Great competitions - Volunteers needed!

There is a lot of talk about competitions and how to make them better. Two team or three team? BO1 or BO3? VEX or FRC??? One qualification more or less?

If each team could provide a couple of volunteers for me to use I cannot express how amazing my events would be. We could run multiple field sets, doubling the number of qualifications, which would mitigate those crazy things that happen from time to time. With multiple field sets you could cut the time to do eliminations in half as well, making BO3 more palatable.

The reason for BO1 instead of BO3 is a logistical one. This season has been set. If you really want BO3 to come back you need to help flood events with volunteers. If I was flooded with volunteers (also for setup and takedown) every event could have 10 Qualifications and BO5. For me, it is really just a matter of help.

This is a community. If you are just paying your fees and not helping recruit volunteers you are an important part of our community, but you also need to step it up. If you want awesome events we need a hand.

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I’d be willing to volunteer every single weekend if it would mean I could get 10 qual matches and bo5 :slight_smile:

This is a really good point!

I can’t imagine being a spectator having to sit through the #1 seed playing the #8 seed in a BO5.

It drags on and it’s awful.

The 16 seed BO3 at the US Open was unbearable. So slow. Even if my 15 seed and 10th seed made some good upsets

I would just like to point out that a flood of volunteers doesn’t automatically mean that you can play a huge number of matches. At competitions which I have been to that were hosted by Framingham and @lacsap they had three fields and finished setting up each field within one match so that everyone was ready for the next match long before it started. Things flowed very well but we still could never have fit 10 qual matches and BO5 elims although there were plenty of volunteers and there was never a stop in the action.
The only way that you can really get to the level that you are suggesting is by having multiple days of competition, having a very small competition, or overlapping matches so you have multiple playing at once which I have never seen done in the same division and is not a good way to encourage match scouting and more.

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Thanks! Yes we run a tight ship. In this game, we could do field resets quickly and do a 3 minute match cycle to get 10 QM per team at a 48 team event. The QM would run from 9:45 to 3:45 - then we would have to run eliminations until end of event… Long day with Bo1 and even longer B03.

As Alex mentioned - going Bo5 would likely mean a two day event.

I think @sankeydd was joking about the BO5. I believe his point was simply that if we get more volunteers to help run these events, the conditions will improve by a lot. That is a great way to attempt to get BO3 back.

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Agreed - I think Alex has a good point about well resourced events, it is difficult to do things well on both ends - getting a lot of qualifying matches in and have more than Bo1 – note, I am not saying it is impossible, but this is one of those tradeoff situation. If we did everything, events would not end until really late, or spill into a second day - which not many EPs can do routinely due to facility/volunteer availability.

btw if anyone has an in for roadies to do event tear downs in Massachusetts - I am all ears :slight_smile:

@lacsap I think what the OP meant is if 2 fields could be running matches side by side, the time per match would decrease greatly. With enough fields and volunteers to reset everything, 2 matches could be played every 3 minutes. With 48 teams as you mentioned (which is quite a large qualifier to be fair), it would take 12 qualification matches for each team to play once, which would take just 18 minutes. This means for every team to play 10 qual matches, it would take just 180 minutes, or 3 hours. Adding an hour and a half for lunch and alliance selection (much more than is normal), we’re up to 4.5 hours without elims. Then, with a bo3 R16, QF, and SF bracket, and a bo5 final, assuming every single group of matches goes to the maximum number, there would be 24 r16 matches, 12 QF matches, and 6 SF matches, for a total of 42 matches and 63 minutes (just about an hour). Finals matches cannot be played on different fields, but even with 5 finals matches, it would take just 15 more minutes. That means the tournament in total would take under 6 hours. You arrive at 8 AM (later than normal), run check in and inspection for 2 hours (much longer than normal), and the whole tournament is over before 4 PM (much earlier than normal). Instead of 7-5 or 7-6, your tournament is now 8-4.

Now, are there downsides to this? Absolutely. A mentor with several teams could have 2 teams competing at once. We would need 4 fields instead of 3 and 2 head refs instead of 1. It would also give teams just 16 minutes between matches instead of the usual 20 or 30 minutes. And yeah, there would need to be a lot more volunteers.

That said, the benefits are massive and undeniable. @536Mentor you can’t imagine sitting through a 1v16 bracket with more than 1 match? Imagine sleeping in an extra hour and getting an extra 2 to joyride or hang out with your family before dinner. If the tournament had 32 teams and lunch didn’t take so long, you could squeeze out another hour. And as an added bonus you would be a lot more certain the best team won. Which apparently isn’t a goal of vex but is always nice to know. :slight_smile:

@OscarMNOVA12 with respect, if you hate watching legendary teams compete, maybe you shouldn’t be an EP. As a student though, the US Open elims were absolutely spectacular. I got the chance to face 185A and 400X in NBN, watch 185A vs 974X, watch the hyped 60X fall in quarterfinals, and just see some spectacular game play all around. The Us Open Elim bracket was hands down the most fun I’ve ever had at a competition I knew I had no shot to win. Maybe to you it’s boring, but 2016 Us Open day 3 was one of the best days of my life.

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Side by side could be hacked with TM - BUT, really puts a strain on operations and not to mention adds difficulties for teams to scout during the day. It is a classic “mythical man month” situation where it looks good on paper, but the reality is different.

btw we have four fields set up (you know that skills field…)

also - we do not break for lunch - we have food for pretty much everyone - stopping for lunch throws everyone’s groove off.

I haven’t attended an event that used multiple field sets, but this the main way that you can get matches done in a short time. It’s like having “divisions” but everyone is in the same division and you could have to go to either field set depending on your match. You would have 2-3 fields for set “A” and 2-3 fields for set “B.” They can’t be right next to each other but could be on opposite ends of a big gym.

The even qualifications are at set “A” and the odd ones are at set “B.” Both sets run independently so you are running multiple matches at the same time, i.e. Q1 at “A” and Q2 at “B”, then Q3 at “A” and Q4 at “B”, etc… Once you get to eliminations you could run the left side of the bracket at set “A” and the right side at set “B.” Once you get to the finals then you gotta pick which set you are at. (You can get more creative with the scheduling…)

Essentially, it cuts the time for qualification matches in half, or it doubles the number of matches you get, or most likely something in between… So 10 matches instead of 6 in about 70% of the time.

You would need 2-3 more fields depending on how you are doing it and more volunteers to run the additional field set. You would need the space as well, computers, monitors, etc…

I’m not saying it would be easy, but this functionality is built into Tournament Manager.

If 4-5 of the teams offered to bring a field and the rest of the teams offered to bring a referee… From my point of view as an event partner, this would be a no-brainer even though it would be pretty tight in my venue.

It’s not going to happen overnight, or probably anytime soon, but reach out to your local event partners and say the magic words, “What can I do to help?”

I’m not sure what it means to “put strain on operations,” but with double the qual matches scouting is exactly the same. If each team plays 5 matches on a field or if they play 10 matches on 2 fields, it’s equally easy to scout them. Just watch one field and take notes on 5 matches.

If you don’t break for lunch, you save even more time. Either way it’s not really relevant.


I recommend you volunteer at events this season to understand what the operational side of the equation is… when I say volunteer, I mean from setup to teardown. Those of us who have done it, understand the implications of “strain on operations”…

Whoa, please curb the personal attacks. I’ve volunteered twice, both times my feet were a bit sore but it wasn’t too stressful or fast paced. The people that seemed to be the most busy were the competitors.

I completely understand this. My first 3 tournaments were IQ… And then there was VRC… And I got an education. And I’m still apologizing to my RECF Rep. Glad he was there to help me out.

I don’t do awards until the fields are torn down. Some of my worst memories of events are the teams that would pack their stuff up and just sit and watch us tear down the fields… And if they all helped we would have been done in less than 5 minutes. Tear down of a VRC tournament is the worst, especially knowing how quickly it would go if everyone would just help.

If we could get to the point where the teams would just bring the fields, and each just tore down their own, I can’t express how awesome that would be.

I’ve only been doing this for three years, and I’ve never had the opportunity to compete. I am taking it all in and I want to provide the best experience possible, from top to bottom.

For my IQ events, parents and kids tear everything down… So after finals I spend a few minutes looking at the computer finalizing things, and then when I look up it’s all gone. I know it’s not going to happen tomorrow, but I have spoken with a few EPs who did the “whole package” and are trying to get away from the model because it’s just too much stress and work for one person. The idea of showing up with a big trailer with fields and computers and everything you’ll need sounds like it’s a better way to go, but from what I have heard it’s completely unsatisfying from the point of view of the EP. I would be interested in hearing from more people who do this.

Volunteers aren’t necessarily “busy,” you don’t want them to be too busy or too bored. But when you are just reffing matches for 8 hours you get to a point where you can’t add 1 and 1 anymore… And the kids are arguing with you… And then the teardown… And you want to volunteer again???

Lots of good thoughts, I do appreciate them. Keep it good.

For IQ we do teardown while I work on final numbers and awards. I need to think of that for VRC since that teardown takes a long time. One thing on VRC is I have a set way to take the fields down that makes it super easy to set up the next time. I lent a field out and it came back in pieces like it was fresh out of the box :-(.

For 2018 the registration for the Delmarva Champs is money plus two people per team, one on Friday from 3-5 to set up and one from 4-6 to tear down. To be honest I think if I have 48 people to tear down, I can do that in < 45 mins. (We are on the second floor of a building so most of that time will be standing waiting for the elevators to run)

I don’t know if I’d go for B05, I do love the concept of round robin for the top teams and then doing a B03 at the finals. (That gently sobbing sound you hear is from @Dave Flowerday, one of the key people that make the amazing TM program that makes the events possible. TM is what gives the Event Partners the ability to do crazy stuff like run two matches with no wait time, divisions, etc.)

Or a format like the NCAA Basketball where some of the lower placed teams would need to do a preliminary set of matches to get into the big dance. So teams 6-12 would play off then get into the mix with the 1-5 teams. Less crush vs seeing the 1 vs 16 match up. (More sobs from Dave?)

Not meant as a personal attack. Seriously. Just a perspective to have from running and volunteering at many events. Trust me, when it gets down to just four people doing the tear down, you have a much deeper understanding about operational side of the equation. As for competitors being busy, I do not doubt it… It is a different cognitive and physical load to bear.

yup I had that happen to me too - still, the roadies that event had provided curbside service and loaded my car. I can live with reassembling field perimeter sections :slight_smile:

We went to an ITZ competition where they were tearing down the fields while we were playing our finals matches and tore down the field behind us as we got handed (quickly, with little fanfare) the award for winning. We were doing the best we’d ever done and were very proud, but it truly felt like the EP just wanted us out of there - they rushed through the end so fast it made it a bit depressing. When they started teardown many of the teams left; I’m not sure some even realized that finals hadn’t been run yet, much less awards not presented. They literally collected chairs from behind people standing up to see the last few matches so they could stack them away.

Interesting about helping with field teardown - events we’ve gone to have never seemed interested in assistance with that and have never asked for it, and it never occurred to me they’d want random people coming up and jumping in… We’d be happy to help, but without knowing the system in place I can see it being a bit difficult to know what is helpful. Do you put boxes on the side for people to put parts in? Is there someone easy to find and approach directing aide? Is it obvious how to take down the field itself, and do most people take it all the way down and pull all tiles apart? For TP, do you think most people will just leave the platforms and flag lines whole and set them aside?

If they gave a discount on buying a field with the requirement that you must volunteer it for use
at least 2 times or something (and personally set up and tear down), we’d totally be interested in doing that! We are just using a wood perimeter because it works well enough and saved some $700…