I may take some flack for this, so I’ll try and explain my thought process as thoroughly as possible. I’m not yet entirely convinced that it’s the field/FIRST’s problem, and I don’t think I know enough to make an educated call. I agree that it looks very suspicious, but this is how I see it.
These problems are very hard to diagnose the root cause of. There have been numerous long threads here listing as much evidence as we can, and many of the greatest minds in FRC haven’t yet figured it out. These are not easy problems to solve, and I have full confidence that the FRC staff is working as hard as they can to work this out.
Many times, it is actually a robot problem. There have been loose connectors, USB issues, and more. After the CT Regional (which had its fair share of communication issues), I spent some time talking to the FTA. We agreed that some (but not all) of the problems were team caused - IIRC, there was a team that admitted its own fault on this. For the rest of the problems, the FTA said that he simply didn’t know. There are so many variables constantly changing, and it’s extremely hard to debug with the tools available. WiFi networks can be very tricky, especially regarding interference. I’m not saying it’s FIRST’s problem, and I’m not saying it’s the teams’ problem. Just trying to look at the big picture here.
Now, with a little more respect to today’s Einstein matches, specifically. Yes, it is fishy that for some teams, this was the first sign of communication trouble. Yes, it is fishy that the robot at Red 2 was totally dead for 3+ matches in a row. Yes, this is a huge problem - just look at Dean and Woodie’s facial expressions during their speeches, they both looked REALLY stressed out, and with good reason.
But if you were in their situation, what would you have done? Consider the weather: electrical storms and hail. That can’t be good for the field networks. Now, I’m not in St. Louis now, but I think the inclement weather started right around the same time as the Einstein matches (EDIT: apparently, it started for the finals. But it’s still possible for there to be electromagnetic interference before and after the hail started, since the storm was still in the area). Thunderstorms and field trouble are correlated, in this case (but this doesn’t imply causation, however). But I think the weather played a large part in the trouble - the field network had to have had some problems with all the electrical interference in the air, from both the weather and people’s devices in the stands. I would love to see some data from the FMS logs, DS logs from teams competing on Einstein, and any data about wifi traffic in the area. It may shed some light on the problems.
I do think they should have considered moving to another field or switching red/blue, and I hope they did consider that. But they decided not to, for whatever reason, and I remain confident that they chose this with a rational explanation; I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt on that one.
Let’s be frank: getting eliminated due to connection issues is just an absolutely awful way to go. There’s no ifs, ands, or buts about it. It sucks. A lot. We see that we have a problem. Complaining won’t solve anything. Let’s look at the big picture, and try to see how all the many variables fit into place. The problem is complicated enough on its own. Let’s put our heads together, collect as much hard data points as we can, and try to fix things.
tl;dr: I’m not going to pass judgement on how things were handled and whose fault it was. I wasn’t in St. Louis, and I don’t know all the facts that the field people knew. Until I know as much as possible, I’m going to refrain from saying it was either party’s fault. Let’s try to get as much data as possible into the open and work together to solve the problem instead of mudslinging on whose fault it was.
EDIT x2: I’m not saying that it’s nobody’s fault. It’s possible that it is entirely FIRST’s fault. But I don’t feel comfortable making that call with the current information available to me.