the negatives.
Once we have the Divisions Ranked 1-6 then all we need are 2 more Wildcard Alliances and we can have a 8 Alliance Playoff on Einstein. In short, Einstein ends just as we end every other FIRST tournament.
FIRST could pick from a bunch of ways to rank the divisions: Average (or median) score in qualifying matches. Average (or median) number of rotors in Playoffs. Average (or median) pressure in Finals. Total score in Playoffs. Number of Time Outs in Playoffs.
It really doesn’t matter that much to be honest.
Where do we get the Wildcard Alliances?
IN MY DREAM SCENARIO, as each alliance gets eliminated from their division playoffs, they’d go into an “all worlds second chance, single elimination, one and done tournament” that would play until there were only 2 teams left standing.
So, after Quarterfinals, there would be 24 Alliances from the 6 divisions. These teams would play 12 matches of randomly selected pairings. That’s two matches per field. We could squeeze those in just before starting the Semifinals on each field.
After the Semifinals, again, we have 24 alliances (the 12 winners from the last batch and the 12 losing semifinals). Again we have 12 randomly assigned pairings that are again 2 more matches played before we start the Finals.
After the Finals, there are 18 Alliances left in the second chance tournament. 9 matches cuts it down to 9. Two teams at random play to make it to the field of 8 which play 2 more rounds to leave the 2 Wildcards to go to Einstein.
This would add a total of 40 matches on 6 fields, or approximately 7 matches per field. That would be approximately an hour to the play per field (no time outs allowed for the second chance bracket – you either show up on time for your match or you forfeit). The excitement of these matches would be really something to see. FIRST, PLEASE DO THIS.
IN MY SECOND FAVORITE SCENARIO, FIRST publishes a rubric for how the wildcards are selected from among the Division Finalists. It could be that the top two divisions just have their Division Finalists go to Einstein. But I would prefer that it was something particular to that the Finalists that determined their wildcard selection. Again there are many choices: Average (or Median) Score in Playoffs. Average (or Median) number pressure. Average (or Median) Touchpads.
In either scenario, I think a standard 8 team playoff on Einstein is much preferred over the round robin format.
Dr. Joe J.