1 Last Try

This post was ghost written by Anomaly.

Is BO1 really happening at worlds?

Yesterday, my teammate and I filmed and uploaded our worlds reveal. Everything was working perfectly. Since then, a solenoid cable and a potentiometer have both blown, our vex keys have disconnected for no reason, and repeated robotC errors have forced me to manually update firmware. My point is not that my team’s robot is inconsistent or that it can never work at peak performance. But this is a robotics competition with imperfect robots, buggy sensors and cables, poor wireless connection, and a fair amount of sheer luck.

We have seen multiple, overlapping, and repeated disconnections, including in Finals 1 of Create US Open and in World Finals 2 last season. Neither of these matches were replayed despite overwhelming evidence that both disconnects were match affecting. We have seen various robotC glitches result in robots being unable to move all match, as happened to 62 in division quarterfinals in SS. We have seen gyros, encoders, motors, wires, and even cortexes fail. 6007 lost a regional competition in February because of a blown cortex. We’ve even seen referees making decisions not based on the game manual- think 62 state disqualification at Socal States. All this is to say, even a perfectly built and tuned robot will not be 100% consistent.

Further, this system adds the 9th-16th alliances simply to be mowed down by higher seeded teams. At regional competitions, the 1st or 2nd alliance wins nearly 80% of the time, while the 8th alliance wins a mere 2%. Adding 8 more alliances even further down simply makes 8 more doomed alliances that will be eliminated easily in R16 or quarterfinals.

Beyond the merits, the community has spoken nearly unanimously and with great vigor against BO1. Vex is clearly not a democracy. However, pissing off the few thousand most dedicated students at the core of the program at the biggest event of the season after we have invested thousands of dollar and hours is absolutely absurd. Paul Copioli said in a post a few weeks ago that many of us may choose to leave the program, and that is fine. Newsflash: it’s not. You may notice Jason Morella is no longer around.

GDC, on behalf of the community I’m giving this one more shot. Bring back 3rd alliances for all I care, have 12 captains and give the top 4 seeds a by, limit alliance selection to 8 alliances of 2, do whatever you need to do. Just take BO1 out of the equation.

Interesting. However, I would like to make the following points, in no particular order.

  1. I do not believe that the community has spoken nearly unanimously against BO1. Many members of the community that are most vehemently opposed to BO1 have spoken out. However, there are MANY members of the community that have not spoken at all about it. Therefore, there is NO way of judging the actual feeling of the WHOLE community based merely on the number of people who have come out against it. It is too small a sample size to be representative of the entire community. Plus being a voluntary sample means it will have a bias toward those with the strongest opinions. (Sorry I teach statistics, lol)
  2. Are there occasional issues with the technology? There sure are. However, in my experience running events for many years, those issues are relatively rare. Have they happened at certain inopportune times for some people? Yes, it seem that they have. It is my experience that many of the technology issues are robot or operator error and rarely the fault of the field controls. That being said, as an event partner and an officer in a non-profit that owns a trailer with 4 full fields and everything else needed to run an event, I do my best to make sure that our equipment is in top operating shape. In particular, the CAT5 cables connecting the field control to the Robot Controller. If the ends are allowed to dangle on the ground, they get stepped on and can get ruined that way. This certainly leads to problems. I don’t believe that VEX Keys disconnect for no reason. They may disconnect and you don’t know the reason, but that is different than “NO” reason. As for blown and damaged wires, Cortexes, etc., that is generally the fault of the team and NOT the fault of the event. You are correct that no robot however perfectly built will ever be perfectly reliable. Welcome to the real world.
  3. Extrapolating the results from lessor events to Worlds is difficult at best. When you take the top 32 robots from a division, I am not sure that the #1 seeds will necessarily dominate. And although, the 16 seed upset of the 1 seed might seem unlikely (see the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tourney), I think the number of other upsets will be more prevalent than before. (I am anxiously awaiting the actual stats after Worlds).

As for me personally, I do think there are negatives about BO1. However, I do understand the rational behind it. And I certainly like the fact that 32 teams from a division of almost 100 make it to the elimination round. There certainly isn’t time in the schedule to do a 16 alliance BO3 without drastically changing a lot of other things. It is a change, and a lot of people don’t like change. I also know the people, somewhat, and I do not believe that this change was made without a LOT of thought and discussion. I believe that they made the change, ultimately, fir what they beleive is the best for the program in the long run. We shall see. I, for one, am willing to give them the benefit of the doubt.

I have stayed silent on this subject for the last couple of weeks. Competing in Battlebots took a lot of my attention but now I can give my thoughts. All in all I am happy with this change. I don’t have access to much/any of the internal decision making but I can make some fairly likely guesses.

Firstly a lot of people talk about wanting to pick and choose the rule updates. While not in the room I can say with some certainty that the decision making went like this. “We want to remove 3 team alliances but we have to do it without cutting out 1/3 of the teams from the elimination rounds. Lets double the amount of alliances so the amount of teams in the eliminations actually goes up. This will take way too long to run so lets cut more than half the matches so it takes approximately the same amount of time.” It is very clear that they wanted change A and could only justify it with change B. Change C was then forced by change B. The new rules all have to be judged together.

Secondly, more deserving teams will win on average. I am going to attempt to use a lot of the same verbiage that critics have been saying. If we call any match victory by a “lower quality” team undeserved than we have to account for all the teams that have won as third alliance members. Using some old data from vexdb (from NBN) showing the percentage of times each alliance won I made a quick calculation (with some assumptions) and I believe currently the average quality of a team that wins an event is 7.7th best. (I assume every alliance is 1 2 17 etc) I don’t want to discount the effort of third alliance members in every event ever; they have made the difference at the world championship multiple times but it has to be brought up. My point is just that in terms of ensuring the integrity of the competition I think the new system will actually do better.

Lastly, this change doesn’t mean terrible robots win. A lot of teams are talking about the “better” team losing matches. I think an important question is not just if “the best team” wins but who actually ends up winning. While it is clear Bo1 makes it more likely that an upset occurs and 2 claw bots knock out a dominate team that doesn’t mean those 2 claw bots are going to win the event. The playoff bracket now has 4 rounds instead of 3 so it is incredibly unlikely a completely undeserving team wins an entire event. In the old system the best team on the champion alliance has to have won 6 matches and the other 2 teams have to have won 3 each on average. The new system the champion alliance has to have won 4 matches.

Obviously this is a big change. I am excited to see how it goes at worlds this year. Over the last several years all the VEXU competitors have shown up to worlds to be surprised with a new elimination system at the event. These were all interesting twists on the existing system with more teams included and single elimination matches. They have been successes but if asked a month before the event a lot of people would have probably disagreed with them.

I talked with @Grant Cox about BO1 briefly and I believe he, @Paul Copioli and the rest of the GDC don’t take the decision lightly.

Oddly enough, I feel like the best solution would have been to keep 3 team alliances and BO3 at Worlds, but transition to the 2 team alliance and BO1 for regional/state tournaments (where really weak teams are able to advance “undeservedly”).

Well the reason they didn’t is they are using worlds to “pilot the new format”.
Also, well said @tabor473 , I agree with this completely.

I had to laugh a bit when I read your second point right after your first point. I would suggest your sample size is equally small. I am not saying I think you are wrong or I think you are right, but you are making the same error you pointed out in your first point. You are using a very small sample size to assess the rarity of the occurrence of an event.

To those saying that a cortex suddenly breaking is the fault of a team, how much money do you have? Do you buy a new cortex every season? Because most of us cannot. And our team is relatively well-funded. Same goes for VEXnet keys, motors, wires, etc. Some of us can’t afford new things just to minimize the possibility of a problem occurring.

Agreed. Even private teams like us do not have “infinite funding” as many think.

I don’t think it has to do with money, I think that it’s just more likely that a cortex will break suddenly due to misuse than to random unluckiness. My team is not very well funded, and we most definitely can’t afford a new control system each season. However, since we are aware of this, we take good care of our cortexes. We have a cortex still around from 2011 (or whatever year they were released), and it works fine because team members take good care of it. I’m not saying that cortexes don’t break randomly, I’m just saying that from what I’ve seen it can be mostly avoided, and I don’t think it has very much to do with money.

Totally agree - we’ve seen people drive robots off the table, drive robots underneath people walking, throw joysticks down on tables & on the floor (sometimes accidentally, but we watched a young man chuck one across the room in anger once), pick up robots and carry them in haphazard ways, etc. just at competitions alone!! I can only imagine what happens at their regular meeting locations.

I’m sure many teams (like @[TVA]Connor) are avoiding this sort of thing, well knowing the damage it could cause, but I also am reasonably sure some of the issues various teams have that they blame on parts are actually due to misuse.

I have been an event partner for 12 years and have attended virtually every event held in Wisconsin over that time span as well as attended the US Open for 4 years and the World Championships for 7 of the past 10 years. NO, I don’t not agree that my sample size is small at all.

I think it was meant to be a light teasing and not an attack. That is just my reading of course. I don’t think anyone would argue that your sample size is small but I also imagine it is statistically possible 1 state out of 50 is an outlier.

¯_(ツ)_/¯

I actually like that in your post you explicitly mentioned that it was only based on your experience. My experience pretty much agrees with yours. I tell anyone who blames the field that it is almost certainly their fault.