Proposal for the 2 Championship format

I’m making a mix 'n match set of proposal for the change in the Championship format under the following premises.
First, that FIRST requires the following parameters:

  • 2 “Championships” through 2020
  • 400 FRC teams at each event (800 total)
  • FIRST Progression of programs at each event (IE FLL/FTC/FRC).
    Second, that FIRST is not requiring that each Championship be at equal parity, that instead FIRST is focused on emphasizing getting the experience for as many teams as possible, but that it is open to differences in the competitive meaning for each event.
    Third, that separately into two championships really doesn’t reduce the travel costs significantly for the vast majority of teams. (Only moving to bicoastal would have done this, and only BC Place in Vancouver likely would be able to accommodate the event on the West Coast.)
    And fourth, that teams will benefit from the championship experience even without the very top teams (and FIRST has already acknowledged that by creating an event in which not all of the very best teams can be there at the same time.) One reason is that there are a number of very good teams that qualify through second tier means e.g., wild cards.

These are only initial discussion proposals and in fact they cannot all be done simultaneously. In some cases, the Championship qualification could progress from one version to another.

At the core of this proposal is to have two levels to Championships that correspond somewhat to the different league play levels in English football:

  • Premier Championship - the top qualifying teams play for the overall championship
  • Challenger Championship - the next level of qualifying teams, many of which already qualify for the current single championship event.

Qualifying either of these events could work in one or a combination of any of these three methods. In each case, Hall of Fame teams would be entitled to go to the Challenger Champs; they would need to qualify to the Premier Champs the same as all other teams. This will ensure that known top teams will be attending the Challenger Champs. Wait listed teams will go the Challenger event as well.

A) Expanding the status quo: Regional winners, RCAs and DC qualifiers would advance to the Premier Champs. Regional finalists, EIs, Rookie All Stars and 2nd tier DC qualifiers would go to the Challenger event. (District event winners, RCAs, EIs, RAS etc might qualify to fill out the Challenger.) Essentially, teams that now qualify as wild cards will be going to the Challenger event. The numbers may not balance out exactly here so there may have to be some refinement required.

B) Building on the District model: Use a form of the District scoring method to select the top 400 to the Premier Champs and the next 400 to the Challenger Champs. The District scoring may need to be refined because it presently underweights winning events compared to qualifying and alliance selection. It also doesn’t weight Chairman’s and EI sufficiently to get those event winners to either Champs. District championship results could be used to advance teams from those areas. Districts could be allocated slots based on the performance of teams at the previous year’s Champs. (The NCAA cross country qualifying uses this method to allocate slots across eight regions.) RAS would qualify for Challengers unless they qualify for Premier through a different means.

C) Promotion and relegation: This relies on how teams performed in the previous year. Use either the status quo or district points qualifying system. Teams that had finished in the top 50% of Premier Championship the previous year would again advance to Premier. Teams that were in the bottom 50% of the Challenger would go to the Challenger event. The top 50% of the Challenger event would be promoted to the Premier event; the bottom 50% from the Premier would be relegated to the Challenger event. New teams would qualify for either event based on the either the A or B method above. Chairman’s would go to Premier; EI would go to Challenger. RAS would go to Challengers.

None of the numbers or qualifying methods listed here are set in stone. This is just the beginning of a discussion. The final aim is to both name a single champion and give 800 teams the championship experience. FIRST can determine whether it wants one Chairman’s or two; and how many other awards it gives. (I think its time to expand the number of Hall of Fame teams given the growth in FRC.)

I love it. It allows more teams to get the championship experience, and even more teams have a chance to legitimately compete for some sort of championship win.

I like Situation A the best (which is similar to some of the World Festival/World Championship proposals), but what are your thoughts on how to deal with ‘double qualifiers’. Ie. teams that are, say, a finalist at a week one event, qualifiying them for the Challenger event, but then win a week 6 event?

Just as a minor item, I’m not sure I’d have the promotion/relegation. I think it’d be just a little too confusing and cumbersome.

For example: A team one year finishes dead last in Premier, and is thus relegated to Challenger for the following season. They then win 2 events and an RCA: Are they still in Challenger, based on their relegation, or are they now in Premier based on their current-season results? Or, a team finishes in the top 50% of Premier, then suddenly ends up in the bottom of their events the following year (or takes a couple years off). Are they still Premier, or are they relegated?

I think the biggest problem with that system is simply the fundamental difference between Premier League and (whatever the 2nd-tier level is) and the FRC competition: In soccer, the team setup is, well, set. You KNOW at the end of the previous season where you stand. And then you’re moved up or down for the next season. In FRC,who is IN the championship(s) varies wildly year-to-year. So setting up the promotion/relegation would only work for any given year to following year… and only for the teams that are attending in both years: AKA, World Champs, HoF, EI… who would, naturally, all be locked into Premier OR Challenger unless otherwise moved. You’ve got new teams, etc.

It’s an interesting concept, but I would suspect that in practice it’ll be difficult to work out.

The hard part about the whole split is to get a reasonable balance of the top teams, and a reasonable balance of “seeing new faces”. And still crown a single champion. That’s going to be really difficult.

My proposal: Deals only with “balance” mentioned previously. Single champion alliance can be dealt with later by a wide variety of methods.

If you go to one championship in one year, should you qualify for Championship the next year, you are routed to the other championship (barring extenuating circumstances and all). Anything beyond one year, you go to whichever one you’re normally assigned to. And if there are a lot of teams bouncing back and forth, there’s always the “random factor” that will randomly assign you to one or the other…

I think the “B” model has merit. I would change it to have the top 250 teams go to Premiere and next 250 go to Challenger based solely on performance points from competitions.

Then rank the RCA’s, EI, and RAS using the same system but excluding the non RCA’s, EI, and RAS teams. Then the top 150 go to premiere and the next 150 go to Challenger. Hall of Fame teams go to Challenger unless they qualify outright for Premiere.

My numbers are a WAG, but you get the point.

If a team somehow qualifies for both competitions they go to Premiere and the Challenger slot is filled from the wait list.

You are making the distinct error that FIRST wants to have the best robot competition possible. That has been brought up in other threads. Your format does not alleviate this problem. In fact it’s conclusions put more weight on robot performance than anything else. There seems to be a dissonance between the goals of this format and those publicly announced by FIRST.

I get what your saying, but I’m hoping that that FIRST is now truly listening to what the teams want.

A two tiered championship model could work, instead of a venue becoming “better” than then other; we go into the process with a Venue “A” as the premiere event. Granted, Venue “B” is a slightly lesser event, but it provides a place for the really good but not great teams to have a meaningful competition. The inspiration is there for all students and the motivation for venue “B” teams to elevate to the venue “A” self evident.

Just for context (not sure if there is good data on declines/wildcards for 2015)

505 Slots existed in 2014:
Regionals (56) x 6 = 336 Slots
Districts (5) =169 Slots

The district slots increased substantially this year. Even with that, you only need to trim 105 slots to keep one championship “qualification only”. Seems pretty practical depending on what approach you want to take to trim teams.

Unfortunately, I don’t see FIRST pursuing a two-tier solution.

Please don’t confuse a vocal minority that is CD with “what the teams want.”

We’ll just have to wait for the FIRST survey results - though I doubt they’ll be releasing anything close to raw data.

I don’t think it’s unfair to say that the new format is not viewed favorably by a large majority of the community.

So what does your team want?

I won’t assume that I speak for the 50+ students on my team. Several of them are confident I have no idea what I am talking about at any given time.

What I will say is that whatever FIRST decides, it has no (zero) effect on what I am going to be doing with my team in the near term or foreseeable future.

What’s your opinion then?

I think that FIRST is trying to get back to what it did best: to inspire a generation of students. The board feels that increasing the number of students that attend Worlds is the best way to do that. After going to Worlds this year, I can agree that we can’t fit in one location and accomplish what the board wants to do. The only reservation I have about the split is if there were some sort of year after year geographic split between the teams. It would be a shame if west coast teams never got to play with east coast teams.

Nice non-answer. I have no doubt that I know what my students prefer; maybe you should consult your students on the matter at hand.

Either help with the issue or not, being the devils advocate without purpose doesn’t help anything.

I had the same/similar idea when I looked at the IIHF ranking system two months ago. In that system, the countries are divided into different levels, with 1-2 teams earning their way to the next level when they qualify.

Such a system in FIRST would have two levels (let’s say Division A and Division B).

At first, all teams are in Division B. Any team that reaches the finals of a regional or wins an engineering related award gets promoted to Division A status for next season (or even for the next regional if the team chooses).

This gives teams a nice sandbox environment to get going first before they face the more established teams with more resources. Of course, if a team wants to downgrade, they can do so at any time.

This could also be divided into more than two levels if it is better. Need to iron out the details, but you get the idea!

The “haha, your team is a Division B team” mentality seems like the inevitable downside to this.

This plan makes me uncomfortable. I want to see the winning teams at championships without having to win every event we go to. Teams that don’t win who learn a lot from my experience there.

There is another one. I’m going to go way back into my memory banks for this one, and hope I’m remembering the anecdote right (it’s on CD… somewhere–that’s where I remember this from).

Back about a decade ago, during team forums after the season, someone (don’t remember who) was at one in some location (don’t remember where). And somebody in the room was really vocal about how all of FRC should be split in just about the manner you’re describing (and remember, we’re dealing with about half the teams we have today at this point in time). That’s when a newbie team mentor–might have been a rookie team–who’d been rather quiet spoke up and said something about how beating (or was it playing with) Wildstang (FRC111) had been the highlight of their year, and they would lose that inspiration if the split happened. The rather vocal somebody promptly kept quiet.

Yep, there’s also the financial downside too. Teams on the bigger stage would be able to get sponsorships much more easily because of the wider audience and the bigger impact of the team.

The same problems exist in the IIHF system. I didn’t even know some of the lower tier countries had a team.

Would this help? I think so. But, there are just as many cons (if not more) as there are pros.

I think you might want to do the math on this one…and show your work.

Even for us in southeast AZ, moving from St Louis to Houston makes it driveable for me, and Detroit is way far away.

There are a lot of teams in Michigan…and Minnesota…and Ontario…etc. And in Texas…