[Split Thread]: Modified Alliance Selection Rules at Off-Season Events

I’m really curious what problem whoever came up with this was trying to solve.


Welcome to New England, its rare to go to an offseason up here with standard alliance selection rules.


Why does it have to be “a problem?” Event organizers can have all sorts of priorities and look to design their events as they see fit. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a beta test for a new FRC format. I quite enjoy that offseasons get to play with all sort of different alliance selection and tournament structure rules.

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Someone thought that this format had the potential to be better than the official one in some respect, otherwise it would not have been implemented (assuming that the event organizers are rational actors). I am curious what that respect is.


Some events prevent picking in the top 8 in an effort to make the event more fair… by preventing the top seeded teams from picking each other. Others use it as a fun twist, but I’ve heard equity as the more common reason.

If anything it just leads to weird situations. Teams using new or B team drivers and plan to use their A team can rank lower than they normally would and be available to grab for the top seeds. If a top seed randoms a good team and then gets to pick another good team it leads to really off balance alliances. See 2016 River Rage… #1 alliance of 5813, 238, and 1058 were hitting -8 tower counts from high goals plus missed shots.

Random third/fourth robots is pretty common.

Almost every event in NE is different. I think the Maine events, Beantown Blitz, CT States, and WIWI are the only normal events. Every other event is a different twist of no inter picking, random first round, random second round, random third round, no serpentine, completely random alliances, or some combination of these.


Sorry for the double post, but is modified alliance selections at offseasons not common in other regions?

Is this mostly a New England thing to do?

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This discussion was split off from the following thread: 2019 Alliance Selection Results


It depends on the event, somewhat. Fall Classic had a couple of oddball ones in '16 and '18, but this year used a normal 4-alliance (single-day events and all that).

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If the goal of the offseason is to train students and get them up to speed with how events work, throwing wrenches that may confuse more casual watchers or rookies to “spice things up” instead causes confusion for teams down the line when someone misremembers a rule or a setup, at worst directing decisions during alliance selection and during elims at competition events months later. Short of an event needing a change (for example, a smaller offseason only have 4 alliances instead of 8) im usually not a fan of these changes.

MN Has no top “X” interpicking at their offseasons.

I dont know who hurt their coordinators in what way, but it must of left deep scars to keep it going for this long.


I can understand why they would have done it, but I don’t think it was the most productive attempt. Offseason events are a great time to test out gameplay changes that won’t normally occur in regular season rules. While I don’t think it was a great idea, I think we can at least appreciate the results now that it has been attempted to see if it “worked.” Mind you, this random first selection rule makes being first seed effectively pointless, besides first pick for a third alliance member.

NMRC was just held this last weekend and in terms of leveling the playing field they had a much better approach. Being as there were only 4 alliances for elims, the 4 highest seeded teams could not pick another alliance captain. In offseason events, I think this works out all right, as the point of an offseason event is more for experience for the upcoming year than anything else, yet it still keeps the competitive spirit that occurs at regionals or districts.

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So very true.

That seems to be the case. Battlecry changed their playoffs from 20 alliances of 3 robots, with 1v20, 2v19 etc then 1v19, 2v18 to a 8 team playoff, to 15 alliances of 4 robots to a round robin of 6 alliances (ugh… why the switch). Bash @ The Beach has completely random alliances, so you can either get a powerhouse alliance, or an alliance that has no chance.


My first time experiencing this was yesterday at HAVOC. I thought it was weird at first but we got a trophy out of it so I can’t complain.

Governors Cup had some of the most restrictive alliance rules, with no inter-picking AND random 3rd picks. Mayhem in Merrimack was also interesting. 6 alliances serpentine draft. The #1 alliance was very stacked and won undefeated (it was 131, 1519, and 1922). Last years River Rage had two very interesting alliances. #1 was Mechanical Advantage, Oz-Ram and Mechanical Mayhem, while #2 was BOB Chaos and Morpheus. That was a fun finals match.


Very true. Random rounds can introduce some real gems sneaking through to make a stacked alliance or receive a team not as high on your list.

Something I’ve notice that makes BC difficult is with how many alliances need to be formed, teams have a hard time making pick lists that deep and lose track of teams. Its also the offseason so some teams aren’t considering their lists as seriously as others or just there to have fun which is okay. Teams also forget to consider who is swapping drivers for elims.

In 2017 when 1058 was going into alliance selections we were surprised we had the chance to pair with 2084 considering we were rank 10 and made a run to the finals.

This year when 3467 slid in as the last alliance captain we were a little surprised we hadn’t been picked yet, but this led to us getting to select two teams high on our lists: 4041 and 7452 plus a blank random round. Similar run to the finals.

I’m not always a fan of random rounds, but sometimes it isn’t the randomizing that hurts teams. It does create some uber stacked alliances from time to time.


We accept pretty commonly that off-seasons are allowed to make their modifications to the actual game rules, so I don’t see why the tournament structure or alliance selection should be off limits. Especially given that the rankings are especially noisy after only a handful of qualification matches at these (predominantly) one day competitions, to me it doesn’t make a lot of sense to get particularly hung up about alliance selection at these events. A lot of teams use them as training or opportunities to give other students a chance at an increased role, and having the events run with a little less serious attitude it likely fine in that context. Not every event needs to be IRI.

Modified tournament structures are pretty common in the Mid-Atlantic. Duel on the Delaware and Ramp Riot have tranditionally not allowed inter-picking in the Top 8 (although Ramp Riot will permit it this year). Ramp Riot has sometimes randomly assigned back-up teams as well. HAVOC has frequently used altering tournament structures (round robin before Einstein did it!), typically with the aim of getting all the teams more matches. MidKnight Mayhem mandates that 4th alliance members play at least one match.

Indeed at Gitchi Gummi, EMCC, MRI, NMRC, and Minne Mini there are no interpicking between alliance captains and also all of these events only have 4 alliances playing in the playoffs.

Personally, I’m generally in favor for having modified alliance selection. However, I’m not in favor of things that limit the strategy of alliance selection (having randomized selection during a round of the draft, not allowing alliance captains to be picked, etc.) as compared to a normal event

I haven’t been to ramp riot in a few years, but we (5407) are participating this weekend. Are there any other big rule changes (besides the extra matches due to it being a 2 day event)?

I actually really enjoyed the new Battlecry format. I appreciated being able to choose our third partner in a year where good defense is so important and choosing a third robot in a field so deep was great practice for our students. In addition, I found the round-robin pretty exciting to watch and participate in. It was also nice to play against a variety of different alliances.

The Einstein rules were also a much less arbitrary way to advance teams from eighth finals than the highest 8 match scores, with the added benefit of requiring teams to try in both matches. In 2016, us and 195 scored 250 points in our first match, so we spent the entire second eighthfinals match tuning our vision and not really trying to win, since we knew there wouldn’t be seven alliances scoring 250 points.

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GRITS in Georgia doesn’t allow captains to pick each other either.

If I was designing a playoff structure for a one day off-season event, I’d prioritize having a more exciting playoff experience for the median team over crowning the best teams at the end. Off the top of my head, that would point to a round robin playoff format with most or all of the teams participating in playoffs, and then a sudden death single finals match to crown the winner at the end. That creates more action and excitement for some teams that would not typically get that opportunity at a regional or district event.

The alliance selection format doesn’t matter as much, but I would probably do four team alliances and make a rule that the 4th robot has to play at least one playoff match if the event has 32 teams.

I don’t really have a problem with randomizing or restricting the selection process when there isn’t a qualification to the next level on the line. This will tend to give more teams a random chance of experiencing the thrill of glory when those teams might have slim odds of doing that at an official regional or district event.

Think about how many teams are eliminated early at any typical event. By the time you get to the semifinals, all but 12 teams are now spectators for the next hour or two. A significant majority of the quarter-finalist alliances face higher seeds that they have little chance of defeating and go 0-2 in that round. In an official event with Championship qualification on the line, that’s part of the deal in a competition that aims at qualifying the most deserving teams. For an off-season event, it’s okay to tinker with the system and spread the fun around a bit.

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