2019 Signature Events

Today the official criteria for this year’so Signature Events was released. There are a lot more requirements than there were last year, including a lot about the qipuality of the experience at the event.

Signature Events are supposed to have at least one Certified Referee for each division, experienced volunteers for several other positions (the Judge Advisor and some of the inspectors) and a certain minimum number of volunteers for certain other things. (At least two Referee/Scorekeepers per division who have watched/read all of the refereeing materials, at least two judges for every 10 teams, and at least one inspector for every 8 teams.)

Also, in order for the Tournament Champions from the event to qualify for Worlds, the event needs to be at least two days long, with at least 3 matches each day, and it needs to have at least 40 teams (post live results to VEX Via). If it doesn’t do these things, it can still qualify the Excellence Award winner to Worlds if it has at least 24 teams (and does certain other things).

Edited to add:
They also recommend (or require) that Signature Events give banners and customized trophies to the winners, and have raised fields (10-24 inches), opening (and closing) ceremonies, and at least two announcers.

And in this year’s Qualifying Criteria, the rules say that if a team qualifies for Worlds from a Signature Event and then at States, the spots from States will go to the team with the next best Skills score in the state - they did this last year, too, but it wasn’t mentioned in the Qualifying Criteria.

Likewise, if a team qualifies for Worlds at States and then at a Signature Event, their spot will go to the next best Skills score at the Signature Event (among teams who haven’t qualified for Worlds).

Edit:
As @dhmmjoph pointed out, it’s actually a minimum of 2 Scorekeeper/Referees (basically assistant referees) per field set (set of fields that rotate between tches which is usually one per division), not two per field as I initially wrote.

Come to think of it, that makes the most sense, since the three referees would only be needed at one field at a time (unless they had it where 1-2 people scored one field while other referees were watching a match on another field).

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So far, I know of only one Signature Event that has been posted to Robot Events, which is the Mark Leon Invitational in Hawaii in July.

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I’m OK with most of these requirements but I am concerned about this one:

TR.5. All competition fields for Qualifying Matches and Finals Matches shall be raised off of the floor to the same height and be between ten (10) and twenty-four (24) inches.

Raised fields add a lot of cost and logistical complexity for very little benefit (beyond “they’re cool”, which they definitely are). Some EPs are willing/able to handle that additional cost & complexity, and that’s great, but I suspect most will not be.


Also, the requirement for scorekeeper refs is 2 per field set, not 2 per field. 2 per field set is a much more reasonable requirement IMO – most divisions at Worlds don’t even have 2 scorekeeper refs per physical field – although 3 or 4 per field set is a more comfortable number, so that the current match can start with a full complement of refs while the previous match is still being scored.

(“Field Set”, for those unfamiliar, is the term Tournament Manager uses to refer to a group of 1 or more fields on which matches take place one after the other and rotating throughout the fields on the set. Most single-division events have 1 field set with 2 or 3 fields; multi-division events will usually have 1 field set per division.)

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That sounds like a LOT of fields to me. Requiring 1 skills field per 30 teams and 1 practice field per 12. Let’s say you run 2 divisions of 50 teams each. That would be 6 competition fields, 4 skills fields, and 9 practice fields. 19 fields is a lot to come up with.

I agree that the signature event my team attended needed more than 1 practice and 1 skills field for the close to 100 teams that were there, but this requirement seems a bit excessive. I don’t think Worlds met these numbers.

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There were 579 teams at HS worlds this year, which works out to 20 skills fields under these requirements. While you’re probably right that they didn’t have that many (I didn’t count, but ES IQ had 12 fields for a similar number of teams), they can also get away with fewer skills fields at worlds because skills is open for a ton of time, so you need fewer fields to allow all teams to get in all their attempts.

Calculations to back that up:

Skills at VRC worlds were open for a total of 18.5 hours. Assuming 10 fields for HS and a 2.5 min cycle time (which I think is reasonable given adequate staffing), that allows time for 10 \times \frac{60}{2.5} \times 18.5 = 4440 skills attempts, far more than the 579 \times 6=3474 total attempts that HS teams were allowed. So, one skills field for every ~60 teams at worlds seems like plenty.

In contrast, let’s say a 2 day signature event has skills fields open for a total of 10 hours. Assuming the same cycle time, then each field can accommodate 10 \times \frac{60}{2.5} = 240 skills attempts. This is theoretically enough for 40 teams, but there needs to be some margin to allow for teams to be flexible in when they make their attempts. So, one field for every 30 teams sounds about right to me for an event of this type.

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I also suspect that some of the rules for Signature Events this year may be general recommendations, rather than strict requirements. Signature Events should do all these things, but there may be exceptions granted in some cases.

Or I may be wrong, and these requirements may apply to almost all Signature Events now that they have had a year for people to get used to them. (But with all the new requirements, I feel like there should be another year with some exceptions, with the number of exceptions depending on how things go.)

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With the requirement for head referees to be officially certified, and other referees to be experienced, I’m hoping that all Signature Events this year will prove themselves to have good refereeing and judging.

If they do, I expect that more teams will be willing to come to the event, even when it’s far away from them.

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The RECF distributes a ton of fields to tournament organizers and expecting enough fields to be provided at Signature Events certainly makes sense, but raising them at least 10" off the ground is unnecessary IMO. Especially in games like TT (and ITZ, SS, SR, etc) where several feet of vertical expansion is expected, the raised fields actually tend to make the experience worse for drivers.

And some of the staffing requirements are a bit much as well. Do we really need more than 1 person to help teams check in if there are more than 24 teams at the event? Does there need to be a field oversight person for every practice field? It’s a lot.

But everything else is pretty reasonable. The RECF seems to be serious about bringing the worlds experience to more teams, and signature events that are appropriately organized, streamed, and staffed is a great way to help that happen. I’m excited to see the direction signature events go this year.

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How do I get in on that?

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You’re right, there doesn’t, which is why it’s not required:

TR.8.4. There shall be at least one (1) Practice Field attendant for each practice field area.

Thus, a single area with multiple practice fields can be staffed by a single volunteer.

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Well, the RECF definitely doesn’t provide fields for free to EP’s. In San Diego, our district owns the fields and game elements (they were purchased), and EPs within our district are able to borrow them as long as we pay the refs the district uses. LA has a trailer available to rent. I have no idea what the fee is. Still, we are very lucky in SoCal to have those resources, I don’t think most other regions are as lucky as we are.

I have absolutely no problems with many of the details outlined for Signature Events. I want Signature Events to be organized, classy, amazing experiences too. I just think the required number of fields (especially practice) seems like a lot. I did the math- if there were 579 teams at Worlds, and there was 1 practice field per 16 teams, that would require there being 37 practice fields. If my memory serves correct there were 18, about half that.

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Yikes, I didn’t realize that! Sorry!

There were a lot of weird staffing issues at worlds. In two divisions in particular, auton was semi consistently miscounted and there were a lot of issues with consistent enforcing of trapping and expansion rules across different divisions as well. I’m hoping as the program matures, more and more refs are alums or people with lots of prior experience, and that the GDC adapts to design games with more enforceable rules by average referees. My guess is there will be less defense this year, which will help a lot with that, and as the program gets bigger and people graduate we’re moving in the right direction. But in the meantime, here we are :slight_smile:

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Agreed - in our division, it seemed that a pinning / trapping count was often started immediately upon any sort of budding provocation (often before a robot was actually even truly pinned - they could freely reverse, for instance). In chit-chatting with friends in another division, they mentioned that it seemed pinning was rarely something the refs cared about (to the point of it being an issue when true pinning seemed to be ignored). Very different experiences! More consistent reffing would be very beneficial, IMHO, and would be much easier to achieve if the game design didn’t leave very large chunks open with little consistent, enforced guidance.

It will be interesting to see how the Sig Events develop and whether they become something to aim for! We found last season that the cost of going to a Sig Event was too much for the budget of our independent, self-funded team (especially when we truly wanted, and were thankful to get, a bid to Worlds - and couldn’t really afford both).

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He is most likely referring to EP discounts, Grants and other initiatives to grow regions that have in the past had not a lot of growth.

EP discounts happen every year, and state EP’s could technically get two if they host a non-state event along side them.