How do you win against a superior alliance?

I think it also helps when an event is deep. Strategy aside, the #8 alliance at Wisconsin was really good – they had a 37% chance of winning that match and would have been the 2nd best alliance at Sacramento per Statbotics.

Isreal SF7-1 also had some interesting defensive observations (I wasn’t looking for this, just wanted to see that 190pt match).

The D-bots were covering between the opponent charge station and own loading zone to block the route. Opportunistically, they would bump any game pieces on the field either into their loading zone (if the opponent dropped it) or if it was mid field, into their community to minimize the potential for a short-cycle by the opponent.

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Your best chance to win is by planning ahead for this, at alliance selection.

So here’s the deal. Almost no robot/team in FRC is 100% consistent, every match, all year. The degree to which each team is effective and consistent varies greatly from team to team. The #1 seed at an event is usually the most consistent team at the event and also one of the most effective. They will generally pick another consistent and effective team, with a slight preference toward consistency over absolute maximum game pieces scored. Obviously I have to generalize a lot here but bear with me.

As a lower seeded alliance with “worse” robots, you have two ways to beat this alliance:

  1. You can hope they mess up, perhaps influencing that with defense or other tactics.
  2. You can build an alliance which is capable of a higher ceiling if the planets align and you get lucky.
    (or some combination of the two)

Winning via method 1 alone does happen sometimes, but it is not at all reliable. The top alliance has at least one if not two very consistent robots on it, basically by definition. Most teams attempt 1, and fail. Depending on how good your team is relative to the top alliance, 2 may be your best option.

To best accomplish 2, your alliance selection should have different priorities than what a top seeded alliance might do. You should more strongly consider robots that have a high ceiling, even if they are a little more inconsistent. You already need to be lucky to win (see win condition 1), so by picking a higher-variance team or teams, you are giving yourself another possible avenue to find good luck. Instead of picking a team that scores exactly 4 game pieces a match, maybe pick the team that averages 2.5 pieces a match but in two matches scored 8 game pieces. That high variance team might just pop off when you need it the very most.


The yellow card was rescinded after 3501 and 1678/254 talked to the head ref, FMS just didn’t allow the change to display. It was explained to a2 during the finals.

You never know what’s going to happen once the announcer says “3, 2, 1, Go!”. It’s a team sport. Work with your partners to collectively arrive at match strategy that maximizes your potential points - especially in auto - as well as RPs if you’re in quals. From there, just focus on running a clean & efficient match and execute the strategy that you agreed to and let the chips fall where they will. Our team had 3 matches last weekend that we just “knew” we were going to lose against some of the top teams in the world. Guess what? Somehow we pulled it off in those matches that we weren’t “supposed” to win. It can happen.


It’s really impossible to predict, as much of the result of a match is out of your control. Anything could happen, a robot could break, a battery could fall out, or the FMS just won’t cooperate. Anyways, here’s what I’ve learned after being head scout for my team after two regionals:

In Qualification Matches:

  • If you have a scouting team, use your data to your advantage. Know the strengths and weaknesses of your alliance partners, and the teams who you will be playing against. Use that data to guide pre-match discussions with your partners.
  • Focus on a good, individual performance every match. Focus on that, and the wins come. Get those Link or Activation RPs, even when you just know you’re going to lose that match. Scout teams will notice. I’m always looking for the underdog robot who may have got stuck with a horrible match schedule.

In Playoff Matches:
I never got to select an alliance, we were picked up by a higher-seeded alliance before we got the chance, but my thought process for the third pick was very simple. Who compliments us? At the Colorado Regional, we selected Team 4388 with the purpose of them playing defense. Ourselves and our partners 2240, were fast-scoring robots so we wanted to avoid crowding in the community. That pick couldn’t have been better. I can’t speak higher of their defense against 1619 in this match: Match 12 (R4) - 2023 Colorado Regional - YouTube. For compliments: think auto programs, cycle times, and even things as simple as frame perimeter to get those much-needed triple balances. Having a well-thought-out alliance can beat a higher-scoring alliance any day.


Beat them until they sing songs of your team! I kid…maybe…

Arguably, use your bot to the best of your ability. IF it is defense…do defense…and do not draw fouls on your Alliance.

IF offense is your thing…do the best you can…without drawing fouls on your Alliance

Coordination with your partners…that will go a long way. Have a back up plan just in case something goes wrong. And then a back up plan for that.

Communication. This is key. Limit the communication to the coaches…when possible. There is enough yelling and noise on the field…someone may miss something and mess up…or get in the way accidentally.

Don’t get in the way of your strong Alliance partners…make easy for them to score. Help them by getting pieces…move them into position…and score when you can.

As mentioned a few times…scouting. Their strength’s and weakness’s.

Bottom line, we all want to succeed. We want that Blue Banner. We want to make friends. Have fun. Remember GP when you lose…and when you win. Someone is always going to be stronger…and someone is always going to be weaker…use both to your advantage

We have been a weaker team (I still think we are to a certain extent…we don’t bring a lot to the table). We would have been lower than last place if we could have…We were selected to an arguably strong Alliance before (number 1 and 2 at that event). We listened to them…worked with them…and now they look for us when we compete. They know that we will work with them to achieve the same goal. We also encourage them…as they do us. We don’t always get picked…and we are good with it. Many have the same goal…to win. Regardless, there is still a losing Alliance. Be emotional, be humble, and show GP…whether you win or lose.

I know I veered off topic a bit…however…I think this is just as important as beating a stronger Alliance. It will be remembered of your team. And that stronger Alliance may look for you the next time.

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Good Defense

At the Sacramento Regional Elims Match 1 we had 3501 playing defense on us pretty much the whole time, making it our hardest/closest match, even though they were Alliance #8 and had no scoring mechanism

We are just a KoP base. We tend to be strong on defense…moving pieces around…scoring on the lower. Auto on the sides. It wasn’t until this last weekend that we were able to level the charging station in auto. We also have been done with events since week 2.

Since then, we changed out our CIMS for NEOs, changed our white KoP wheels for black. We added weight for our 2nd event…since even swerves were pushing us around.

We are doing this in prep for state. We never stopped working on our bot…well we did…we just didn’t really add a superstructure for scoring mid and high. Our coding is weak…for that. So we decided to focus on our strengths. In this case defense.

But on carpet, with a robot, that alliance is unbeatable.

In some cases…this is a very true statement! And a great movie!!!

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This is the way. To add a little more to it, you have to also play like you’re going to hit that ceiling. For us that meant taking less time to line up perfectly to place pieces. Cycle times are killer, so spending more time to line up just to be absolutely sure you score a piece hurts just as much as rushing to a spot and dropping a cone/cube and missing. You also have to go for the triple climb.

Identify which drivers who are likely to make mistake under pressure and force them to make mistake some mistakes. I’ve seen 3 district events up and close, some drivers were just too good to mess around with. They were just ice stone cold, and if their machine is awesome, not a lot you can do.