Answered: Questions regarding "egregious (match affecting)"

Hi Karthik,

Since this Q+A, the test for whether an action is “egregious (match affecting)” is whether it changes the outcome of a match.

What happens in the following scenario? Both teams on an alliance commit a rule violation that would result in a disqualification if it is egregious, but a warning if it is not. Both rule violations result in the alliance scoring 3 more points than it otherwise would have, and the alliance wins by 5 points.

Taken in isolation neither rule violation changed the outcome, but taken together they did.

Should both teams be disqualified, or neither?

The next question is more important, I think. There will be many situations in which referees don’t know for certain whether an action changed the outcome of a match. In these cases we have to evaluate how *likely *it is that the action was “match affecting”. My question is, how likely is likely enough to justify a disqualification? For example, should referees disqualify if they suspect that an action might have changed the outcome? Should they disqualify only if they are confident that the action did change the outcome? Should they disqualify if they believe there is a better than 50% chance that the action changed the outcome?

The third question requires a little introduction. I believe it is an important principle of rules enforcement in any game that referees should be required to have a very deep knowledge of the rules, but not necessarily a very deep knowledge of the game - certainly not as deep as high-level players. The problem with requiring referees to evaluate whether this change in robot position or that movement of objects affects the outcome of the game is that it requires referees to do something that shouldn’t be their job, and something that they will inevitably be worse at than many drivers and coaches.

Where this can become especially difficult is in situations like tipping. If a team is tipped but the tipping is not deliberate, it must be egregious for the team who tipped them to be disqualified - so assuming the alliance with the tipped robot loses, the referee must judge whether the match would have gone the other way had the robot not been tipped. If the tipping happens early in the match, the referee is essentially being asked to judge whether the team who was tipped was a strong enough team to have won the match 2 vs 2 that their partner lost 2 vs 1. If so, DQ. If not, no penalty. There are three huge problems here. One is that it’s simply not the job of a referee to be able to answer that question accurately. A referee is not a coach or a scout. Two is that there is a huge risk of bias, since people tend to overestimate people (and robots) they know well and underestimate those they don’t. Three is that the outcome of the match (for the team who did the tipping) is being decided by the referee’s opinion of another robot’s strength, rather than through competition or direct penalties for the team’s actions.

Entanglement works similarly, only it puts two robots out of action rather than one.

The question here is: Is my reading of how egregiousness relates to tipping correct? Does entanglement behave similarly? (I mean in situations where one team can be faulted for the entanglement. Entanglement where neither team is at fault is much more common and doesn’t require a response from refs).

And if my understanding of the penalties for unintentional tipping is wrong, could you please describe the correct interpretation? Clearly a tip will almost always affect the match in a substantial way, but am I correct that referees are required to judge whether a tip affected the outcome?

<G11>, because the third question relates to it:

Thanks Karthik.

Both teams should be Disqualified. There combined illegal actions caused them to win the Match.

The referees should use their best judgement in making these sorts of determinations. This type of question is far too context dependent to give any sort of blanket answer. However, I think it’s appropriate to say that a referee should never issue a Disqualification unless they’re fairly certain the action changed the outcome of the Match. They should also take past warnings into account; less warnings = greater benefit of the doubt.

Not entirely. When dealing with tipping, the most important factor is whether or not it was intentional. Not necessarily in terms of “Did Team A try and tip Team B over?” (If this is true, this obviously a DQ), but more of “Did Team A engage in actions that were the sole cause of Team B tipping over.” So, the tip may not have been intentional, however it was definitely avoidable and caused by Team A. In cases like this, it should usually be a DQ. However, if it was clear that Team A would have won the match regardless (i.e. Team B was tipped very late in the Match, and there was a large score difference), this would be an appropriate time for a severe warning. So, you need to determine if a foul was committed, then you begin to consider if the action was Match affecting. This is the way our World Championship head referees have been trained in the past, and will be trained this season.

Similar logic as above applies.

You will notice that “egregious” is paired with “Match affecting” in every instance it appears in the manual, except <G11>. This was done intentionally. We wanted to make sure we gave the referees the freedom to DQ a team for a non match affecting offense, that was just spectacularly illegal and egregious. (i.e. Ripping a Robot’s arm off intentionally)