How your team goes about generating pick lists for Alliance Selection

In previous years 4607 has taken our paper scouting data, stayed up super late on Friday night compiling it into a spreadsheet, and then angrily discarded all of it after realizing our scouts were watching matches from some parallel universe.

Then we frantically called up 5690/2526/our other friends with great scouting data and proceeded to pick good enough alliances to beat whatever team provided us with the scouting data in the quarterfinals. It’s literally happened 4 times… so now nobody shares their scouting data with us and we had to figure it out for ourselves :slight_smile:

Luckily @hutchMN joined us this year and overhauled our scouting system. We have a solid scouting system through Google sheets with formulas that generate an auto-pick list which we compare to a pick list that we generate manually after reviewing footage of teams in a direct comparison. Pick-list meetings have been cut down significantly which leaves the team in a better spot going into the final day of our events. Matt can explain our system in more detail!


Here is the process 2791 used this year:

  1. Discuss our goals for the event. Every picklisting meeting, I ask what the primary goal for our alliance is, and usually get some silly answers like “score lots of game pieces” or “win the scale” or “hit four rotors”. We don’t move on until someone says “to win”. I do this little exercise to make sure we’re all on the same page about our goals here and don’t get too tunnel-visioned on any one thing.
  2. Look at our own data about ourselves: discuss our own strengths, weaknesses, etc
  3. Survey the scene: look at rankings, our matches tomorrow, data for major threats and other notable teams, and get a big picture understanding of the event
  4. Discuss viable strategies for our alliance. Using the analysis we did on ourself and the rest of the field, we try to choose a strategy that we think 1) we would be able to execute well and 2) we think would win. This year, this segment was mostly discussing “triple offense or defense?” and “split the field or use a side swap?”.
  5. Discuss desirable robot qualities/abilities for the kind of alliance we want to build, and list needs and wants for our first pick/captain and second pick.
  6. Rank teams for captain/first pick, or in general if the needs/wants of each are the same. We do this by:
    • Sorting by some relevant property in our data (in this case, average game pieces per match),
    • Taking the highest ranked team on this metric, discussing how well they fit our requirements, and they are the start of the list.
    • Then we take the next highest team, talk about how well they fit the requirements, and if they should be above or below the first team on the list.
    • Repeat this process, inserting teams into the list
    • Once we have enough teams here (how many is enough depends on what we think the worst case is for us during alliance selection), we may sort by a secondary metric to make sure we didn’t miss anyone important, especially at champs (this secondary metric was max game pieces per match this year).
  7. If the requirements for our second pick are significantly different from our captain/first pick, we will repeat the process for the second pick. This year, we split potential second picks into three buckets:
    • Plus: either played good defense or showed good offensive driver skill and has a suitable robot
    • Neutral: no information that shows they would be a good defender
    • Minus: we don’t think they’ll play great defense, but are reliable and meet the minimum requirements to play defense in playoffs. Most of these teams don’t make it to the top 23 teams we’ll actually consider picking, but we may watch them
  8. Questions. Throughout the whole process, we will brainstorm questions we want to ask teams the next day before alliance selection, usually concern breakages/lost comms/other robot failures. At the end of the night, we will go over this list and make sure we have everything we want to know recorded.

A couple weeks ago, I came up with a pneumonic for the four high-level things I like to look for in potential picks, CART:

  • Compatibility: how well do they complement us? We don’t just want the “best” robot on our alliance, we want the one that is most likely to help us win
  • Ability: what can they do? We want teams who can check off the needs/wants from our list
  • Reliability: how consistently can they peform? Consistency is generally good, but high variance picks can be key to pulling off longshot upsets
  • Trend: is their performance improving over time (good), decreasing over time (bad), or staying the same (good if they’re good, bad if they’re less good)?

If anyone has any questions about any of this, or the process of making a picklisting in general, I am happy to chat here or in DMs.


Use tablets to collect data about the attending teams, then discard it and drive into walls.


Was that a 14 year old joke? Oh, the nostalgia.

I got it from Jared Russell here.

And I got it from :slight_smile:


The question by the OP, like many on CD have a wide variety of answers and while quite varied still pertinent. Different methods can bring success to different groups.

However looking through the responses then looking at the success of those respondents may lead to a version of clarity. @Liu346, @Katie_UPS, @hli, @Richard_McCann are all involved with teams that enjoyed success in competition this season, and in many previous. They are likely onto something.

As for the RoboHawks, I trust our scout and strategy team and will always support the choices they make. Who would have guessed the #6 alliance selecting teams ranked 37, 44 and 16 (in that order) would have defied the odds?


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