Alliance Selection Dishonesty...

At the CREATE Open Tournament this weekend this happened…

A team we have previously competed with and won in a qualifying round blatantly lied to us about the condition of their robot. I fully recognize that our robot was not the highest caliber. As a coach, I have to explain to my team that they are being lied to. How do I know? We were told, “our robot is broken, but we are trying to fix it.” But the robot was sitting on the table with no one working on it. Three times one of their team members came over to make sure we were not going to pick them. I finally told my team to pick another team that wanted to be with them. My team lost. No biggie, they are only freshman and will be back. It’s just frustrating. I wonder if the alliance selection should/could be done differently. Nearly, the exact same thing happened three years ago and I imagine that this has happened to other teams as well. If a team says they are broken, maybe they should have to remove themselves from the pool. Thoughts?

What the team did from your account doesn’t sound sportsmanlike or good in nature in the slightest. Has it happened before, yes. Will it happen again at tournaments, yes.

It is infuriating to have teams be deliberately dishonest, but all you can do really is beat them.

Actually when our team started out this year, we discovered the same thing about Alliance Selections. There was one (quite good) team purposely throwing matches to be in a spot in which they could get picked by another team theey had preplanned with.

After this competition I thought of any other viable way to do alliance selection, I slowly accepted that there really isn’t a fair way to do this but rather just hope that teams be ethical.

If you think you have a better way to choose alliances please suggest!

See https://vexforum.com/t/vex-tournament-reform-important/25763/1

i noticed this in the past as well
an extreme example was a team showed up half way thorugh the day
had all losses, (played only one qual?)
and had their school’s alliance pick them as the “third pick”
Watching this robot play in the brackets, they could have very well been in the top eight if they had played properly during quals.

They won the tournament obviously with three elite robots

Not sure if they threw the game on purpose, or everyone on the team just woke up late?

This would work even better at worlds as not everyone knows teams personally.
there is a great difference, even at Worlds, from a “normal” third pick partner and an “secret elite” third pick

Cant really combat this i guess other than the honor system

I don’t think you really need to combat the “secret elite” strategy, as you call it. It’s a very high-risk strategy. At small events you risk having alliance captains who know you’re good and who pick you as a first pick. At large events like worlds, you risk not having the teams who know you’re good end up in picking positions.

Of course, having a team no-show deliberately is disruptive to the qualification matches they were supposed to participate in, but not more so than a robot that just happens to be extremely bad (or extremely good).

As for the allegation against [a team at the CREATE open]: alliance selection is all about making sure you get picked by the best team possible. There’s politics involved, and yes lying or breaking your word can get you an advantage. This is usually kept in check because getting a reputation for being unreliable can hurt teams at future events, but still it would pay to remember that potential pickees do have something to gain from being dishonest and so you can’t necessarily trust everything they say. You could see this as another example of VEX preparing teams for the real world.

This year, I’ve seen teams do the exact same thing to us (and we ended up gambling and picking them anyways). The only way to really punish this behavior is through their mentor - in fact, one team who did this to us was actually disbanded for the rest of the year by their mentor after he found out what they did.

I’ve also seen matches being thrown - even at the California State Championship, we were paired with a team, 6717A, who was throwing matches to be the 2nd pick by a highly ranked team. There were only 6 qualification matches, so losing one for a reason like that stung. The kid in charge of the team even bragged to some of our friends about throwing our match, but really, there’s nothing you can do about it.

The only way I see to eliminate behavior like this is to get rid of the incentive - which could be accomplished by having alliances made up of two teams only. While this would mean nobody would do these sort of things to be a “second pick,” it also means if one partner breaks down at any point during eliminations - even if due to some illegal move by another team - they’re all but guaranteed to lose every match from then on.

2131c was burning out all day, and that continued into the finals. At the time that I picked them, something with their programming wasn’t working, and they actually spent the hour and a half in between alliance selection and finals just trying to get their robot to drive again. I didn’t know any of this at the time that I picked them; I assumed that they were functional based on their proven track record over the season and their decent qualifications record. Luckily, they were able to get code to download onto the microcontroller by the quarterfinal they played in.

2131C was a great team, but they did have a stripped PTO gear before alliance selection. I only met them over the past few days, but they were very honorable and good people that had a few legit issues. The fact that there was an hour and a half made it so that teams with issues could get them fixed. I believe their situation might have been misunderstood, however I suppose I wasn’t there to see what really happened.

If it were me, I wouldn’t have named numbers, but if you feel you were put at a disadvantage, I guess it’s your right.

That might be my fault :o. I apologise to the team.

At first the OP included information that made it unambiguous which team was being talked about for anyone who looked up the robotevents page. That information has since been removed, and I have removed the team’s number from my post. I believed that the OP was aware that they might as well have shared the team’s number themselves, but it appears that that was probably not the case.

I should also clarify that the comments in my previous post were intended to be about the possibility of this sort of deception during alliance negotiations, rather than the specifics of this tournament.

Let me start off by saying that we had a great experience at the U.S. Open. There were lots of good teams that made it a tough competition. The final matches of the Innovate Division were the most intense matches I’ve seen.

It may have been there on the table for a while, but only because there is only so much that can be done when you burn out motors. We checked the drive-train for friction, made a few cuts, but there wasn’t much we could do that didn’t require major changes. You might not have seen all of the problems that we were experiencing that day, but they were definitely real.

I cannot recall a single statement that wasn’t true. While we weren’t trying to sell ourselves, every problem we said we were having was real. Is only talking about the inconsistencies and problems and ignoring the good parts dishonest? I don’t believe it to be, but others probably do. How else are you supposed to convince a team not to pick you? We knew that we would be picked by higher seeded alliances that would give us much greater chances. Consider this: Would you rather we say, “Don’t pick us, we don’t want to be on your alliance,”? This seems more impolite to me than downplaying our strengths.

Thank you teams 185A and 400X for both a great tournament and your replies. Like they said, we struggled right before the finals to pull everything together.

Personally, if I were in your shoes, I would have just marked off that team as a posible alliance when they told you that their bot was broken. There’s only so much a team can repair at competition.
I remember at the rolling meadows reigonal, one team had a broken transmission and had to decline when they were selected as an alliance partner. The best thing a team can do is to tell any other teams to not pick them. It’s an embarresing and scary situation for both teams if you don’t.

I don’t believe you correctly understood the original post. The robot was working and the team tried to trick the posters team into thinking the robot didn’t.

I am not saying this is what happend but this is what the poster said happened.

I think you meant to write “was working” rather than “wasn’t working”?

To clarify, the allegation (which 185A, 400X and ikenite all say isn’t true) was that the robot was never broken and that the issues with it were made up to trick OP’s team into not picking them.

It’s kind of silly that the system creates situations in which being picked is a bad thing, but I’m not sure how you fix that short of switching to a two-team alliance system. VEX is unlikely to do that for a bunch of reasons relating to their philosophy and what they want the competition to achieve.

I had the same problem at state when our alliance partner in the qualifiers deliberately tried to make us lose to keep us out of the top eight, because their sister team didn’t want us to be picked by a high seeded alliance. It worked but in the quarter finals their sister team was picked by the first seed but got dqed in the quarterfinals for illegal manipulation(karma). all I can say Is watch them play and try to catch them for something or just beat them.

Yes, I did hear directly from 1200F (alliance partners) after the tournament that 2131c did have some legit problems that day. Eventually, most of them were resolved (I think). They were a classy team and substantially added to the fierce competition that we faced in the division finals.

Just to back up 2131C further, they did indeed have problems. They had problems of drive stalling and also their code not downloading, so they had no driver control or autonomous program at one point. Luckily we were in QF 3 because the code issue was sorted out as we were getting called to the stage to start the match.

2131C is most definitely an honest team.

Personally, I think it’s fair for a team to advertise their robot how they please as long as they don’t promote a robot that’s damaged beyond repair. If a subsystem is completely damaged and cannot be repaired(even with help), then they should not ask or want to be on an alliance because that would completely ruin eliminations for other teams.

I’m perfectly fine with bending abilities. To do so successfully is completely reliant on a speaker’s communication skills. Similarly, earning points in a match is often reliant on your driving ability. It should be a teams responsibility to scout matches and weed out the best alliance partners. That only promotes research and analysis. If they overplay or underplay their abilities, then your scouts should see that. If there are times when a robot is acting strange, it’s also their responsibility to find out why that happened. Just before alliance selection, our head scout personally talks to each captain as well as inspect their robot, removing and confirming a large amount of uncertainty.

If a team doesn’t want to be on your alliance, then that should be their choice. After all, they do have the option to reject your invitation if they really wanted to during selection. From a strategic point of view, they reduce their pool of potential alliances at the cost of something they believe is better.

This would have the same effect as allowing teams to decline an unlimited number of times and still be picked. There are problems with that. It would result in less equal alliance strengths because strong teams would decline when picked by weak teams. It could result in teams becoming pariahs who just get declined by everyone who isn’t desperate. Taken to its logical conclusion, it would lead to super-alliances who decide before the competition that they will ally in eliminations. If between them they managed to get at least one (and no more than two) alliance captain positions, then they could decline all requests and pick each other.

But teams don’t have the ability to decline an unlimited number of times as of now. Because they only one shot, it checks their strategy because their alternative is becoming a captain, which is even harder anyways.

I still need to think about super alliances though. Many teams have the perspective of “do it all” simply because they don’t trust their ally. If they can trust their guaranteed ally, then things will definitely be different.