Declining from off the carpet

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.


I agree that it is something the scorekeeper should enter, because with the current system a declining team’s number remains visible in the list of available teams displayed by the FMS/Audience Display.

I’m not so sure the purpose warranting posting or making the data available via API.

I put a feature request in the FTA slack channel, but the guys and gals up at HQ are very busy people, so I wouldn’t hold my breath. There are certainly more important things that they are doing.

3506 declined last year because we had an electrical issue at THOR and figured it would be better to let someone else play instead while we figured it out for the next event in SC. A team that have never won anything before took our spot and got to play and win so we were happy about it.

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5940 did make the 2017 finals albeit with 971 as their first pick…

Having two 1678 bots on an alliance there is a bit embarrassing because we prefer that every other team has at least 1 bot in the playoffs before our last bot gets picked.

So we are publicly calling out Duncan (610) and Pranit (3683) now eh :stuck_out_tongue:

But seriously, both were just a case of miscommunication. Teams thought they were in different seeding positions then they were, and trying to become a low alliance captain. I know from this year at champs that it can be really difficult to figure out where you are going to get picked, and if you are going to decline to try and become a low alliance captain, it can be very chaotic. I know FIRST has made improvements to the alliance selection process (good pre-explainer video, and showing the full ordered rankings on the video screen) that have helped reduce the chances of these errors happening again.


Heck, you could have been ranked 11 going into alliance selections, not decline anyone and not be in the playoffs. 10th ranked was selected 2nd to last. See Hopper this year for the fun stats. There were zero in-selections.