Festival of Champions: Right and Wrong

Hi everyone!

In the spirit of hoping someone at HQ sees comments on Chief and takes suggestions, I was curious as to what the rest of Chief thinks about the Festival of Champs? Like, the quality, the personalities, the production value. I was there in person and unfortunately doing that precludes me from commenting on the main method of delivery, being their twitch streams.

So, what did FIRST do right for FOC, and what did they do wrong? What could they do to improve for the future?

I personally found the dude on the floor from Twitch also being an alumni being a nice touch, though I kinda missed the in-depth strategy portion of the desk segments. The “filler” content was decently well produced, except for the audio glitches on team videos.

Overall, far less “train-wrecky” than a lot of people were predicting, myself included. I was very happy to be wrong.

In general its existence wasnt exactly good…

I think there was a missed opportunity to get this aired on live TV. The matches are short enough to have some sort of robotics explanation segment in between each that could do well on TV.

Also, by doing that, you could stop putting FTC matches in the middle of FRC matches and use the explain-y bits as time to let robots cool down.

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I watched both streams over Twitch, and generally it was well done and well produced. What did show was that it wasn’t quite a professional-level of production.

Some of the things I recall – many of the video segments had poor audio (appeared to be a transcoding artifact). We had a few hot mics on people at the desks coming in/out of a video clip. The camera cuts on the main feed during FRC matches were a bit rough, field-side cameras were often too zoomed in and seemingly struggling to react to the action forcing the producer to cut to another camera. At the same time the fixed field cameras weren’t giving you the full-field view either.

Most of these things can be fixed with one or two things. First, practice. An hour or so on setup day to run through the handoffs to/from presenters and clips, and to run the actual clips would have spotted the transcoding errors. Second, practice. It’s not clear if the hot mics are under presenter control, or they are expected to be muted at the mixing console, but regardless, a bit of experience goes a long way.

I think that FIRST did put out a higher quality product with this format, the bumpers were well produced, there was clearly a general script for the presenters, interviews, and whatnot. And it showed through as more polished.

Overall a good job!

I was overall pretty impressed with the stream while watching from home. I thought the hosts from Twitch were a nice touch and I was pretty happy with all the filler material. In the future, it would have been nice to get some sort of schedule of events ahead of time, even something as simple as saying that they plan to do 2 FTC matches and then bounce back and forth between FRC and FTC matches. It also would have been nice if they had broadcasted the first part of the opening ceremonies that apparently started before the stream began. My only real complaint were the camera angles (surprise). I wish there had been a full field view, or at least a better angle to see 1011’s insane 2 gear auto.

The explanation of the FTC matches was much better than it was at champs. They pretty much ran on schedule. The venue was well sized for the amount of people who were there. The videos produced by FIRST were generally quite good. The AV setup was good (minus the audio in team videos). Overall the logistics went basically perfectly - it was far better than I expected.

It was a lot of fun to see the game played at a high level.

That being said, this is probably the most money per match FIRST has ever spent on a competition…

I watched on firstinspires1.


  • Staff was in the Twitch chat and responsive. Good look.
  • Staff could at least fix some things like the right-hand boiler cam being knocked askew.
  • All the high-level play you could possibly ask for.
  • Production overall felt a notch above the average FIRST event.
  • I think the Twitch crew was a net positive.
  • Covering the official records of the teams was legit. FIRST hasn’t emphasized that before.
  • Good to see Andy Grady back on a microphone!


  • The audio, enough said.
  • I hope FTC’s real-time scoring improves for the future (but that’s not a FoC-specific thing).
  • Little things like calling motors “engines” that probably didn’t occur to anyone to document.
  • Nothing was on /firstinspires, but a countdown was on /firstinspires1. I was legitimately concerned I’d linked friends to the wrong channel leading up.
  • To that end, Twitter was showing a lot of pregame stuff we didn’t see. That would be cool to show.

Overall, B+ for the first effort. A couple more checklists and it’ll get to an A next year.

Con: Being at 10:30 in the morning (and even earlier for those not on the east coast). Maybe it’s just me, but it felt weird that I was watching this elite event while eating breakfast and I felt the event lost some of it’s impact because of that.


Fantastic matches, and I feel like I was able to see everything that was going on pretty well.

Info about the teams performance.

The extra “team highlights” were awesome. I’m really glad it was put in - it made the whole thing feel more personal, telling the story behind who these people are, and how they got to where they are today.

Made the event last longer than we thought it would without making it feel torturously drawn out.

Great explanation of FTC, certainly gave it some more respect than either of the Champs.

Not to bash or contradict my last statement, but played what would be the “less-viewed” content earlier. Bought more time for FRC which I think undeniably would have been viewed more. That being said…


Way too early. 7:30 on the West Coast? Seriously? A majority of FRC teams competing are on PST - in fact, an entire alliance - and the event is going to be played like Saturday morning cartoons? Come on. This is supposed to be big.

Speaking of large…I think the event could’ve been a bit more… “loud” given it’s supposed to be the best teams, and only the best, in a winner-takes-all type of format. Definitely should have been televised. Not to knock the announcers - I sincerely think they were great - but a casual “Ok, 3, 2, 1, go!” to start the final official match of Steamworks felt…lackluster. Though that’s probably just me whining.

I honestly feel like perhaps FRC should’ve been subject to the same “every team plays at least once” rule that FTC has. 4188 never touched the field, despite having sent their team and robot quite a ways to this event, and on behalf of another team to boot. Felt disrespectful to them, but I don’t blame Houston alliance whatsoever - unless specifically otherwise told, you’re going to play whoever works best strategically, and I completely understand and respect that.


These may just be my unjustified complaints but I truly think that there were some last steps FIRST could have taken to make the FoC truly be a “Champions” worthy event. However, they really did go above and beyond in many aspects, and I appreciate what they put into making the Festival happen.

I really liked how the MC introduced the teams only once. At competitions I find it kind of repetitive in the eliminations, and I hope that FoC set a precedent for that.

The hosts were excellent and made this feel like a well produced show, rather than just a stream of an event. It’s obvious that the team putting this together took notes on what people in the community have done and it really was enjoyable to watch.

Won’t rehash the bugs and polish issues that others have mentioned above - I’m sure that folks are aware.

I was frankly surprised that this event pulled in under 4k concurrent viewers tops between firstinspires and firstinspires1 (I think they had the same thing?). The time of day absolutely did not help, but how can it be that there aren’t at least thousands more people just in the FIRST community tuning in? Did FIRST not get the word out about this event?

It was strange to see tweets showing a video message from POTUS before the stream had gone live. Would have been nice to see the full opening.

I feel like the experience in person and online was probably quite different, especially since some things posted here as positives seemed like a con for us. We arrived a little late to the arena - around 10:20 I think, during the presentation to Dean - so it’s likely that meaningful things happened before we got there.

My pros:

  • The matches were amazing and we had a great view - we sat in the upper level pretty high above the field.
  • The FTC announcers were great when we could hear them.
  • It didn’t drag on, and interleaving the FRC and FTC matches makes the down time between the FRC matches more bearable.
  • The team highlight videos were great.

My cons:

  • The audio was terrible. I could barely hear the FRC announcers, and I couldn’t hear the woman at all. We could hear the FTC announcers better, so I am not sure what the difference was. We were in the upper level, and I do sometimes struggle with audio in an arena like that.
  • The games were never explained, at least after our arrival, which was well before the matches. I think the game animations should have been played. There were definitely FIRST “outsiders” there - the whole section I was in had a huge group of visiting Chinese students - we helped them understand the FRC game, but couldn’t help them with their questions about the FTC game. When was the explanation given that people are referencing here?
  • The first FRC match started with no fanfare - we didn’t hear a countdown or anything, and were talking when suddenly we realized the robots were moving in auto.

It was definitely worth the hour drive up - it was great to have such a high level event in our neighborhood. I am really glad almost all the winning alliance teams made the trek.

I thought overall the event ran very smooth and was a great success.

I did receive some suggestions for improvements from both FIRSTers and non-FIRSTers in the field. I’ve listed these below.

  1. Live scoring for FTC - it is confusing to see the tallys go up inconsistently, sometimes going up and sometimes not. It was difficult to even see what the tallys were indicating.
  2. Who did what on a team? Employers want to know who contributed towards programming, electronics, mechanical and business aspects of a robot. This helps them identify who they want to bring on as interns or hire.

I mostly enjoyed watching, but I think FIRST needs to have a real conversation about what the purpose of this event is. It seemed unclear to me if this was supposed to be a big opportunity to bring in people from outside the tent or a culminating event/celebration for those already in the tent. Which one they choose colors my feedback:

If we are trying to bring in people from outside the tent

  • The games need to me much more fully explained. Game animations would be a bare minimum here, but someone like Ruth discussing the evolution of the meta and how we expect these matches to be played would help immensely, I think. I agree with others’ feedback about FTC scoring. I found those matches almost impossible to follow.

  • To this purpose, I thought the sideline announcers did a really excellent job of getting team members to explain the basics of what the program is all about. The combination of an alum and someone brand new to FIRST naturally created the right kind of dialogue to engage people from outside the tent. (As a side note, I think we forget that the atheletes we see doing sideline interviews have had hours upon hours of media training. The FIRST students have had none. I think they did a really great job of handling the interviews)

If this is a celebration for die-hard FIRSTers

  • More in-depth strategic analysis would have been very welcome. Ruth and Blair were a step up from what we saw on Einstein, but I think at least one more member of the Gamesense/FUN crew would have been a welcome addition.

-The video packages were a good use of time, but I’ve got a crazy idea: 60 second “tech-tip” videos (could be a good opportunity for sponsor/supplier recognition). I’m thinking things like: someone from 254 explaining how they make their rollers, someone from AM talking TileRunners, StrykeForce talking swerve. Could be a great way to inspire students when they see that they can understand and work towards implementing tech that the top teams are.

I understand why they did it, I just think they didn’t go far enough. If they wanna do it this way then go all the way with it and do a "championship in the East and the West and have all four champions meet somewhere to settle the score (and while you’re at it get some network to cover it).

Part of the Einstein victory is that its a marathon. Playing a strict set of elimination matches on a different date just takes all the steam and momentum away from an alliance. It’ll never feel natural. Especially 3+ months later.


  • The twitch partnership is great. Having one of the twitch.tv announcers be an FRC alum was great.
  • The teams in both FRC and FTC were introduced well with great packages and soundbites about the teams. The “973 vs 254” storyline was well done, nd the basic robot introductions were nice to see as well.
  • The matches were exciting! Letting the alliances get ready for the big game for a few months was great in letting both alliances prepeare and making the finals as exciting as can be. I was very happy there were no “Bag and tag” rules for this event, as it allowed everyone to be in their best shape. Now let’s do that for all of FRC…
  • Being able to watch the final matches from my bedroom was excellent


  • The audio during the otherwise well-made video segments
  • We have to find some way for teams to stop losing connection during matches.
    If the best teams in the world are losing connection on the biggest stage in all of FRC, something is wrong. This is probably the #1 biggest takeaway IMO.
  • The FTC game was still poorly explained and the match UI was still difficult to understand, but it was far better than how it was presented at Houston (and better than BMX bikers and awkward dancers for sure)

I’m sure I’ll think of more things. I think the inaugural Festival of Champions was a success, for what it was.

This is very true. Maybe they should schedule it the week or two afterwards to make it more fair.

I second this wholeheartedly! It boggles my mind that people on here still claim that connection issues are only caused by teams’ faulty wiring. I’m pretty sure every team with the title of “World Champion” knows how to wire their robot robustly.