Thoughts on Double Elimination for FRC

Instead of approaching teams to make a pitch, which may move the needle much, I would approach the top rank teams first thing Saturday morning and ask them what capabilities or traits that are looking at for their 3rd robot and then showcase those capabilities in your remaining qualification matches.

I actually disagree a little bit with the previous responses. Especially for third picks at shallower regionals/districts, the decisions may come down to which robot is less likely to break down or incur fouls (or red cards). For these situations, I’d put more weight on teams that approach top rank teams as it shows they ‘get it’ and thus would probably be more likely to understand the rules, change batteries and so on. The only time I would hold it against if a team is if they approached and pitched strategies that were illegal or didn’t make much sense. (I chuckle when teams make pitches to be 3rd robots by offering their scouting data).

I’d also make sure you find out who is responsible for making the alliance selection picks. Talking to some random student in the pit probably won’t be as effective as talking with head scout or drive coach.


A good rule of thumb is to pitch when you are giving new and useful information. Showing an auto you haven’t gotten to use in qualifications is noteworthy. Explaining an early technical failure you have permanently fixed is another good time to talk to teams. Discussing the advantage you could provide with an unseen strategy or mechanism is also possible. You can also try to use this time to ask questions about what the captain would want to see out of you and your team in the last couple of matches you have, in order to tailor gameplay toward a particular desired trait.

Don’t bother going to pitch if you’re just going to say you play the game well and that something you obviously do every match would work well with the pitching team. They’re gonna know already. It’s not worth the hassle I think. In short - make the pitch only if something useful comes out of the conversation for one or both parties.


May not only be purely technical - can include human factors, eg acknowledging strategy interactions that went off the rails, lessons learned for drivers or coaches, etc.

(I’m thinking of a quals match we had alongside a top rank team, where our driver managed to get in our partners way as much as our opponents. We walked thru it with the students, made sure they knew how to avoid it next time, and I checked in with that team to let them know the situation was addressed. They ended up taking us in the 2nd round.)

1 Like

Is there any value to naming match 12 and 13 (or just 13) “semi finals”? Can we consider the loser of Match 13 as “third place”?


Yes, generally in DE brackets you have people placing 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th/5th, and 7th/7th (in order of when teams are eliminated).


Feedback based on double elims at Tidal:

  • Switch matches 12 and 11 to avoid an extra field timeout
  • Round one timing feels like normal elims turnaround. Turnaround gets progressively longer (and I progressively lost patience) in subsequent rounds.
  • Teams seemed to understand when to queue (thanks in no part to my unhelpful reminders, but I’m sure thanks in part to FRC Queue)
  • There was definitely a lack of narrative for the audience. I think teams understood @Andrew_L’s explanation of the bracket during alliance selection, and I think @anshul’s announcement of watch match we were on helped, but there needs to be more of a story weaved throughout. E.g. this alliance lost in the last round, so now it’s their turn to redeem themselves against the winners of this other round–or whatever. I think some dynamic animations could help, more than the static bracket.
  • On the bracket – it’s is too small and complicated for the audience to understand on a big screen, even with dynamic updates. A few people asked me (I was the lead queuer) questions about the bracket while it was on the big screen. As soon as I pulled it up on my tablet, they fully understood what was happening. I think zoomed in or scrolling sections would help – it’s just too many rounds to cleanly show on a single screen – though I do think the Cheesy Arena graphic is pretty good for trying to fit all the info on one screen.
  • This is not at all backed up by data, but teams seemed eliminated at roughly the times I would’ve expected them to be eliminated in traditional bracket. For example, the teams eliminated in round 4-5 are teams that I think would’ve been eliminated in semifinals. Anecdotally, the bracket seemed to produce similar results to those expected under the other bracket. I’m sure people on teams that played or those who were watching more closely can point to some examples of where things would’ve gone differently in a traditional bracket, but largely I think it produced similar results.
  • Some of this can be attributed to the event environment and vibe, but there were far fewer high stress scenarios by the field in elims to fix problems. I attribute most of this to teams having more time between matches and also not having to play so many total playoffs. Usually it’s those teams that draw the short straw and end up playing 3 of 3 in most series that have these problems, so this helps.

I think I could have done a better job of letting the teams know that we didn’t have Timeouts this time around–on the other hand, showing a team asking about a Timeout that there’s 9 minutes left on the clock to get to the field generally had an oddly calming effect.

(And I enjoyed the longer breaks. I don’t get enough, so getting extra time is always welcomed.)

1 Like

I think Double Elimination matches 5 and 6 should be switched with the current 7 & 8 to give more time to the lower level alliances and I dont want to confuse things to much but I think the round 2 and 4 upper bracket matches should become best of 3 matches to advance to avoid it becoming a stamina contest


At Heartland as we were walking through the pits teams would step out of their pits to tell us what they had fixed or improved. IT was the first time I had experienced it and it felt kind of good though it didn’t do them a lot of good as they were telling the mechanical mentor and the programming mentor and though we do speak at the strategy selection meeting our data boffins really dominate that meeting and rightfully so. They really know what each bot is capable of.


We ran double elimination at the STEMley Cup Championship on Saturday. We’re still collecting input (happy to hear any participants post here), but here’s some quick thoughts I had:

  1. The feeling of “bouncing around”, and losing the energy of the playoffs is real. I would rather we stay in the same bracket for longer to maintain the flow and the narrative, even if it adds a couple short breaks. Here’s how I would reorganize it:
  • Play match 5 and 6 in the upper bracket, so we can watch the top teams progress
  • Play match 7, 8, 9 and 10 in the lower bracket, so we can find out who makes it to “quarters”
  • Call the last three matches “quarters, semis, and finals” as shown below (or maybe different names, since there would be only one “quarter finalist” now, instead of 4). This will make it feel like the matches have more understandable stakes.

  1. Take another look at bumper colour assignments for each match. We heard that teams perceived a lot of short bumper change requirements in DE

  2. Name the elimination rounds something other than “Match 10, 11, 12…etc”. Telling sponsors / parents etc “we were eliminated in March 11 of playoffs” is far less useful than “we were knocked out in quarter finals”.
    Any good name suggestions for the four Alliances that make playoffs, but not quarters?

  3. The bracket diagram above doesn’t really give teams a good idea of how much time they’ll have between matches. We made up a timesheet for FTAs and MCs, but we should have given it to teams too. FIRST should do the same, at least for the first year of DE.
    Double Elimination Schedule Timing - Google Sheets

More thoughts to come…


From a team perspective the one thing I dislike is how if you fall into the losers bracket then end up winning that stage you don’t have any margin if something goes wrong. For Ex. Quarter 1 you lose then you win 2/3 then in semifinals you have that additional match again if something goes wrong. In DE if you lose even one match in the beginning it is win or die until finals. I also noticed that there is less of that tension in the second match with the same team where you wonder about the loosing team redeeming themselves.

In case it helps anyone, here is the MC script we used to (attempt to) describe DE to the audience:

MC “Now the Playoff Tournament we’re about to start is a little different from what you are used to. Let’s take a moment to describe Double Elimination Playoffs.

AV - put DE bracket on the screens

MC “In Double Elimination Playoffs, Alliances will play five “Rounds” of matches before finals, as shown on the screen. Each match in these Rounds are “Best of One."

MC “Notice how Rounds 2 through 5 are split into an “Upper Bracket” and a “Lower Bracket. Any alliance which loses an Upper Bracket match will move to the Lower Bracket for their next Round match.

If a team loses another match in the Lower Bracket, they will be eliminated from the tournament. The short way to describe Double Elimination is: two losses and you’re out.”

MC “After Round 5, the two alliances which have not been eliminated (otherwise known as the winners of the Upper and the Lower Brackets) play each other in a best 2 out of 3 “Final Round” to determine the tournament winner.”

MC “Sounds exciting doesn’t it? Is everyone here ready for the playoffs?”


Team 359 got to experience being a #1 seed in the higher bracket throughout DE vs. a #7 seed in the DE playoffs.
The thing I hate the most is the uneven amount of time you have between matches depending on where you are in the bracket. Defense in general is much heavier during the playoffs vs. qualifications. I saw a lot of robots being more heavily worked on and team members stressed to make the next match. At TT, they played match 12 before 11 because of this.
As a top seeded alliance, I felt we had so much time between matches in the 1st few rounds, up until the finals. Finals is the same of course.
However, with the amount of time we had, I wish DE could provide the same amount of time for those that lose and are in the bottom brackets. Not possible, but I wish. Seems more fair.

In summary, I’m trying to say that, opinions may differ depending if you’re an observer, part of an alliance that’s in the upper bracket, or lower with respect to your next match. I know my opinions did. I got to spend time as a coach watching more matches in between ours.


Name the elimination rounds something other than “Match 10, 11, 12…etc”. Telling sponsors / parents etc “we were eliminated in March 11 of playoffs” is far less useful than “we were knocked out in quarter finals”.
Any good name suggestions for the four Alliances that make playoffs, but not quarters?

Isn’t the Beauty of Double Elimination that these people get to say they were 3rd or 4th place? I don’t see the harm in declaring them that especially when it comes with no trophy or ribbon (Cost to FIRST). I imagine any district points will recognize elimination that way.

Is the proper way to fill the bracket to allow everyone to be seeded? What if losers of 5&6 played for 7th and 8th place in one gap, likely between 10 & 11? and Losers of 9 & 10 later played after match 13 for 5th and 6th places? Offer a small amount of district points. Fill the time with action.


That could work.

  • Losers of round two are tied for sixth
  • Losers of round three are tied for fifth
  • Losers of round four are fourth
  • Losers of round five are third
  • Finalists and winners as before

I agree that switching play order of match 11 and balances things a bit.
Was there the “extra” between match time and time out lengths (2023 competition rules) at TT?

We made an on the fly decision to play 11 after 12. There were no automatic breaks unless teams were in back-to-back matches (in which case they got 8 mins from the time the field was ready for reset), but we were pretty lenient with teams that were making progress towards the field.

Imo, this attitude is the right one for approaching timeouts, but it’s impossible to replicate across events. Tidal is a laid back enough event and volunteers were on the same page, so it was easy for us to give teams some reasonable, minimal leeway on making it to the field.

I was surprised by the number of teams who didn’t realize that they couldn’t request additional timeouts, but that can be cleared up with more communication going forward.


Most of the time in other double elim brackets, I see the following:
Losers of round two both place 7th
Losers of round three both place 5th
Loser of round four places 4th
Loser of round five places 3rd
Finalists and winners as before

I would encourage emcees to use this convention. In each lower bracket match, you can say:
The winner of this match advances, the loser of this match will place Xth

You can even use this in the upper bracket if you want.
For the round 1 upper bracket matches, you can say the winner will be guaranteed at least 5th place.
For the round 2 upper bracket matches, you can say the winner will be guaranteed at least 3rd place.
For the round 4 upper bracket match, you can say the winner will be guaranteed at least 2nd place.

In my mind, statements like these make the stakes of each match more understandable.

For names of the matches, I am partial to “Grand Finals”, “Upper Bracket Finals”, and “Lower Bracket Finals”. That is what I most commonly hear in other use cases (well, actually winner’s finals and loser’s finals, but I am guessing FRC won’t be a fan of calling the lower bracket the loser’s bracket), and those all make sense to me. For the upper bracket matches, I think “round 1” and “round 2” are fine (could even say upper bracket quarters and upper bracket semis). For the lower bracket matches, you could use quarters/semis/eigths, but that kind of confuses me, I would honestly just call the matches the names of the place the loser gets. 7th place match, 5th place match, 4th place match, then “Lower Bracket Finals”.


4476 participated in our first double elim bracket this past weekend at the STEMly Cup as the second alliance captain.

I think part of this was there was some confusion over who was what color that didn’t follow normal frc tradition/logic, as well as there was some conflicting info between the displayed audience bracket and the bracket that was handed out to queuers/alliance captains. This caused a lot of confusion, and in talking to other teams about match order/bumper color decisions we all were unclear why things were the way that they were, and just went with the flow of the queuers eventually making decisions on which matches were being played when/what alliance colors we were on, which several times for us at least conflicted with the audience display which for me at least was the easiest way to see what was going on.

eg in your picture there the 2 v 3 matchup has the lower seed in blue, where normally in the previous bracket they were red. Not really sure what the point of that change is.

As a competitor loved the 15 minute forced breaks near the back end of the bracket to ensure everything was working smoothly. Talk about much reduced stress on all the kids. As a spectator for Chezy, I found these breaks long and dull. Maybe some sort of good filler for this time would be beneficial.

Double elimination definitely feels higher variance, and you really can’t afford big mistakes. Our alliance got sent down to lowers off of a triple free climb call that definitely put the pressure on for us to perform. I like the higher variance and the need to be playing well. It’s not as easy to cruise to the finals if you aren’t playing your best. I do still strongly worry about bad ref calls ending a season for a team, and I do think we need to improve this if we are going to use it in regular season. Probably more training + one time video review or something. Reffing standards need to be raised, and we need to have a better way to review critical calls.


Maybe the Impact judges could pick 5-10 “finalist” teams and their videos could be played during breaks? It won’t fill the whole time, but each video could at least provide a break from line dance music and sponsor slideshows. Alternatively, they could play robot reveal videos for teams in the next match if they have them.