Placebo Effect

I haven’t checked out all the teams but I noticed that both team 71 and team 573 had 3 great matches (on Arch and Curie respectively) but they only show 2 matches on the Ranking screen. I thought perhaps each had been DQ or some thing but then it hit me, they are probably one of the placebo teams in their divisions.

Sure enough they each have 11 matches so… …that must be it.

Without knowing penalties it is impossible to compute their seeding points, but I figure the Beatty Beast would be in 5th place (rather than 27th) and the Mech Warriors would be in 1st place (rather than 22nd).

Interesting horse races…

Joe J.

FIRST tradition the last few years has been to make the surrogate matches be the designated teams third match.

As you noted it does make it hard to calculate proper rankings for the surrogate teams.

I’ve also noted through this season that figuring the rankings in general during the day has been harder than in year’s past, because from the pit scoreboard iyou can’t tell how many matches each team has played. Other years I’ve been able to tell which teams, like the aforementioned 71 and 573, lagged the others in rounds scored.

Exactly. If you have a match sheet, take a look at the column beside the team number for each station. At some point, the dominant letter (T, IIRC) changes (to an F, IIRC–I may have them swapped) for one match. That’s how you know who the surrogate teams are and how many there are.

Funny story: In Arizona, I happened to be at Pit Admin for some reason and a guy came over from the pit display to say that his team was missing a match–they only had three showing, and played 4. Then someone else came up with the same thing, but remembered that it was the third match that was missing. The two teams had played against each other–and both were surrogate teams (the correct term these days–the placebos were hovercraft and vacuum cleaners back in the '90s :wink: ).

At that point, we figured out that it didn’t mean anything in terms of ranking, and didn’t have any other effects.

I think it is strange that at least two divisions have teams that are surrogates* that would be in so high in the ranking were it not for the fact that they have a match dropped.

As to the ranking being by point totals rather than by average is just crazy. It works out to the same thing in the end, but it makes the rankings unnecessarily noisy. The only plus is that it is clear how many points you need to jump into place X. Perhaps a compromise system where it displays total points but sorts by average?


Joe J.

*I still like Placebo better – I will never forget Bengi’s hovercraft placebo… …classic.

This thread about the history of Placebo’s is a good look back. Andy Grady does a great job of running the WayBack machine for us new to FIRST.

I think they should use the robots built by the GDC during game development as the Placebo robots!

I don’t get what the placebo is. If our team has 11 matches does that mean one of them, we’re the placebo?

A Placebo happens when the number of teams competing isn’t divisible by 6. They give teams an “extra” match, which doesn’t count for them, but counts for the rest of their alliance.

If you have 11 matches, your third match does not count, as it will be the placebo match.

It would be nice if they sorted by average points, it would cut down on the confusion of not only placebos, but also of some teams having played n games, and others playing n+1 games. That would allow for teams to have a more accurate picture of how they’re doing.

I think they should return to the “We don’t have a team for match X, pull out the placebo!” approach, but I recognize that that means shipping and maintaining an extra robot. If the GDC built several robots during their development time, gave them all a simple automode, and then had some provision for a drive team (team-supplied, or grab some volunteers), it would make for some extra fun during matches.

A Surrogate (or Placebo) is needed when the number of teams competing at a regional (or division at Championships) multiplied by the number of matches per team isn’t divisible by 6.

For instance: if there are 12 matches per team scheduled, no match will need a surrogate (or placebo). Or if there are 10 matches per team scheduled, and the number of teams is divisible by 3 (say 87 teams per Division) then no match will need a surrogate.

Source: Rules section 9.3.2 Match Assignment

Cyber Blue was the Surrogate this year in Kansas City and Boilermaker. On one hand, it was annoying, because it always seemed to be one of our better matches was the surrogate match. On the other hand, it was nice to be one match back and have some idea of how you needed to do to move into certain positions. It was the difference between being the leader in the clubhouse and the guy still on the course with a chance to take the lead.

I think the surrogates are needed as the games become more complicated. Playing the 2009 or the 2010 game 2-3 due to randomly being with a “placebo” robot and not a true surrogate would be a nightmare.

573 had a surrogate match in The Curie division. That was annoying enough. It could have been made easier to swallow if we had another match close after it to catch up sooner to the other teams. This was not the case. We were behind almost all of the teams most of the competition and to compound it we were in the very last match. If that was not bad enough there is more to this story. Our last match was never scored. All 6 teams did not get any points for the last match of the day. The score table was informed of this while the alliance picking was going on but they did not do anything to correct it. They did finally find the mistake but if you look at Curies final standings you will see that we got a raw deal. The whole world will see us at #18 when in fact we should be 13th or 12th. I guess part of gracious professionalism is to roll over and play dead.

A Placebo happens when the number of teams competing isn’t divisible by 6. They give teams an “extra” match, which doesn’t count for them, but counts for the rest of their alliance.

Not necessarily true. A Placebo never happens when the number of matches per team is divisible by six. That’s one reason why FiM planned from the get-go to have 12 matches per team. There has been no Placebo Effect in Michigan.:cool: