FRC Blogged - Championship!

Taken from the FRC Blog, 4/25/13:


Blog Date: Thursday, April 25, 2013 - 12:38

The first full day of Championship is going great! Matches have started smoothly, teams are flowing through inspection, and you can feel the energy in the air. Since all 400 teams are here, we** did not** need to change the schedule from the preliminary versions released Monday.


I recognize the disappointment teams have expressed with only getting eight qualification matches at Championship. I was disappointed, also. I would have liked to get in nine. However, we have full data on cycle times at every event during the regular season, and attempting to fit in nine matches in the time we have was unlikely to work. I also believe attempting to expand the scheduled time available in some way would have put us at risk of running in to issues that would have lowered the quality of the experience for many. This decision was not easy for me to make, but I still believe it was the correct one.

I’ll blog again soon.


Props to Frank for looking carefully at the issue and responding to the community.

In previous years, we would definitely not get this type of open feedback.

Ummmm… 360 teams. I’m sorry, but accessing the waitlist degrades the championship both by making it lose qualification only status and by giving everyone less matches. I know that FIRST wants as many teams as possible as the championship, but at some point making a worse experience for the 360 teams who qualified is not worth getting another 40 in.

So you are saying having one more match is so important to you that you would deny 40 teams their chance to play?

Depends what’s important to you.

Is championships a magical rainbow and unicorn filled experience that all teams should be able to go to, even if they have objectively awful robots?

Or is championships the venue for showing off the absolutely best robots to create the highest level of competition possible in order to create a sport that the general public would actually want to watch?

The “problem” isn’t just the wait list though. It’s RAS and to a lesser degree EI/CA. If you look purely at the quality of the robots, it’s clearly less than that of those who qualified through performance. From a competitive standpoint some of these teams have no business being at Champioships, but FIRST seems to be pretty clearly on the rainbows and unicorns side, not the competitive side.

It also comes from teams who not just get “coattail’d” but large differences in team count between two regional events and all other things contribute to a Championship event that 23 years later still can’t decide what it’s supposed to be. That results in event winners that would get eaten alive at most events and RAS winners that can get steamrolled by other rookies getting pummeled by teams at CMP.

Yes. If Kamen is serious about this being a sport and not a science fair then he should treat it like one and make it a competition not a showcase. A competition qualifies the best. A showcase qualifies everyone.

Well I leave aside the fact that the name includes Inspiration and not “putting on a good show”

The current system has always been the unicorn and rainbow side you speak of. Every year there are great robots, even top 5 or10% robots that don’t qualify based on merit for many reasons, mostly bad luck, while many teams do make it by winning with a “golden ticket alliance” or RAS EI/CA.

I do agree that many of the teams have no business being there from a competitive standpoint, I just get tired of the waitlist bashing when they’re a very small part of the problem. The entire system needs a major change if your goal is to get away from unicorns and rainbows.

But to be truthful my original post was a reaction to someone complaining about his experience being lessened by a small amount because others were allowed to have the same experience (especially when they got in on a RAS last year.) Probably not real GP of me but I have never been known to pull my punches.

I would disagree completely with this. The teams that earn those awards are the teams that strive for excellence. If you look at the 4 teams that won RAS at championship this year (4488, 4451, 4472, 4731), None of them actually won a regional. 4451 went to 2 events, were alliance captains at both events from seeds 7 and 5, made it to the finals in one event, but did not with their way based on performance. 4472 made it to the quarter finals from rank 11. 4731 ranked 19. And we ranked as the 4th seed at our event. All four of these teams had very capable robots, and so did many other teams. At championships, 4451 ranked 42, 4488 ranked 37, 4472 ranked 52, and 4731 ranked 94. But none of them would have made it without RAS. I saw first hand this year what championships did to the rookies on our team, and talking to them afterward they were all amazed and it is making them strive to be better.

I think its the 3rd picks at regionals that actually bring the Championship performance down. I know there are some regionals where the 3rd picks are deep enough to be amazing, but at a lot they are relegated to defensive bots because that is all that is left. I think that the teams that usually win the awards usually have better robots, and get picked higher, but because of luck don’t make it all the way.

Before we get into the pros and cons of the various trade-offs for more matches or fewer teams, know that it was discussed ad nauseum here.

Great point! And I do agree coming from a team who qualified in 2011 through RAS. It was great being able to work with a rookie team on their first trip to the World Championship they were inspired! I hope it didn’t ruin anyone’s experience. :rolleyes:

I too would have liked to see more matches but one more isn’t enough reason to take 40 teams off the list IMHO. Its not worth it for one more match.

This is a fair point. We did get in on RAS last year, if I had my way there wouldn’t be guaranteed spots for RAS or EI, and we could use a point system or something to bring more competitive teams to champs. I’m not complaining so much because my team lost one match (we actually got a good schedule so 8 matches helped us), however I find an attitude that says, in effect, “we do not care about the best teams winning” from FIRST higher ups very uninspiring and the fact that the hard work of teams like 2056 got knocked out in part because they could not overcome the ridiculous amount of luck introduced by such a short schedule. The fact that no amount of hard work excellence or perfection provides any guarantee of success is discouraging, not inspiring. Kids enjoy sports because sports celebrate competition, I’ve never heard of varsity basketball playoffs that included extra teams because they thought it was uplifting. If FIRST wants to be a sport it needs to act like its a sport.

All I really have to say on the matter is that of the over 2400 teams in FRC this year, 400 of them qualified for Championships. 1 out of 6. Consider the other 5/6 of all teams. Did any of these teams deserve to go? Probably. Is it “rainbows and unicorns” to assume that every team that “deserves” Championships will be able to go? Probably. I’m not of the opinion that a significant proportion of the teams at Championships didn’t deserve to be there. Championships is a celebration of far more than just that year’s challenge, and I think that everyone gets that, or at least I hope they do.

In order to raise the competitiveness of Championships, and of FRC as a whole, the solution isn’t to cut out those that can’t perform well. That’s just ignoring the problem. Maybe we’re too focused on lowering our sample sized as opposed to increasing the sample quality. I would take 8 matches at Championships if it was 8 matches of world-class competition, every single time.

On another note, I’d like to echo the sentiments praising Mr. Merrick’s transparency throughout the season. I’ve really enjoyed peering into the previously opaque box that was FIRSTHQ.

Emphasis mine times ten. I could talk forever about this. I’m not sure whether FIRST defines more inspiration as success or more teams. There’s a problem when vets who have been around for a while field boxes on wheels. I think FIRST in general needs to take a stance that promotes raising the competition level as opposed to raising the number of teams enrolled in FIRST.

Making awesome competition robots is not FIRST’s goal. FIRST’s goal is changing the culture to make science and technology as celebrated as sports and entertainment.


Someone once told me when I started my first FIRST team back in the day something that I remind myself every year: “If you go to a FIRST event expecting to see a robotics competition, you missed the point.”

I think some of you have missed the point of what we are trying to do here. It’s not about the robot.

Well isn’t the regional/district supposed to inspire and the FIRST Championship supposed to awestruck?

I don’t see the word “awestruck” in FIRST.

Gracious Professionalism isnt in FIRST either but its still there. If you have kids/mentors/parents going to CMP and they arent already inspired, you and your regional have done something wrong.

I’ll second this. It’s about the inspiration and recognition. While yes we are a Robotics competition, that comes second to the recognition and inspiration aspects of our group, organization, and community.