This is a valid point, and definitely one that could spun off into a whole thread.
The way I see it, I want to pick the team that gives us the best chances of achieving success in the playoffs. I think past success can be an indicator of the ability to achieve success, but doesn’t really say much about their ability to execute our chosen playoff strategy, and that’s what really determines whether the alliance will play well or not.
Team history comes up most often for us when talking about second picks, some of which are really hard to differentiate on data alone. It sometimes comes up from a “pedigree” angle and sometimes from a “friend picking” angle:
- 771, our third pick on Darwin, gained some points with us because their two event wins showed that their robot could take a beating
- 7651, our second pick at Tech Valley this year, was one of two teams we had as basically tied on our picklist. The tie was broken by our past experiences with them, having assisted them through their rookie season and playing a quals match together at the event. We knew they could follow directions, take feedback well, and be an effective team player, which made them feel like a safer option than the other team, who we had never worked with.
- 3624, our second pick at Tech Valley 2018, was one of two teams we were considering, and part of why we chose them was our experience playing with them in 2016. We knew they’d be in it to win it and work well with us
On the first pick side, there was Central New York this year. 195’s sudden dramatic improvement the morning before alliance selection was scary and caused us to bump them from 5th to 1st on our list. Their history of consistency in playoffs made it easier for us to overlook their inconsistency during the first day, combined with talking to them about their process of ironing out the kinks in their robot. We did consider them the second best robot there (behind us) going into alliance selection, but our fear that their upward trend would continue in playoffs if we didn’t pick them really sealed the deal.
While facing 1678 is scary because of their history and their scouting/strategy cred, I think the real terrifying part is that their robots are really freaking good.