On the Competitiveness of World Champs relative to District Champs

I’ve read over the past 2 weeks more than a few comments on how World Champs is perceived as less competitive than District Champs. What could be the reasons for this, and what are some reasonable suggestions for addressing this?

Full disclosure: I’m from California so I’ve never experienced a District Champ in person and probably won’t for [insert x number of years here], so I don’t hold this opinion myself.

Every team at the district championship of their region earned the points required to be in the top (Whatever number, for Ontario is 80) in their division. So you cant just get lucky at one competition and get entered, you have to be consistently good, the district point system is really good at rewarding well performing teams.

In the regional system you have the alliance that wins, usually the 2 best robots. Then you have their 3rd robot, which is not as good as the other 14 robots on the other alliances, who gets an automatic spot to champs. You also have chairmans, EI, and rookie all star. So in theory, only 2 of those 6 robots going to champs because they are the best performance wise at the event.

One reason could simply be that teams in the district system who make it to world championships have played more matches. You go to two district events, playing 12 to 20 matches per event depending on how far you get in eliminations. Then you make it to District Championship and you do it all again. That’s 36 to 60+ matches played, and with that, opportunities to tweak, debug, improve your autos, iterate your hardware in the pit, and simply gain more practice. Then you bag up the robot and arrive at the World Championship.

Meanwhile a team from a regional system might have played one event, 10-18 matches worth of play, won the event and punched their ticket. Maybe two events, so 20-40 matches played. That’s still considerably less than the teams that came from districts.

It seems that in districts (at least in NE), points do a pretty darn good job of determining the best teams in the district, especially with two events. That means the 64 teams at DCMP are the 64 best teams (more or less) in the district.

It also seems that fewer teams qualify for DCMP by culture awards alone. I think of the 11 DCA teams in NE, 7 of them qualified anyway by points. This means that those who make it are generally good with the robot side of things.

It helps that at DCMP all teams have played a minimum of 24 matches before coming there (likely more), whereas at Worlds, some teams make it having played only 15ish.

Regionals only qualify three teams (out of seven) for CMP who are generally expected to have highly competitive robots: the winning captain, the winning first pick, and the finalist captain. CA, EI, and RAS have almost nothing to do the robot. This leaves the winning second pick, who essentially just has to be able to make playoffs and contribute to a winning alliance, which is non trivial, but we’re often talking about 24th robots at events with <40 teams.

Most teams who compete at district championships do so on the merit of their robot.

Whether or not this is the way it should be is a question that I’ll leave for others, but it’s just how it is.

This definitely a good point, many robots probably aren’t performing at thier highest potential because it’s drivers simply don’t have enough experience under thier belts.

I guess one of the big question is whether or not it should be this way. Are World Champs exclusive events for the best of the best robot performance wise, or should it be an event for the best FIRST teams regardless of thier competitiveness?

As a personal anecdote, my team, 3512, qualified in 2012 for Champs (our first year was 2011) as the third robot on an alliance. We had a pretty mediocre robot that could pretty much only balance on bridges well, however I’ll never forget the experience, and I think helped show us how far we could go in this program and made us eager to get that far again.

Unbag time is also a significant factor in increasing competitiveness at districts. Especially at events where we couldn’t even run any scale autos on the practice field, we would have totally rather unbagged in our shop in exchange for most of Thursday practice day. This is certainly something that could be easily fixed…

I am confident that FIRST agrees with you. By splitting champs, stressing outreach and other “more than robot” outcomes, and making so many non-performance based awards qualify, it’s pretty clear that FIRST wants to give everyone team a shot at going to champs, not just the ones with enough resources to win frequently. And even though my team strives to be competitive, I’m totally cool with that.


Teams in districts probably factor in robot durability more than teams that only compete at one regional. Make it solid, too many matches to be constantly making repairs.

The drop off from the top performers to the middle of the pack is steeper at CMP which contributes to DCMP feeling like more of a dogfight.

The feel of DCMP beats CMP for my money. There’s nothing better than getting together with the 64 (in PNW) best teams that year, teams that you’ve seen at earlier events, teams that you rub shoulders with every year, new faces having a breakout year that you will definitely see again next year, teams coming back from tough times - lots of good stories that CMP has too but you don’t get to hear them because there are so many teams, most of which are from far away so it’s less likely you’ll stay in touch than with teams in your own district.

There might actually be bigger resource gaps in the culture changing awards than in on field performance. Some teams are able to travel the world for outreach, some have nearby school districts that are willing to cooperate to start teams, some just know the right people to get a lot of good done. It’s obviously not a bad thing that some teams have a lot of Chairman’s resources, but it’s not something you can win without serious effort and having a stable program.

While true some of the time, that isn’t the case all of the time. 5458 got off the waitlist last year and this year. 2017 they were 1st pick of the 5th seed and made it to division Finals. This year they got kinda hosed on match schedule and despite being a bot that scored 10-12 cubes many times as a switch/vault robot they still made it to rank 43 and were picked for playoffs.


One reason is that regional systems value 3rd bots of winners and finalists more than the captains of the semifinalist alliances. That means 1/3 of the robots coming out of regionals are not particularly amazing (unless you get a really clutch 3rd pick or a sandbag). This is especially noticeable in CA, at least from what I’ve seen. The level of play I saw from the top 5-6 scale bots at SVR (of which only 3 went to worlds) outstripped most robots at the championship.
DCMPs, by contrast, are much more concentrated talent. You’re taking the best teams from district events (basically smaller regionals) and putting them into a competition together. There’s objectively more talent available because there’s already been one round of screening.

Districts also better rewards teams who play at a lower level (often support roles, switch bots, etc.)

Are you referring to the competitiveness of the qualifying rounds, or the elimination rounds?

Because I’ve been tracking the stats for VRC and the BC Provincial Championship and PNW “A” Division Tournament are often statistically more difficult in qualifying rounds than VRC Worlds. In other words the teams that move on from those two events to VRC Worlds have a higher win ratio at worlds than in their local events. (This year the 9 BC teams at VRC Worlds had a .678 win ratio and eight of them qualified for elimination rounds.)

So statistically I’d say that district events can be more challenging when it comes to qualifying rounds. I’d be hard pressed to say that about elimination rounds. Teams from less competitive/less experienced areas tend to get left out of the elimination rounds at championships. And while it may be difficult to get much more competitive than the final rounds of a high level district event, I think even the high level teams would be willing to point out that by the time you get to Einstein, you’ve got to step it up a notch.

Part of the reason for this, of course, is that in order to be a district you need to have a large number of established teams and events. In order to host a regional you just need some generous sponsors, a few dozen crazy volunteers and a bunch of rookie teams. (Ask me how I know! :slight_smile: )

The twenty first and second year teams in BC were fortunate to be joined by some amazing teams from Ontario, California and Alberta… but we don’t have their veteran experience to share all year. Until we generate our own, local, expertise, you’ll find that there will be teams from BC struggling to play above .500 in qualifying rounds at Houston. Mind you, we seem to have figured out VRC pretty well… so maybe it won’t be so many years before we’re boosting the level of competition in Houston!


Another example of this is 5026. This season, we were semifinalists at both our events (once as captain(3rd seed) and once as first pick(6th seed), earning awards at each and a total of 92 district points at the two events. (by my math, please correct me if I am wrong here)

Advancing to Worlds off the waitlist, we seeded 9th and were 7th seed alliance captain. If California was on the Districts system, I am confident we would have had an opportunity to play at the DCMP and would be more likely to earn a spot at (1/2)CMP.

At the risk of being redundant, I think the issue is that regionals advance too many weak bots, not that the waitlist fills the CMP events with weak bots (although I am confident there are weak bots that come from waitlist.)

As some additional info on this I broke down the MN teams at worlds.
Of the 31 teams MN sent to worlds:
10 - Chairmans, EI, RAS
7 - 2nd pick of winning or finalist alliance
2 - waitlist
12 - captain/1st pick of winning or finalist alliance.

The 19 in the first three catagories had a median qual rank in the high 50s with only 1 team playing in elims.
The 12 in the last catagory had a median qual rank in the low 20s with half playing in elims.

The amount of 4th rotors at the 2017 NC State Champs (27) compared to the amount of 4th rotors at all 4 other district events combined that year (7) is a good empirical measurement of how DCMPs concentrate skilled teams, as 4th rotors took an alliance of 3 good robots to achieve.

I agree with this. Before divisions came out I fully expected Detroit to be a bit less competitive than Ontario DCMP but I was pleasantly surprised at the depth of Detroit.