Are SP's really effective?

This weekend my team went up to Worchester Mass for a state competition, and were pumped to get back into the zone, after a long summer without any robotics. We were doing pretty good, and never lost a game, although not every match was fair. Our first match had no opponents. This proposed a major problem our team had to deal with, do we go and just try our hardest, and get no SP’s, or do we not move, and disappoint the judges for abusing the system. We decided to try our best, and what a mistake that was. By our last round, we were ranked second, and only behind by a couple of SPs. The first team’s robot wasn’t a good robot, and the reason they were so high up, was that they scored points just slightly faster than their opponents, getting more SPs than us. But overall, their robot was greatly lacking. The third place team was an excellent team. We shared a room with them and ended up getting along very well. But our problem was this: In alliance selection, if we denied the first place team, they would have chosen the third place. If the third place team had denied them, then we could not choose them to be on our team. It was physically impossible to find any way to team with who we wanted to! We were stuck with the first place team, and lost round one because of the improper team selection. Im confident when I say if we teamed up with the third place team like we wished, we would have been able to hold strong and very possibly win.

So the point to this long over-worded story is to question the ranking and point system that is unique to vex. It is smarter to barely beat a team than to demolish them, even if you are a better robot, and to score less just on purpose, I feel, is just not in the vex spirit, and greatly promotes equality rather then striving to win. I lost a chance to go to Dallas this year because the game had to be “equal” rather than a competition. Anyone else feel that we need a makeover on the ranking system, or is there any way to beat it?

-Team 822

I think it’s safe to say that if you can figure out a way to calculate “strength of schedule” for a single day event with no historical records that a lot of people would be interested. VRC, FRC, and FTC all use similar methods to figure strength of schedule, so it’s not accurate to say that this is unique to VRC.

One of our teams was up against a pair of no-shows in a match in the November Redmond tournament. They knocked one medium sized ball off the wall and then sat and waited for two minutes. (Actually, they and their partner did robot-dancing for 1:50.) The judges didn’t hold it against them, and the crowd actually enjoyed the “dancing” when the announcer explained it to them. I don’t know why you would think you were abusing the system by understanding the rules and playing accordingly.

It’s all about the strategy and trying to make things “fair” (I tell my roboteers life isn’t fair, but the fair comes in July). There is more to any robot competition (other than Battlebots) than just crush the competition.

Strategy and tactics play a big part in the game play. Why do you think there are some teams putting balls outside the playing surface?

Alliance selection is a tricky thing, teams spend years and years looking at ways to make it better. I’ve seen teams that were not the “best” robots take a match because they wanted it more and worked just a little harder to get it.

You do the best with what you have, but remember, it’s just a game. If you are not having fun and learning something or the loss is going to ruin your life; you might want to rething why you are playing Clean Sweep.

i like the system. it is really i nice way of easing people into the comp. i know that i have seen some bots from newer teams that are cool but not much of a competitor when there is a more experienced team on the other side of the wall. because of the way the game is scored the experienced team is less likely to crush the newer team so even though they may lose the match they will not have their hearts crushed and they may still wish to come back next year.

as for your situation you should have just scored 1 or two points more than the “other team” and leave it at that. it may seem cheap but it is the smart thing to do. if the other teams didn’t even show up then the outcome would have probably been the same even if they did show up. the only reason i can think of for not showing up would be a broken bot which would not really be much of a competitor.

If I understand your explanation correctly, you “lost” what you think was a sure thing, not because of the ranking system, but because you didn’t study the rules. If I am right, chew on that thought for a while, and then determine never to make that mistake again.

Here is why I think this.

On page 10 of the Clean Sweep rules, under the heading of Rankings, I see this
“• All teams in each Qualifying Match will also receive Strength of Schedule Points (SP).
[INDENT]o The number of SP assigned for each match, is that of the losing alliance’s score.
o In the event of a tie, both alliances will receive the same SP (equal to the tie score).
o If a team is disqualified they receive zero (0) SP
o If both teams on an alliance are disqualified, the teams on the winning Alliance will be awarded their
own score as their SP for that match.”[/INDENT]

I would appear that in the match when neither opponent showed up, your team and your ally could have earned a zillion SPs (somewhere around 150) by completely sweeping your side of the field clean and winning with a score of a zillion to zilch.

With those points under your belt, I would be very surprised if a team with an excellent robot could not stay ahead in both WPs and SPs by ensuring the right number of balls (or close enough) wound up on each side of the fence in each subsequent match.

Live and learn…

PS: Take a look here: Similar thread


It sounds like you gave up first rank as a consequence of your decision to use the first match for driving practice rather than for SP gain.

It was your choice to be stuck with the team1, rather than lead your own alliance.

You could have denied offer from team1, and led your own alliance to victory, with team 3 if available, or without them if necessary.

I’m still not sure I understand exactly what you guys did; but one interpretation of what you wrote is that you “Tried your best” to score as many points as possible in each of your matches (after the first one).

In that case while you tried your best to ensure you would win each match, you perhaps didn’t try your best to win the tournament.

The tournament rules very clearly reward teams that are able to claw out a string of victories against tough opponents or who are able to carefully manage their margin of victory when playing against a weaker opponent.

PS: I’m not trying to beat a dead horse here. I really am a bit confused by your description of how the day went, and with that said I’m trying to help connect the dots to a more satisfying outcome the next time around.

Actually, SP’s (formerly called RP’s for rank points) are not unique to Vex – other competitions like FIRST use them as well, so there is strong precedent for this system.

Very true, especially in this year’s game. So a team should aim to play smarter.

The SP (formerly RP) system has been used year after year, and depending on the game, it has different implications. In 2006 and 2007, play was mostly offensive – generally if you scored, you did not remove points from your opponents. Last year’s goal-capping and this year’s scoring system especially added a twist that make it strategic to carefully consider how you should play the game. I like the SP rule because it adds a layer of subtlety and generally makes it undesirable to demolish your opponents. In previous years, I have actually seen matches where strong teams actively scored points for their opponents to maximize their (and their opponents’) SP, which was strategic.

If you are a high-scoring robot against low-scoring (or non-scoring) opponents, your destiny is in your control. You can choose to score or to hold back, which is not unsporting in any way. The chance to “go all out” will probably happen some time during eliminations (if not during a more evenly-matched qualifying match). And there’s always the robot skills challenge to really show off your robot’s capabilities, as well as an additional opportunity to advance.

I personally have held the opinion that these robotics tournaments should be running a Modified Swiss tournament style. Following the general patterns of standard swiss to determine the top 8 who will (after the same alliance selection process) compete in single elemination, and using total points scored to determine the rankings of the top 8 in the event of teams with tied QP’s. the only real flaws i see here is that tournaments will have to print another match sheet at the end of each round and that there may have to be some modifications to fit small tournaments

I see how you would do Swiss rankings with 2-team or 3-team alliances that change every round. How would you handle this?

A Swiss system, on the other hand, might be an interesting approach for the VEX College Competition, where there is no alliance pairing during qualifications. (I’m not in charge of this at IFI, by the way. I just said “interesting.” :slight_smile: )

What I had imagined would just involve pairing the teams with the similar points in a match together; and possibly setting it up so teams could not be partners/play the same teams twice (i’m guessing this CAN be done my some mathematical means). Once the top 8 have been decided, I do agree with the current method’s elimination round system for the three team alliances.

If there was an instance where 5 teams all had the highest amount of points, we could pair 4 together in a match, while the last faced an alliance of two teams w/ the point value just below, and be partnered with a team just below the other two. (I hope that was coherent enough)

what happened on the 2nd match was we tried to gain more SP’s (which we did) by not scoring our big ball (just sat there with it and waited for the match to end) then the ref looked down upon us and was mad that we took advantage of the rules to gain more SP’s. So i agree that the SP’s aren’t really effective.

It is very disappointing to hear that a referee looked down upon you for this. What you did was both a legal and highly intelligent strategy. Teams are rewarded by the ranking system for maximizing their opponent’s score. It would be a poor strategic decision for a team to avoid doing so.

It’s interesting, because one can look at SP’s in two ways.

  1. A strategic value to the game. Your team wants to be ranked #1 so then the logical thing to do would be to work the system and run close matches.

  2. A “bad” thing to take advantage of. I don’t know what exactly is worse…losing by 100 points or watching the other team not trying or boosting up YOUR points.

Personally, I’d lose by 100 points any day rather than watch the other alliance “gain SP.”, but strategy is something that teams have to keep in mind in order to be successful.

  • Sunny

yes but if you lost by 100 ptz due to motor malfunction/unplugged wires, wouldnt you be glas that you are ALSO getting hte SP?
once you fix your problem that SP may come in handy :slight_smile:
we had teams ar redmond that tipped the orange balls on the tees back to THEIR side
the announcer person even explained why they are doing this “blizzare” thing :slight_smile:

I’m sorry that you had a not-so-great experience with the ref. One thing to keep in mind is that some of the smaller events, the officials are often far less experienced than the competing teams. I run a small robotics tournament for younger students, and in the early years, one of our biggest problems was that our judges and refs had never seen a student-built robot or robotics competition until their judged their first event. The obvious question is, “Why don’t you get more experienced judges and refs?” and the answer is, “There aren’t more experienced judges and refs available, except for team coaches and members.” And you can be sure that you don’t want team members as refs! As tournament coordinator, I try my best to train the judges in common strategies and alert them to what’s allowable, but there’s no way that they can learn in a couple hours of advance reading and training what you learn over the course of a season.

What can you do in those situations? Realizing that judges and refs are volunteers, giving up their time for your benefit, you can graciously (not angrily, condescendingly or demandingly) explain something like, "I know this looks weird, but this strategy is allowed by the rules. It may not seem like a few SP’s matter for this match, but they will matter when we get scored against the highest ranked teams. " A ref is required to score according to the points, not whether s/he “likes” your strategy, and you may have to endure some harsh looks at first. But if you respond kindly and cheerfully, you will eventually win them over, especially when they see more teams using your strategy.

If you are concerned that you are being judged unfairly for using a legal strategy, you might approach the tournament coordinator. Make it clear that you understand that the judges are doing their best, but they aren’t as well-versed in the rules and practices as some of the teams. Have in hand the rule(s) that allow you to do what you’ve done, and explain being “downgraded” for a certain strategy is not supported by the rules. Perhaps provide a printout-of some of these forum discussions to support your case.

In the longer term, consider being part of the solution. The fact that you’re on this forum makes you more qualified than many of the people who are conscripted to ref and judge. If there’s a nearby event that your team is not competing in, volunteer your services as a ref or propose the idea of being a ref’s assistant. At my tournament, I have generally non-robotic adults as the refs, with a non-competing student ref’s assistant at their side – adults are usually better at taking the heat from irate team members, but students have more experience with the rules. When you “age out” of the competition, consider coming back to the program as a ref, judge, event volunteer, or team mentor.

While you might not feel that you were treated “fairly” by the volunteer refs, realize that without them, there would not be a tournament to participate in at all.

I am a little confused about the purpose of Strength of Schedule Points. It seems that these have been defended as a way to account for variations in opponent strength. I understand how this works for winning alliances since more SP’s are awarded in the case of a stronger(higher scoring) opponent, than a weaker opponent(lower scoring). However, if an alliance loses then their SP’s reflect not their opponent’s strength but their own strength. It seems that a more accurate measurement would be the difference between the alliance’s scores. This would more directly measure by how much an alliance has won a match.

thats why stronger opponets “hold back” and not completely destroy the weaker allience
if they “clean swept” the field, then they will BOTH get low sp’s
that is why it is another strategy strong teams think about
is you are weaker, pray that your opponet has “sp smarts” :wink:

If SP’s or RP’s are intended to be a measure of your opponents’ strength, they certainly are NOT effective. Especially in games in which you have the ability to increase your opponents’ score.

It does add a level of strategy, but really is no longer a valid measure of the strength of competition.

There really needs to be a new method that not only takes into account the quality of your competition, but also the quality of your partner. A win with a weak partner should be valued more than a win with a strong partner.

What about a strength of schedule/strength of partner calculation? The sum of the winning percentages (at the end of qualifying matches) of your two opponents, less the winning percentage of your partner = SP awarded for the match.

It seems to me, based on the name, that SP’s are used so that teams who have a tight match with their opponents are awarded more points than less equally paired matches. The issue that i see is that teams who could dominate can just cool down a bit and make it seem (if you only saw the score that it was a close match). The good in this is that teams who may be new or just do not have a great bot don’t ever loose by a ton and feel down on themselves (assuming the other team is wise in their strategy). I think the later is almost more important than the first because if ever new team who tried their best but didn’t have a great bot got creamed then they may not come back to compete again and the comp. could not grow at the rate it is growing now.

I like SP’s, Just my Opinion