[FF]: Season Long: Year in Review 2017

OK, so I decided to push this out tonight.

The long and the short of it: What went right, and what needs to be fixed for next year?

There’s some topics I know will be, or should be, touched on…

–Waivers, yep that needs some work. Particularly the interaction with missing teams. (let the rotten tomatoes fly…)
–Scheduling, might need some work. (late-season had late schedules…)
–Having a key committee, that worked well in some cases and maybe not in others. Definitely something I’d like to see stay, maybe with some adjustments.
–I do think that the rotating drafts was a big positive, and may allow some further schedule loosenings with a couple minor adjustments. It did come with some complications, though. I will go on record as I did NOT see draft slot trading happening!
–May need some scoring adjustments.
–Almost certainly need a major rules update before next year.

Stuff I am aware of for next year: I believe TX is planning to try districts for 2018–they just ran out of time to do it in 2017. (CA, MN, NY are still bickering over their individual best routes to districts or whether to take those at all.) That’ll trim a few drafts, but there’s room for more regionals to crop up…

The scoring rules need to be reworked to remove ambiguity and be up-to-date. For example, “quarterfinalists” and “semifinalist” should have precise definitions that are clear even if backups get involved. I personally think that adopting district points for scoring playoffs performance would make it much clearer.

Here’s a thought for waivers and missing teams.

Theoretically, losing a first pick as a missing team is worse than losing a second pick, and so on. I propose we use that in deciding how waivers are handled with that event. Assuming there are ~9 teams:

  1. If the first round pick at an event is lost, a team may gain up to 6 slots in the waiver priority list in order to pick a replacement (if they aren’t in the bottom third of the priority, they basically get free choice of replacement). Also, replacing a first round pick does not penalize you in the priority list, so you remain in the same spot as before.

  2. If the second round pick at an event is lost, a team may gain up to 3 slots in the priority list. Replacing a second round pick only slides you down up to 3 spots in the priority list, not to the bottom.

  3. If the third round pick at an event is lost, a team does not gain any slots in the priority list. However, replacing a third round pick slides you down up to 6 slots, so if you are already on top, you don’t get all the way to the bottom.

I know this rule would just add more complexity to the crazy waiver process, but I think it’s a fair way to address the missing team problem by helping a team catch up after losing a pick from a previous draft. This problem is also fair because it limits how good of a replacement a team can get. Say 148 signs up for a regional where there is a missing pick. The team missing it has a good chance of getting 148 if they lost their first pick because they gain slots, and don’t get penalized since 148 is an equal-tiered replacement to the team they lost in the first place. However, if a team lost their last pick they are basically on equal ground with everyone else to get 148 since that would be an unfairly powerful third pick to get priority on simply due to a missing team.

Other than that, I think most of the season went well. I think it would be useful to have an accessible rule book (I would vote for a google doc) that outlines all of the FINAL rulings so that we can all see the rules without having to search the thread or try to remember what happened last year.

Another, much simpler option is just that the team list that you start with is the team list you end with. It removes some of the skill, but it simplifies things significantly. If 148 signs up late, nobody gets em.

Not sure I even like the idea, just throwing it out there.

I actually don’t mind this. There were many cases (especially with worlds) where the 4th backup robot that barely/never played got the same points as the alliance captain (aside from ranking pnts) which is a pretty negligible amount of points when you look at it. Something that makes this more of a gap makes sense to me.

This is useful I think in principal, just not sure what exactly make sense for it to govern/do.

I’m still not really a fan of slot trading. I think it still abuses the weaker teams significantly. Team trading is fine, because it’s way less nuanced. Slot trading has lots of complicated, and easily abused things. EG I want to pick ahead/behind a large clump of weaker teams, since I know they will likely miss some good picks. ALSO it makes the draft runner’s life a bit hellish, and that’s something that to begin with is a bit of a rare commodity. I’d rather not add even more work and stress onto them.

Also what about teams asking advice from people that they know? I guess it’s something that I never really thought about too much, but i’m sure tons of ff teams do it where they ask individuals for tips about xxxx team from whatever region they are less familiar with. Almost defeating the purpose of having a cap on team members, yet it’s literally impossible to police. So I guess a question is… What is the purpose of a team member cap? Especially if there is so much consultation with people not on the team. Half baked thoughts, but figured i’d throw that one out there too.

I’ll probably think of more stuff later.

I’ll speak on this, since our team participates in this activity on the regular.

A lot of information goes through Fantasy FIRST people: we’re in Facebook groups, in Slack teams, in group messages, etc. where information about teams is passed along. We all get this kind of “inside” information: unless you’re literally removed from all the chats and channels you’re in, you’ll get a decent quantity.

How I define the limits of the team is simple: they’re the ones making the decisions. For example, on QD, for Tesla: we were having an extremely difficult time deciding to go with 148 or 2168 with the first pick. To augment our own research, we asked a few knowledgeable FRC people (none of which had inside access, just knowledgeable people) about who they thought was a better candidate. We got various responses, and weighed the reasons for and against. But it ultimately came down to the four of us (Kellen, Brian, Pratik, and I) deciding that 148 was the correct way to go. That to me is the line: if someone not listed on the team is making your decisions for you, or doing more than giving occasional advice, then they either need to be added to the team or you’re doing it wrong.

That being said, this is just a model of ethics our team uses: what other teams use can vary. There isn’t really a practical way to enforce it, but I still think the five member cap is symbolically the right way to go.

I don’t think banning slot trading is an optimal solution, though I don’t know what would be. I think that if slot trading was banned, we’d see some hacky workarounds: “pick 2056 in the first round and we’ll pick 1114 and trade with you in exchange for X”. Unless these are somehow enforceable, it becomes much easier for weaker teams to get burned, and enforcing these kinds of trades sounds much more complicated than just allowing slot trading.

Maybe I should expand a bit.

Having a “key committee” can be a useful hedge on if someone isn’t available and a decision needs to be made NOW, or if some discussion needs to happen. Basically, the commissioner is the lead of the keys*, and has final authority, but for major decisions or in the event of the commissioner being involved the keys either feed back more or make the decision.

*Exact makeup TBD. Could be the most involved draft runners, could be a scoring, a waiver, and a drafting lead, there’s a number of different avenues. Also up for discussion.

There’s another trick for slot trades that could be used: If you trade a slot, you trade the entire slot–all three draft slots for the event. So if Falcon and QD are #5 and #3, respectively, and trade, Falcon gets #3, #16, and #21, and QD gets #5, #14, and #23, no exceptions. Not sure anybody would like that one.

Yeah but at least there is some more solidified understanding of the true benefit of the trade. It’s far less of a hypothetical of 1114 for 2056, as the alternative slot x for possible y team if they don’t get picked

It’s harder to determine what first pick is worth at different regionals, while it’s easy to say 254 is likely better than 2791…

That is true, but I think a lot of issues with trades would be solved by dispensing the following advice early on:

  • People have no reason to make a trade offer unless they perceive it as advantageous to them
  • People have no reason to accept a trade offer unless they perceive it as advantageous to them

In my opinion, if someone makes/accepts a trade offer without taking the time to understand its consequences, that’s on them.

I’ll have to look up the district points on that. There may be a minor conflict with the preferred FF scoring structure. More later.

I thought the standard definitions of “quarterfinalist” and “semifinalist” (and “finalist” and “winner”) were good enough, but for clarity: A “_" refers to any member of the "” alliance. (Fill in the blank with one of the four items in quotes.)

OK, notes on scoring structure: FF preferred scoring structure has traditionally been W-L-T, at 2-0-1 (or 2-(-2)-1–depending on how cruel we wanted to be that year) apiece, and then apply ranking points to the top 15 in a predefined manner that I’d need to look up. (20, 15, 15 for the top 3, I think? I really need to look that up.) Follow that up with the 4-10-20-30 for playoff finish. I know we were asked for the system by folks in MI to help develop/refine their points system.

However, with the wild rankings in 2010 (Coop points, think we kept W-L-T though), 2012 (we just used the ranking score, IIRC), 2015, & 2016, we’ve been using district points instead to rank teams, but only for rank. That said, I think the extra ranking points are going to stay.

What we may want to do–and this is hypothetical–would be to establish two different scoring systems. Either one would apply to the entire season; usage would be decided on Kickoff, as soon as somebody made it to the Tournament section. One would be straight W-L-T, one would be district points or an equivalent. Either way I would suggest not using district awards point values unless it actually makes sense, as some folks have noted (in the past) that top awards may be undervalued.

I will say that if we go district points, we’ll need to totally reconfigure some of the other pointage. That would be one for a deliberate discussion.

To sum up district points for elims, all teams get 10 points per advancement made (that’s 0 for QF, 10 for SF, 20 for F, 30 for W), but with the caveat that the number of points you receive is proportional to the number of matches you actually play.

If a backup team is called in SF2 and their alliance makes it to F at the event, the points are allocated as follows:

The two teams that played in every match prior to their advancement (2 QF, 2 SF) earn 20 points apiece, the normal value for being a finalist.

The team who was subbed out earns 15 points because they played 2 QF and 1 SF.

The team who was subbed in earns 5 points because they played 1 SF only.

That pretty much sums it up. Based on our current system this means that not much would change for the most part other than QF being worth 0 instead of 4. However, with backups called (or 4-team alliances at champs), this means that you will earn points based on not only how far the alliance advances but also how many matches the team plays. In this case, picking 5012 at champs 2015 would result in 0 elims points*

*Note that also under the district system teams will receive 1-16 points based on when they are picked during alliance selection, so every elims team is guaranteed at least 1 point.

As much as I dislike waivers(for multiple reasons, not just the ones that affected our team), I will admit that they have a place in SLFF and shouldn’t be removed entirely. That being said, I have an idea or two that may make them more manageable and less overbearing.

  1. Whatever we do, that list of picked teams has to stay up to date. TBC got burnt by this a couple times throughout the season, and it caused alot of random confusion during a time where TBC was extremely busy. We basically said whatever afterwards cause we didn’t want to start a bunch of drama, but personally, team aside, if we do plan on doing waivers, the list of who we can’t pick needs to be as up to date as possible.

  2. Limit waiver slots per week. To me atleast, waivers were always meant to be a way to swap out teams that weren’t performing as expected, or to swap in new teams that showed up late to an event. However, last season and the one before, waivers have been used as not only that, but as a way to take as many marginally better teams as possible in order to increase your overall point gain. Now, there’s been no problem with it, its not against the rules, but I’d be in favor of limiting waiver swaps per week to a smaller number, something like 2-3. This forces you to think harder about who you want higher on your list, makes waivers overall less bearing for smaller teams(especially those that don’t have automated systems), and reduces just the sheer amount of work that has to go into a SLFF season, which is already alot and thats only if you count pick lists and drafts.

  3. Jordan was saying something about a lottery system for waivers, sounded interesting but I’ll let him post about it in the future.

I like the idea of a key committee, but it prob does need at least this slight change

#1 - Remove the “only 1 from each team” rule, it makes me sad that the good work Brennan does* through the seasons gets overshadowed by the amount of draft running I do.** If you’re worried about TBC abusing their power or such, you should already be worried we get your picklists for 60% of the drafts :^)

*insert doing scoring til 5am for a week straight for 2 years
**I’m not saying brennan 100% absolutely deserves a said committee spot(tho he does), but if its decided he does, he shouldn’t be declined because of me being on it.

TL;DR - I don’t want the good work done by certain members to be basically ignored and denied from taking a higher ranking SLFF position just because someone else on the team does more noticeable work.

And it would also sort of force more frequent waivers, I think. Same teams, less chances to get them… And more free agents. If this went over, I’d probably reserve the right to do a “sudden expansion” in the (very rare this season) event of a booted team, for one waiver round, to accommodate the massive quantity of good teams…

The tradeoff as I see it is fewer picks per round, more rounds overall if possible. Obviously exact allowable size would need to be TBD. Most lists last year other than a couple of teams were at or under 5 picks IIRC.

One other aspect that I’ve been a bit lax in enforcing is the “drop team” part of the list. Basically, no team to drop, no waiver team given. I understand that y’all would like to make a drop pick based on who you get, but a simple way to do that would be to say “pick 1, drop 1. Pick 2, drop 1/2. Pick 3, drop 1/2/3” or something like that for any given event.

I have also been tossing around a different method of doing waivers–claim a team, if nobody with a higher waiver priority responds in 2 days they’re yours–but that would require a lot of policing. If somebody’s got a good way to do that I’m all ears.

Can confirm, TBC did this one waiver and didn’t manage to confuse eric

I’ve been thinking this one over, and I think this is a reasonable move. However, I’ve got a counter-proposal:

If a player is identified as missing a team, on the FIRST waiver ONLY after that team is ID’d as missing (maybe the second), they get Boost/Anti-Drop (B/AD) slots proportional to the number of players in the league, and the missing pick.

Goes like this: If there are X players in the league, B/AD slots are X/2 for nominal (Y). If you lose a 1st pick, you get Y slots. If you lose a second pick, you get 2Y/3 slots. If you lose a third pick, you get Y/3 slots. (All round to the nearest slot–up or down.) Oh, but you only get those slots if you actually make a claim.

When that particular claim comes up, you get enough Boost slots to get you in position to fill that gap, provided it doesn’t exceed the maximum B/AD. If there are Boost slots left, or you don’t have enough, they’re applied to the drop, so you drop to the bottom + Boost slots (so somewhere off the bottom).

I’d generate a random example, but it’s a little late. Basically, if you’re missing a team, you have a chance to fill the slot without hurting yourself too badly even if you miss.

When does this start up again? I’d like to join up for next season (maybe get my feet wet in the IRI draft :stuck_out_tongue: ).

After IRI finishes and a week or two after, Eric will post the signup.

If you have an interest in starting your own team, I would highly recommend pairing up with at least one person. Start looking for a few people who are interested/might be interested in playing and get a tentative team together. Also, look for unaffiliated people at the IRI draft who you would like to work with. If you’re looking to join a team, many times teams will indicate that they’re looking for more members before the season, so that’s a good time to find a team.

Or you could form your own team solo, and either continue that way or indicate you’re looking to add members. Your call.

Seems reasonable, though we should look at the scaling of the upwards movement, since i’m not following that easily without an example.

I mean… People already know that. I fail to see how essentially telling other people that “they want to win” is somehow going to make them not make mistakes.

Ultimately I think it’s hard to judge, especially for for new teams the value of draft order. It just means whoever is buddy buddy with the worst teams in the league the most, the more likely they are to get advantageous trades (presuming the team trading with the weaker teams is competent.)

It adds to the drafter’s work load to keep track of all these trades, people in the actual draft half the time pick early because it’s confusing who’s picks are in what order, and it takes way more time to actually assess a trade, and if you aren’t willing to attempt to trade daily, it’s a significant disadvantage. While i’m all for having skill being applied to FF, the season is simply too long and time consuming to have long sustained trade deals for over a month of basically daily drafts. We want to be lowering the barrier for entry to get the team count up, not raising it so that top teams stay top because of the large amount of time put in it.

Trading teams just is all around easier to run, easier to understand, and less prone to screw over new/weaker teams.

Just for grins, let’s assume that we have the following waiver order.


9 teams, so the “nominal” slot amount is 4.5, make that 5. Now, let’s assume that QD is missing a 1st pick, F3 a second, and Falcon a third, all in the same draft (Magnolia Regional). QD can move up 5 slots, F3 can move up 3, Falcon 1, IFF they make claims.

And just to make things interesting, they all pick the same team to fill that hole (because 46 is just awesome). Falcon moves up 1 slot (to #2), but QD has more slots and moves up to #2 instead, taking the team and drops to #8 (there was one left over which is applied after the drop-down). F3 isn’t able to move past #6 and gets nothing.

On Falcon’s next claim, they drop to #8; F3 makes a pick and drops to #6 (or moves UP to #6).

Of course, this is assuming that all 3 make the missing claim in the same “round”, or in a place that could reasonably be considered as the same round.

Oh, but wait there’s more! SL was ALSO missing a team, but didn’t make a claim in that event. They get no slots, and will be unable to move up–either before or after their claim–when 2056 enters the event next waiver and they claim them.

Here’s the claim order as seen by the missing-team slot allowances:
QD (+4–that’s all they need, even with Falcon’s allowance being used)
Falcon (+1–allowance applied in priority order, they lose this one)
F3 (+3)

And the result after that round of claims is
F3 (3 remaining)
QD (1 remaining)
Falcon (1 remaining)

Right now I’d be calling it that if you miss the missing team, you still get the slots but they’re applied only AFTER your next claim goes through.

Yes, it’s confusing. I might have to run through an excel.

Oh, and someone suggested randomizing the waiver priority order, instead of using last year’s finish/order of signup. Great idea, let’s do that!