Week 2 Regionals: Veterans Still Have No Advantage

Last week I took a look at the results of the first weekend regionals (this thread), and concluded that veteran teams had no advantage when it came to winning qualifying matches.

Discussion followed, including some interesting statisics from last year that showed veterans did tend to score more points than rookies, and also surrounding the many benefits that come with experience other than just the ability to win matches. There was also the oft-repeated note that winning qualifying matches is not necessarily related to being selected for the finals or for doing well in the finals.

The match scheduling system was also discussed, as it pretty much ensured last week that for every match a veteran team won, a veteran team also lost a match.

So, presuming that the match scheduling system bias would be fixed this week, I promised to take look at this week’s data.

A correlation of team number to ranking actually results in a value of -.026, which – if it were large enough to be significant, which I’m not arguing it is – would actually suggest newer teams ranked higher than veterans.

This is supported by the fact that the 61 teams numbered less than 300 had an average seed of 22.3 while the 76 teams numbered greater than 2000 had an average seed of 21.4.

This flies in the face of the common assumption that low-numbered veteran teams are more likely to win matches. It sure doesn’t seem to be happening this year.


Then Kodos are in order for the Game Design Committee, for developing a ‘level’ game. There is little more frustrating to a rookie or 2nd year team than t simply get trounced in competition.

Sure, it’s not about the robot (and never was), but veteran teams with their far greater resources (at least, they are perceived that way) seemed to have an unfair advantage. Not this year - so far.


Note, there have been a healthy share of rookies that have won–note WI, VA, MO, among others.

But, even if a rookie or second-year team has a pretty good robot, they are constantly beat when it comes to strategy and simply operating in this kind of game. The ones that are doing well have been around since either FIRST Frenzy: Raising the Bar or Triple play.

It’s basically a control style and being able to coordinate and experience.

I would have to disagree. Veteran team still have an advantage in the game, it’s just been equalized in the qualification rounds.

Unfortunately, there’s no way to really eliminate the advantage that veteran teams have over rookies. Even if you make the game so different that the only things in common between each year’s robot are the fact that they’re robots, veteran teams will still have an advantage. They know all the right people, know the places to shop, and the students have more skills.

Is this a problem? I don’t think so. It just means FIRST is accomplishing something. If the rookie teams were just as good as veteran teams, it would mean that FIRST hadn’t taught the kids and teachers anything.

On a side note, it’d be really cool if they made the KOP and robot rules drastically different each year. Imagine if next year your robots were gas or glow fuel powered and played in a grass field or sand pit or mud pile. And then the year after that, we’d be playing with ultra-lightweight blimp robots.

Sand in your electronics…


Electronics are made of sand.

Well done.

Seriously though, sand wouldn’t be too horrible with the electronics. Just put your electronics in a box with some seals, and you’re good. The thing to worry about is those sprockets, bearings, gears…

no rookie team was selected for alliance parings at the Florida Regional. and the Great Lakes Regional.

i’ll believe this when a rookie team leads a team to a championship

Didn’t that happen at VCU?

VCU was using the old match selection algorithm. While it didn’t change how good their robot was, it might’ve helped them win more matches. I still support the new algorithm - I just wanted to bring it up.

Did FIRST actually change the algorithm? They said they did, but we ran into the same problems at FLR. The problem being playing with the same teams over and over and not getting to work with a large majority of the competitors. And yet still having super short turn arounds and uber long turn arounds later.

I didn’t like the new algorithm they used. At the Pacific Northwest Regional we were against the same team nearly every match. And for the next match, we always were against one of our previous allance members and with one of our previous opponents. They did that every single match.

And with the Rookie thing, at the Pacific Northwest Regional, the rookies rocked. I dont know what the statistics were for how many went into the finals but we took team 1983 (Skunkworks) into the finals with us. They also won the Imagery award.
A rookie team (2122) took top 3rd seed and lost in the semifinals to the team that eventually won.
I wonder how well the rookies did in past competitions…

Unfortunately, I think this lack of advantage for veteran teams is due to the dumbing down of the game.I believe that only having one tube at a time, made this game fairly simple from a design stand point.I think that in the attempt to keep rookie teams form being killed by veteran teams First in eliminating a lot of the creative designs and strategy. The first years I was in first ,It was three teams and you finished first ,second or third. Sure, we got killed by some veteran team , but we also won. ( you can learn a lot by finishing second or third)When the real quality of your robot is being hidden by alliances and rule that frankly limit teams to build very similar robots. It is very difficult to determine a advantage one way or another. These limit have now spread to the pits.(update 16).A veteran team knows what tools to bring to fix a robot quickly and safely. I am VERY sorry if this seems like a rant. I have been participating in First for ten year and know how it can impact students future. I understand change comes with time. I just hope First will strive for excellence and not average.

jim schaddeleee

I do understand your concern, but in my opionion, they are doing a fine job, I mean sure its been “dumbed down” a bit as you have said, but it isn’t a huge step down, I believe, like was said before, that they are trying to even the playing fields for rookies, this way more people get involved and stay involved, instead of getting owned by vetrean teams and leaving because of that very same reason.

I don’t think this game is ‘dumbed down’, as you say, and especially not because we’re only allowed to handle one tube. This year’s game provides quite a few different choices in effective arm and grabber design. You can use an articulated arm, a 4-bar linkage, a sliding elevator, a telescoping arm, and anything else your team can come up with. Grabber designs include pinch-type grabbers, curved pincers, two spatulas, wheel type, and grabbers that deal with the inside of the tube. Optimization and automation can be done with sensors and programming. In terms of ramps, I have seen many clever designs, including lifter types where the lifting robot does the work, cable driven ramp extensions, ramps where a robot driving up will extend the ramp, and so many others.

The focus this year is on tube handling and lifter design, rather than storing game pieces.

I dont know if anybody watched but the lower four alliances at wisconsin were led by rookies and a combined total of 10 rookies made eliminations. The winning alliance was also led by a rookie.

Alright I finally got around to investigating a hunch I have. The results we are seeing, the fact that team number has little to do with record has nothing to do with the game or how good the new teams are.

In each match with the exception of the last one or two in each round (ie when all except 6-12 teams have played the same number of matches) the sum of the team numbers on the red alliance is very close to the sum of the team numbers on the blue side. I am writing a program now to gather data from all of the regionals but from the three I have looked at it seems that in order for one alliance to win they must give losses to three teams with simmilar numbers. This Prevents any group of numbers from getting significantly more wins than any other. It seems that any data you have collected relating win percent (or seeding) to how well these groups are doing is invalid.

There really isn’t any merit to any of the claims in this thread.

I agree ,You have given great example of how to do the task.(lift a tube),what I am trying to say is that
why limit someone creativity. How cool would it be if a team score a entire row in autonomous or the rules allowed for more than placing a tube, drop a ramp or climb a ramp. Just a quick example. I think it was 2002 the game had 3 large goals on casters .These goal were multipliers .Team 71 designed a robot that dropped down ,grabbed the three goals in seconds then walked them into the scoring position.
That was truly INSPIRING .First is about inspiration. If a team uses a 4link or sliding elevator is that inspiring?

Your Friend

Great job by those rookies but after looking at the entry list almost half of the teams were rookies.

The same thing could be argued for any rule. Isn’t a weight limit stifling creativity? I could build a really awesome robot if I didn’t have to worry as much about weight.
Rules don’t limit creativity, they channel it in different directions. In this game, the rules reward a creatively and effectively designed mechanism, rather than a creative way around the way most people play.
Only holding one ringer is part of the game, like not using your hands in soccer, and not traveling in basketball.

I would be inspired if a team can manage to score all of their team’s ringers in one match.
This year, awe-inspiring moments like that will most likely come from the drivers and coaches. That’s not to say robots can’t be inspiring. I’m impressed by the lifter robots that can manage to lift 2 robots, and also by the really effective scoring robots.