Is Scouting Beneficial?

I understand you’re miffed your team didn’t get picked, but more scouting data doesn’t necessarily help that situation. Alliance captains can pick whoever they want for whatever reason they want.

I know you’re trying to add more data for scouts, and that is commendable. But the sample size is so incredibly small in FRC events that the emphasis on scouting in CD is laughable to me. Good teams (or “big” teams) seem to have a good scouting system because they have good robots, and good robots can win without almost anyone. There’s a reason #1 seeds win so often.

In sports, adults are paid to scout and have much more data available at their fingertips than FRC. And they’re still wrong constantly!

If your team isn’t selected, CD will tell you that there must have been a reason, which is technically correct (the best kind). But that reason doesn’t have to be based in reality or fact, and RFID won’t change that either. And that’s not to say anything should! Alliance captains earned the right to pick however they want.

If you have a way to cheaply install RFID in the various game pieces that change from year to year, and it doesn’t cost my team a dime in extra event fees or additional hardware, then sure, I’m all for it. In the meantime if you want to combat this advantage big teams have with their scouting (real or imagined), then your team should pick the next highest ranked available team and continue down the list until someone accepts. It’s as scientifically sound as any other scouting system, and I promise it will produce near identical results.

Its probably cause they have higher quality horses. Teams always forget about the horses…

Are they unable to have good robots and good scouting? A team may have a good bot, but knowing who else is good is kind of important to win. 1 great bot vs 2 good bots wont have the great bot finding their matches being a walk in the park if their alliance partners can’t hold their weight.

This is how you pick the 14th seeded team as a 4th alliance captain and go out in quarters because they cant climb.


Yeah, that’s what I said.

Of course they can have both.


Possibly. Or maybe they can climb and you went out in the quarters anyway. Maybe you scouted and based on your metrics and limited data you picked the 28th place bot and went out in the quarterfinals as well. Lots of possibilities here. You’re going to have to provide me with some metric that proves that hypothetical 14th pick wasn’t the optimal pick other than playoff results.

Off Topic

Luckily, my team actually did remember the horses this time around.
Team 1720 PhyXTGears Presents: Infinite Horsepower
That’s gotta be the reason we not only won our event, but also scored 100% of the control panel points in the state of Indiana


you mean something like climb data?

that you can get from scouting?

If 14th seed can climb 0% of the time, and 25th seed can climb 100% of the time, and i want my 2nd pick to be “climb only”, that 25th seed is a very obvious choice.


Not to be too serious in this thread but we didn’t actually scout climbs this year. We pulled that, level rung, and initiation line from TBA and merged it with the ball scoring that we did count. One of our offseason projects was learning to use the TBA API with google sheets.


Arguably, that still scouting, even if youre pulling it from the API. One of our goals later this season was to do the same, but for obvious reasons that plan fell through.

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In your hypothetical situation where a 4th seed wants a second pick to be a climber, and there’s a climber left, and a team seeded 14th with a 0% climb, and a team somehow fell to 25th with a 100% climb, then perhaps that is the obvious choice. But your highly specific case doesn’t negate the general picking strategy, and doesn’t prove that was the optimal picking strategy (notably we’re left in the dark about their first pick, and everyone else’s picks, etc.). There’s no telling how a playoff match will play out either. That fourth seed might feel different when 25 is sitting dead in the water. There’s an example in this very thread of a team who used scouting and felt like they got a solid alliance and still lost. Did they really choose wisely? We can’t know and furthermore it doesn’t even matter. They’re free to pick how they want.

I’m not discounting scouting in the sense that teams have a strategy and they want to execute it. But (if a team actually tries to do some data analysis) a team comes up with a strategy, looks at some data, then determines which team to pick. There’s no validation and there really can’t be. Best case is there’s alot of data to analyze. FRC is not the best case, RFID or no.

I’m also not advocating “no scouting.” Our team certainly does (and we’ve also ended up picking teams from our area as a pick strategy, because hey why not) even though we rarely are captains. The OP was coming up with some complicated and potentially expensive scheme to some how equalize the playing field when it comes to scouting. I can’t think of anything lower of the list of items that separate regular teams from elite teams than scouting. Safety awards?

Regardless of the content of this thread, scouting is arguably one of the most important factors that differentiates “regular” from “elite” teams (this is also subject to your interpretation. Does elite = wins events or builds good robots?). People sometimes ask why there isn’t a scouting award. There is: World Championship Winner.


Bull. Your first post in the thread directly states that “picking the team under you” is just as good as actually scouting, and if a team doesnt know better, theyre going to take the easy way out and shoot themselves in the foot.

Was it not a general picking strategy this year to pick someone who could climb as a 2nd pick?

Under your “just pick the team under you” scenario, we dont know any of that information except we picked the current 5th seed. We just have to assume alliance 1-3 are better than us, and 5-8 are worse.

If you want something more comprehensive, Alliance 8 of 2018 Turing or Alliance 1 of 2013 Curie would be great events to look into. I doubt either would of gone the way they did without scouting.


Scouting is arguably the easiest way for a team to get a leg up in FRC. You dont need to spend a lot of money, you dont need to get good at design, you dont need to become a god at coding, it takes a couple basic metrics and an Gsheets spreadsheet to have a plethora of information to outplay any other alliance. Theres a reason teams have been working on this for decades now, and its not to “trick” other teams, like your original post suggests.


plethora of freshman

fixed it


this post comes off as equating the probability of a good outcome from 4th seed picking more or less randomly as equal to the probability of a good outcome from 4th seed based on an actual educated guess because both probabilities are lower than the probability of winning from first seed, which i think really irks a lot of scouting people in this thread

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Sure. If only all the teams that folded last year had better scouting.

I said we scout.

I was referring to your highly specific strawman as not negating a general strategy of picking the next highest seed.

Your doubts and two specific examples don’t exactly contradict anything I’ve said. Picking the next highest seed is no guarantee of success. But neither are the various scouting/pick strategies.

Very arguably since there’s no way to prove that statement.

If my original post suggested that scouting was to trick other teams then I really misstated something. I’m not sure what you’re referring to.

There have been some good posts on scouting and pick strategy on CD before. If there was any validation to the methodologies that isolated scouting from all other factors, I’m interesting in seeing them because I must have missed them the first time around.

Just because your team scouts doesn’t invalidate his point that you’re suggesting a strategy that requires no scouting at all.

Something tells me your team hasn’t had the experience of being an alliance captain too often.

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Moreover there’s never any validation that those educated guesses were educated at all. It’s all anecdotes.

Well, the good news is, even if every event is fairly unreliable data point, there are a lot of events. And you can use the quantity of events to compensate for the unreliability (which is the essence of the Strong Law of Large Numbers as applied to statistics.) What perhaps we could do is make more concrete metrics to analyze in picking and do it over a vast number of events and we’d be able to get a decent picture.


Fair. But that was more to the OP who was concerned about the advantage big teams have and their team’s lack of personal to do scouting. I’m not trying to argue that there’s something inherently wrong with scouting and will lead to failure for a team.

I pointed that out earlier on. And like many arguing the merits of scouting, the very few times we won we were either a 1 seed or picked by a 1 seed. Crazy, huh? Must have been the #1 alliance’s scouting.

I expect more scouting anecdotes to follow, which is fine. If it makes you feel good, do it man. Some actual proof that any strategy is better than another would be nice though.

. . . is that an insult at 330?


I’d love to see it, but I’m not your guy to do it.