[FRC Blog] FIRST Championship News

Orginally posted on the FRC blog, 11/15/2021 FIRST Championship News | FIRST

FIRST Championship News

Written by Frank Merrick, Director FIRST Robotics Competition

By now, many of you have probably heard that the 2022 FIRST Championship will be held in a single location, Houston, Texas, USA.

We understand that while some teams will welcome a single Championship event, others may be disappointed that we are unable to have competition in both Houston and Detroit this season. Due to pre-existing contractual commitments, large indoor and outdoor footprints, and many hotel options with proximity to the convention center, Houston made the most sense as the host location.

As Chris Rake notes in the announcement, the location of a team’s traditional ‘home’ Championship will not be a factor in eligibility. This means eligibility requirements will not take a team’s previous Championship location into consideration. This will be a single event taking place over the days already scheduled (April 20 – April 23, 2022). Due to this, and footprint constraints, we will not be able to host as many FIRST Robotics Competition teams as we have between the two Championship locations in the past. At this time, we are planning to host approximately 450 FIRST Robotics Competition teams.

This means the eligibility criteria themselves must change, something on which we are currently working. Districts and Regionals will qualify fewer teams for Championship than they have traditionally. We are also reviewing eligibility for our traditionally pre-qualified teams. I know folks are anxious to hear details, and my plan is to be able to share the new eligibility criteria within the next several weeks. I hope folks can appreciate that we shared this news as soon as we could, even though there are still a lot of details to work through.

We are working with Districts and other Program Delivery Partners on eligibility criteria and trying to find solutions to issues presented by qualifying events that will be happening the week before the Houston Championship.

Finally, to answer a question we have seen the question pop up, we are still determining what COVID protocols will be in place in Houston.

I will continue to provide updates as items are finalized. Despite this challenge, I’m looking forward to a fantastic season!

Frank

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I want to reiterate for NE FIRST teams that there WILL BE a district town hall on Thursday evening to discuss questions and concerns. Can’t promise there will be answers to everything right away, and I’m sure a lot of people won’t necessarily agree with the ones that present themselves, but it’ll get you a lot further than complaining on Chief Delphi (I know that’s rich coming from me). Other district teams PLEASE check with your districts. I promise the intent is not to leave teams out to dry. Also thanks Frank!

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A lot of interesting things here.

I’m for this. 6 divisions of 75 teams each with one unifying world championship event is the ideal outcome to me.

While I can’t speak for districts, I’m curious how regionals will reduce the number of teams. My gut feeling is that wildcards will be removed, but part of me wonders if there will be any change to championship-qualifying awards. I feel like keeping wildcards but removing the singular auto-wildcard from each event and maybe reducing the number of awards that send teams to champs may be the way to go, but I haven’t put too much thought into this yet. While I don’t think there’s a huge loss either way, it’s just more reason to push towards districts (only 3 years away in California!)

I’ve never been on one of these teams, but I’ve generally been supportive of having some amount of review over the eligibility for pre-qualified teams. When spots are limited, I think it’s important to ensure everyone feels like everyone else has earned their spot to promote fairness.

There’s been almost 2 years to figure out what the right protocols are. Are they holding off on announcing because they want to wait until we’re closer to the date to evaluate what the requirements are, or do they actually not know what they want yet? Why not announce something now and state that things are subject to change as we continue to evaluate the state of the world?

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Universal points model? Universal points model.

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This would result in 348 slots from regionals (I think, ~58 regionals at 6 teams each). Depending on the attrition rate expected from teams unable to attend the event, this may or may not be an acceptable amount. I’m curious how much FIRST will decide to over-subscribe the Championship.

My guess? EI goes away at the regional level for this year and the associated grant moves to Chairman’s. The automatic wildcard goes, but any passed-down ones stay since they don’t add any slots to the Championship.

In terms of what makes sense in the now I think that removing the qualification from Engineering Inspiration (possibly Rookie All-Star) and the auto wildcard makes sense. I’m all for rewarding these teams for their incredible community efforts, especially over the course of two very challenging years to continue such initiatives, but the rewards for year-to-year efforts might make sense to take out for this one year alone. I’d like to see those qualifications return in the future.

For the long term I’m wondering if we see a shift in how alliances overall qualify. Does it make sense to qualify based on picking order and Eliminations performance (Winner, Finalist Captains, Winner 1st, so on and so forth?). I don’t know about the specific stats but I’m curious how many programs that wind up captaining in the Finals are more prepared to go to a Worlds event in 2022.

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I’m a big fan of giving the winning alliance second pick’s champs invite to the captain of the finalist alliance. I think they deserve it more.

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That would make entirely too much sense. Who doesn’t love trying to hit 2nd place chairman’s to save the budget?

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I know this only applies to US based teams, but to me this has for years been one of the biggest misplaced incentives in the FRC program structure

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Trust me, it isn’t just you.

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Based on the number of regionals (62), I don’t see how in addition to cutting wild cards (which seems obvious and near-certain) regionals can keep any more than 4 advancement slots per event. 62 x 4 = 248, which is 55% of the champs slots. Last I checked districts represented more than 50% of all teams.

It will be impossible to get the balance correct since it’s impossible to know what regions will have a lot of teams not able to attend, etc but it seems to me regionals will need to cut 2 qualification spots (EI seems most likely to me, then either RAS or third robot on the winning alliance, this just comes down to what FIRST values more).

Assuming they did cut regionals down to 4 spots per event, and assuming all 248 spots were actually accepted and used for a moment, that means the remaining 202 spots would get distributed amongst the districts.

As an example, MI represents roughly 1/5 of district teams, so if those 202 spots were distributed equally then that would give MI around 40 spots, compared to the ~90 they had previously. I think it would actually be worse as some districts don’t really have many more spots they can cut like IN, so some of the spots that would get cut from those districts mathematically would likely need to be taken from the larger districts like FiM, ONT, NE, TX, etc.

Bottom line, some of the larger district championships which were already really high levels of play are going to become even more high stakes and insane to see.

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It’s possible that some champs admission criteria are going to get you some kind of “priority waitlist” status instead of a definite invite. The week 7 DCMP → week 8 CMP issue just isn’t going to be resolved cleanly which will lead a lot of teams to qualify but not attend, which will open up some slots. If it was me, I’d give each event 4 invites and 2 “priority waitlist” slots. Chairman’s, winning captain, winning 1st pick, and finalist captain get an invite. Winning second pick and finalist 1st pick get on the waitlist.

Edit: Or put the winning 2nd back above the finalist captain. That’s fine too, didn’t mean to spark debate.

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Not enough slots, yet many teams say that they couldn’t make it anyways…

it’ll all work out in the end. Just roll with it.

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It’s been a while since I’ve read something on CD I disagree with as vehemently as I do this.

I can’t even begin to discribe the cognitive dissonance involved in “Yeah you won the event, that’s the end of road buckoo, we only want good teams at Champs”.

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Not to mention, the last thing I want to see is an apathetic team on every playoff alliance. I know GP and all that means you should at least try if you’re a second pick, but the reality is that teams with nothing to play for just aren’t going to try as hard as if they know there isn’t anything for them past the playoff rounds.

With all due respect to the original post, giving the finalist captain the second pick’s spot is easily one of the most “CD” takes I’ve heard in my life.

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They need to figure out how many international teams will be able to come, there will likely be a higher ratio of US teams this year.

It makes sense to take away RAS first, I can’t imagine trying to rally a championship trip as a rookie team this year.

If the auto wildcard goes away, alliance selections might be different as the 2nd place team captain might prefer to go to the number one alliance rather than build their own alliance.

That seems to me a terrible idea. The finals alliance captains know they get an invite either way it turns out and the third teams know they don’t either way? Not very inspiring.

Three slots to the winning alliance and one to chairman’s, please.

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For current numbers, I went with FRC Event Web : 2022 All Teams and did some filtering. (These numbers may still shift a bit, but it’s a reasonable number.)

No District: 1721 (53.5%)
CHS: 107 (3.3%)
FIM: 465 (14.5%)
FIT: 155 (4.8%)
FIN: 53 (1.6%)
ISR: 56 (1.7%)
FMA: 118 (3.7%)
FNC: 64 (2.0%)
NE: 172 (5.4%)
ONT: 119 (3.7%)
PNW: 122 (3.8%)
PCH: 62 (1.9%)
Total: 3214

Not 100% sure there. To take the FIN example, 450*1.6% is 7.2 slots (they had 10 in 2020, plus 45 as Original and Sustaining). Which is snug, but 7 does get you the traditional complement of winning alliance and one each of the changing awards with one slot on points (assuming no backup winner, no regional wins burn the spot, and the districts don’t pad out extra CCAs). I do think the 9th-best FIN team is going to feel more aggrieved than the 67th-best FIM team, but I’ll let HQ figure out how much they want to pad it out for the small districts.

Also, let’s all spare a thought for the IRI committee who is going to have an exceptionally large number of teams competing for the “we got screwed on going to Championship” spots that they tend to award.

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This is true with wildcards already.

Fun fact: I know of a team who only qualified for champs because they were the 2nd pick of the winning alliance, but went on to be the #1 seed in their division and championship winner. (They were the alliance captain at another regional, and ended up as finalists, but this was the pre-wildcard era, so no champs ticket came from that).

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