How does the Districts system work?

Hi, I’m relatively new to FRC, and while competing in DC and Chesapeake, I heard rumblings that the MD/VA/DC area was moving to districts. At the same time, while monitoring Chief Delphi, I’ve noticed several threads on the subject of districts. So I have a few questions.

  1. How does the district system work? (duh) Does that mean that only teams from within that district can compete against each other? If so, I’d be hesitant to move to districts. At DC, it was awesome to see teams from Brazil and Israel, as well as Florida, North Carolina, and so forth. Likewise, at Chesapeake, New York teams and some Pennsylvania teams were very fun to interact with.
  2. How does the district system offer advantages over the Regionals system currently in place?
  3. What are the complaints of the current Regional system?
  4. What is a Super Regional? I can’t imagine that it could only take winners from the districts, as you would need A LOT of districts to currently call a Super Regional “Super” when both the DC and Chesapeake comps are usually 60+ teams.
    So I guess those are all my questions. Links, flowcharts, videos are all welcome.

This should answer all your questions:
Further reading:

At least for the MAR district, the only teams allowed to participate in District Events are teams from the district. You get two District Events for your registration fee (rather than one Regional) and each District Event should have each team playing 12 matches (rather than 8-9). You can register for a third District Event for an additional fee ($1,000?). Additionally, with smaller events (30-40 teams), each team has a higher chance of advancing to Eliminations.

You can still participate in outside Regionals by paying the second Regional fee.

You get more playing time for your registration fees (24 matches rather than 8-9). The venues are far less costly.

The primary two anti-regional complaints I heard before MAR was formed was that the venues were: 1) the venues were prohibitively expensive, and 2) the money spent by the teams to play 8-9 matches was too high.

I’ve not heard the term, other than to say “it was a SUPER Regional today!”…

Not really. There are a huge number of questions that will apply specifically to VA/MD/DC.

For example:

  • VirginiaFIRST, Maryland FIRST, and (I think) DC FIRST are all their own 501©(3) non-profit corporations. Will they merge into a National Capital Region organization? If so, who will make up the new leadership?
  • Western PA (counties west of Harrisburg) is not part of MAR. Will a similar boundary exist for Maryland and Virginia? Teams in these areas are geographically closer to the regional events in Pittsburgh and Knoxville.

A “super regional” is a possible extra level of competition between regionals/district championships and the world championship that we might see sometime in the future. It comes from a graphic of FIRST’s future vision which was posted by NE FIRST(New England) last summer. Theoretically the country would be split up into 4 sections, and teams would qualify for their respective super regional, and then qualify for Worlds from there.

From the mouth of Zondag himself —

As VA,MD,and DC gain more teams i think they will outgrow the current regional system and move over to the district system .For example Michigan has over 200 team and adapted this idea several years ago and only the best robots qualify for the district championship based on a ranking system.As for a set year for the “Capitol region championship” i can only assume this will be name is anyone guess when it will take place

DC FIRST was “spun off” as its own 501©(3) organization in 2012, though I believe the leadership for DC FIRST and VirginiaFIRST are still the same. There is a lot of history and money in the VirginiaFIRST “brand” (it was the second state organization developed to support FIRST but independent from HQ, IIRC). I believe that all 3 organizations currently raise funds for the three regional events together and have done so for at least the last 3 years, while the individual organizations run their own FLL and FTC programs and will likely continue to do so.

As a Virginian involved with VirginiaFIRST, I personally would like to see all 3 stay separate but transition the current competition of the tri-region over to the district system, which would likely result in 8 district events and a championship at VCU. For those who don’t know, VCU’s Siegel Center is the closest you can get to “grandaddy of them all” for FIRST venues, behind only Eastern Michigan University for oldest active regional locations, once again, if my memory doesn’t escape me. In addition, it’s not out of the question to see the commonwealth of Virginia grow to a number of teams in the next 5 years where VirginiaFIRST would prefer to structure its own district system structure separate from DC and Maryland, much like Michigan.

Whether teams that are closer to Pittsburgh and Buckeye will allow to opt-out from travelling down to Richmond for a championship every year has not been discussed (probably because those teams unfortunately didn’t attend any events where the district system was discussed).

Regardless, Virginia is one of the oldest states to host FIRST Robotics Competitions and yet it continues to struggle mightily with making strides to keep up with its older brother in the Great Lakes area because it exists in this unhappy medium. Now, there are too many teams to support one self-contained in-state event and too few teams and resources to actually hold two worthwhile traditional events. This has resulted in stagnating team counts and numerous veteran teams going the way of the dinosaur. Thanks to economic climate of the last 5 years combined with the decreased emphasis of match-play per team in Virginia (down to 8 matches this year…), VirginiaFIRST has had over 3 dozen teams abandon the program in the last few years because their schools switched to FTC or decided to make marching band, athletics, ESL classes, and ROTC a priority over FRC.

It is a problem both the alumni of VirginiaFIRST and FRC Team 422 are looking into adequately addressing, but a big catalyst for returning teams would be the low cost model coming as soon as it can.

Correct me if I am wrong, but I thought a super regional is where there are 2 fields in one location. Also, was this or was this not considered or used in Michigan before districts took over?

Usually I hear that called a dual or double regional, like the ones in Minnesota and Seattle in previous years.

First off, nice showing at Chesapeake, 122! Loved the knight costume and your team was positively awesome.
But back to the reply. That’s probably a really good point that I hadn’t thought about as a student. The leadership is going to have to make some decisions about that. I think the Maryland area still has a lot of room to grow, and while the Northern Virginia area has been around since forever, there is far more room for Virginia as a whole to grow as well.
I came up with a question just now, for teams that have actually participated in a district, actually. About how much time is there between matches? Like, if something on the robot breaks, is there much time to fix it?

I saw this graphic in this comment today it explained a lot to me about the overall vision for the future of FRC.

It will be interesting to see how quickly more of these districts start to form.

VERY interesting! I had no idea Virginia had so many teams! They could likely split into districts in a few years. Maryland has a ways to go, while DC would likely have to pair up with Maryland. I kinda like the system that’s moving towards, actually. Looks great and very organized. However, how would Overseas teams compete? And as I’ve mentioned before, I LOVE seeing teams from other states and countries. If FRC eventually moved to all districts, I could see the restrictions like the ones being imposed on FiM being removed, turning the team traveling of FRC back.

I do not know whether it was considered, but it was not used in Michigan at any point I’m aware of.

I think he was more referring to the 2006 Greater Toronto Regional, where two fields were actually used side-by-side for one regional event (with 16 elimination alliances!).

Also, back in the early days when the fields were smaller there were often two fields used to decrease the time between matches.

There is no doubt in my mind that there will eventually be a Capital Region District. The Virginia, DC, and Chesapeake regionals have been filled with 60-65 teams for as long as I can remember. With the growth in the region, we will eventually have to add a 4th regional in close proximity, or switch over to a district system.

If there is a Capital Region Championship, I would think that it would be located in or near DC. I understand the point about how VCU has long ties with FIRST, but the problem is that the biggest density of teams which would be located in the Capital Region are in the DC - Baltimore corridor.

After looking at the 2013 Team map (358’s team map for reference), I have counted about 35 teams spread out between Richmond and Norfolk. However, there are about 65 teams centered in the DC - Baltimore corridor.

If the championship was held in either location, I would see a good number of teams from Virginia or Maryland heading to either the North Carolina or Pittsburgh regional. Maybe the location of the championship should switch every year.

The Virginia regional also has to line up with the VCU spring break, which likely puts it too early in the season to hold a Capital Region Championship. VCU could still hold a district event, though. While most FiM/MAR districts are in high schools, a few have been hosted by universities (Kettering, GVSU, TCNJ, Rutgers).

Well, if you’re team 75 at the Mount Olive District Event, you are participating in matches 59 and 61. :eek: However, typically, you have 10-20 minutes in the pits before queueing back up.

At 36 teams per District Event, you are participating in one match out of every six. That’s 5 matches between. Since they queue two matches ahead, you have about 2-3 matches to get things adjusted/modified/fixed. It’s tight, but it can be done. :ahh:

Lining up the VCU academic calendar and the dates of prior Virginia Regionals, it was not held during the VCU Spring Break in 2011 or 2013.

Or perhaps a Double DECCer? :cool:

I’ve only been on 2537 for two years, and I’m always stunned by the sheer amount of people at the regionals. (Something I always like to do–listen to 2000+ people clap during the Cha Cha Slide–it’s AMAZING). I went to a smaller regional over spring break, actually, and I had to get used to the smaller field. The teams were closer and they got more matches in, but the “Big Event” feeling wasn’t quite there. Regardless, it was an awesome regional. I’m only not saying which regional I went to so that I’m not telling everybody online where I went over spring break :D.