Alliance Selection - Coaches forcing

I understand Oliver, but it was the other way around. I do understand it was a legit strategy, but my focus is that this is a student driven event. When the other teams observed the attitude and all that ensued… they chose to refuse. Yeah that is all legal and all, but it just got ugly in a mid-season event that really should have just been a little less ugly so to speak.

I guess you just had to be there to observe the “bullying” as well as your take on bullying might be different than here. Your opinion is legit, but different opinions. My focus is coach involvement in that process.

It seems like this was handled wrong on both ends. I can understand the first 2-3 teams wanting their own alliance if what sounds like a sub par robot was picking and they could pick better even being the 2-4 seed. But to have robots decline who aren’t in the top 8 is now just bullying from the rest of the teams. Its like the picking teams in gym class and the last kid is left and the team who was going to have to take him says the other team can have him because we don’t want to play with him and the other team says you have to play with him and an argument starts over who will have to play with them. It’s public degradation of the kids on that team and it was everyone’s fault except the kids on the 1 seed.

I apologise for my earlier comments that were accusatory.

I agree that coaches telling their teams who they have to pick during alliance selection is a very bad thing. And I admit that obviously you guys know what happened at the event and how the participants behaved, and I don’t.

This particular “unwritten rule” (as 4256 says) is a pet peeve of mine. I feel that it partially undermines the way alliance selection is supposed to work. Following this “unwritten rule” allows teams to work with the same teams repeatedly at different events rather than forcing them to cooperate with a wider variety of people, and it also negates a lot of the benefit of getting a high ranking.

I let my opinion about the rules issue colour my opinion about the people involved, so I’m sorry.

Unfortunately there’s no way I can capture the feelings of what happened at the competition or tell you why lower ranked teams declined. I think mob mentality probably played a part. After the first few declines (which were, in my opinion, perfectly legitimate), things spiraled out of control. As you say, things were definitely handled incorrectly on both ends. I can’t speak to the #1 team’s communication with anyone but myself but for some reason I think the people who declined felt like they were on the defensive - not out to bully a team. I don’t want anyone to be offended or lose their passion for robotics because of an event like this. It was not my intention to hurt anyone and I regret how things happened at this event.

I want to say thanks to Tabor and Oliver because you’ve changed my opinion. I still think it’s a risky strategy that has the potential to really blow up in your face. In this event, it was definitely not executed correctly. However, I now understand why the rule is written like it is and why it’s useful. Fundamentally, my complaint is really with the ranking system and the luck involved in qualifcation matches.

I don’t think you’ll find much disagreement here. I think most of us on the forum would prefer a smaller luck component in the competition, but the GDC has to balance that with keeping new teams and less well-resourced teams engaged.

The team was a brand new team, has never been in vex before this year. Not trying to take anything away from them, they had a pretty decent robot for a first year team and could score some solid points. They had some close matches and some lucky matches but also managed to pull off some solid wins. They ended up #1 due to one or two lucky wins and a good supply of strength points. When approached by #2 and #3 about their planned alliance they were all ok with it at first. However, #1’s teacher and mentor gave them the ultimatum that they need to pick the best people in the tournament to win. The team was fine with letting #2 and #3 ally with one but came back afterwards and replied that their adviser told them they had to pick the top teams there. He instilled in them that since they were #1 at this tournament with many of the state’s powerhouses there, that they were the best. I believe this may have gotten to them and the captain of the #1 team was then set on winning which was understandable. However, what he proceeded to do and say was not acceptable in my eyes. To verbally tell teams that they can either accept your alliance offer or decline and be screwed since they would be unable to pick one another is completely unacceptable in my eyes. The sole intent of being unsportsmanlike and burning bridges was a shock to me. The Vex Community there had a long standing mutual respect for one another as fellow competitors and were also shocked by this. For someone to come in the scene and attempt to ruin this bond and mutual respect for our fellow competitors was completely unacceptable to many teams there which is why i believe many proceeded to decline #1’s alliance offer.

However thank you for all your inputs Oliver, Kevin, Chris, and Tabor. Always nice to hear others opinions and always nice to discuss with fellow competitors. You guys have given me a lot to think about and valuable inputs. Good Luck throughout the year to those who compete and have a great rest of the year to everyone.

You’re right. The Vex community has always been a friendly and respectful one. So please, can we all refrain from any name-calling? The coach in question has been doing Vex for a while now, and he’s helped to bring the gift of robotics to many students. The #1 team was trying their best. The other teams were caught in the heat of the moment. Some mistakes were made.
Thank you all for your perspective.

I had no intention on naming names or calling anyone out. Thank you for your concern though and i completely agree with you on it. We are not trying to tear anyone or any program down. Just relaying opinions and what happened. The coach is a respectable one and we will not let one incident which was handled in a weird way by both sides get in the way of the kids and the teams and the ultimate goal of exposing the next generation to the world of engineering an opening new doors for them. I know certain people have agreed to drop the whole matter and continue competing throughout the rest of the season. Hope to see you on the field again soon.

This is the third try, guess I have found a bug in the forum code, it keeps deleting half my post.

So I have an another question (again, forum lost half my post). Why were teams 8, 9 and 10 allowed to be second picks? There should have been 7 alliance captains according to this rule.

and according to this rule once they declined they should have been ineligible to be selected in the second round.

Here is an exchange from a 2014 thread.

am I missing something?

The rule was said that once a team declined, like for example if 1 picked 2 and 2 declined, 2 would not be able to be picked, they would have to be the team that was picking other teams. However they could not pick until the second round. So what happened was 1 picked 2 and 2 declined and went down the line until like i think a middle ranked team maybe 14-17 somewhere around there accepted 1. Then 2 could pick then 3 then 4 but nobody who declined was able to be picked. 5 was never selected by 1 though so never got the chance to decline so 2 picked 5 and number 8 was bumped up.

Yes, I understand the rule very well. My point is that I see in the results that teams out of the top 7 (or 8) were in the finals having apparently declined, they should have been ineligible. If you could decline in the first round of selection and then be picked in the second round, teams may choose to decline in round one in the hope they would get a better offer. I think that is part of what this rule is trying to circumvent.

No team who declined was picked. They did the picking. Teams ranked 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 7, and 8 were the captains of their alliances. 5 was in 2’s alliance because they never declined because they were never picked until the second round by 2

OP said

If team captain 5 was indeed skipped (and also alliance 2 captain) then that means at least 6 teams not in the top 7 were asked and declined. One team was promoted to captain when team 5 was picked, but all the teams that had declined, and not promoted to be an alliance captain, should not have been able to be selected for the elimination round. Perhaps he was not refused 10 times and that was an exaggeration, perhaps the rules were not followed re selection, I don’t know, something doesn’t add up here.

kso is correct that #5 was skipped in the initial selection. My guess is that you’re right and someone who declined was picked second round. The whole alliance selection was so weird that I don’t think many people were paying attention. Mistakes were probably made.

I think there are a few issues involved here…

  1. Yes… coaches shouldn’t have the shove it down the throat approach.
    But I think without understanding the full picture of what happened over at their end, maybe we shouldn’t be commenting too much on that. Benefits of doubt?

And how about - team order??
This is another grey area that will split the community into 2 camps.
Something for everybody to chew on, but I will not step on this rotten ice.

  1. Forming of clique (or to the extreme - Elitism)

I will need to be careful here - but if everybody is to take a step back and take a look again, isn’t this about forming of cliques? And if left unchecked, it will become elitism.
And I really think this is against the spirit of Vex, which one of the main values is inclusiveness.

And coming from a much smaller country, with much lesser opportunities to interact with teams from other countries, I can vouched that we feel this stinging effect during alliance selection during Worlds.

And I hate to say that, but the effect is getting more obvious in the past 2 years or so.
So I have to agree with Oliver over here - it is no fun when you are excluded from the clique.

And honestly, how is this being having good sportsmanship when you were ignored or rejected when you went round trying to get an alliance formed? Even though you know that you have a better win-lose record or better robot to show (as compared to some other teams that were selected) ?

I need to be fair here - this is not meant to be a sweeping statement, on the whole, Vex is a great community. We had teams coming over to reach out to us during Worlds.
We even had many teams offering to host Singapore teams for exchange programme during the recent World.
We totally appreciate all these teams.

But it is sad to see some teams making alliance selection decisions based on reputation or if they know the other teams well enough.

  1. Scorched Earth Strategy is not risky or evil

It is a legitimate and valid strategy… especially if you need to break the possibility of a stronger alliance forming against you.

Let’s revisit the main objective of alliance selection - to form the strongest alliance for yourself and weaken your opponents’ alliance.
(My teams were on the receiving end of this strategy many times)

And it is the “wheeling and dealing” that makes this whole alliance selection process so interesting and intriguing.

I would say that for this case - it is not “public-relationally” executed correctly.
But it was the way the event that was conducted that made this strategy blew up on its face.

If the event had followed the written rules strictly, then all those teams below the top 8 seeded teams (that rejected the #1 seed) should be out of elimination.

It will be really interesting if the teams (that were not seeded) knew about this consequence, and still choose to reject the #1 seed.

Ok… lt:tr…

The whole saying “no” means you are captain and now must choose another team that has not said no already to a previous requestor.

Declining an invite is a tricky situation as the person declining the invite. You are forcing yourself to be captain now and it limits your picks to all that have not already said “no”. Yes the rules are convoluted but it makes some sense to limit the manipulation of who is going to be paired in the eliminations. Being the “decliner” makes you “that guy” many times to others so use with caution. Terms that will get this post deleted for foul language come to mind when I’ve seen it employed.

So the “lucky bot” in first seed could be denied by 2 and 3 (and so on) but only up to spot 8 where that person saying no is now no longer eligible to play the rest of the day as they will not be a captain. But come second picker in qual slot 2, they can not pick someone who previously told the first seed no. Top seed “lucky bots” can be declined but it will not happen all that many times typically. Lucky bots being skipped from being picked in the middle is many times good scouting, not a personal statement on the robot.

Its up to the people running the tournament to enforce the declining a robot rules for alliance selection. Otherwise cliques will be all over the place manipulating the selections.

“Tanking robots” to move down in the standings is another tricky strategy to play. Playing possum to become a third pick can be done but if someone figures it out, the tanking robot can’t say no or risk not being in the playoffs at all.

Coaches doing coaching are one thing. Cruel draconian enforcement is another. Coaches should be able to explain the logic to guide their teams not only in alliance selection but in all aspects. Reasons should be given in explaining things, not edicts. It’s the team captain up there who ultimately decides who they are paired with. Like a pitcher shaking off the signals, the pitcher really throws the pitch and can choose a fastball over a curve. Having grave consequences imposed upon the “decliner” for disobeying is another matter and not a club I would like.

And meng, I am sure our guys would be honored to be picked by a Singapore team any time!

Not really, so long as Tournament Manager is used correctly it will deal with all that. Selecting the “decline” option for the team’s response when they’re picked will make them ineligible to be picked unless you manually re-instate them. Not really any excuse for an event to not follow that rule…

Now… this is a strategy that I personally think is a lot riskier than scorched earth.

There were quite a few times that my teams asked me if they should used this strategy during Worlds, but my advice to them is always the same - it is risky, it might end up nobody chooses you. And besides, I dont think it is fair to the other robots that the team will be allianced with (during qualifications).

But we were a victim (I am not even sure if I should labelled ourselves as victim) of not using this strategy during World 2015, Arts Division.

2 matches left, and we knew we will be at most 7th or 8th seed. A very bad situation to be in actually.
And there were talks that 986A was very keen on picking us as 2nd pick.
So my team actually asked me if they should use this tanking robot strategy. I told them - let’s always play our best. Besides, who knows, maybe even if we tanked, 986A might not have the opportunity to pick us as 2nd pick (not boasting, but the team was getting quite a fair bit of attention then).

To cut the long story short, the team won the last 2 matches, and after collapsing of seeded teams, ended up as 8th seed.
And we lost at the QF (the pneumatic tubing was some how pulled out from the valve), while 986A alliance went on to become the Div Champ.

That’s life…

Thank you so much… we will definitely keep a lookout for Vexmen :slight_smile: