Expansion Zone Issues (1008M and 25461Z)

Today, In Minnesota was a tournament that really tested the rules for the first time. Some issues arose.

During Quarter Finals 1-1, 1008M and 25461Z(1st seed) took on 3141V and 81101A(8th seed). At one point in the match, 1008M of the red alliance expanded slightly outside of the 18 by 18, on accident, because the driver overshot the 90 degree position to hit the flag. It should be noted they did not contact any game object during this time. This was immediately corrected by the driver, because it isn’t even its optimal scoring position. It can be found in the below videos. This deviation lasted for less than a second, and they were ultimately disqualified by the refs. They attempted to argue this decision, but the decision was of the refs, and was final. They were warned previously for “almost going out of the 18 outside of the expansion zone”. The other alliance made other small infractions throughout the match, and they did not affect the outcome. This action by 1008M was not match affecting. The score would have been 27-2 if the disqualification had not taken place.

This brings up some issues. A robot can unintentionally, or unknowingly break this rule in a normal match, without affecting it, and have been disqualified because of it. And with Best of One in play, this decisions can determine a tournament as they did one of the first ones this year, so I believe the rules need to be strengthened and more clear.

I believe some rule changes could be added, and I will be posting to the Q&A shortly asking for a clarification of these rules(EDIT: I am unable to currently post on the official Q&A because I can’t contact our mentor right now and you must be a account of a registered team to post on the new official Q&A.). If anyone has an suggestions on how they could fix the rules to allow leeway, I would appreciate that. I acknowledge that the decisions of the refs, however incorrect I believe they be, are the final say. I also respect them, and thank them for the time they volunteer to help out at tournaments. We can’t expect them to be watching everything at once.

Here is the full match:

Here is a video I made to explain what the refs called:

Clip of just the offense:

Rules regarding this:

I know a lot of you are mad at the decisions of those refs, but this post is not to be mad at or criticize them, it is to address the problems in the rules so these issues don’t happen again. Please be mature and constructive in your responses.


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Hey, I would also like to point out that the event had very loose decisions. For example, 1008M was wrongly scored in one of their matches as well. While 1008M faced some unlucky situations it shows that this years game will be a rough ride for both refs and students. I think that we should accept the relationship between student and ref and give both sides a chance to speak their side. For example, if any team (will use 1008M as an example) encounters a missed call, incorrect score, and or issue during the match the refs should be open to hearing their side. Refs should also know the rules of the game. Refs are volunteers committing their time and energy to the event so they should have some slack. Going back to the example if the ref and the team (1008M for example) still disagree at the end of their respectful argument the ref shall make the final call. This goes without saying refs and students must keep open and respectful minds during the conversation In total the vex community grows every day and so does the number of unfortunate events but instead of keeping a closed mind learn to open up and understand the issues faced on and of the field.

Side Note
I think many people may track this event to bo1 “hurts good teams” but we shouldn’t go to that extent without reason. Keep this thread kind and respectful.

-Tomas 375X

Without going into the issues with bo1, it looked like the expansion past the 18" limit from 1008M wasn’t match affecting, and it looked like the blue alliance committed a more serious infraction twice by knocking caps out of the field. I think most everyone can agree the disqualification was unwarranted. An idea that’s been thrown around on discord is some sort of live appeal process- if vex has the means to do this, it could really help with these kinds of problematic calls. If not, the referees should at least be required to read the rule book and watch the referee training videos, and they should be told by the EPs to listen to the students and read the relevant rules before making a decision. Especially so with a decision like this that greatly affects the outcome of the competition.

That said, I’d like to second the OP’s comment about the referees. I have a lot of respect for the volunteers who give their time to make vex competitions affordable and well run, thank you referees!

Yeah, this event wasn’t as tight as I would like to see an event be refed but whatever, the show must go on.


Before anyone comments blaming the new Best Of One (bo1) format and starting a new rant, I’d like to point out that this problem could have happened with the old Best Of Three (format) as well. To me, the issue, in this case, was a referee problem. Of course, that might seem obvious, but there are many nuances to this issue, some of which can be fixed, and more that can’t.

The Benton Tournament was one of few live-streamed events every year, and this issue most likely wouldn’t have become known unless it was streamed. (Great job to the EP btw) It goes to show how many potential referee mistakes happen at regionals across the world that affect the chances for teams to qualify. The solution here can’t just be to tell referees to “advise more caution”, but to take more action than a feeble attempt to enforce the existing rules.

We already have rules in place to allow students to talk through decisions to change referee’s minds on their decisions, but I personally have never seen a decision changed after a conversation between the refs and the students involved. The tight timing of match scheduling makes it impossible to carry out a productive discussion as well, and in some cases just ends up as a yelling match between students and referees in the heat of the moment.

It’s also impossible for students to challenge referee decisions due to another problem where referees are generally the highest level of authority at local tournaments. At worlds, in a high stakes match, a GDC member could be called to get an expert opinion on the situation, but this is impossible because the referees are regarded as the highest authority on the rules. The way the current system is set up, practically anyone can become a referee at a tournament, without reading a single rule. For example, last year, I attended a competition in March where the referees argued that a defensive auton was “intent to damage the mobile goals”, and therefore disqualified that alliance during semifinals. Many referees take the rules up to their own interpretation, and I think its VEX’s job to make sure the referees are able to do their jobs.

A proposed solution I’ve floated around in the Discord is what @Anomaly mentioned in his post, and would be to mandate the watching of referee training videos by referees. It isn’t perfectly enforceable but would still express an attempt to correct the issue.

This is a difficult problem to tackle, so I’d appreciate any effort taken to remedy the problem at hand. I look forward to seeing more solutions proposed.



I’ve been told a robot that was an inch off the ground overhanging a gray tile was touching the tile, and the other referee that came over when we disputed it said the first referee’s call was final and that sort of thing didn’t fly at states. (Which was funny because my teammate and I had both won states but the referee hadn’t even been.)

I’ve also heard that pulling up the game manual on your phone is a G1 violation and that the rule book’s definition of egregious as match affecting doesn’t apply to any sections of the rule book other than the one it’s written in.

I agree with your point that nobody is perfect and that it’s incredibly easy to become a referee, which is why some sort of higher authority might help with these sorts of concerns.

This is definitely an uninformed ref call and hopefully it won’t happen again. Still might be wise to invest in programming stoppers though

I do agree with you like everyone else that the DQ was unnecessary and not match effecting, but you could’ve avoided all of this by either adding a limit switch, encoder, or even a hard mechanical stop. Why leave it all on the drivers hand? Just my 2 cents.

To be fair, the expansion rule does have a lower standard in determining if it should be a DQ. Instead of match effecting, it uses “match interfering” which means expanding outside and then doing something (like togle a flag or block a shot) as a result of that expansion.

That being said, it is still clear 1008M’s violation was incredibly minor and in no way effected or even interfered with the match. No matter how hard you squint, there is no way they should have been disqualified.

In defense of the refs, it is difficult to watch 4 robots and maintain a consistent judging perspective. I appreciate all they do. I also agree with the posts that the robot can be programmed to prevent this type of infraction and I encourage all teams to use this strategy.

Team 1008M also faced instense scrutiny from the refs regarding any defensive play to the point that they quit utilizing it as their strategy after scoring their flags to prevent getting DQed. They were warned, but no counts were ever started as they were brief encounters as opposing teams were launching balls to descore 1008M alliance flags. This is going to be another area of referee interpretation and contention as last season. We saw huge differences in interpretation between NE, IA, SD, Open, and World referees. How can this be avoided so everyone can have a great new season?

One other thing, at no time during or after this quarter finals match was team 1008M notified that they violated the height rule and were being disqualified. They signed off on the 27-2 score with the referees on the field after the match-again with no mention of a DQ. Team 1008M was not notified of the DQ until it appeared on the results screen. I believe this could be handled better for the sake of our teams and kids.

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are the disc not counted as well? I noticed that as the refs put the discs back into the field that he put both red up. Outside the field I know I saw one was blue up. How is that counted in that case?


I’m always delighted to hear team members critiquing refs. That means there is a future volunteer supply of perfect referees with whom everyone will always agree. :slight_smile:

Anyway… bigger picture. What can be learned from this match to help other teams? Well, it seems that the DQ’ed team in this match was clobbering their opponent. They didn’t NEED to keep scoring… or at least not at the rate that they did. If an opponent pushes you to the point where you accidentally break a rule and get DQ’ed… well, good for your opponent. But to get DQ’ed playing against a much weaker alliance is an unforced error.

In BO1, once you have a solid lead… change your focus. It is no longer about winning as much as it is about not getting DQ’ed. Parked robots rarely commit fouls.

Boring, yes. But I’ll take a boring win over an exciting, dramatic DQ any day.


This is unacceptably sad. Teams shouldn’t constantly fear improper judgement so immensely that it begins to affect how they compete. The normalization of this mentality is just a testament to how widespread the issue is; now more than ever.

I’m not super familiar with this year’s game and didn’t realize that that was the violation at first, but I was still thinking that! “Huh, they better put a sensor on that to more easily and quickly bring it to the correct height. Well, I shouldn’t be too critical for this point in the season.” It’s definitely something that should be done, but not something I would expect out of most teams right now.

“No one is perfect” is a really bad excuse for serious and unnecessary mistakes. I find it acceptable when discussing things like missing shots or making mistakes in sports, but when it comes down to making decisions that have a reasonable amount of time to be made, it’s just an excuse to maintain the status quo. I like to have a growth/improvement mindset.

That’s right. There are some discretionary calls you can disagree with, but a call that is blatantly against the rule book when the referees were already biased against the team in question and had already miscounted one of their qualification matches is not an example of a small mistake that can be overlooked.

If nobody is perfect, refs or students, it seems like the bigger issue is bo1. Maybe the refs made a mistake in this particular instance, maybe you think it was justified in this one case, but bo1 is going to exacerbate these issues all season long.

In SG2 is says "Note: A Robot which interferes with gameplay as a result of violating this rule, such as Toggling a
High Flag or blocking a launched Ball while outside of the Expansion Zone, will result in a
Disqualification, whether the interference is Match Affecting or not.
Minor violations of this rule that do not affect or interfere with the Match will result in a warning.
Match Affecting offenses will result in a Disqualification. Teams that receive multiple warnings may
also receive a Disqualification at the Head Referee’s discretion. "

Although the red team did violate the expansion rule, at no point was this match affecting. According to SG2, there should only have been a warning issued because there was never an interference with gameplay and the robot never attempted to score any points while the arm was overextended. The driver corrected the arm before turning the flag to their color. Therefore, there is no way the violation caused any interference with gameplay and no way it could be match affecting because it was returned to a legal position before anymore points were scored.

Under <SG2>:

So basically bad refs.

Did they violate the expansion limit multiple times (maybe prior matches) and receive warnings for those? I know the OP says they were warned for almost doing so, but I can’t tell if that was in this match or prior ones.