Change to Worlds Format

Clearly it’s great that so many kids are getting involved in STEM and competition robotics. However, with the addition of so many IQ teams this year, there seemed to be many more teams that were unable to drive on the field in a competitive manner. They may have made it to Worlds through judged awards, etc…(which is awesome, lots of hard work) or a large enough expansion in their state that they were a good bit lower in skills scores.

I am curious to see how the forum feels about changing the format of Worlds into an Eduction Division and a Competitive Division, or whatever names seem to work well for the kids. In this sense, the top 50% or so of robots (as determined by their skills scores coming into Worlds) have a Competitive Tourney of 2 divisions (Science/Technology) and the other 50% have an Eduction Tourney of 2 divisions (Engineering/Math). I know competitive driving teams that feel awful about asking less skilled teams to just sit for most of the 60 secs and then just perform the end-game. I’m also sure the less-skilled teams get tired of just sitting there, they came to drive.

Any thoughts? The % and such could certainly be moved around. I was just thinking this would allow more competitive drive teams a better chance of being paired up with good drive teams while allowing everyone to have fun.

There was a larger percentage of ‘beginner’ teams this year due to the expansion, agreed. For competitive teams, having strong partners is essential. Teams with soft schedules have a severe disadvantage. Not fair, but part of the randomness of Worlds…

If they don’t continue to drastically expand the size of Worlds, then I would expect the level of competition to improve. States and countries that are new to VEX IQ send some very basic robots for the first year or two. However, within a couple years they usually become competitive.

So I understand the problem, but would still want to have all the teams mixed together.

I agree with Jrp62, lots of places are just starting up programs. Delaware only had 2 MS and 11 Elementary teams for 2017. I have commitments for new teams that will bump that to 5 MS and 52 Elementary teams. So we will have lots of rookies this coming year. Look for us to be really competitive in 2018.

There are two sides to this debate: 1) add more teams and allow more to experience Worlds but possibly sacrifice quality or 2) Limit the number of teams/those who get to experience it but it’s more competitive. Ultimately RECF has to fill the venue and cover costs and adding teams is the only way to do that. There was a good discussion at the EP Summit last summer regarding how to fill those spots from the waitlist. A team closer to Louisville could more easily hop in the car and drive in than a team who would have to book last minute flights.

I know some who put their teams on the wait list knowing they will never officially qualify for Worlds and/or put them on so early (like before Christmas early) just to try and get a spot. Personally I (not my team/organizational view, just me personally as the coach) believe Worlds is something that should be earned. I dont like the “everyone gets a trophy” mentality. We dont invite everyone to the State Championship-they have to earn it (assuming there are more teams that available spots). This past year I believe 11 of the 24 in our state qualified throughout the year so the next 13 were taken from Skills (out of 60 in the state). So the debate is: How do we strike a balance between giving more teams and more kids the ability to experience Worlds with maintaining the quality that is expected from the premier event of the year?

I would propose 1 of 2 options: 1) if say 300 ES and 300 MS teams (or however many it may grow to) can be accommodated, then when the list of available spots comes out in early winter, base the number on that. If that means each state/country gets 2-3 additional spots, GREAT! There would be some merit to these additional teams making Worlds (maybe the Amaze, Create, etc. winners). I know there is a hierarchy of how those are divided up but go with that. 2) Take more teams from skills. If the cutoff is say March whatever, then go down the list and take as many teams who have not already qualified for Worlds that would fill the 300 spaces. Early in March still gives teams over a month to plan a trip. If there is a double qualification at our state tournament (which there was this year), the extra spot was given to the next best skills team that didnt win a World qualifying award-which I think is very fair.

There will always be a need for a wait list as last minute things come up and spaces need to be filled by readily available teams (maybe without much notice). I also know there is debate regarding taking more teams from skills thinking that may encourage more “dad bots” just to get a high enough score to qualify. But I think all of this is worth a respectful discussion. Personally I’d LOVE to see as many teams get to experience Worlds as possible but I think there needs to be more merit to that. As the program grows, we ultimately want kids to have the experience of a lifetime but we also need to teach important life skills that may or may not involve winning. Just my 2 cents. Thoughts?

I had a MS team that was paired up with, as they said, mostly clawbots. Seemed like they had better partners at states.

For the education division… The finals would have been two robots that together could score 55 points? Maybe they could only include teams in teamwork if they qualify a certain way? (They do the same for STEM and Design and thus excellence as well…)

There were teams that qualified through awards that should not have been qualifiers as well. You should have at most 8 teams qualify out of the regional tournament and the rest go to skills. The best skills robots are going to be better competitors than the winners of the other judged awards. If you are going too deep into the skills list (which we did in MS in FL and my program benefited from that) then you have to have more regional tournaments (which we will next year)!

The qualifying Criteria:

We are also a program in Florida who is very competitive like many teams. We were very disappointed this year at worlds with many teams that could not drive their robot. My kids were crushed when they worked for months on their robot and their partners could not drive on the bridge. I agree that something has to be done. There needs to be two different divisions. There really should not be a claw bot at worlds. It should be a best of the best competition. There has to be a way for one group to go and have fun, and one group who really pushes hard to win. We had two teams finish in the top 40 in skills, and neither made the finals because of bad partner draws. I am glad that the game this year does not have a bridge at the end.

I don’t know if any of you read the previous novel I posted, but after some more thought, I have a changed perspective of what you guys are suggesting with teams being competitive at Worlds. I originally said I felt like we should embrace the spirit of the IQ challenge, however there is merit towards the current argument about teams qualifying into Worlds through “non-skills” awards. I admit I went off on a tangent about letting our students do the work, which I still believe, however I missed the basis of the discussion.

The question we should be asking is what is the intention of holding a World Championship Tournament? Most would probably say it is for the top teams in the world to come together to compete in challenges, much like any other “world” event. If that is the case, then the goal should be to get the best of the best as much as possible. I understand some states/countries may be a little less competitive, but the concern is really about teams qualifying through something like STEM. After hearing out parents, some of the frustration comes from how incredibly expensive the trip to Worlds is, only to participate in a non-level playing field. Don’t even get me started on the “country-sponsored” teams. Everyone should know what they are getting into when contemplating the pros and cons of going to Worlds.

To better understand the argument, can you imagine if an award like STEM was dependent on teams working together? There would be amazing teams who got to Worlds by winning their respective qualifying tournaments being paired up with teams who got in because of a skills challenge. Don’t get me wrong, I am in no way trying to undervalue any of these awards/challenges, rather just trying to show that teams should not be mixed. There is a reason why you don’t see a sprinter challenging to win the shot put in the olympics. Let’s face it, there are many different types of teams throughout the world and their ability in the different criteria to qualify into worlds vary tremendously.

I don’t know what the answer is. I don’t know if we should separate teams into skills/non-skills divisions (competitive vs less competitive). I don’t know if it makes sense to just let teams come to Worlds just to try and win an award like STEM. How could a team possibly know what their chances of winning are compared to the rest of the world? I keep mentioning STEM, but what about the Design award, or even Excellence? Winning those awards does not always mean you have a team that can be competitive with the best at Worlds. It really comes down to being fair. There is no fair way to pair teams up other than randomly, however that is only true if the pool of selection is somewhat even.

What I do know is even if teams around the world get better every year, there will still be teams qualifying into Worlds through non-skills awards. Something needs to be done to address this, otherwise I think many teams will get frustrated enough to pass on an invite once they have already gotten the experience.

Sorry for another long post…I can’t help myself. Anyone else have some thoughts or suggestions to add?

You will get different perspectives on this subject based on viewpoint, experience, and attitude. Vex/RECF have been consistent with STEM guidelines. It is the new adults or those with specific viewpoint that have the issue. Even when I saw my first Worlds competition 4 yrs back, I thought that there were some really bad teams that made it through. But then that is how everything is balanced (top vs newbies). If you look at some of the locals, the scores are just low. As for the spirit of Vex, it is not a set score a team must get but sorted high to low before selecting winners and awards, in a specific event. I have also posted such information previously. We have also tried our best to loose at events (having won previously) without taking all or most of the awards (literally); when that was apparent, we won something else for that (point was to not get one). At that point we just started skipping events.

In the case of good scoring team vs clawbot, for example, just do your skills run. Bring up the other team, in score and spirit. We had to do that during highrise. The other team did not want to hinder and volunteered to stay out of our way. We still had them do something and then go sit. Help them grow.

Teamwork should be a positive alliance, sometimes with good outcome and sometimes bad. Everyone is the same boat. Best does not have to go with the best and then have a “just for fun” division.

From tpajns, “I agree that something has to be done. There needs to be two different divisions. There really should not be a claw bot at worlds. It should be a best of the best competition. There has to be a way for one group to go and have fun, and one group who really pushes hard to win.”
Maybe your team or school has excess funds. When Worlds is an already expensive event, not sure who would come just to have fun. Individually speaking, we pay everything out of pocket for our family so I would rather go to vegas or on a real vacation to spend that much money to have fun.I saw some clawbots this year with some decent mods as compared to out-of-the-box in previous years.It is possible that the “one group to go and have fun” can have fun locally but not go to the Worlds?

As KyleFromIPA mentions, there are certain “things” you already know by going to the Worlds. That includes expenses, expectations, and what you are going up against. If a team already knows that they cannot win based on the entries, then it is assumed that that team is going there for fun. Some teams are fully funded (I know of some) so they can try out or be there because they have all expenses paid trip for it. Lots of pros and cons but it about the kids and they as a team should decide. After that reassess based on time and funds.

One example for this: At Worlds, every team that’s allowed to present STEM, either won STEM or Excellence at a previous event. The same is true for Design. However that is not true for Teamwork.


You could run a consolation division for teams that didn’t qualify in this way so they don’t get too bored?

Yep, that’s the thought behind the Education and Competition divisions

They could have done a consolation division with design… Collect all the notebooks, set the once that didn’t win before aside, hand them back on the last day.

Yes, it’s just for theater… But would have been good for my students!

Alliance selections, hold that thought for a minute…

This discussion started with a proposal for separate divisions based on how a team qualified for Worlds. The assumption being that teams that qualified via a judged award were much weaker than those that qualified by winning teamwork or skills. I wanted to see if the data really supported that assumption and here’s what I found:

[TABLE="align: left, border: 0, cellpadding: 0, width: 500"]
		**Weighted Average**
		Top 50 Skills
		Skills Champion
		Skills Wildcard
		Teamwork Champion
		Teamwork Runner Up

The weighted average is essentially the number of points that the teams that qualified by winning the award have averaged in matches and skills runs throughout the year. The weighted averages by team came from Steve Hassenplug’s New World Order spreadsheet. So the teams that got into Worlds because they were in the Top 50 in skills averaged 60.45 points in matches and skills runs throughout the season.

Although there is a huge difference between the top 50 skills teams and the “Other” teams, the difference between Teamwork champs and STEM winners is less significant (~7 points). There are plenty of exceptions too… One of the World Champs qualified by winning STEM (although their skills score was 130, they didn’t win skills). On the other end of the spectrum, three teams that were Teamwork Champions in their state had a average of less than 10.

Where a team came from is a better indicator of what to expect from them as a partner. There are few states and countries that had averages close to 50 or above, and just as many that were at or below 20. I’m not suggesting that we have separate divisions based on how competitive your state is. But the data does support the notion that in locales where Vex IQ is just getting started the scores are lower.

I don’t think that having a couple partners that are beginners is a problem either, even for the most competitive teams. What is a problem is that some teams get a schedule stacked with very capable partners (averaging +48 points on the high end) and other teams get the opposite schedule (partners averaging 23 on the low end). Generating random match schedules seems fair, but at very large events the randomness can make or break a team’s chances, and then that team’s ticket to Worlds is like a lottery ticket.

One possible solution that I want to throw out there is to have alliance selections for the finals. For those that have only done Vex IQ, alliance selections are where the top ranked teams get to choose their partner for the finals. Teams that are better than their ranking indicates would still have a chance at getting into the finals. Alliance captains would also be able to choose a partner that complements them. Having alliance selections would require scouting, but I think that would be good. Scouting forces the kids to study the designs of other robots. Plus the alliance selection process adds some suspense too.

Since this is how EDR works (scouting, choosing partner, current manual p21) somewhat, IQ turns into similar/same rules for EDR with a very slight variation. What we have seen earlier is that there were several ways to get into Worlds. The information above supports it. Several teams were in it with somewhat specific goals (stem only, skills only, etc). Of course, skills only approach translates to include teamwork. The end result of this seems to lead to what VEX was already doing before IQ started a few years back. Also, when IQ becomes somewhat similar to EDR in all aspects, then as our IQ graduates mentioned before, this supports their suggestion that its better to struggle with vex metal than to stick with IQ starting with middle school (where you can do either). Such a change also would cause many to loose interest because it is no longer the “spirit” of stem but more about its competitive nature. Analysis is interesting though.

The big difference in VRC is that there is an opponent. That changes the game play entirely. No more PacMan driving patterns.

Correct. VRC/EDR has opponent plus multiple teams. (Clarification) That statement was meant to say IQ with “slight” variation in the rules adoption pattern would be the “alliance” for the match. The big difference in vrc is that there are 2 alliances, blue alliance vs red alliance (4 teams total); in iq, 1 alliance (2 teams total) working together.

Just concept of (an) alliance selection, no other vrc elements implied.

Personally I think if competition is that important to the students on a team (not the mentors) they should move on to VRC. The teams that really belong in the finals generally find a way to make it there no matter what their schedule is.

I really hope alliance selection doesn’t come to IQ with all of the hyper-competitive behaviors that seem to go along with it - teams that want that have an option - VRC. I have yet to meet elementary students who are that focused on winning although I have met some elementary mentors who fall into that category. :smiley:

Building with EDR requires a lot more patience, it just takes longer. Kids learn more about robotics (and the underlying concepts) quicker with VEX IQ. Plus, the VRC field is not transportable, compared to the IQ field. Same goes for the robot parts and tools. There are many barriers to moving to VRC.

Alliance selection would not be good for elementary, but I think it would be for middle school.

Also, I do believe that the match schedule at Worlds can significantly influence the outcome of the entire event. Therefore, master match schedule must be safeguarded.

Absolutely agree, alliance selection would not be good for Elementary kids.

From my experience, adding Alliance Selection to Middle School VEX IQ isn’t a good idea. We coach both EDR and VEX IQ. If the student would benefit from Alliance Selection experience, we give them the opportunity to be on our EDR teams. The cooperative play and no Alliance Selection fits many of our kids better. When they select what they want to do it’s a part of their decision.

There are are good things about each, EDR and VEX IQ. I wouldn’t make VEX IQ a copy of EDR with the only difference being components.