How do you think FIRST should select divisions?

Do you have a different way that you would divide the teams amongst Newton, Archimedes, Curie, & Galileo that FIRST might prefer to the methods used in the past?

I would like for FIRST to pursue a method that would

  1. Consciously divide the current year’s talent amongst the divisions
  2. Allow for “number-neighbors” to be in the same division

After a lengthy discussion with my brother and nephew about the past system that allows for divisions to be lopsided strength-wise and does not allow “number-neighbors” (ex. 65, 66, & 67 or 179 & 180) to be in the same division, we decide to tackle the problem mathematically.

We developed a spreadsheet (attached … must right click, *Save Target As * & then open locally) that would put each team into one of many “hats” based on their Championship “R” Value that is derived from a team’s current year seeding at regionals. Furthermore, the formula for calculating “R” places more weight on the later regionals. After all of the teams are placed into “hats”, the teams would be randomly and equally pulled from each hat to fill the divisions. Therefore, an equal number of “hat 1” teams would be in each division; likewise with “hat 2” teams and so on. Picking from a “hat” would allow number-neighbors to be in the same division but would definitely not guarantee it.

In summary, the calculation of the “R” value satisfies objective 1 and selection from the hats satisfies objective 2.

Admittedly, there are other features that could be included such as a strength-of-regional factor. If FIRST wants to pursue a system that someone proposes, I’m sure my BROTHER would be more than happy to implement it.

What do you think?,

RValue.xls (18 KB)

RValue.xls (18 KB)

I would divide them completely randomly among the 4 divisions.

You make a point about “number neighbors” That would mean, for example, we’d have 65,66,67,68, and 69 all in the same division. That’s definitely not splitting them up based on performance/talent. This would happen in any instance of consecutive team numbers.

see the problem i have with this…the only problem…is that like us…we were 31st ranked but got picked and lost in the finals. it only goes on rank. i think that it should also go on if your robot got picked and how far you went. rank doesn’t always tell how well your robot did. your robot could have been really good but some if your partners weren’t all that great so you lost all but 2 matches. teams would still look at you and see if you did well in those matches. so only going by rank is not accurate.

Cory’s right, you need to go to a full random selection process. If one division gets “overloaded” with what is percieved as the top talent, that’s just the luck of the draw.

The problem with trying to do it mathematically is at some point you will need to make “judgement” calls on the teams. Look at all the threads questioning the calls made at regionals and you can see how “judgement” is valued.

You have a simple formula now, but what if your regional were “overloaded” with talented teams (whatever “overloaded” means). A 20th place finisher in a tough regional may be better than the first place finisher elsewhere. You’d have to calculate in when the regional was held; first week teams don’t have the advantage of watching the gameplay on NASA-TV to select the better strategies. You’d have to account for robot’s improving through the regionals – as most who attend multiple regionals do. In the end, you’d have to develop a large scouting system to handle this, and FIRST just doesn’t have those resources. They are better used fixing the scoring system anyway,

Just go to a full random process and forget about whether someone thinks it’s “balanced” or not, because it doesn’t matter how careful you try to balance the divisions, you will never get everyone to agree that they were really balanced.

I partially agree with lucien here. It would be nice if we could guarantee an even distribution of talent between divisions, but this invites too much fallible human judgement into the process. Whether you have a spreadsheet or not, someone’s going to be judging. In your current case, you’re judging that rankings are foremost and later regional rankings even moreso. Many teams would disagree with this, and near 50% of our teams only attend one regional, which could put them at a disadvantage. Strength of regional is totally subjective, unless you base it on the W-L-T records of all the other teams at the regional, which turns into a horrible mess. You’re basically running the risk of turning FIRST into the BCS. I applaud the idea of distributing talent, I’m just not certain it’s possible to do so in an unbiased fashion. At the very least, several months of consideration should be given to the process and there shold be many factors that contribute to the rating.

I do agree that “number-neighbors” should get a chance to work together. My current plan for this is to implement a semi-randomized version of the current system. The current system (I believe) runs down the team list numbering teams 1, 2, 3, and 4, giving an even distribution of low and high numbered teams. My system would take the first 8 teams, and randomly assign two 1s, 2s, 3s, and 4s to the teams. This would give number neighbors a chance of working together, but keep the current distribution of low and high number teams.

I think that FIRST should do what every other respectable sport does and base the divisions on geography. To do anything else is accepting that the teams in certain regions of the country aren’t good enough to stand on their own. I think the time has come where we accept that as a fallacy and we put teams in divisions based on their geographies. I also think this would make it more exciting actual regions of FIRST would get to square off against each other. For example if it were mid-west and northeast in the finals when the Northeast beat the mid-west, which I’ve no doubt they would do handily, we would know once and for all that the northeast is the best region in FIRST. It would enhance the excitement, suspense, and drama of nationals I think. As well as create some pretty cool bragging rights. So I say end divisional affirmative action and base divisions off of geography.


I think that how they do it now is fine. FIRST Championships is a time that we all come together to celebrate a great season. I really like the fact that teams don’t “partner” up as much. It allows us to see other teams and make new friends. It is also easy for FIRST to divide up. See who registers and go down the list 1234,1234 and so on. Being that different teams come each year makes it random (somewhat).

FIRST should have the 4 field m/c’s draw teams from a hat during a nationally televised event on 4/11. Blair, Marc Leon, Dave V., and Jeff Seaton would all be on the webcast supporting their respective Championship fields. Each would draw a team, randomly, like a lottery ball.

Once the fields are filled, each m/c could comment on who would be the favored teams and the darkhorse teams from their field.

Dean, Woodie, Paul Shay, and Dave Lavery could include their commentary also.

We could see commercials from IFI, FedEx, Autodesk, and AndyMark.

Someone from the Atlanta visitors bureau could give us a virtual tour of downtown, showing all of the teams where to unload their stuff and where the celebration party will be. FIRST administrators could briefly review the schedule for each day, pointing out the highlights of the event, the Conference sessions, VEX challenge, and FLL competition.

Unique (Isreali, Brazillian, all girls, etc.) teams could be spotlighted.

This could be done during a hour show, on ESPN.

… hey, a guy can dream, can’t he?

Andy B.

best idea ever…can we have the 2 poker announcers do it, the one guy always makes witty cracks…:slight_smile:

i say there is no numbers on the pits and the people that ship the crates just put the robots in what ever pit they feel like. i don’t think any of those guys pay attention to first so they are the least bias of them all.

they should pick the divisions quickly because quite frankly I am getting tired of waiting…

but i do really like Andy’s draw from a hat idea…it would make me forget about the NFL Draft that I will be missing that weekend…:frowning:

Instead of drawing numbers we have an actual draft. The winning MC gets to keep his hair. The rest… Oh well :ahh:

ha ha ha i like that Steve. see thats why i call you the cool Canadian Lol

I’m all for Andy’s version. I do wish, somewhat, that FIRST took more consideration in the teams that were chosen for alliances, but then it becomes 10,000 times more complicated for them. FIRST all ready does so much work for all of us, maybe it’s time to just say thank you?

I think Andy’s version is actually fairly possible.

Here is why:

He mentions commercials from leading sponsors. If FIRST Championship had a deadline, and a cost quote, they could give that information to sponsors who want advertising and get it on there. This would not only allow the founding sponsors to be involved in the program’s future, but just keep everyone happy.

The hat thing I’m totally unsure about. I feel it would add bunches of controversy and just set everything up for rumor spreading and “is it rigged” questions. Besides…can you really draw through all 350 teams in 1 hour?

I think the 1 2 3 4 randomized method does it’s job. While it would be ideal to allow teams to work with their number neighbors, they can arrange that at regionals or in other events. The Championship competition is a time for teams to expand their networks and abilities, not to flaunt their comfort zones.

  • Genia

In 02 they had the number neighbor set up, I really liked it because it exposed me to some teams that my teams main sponsor’s parent company also sponsors. I was also exposed to a lot of other teams that I have now looked forward to seeing bots from ever since then, and it was fun because there was a little bit of sibling rivalry between some of the teams, like the 170’s sponsored by UTC and the mid 60’s sponsored by GM, it was kinda fun like that.

Not with any commentary. 350 teams in one hour is nearly 6 teams a minute, or a little bit more than ten seconds per team. That doesn’t allow for commercials either.

But hey, a guy can dream, can’t he?


I like Andy’s idea for the show, but want to suggest a modifcation to the process for assigning teams to divisions. Rather than a pure random selection, turn the division allocations into a contest in and of itself. The thing would run like an inverted draft process. Rather than having the division select the teams, each team is allowed to select which division they want to be in. Teams take turns to elect to be assigned to a particular division as long as open slots in the division remain. If a division is full, then they have to pick another division. By looking at the makup of the teams already in the divisions, they can determine if they most appropriately fit into a “tough” division or an “easy” one. Over time, the strength of the divisions will even out, as stronger teams opt for weaker divisions (thinking that they will be better able to dominate there, yet their presence will actually raise the overall strength of the entire division), and weaker teams may gravitate to the stronger divisions (hoping for good alliance pairings in the qualification rounds to match them up with strong teams as partners).

The only question is how do you determine in what order teams will be allowed to pick their divisions? That one is easy! At the beginning of the process, each team selects ten of their members as representatives to participate in a competition for selection order. Each group of 10 has 15 minutes to devour as many Krispy Kreme donuts as they possibly can. Which ever team eats the most Krispy Kremes without throwing up (known in the professional donut-eating community as “donut denial”), gets to pick first.** The team with the second highest donut total pick second, etc etc etc. Sign up Krispy Kreme as a sponsor and advertiser for the show.

I tell ya, it’ll be a smash hit! We would knock “Survivor” right off the airwaves!


** for certain teams like Team 116, there may even have to be a 10-donut handicap, least they have a completely unfair advantage. :rolleyes:

Big Mike, are you out there? Would you like to be a TechnoKat? :slight_smile:


Andy, even with a 10-donut handicap, I could still out eat Big Mike. I don’t think he has ever eaten more than a dozen in one sitting.