Have You Ever Wanted a Lower Seed After Quals?

This has absolutely happened to us at team 4557 but one time in particular. At the 2018 New England District championship, our team did fairly well and ranked much higher than predicted. Our rank after qual matches was 11 which none of us expected. I remember when quals ended, I was standing with our lead build mentor and he just said “S**t, We are ranked too high!” And everyone was confused. Well, he believed during alliance selections, we will move up in the rankings after the top 8 teams start picking each other… that ended up being the case. We were put in the number 8 seed alliance captain spot and we picked teams 95 and 4564 but we went against teams 195, 319 and 5846. Our strategy was to shut down the opponent switch because we knew that we would lose the scale very quickly. For our second quarter final match against them, we were winning with our strategy! Then, our alliance partner 95 accidentally drove into the null zone and racked up some penalties which led us to lose the match sadly but it qualified us for ten world championship so that’s what matters!

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Being a district team, ranking high and being an alliance captain are both great sources of district points. You essentially get to double dip on those points, once for having a high rank and a second time for your position during alliance selection. So, no, I can’t set I’ve wanted a lower seed at an official event since the formation of FMA.

Absolutely. If we can’t seed 1 or 2 or 3 and have a ‘top’ pick, I always get a sinking feeling if we’re in the 4-8 range. We routinely joke about it, but we’d rather be a 2nd pick of 1 or 2 than the 1st or 2nd pick of 4-8. That 4-8 area, even with the serpentine draft styling helping, is very difficult to win from. The 1st or 2nd pick of the 8th alliance always give you that sinking feeling. Work hard and hope for the best, but you’re going up against the two best robots in your first round.


On the one hand, we were elated to become alliance captains for the first and second times this year.

On the other hand, captaining alliance 7 and 5 at regionals with only a handful of Level 3 climbers is a bit of a death sentence for banner-hanging. (All four top seeds at both events made semis.)

This works out well in “Stack” Champs Divisions. Newton 2016, 217 (as the 7th alliance) was able to get 3476 and 4678. This alliance of fairly good bots was able to take out 1519/118, 67/5172 and 1241/254. This was the best case of being lower in the bracket working out, giving them a trip to Einstein. I do not think 217 was capable of doing thing from the 4-5 seed as they would have gotten a worse 3rd robot.


It seems like there could be different strategies depending on whether you’re at a district event or a regional event.

If part 3 of this series

adds ideas to get picked that could lessen a teams/alliances chances of getting ranking points, which I think it will, AND there’s more incentive at regionals to be strategically savvy, @Caleb_Sykes Does your match prediction program see a significant difference in accuracy between the last 3-4 matches in regionals vs. district events?

I have always felt that If my robot/team is good enough to win the event, then we should be capable of winning from any seed. Some seeds certainly provide an easier path to victory, but strong scouting and strategy can go a long way to make up some lost ground.

In particular the 6 seed seems to have treated us better than most over the last few years.

Hm. I think we would have taken a lower seed at Hopper 2016. Decreasing our chances of playing 1678, 148, or 971 was something we would have welcomed.

But yeah basically would never voluntarily take a lower rank at a district event.

At El Paso Regional in 2018 we were seeded 12, we hoped being someone’s second pick, by asking other teams for not to pick us… we ended up being alliance captains and we went against 3310 and 624 on our first match. If we were ranked lower we could have been picked by an alliance instead of worrying about going agains aliiance 1

I think there’s a reasonable chance that we aren’t picked on Hopper 2016 if we aren’t a captain, so I’ll take our quarterfinalist finish there. The only lower seed that may have given us a better finish would have been precisely one seed lower (just do dodge the match-up against 971/1323/193/5254), but that still results in us facing the same alliance in the semi-finals.

This thread is starting to make me think teams should have the option to decline the alliance captainship while still being allowed to be selected. If there are only as many teams who haven’t declined left as there are Captain positions then all of those teams are forced into captainship with no inter picking.

That sounds like a potential nightmare for the scorekeeper to manage. Hopefully the FMS could be made to support it and take some load off the scorekeeper, but still lots of potential headaches as you have to run through each team to find out if they acccept/decline.

It’s also hard enough to explain alliance selection as it is (although the video this year helped take the load off of MCs). I’d be curious to see how well laypeople react to a change like you’re proposing.

As always with these kinds of suggestions, someone should try it at an off-season. Off-seasons are great proving grounds for alternative tournament structures. I like the variety there.


There are cases though where you may want to be one seed lower if it means facing easier opponents in the playoffs (not usually the case, but possible if teams are overrated in the rankings). Dropping one seed is usually a loss of 2-4 district points. But if being one seed lower gives you a much better chance of advancing further in playoffs, that’s 10 district points.

Who actually wants to be on the 8th alliance?

If FIRST did this, a fair # of teams would decline moving up to be the 8th captain.

I don’t see that as a problem.

Plenty of teams would love to be the 8th captain, particularly those who might otherwise not make playoffs. Wouldn’t it be better if the 8 captain actually was excited about their position and didn’t feel like they had been forced into a worse position?

Being on the 8th alliance is only bad if you have an expectation of being on a better alliance, so let’s give the teams that don’t want to be there an out and instead let the teams who want to be there fill it.


District points and having complete control (to an extent) over who is on your alliance would certainly motivate someone to take up that spot

I would take any alliance slot, because in CHS any position has a pretty good chance of winning. And being a captain allows my team to control their destiny.

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In retrospect after a quarterfinal defeat, sure. It’s easy to wish for a different series of events then.

At the time of alliance selection, when it’s still unsure who your partners and opponents will be, wishing to move down one seed to adjust your QF match-up would indeed be a pretty niche occurance. There’s often uncertainty regarding inter-picking (and even declines) after the first couple alliance captains, making it awfully hard to predict your QF opponent as a team ranked 5th or lower.

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At the Sundome District event, I would have loved to be a lower seeded team. At the exact seed we were at, we were forced to be the eighth alliance captain and play against the 2910+5803 alliance, but if we had seeded one place lower, we would have had a chance to be the second pick of one of the few alliances that still needed an offensive bot and we would have traveled much further through eliminations. As it is though, we were able to work with two fantastic teams in 4911 and 3218 so I suppose I can’t complain too much.