Declining from off the carpet

I’m curious about instances of teams declining a first round selection while not being confirmed as alliance captain. I’ve heard of a couple situations of this:

  • 3683 at 2018 McMaster: ranked 14, declined the #2 seed 2200 by accident, oops (see other threads on the matter)
  • 610 at 2009 Finger Lakes: ended up missing playoffs

I am particularly curious if there are any situations where it worked out. We talked about doing this at Champs this year (we were ranked 10 and were selected first overall) but dismissed the idea quickly as not being anywhere near worth the risk.


Is this thread intended to find out special circumstances as opposed to situations where a team declined because their robot was unable to compete?

Edit: or is it to find out which teams ran the risk of saying no, while expecting to become captains? I’m sorry for my issues understanding here.

I think hes asking for any instance a team that wasnt an alliance captain declined an invite, but the declining team still had a shot at becoming an alliance captain (basically any team 9th-15th)


I haven’t seen that situation myself, but there are two other odd situations that come to mind.

One year a team packed up and was trying to leave before alliance selection. One of my inspectors caught then at the door and grabbed me to talk to them. They were convinced they weren’t going to be picked and just wanted to head home. I managed to convince them to stick around for another half hour when I found out they were ranked 12th. Ended up being the 7th seed captain.

A different year, had someone from pit admin track me down. A team had approached them to remove themselves from alliance selection. I went over to talk with them, and they had some legitimate robot issues with both their drive train and primary mechanism. I rallied them, got someone over to alliance selection, and got started of repairs. We had the drive train fixed before alliance selection was over, and their primary mechanism not long after. I even had time to grab lunch in the volunteer lounge before they cleaned it all up. Another case of a team that ended up being an alliance captain - their drive train and mechanism worked throughout their remaining matches, too!


More proof that Canada is the leader in innovative FRC strategies


2011 Niles District (FiM), week 4.

2767 seeded 15th and declined a selection. They had already qualified for States (Traverse City week 1, West Michigan week 3). IIRC they had some mechanical issues and wanted to spend time in the pits working on that, and also wanted to give teams who had not qualified yet a shot at the District Points. Or maybe I just dreamed all this…


No problem, let me just check the first api. Oh wait, declines aren’t tracked there.

Please publish declines FIRST, I’m sure you track them anyway so that no one double picks.


I don’t believe they are. Scorekeepers just enter in the final alliances into the FMS (as of 2017), declines aren’t electronically recorded anywhere.


That was them? I think that was the year I worked at Niles and they asked me about how they would go about it.

But I also remember an event where a team that had placed below 8th and due to in-picking moved up to the 7th seed captain. They declined to be an alliance captain for whatever reason.

I recall that one, too. It was not 2767, but I cannot recall which team it was.

This topic is the main reason that CD folks have been posting selection results for many years now – score keepers don’t record declines. In the distant past they didn’t record selection order, either. That changed when District Points began, but there still isn’t an advancement-based reason to record declines. Just inquiring minds wanting to know…

FIRST does not track declines, it is up to the field staff at the individual events to make sure that anyone who declines is not allowed to accept someone else’s invitation.

At madtown throw down, 1836 finished quals as the 12 seed and declines 5940 to form their own alliance. We lost in quarters, but were probably going to either way. Alliance captain gave us a better chance of powering through, but also my newer kids the opportunity to be an alliance captain and run the show for once.

Then we subbed ourselves out for 8678 cause they were performing better than we were by the end of quals.

That alliance experience was one of my favorites in FIRST experience. What’s better than picking 1678? Picking 9678 and 8678. Really great kids on those drive teams and pit crews, that entire alliance was an absolute pleasure to work with!

I’d say it worked out pretty well.


Yeah, I forgot. That’s what I get for posting too early in the morning.

Well anyway I still think scorekeepers should enter this and the FMS should publish it.

There was one in Michigan back in 2012 (I think that’s the year), and it was a team that already qualified for states, so they decided to let some other team get more points, and not damage their robot.

It may have been Waterford Mott Destroyers

Very nice of them

I don’t know of any case where a 9th to 12th place team turned down an invite strategically on the assumption they would move into the 8th alliance captain slot eventually and it working out.

The only case where it seems like it would be a reasonable idea is if:

  1. the clear top two teams finish 9th and lower
  2. the rest of the captains form a clear second tier
  3. there is a clear third tier of teams running about 10 teams deep
  4. there is a high captain outside that third tier or there is a massive drop off to the fourth tier
  5. some knowledge of the teams in the situation

You need 1 because without an obvious fallback pick outside the other captains the risk of the field getting burned is too high.
You need 2 because the captains still have to pick each other and now they have some incentive to not do so to freeze a top team out of eliminations.
You need 3 and 4 to make being a low alliance captain clearly better than just saying yes.
You need 5 to have any sort of confidence that the situation is predictable.

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Here’s a thread I made a few years ago on the same topic:

I remember 2153 moving up to 8th seed captain at 2011 West Michigan and declining the captaincy.

How exactly does a team decline the captaincy? What did they say? Did it work? I assume that meant they couldn’t get picked later on?

Section 12.7.1 in this year’s rules:
If a team declines the ALLIANCE Lead position or doesn’t send a student representative for ALLIANCE selection, they are ineligible to participate in the Playoff Tournament. If the declining/absent team would have been an ALLIANCE Lead, all lower ranked ALLIANCE Leads are promoted one spot. The next highest-ranked team moves up to become the ALLIANCE Eight Lead.

I seem to remember a story that they added the specific wording after the 2015 Midwest regional where 2451 declined to be a captain. There was some question during eliminations whether they were the first back up robot or not. That wording first appears in the 2015 game manual so that would imply it came during a rules update in 2015.

Edit to be clear: the story I remember was 2451 declined due to being broken and wanting to repair. Not that they were looking for backdoor to get on a better alliance.


I really appreciate teams that do this.