Opinion: Regional Worlds Qualification Should Change

I know this isn’t an issue for most teams on here since it’s many high-level teams that end up at worlds almost every year, but in my opinion qualification for worlds at a regional is simply unfair. The current system has the entire winning alliance, Impact, and EI winners, and then wild cards go winning backup team, RAS, and only then the finalist alliance. This is problematic for a couple of reasons:

  1. There is no room for very good but not elite teams. In the current system, if you’re not one of the top two teams but also too good to slide all the way down to team number 24, you’re not getting a merit slot. This is especially problematic since virtually every regional will have at least two exceptional robots that can run the table. Even if a region lacks two elite teams, they will travel from who knows how far to come and take an “easy” win.

  2. There’s too many robots being sent to worlds that just aren’t competitive. If there are two wild cards, it’s possible that 5/7 robots qualifying from a regional are below average at the regional (2nd pick, EI, Impact, Backup Team, RAS). I’m a huge fan of Impact, but does there really have to be a second worlds qualifying award? And I don’t really understand why FIRST chooses to throw teams ranked worse than 20 into worlds over more competitive robots, hearing from our alumni that went as a defense bot it is demoralizing to be so far behind everyone and essentially a hindrance to your teammates.

  3. All regionals are not created equal. There is huge inconsistency, some regionals have 46 teams, some barely have 28. Some average around 50 points, some put up triple digits with ease. And wild cards are not even either, usually good luck picking one up at a week 1/2 event unless you got one of the 3 at Candian Pacific. It’s wildly inconsistent, and makes for some rough situations (I can’t even imagine competing in California).

  4. The goal of the World Championship should be to get the best robots in the world there. Impact is amazing and deserves a slot, but in the current system >50% of the robots going to worlds from a regional are not going because of the quality of their robot. It’s disappointing to be sitting at home watching worlds matches with 3, 4, or 5 robots that you can probably outscore.

There is definitely personal bias, my team just played a perfect regional, finished finalist captain and won a finals match in our first time ever ranked in the top 8, and got no qualifying slot. The two times our team has gone to worlds? Both ranked worse than 24th as a non-scoring bot. We also watched a KOP chassis and a bot that didn’t score more than 2 pieces in a match get a spot over us this week. Very sorry to be salty, just wanted to get this off my chest.


Regional Qualification should change. By moving everyone to the district model. That solves pretty much all of these issues.


For sure, it’s a bit frustrating that districts aren’t the de facto option.


Districts are a relative newcomer, starting first in 2009. Regionals have been a thing since the mid-1990s.

The conversion process is painful.


I think we’ve actually crossed over the point this year where districts have been around in FRC longer then the regional model existed by itself. So relative newcomer yes, but definitely not new. Freshman students this year are younger then districts.


Someone reminded me this weekend that 2008 was 15 years ago, and thus before many of the students in the building were born. The district system is old enough that we should be pretty confident we can adopt if we want. And we want, but not all of us, unfortunately.


I feel like FIRST can definitely pull it off, it’s to the point where ~50% of teams in my state are traveling out of a relatively large state for a regional anyways. I just struggle to see any benefit to the broken regional system besides the fact that it’s just how it’s been.

FIRST clearly–very clearly–disagrees with you, there. And that disagreement probably defines this entire thread.


There are people on payroll for Manchester who still don’t believe in the district model. They go to regionals that have been relegated to prep schools and warehouses lined with port-a-potties and still believe it’s a better team experience.


Calling it “broken” is hyperbolic at best… there’s a plethera of reasons for an area to still be under a regional model rather than districts (team density and financial solvency being two of the biggest). An event not sending the best of the best 100% of the time does not make it “broken”. As mentioned above, FIRST HQ’s view of who should be attending champs clearly differs from yours, and thats okay. But again, that doesn’t make the regional system “broken”.

Edit for clarity: I’m not saying the district model isn’t better in many ways, because it is, but to beat the horse once more, that doesn’t inherently make the regional model “broken”


Yeah, it probably does still make sense in our area, just disappointed with our team having been on both sides of qualification for champs.

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Just wait until you learn how FTC works…

If the goal is the just get the best robots to worlds then why have playoffs? Just use that time to run more matches to fine tune the rankings.

The current model’s “weakness” of having less competitive teams go to worlds is actually a strength imo. If we had less variance then some teams would NEVER go to worlds^. At least this way, with the variance we do have, it does happen.

^If someone thinks some students are more deserving to go to worlds than others than we need to sit down and have a chat.



As much as many of us feel that Championship should be the best of the best that doesn’t seem to align with messaging or actions from HQ. The Championship Event seems to serve as a season capstone celebrating a wide variety of accomplishments while aiming to create exciting matches to help drive interest in the program.

There are options that can be deployed fairly easily which would align it as a competitive only event. They have not been adopted. (Largely the everywhere districts approach where regionals score points and are normalized to qualify… there’s issues still but it would be a step)


I hear ya. I’ve been there, both as a student and a few times as a mentor. The frustration is completely understandable. Districts will definitely solve most of your concerns, just as it has for other areas (looking at Michigan, New England, and Israel in particular), but it takes time, money, and a driving force to make that switch happen (cough NY cough)


I agree with a lot of your post, but I will say that this in particular I disagree with. The top 2 robots at the event form 2/3 of the winning alliance. Given that the reason FIRST exists is basically for outreach, I don’t think it’s weird to have 2 qualifying Impact-esque awards.

I agree that the current model does a disservice to the growing upper-middle tier of teams, who consistently make finals but can’t go to worlds in many cases due to the qualification system. In this regard, 2 champs was very helpful to support a larger number of teams at champs.

The only real solution, however, is districts.


I think you’re a little off on this? I believe most US freshmen this year were born between the second half of 07 or in the first 3/4 of 08 (the cutoff varies by state).

There’s certainly exceptions and your overall point about the age of districts is true, but the vast majority of freshmen are barely older than districts.

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My background is previously a student, and now a mentor, on a mid tier team, in the Midwest, with a limited budget.

As a student, I was always hoping for districts, and now as a mentor I’m still hoping for districts.

  1. In districts you don’t have to be the winning alliance to qualify for worlds, which makes it feel less “coinflippy” whether you will qualify. (ie. The difference between getting picked by the first or second captain could be the difference between qualifying or not qualifying)

  2. Regionals charge a frankly ridiculous amount of money to attend multiple events. And if you can only afford to go to one, you only get one chance to qualify.

  3. In districts you’re guaranteed two events a year. Even putting aside qualifying for worlds, I just want multiple chances to field the robot we spent two months making.

  4. Districts championships give another goal to shoot for besides just qualifying for worlds. I think most years we would have been good enough to qualify for a DCMP, but not good enough to qualify for worlds. But in the regional model, there is not much inbetween to shoot for.


In case anyone is unaware of how wack FTC is, this year there was about 30 teams in my local league. Of those 30, 7 went to state I believe and then at state only 2 qualify for worlds: The FTC equivalent of the Impact award first, then the winning alliance captain. If that happens to be the same team, does that mean the first pick goes to worlds? Nope, the runner up of FTC Impact goes instead.

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Having competed in both systems successfully this (along with cost) is the biggest boon to districts IMO.

In 2012, as a student, competing week 2: I think we only had a dozen matches to show for 2 months of work. We didn’t care about comp season after we were out in one event in the quarters. After this experience we went to two regional in following years. we could because we had the funding, lots of other teams don’t. the production quality of some regional has slipped a lot so the argument I used to have of “greater sense of awe” experience is gone for a lot of students. Sometimes you luck out with great production value at a regional or a district, but that’s not a delineating factor any more.


I’m glad they implemented the wildcards into the regionals 7 years ago, gives the better teams a greater chance to make to the championship. I wish they would do what is done for the district model that the EI and RAS winners that do not qualify based on their district ranking attend the district champ still just for the award, but I don’t know if they want teams coming all the way to the championship just for the award? You have a good point through and its gonna be tough to fix it in a regional model or you all go to the district model where all of qualifying awards are satisfied and the best teams will rise to the top of the rankings. Is it tough to pick and choose your regionals based on what teams will be attending the event? But any team is beatable in a match, all depends on how to strategize and build your alliance in the playoffs…

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