Alliance Selection Rigging

#1

Hi all. Quick question about alliance selection: is it legal for a non-top 8 team to request that a top-8 team not pick them so they can be selected by another picking team? I can’t find a specific conduct rule against it, but it seems like it could fall under the umbrella of “being a good person” and gracious professionalism/coopertition.

#2

This is allowed, and happens quite often, at worlds in 2016 team 1425 was asked by several teams to not pick them.

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#3

I mean. That depends on how merciful the top 8 teams are. Top 8 don’t have to honor that request, but you know “bad things” can happen.

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#4

What was the reasoning behind that? Sorry wasn’t around during that time

#5

While 1425 was pretty good that year, teams 971, 1678, and 4334 all ranked behind them, and teams would much rather have been picked by them.

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#6

As an example, if seed #17 had an arrangement with seed #4 to be their first pick, 17 might ask #1, 2, and 3 not to select them.

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#7

Legally, yeah you can request it.

The teams you request to not pick you also have no obligation not to pick you, and you cant really say no either if they choose to pick you anyways.

I also wouldnt call this rigging. Rigging implies something more like sandbagging to not get picked.

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#8

I think it’s generally considered acceptable to make the request, but also generally considered acceptable to refuse to honor the request as picking alliance captain.

Usually, I would lean toward ignoring such requests unless there was another team equally good as the team making the request.

#9

This is not known to be illegal. In the one instance I know of where this happened, a team caused quite a commotion by talking to almost every highly ranked team and asking them not to pick them so they could be the second pick of one of the top robots at the event. This team was known to be better than the 14th-16th selection. They ended up getting picked by another alliance, and they could do nothing but accept or forfeit their opportunity to participate in playoffs.

These actions (a team asking everyone else to not pick them so they could be picked by a good alliance) were deemed to be outside the realm of acceptable behavior by many people directly involved. Imagine if the best three teams at an event (with one if them being unlucky enough to be ranked outside the top 8) ended up together because of shenanigans like this. It wouldn’t seem fair at all.

#10

I have seen a team tell one potential alliance captain not to pick them because their robot is terribly broken, only to be picked by another alliance captain and miraculously get it fixed and win the competition. Still not “rigged” per say, but at least a little unethical.

However, this was in our FTC days.

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#11

While I understand it, this leaves such a bad taste in my mouth.

#12

I’m obviously not naming any teams here, but I’ve seen a good team announce that they’ve accidentally deleted all their code, get passed over by almost everyone, get picked by the alliance that would eventually win, and manage to rewrite their code during the lunch break. It certainly seems suspicious, but it’s totally possible that in what the programmer lacked in version control skill he had in typing speed.

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#13

Unless a robot is truly broken or some other catastrophe has killed a team’s ability to contribute to an alliance, I don’t see any way to think this kind of behavior is GP. It’s like saying, “hey, I can’t decline an alliance but I really want to be on a different alliance.” There’s a reason a team that declines an alliance can’t be picked by anyone else.

#14

A team can request it, and a captain can deny it. This also applies when a team (truthfully) argues they’re broken. Many captains will take this statement at face value. Others will ask to understand more, not because they think it’s not the truth but because they may be able to help. This can indeed give the captain and team who pursues it an advantage, a fair one, if they can help fix the team.

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#15

So there’s a few things here, first of all requesting somebody to not pick you is not “rigging” and generally they still will pick you to try and scorch. Asking people politely not to pick you has nothing wrong with it because you’re just telling them that them picking you isn’t in your best interest. Also, if you lie about your robot being broken or having issues that is 100% not okay.

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#16

First I would caution you against using GP as a justification for your opinion of how others should act. GP is a principle that tells you how one ought to think while acting; it’s not as good for determining which actions are acceptable and unacceptable, because applying the principle of GP might affect the actions of different people differently.

That said, I don’t see anything wrong with making that request of a team, in certain situations. Say you have some special synergy with another teams, either through robot capabilities or personal connections. It may well be that it would be in both your best interests to not form an alliance. I don’t think it’s ungracious or unprofessional to tell someone that you don’t think you’ll work well together.

I see varying levels of problems in asking every other possible captain at the event as a strong bot just so you can get on the #1 alliance, lying about the reasons, or lying about your ability levels (e.g. falsely claiming you’re broken, sandbagging). I also think captains can and should ignore such requests. I think people who make such requests should evaluate for themselves whether their request is in good faith and fits with their values. But I don’t think being honest about your desires should be viewed as wrong by itself.

#17

Hmm… if I were a top-8 alliance and you specifically asked me to not pick you, I’d probably be tempted to honor that request… and keep on honoring it at future events.

It’s not illegal, but it’s not exactly the best way to make friends, either.

Perhaps a different approach would be to get your alliance captain friend to make the request of the higher ranked alliances… if 9999 is ranked #3, and you’ve shared a build space, played with them all year and really want to do it again, then they could let #1 and #2 know that they would very much appreciate having the opportunity to select you. It’s the same message, but expressed in a positive point of view… “We’d love to have them on our alliance because…” rather than a negative… “We don’t want to play with you.”

Jason

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#18

Here’s the thing. If you’re a decently-strong team, and you say “please don’t pick us”, there’s a pretty good chance that you get picked ANYWAY. If you say no, you’re out anyways. If you say yes, and you can be repaired/fix whatever the issue is, then the team that picked you is up one decent robot. At champs, if you say yes and you can’t get fixed, that’s what the 4th robot is for.

And from the AC’s point of view, if you say no, then that’s one fewer power pairing they need to worry about.

Now, if you say, “We would accept if you asked us, but we would really like to play with XXXX”–as an AC I’ll look into whether we think you and XXXX is somebody we can beat. If not, you’ll get picked anyway.

Of course, the easier way to deal with this is to seed first…

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