My thoughts on PNW qualification for Houston

Right now FirstWA is in a tough position, there is no good way to determine which teams should qualify for worlds. Some teams that have a long history of success have been denied a chance to compete and earn district points, snubbing their opportunity to go to Houston if district points is the only metric used.

It is because of this that I reccomend that and additional metric is used to determine qualification. This being the number of consecutive seasons qualifying for Houston including the 2019 season. For example my team, 1318 has qualified every year since 2014 so our “streak” would be 6.

My selection system is as follows, the first >= 15 slots would go to the teams with the longest “streaks”, note if the next streak would push the number of teams invited over 15 you would not extend them an invitation at that time, the >=15 teams would then be given a chance to accept or decline the invitation, if enough decline that the next “streak” could be invited and remain at >=15 then they would be extended an opportunity, this process would repeat untill you could not extend invitations without going over 15, at this point the award winning teams would be extended an invitation, lastly the remaining slots would be distributed based on this year’s district points.

This system was created with the intent of valuing continued success highly because of the inaccurate district point distribution caused by the event cancellations.

Thank you FirstWA, and thank you Kevin Ross, I do not envy your task, but I am thankfull that you are there to do it.


I totally agree that the district ranking system right now is far off from perfect but, just giving places to worlds who have been there before doesn’t solve the problem, I am sure there would be many ties in their streaks for example at that point how do you decide who to give it too? On top of that what about qualifying for worlds in other ways not related to pure robot performance like qualifying through rookie all stars or chairman’s award, do we still consider those in the streak? Could this idea be reliable, I think it could but I don’t believe it should be 15 maybe 5? So that notable top teams such as 2046 and such can qualify. Without physical proof how can you tell one team that has yet to play they are better than an other?, sure you can use data for consultancy but there are break out years and down years for every team.

I do not envy First PNW’s job right now as their choice was a hard one for the community but needed. This choice is just as hard in determining who should go to worlds, and I am sure they will figure out a as close to fair solution for everyone.

This is a terrible system. A team should be evaluated based on the current season and not anything else. Since there is not much of a metric to base these evaluations, you either have to allow all teams affected to qualify for worlds or provide some other compensation. All this system does is perpetuate the success of good teams while discouraging rookie teams and other decent teams.


Normally if you don’t qualify for Houston based on merit there’s a chance you’ll get in via lottery. Since there’s no way to evaluate merit, I don’t see why teams shouldn’t be selected at random.

Honestly if FIRST WA has decided there’s too much risk of spreading the virus to host events in the PNW, how does it make sense to send potentially sick kids to Houston?

But Houston’s probably gonna be cancelled or postponed anyways.


While I agree that past performance is a one of the best predictors of future performance, it’s all a moot point because there is absolutely no way that this system will be used. The optics on this are horrible. FIRST is very strongly in favor of making sure that as many teams as possible experience Champs. Selecting teams based on past performance implicitly accepts a kind of hopeless determinism that is in strong conflict with FIRST’s goal of inspiration.


Whether the school allows travel should also be taken into account. It does not make sense to put a team on an emotional roller coaster by telling them they have been chosen to go to Champs if their school (district) has already banned travel.

What if teams have no events to compete in during the current year?

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what about chairman’s or EI teams? will they not get the chance to compete for those awards?

Although this is a extremely tough situation, there is no way that picking teams based on previous years experience is a good idea. There are many teams who deserve to go to world’s, but have only existed one or two years. They have literally not existed long enough to build up a streak like teams that are 5-8 years old. Also, rookie teams would have literally 0% chance of making it, which doesn’t seem fair. Going to world’s should be based on this year’s performance, and that alone.
My current thought is that the ranking system stays the same, and teams with one event have their points doubled. I realize this doesn’t accomodate for teams with no events, but I can honestly not think of a way to adjust their rankings. I do not envy FIRST or FIRSTWA in this situation. I can guarantee they will put lots of thought into this, and will make the best decision with what they have.


I may not have properly gone in depth on that part, I mentioned that awards teams would be invited after the invitation of “streak” teams such would include chairmains, ei, and rookie all star.

While I get your point, to me that seems like a task for the head mentor of the team that would recieves the email about the invitation to inform their team of the situation.

Yeah, not liking this idea. If we were in PNW this would immediately DQ us as we’ve existed for 4 years, this year being our 4th season. In that time we’ve rapidly become successful, having qualified for World’s twice. This system immediately cuts us out.

Good point though now it is the head mentor who may have to lay awake deciding what to do and wondering if he/she made the right decision afterwards. Unfortunately, there’s no nice answers.

There’s not going to be a perfect way to do this. However, having all slots decided by past record is simply wrong on many fronts. Maybe some small number of the slots can be awarded to teams that haven’t played but have a history, but the majority of the slots should be based on what has happened this year.

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The “fairest” route would just be a lotto system. Or teams in the PNW should you know be smart and stay home because the risk of spreading covid-19 is high.

Life sucks sometimes, but every team who built a robot was successful this year regardless if they got to compete with it. We preach its more than robots, this is the perfect time to show thats true. Gracefully stay home and keep America healthy.



Seconding this. Given that the Pacific Northwest has so many cases of covid-19, every single team that travels interstate is a huge liability, regardless of whether Houston is cancelled or not, or whether the school district allows travel and field trips.


I want ensure everyone’s safety, but this gets more complicated for teams in positions like ours. NH is not a quarentine or reduced activity state, but the two states we were scheduled to compete in are (MA and CT). As of now, there is a possibility we will not compete at all this season. We did not put our hat in the ring for worlds because we were satisfied with the district and regionals if we made it that far. Even further if that is where we go. We too are 4 years old, and we too are improving, but right now, our fist event is cancelled, and our second is in jeopardy. We do not want to miss an entire season if there are safe ways for us to compete.

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The west side of Washington state and Portland has so many cases. I know of 0 cases this side of the mountains in both WA and OR.

This may change within the next 3 weeks (and I kinda expect it to) but currently I’d consider us “safe for travel,” at least in terms of us spreading covid-19 to texas.

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I understand teams’ want to compete. I went through the program as well, and I understand how disappointing and frustrating it would be to not compete after putting so much work into a season.

But that doesn’t compare to the lives that can be saved by slowing the spread of covid-19.