General note: the reason this is in the General Forum instead of Rules/Strategy is greater exposure.
I’ve been noticing a few comments about backup teams simply packing up before the end of the eliminations, so I wanted to bring this up to the light. What the above rule says is that any of the top 8 unchosen teams could be called onto any of the alliances in the elimination tournament, at any time.
The importance of this cannot be underestimated. It’s the difference between going 2v3, or even 1v3, and an even match. It could mean the regional win or loss to the teams in the final round.
At the end of the qualification rounds, up to 8 teams are told not to pack up yet. I know; I’ve done some of that telling myself, as an inspector. (Team is packing up their robot, or starting to. I walk up. “Hey, guys, where are you going? The inspectors want to see you. There’s a chance you can still win this event.” [explanation of backup]) You see, we have to inspect the backup teams, too. Usually, about 4 teams are placed on standby; sometimes fewer (Arizona had 2 this year–one had already reinspected when we called the top 10 at about 10:30).
You get your robot reinspected, go to queue, and sit around and wait. And wait. If the folks running the event are smart, there should be no more than 4 teams kept waiting at the beginning of the semis, and 2 at the beginning of the finals. They know who’s next on the list–remember, highest-seeded backup available is picked if a backup is needed.
And you wait some more. It’s time for the finals, and you decide there’s no chance anybody’s going to be picked from the pool. You’re the highest team on the list, but you decide to pack up. When you get back out to watch the last couple of matches, you notice that the team next to you in the pool is out on the field. Ooops.
This actually happened in Arizona this year. Remember, 2 teams were held out. The higher seed took a nap–I remember them being there during the semis. The lower seed simply waited somewhere around the area. Between the finals matches, Alliance #2 (down by a match) opted to use their backup coupon. The higher seed was nowhere to be found. Practice field? Nope. Queue? Nope. Skip it, the #2 on the list is here, this OK with the alliance? Yep. Hey, guys, get ready to roll, you’re on in a couple of minutes! OK, so they didn’t get the win, but the difference between being an also-ran and a finalist is huge, even in the FRC competition.
Here’s another example, this one from 2007. 330 and 696 were in San Diego, paired with another team (1216, I think), in the finals. The other team was having some major issue that they couldn’t fix in a timeout. 330 called in the backup (835) for the final match. 835’s defense was a key component to the match–and regional–win. One match, and they went from mid-pack to winners. (Incidentally, TBA’s data on this is wrong. I was there, so I can say that.)
If you’re the backup, stick around a while. Stay close to your robot, and the field, until either it’s over, or you’re told that you’re too low on the list to go farther. If you even think you’ll be near that list, get reinspected early–the inspectors hate long lines too. Remember, there’s the chance of a trip to the BIG Dance in Atlanta waiting for you–if you don’t miss the call.