What does it take to be considered and elite team?

I was thinking ,What does it take to be and elite team in first. I can think of a few. When I try to quantify why I think they are and elite team my logic seem to break down. is winning a regional make you a elite team? if so how many ,how about winning the nationals ? Lets say you are the 3 pick from the 4 seed and you happen win the nationals, is that third seed and elite team or just a good team at the right place at the right time? How about winning awards ? you could win a rookie award and not have a team the next year .

Any thoughts on what you considered a elite .

Jim schaddelee
Team 107
Holland Christain /Metal flow Corp.

The simplest answer is, continued high-level performance. Winning Nationals once will get you lots of recognition, but to really be an “elite” team, you need to do well, year after year. The teams I would consider “elite” are the ones you can always count on to be playing in the finals, and always have a good shot at winning. Most have multiple regional wins, though not always a Championship to their credit.

Let’s put it this way: if you had to pick an alliance partner before Kickoff, without any knowledge of the game, or your alliance’s robot, who would you pick? Chances are, you’d want to pick a team with a good reputation for success, every year. Past performance doesn’t always dictate future results, but there are some teams you just know will be extremely competitive, every season. Those are the teams that, in my mind, are deserving of “elite” status.

What is your definition of an elite team? I, personally, don’t think elite teams exist. No team gets special treatment by FIRST over another. All play by the same rules, with the same KOP, but some may have more funding than others. However, I wouldn’t consider a well-funded team an elitist team either, nor one that wins a lot of awards.

Are you talking about the teams who seem to stand out from the crowd? Well, there may be reasons for that happening: there may be experienced mentors on that specific team who has networked their way into FIRST’s decision making process (but that’s personal involvement, not exactly team involvement), members of the team may be more willing to help out other teams, and maybe that team is just more noticeable. Marketing has a lot to do with that. Maybe their T-shirts are just more bright and fun. Maybe they have students (who aren’t on the drive team) who would cheer, help, dress up, walk around and sell their team, who are just more INTO it than other students may be.

I know on some teams, the students who aren’t on the drive team just sit quietly in the stands, fall asleep, or mope around outside the venue. This is not showing team support.

Therefore, in summary, elitist teams do not exist because none are treated any differently. There are just some teams who happen to be good due to the involvement of a few key individuals.

He didn’t say elitist, he said elite. It’s the same line of reasoning as an elite athlete. They don’t get specifal treatment from their league, but they perform on a level higher than most other athletes.

You can’t win something once and be elite. You need to make a strong showing of yourself at regionals year after year. If you can win something once, great. If you can win it the next 4 years in a row, then yeah, you’re probably at the top of your game.

I agree–elite status, in my opinion, involves a few things:

  • Name (or number) recognition. This could be from seeing a jaw-dropping robot, the aforementioned shirts, or from having seen their members’ posts on ChiefDelphi. (The latter is an individual effort, but since you have your team mentioned every time you post, it still has the effect.)
  • Consistently high performance, not necessarily on the field.
  • A robot that is either tremendously effective (1402 and their tetra dumper, 179 and their pitchfork), tremendously interesting (1398 with the skateboard), good to look at (1293 with our panels), or any combination of that (233 and…yeah).

I’ll modify Jeff’s criteria for elite status. If you were in a Fantasy FIRST league and had to draft before Kickoff, who would you pick? (say, that would be an interesting concept.)

As for winning something for four years straight, I could see that–but let’s not count out the new gals at the dance. For example, 1398’s gone to six competitions, and has five awards to their credit. (That includes a Rookie All-Star and EI award at Palmetto, and a Judge’s Award at the Championship this year). Even though they’re only a second-year team, I’d consider them among the top teams in the state in the non-robot department. (And we’ve got some great teams in this state–see also 281, 342, and 343.)

With FIRST there are several ways to be considered elite. Well maybe not elite, but at least an exceptionally good team.

One of the first, and most difficult, ways is to win the national chairmans award and be in the hall of fame. Those teams are well known in FIRST, have good teams, and usually a decent robot.

Other than that, it would be based on name recognition because of multiple, sometimes continous, successes. It’s easier to achieve an elite status if your successes are unique or stands out (either through magnitude or way it was achieved). Winning or designing unique parts and solutions consistently will achieve elite status than consistency being in the finals with a mundane design.

I like to compare it to being an elite business. For an example lets take a look at Google. So to become elite you should 1. Innovate, 2.Be User Friendly, 3. Make Yourself Marketable, and, of course, 4. Don’t be Evil.

Seems simple, doesn’t it?

There is a huge difference between ‘elite’ and ‘elitist’. As Cory stated, Schaddelee was looking for ‘elite’. I would assume the definition he was looking for was “The best or most skilled members of a group: the football team’s elite”](http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=elite), in this instance.

Of course there is no favoritism from FIRST. Everyone is given the same restrictions, the same kit of parts, the same rules. However, it’s what you create from those restrictions that matters - given that your only other boundaries are your imagination (and sometimes physics gets in the way).

Is there the potential for FIRST to breed elite teams? Of course, and FIRST is chock full of them.

What qualifies a team as ‘elite’? It’s a matter of personal preference. Some look at Championship winners, while others look at the list of Chairman’s Award winners. On these boards, there’s several teams we look at as elites because of their consistency in producing a machine that is effective, well-designed, and built to sustain the game’s challenges.

Many of them have the advantage of a lower team number - more experience in the program. Some have the advantage of better funding, some have more engineers within the robotics field, and some have a great parent base to support them. However, the real big boys always have one thing - my answer to this question - they have consistency in innovation.

Why is it that people flock to see WildStang’s designs, and have made the ThunderChicken a household name? Since when did the Cheesy Poofs become more than just a South Park reference? Why is SPAM no longer only a nasty meat-like substance? What the heck is a TechnoKat? It’s not because their mentors are big on ChiefDelphi. In a crowd of about a thousand teams, these team names stand out not only because they have great marketing and unique names, but because every year they take another new bot out of the crate that shows the time, energy, money, expertise, and imagination of their whole team. It stands out. Nobody in Atlanta says ‘You’ve got to come watch match 46 with me, that bot really stinks!’ - they say, ‘Have you seen Pink this year? They are CRAZY!’. You get 'em talking, and you keep 'em talking.

It’s not just the kids, either. Engineers like peeking into the insides of other bots, to see what everyone else has got under the hood. They learn, and they see what works and what doesn’t. They pass this enthusiasm for learning onto their students. The cycle continues.

Are there elite teams in FIRST? Definitely. It’s very hard to refute that. Even this ‘high speed chess game with flashing lights’ needs kings, queens, and bishops to keep the action going. As long as teams keep showing their consistency in innovation, FIRST will keep dazzling us all.

The team needs a memorable name, not just the school name probably. Robot performance must be dominating at every event and from year to year. The robot and team shirts must have consistent color scheme from year to year. Lots of powder coating and anodizing on the robot certainly helps.

The qualities of an elite team are difficult to quantify. There are so many great teams and yet they are all so different from each other.

I guess in the end it is consistent performance and a pure spirit, that cannot be broken, which eventually makes a team elite.

For my personal preference, I tend to admire teams that have faced difficult times. I get inspired by seeing a team work through its adversity and still remain a great TEAM!!

haha… Elite begins with Team 67 HOT, and ends with team 254 Cheesy Poofs!


I think there are a few ways to define Elite (at least in terms of FIRST teams). Here are my thoughts:

  1. Technologically Elite: A team who has an amazing robot year after year. Consistancy is key here. The teams that are noted for a paticular strength, drivetrains, arm designs, power, speed, etc. Teams that would fall in this also often have very strong programming. Consistent and amazing autonomous modes, drivetrain control, cool control features. Often times because the robot represents what happens on the field, these teams are the high scorers, the great strategists, and competition winners as well. Their team name and number is often a household FIRST name.

  2. Well Known Elite: These are often the teams that are chairmans winners, but not always. They are known as the team who does everything, does it together, and does it well. They raise thousands of dollars, are involved in community service, spread the word of FIRST, etc. They often have several well known and respected mentors & students on Chief Delphi. They are always there to offer a hand to any team or person. Its not their robot that gets them noticed, its their spirit, their desire, and their service to technology in general. Their team name and number is often a household FIRST name.

  3. Up & Coming Elite: These are the teams that may be new in the mix in the last few years, but have already made a difference. The team really “gets” what FIRST is all about. They have a passion for engineering, but also a love of the program. Thier new enthusiasm is unmarked and inspiring. Often times they have big names already known in their local regions, but are perhaps not yet an international household FIRST name.

I thought about putting the teams that I thought fell into each category, but thats not the topic of this thread, and I fear I would forget some teams!

Elite teams are teams that you think of when you think of aspects of FIRST. When you think of wining events what teams pop into your head cough254, 71 cough. Who do you think of when you think off innovative wining designs. Teams that consistently produce inovative and wining designs. That is an elite team.

lol… to some it still is just meat in a can that doesn’t taste so good…other may think it taste good…but as Amanda said…S.P.A.M. is one of the many great known teams out there…

I agree with a lot of you though…

elite many just know the name and number and design logo b/c of time around FIRST and the quality of a robot the team brings out year after year…

wins do help of course…teams seen in the spotlight of a win…you remember them but you also remember those teams that tried their hardest and their gracious professionalism during competition…

elite teams keep up the good work year after year…from involvement in the community to the robot…

there are more and more “elite” teams out there rising to the top…as we seen with rookie teams and the things they do it’s amazing…

Powdercoating and anodizing is not required to be an elite team. It may help in making a good impression, but it only adds color and not functionality.

Being an elite team, in my mind, means that the team 1) has a good robot every year and 2) is more than willing to help any other team build a good robot/team or become an elite team. Number one has been filled by many robots without anodizing/powdercoating/painting the frame and/or everything else. (examples off the top of my head: 980 (one of SoCal’s best), 111 (I don’t think they do any anodizing, unless it’s clear), 71, and probably countless others. Number two–well, if a team isn’t doing this, then they are probably a rookie or have a robot that needs a lot of work.

I was just saying that coloring makes the team more identifiable rather than blending in with all the other natural aluminum. Just look at The Cheesy Poofs 254 and Kingman 60. Do you think they would be so popular if they didn’t have a beautiful color scheme consistent from year to year? Probably not as much. I’m sure it is at least somewhat of a contributing factor to their popularity.

As for 980, they have one of the biggest most visible banners in their pit that says “980 Thunderbots” Yellow on black, you can’t miss it.

I noticed the Thunderbots banner. Who didn’t that was at LA, Nats, or anywhere else they went?

Your using Cheesy Poofs and Kingman. Throw 22 into the mix, because this year (at least early on), you needed the paint to tell the robots apart. Coloring simply makes the robot recognizable in a crowd.

While all the criteria thrown out so far has been very true, I think the main way you become an “elite” team is by helping other teams and making a difference (thats how you win the chairman’s award and get into the hall of fame now isn’t it?).

Teams that just win all the time, at least in my opinion, don’t sustain the same kind of respect as teams that utilize robotics as a way to help others and make a difference. Because lets face it, you can have a bad year and lose all that “street cred” you had built up, but if you are known as a team that is always there, not only at the competitions when the judges are marking on their little cards, but in the build season when its only you, and God is marking on his little cards :wink: . Thats when it really matters.

I would rather have a team of 20 kids that wanted to have fun and make a difference, than an entire armada of engineers.


Well I agree with what everyone has said here. To me an elite status team has everything. A good mix of marketing,mentors,students,teachers and parents. This is what I recoginze in the 67’s,233’s and 254’s they have all of these things. Consistancy is also a big factor elite teams continue to year in and year out win and produce great robots. It doesn’t hurt to paint the robot bright pink either hehe :]. No seriously though having the complete package of everything is what makes those teams elite.

My two and half cents,
Drew :slight_smile:

If you want to be a technically elite FIRST team hang around their pits and ask lots of questions. Study their methods. Visit their website. Look at what they designed in the past. See what makes them tick.

If you want to be a Chairman’s elite team go visit the Hall of Fame at the Champinship and look around. Ask questions as well and study what they do as well. Visit their websites and see what they do to make the FIRST community stronger and see if your team is capable of doing things like that as well.

first of all, thank you everyone who mentioned PINK… it means a lot to us.

i agree with everything that has been said before me about elite teams, but one thing i dont believe has been touched on that i’ve noticed with many of the teams that have been mentioned, is that these teams have ambition. they set high goals and work hard to achieve them, and even if those goals are not achieved, they are most certainly noticed for their blood, sweat, and tears to try and make it to the top, whether it is for chairmans award, the robot competition, or whatever.

These “elite” teams help to inspire others, to spark ambition. there is nothing wrong with being ambitious (as long as it doesnt become arrogance)… without ambition, there is no driving force to do great things. even if you fail miserably, that ambition helps you pick yourself right up again and continue to try. Without ambition as a driving force, we never would have gotten to the moon; without ambition as a driving force, FIRST will never succeed in changing the world.