Regionals-A Theoretical Question

If FIRST were to eliminate the free wildcard for every regional event and instead implement four team alliances at all events, would you support the change? Do you think it would make the competition more interesting, or would it not have a measurable impact? How would it effect district competitions?

I really love the four team alliance idea - the local offseason in KC does it, as well as champs, and I love it at both places. I think some lower-level teams (like mine) get to see those higher levels of play, which can be very inspiring for a lot of teams. However, I see a lot of issues where some regionals start getting very, VERY shallow even into the second round. The smallest district event this year had 26 teams, while the smallest regional had 30. This clearly becomes an issue where you literally don’t have enough teams for four-team alliances. I think having the option for greater strategic depth in the lower-end of teams is a great option, but I don’t see it having a lot of use except in higher level events like DCMPs, champs and very few high level regionals. If FIRST can pull it off, I think it offers a lot of advantages for a lot of things, especially not having a robot being forced on you if you need to get a backup, and having the option of having the replaced robot being put in (i’m personally not a fan of either of those rules, but i see their reasoning).

It would dilute the already diluted level of play at the 2 end of year events. Wild cards at least go to good teams who generally earned their way, a 4th robot at a regional will not have really earned their way… And lets be honest the depth at 90% of regionals isn’t there for a 4th robot to really help the top 3 alliances which statistically win most of the events.

I’d support this only if it resulted in the 3rd/4th not getting a qual and there being more wildcards (that then start to get passed to semis through some likely contentious method).

It would punish 3rd/4th robots some… but a great solution to that is universal application of the district points system (or going districts fully).

Strongly oppose. The problem with regionals (as opposed to districts) is that they reward the best, second-best, and twenty-fourth-best robots on the field, and this would make that problem worse. Plus, many regionals struggle to have 24 competitive teams, let alone 32.

My ideal proposal would be to to turn the bid for second picks into another wildcard and instead dole out wildcard bids based on the district points earned at the event.

Not a regional, but West Valley has only had 34 teams at its peak (2016), with 2018 only having 28 teams. Shenzhen had 35 teams, and Istanbul had 37 (and i think one dropped for elims?) These events are already pushing the limits of a minimum size event, and really dont need the extra stress of gaining more teams.

I think the answer lies in a district-style qualification system where we possibly drop RAS (and maybe maybe EI winners) and generate more wildcards so good teams make world’s. Case in point, the many experiences posted by users here about DCMP’s being more competitive than champs. One user on Chief Delphi noted that they had fewer partners with reliable auto’s at world’s than at their DCMP.

In my opinion regionals should be assigning wildcards using the points methodology. Each regional should be assigned a number of wildcards based on the size of the regional. So a 60 team regional would send more teams than a 30 team regional.

It has one great benefit if it were implemented for district events because it was spread points out. Currently, the average 24th team in playoffs receives an entirely inappropriate number of district points. If alliances chose their own backup, the top alliance would have two similarly good choices of 3rd robot, and the playoff points would likely to be split between the 24th and 25th teams. This would even out the points vs. alliance position curve a little bit. The 32nd team probably would never play, but that would be okay. They wouldn’t have played in a 24-team playoff either.

I don’t see what it would add to any regional event, except those with exceptional depth.

Find me an extra 8 teams willing to come to eWA and ill be on board for districts.

I think this would be a great idea, especially as stated above that a 1st seed would basically have two picks for a 3rd bot. The obvious problem being numbers in certain districts. You would also have to allow many more teams into District Champs, which I don’t see a problem with that.

Indiana would have to send 73% of teams to their DCMP for it to work though, they already have the highest amount sent (iirc) and they are pretty small as is…

You could do something like “Every event with at least 36 teams will conduct a third round of alliance selections to find another robot for each alliance.” That would eliminate the issue of small district/regionals not having enough teams to form a 32 team elimination round and it would let the really competitive regionals and district championships allow more teams an opportunity to play. The obvious issue is that you’d need another championship slot for each large regional, or you’d be burning through the slots for teams who deserve them.

I disagree. I strongly believe what we need is to better utilize the wildcards we already have rather than throw more “carried” bots onto an alliance.

For example: At SVR 4159 won the wildcard for being the third robot on the finalists alliance. Did we play hard? Sure. Do I think we earned that spot? Sure.
But I’d sooner pass down a wildcard to the semifinalist captains, say 6418, who ranked 3rd overall and played incredibly well and yet did not qualify for Champs this year. There were several extra wildcards generated at the event - none went past 4159.

I think we really just need to rethink how we advance the teams. Four-bot alliances works great at Champs and in the offseason. I don’t think it’s the proper solution for Regionals. I don’t see how qualifying a 4th robot on the winning alliance is a better idea than qualifying the 3rd on the finalist (who is usually performing higher) or even better, the captain of the semifinalists (who is definitely performing higher). We’re not sending the right teams as is.

Here’s a little history lesson to add some context to this discussion.

When the four-team alliances were first implemented, Frank presented them primarily as a way to simplify logistics on Einstein.
https://www.firstinspires.org/roboticsprograms/frc/blog-Kickoff-and-Other-Fun-Stuff

Prior to 2014, the rules for calling a backup robot on Einstein meant that all the Division Finalist teams had to be ready in case they were called in as a backup (which I’m pretty sure never happened).

If you want to go back even further, during the years of 2v2 (and 4v0) alliance in eliminations (as it was called at the time) always chose an extra robot. Some years there was a requirement that every robot on the alliance had to play at least one match each round, but some years there wasn’t. I’m fairly certain that the current backup robot rules were implement in 2005, the first year of 3v3 matches.

EI winners don’t get a free ride for their robot in the district system. I don’t support dropping rookie all star though. It gives many teams something to work toward. “We want to get back to worlds”.

The real issue is that every single area should be districts. That’s the solution to the lack of competition at 1/2 worlds too.

Actually just one for each division, IIRC–you only got one draw on Einstein. Still never happened, and some teams just waited and waited and waited until their division was knocked out.

If you want to go back even further, during the years of 2v2 (and 4v0) alliance in eliminations (as it was called at the time) always chose an extra robot. Some years there was a requirement that every robot on the alliance had to play at least one match each round, but some years there wasn’t. I’m fairly certain that the current backup robot rules were implement in 2005, the first year of 3v3 matches.
I believe you’re correct–I know '04 had the requirement for one match/round.

On adding a 4th robot to each alliance: Nope. Not happenin’. 36 teams, you take 32… that’s pretty much 90% of the event playin’ in the playoffs, savvy? It’s bad enough when you have 24 playin’ and 8 on standby. If you have <=32 teams at the event, that means that everybody (including the Brave Little Toasters that may be more help to their opponents than their partners) is in the playoffs, what’s the point of playoffs again?

Should the wildcards be distributed differently? That… is an interesting question. I would say that maybe more should be distributed, in the order of: SF1 Captain, SF2 Captain, SF1 Pick 1, SF2 Pick 2, etc through the SFs (SF1 is deemed to have been in the 1 side of the bracket, for purposes of this thought experiment), until 6 teams that are specifically representing the event in question are wild carded or the event is out of Semis teams.

FIRST is in a transition era - and we may remain in this for some time as many areas just don’t have the resources or teams to get to a District format. However, it does irk me a bit when the argument of Districts vs Regionals comes up - the district folks always pull out Michigan. I get it, Michigan has a great system, a system that has been built over 25+ years and pioneered the format. However, FiM struck while the iron was hot - and they were able to secure state funding to help grow their system. We all should aspire to what Michigan has done - hats off to the people that made it possible early on - it has paid dividends for the mitten state (and others that followed their lead).

Most states are not that fortunate. And here comes the Minnesota argument… MN grew too fast too soon and is trying to play keep-up - all the while with no public funding. Will MN go to districts soon? Goodness I hope so, but it is unlikely. As long as private foundations and companies pay the toll, it is hard to move from our regional format in big arenas to district format that is played in high schools and local colleges. Yes - I am aware of FiM’s state championship, and I am extremely jealous.

So when it is brought up that we should drop EI and RAS as a qualifier for Champs, it is discouraging. 4607 was able to qualify for champs by RAS, Regional Winner, Chairman’s (3x) and EI in the last six seasons. We also qualified for our state tournament (based on District points - irony?) 3 times and as Chairmans 3 times. Culture awards got us to these spots more than robot performance did - I am constantly made aware of this…

What did we get by qualifying for champs and state in these manners? A more robust team. A team that is fully backed by a school that initially barred FIRST in the school (really - they didn’t want us and tried to limit how we could operate in our first three seasons to a point where they stopped an administrator from being a mentor). A team that has community backing like nothing I have ever seen before.

What did we do after getting to champs the first time? We looked inwards on what we can do better. We spun off one of the largest collegiate FIRST programs in the nation. We spun off one of the most promising summer robotics programs in COR. We started JUMPSTART Training at SCSU - one of the largest FIRST training events outside of champs (and now are exporting it to three other areas of the country). We founded the CMNRH - one of the most prolific HAC’s in the country. Our SpecCheck has helped numerous teams and helped to change FRC rules. Minnesota Mentors on Call came from within our ranks - as did the Programming Helpline that has aided over 70 teams in the last two seasons. We have garnered support from one of our major sports franchises in MN and are working to open up two more that will promote FIRST Robotics. We have been able to start 9 FRC teams, 14 FTC and FLL teams, pioneer FTC league play in MN (see districts for FTC), and mentor 11 other FRC teams. We have helped two of our rookie teams win Rookie Inspiration and five of our rookie teams make it to champs - 4 on RAS and 1 by winning their regional. And two of these teams went on to win their regional two years later - and one that was the #2 alliance captain at state last season.

And if you actually read all of that - kudos. I got a little tired (and a little bored) writing it. But why do I bring this all into the conversation? Again, because after attending champs as a rookie team, we saw how great this program is and tried to answer the question of “what can we do to make it better?”. My assumption is that with the number of teams that have made it based upon criteria outside of the robot performance, there are that many more teams that will take that flame home and start a fire.

If we go off of District points, or exclude teams that win cultural/Rookie awards, FIRST could end up in a situation where the same teams make it year in and year out. I know that there will be exceptions to this rule, but for the most part, look at who makes it out of Districts year in and year out (Caleb?) - is it always the usual suspects?

Regionals are a wildcard in of itself - this is one thing that I like about this format. A team can get a great hand in quals or go on a hot run and qualify - kind of like March Madness. I do want to see Rookie teams qualify based upon judges discretion on what makes them a ‘Chairman’s team in the making’. I do want teams that work their butts off to spread STEM and FIRST to their local community in the last calendar year to qualify for champs with EI.

Holy crap I am long-winded.

TL/DR - RAS, EI, Wildcards as they are help to inspire teams that make it to champs. It keeps FIRST vibrant and healthy in the long run.

I’d agree with this. But as Paul would say, no serpentine and go straight 1-8, 1-8 like in the past.
Then, I would agree with all 3 on the winning alliance getting a ticket.

But on the flip side, what would you do if an 8th seeded alliance wins an event with the current serpentine draft?

I would be entirely opposed to this change. As it is the regional qualification system often gives the lucky 23rd or 24th best team at the regional a ticket to champs over objectively better robots in the top 16. At least wildcard gives the second best alliance captain and often their first pick a ticket to champs. This proposal would mean that the 32nd best robot at the event could get a ticket to champs (depending on how you do draft order). At a small regional you could be giving a championship slot to the last overall pick. This is the opposite of the district system where consistently seeding high or being picked early in your events is rewarded and being a lucky late pick is not.