Alliance Selection Bait and Switch

If a team is clearly (or even potentially) seeding first going into alliance selection it seems to make sense that they would talk with their first pick about forming an alliance. If that team thinks an alliance is a good idea to me it makes sense to share scouting data and pick information with them to agree on potential second picks. I think this is an extremely common practice (correct me if wrong).

What I have never seen before is the team that is agreeing to the pick “say” that they are interested in forming an alliance. Go through hours of scouting meetings together and then at the last second decline the picking team. I can see why this would be strategically advantageous as they have gotten a whole bunch of the scouting data and match strategy of the number one seed. They can also independently plan their own picks and strategy dropping the number 1 seed with very little time to adjust their strategy to the new information. Has this ever happened to you?

This however seems EXTREMELY unethical to me and not at all in the interests of Gracious Professionalism or FIRST. What do you think?


If this is true, it sounds like the biggest alliance selection scandal I’ve ever heard of. To be clear though, are you saying this really happened?


I have been screwed over to some level at minor off-season events, when first alliance doesn’t pick who they were talking to. This does stick in my mind a decade later during picklist generation.

At the levels of play where this could matter the amount of resources you mentioned invested by either team to pull off this off at comp is huge. Could it happen? Yes. Could team 900’s robot also spontaneously turn into a chicken at worlds? Also yes. (All in good fun 900 :wink: )

Yes it’s unethical and UnGP. It is also unlikely to happen.


What in the witch hunt kind of thread is this?

I don’t think anyone thinks this is a good idea to do. But it’s not against any rules.

Are you asking for some sort of call to action here? This would make more sense to me.


This is my biggest irrational fear about alliance selection. I don’t think it will every happen, but I always feel better once the team actually accepts or picks us.


This happens to me every event, when one of the members of the #1 ranked team look at me and I convince myself that this means they’re going to pick us, and then they don’t. Breaks my heart /s


Cue chicken dance.

To add to the unGP:

As is actively misleading an Alliance Capt to believe that your robot is in some form of disrepair and you don’t want them to pick you because you don’t want your team to “be a detriment to Alliance X” so that you can play with a higher seed.

Scenario: We were an Alliance Capt at our Dist Champs (edited to remove year to avoid headhunting). We wanted team A. In talks, Team A indicated that they were having all kinds of mechanical problems and they didn’t want us to waste our 1st pick on them. We thanked them and moved on. Ten minutes later, Team A was spotted on the practice field with a higher ranked Alliance Capt Z (number withheld as there is no indication Alliance Capt Z had knowledge of what Team A did). We passed on Team A; however they were picked up by Z for elims - I stand corrected by a fellow mentor, we were not the ones that knocked them out of elims (I blame it on too little sleep coming back from Dist Champs this weekend). I really wouldn’t mind putting Team A on our permanent DNP.


If you are picking and they are not going to be a captain, you suspect this and still want them. You can pick them. If they truly believe they are busted they will say decline on the grounds robot is in a state of disrepair. I have seen it happen before.

This has happened to us (51) in the not so distant past. I’ll avoid naming any teams or years to stop the hunting for the other team as I do believe there was some justification to the teams decision, but it was definitely blindsiding and a little deflating having shared all of our data with a team and creating a pick list with them only to be told at the last minute before alliance selections they would not be picking us leaving us scrambling to come up with a new list.

For some background, our team and the team in question were spending most of the early qualifying rounds ranked in or near the top position. As the early Saturday matches went on, it became clear that the other team was going to finish in first and we would likely finish in second. So the team approached us, telling us they were going to pick us and asked if we wanted to collaborate and make a pick list together, which we happily agreed to. As the scouting lead, I and a few of our other scouts missed our last match (maybe two) of the day because we were working with the other team’s scouts to come up with our list, discuss strategy, etc.

In those final match(es) our robot had some mechanical failures and we unexpectedly lost some matches and dropped in the rankings (still in a high picking position). After returning to my team with what we thought was the plan, members of the other team approached our team and told us they would no longer be picking us. Word got back to me around the time they were calling for representatives to report to the field for alliance selection leaving us scrambling to come up with another list.

The other team went on to win the event and we went home empty handed. Since then, we have been very hesitant to work with other teams before final standings have been determined unless we ourselves are in the top spot.

We actually debated doing that. The consensus was, “Why do we want to pick them if they are a team that will actively try to mislead us?” the overwhelming answer by my kids was, “No”.

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This has happened and I have verified all of the details while not actually being present for it.

My point in bringing this up is not to start a witch hunt (or to name and shame) it is to make teams aware that this can happen and to be prepared. It isn’t a small inexperienced team that might not know better, this is a high profile team.

I am looking for solutions to preventing this in the future and some guidelines teams can use for making sure this never happens again.

To be perfectly there were no failures of any kind. There was nothing that changed between start of talks and alliance selection.


After thinking about this for a bit, I’ve seen this sort of thing happen too (the team I was on at the time wasn’t involved btw) but it’s so rare that I wouldn’t start distrusting all teams or anything.

In my opinion the level of detail shared in this thread is enough for people to pinpoint what event is being discussed, although this may not be true and I’m not sure myself. Just wanted people to keep that in mind before saying enough to effectively doxx teams.

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In my experience, not crazy common. Some info is shared, but I’ve yet to see a situation where it wasn’t at least somewhat known that there were multiple levels of backup plans.



Not sure what mitigating circumstances might be there (poor communication on some level?). But barring those, yea, that’s a pretty shitty way for humans to act.

If I were in that scenario, I’d be very frustrated at the start. I’d take some time to collect my thoughts. I’d go talk to the other team to figure out what happened.

If the answer is “holy crud we goofed on communication, we’re so sorry” well… yea, that sucks still, but it happens. Move on.

If the answer is “ha yea wasn’t that hilarious good luck loosers!” well… There’d be a few emails that go out, we’d have a long talk with our team about the behavior we saw and how we’re never going to stoop to that level, and we’d purposefully avoid doing anything to ever interact with that team ever again.


I do not know how common it is, but I have done it multiple times. 2022 at FIN Kokomo District, as soon as us and the team we were picking were guaranteed 1st and 2nd, we got together and discussed picks and strategy.

Even this past weekend at the Indiana State Championship, we knew who seed 1 was picking, so as soon as we were guaranteed 2nd, I went and talked with who we were picking to go over lists and 3rd bots.

Mostly just to make life easier on our alliance picker students. But also, so that we can take some time, instead of furiously texting and deciding quickly in the moment, although that does still happen a bit.

If what happened to you, happened to me this past weekend, I would be very upset. If I didn’t know the team well, it would be hard to get over that quickly. If I knew the team well, I would talk to them about it.

There may have been a last second issue. It is unGP for sure, but I could see a scenario where they fully intended to say yes, but then something happened and they realized they wanted someone else. That is their call. Still unGP.

If this happened, I suspect the word would get around and that team would find itself on the outside of being on any top alliances.



This is the sort of thing that gets shared over a mentor social gathering. Word gets around fast. And that word is… usually… far more effective than online pitchforks.


Pretty much the exact opposite happened with us our rookie year - we were in a picking position, had no idea what we were doing. Saturday morning, another team approached us and said “We’d be good together because of X, pick us and we’ll share out scouting data”. We said yes, picked them, got a good second pick, and served up an upset in the first round of the playoffs together :slight_smile:

If another team misled my team with what the OP is describing, I’d be pretty upset. At the same time I think we all need to recognize that the timing of the decisions has something to do with it, too. Making the decision before all matches have been played is risky - you never know how the last matches may impact things. A robot might break or have obvious issues. Another robot may demonstrate they’ve fixed an issue and are now performing much better. Talking with another team too early should make both sides cautious!


I am (99.9%) sure the team has read this and I hope they will correct me with some details I got wrong!

I also wanted to say I 100% understand declining a team. I have mentored many teams that have declined for a wide array of reasons. The problem is agreeing, sharing everything, and then backing out with no time left leaving the other team stranded.


We’re famous for both declining a team at regionals and be declined by 4 teams at Champs. That’s all legit.