Week 1 Competitions?

Currently debating going to week 1 competitions, pros/cons?

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Con: Nobody knows if you built the right robot for the game.

Pros: Nobody else knows if they built the right robot for the game either.

Basically, Week 1 events are guinea pigs for the entire season. Sure, there’s a Week Zero event or twenty (of which very few use official fields), but Week 1 is essentially the biggest beta test in all of FIRST. You don’t know for sure what rules will be factors, how the game will actually play, or even if the field will work properly.

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From a logistics point of view if you manage to qualify for champs in a week 1 event it gives you the most time to organize everything needed to go to champs

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How competitive is your team? If you expect to be competitive and you are historically good at early season events, going to a week 1 might help you qualify for worlds. Take advantage of your quick start ability compared to the average. Also, if you qualify during week 1, you have that much more time to arrange the logistics of the trip to worlds.

If you have been historically poor at early season events or never had a fully functional robot in week 1, going to a week 1 might not be a good idea.

Of course, it’s hard to go to a week 1 if there are no week 1 events near your location. This is not likely to be an issue if you are a district team, but could easily be the case if you are regional.

If your team has been good at making improvements to your robot between events, going to a week 1 gives you more improvement time if you can also schedule something like a week 4 or 5.

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Being that I go to events every week during the season I find week one has the least amount of choices and the quality of competition is lacking compared to later weeks. Everyone is figuring out what they have and how to play the game. Week one seems to be more of an extension of week zero except the results count and can get you qualified for the championship or a good start towards qualifying for the district championship.

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Teams that have some semblance of a function complete robot in week one have a major advantage. Our team wasn’t anything special for our first event of the season (high auto with mobility, mostly feeder station) but we were able to be consistent enough to take home a blue banner when most of the rest of the field was still figuring out their robot.

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Comments as above are spot on. Personally I think an early event forces you to not waste time during build season. I like 'em. That being said a secondary consideration is that there are fewer “Wild Card” spots available. Things change year to year but under the current rules I think that, for instance, a Rookie All Star contender might have a Win but No Go scenario in week one but a good shot at Champs a few weeks later when other teams are coming in with their ticket punched. Not that most Rookie teams are ready by Week One, but a consideration.

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If your team only goes to one competition per year, then a week one event might be a bit tough. Like other people said, the pro is no one really knows if their choices were correct, but the con is you can’t learn from those and make changes before your competition.

f you are a mid level performance team and have the capacity to make design changes im about 2 weeks, I think a smaller week 3 or 4 event makes the most sense. It might be harder to make it to the finals, but there’s a better chance that there are some wildcards available.

But if you are a smaller, lower performance team that doesn’t have the resources to make quick design changes, a week 1 event is the better option. It’s more of a gamble, but we saw this year that teams that specialized in hybrid node scoring only really performed well in the first couple of weeks. My team is currently at this level, and if our week 4 regional wasn’t only a 15 min drive, I would definitely be signing us up for a week 1 or 2 competition.

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Adding things I didn’t see above.

Pros:

  • If doing multiple events, it lets you battle test your robot/team early and can give you a couple of weeks to work on the robot before your next event.

Cons

  • For awards, every team still eligible for Impact and EI
  • If you do well/win, it takes good team dynamics to actually improve your week 1 competitive robot into one that can compete at later events.
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My team has historically gone to a week 1 event because our Home event is week 3 and we want to have gone to an actual competition before that to attempt to do well there.

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To add to this:

Pros:

  • If you’re a District team and you compete out-of-district for week 1, it doesn’t count against your District points for your first two district events, so it effectively serves as practice. ̶A̶d̶d̶i̶t̶i̶o̶n̶a̶l̶l̶y̶,̶ ̶i̶f̶ ̶t̶h̶e̶ ̶o̶u̶t̶-̶o̶f̶-̶d̶i̶s̶t̶r̶i̶c̶t̶ ̶e̶v̶e̶n̶t̶ ̶y̶o̶u̶ ̶a̶t̶t̶e̶n̶d̶ ̶i̶s̶ ̶a̶ ̶r̶e̶g̶i̶o̶n̶a̶l̶,̶ ̶y̶o̶u̶ ̶c̶a̶n̶ ̶a̶l̶s̶o̶ ̶p̶o̶t̶e̶n̶t̶i̶a̶l̶l̶y̶ ̶q̶u̶a̶l̶i̶f̶y̶ ̶f̶o̶r̶ ̶W̶o̶r̶l̶d̶s̶ ̶r̶e̶g̶a̶r̶d̶l̶e̶s̶s̶ ̶o̶f̶ ̶d̶i̶s̶t̶r̶i̶c̶t̶ ̶p̶e̶r̶f̶o̶r̶m̶a̶n̶c̶e̶.̶ (EDIT: apparently this last part is no longer the case as of the 2023 manual)

Cons:

  • Almost anything that can go wrong with the field, will go wrong with the field on a week 1, expect long delays, late-starting matches, and match replays.
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Pros: Almost everyone is bad
Cons: Almost everyone (including you) is bad

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Being currently part of a district, similar to what @Peyton_Yeung said, if you can have a functional consistent robot week one, there is a large chance you make it to finals. In a district, thats great points.

In a regional, finalist isnt anything week 1, because so few wildcards exist. If I was in the regional system, I may have more doubt about week 1 events unless I know my robot is ready.

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As a district team we love going to week 1 regionals to get the robot tuned prior to district play. In 2022, we probably didn’t need the week 1 event but in 2023 the week 1 regional saved our year to get to adjust and work on the robot for three days straight early on and to make up for no practice time.

We’ll probably debate if we go to a week 1 district event this year because normally everybody (including the top tier teams) struggle. If you have a robot that functions and does some minimal gameplay there’s a decent chance you can rank high and get some decent points for district play. The second pick especially on higher seed alliances week 1 can be kind of rough so there’s also some hope if things line up a solid 3-5 seed with three decent robots could have some upsets. Also funky things happen where teams that may not be that successful on the field still find a way to get up to the top of the rankings and split up what would be good alliances and even the playing field out.

The major downside is if one of the top tier teams just hits the design and has a good build season hope can leave the building pretty quickly if there’s no depth in the field. But, I’d still rather take them on week 1 than wait until they iterate for week 3/4/5.

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Also, teams that have a field setup for driver practice will have a large leg up.

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As of the 2023 Rules this is not the case.

11.8.1.6 Regional Participation
District teams neither earn points for their actions at any Regionals, nor are eligible for any FIRST Championship qualifying benefits at that Regional (awards, Wild Cards, etc.). If a District team is on the winning ALLIANCE, a Wild Card is awarded to the next qualifying team. If they are on the finalist ALLIANCE and would be awarded a Wild Card, they are skipped

Rules may change in 2024 but I don’t expect this to change with the current size of champs. IIRC this was done so that in small districts like Indiana you don’t end up removing spots that would qualify a team from the district championship. Prior to this adjustment if a district team qualified at a regional event they would count towards the districts allotment of teams going to the world championship. So the district would “lose” a spot to hand out after district champs because one team was filled in from the allotment before the district championship started.

Now there still may be some benefits for district teams at week 1 regionals but those are purely from the opportunity to practice on a real field in real conditions and there is no option to qualify early for district teams attending out of district regionals.

As someone on a team very firmly in the regional system (not nearly the team density currently to support a district) I do think it would be nice if there were more early regional options. It would allow for more flexibility on event options. With the current dates for champs it certainty seems like week 6 regionals are discouraged, so trying to find event options that allow for 2 plays not back to back was difficult, And getting 3 plays was very much up to the waitlist lottery. The regional options in the western US were not great last year in terms of scheduling. If your team won’t play events that take place on Sunday’s the week 1 option was Utah, which IIRC was waitlisted by the second round. And there were no week 2 events in the western US last year that didn’t run on Sundays. I like early plays and while we’ve never run a week 1 we’ve done week 2 quite a bit. It gives a really good chance to see what needs to be improved on your robot and we’ve almost always done better at our second event because of this. So I like early plays but current schedule makes that hard without significant travel for regional teams in the western US. Here’s to hoping for a better calendar for next year.

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Fair enough, I have to admit I haven’t paid much attention to that part of the manual recently. I still imagine there could be benefits to attending an event that can’t be counted against you for the purposes of practice though.

Given the frequency of teams that failed to qualify for their district champs going out-of-district and qualifying for worlds in previous year, this change makes sense.

No longer the case …

11.8.1.6 Regional Participation
District teams neither earn points for their actions at any Regionals, nor are eligible for any FIRST
Championship qualifying benefits at that Regional (awards, Wild Cards, etc.). If a District team is on the
winning ALLIANCE, a Wild Card is awarded to the next qualifying team. If they are on the finalist
ALLIANCE and would be awarded a Wild Card, they are skipped.

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