As we all know, there’s been intense debate over bo1 recently. I’ve argued for bo3, but I’d like to consider all sides of the argument and elaborate on something Carter has already proposed. To do this, I’m going to look at the goals of competitors, spectators, event staff, EPs, and vex itself with regards to eliminations. Paragraphs are too long, so I’ll just list each group’s top few priorities below. Here goes :P
- Large sample size that gives teams an opportunity to win despite bad referees or vex keys
- lower barrier to entrance for new teams- no requirement for 100% consistency
- low pressure environment for good driving and clear thinking
- reasonable scouting scouting requirements for small teams and no throwing- no third alliances
- no throwing- no third alliances
- shorter events
- innovative fail safes for the design interview and notebook
- robots that are easy to inspect and pass inspection first time
- low pressure environment with few referee arguments
- larger sample size so referees don’t take blame if they make a mistake and end someone's season
- short events
- many teams in eliminations
- no throwing- no third alliances
- maintaining a good reputation- not constantly arguing against competitors on forums
Vex (more accurately the GDC):
- keep EPs happy to form more competitions: Dan Mantz said at the EP Summit that team growth is exceeding event growth
- maintain loyal and happy community that keeps the program alive
If you disagree with a goal or have something to add, I’d love to hear it! However, please only comment if you’re a member of that group. I don’t pretend to have perfect insight into what the GDC or random volunteers want, and they don’t have perfect insight into what I want. This will just help to minimize clutter. Thanks everyone!
Right, back to business! If vex implemented the following compromise, I believe every single one of these goals could be met, at least to a much larger extent than they are now.
The idea, as Carter has gone into great detail about, is a 12 alliance, 24 team bo1 double elimination bracket. For anyone unfamiliar with the bracket, I'm just going to try to summarize briefly. Seeds 1-4 get by’s to QFs, and 5 plays 12, 6 plays 11, etc for a spot in the QFs. Then, this half of the bracket continues normally with bo1 rules. Every team that loses a match is moved to the loser’s bracket, where they continue to play a normal bo1 style bracket. Any team that loses in *this* half of the bracket is eliminated from the tournament, and the winner of the loser’s bracket (the only team to only lose 1 match) then faces the winner of the winner’s bracket (the only undefeated team) in a grand finals match. The winner’s bracket team only needs to win once to win the tournament, but the team in the loser’s bracket needs to win twice in a row to win. This gives each team an opportunity to lose 1 match on bad luck without being eliminated from the tournament and maintains 24 teams in eliminations. It also means the elimination bracket is always 23 or 24 matches long.
Going down the list of priorities:
- large sample size: each team is allowed to lose twice before being eliminated, giving them more room for error and more of an ability to recover from problems outside of their control
- no 100% consistency required for new teams: having the security blanket of being allowed to lose once goes a long way towards boosting morale, and really helps smart but inexperienced teams that might not have fixed every consistency issue
- lower pressure: being allowed to lose twice helps a lot
- no third alliances: check
- shorter events: this 23-24 match bracket takes slightly longer than a 15 match bo1 bracket, but it’s much shorter than a 30-45 match bo3 16 team bracket. The extra 9 matches assuming 3 minutes per match add just 27 minutes to the competition. Whereas a 45-match tournament would add 30 matches and thus an hour and a half to the competition. 27 minutes is quite reasonable, an hour and a half isn’t.
- cool design features to show off in the interview: even though double elimination is more forgiving than single elimination, it’s less forgiving than bo3. With bo3, you can lose a match every single series, whereas with bo1 double elimination, you can only lose 2 overall. This means the robots will still need to be built for extreme consistency, and backups and fail safes will still be critical. Check out 974X’s NBN worlds bot out as an example. They could literally shoot with half of the flywheel broken! Talk about a cool interview!
- robots that pass inspection easily: a robot with elaborate fail safes is a lot less likely to fail a software check during inspection.
- lower pressure matches that don’t put strain on referees: obviously no referee has an easy job, but with a little extra insurance, fewer teams are going to argue as much or as intensely. It’s much less frustrating to be eliminated because of 2 losses than because of 1.
- larger sample size to protect referees: check
- more teams in eliminations: this is by far the biggest drawback of my proposed system. 24 is better than 16, but it’s worse than 32. That said, many competitions don’t even have 32 teams, and no competition has 32 good ones. At worlds, the vast majority of 13th-16th seeds didn’t even survive 1 round, and only 1 alliance out of 24 below 12th made it past div quarterfinals (in any division). The 16th seed captain in technology couldn't stack cones. My sense is going down to 16 teams in elims would be a huge issue, but keeping it at 24 instead of jumping to 32 isn’t too horrific. 24 has been the norm for years, and to my knowledge it's never been an issue.
- keeping EPs and competitors on the same page- the bo3 system was bad for EPs because it incentivised throwing matches, the new bo1 system is bad for competitors because they can be eliminated on bad luck and have so much extra pressure. With this compromise, there is no throwing and 1 loss elimination, and it takes basically the same amount of time as the other two systems. Hopefully this would allow competitors and EPs to see eye to eye and tarnish fewer reputations on these forums.
- creating extra competitions: what EP wouldn’t want to host a competition that could be run in a reasonable amount of time *and* with a body of excited, loyal students incentivized to play their best instead of throwing? This system seems to benefit EPs more than any other group, they get literally everything they want except 32 teams in elims. It's a win win win!
- loyal and happy community: I can’t see anyone throwing a fit over this system. It gives teams a chance to lose once without being eliminated, it’s not too boring to watch, it takes a reasonable amount of time, it maintains the 24 team in elimination tradition, and it seems like a really reasonable compromise that meets everyone's main goals.
It’s a little less forgiving than bo3, it takes a little longer than bo1, and it gets a few fewer teams involved than with 16 captains. But all of these drawbacks are minimal. It seems to capture the most important attributes of each elimination system with a couple of easily overlook-able hiccups. There’s not going to be a perfect solution because EPs, the GDC, volunteers, spectators, and competitors have such different goals, but this seems like a pretty fair way to balance everyone’s preferences in a compromise that meets each group’s fundamental goals.
“You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you just might find you get what you need.”