The dominance of the #1 alliance in 2022

Every single of the 14 events that finished yesterday was won by the #1 alliance, and only #2 and #3 alliances made it to finals. I’m most curious about 2 things:

  • Why is this happening? Are rankings better at sorting teams than most years? Are teams performing more consistently than most years? Is the skill distribution of teams this year dramatically different than most?
  • Is this a trend you expect to see continue throughout the season?

Possibly a lack of depth after 2 years of covid.


Absolutely. Given how easy the Cargo Bonus RP is for top teams, those teams are naturally going to seed higher than Traversal Climb teams. Put two dominant cyclers together that both have Traversal Climbs and it’s tough to beat.


For starters it’s week 1, which can always be a little weird.

If you recall in 2017 the CD community was freaking out about death by serpentine; game balance is hard everyone…

I expect that cargo RP to jump up quite significantly for worlds, maybe even past 35, this is based on the insane amount of climb RP that has been awarded
But I’ll take more “unicorn matches” in week 1/2 in 2022 over the lack we saw in 2020


Let’s start with auto and climb - they’re both really hard but really valuable. If you can’t match the 1 seed in auto+climb, you’re starting at a huge deficit.

Secondly, it’s really hard to slow down a well-driven scoring machine, especially if they score from the fender or launchpad. You can take them from 10+ balls to like, 8, with a full match of aggressive defense.

Until lower seeds can match #1 in auto and climb and eke out an advantage in teleop, we’re going to see continued dominance.


I would say that the way this game awards ranking points inherently makes it so that the robots who perform consistently well are able to naturally rank higher. I think another thing to consider is that robots who have consistent 5 ball autos are going to consistently rank higher as well, because not only are they starting with a significant point advantage coming out of the gate, they now need to score one less cycle than the opposing alliance. I think when comparing this game to past games such as Steamworks, I think you’ll find those had a lot more events where the actual rank of the team didn’t line up with the reality (of their robot performance). But at the end of the day, it’s only week one so any real conclusions can’t be drawn just yet.

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I think this is the answer. I watched bits of several competitions on Saturday and there were only a very few robots at each which were really killing it. If there are fewer than 4 top-tier teams and the # 2 seed accepts the invitation of the # 1 seed, it’s pretty likely the # 1 alliance is going to prevail.


Look at the median robot’s scoring potential. The alpha robot (6 sigma-99%ile) is producing 40 to 60 point per round while the median unit (3 sigma-50%ile) is making ~11 points. That is a steep drop off and a very skewed distribution. In a normal distribution the 50%ile unit would provide about 22 points per round. Basically the top 25% of robots are doing 50% to 60% of the scoring


This about matches up with the data/visualizations of individual scoring contributions that I have seen. For example at GSD, the top two teams each had an individual score contribution nearly ten points higher than the third ranked team (they were both hovering at a little over 40-42 points in individual contribution). I’m interested to see if this will be a constant throughout the season as competition continues and the floor for robot performance becomes higher at the DCMP and CMP level. I would say that after a certain point, once the contributions between two teams reach a close enough level, it’s possible to potentially close that gap through strategy/defense.

What it really comes down to is

of FRC teams being that much better, in my opinion. The good teams are even better while the average teams stayed average


I don’t think I’ve ever seen a #8 alliance win against #1, it’s literally rigged against them such that being #8 or getting picked for #8 is kind of a joke (partially speaking as a team picked for #8 alliance)


The last 2 events our team competed at (MVR in 2020 and Tesla in 2019), we were on the #8 seed alliance. Made it to the finals at both events. With good strategy, anything can happen!


I can tell you from experience that it has happened. I think 2017 is a pretty notable example where the lower ranked alliances at least at the District, and (somewhat to a less extent) DCMP level were pretty competitive. Take for example Southern NH in 2017 where the 8th ranked alliance went on to win the event. It is rare, but I think whether or not the 8th alliance can contend is dependent on the game and the floor of the level of competition at the individual event level. 2017’s game really had an equal playing field at least in the NE District, where there were very few robots able to do the kPa RP. Strategy also plays a massive component to this, a good strategy can 100% steal you a match so as long as you are able to win a match on your own, then you can use a clever strategy to steal a match and win.


Ok fair then, I’m just salty that I got against 148 and 3310 allied together lol


CHS district champs 2018! Alliance 8 went all the way and won


2016 world Champs at curie devision. Alliance 8# won and got to Einstein.


That’s what surprised me most. So many teams that probably would have been better off ignoring the balls entirely and instead just having spent their time building a reliable traversal climber (for 17 pts if you taxi)

2016 MSC, the #16 alliance beat #1.

(Now there are 4 divisions at MSC. Back them it was 1 huge group.)


#5 just beat #1 taking it to a third match in the semifinals at INKOK (with only two robots in that second match)

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I think it’s mostly a week 1 thing. The top 5 robots where significantly better than the rest of the teams at the clackams event in PNW and the top alliance from our event picked team 3.