As this continues to grow, how would you organize the worldwide competition when there are 5,000+ teams? The only other robotics competition (I believe) that has this many teams is FIRST LEGO League, but I'm not sure their model would work best for us.
Let's pretend you are now the director of competition for VEX. How do you structure the events so that there aren't 1,000 teams at worlds. Not surprisingly, I have some ideas:
1. Run things as they are today -- just find a place that can hold 1,000 teams and run 16 divisions. Each divisional winner then goes into the finals which will probably take a long time to run.
2. Create a playoff system, with regional winners qualifying to compete at Worlds. If the goal was to have 400 teams (eight divisions of 50) at Worlds, it might work to:
- Have regional championships that each qualify seven teams for Worlds (winners, program skills, robot skills, Excellence, Judge's Choice). There would be 40 of these regional events.
- Each of the regions would have about 125 teams in their area. Local schools or clubs would sponsor local tournaments as they do now, each of which would qualify teams for the regional. At the very least, the top six teams in each local event qualify for the regional, but the regional committee might extend the list to include the Amaze Winner or the Finalist Alliance. Other slots at the Regional could be filled by a lottery or by some kind of points system that rewards teams that do well in the tournament or in earning other judged awards. A 64-team regional with eight local events could admit eight teams from each local. Perhaps all local events would be conducted by February, the regionals would be in March, and the Worlds would be at the end of April.
Current Super-Regionals, like the Tournament of the Americas and the Pan-Pacific event would have reserved slots at Worlds for their winners, too. Teams that have done well at local events could travel to attend the Super-Regionals as way to get out of their own home area, see new teams, and get a Worlds experience even if they aren't quite up to Worlds yet. Perhaps the Super-Regionals could all be four weeks before Worlds?
I'm sure if I took more time there are things here that don't make sense, but I think it's an interesting question. I have to admit that I kind of like option 1. It would be really, really cool to have 1,000 teams at Worlds, as long as there enough volunteers to run everything!