A comment about alliance selection in off season events

I was looking at the alliance selections in the Fall Classic in LA:

and found it disturbing that so many teams chose their second robot as an alliance member. Even though there were only 18 teams total, many were left out of the 16 robots that were in the semifinals.

The emphasis on fall competitions should be inclusiveness and encouraging new participants. Draft choices that narrow the alliances to just a few teams seems to run counter to that experience. I hope the teams left out at that tournament weren’t too disappointed.

So 1678 is going to come down next year to help expand the field, right? If you look at Saturday’s selections, only 4 “B” robots were picked for eliminations, with only one pair on the same alliance (and that as the 4th robot). This may be because there was a much larger field to choose from.

While you’re at it, why not comment about allowing teams to compete in both one-day tournaments including eliminations, instead of forcing them to choose one day? (Because, as you might notice, about half of the teams in Sunday’s elims had competed in Saturday’s eliminations as well.) After all, this is about inclusiveness and encouraging new participants, and I can’t think of anything less encouraging than to get walloped by the same team two days in a row, or watching said team walk off with multiple days of awards even if they’re not all the same. Or how about barring the “B” robots altogether, resulting in a much smaller event, because you want to include everybody and encourage all the new participants?

I generally consider the offseason events to be emphasizing FUN and TRAINING. As part of those, multiple teams like to swap out drive teams, or do other similar things. And truth to tell, it’s rather entertaining to watch Twin A knock Twin B out of an event if they’re on opposite sides (plus it gets the ENTIRE team cheering for an ENTIRE match).

[spoiler=]For those that can’t catch on very well… That second paragraph is intended to be somewhere between sarcasm and satire. I’m not seriously proposing either “solution”.

The first paragraph is serious, or nearly so. The event could have used 1678’s HP coach. As a ref, easily 60% of the fouls came from humans not knowing what was going on. One or two incidents stand out, but I think I’ll save the teams and team members involved the embarrassment.[/spoiler]

What you see at some off season events, including Cow Town Throw Down in Kansas City, is that there can be NO picking amongst alliance captains. Therefore they have to pick outside of the top eight, insuring that more people get involved in eliminations. It runs like a normal event, so one round of eliminations after one day of competition. The off season is where teams get to bring in new members and show the what FIRST is really about and making sure that more people get involved will help teams retain those new individuals and give the returning members practice to get back into competition mode for the upcoming season. Most off season events do their best to ensure that things are not so one sided.

By “people”, do you mean individual human beings, or teams?

I really just meant teams when I first wrote it, by now that I think about it getting more people involved would be a better thing. But yeah I really meant teams.

How does eliminating picking amongst alliance captains ensure that more teams get involved in eliminations?

I also find it wrong that teams are picking their second robots, not only on an inclusiveness level (it is the offseason), but from a strategic perspective. Why would you put all your eggs in one basket like that?!?! Unless you’re in the final picks and your second (or tenth) robot is actually the best robot for your alliance (not likely true considering the nature of cycles this year), you should spread yourself throughout the bracket.
Worst case is that you play yourself, but who knows when (Could be anywhere, even the finals)?

I was thinking the same thing…

I don’t like where this is going. Not at all. When I bring my team to any competition, I want them to play against the best. That way they get the real test on where they need to improve.

Everyone gets a ribbon…

I’m always hesitant to judge what happened at an event without having been there myself. There are certain things that are difficult to notice just looking at numbers on Blue Alliance (like who’s broken, or what exactly the teams that picked were looking for).

They earned their place in the top eight-- they get to choose their priorities with who their teammates are.

Eliminating picking from within the top 8 forces the captains to pick robots deeper into the field than the would probably normally go. Also it keeps the eliminations matches closer because you don’t have all the top teams spread between 2 or 3 really good teams and 5 or 6 okay to mediocre teams. Teams would get involved that might have otherwise been left out of eliminations, because captains were allowed to pick from each other. That’s how more teams would get involved. And its the off season, I know you want to go out and compete but the off season is about having fun without the pressure of the normal completion season.

Anyone who thinks a half day of qualification matches, often involving trainee drivers, produces anything close to an accurate top 8 is kidding themselves. I’ve been to quite a few off-seasons where picking is forbidden in the top 8, and I’ve encountered more than a few teams that cheered when they found themselves at the #9 or #10 seed at the end of qualifications, rather than as an alliance captain. The system becomes ridiculous.

I am sorry, I am still not following the logic. Let’s say there is 32 teams in the field and if you have 8 alliances in the elims, each captain gets to choose their best match (in terms of game play) for their alliance (as they choose 3 more teams to round out their alliance). Then even if Captain 1 chooses team 2, then through cascade, the 9th place team is now the #8 captain. And so on through the picks. All 32 teams will still end up in the elims. I understand that this is the most perfect situation, and most off-season events do not run this way.

Now as a coach trying to bring up my next year’s drive team, I would hate to handicap them in picking the best robot regardless of where they are in the standings. I want my drive team to play with the teams that can allow our robot to play the game the way we decided way back on Kick-off in January. This allows my drive team to create the best alliance to face off against other strong alliances. Even if my team was not picked, it is a learning opportunity.

The idea of evening out the field confounds me and goes against how I want to develop my team. Even though it is an off-season event, I want my team to treat it as an in season competition - otherwise why even have elims? Just declare a winner after the quals.

Seconding this. If the top 8 were reliably the strongest 8 robots at competition, then eliminating picking among them for the sake of better competitive balance might be a good idea. Unfortunately, given the extreme variance in rankings at FRC events (especially offseasons), this is not the case, and all you do is make things worse.

As for the OP, I’m not sure what I think about teams picking their own “B” robots for eliminations. On the one hand, yes, it does reduce the number of teams that get to participate in elims. On the other, is that really a compelling reason not to do it, especially when the alternative quite likely reduces the standard of play in eliminations (which is less fun for everyone)? I think this is a question of values, and probably has different answers for different events with different atmospheres.

Okay if there were only 32 teams, and each captain then selected 3 other robots to be on their alliance then yes everybody is all ready participating and therefore not adding any new teams to the mix. But if you have an event with more than 32 teams, like Cow Town Throw Down this year, then that is when it opens the field to more teams. With regards to game play the advantage here is that with the best teams spread evenly thought out the alliance captains then the matches, especially the 1 v 8 and the 2 v 7 matches, will be a lot more competitive. That allows for better training in handling real competition like situations where your team has to make the right decisions or game play strategy in order to win the match. Not just get overwhelmed by an alliance with far superior robots and saying, oh well we tried now lets go home.

Assume 8 alliances are in the elimination rounds, and each alliance selects its own backup robot. If there were 33 teams instead of 32 teams, how many would play in elims under a serpentine system, and how many teams would play in elims under the Cow Town Throw Down System?

Whenever there are more teams than elim spots, someone will always have to sit out. The Cow Town Throw Down System does not open up the field to any more teams than an event which uses a serpentine draft does.

No, it doesn’t. Math doesn’t lie (it leaves that to abuse of statistics). 8*4=32. Regardless of how many teams are at the event, if 8 alliance captains pick 3 more teams per alliance, there are still only 32 teams in eliminations. End Of Story.

What disallowing inter-top-8 selection does is it creates some incentive to throw a match. If I’m “on the bubble”, say in #7, and I want to be picked by the top team, I’m NOT going to want to win my last match in such an event! What this sort of rule does is it creates a “scorched earth” right from the get-go–but it’s the sort of “scorched earth” where if you can play the metagame right, you can win HUGE. See Curie 2010, Match 100, only potentially more devastating, to more than one team.

Oh, and it jumbles up exactly which teams are on which alliances in eliminations. Possibly. Depends on scouting and final drafting order.

As for the rest… Let’s just say that you’ve made a lot of assumptions, very few of which are actually the case. Starting with the assumption that the top 8 are always actually the top 8 robots–I’m going to guess that you haven’t heard of a couple of cases where a robot that hadn’t passed inspection made it into the top 8 via ranking. There’s a reason behind the whole “if you play a match with an uninspected robot, your entire alliance gets a red card” rule. And then assuming that the 1/8 and 2/7 matches are always a blowout in favor of the top alliance; I’ve seen a #8 alliance take a World Championship. As far as real competition-like situations, I show you qual matches and elim matches in the season events, and note that the no-top-8 picking or some variant was in play for precisely one season or less before it was officially scrapped due to teams playing to lose and manipulate the rankings.

Incidentally, IIRC, a “no top 8” rule would have had little to no effect at Fall Classic on Sunday. A “no alliance captain” would have had even less effect. There were only 4 alliances, and as I recall most of the 2nd robots were down a bit more than 4 or 8 or whatever, though not that far down.

This is where I have a struggle. MRI was a great showing by some upper level teams in MN. MRI had 33 robots and elims were between 4 alliances. My team (4607) was in the running for a captain’s spot until the 7th round (when the opposing ball got lodged in between our catapult and our frame). We lost that match 12? to 97 I believe. But that is inconsequential as we ended up as the #7 seed.

However, at the time the scout team wanted to draft 4536 (correct me if I am wrong inkling) because their robot had a double intake witch mated well with our game play. We are very good at in-bounding and then truss passing to the human player. We could then load 4536 with the human player and 4536 could kiss-pass the ball to 2530 (who was on fire in the later rounds). If we would have finished in the top 4, we would have chosen 4536 and then most likely 2530. No matter where they ended up in the field, it gave our team the best possible alliance. Why should any team be relegated to choose from a select group of teams when the teams that make us better sit as a top 4 or 8?

I truly believe that when you look at off-season events, you need to allow your newbies to develop in a real-game situation. I have coached many sports for many years and I am following what I know is best to create the best situation for my team to develop. In the case of MRI, I wanted to either be with 2175, 2052, 1816, 3883, etc. or face them in the elims. I don’t want to have my scout team do all their work just to pick from the least to play against an average alliance each round of elims. It makes no sense. I want my team to play with the best and then face off against the best 16 or 32 teams.

Otherwise, why not just random draw the quals and call it quits at the end? I am still not getting it I guess.

(http://www.thebluealliance.com/match/2012mttd_f1m1). :wink:

In my opinion (and it may be an unpopular one) while an off season event is more fun and laid back then a traditional regional, it is still a competition that we pay for, there is still a tournament structure with Awards, and teams who are crowned champion/winner. If an event wants to run a no seconds bots or no second bots in eliminations or (even worse) no second bots till all “real” bots are picked let the teams decide if they want to pay to go to said event.

I really dislike this thread as at Panther Prowl after all alliances were picked we did have 5 teams who were left out because second bots made it to eliminations: 1649, 2152, 2916, 3502, and 4592. None of these teams seemed to have an issue with not being picked for eliminations because of second bots (atleast from who I have talked to) heck 2152’s second robot was actually picked and they weren’t.

What it comes down to is plain and simple: To paraphrase a man much smarter then me the F in FIRST does not stand for Fair. We are playing a sport just like any other and sometimes the pendulum swings the other way. Do I wish there was a way for every team to compete at every level while still maintaining a quality of competition? Yes, is that feasible? No.