Errors in District Team Advancement to Worlds

Hi everyone,

The past couple weeks we scraped together a calculator to determine which teams advance to the world championship, using data pulled from the blue alliance. The Thursday of DCMP, we ran a script to pull who was registered for the World Championships. If we couldn’t explain it through HoF, out of district winner/wildcard, or an award that prequalifies them, we felt it was safe to assume these teams came from the wait list. These are the teams we found:

Of these teams, we could not explain 3 of them and assumed waitlist:

Now, MAR is allocated 21 total champs spots, of which 13 should have gone to teams based on points. We had 5 teams qualify in outside districts (one even on the last day of MAR DCMP itself), which subtracts from the points spots and leaves 8 to the top point finishers that don’t qualify in another way. Key point here is that these spots go to teams that don’t qualify in another way.

Now if you’re still following, here comes the fun part. There is a discrepancy between who I believe should be attending championships from MAR and who FIRST HQ says is attending championships from MAR. Here are the two pages in question:

If you’ll notice, on the official FIRST ranking page, teams who have qualified by waitlist are not listed as ‘qualified’. These teams are 4285, 5992, 2577. Except 2577 is listed as qualified. Why? Why not the other two? Because, according to the official FIRST ranking page which seems to ignore waitlist, 2577 has earned a point spot. Remember my key point from earlier? Point slots only go to teams who don’t qualify in another way. 2577 has burned a point slot while ALSO being a waitlist team. Because of this, it seems that mar is sending one less team to champs then it should.

Proof that FIRST considers 2577 a waitlist team:

How do I know that point spots don’t go to wait list teams? Honestly, I don’t. The same way I don’t know that if a team wins DCMP and wins Chairmans, an extra points spot appears out of the blue. The advancement model outlined in the manual is severely lacking at best. It does not list the many edge cases that can exist. All it says is that waitlist is taken into consideration when it is determined how many total spots a district takes at champs in section 12.9.2. This leads me to believe that since its taken into consideration there, it is already accounted for. On top of that, the other two wait list teams do not subtract from MAR’s overall points spots as a regional winning/wildcard team would.

So this leads me to my questions:

  • Why is this system so unnecessarily complicated?
  • Why is the system not fully outlined in the bible of first, the game manual?
  • Why is there no solid source on who gets pulled from the waitlist? We had to basically just scrape who was registered for champs before MAR DCMP happened. Severe lack of transparency.
  • Why is the waitlist not considered on the official ranking page?

And, most importantly,

  • If this happened once, how many other times has it happened?

I think the most plausible explanation is that the system that awards CMP slots through actual qualification isn’t communicating with the system that generates a waitlist. 2577’s point slot should jump to 5992, then from 5992 to 5404. If the waitlist was eating points slots, we should be missing even more points slots. Not just one.

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I myself was confused when I saw this come up on the board and thought the number of teams qualified by points was really small compared to previous years. I’m glad I’m not the only one who noticed this. It’s been bugging me all day

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It was two teams short of what I was expecting. One I can explain because 2095 went to Montreal and won, the day of MAR DCMP. I guess they just didn’t add them to the Regional Winners slide for some reason? The other one was a mystery to me until today when I noticed the FIRST ranking page has no regard for waitlisted teams.

It’s bugged me since yesterday, based on the calculator my team should advance to Worlds due to wait-listed teams taking both a wait list spot and a points spot, however we are not listed as qualified by FIRST’s website… :frowning:

To my knowledge waitlist teams do eat a slot in districts just like a waitlist team does not generate a wildcard at a regional.


If a waitlist team ate a slot, then there should be two less teams qualified because we have two waitlist teams coming from deep down in the rankings that did not eat a slot.

Sorry we got that wrong Phil, we asked around and the consensus seemed to be that waitlist teams would be skipped over, but I guess that’s not the case.

They already decreased the number of points spots we get by 10% to add waitlist teams, seems like a bad system that would penalize it again by having those waitlist teams burn points spots.

Brandon, I think they’re only eating spots if they would have qualified without the waitlist.

Except they aren’t a waitlist team anymore they are a district qualifying team. Now one more waitlist team will be pulled from somewhere (hopefully MAR)

On behalf of 2577, we wonder if there’s any way we (2577) can help in this issue being resolved? There must be some way to contact FIRST directly about this issue.

Another reason we had so few points spots this year, and what I think is a bigger issue, is that we had FIVE teams qualify at regionals this year, brining the points teams down from 13 to 8.

I’m not sure why beating some Quebecoise teams means that some team that scored literally five times more district points than you doesn’t get to go to Detroit.

Having these outside wins take away points slots is just a bad system for qualifying teams.


I am fairly positive that Waitlist teams (that don’t advance to Worlds) don’t take a spot from the District.

In PNW, 31 teams advanced to Houston based on section 12.9.2. Based on our page for district rankings, 32 teams advanced with the one-team difference being 2976, who is pre-qualified after being on the winning alliance last year in Houston.

Outside of that, I know of at least one team in PNW (4089) who is not one of the 32 teams listed as qualified that is going to Houston off of the waitlist.

What I suspect is the case here is that 2577 no longer counts as Waitlisted because they qualified based on points (as AGPapa and MARS_James are suggesting), but I can’t find anything that says that for sure.


If this is true, this is a terrible system that punishes other teams for waitlisted teams doing well.

My main issue with all of this is that, like most of FIRST, the system is a cloudy black box and none of us know exactly how it works. I’d like to see more of it defined in the manual next year.


This is wrong for districts to the best of my knowledge. If it’s true, it’s a new rule that has not been communicated to teams. In 2017, we had 222 and 2607 waitlist in to CMP then qualified on points. Their spots when to the next two points teams.


The Texas rankings seem to confirm this. They have multiple teams that qualified by points and waitlist, and are that many (I think? It gets weird to count because the last points-based team is a waitlist team) short.

Yep. My team is from FIT and would have been the last team to qualify off of points if waitlisted teams that qualified by points did not consume a points slot.

From FRC Championship Eligibility Criteria: (emphasis mine, unsure if this is new for 2019)

Both FIRST Championship locations in 2019, Houston and Detroit, will have Waitlists. Teams may join the Championship Waitlists to fill any remaining FIRST Championship slots not filled by qualifying Regional or District teams. Teams may sign up for either their home or non-home Championship Waitlist. Teams who sign up for the Waitlists will be randomly selected as described below at various points throughout the competition season in an effort to give teams as much time to make travel plans as possible while ensuring we do not exceed FIRST Championship capacity.

YMMV, but that rather clearly implies that if you get a waitlist bid and qualify through a regional or district system, your waitlist bid goes back in the hat, as you’re now a “qualifying regional or district team”.

Huh. Alright then. My mistake.

The history and internal logic of the qualification system leads me to believe that teams waitlisting for the events in Houston or Detroit will maintain their waitlist spot, and the waitlist spot will not revert back to FIRST.

That is a great question to talk about at length. It’s very difficult to explain to people how, at events, you are earning 3 kinds of points at a time (match points, event ranking points+tiebreaker sorts, and district points), that have some carryover from one category to the other, but it’s not consistent, proportional, or holistically relevant. I have been a party to text messages and emails from people every year for how to explain how the system works. What the system grants in what I believe to be a balanced and transparent approach to sorting teams based on merit, it severely lacks in ease of explanation. In other words, it was made by engineers :wink: . EDIT: I will add that I have heard of, been in discussions, or suggested myself that we rename some of these tools to further separate them. I also think that the leaderboard screen at events should show the district points (or Advancement Units! new name) alongside their rank at the event.

To my knowledge, the FIRST Robotics Competition is the only major amateur robotics competition that does not maintain a consistent “evergreen” manual that contains a largely static set of rules and procedures from year-to-year, and locked in before the start of the season. In my 11 years of affiliation, we have not changed battery rules, bumper construction rules, only had 1 change to the weight, 1 change in control systems (with 3 radios), no material changes in district advancement for the last 4 years, little material change in overall advancement in the last 4 years, no changes to the fabrication schedule rules recently either (big change coming in 2020, I have heard!)…, this is in addition to smaller sections broken off in recent years like conduct and inspection rules… these are all largely stagnant and in no-way game dependent. Why does Manchester insist on dumping all of this information, with slight or zero tweaks, at kickoff with the game specific rules? If it’s because they are worried about fracturing official communications, that would be an interesting explanation.

These questions are why I would find a paranoia of information fracturing to be interesting. Think of all of the errant PDFs of team information tossed up on the blog AND/OR the email blasts AND/OR tucked away on the firstinspires site without much notification. As a former head mentor, I like to think I put a lot of work in staying on top of all of the information Manchester provided us. I could anticipate timebombs like the load-in at Detroit last year, or have push notifications set up for TUs and Blog posts. Still, I felt behind and as though I was herding cats.

Imagine what a physical manifestation of the communication matrix from the FRC team would look like. What do they communicate? Who is the information relevant to? Who receives the information relevant to them? (those are different questions that have different answers!) When, where, and how are these communications transmitted? The result would probably be eye-opening.

While I think this will result in a brand new “oopsie” blog post because it’s either a new/unclear policy or a mistaken application of current policy, it is not the first oopsie blog post of the season. here’s to hoping it’s the last.