Comments on Tournament

Yes, Tournament Discussion would be a good addition to the forum. The tournament I went to yesterday was easily the worst tournament I have ever attended and I would highly advise everyone else in this area to stay away from the Walnut MSAC Tourny. The tournament was run horribly, the fields had major electronic errors, and also the Programming Skills and Driver Skills was a joke.

It’s not too much that the skills challenges were a joke. They only gave everyone one shot at them. They told us that they did not have time to let people run multiple times but we were out of the tournament by 3:30

Wow! 3:30? That is really early. We usually get out of the tournaments around 5, or 5:30.

Why did they only give you one try?

Edit: Just to let you know Dpbailey, your links did not work for me. The link to the YouTube channel and also the robot events page.

I would caution against too much public criticism. Most of the folks who run tournaments are volunteers, and some are new to this. Yes, there’s a place for improvement, but perhaps dropping a private e-mail with specific suggestions would be more appropriate. Be sure to include some appreciation for what they DID do well.

I always appreciate when someone else runs an event, because it means that I don’t have to do it! If I feel that I could do better, then maybe it’s time for me to step up to the plate (happened with FLL, but not with Vex yet).

Vex is in an expanding market, with a growing number of tournaments.
The upside is more opportunities for teams to compete.
The downside is that new tournaments are run by rookies, so the first couple can be a little rough around the edges. Feel free to volunteer your services.

They said that this was their third year running this tournament and they said they have been involved with VEX longer than that.

Even if they have been running events poorly for a while, the most important thing is to let them know in a constructive way how you would suggest they do things differently. The people who ran this tournament are unlikely to see this post, so it isn’t helping them improve the event.

It’s frustrating for teams to have events run by people who aren’t as informed about this stuff as you would like, but you can’t expect every set of event organisers to be as interested in vex as you are.

Also, as ManicMechanic says, it’s important to remember that the people who run these things are volunteers. There are some things that they are obliged to do, like running the tournament according to the manual, but the rest is really up to how generous they feel. They are allowed to limit skills runs to one per team, however frustrating that might be. Granted, a lot of tournament organisers might keep events open later than 3:30pm, but I think volunteering until then is plenty for one weekend, especially when you factor in setup and cleanup time.

Hi Folks,

The Mt. SAC tournament organizer here. I am sorry to learn that one of the teams did not have a good experience at the event. We are open to constructive suggestions as to how we can make the event better.

We have run Vex events for four of the past five years and not had complaints without complaint. I appreciate the followup comments recognizing that these events are organized entirely on a voluntary basis and require significant investments of time, energy and out of pocket money to run.

When we run these events we make every effort to see that each team has every opportunity to show what their robot can do while following the official tournament rules and keeping the event running in a timely fashion.

I am especially distraught about this complaint as the tournament staff went to great lengths to allow team 569 to participate as their robot was several hours late to the event.

I would like to make this discussion more constructive by proposing some common problems we face while running tournaments and soliciting suggestions.

  1. Several teams complain that one of the competition fields is having connectivity problems.

Our solution. Close the field and continue the competition using just one field. Suggestions?

  1. The competition is long / short.

We run competitions that target 7-8 hours in length. Suggestions?

  1. How many qualifiers should there be?

We run 4-5 qualifiers depending on the number of teams and fields available.

  1. What should be the time between matches?

We run 4 minutes with 2 fields and 6 minutes with one field. Having at least three referees helps to make the games run more smoothly.

Finally, I would urge everyone to recognize the folks that give up free time to make these events possible. In addition to the 15 students and staff from Mt. SAC, we also had a head ref from Northrop Grumman, help with Field reset from CHAMPS and Champion middle school, along with judges from raytheon, Whitney High and Reseda high.


First of all I would like to apologize for how hostile my first post was. I had just gotten back from the tournament and I was pretty heated.

Secondly, the tournament was alright but (No Offense) not the best I have ever been to. I have a few things I would like to state.

  • My team was told that we would get multiple tries in both robot and programming skills by the MC (I believe his name was Jay Jay?). We received one in each.

  • I did not understand why the alliances only had two teams each. I have never heard of anything like that and as far as I know there should always be 3 teams per alliance.

  • I understand that the people running the tournament were rushing to make it out of there by 5 but I have also never been to a tournament where the playoffs were single round elimination during the quarters. In all of my two years the entire playoffs have been Race to 2 format.

  • We were given mixed answers wether the tournament champions would qualify for worlds or not. I still am not sure if the alliance who won qualified. (It was never clarified.)

  • The judges told us they were going to come back to our pit but never did…

  • Part of the electronics of the field were broken. (I’m not complaining, I am simply stating a fact.) I feel that if something is broken, especially and electrical element of the field, it should be questioned wether it is used or not and if it is used it should be tested before the actual tournament.

  • My team’s score from both challenges were given to the wrong team on the robot events page.

Apart from that there were some things that were done well…

  • Matches were judged fairly well

  • All the matches seemed to be on time (I use the word seemed because I was so busy and frustrated that day that I barely got a chance to even check the time.)

  • We got out fairly early.

Although we got out early, I have been to a lot of tournaments and almost all of them usually end around 7 or 8 at night. I personally would rather stay the extra time and get allowed another try at the skills challenges then get out early but I do understand that the referees and all that were volunteers. In the future it would be nice if you guys were to plan it as an entire day, not just until 5. (That’s the way my club does it. We anticipate spending the entire day at the competition and we don’t mind getting out late because our entire day has been dedicated to the tournament.)

Just a few thoughts. Again, sorry if I my post was negative or came off in a bad way.

Sure I would have rather had things go another way and yes I would probably re do that day with a few changes but it is done and over with.

I am trying to be as positive as possible so please do not take any of this the wrong way.


  • Devin

As the advisor of all 569 teams I feel I must comment on this thread.

  1. I speak to all of my teams about treating others (adults, peers, teammates, and opponents) with respect especially those volunteering their time and money to put on these tournaments. Some of the things said by one of my team members I certainly do not condone, nor do I agree with. We have spoken about this since the tournament.

  2. Emotions run hot at these tournaments, especially as the pressure is beginning to boil as time runs out to qualify for worlds. This certainly does not excuse some of the comments made, but it may shed some light on where they are coming from. I am partly responsible as I push these kids very hard to always do their best.

  3. Team 569 forgot their robot (They are very EMBARASSED, as was I). Team 569 did not post or make any negative comments towards this tournament. I appreciated how those in charge handled this situation and Team 569 was very appreciative as well.

  4. There were some field issues. There were also some issues with Team 569C’s robot (backup battery issues we found out after a call to Intelitek and VEX). The announcer and field operator were very gracious in allowing Team 569C to try and work out the problem during lunch. All parties were very frustrated including myself because the problem could not be pinpointed as the robot worked flawlessly when not plugged into the field. This is the #1 reason for most of the frustration expressed in this thread. It doesn’t make it right, but these students have put in countless hours into this robot and for it not to work like it does at our school was a tough pill to swallow.

  5. This is the first tournament I (and my teams) have ever attended in which you were only allowed 1 try at the skills challenges. I’m not saying this is wrong or illegal, but every other tournament I have been to in the past 5 years that has had skills challenges, you have been able to have as many tries as you like until they closed the field(s) running these challenges. I know team C had prepared for hours on their Programming Skills challenge and it did not perform well on the first try. I realize time may have been an issue but in the future it would be nice to see a dedicated field to the skills challenges now that the format has changed to qualify for worlds. Anyone with experience in VEX knows the chances of getting things right on the first try if you have never been able to practice on that field are pretty small. However hats off to 404.

Lastly and most importantly, if anyone has been offended or feels wronged by things said or done by any of my teams please let me know directly and I will make sure it is addressed. I have always appreciated what VEX robotics has done for myself, my school, my community, and especially my students. I hold these kids to a high standard and they know what is right and wrong. Thank you and I look forward to seeing everyone at future tournaments.

Hi Folks,

In past years we had always run the skills challenges on the practice field in a much more relaxed fashion. I think this makes a lot of sense. The trade off is that we don’t have the caliber of refereeing available for the skills events when they are on the practice field and we want to be sure that we are being as fair as possible.

We have never previously scheduled the skills challenges into the master event schedule as they have been a less formal part of the competition. This year there was significant interest in the skills challenges (and we really want to see more participation in the programming challenge!) The skills challenges are something we will have to fix at future events. I think having a separate field for the skills challenges and having an event person in charge of coordinating them would go a long way to solving these problems.


The robotevents page says that the Tournament Champions and the Excellence Award winner do qualify for Worlds.