How do we make regional elims more fair for advancement?

There are regionals that are very very top-heavy. To the point where being alliance 4, 5, and 8 are death sentences to your hopes of a wildcard and possibly season. There are certain teams who have not lost a single regional in the last 5 seasons, and are pretty much always alliance 1. (I wonder if it would make more sense to give alliance 1 a bye to finals and move 4, 5, and 8 to the other side of the bracket.) The snake draft basically means if you’re good enough to end up on these lower alliances (common for teams that are not powerhouses), and basically impossible for them to end up getting picked onto a winning alliance unless they happen to have a really really bad day, because of the snake draft.

This leads to teams getting stuck into a “lower alliance trap” – where their odds of getting a wildcard are basically more due to being on the right alliance seed rather than merit, and they’re never going to get first-picked onto a winning alliance when all the powerhouses can, will, and probably should pick each other anyway.

Should we abolish the snake draft? Give the alliances 4, 5, and 8 some other shot? What can be done, even?

The real solution is districts, but FIRST would probably need to threaten to pull their brand from regional organizations to make that happen at this point. Too many incentives for regional organizers not to move, and much easier for them to dangle promises of 4 years away indefinitely.


Not without a LOT of other options having been discussed first. This is how the 1st, 2nd, and 17th best teams at the event utterly wipe the floor with 8, 9, and 24. I’ll refer you to 2005, the only 3v3 year that had a straight draft (2000-2004 had straight drafts but you played 2v2, 1999 they were still figuring this whole alliance thing out).

There’s a lot of other possible games and gimmicks that could be tried–one of the more common suggestions is “no picking within the top X”, but when that’s been tried in the past teams tend to intentionally try to rank below X–and there ain’t anything to be done about that. Ditto for auto-assignment of picks. While both could help out, teams game the system and it doesn’t work out properly.

I would tend to agree on districts… but I don’t think brand pulling is going to happen. There’s other things at play that need to happen and various areas are at various stages (IIRC, CA was having issues with the governing board, specifically recruiting outside people to it). I will say this: CA, MN, NY. Those three areas are the keys to the district model at this point–they have massive quantities of teams, lots of events, and in a normal year tend to spill into surrounding events. If one goes, the other two will be under increased pressure (and a few areas around the one will likely go as well). If two go, the third one may not have a choice.


You answered your own question and the discussion pretty much ends here.

An alternative path forward would be a “Universal Points Model” where teams effectively earn district points at Regionals, with some way of determining advancement for each region in parallel with the current district system. To me this would be a more robust advancement solution than the current Regional Model if implemented correctly.


So one way to do it would be a round robin format like with Einstein. The issue with the current system is to maintain the top 8 and do a round robin would result in potentially 31 matches (28 round robin and 3 finals matches) that is between 9 and 17 more matches than what we currently have which is not really feasible in our current time structure.

The solution is run it exactly like Einstein turn top 8 into top 6 but let teams pick 4 robots. This results in the same number of teams making elims as now but would turn 31 matches into a more manageable 18 maximum (15 round robin and 3 finals). This actually results in between 3 less matches or 4 more than our current system which I think is achievable time wise by just eliminating the backup coupon and running the “Line up” system that champs runs, and eliminating time out coupons but instead having a designated 5 minute time out between each round of the round robin and then a 10 minute one between finals matches.

These timeouts could be filled with dancing, the giving of awards (Highest rookie seed for example), having guest speakers here as opposed to during opening ceremonies, mascot parades and all of the other things done that could instead be slotted in here to give teams more time to repair.

This will allow a strong 6th seed to rank better and possibly make it to finals. Allow for riskier picks or niche strategies during elims since you have a backup bot that you control. Also assuming we return to 2 champs or something similar this will allow the old wildcard rules to return but basically be given 20 teams to get through. You can just take the round robin rankings and go down the line. Finalist captain, all the way down to 6th place 4th robot. So no more dead wildcards because everyone in the finals already qualified.


Life isn’t fair and neither is robotics.


Raise the floor. Games that are impossible for one team to get all ranking points regardless of partners. Get teams more field time before an event. More COTS. More support for teams.


It’s more fair now than it used to be. Imagine going 1 to 8 and 1 to 8 again like it was when some of us did FRC in high school. The lower seeds almost always got rolled back then. With good scouting the lower seeds at least have a shot now.


We were either alliance captains or first picks for the last three regionals pre-COVID. I’d venture our scouting setup was in the top two or three of the teams at the event, maybe top-5 at worst since the regionals were big. We still got rolled, two matches every time.

The solution is to expand opportunities to play, whether through districts, additional cheaper regionals, or making your local off-season feel like a big deal.


Build a better robot and train your drivers better? Dunno, might be worth a try?


Double elimination playoffs, best of 1 instead of best of 3


Not sure if the heart of this post is “Attending a championship event is a powerful experience, either world or state, and let’s get more kids involved in it” or “Its not fair that the best teams always win so easily.”

I think Rapid React is a great game, and it is fun to watch. But it changes the dynamics of alliance selection. Many of the “powerhouse” teams have two or all of the following:

  • crazy good anywhere-on-the-field shooters
  • quick swerve
  • traversal climbers.

While defense is important in the game, blocking slow-paced shooting is not as important as traversal climbing. So the old standard of having the 2nd robot on an alliance do what the captain didn’t do well, and the 3rd robot be a robot that could score in auto and then just play D is changing.

Alliances are going to look for a consistent and reliable traversal climber. And guess what most low and mid level teams didn’t focus on?

…Reliable traversal climbs.

So, while there is a yearly discussion on how we can make alliance selections more balanced, fair, etc., and how we can get more teams into their championship event, 2022 is different. There’s one champ event, so way fewer earned slots and wildcards. The slot allocation seems to change randomly. And the game dynamics favor (at least through week 2) a different set of priorities than years past.

Watching elims this year we may have more frequent “RIP Alliance 8” reactions once selections begin (even “RIP Alliance 7… and 6”). But I think that’s fine. The teams who invested more time, energy, and money in the off season(s) are getting their payoff. We should look at them as say “I wonder how they pulled that off?” and “OK, this off-season we gotta try X”.

We should never say “All the teams with good robots win. How can we change that?”


Allow the alliance selection process to continue as it is. Once alliances have been determined, randomly generate the playoff quarter-final bracket to see who plays against who? This could have double the excitement for teams.
Just trying to throw out another idea.


There is definitely an element of game design involved here. The challenging end game actions, like the traversal climb, can be exciting to watch and bring excitement to a match that one alliance may already have solidly in the bag. But those same challenging end games can set up a “have vs have-not” situation when it comes to alliance selection, and the added challenge of it can result in lopsided alliances.

I’ll never forget the excitement of the playoffs in 2014 at the Lake Superior Regional. Almost every match up went to 3 matches, and each of them could have gone either way. There was no exciting end game that year, just a wide open field with a game that was well balanced. I’d love to capture that again, but unfortunately the games have moved more towards large, on-field scoring structures, complicated, multiple ways to score, and tiered challenges that leave teams with fewer resources accomplishing their goals but having no real hope of advancing.


Let’s see your team try to beat 1678 and 254 on an alliance in semis.

Also, you’re in districts, so does it really matter to you?


My problem is not that the good teams win, its that half the alliances are boxed out of a chance of a wildcard at all because there’s no path for them to face alliance 1 in finals.

Nobody expects to beat a powerhouse. And nobody should set their expectations as such — a much more realistic goal is to end up in finals anyway.


I guess you could dynamically seed the playoff bracket to value original alliance position more. Eg if 6 beats 3, 1 plays lowest seed still in.

1 2 6 4 make semis, normally would be 1v4 2v6

Maybe make it 1v6 2v4 no extra time, in theory you could dodge the 1 seed if an alliance above you underperforms

Obviously 8 is always going to play vs 1, but that’s kind of unavoidable.


Have you and your buddies considered making districts a real possibility in MN instead of something you dangle in front of teams indefinitely?


Are you implying it is not possible? Or just admitting your team isn’t there at the moment?

No, it doesn’t matter to me. Not my robot.


Brave of you to assume I have a team. For 99% of the program, beating those teams is an entirely unrealistic proposition. That’s just how it is. You can try, but it’s the sort of project you would need to spend many years building a program to achieve, and even then that might not make sense for the community you’re trying to serve. “Build within your means”, as they say.

I’m totally fine with dominant alliances getting banners. Nobody in this thread is trying to argue against that. I’m wondering if it would make sense to consider giving alliances 4, 5, and 8 a better chance of being event finalists against alliance 1 so at least there’s something to look forward to advancement-wise than promptly getting squashed.


May I introduce you to the before-fore times, a bit of ancient FRC history, where “the bracket” ruled and alliance one sat on their hands all day…

You don’t want this.

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