How many matches are too many matches

Yesterday ran the Delmarva Championship. Two 24 team divisions, 4 fields in each division, sub 2 min turn times gave each team 12 qualification plays. Teams needed to do battery management (all teams had one robot battery) and charge their controllers for 15 mins across the day. Lots of excitement, activity, pressure, no boredom, eat on the fly cause you are up soon. Villanova Wildcats on the screen in the cafeteria as an escape for parents.

Of course we started late, so the sub 2 mins turned to 1 min turns to catch up.

We made it to the end, 15 mins late.

Ran EVERYONE through finals. We did “shotgun” starts until the last four teams, then one at a time to see if the next team could beat the high score. (Awards to the top 5 teams, plus 4 judged awards, ended the day 9 mins late).

Teams played 12 + 1 matches. in ~6 hours.

Parents were annoyed “Too many matches”. Roboteers “Can we play some more?”

I’ve been to events where they play 6-7 matches in the same time. It’s competition robotics, lets compete, lets play. I left FRC since it was 6 plays for most teams for $4000. Here you got 13 plays for $20, beat that price at Chuck-E-Cheese.

So the question is “How many matches is too many matches and why?”

1 Like

12 is the sweet spot I think.

At middle FL we had 62 teams with 5 fields at the same time and ran 8 matches per team and took about 5 hours. (We did skills and STEM in the morning.) We were running middle VRC in the same venue so I don’t think that we could have fit more fields, which would have been necessary to run more matches. Teams were traveling pretty far (5 hours for some) and we started at 9, so didn’t want to run too late. I think most kids were happy with the number of matches.

I do 6 or 8 matches at my tournaments and usually finish finals by 2. I like a fast pace as well. KNOCK EM OUT!!!

I am also surprised that your state championship is so late in the year…???

1 Like

I vote for 8 so you get the 2 lowest dropped. Seems like plenty, unless you want to drop in a practice round.

I ran 3 robot skills, 3 programming skills, and 8 teamwork matches at our state championships. Ran 3 fields each at 1:45 match turnover (with our actual match turnover being closer to 1:20-1:30.

@Ben_Mitchell. How many teams? I like 12 matches since that drops the bottom 3 off and gives scores for 9. It also tends to help more with the “luck of the matches” comments.

I had 24 elementary and 28 middle school.

Including skills, each team had 14 times running a match, which seems like a lot. I think 12 each (which would make it 18 including skills) would have been a longer day that I would prefer and kids would start getting burned out by the end.

I haven’t gotten any feedback that we did not have enough matches. I think the dropping of the lowest match every 4 helps a lot in mitigating complaints about the match schedule.

A tournament day from 8:00 am set up to 2:30 is long enough for my students and parents. This usually means eight matches, plus three skills and autonomous with finals. If all the teams can make finals and we finish by 2:30 great otherwise I would prefer events to put the top 12-16 teams into finals matches. My students start to slow down after six hours of competing. Tournaments that run past three pm (and that opened the doors at 8 am) are not as much fun.

Ok, so that’s 12-13 matches for a robot at your events. That makes sense. Do you have a way to make sure you get the most efficient use of your skills fields?

@Kinnama – I agree, it’s a long day, they are tired when they leave. I’m thinking of running Skills Nights next year kind of like a league, drop in do your skills runs and you can go.

IMO 12 is too much. Not because of the number of matches, but simply because of the necessary pace. It leaves little to no time for teamwork practice matches and no chance to run skills.
Especially when you only have 24 teams (your division size), you are at 20-25 minutes average between matches. Some tighter, some with more time in between. If you subtract the time you keep the teams in the queue (and you need a reasonable queue for such a pace), the time of the match and the time for the setup, score assesment and confirmation (which is longer than your cycle time, since you have to pipeline them for such a pace), you’re close to 10 minutes between matches. Now, you might have handled skills better, but most tournaments have a line for skills, some even requesting robot (not only a student) present in the line all the time. 6 skills runs? No way! STEM research, design interview? Yes, you can squeeze them in if your TM is well versed and can handle doing matches out of order (we have done it), but it still has an impact on the other team that waited in the queue.

So bringing this back up. Did a VRC today event with 16 teams and pretty quick turn times. My VIQ event is coming up again. I’m thinking of 1 hour on 20 mins off then 1 hour on (lather rinse repeat). I want to dance on the line of “I’m bored, nothing to do” and “I want to make this change to the robot”


As a coach I like 6-8 matches with 15-minute pacing because it keeps everyone engaged. Too many qual matches seems unnecessary and takes time away from Skills.

1 Like

That would also be our experience, we start losing enthusiasm after 8 matches. The students pick up additional time on the field with skills challenge runs.

I’d love to get double digit quals, but I’ve only had 6 at most.

For me. at the IQ events I have ran, observed or judged, 8 seems to be the sweet spot. It allows for 2 dropped scores, and is enough to differentiate the teams. It also gives a reasonable pace and early ending time, particularly for elementary students. 12 seems too many for me. We don’t typically run lunch breaks, although with IQ, it is not a bad idea. We get them in, get them out, tear down and go home. We typically have doors open at 7:30am, allow inspected teams to run skills on ALL fields until the driver’s meeting. Then they can their remaining skills runs in until the end of the qualifying matches.

1 Like

The argument I’ve had for years is to switch to flexible qualification matches. Professional chess, speech and debate, even Magic The Gathering tournaments use these qualifications. The basic idea is you are matched against robots with similar records to your own, meaning the stronger robots quickly rise to the top. If you’re a less competitive team who’s just happy to have a robot that can move and flip caps, you’ll be matched against similarly competitive teams. You can make friends, make memes, and work your way up. If you’re a team that’s spent the last 6 months perfecting a 0.2 second triple shot, you’ll get to practice with and against other top teams all day, and you’ll get much better practice and experience.

And it gets better. This system has a built in tie breaker since each team’s early qualification matches are more reflective of their real performance than their latest ones. For example, a team that goes 5-0, beating other undefeated teams all day, and then finally loses to another 5-0 team, is stronger than a team that loses their first match and then gets to face other teams that have lost a match all day. This tie breaker would serve as the “level 1” tie breaker, meaning autonomous wins could serve as the “level 2” tie breaker, and the ever scrutinized SPs would be basically irrelevant.

Tired of weak robots being carried to first place only to be declined by every robot in the top 16 and ruin the bracket? Tired of having the strongest robot at the event and going 4-2 because you get 2 v 1ed in half your matches? Tired of rushing to play 12 qualification matches? This solves it all.

And to my knowledge, this system has literally no disadvantages. It makes the experience better for everyone there, it takes less time to run events (and maybe even carves out some time for bo3 in finals o.O), it doesn’t need nearly as many qualification matches to get a roughly accurate distribution of team’s ability after quals, it’s less stressful and more educational because teams are less likely to mass-decline potential alliance captains, and it’s just really cool.

Maybe it’ll ship in 8 weeks :stuck_out_tongue:

@Anomaly You’ve mentioned this a few times and I think it’s an interesting idea to try. Only issues are match schedules are dependent on the prior rounds so queues would be hard on small events. (On bigger events TM would know winner / losers from early matches in the prior round and be able to schedule robots)

Maybe in their spare time the TM team can program that up as an option. (Huge Smile)

Speaking of declines, I ran a 16 team event on the 23rd and there were 5 declines in alliance selection. I’ve never seen so many, even in a huge event.

1 Like

Back in freshman year, I was 10-0 at US Open but I really should have been 7-3 or so. We were solid, but there were easily 15 teams in the division stronger than us. I personally was declined 5 times :stuck_out_tongue:

You’re right about small tournaments though.: the TM would need to be snappy. However, since you would only need 4-5 qualification matches to get a more representative stratification of teams than the 8 or 10 matches at a normal regional tournament, and since a little down time might even be good for under prepared teams, flexible qualifications still seem better.

1 Like

I appreciate your thoughts. And yes. part of me understands your proposal. Two things, however.
One, this is a discussion about IQ not VRC. So your proposal really doesn’t fit here. There is NO alliance selection.
Two, regarding your proposal, it has its merits, however it has several drawbacks. First, it would be very confusing to the audience, particularly those who set their viewing schedule according to the published match schedule. Two, to me, if you have done a good job scouting, this is unnecessary.
Also, in my opinion, it doesn’t solve the following problem. Since you stated that the early qualification matches are more reflective of a team’s real performance, what about the case of the best robot having a mechanical issue or two in early matches. They become doomed to be out of the top group, even if by the end of the day they have solved their issue and are beating everyone. Or conversely, a good robot has a major breakdown in their final match that they can not adequately fix by the end of qualification. NO system has NO disadvantages, particularly one that a) depends competing with another robot and b) not every robot faces every other robot.

Oof, I didn’t even see that this is an IQ thread. You’re absolutely right.

Anyhow, to be totally honest, I think the audience would have a way better time watching these matches. If you’re the parent of a not-super-competitive team, it’s really fun to watch your kids have a good time, and it sucks to watch them be lit up by a powerhouse opponent every match. And vice versa- a more competitive team’s parents will be a lot more interested in exciting matches that challenge their kids than in 45-0 blowouts.

I suppose the best robot could have a mechanical issue in it’s first match, but with white screening, blown ports, and all the other lovely issues with v5, any robot can have any issue at any time. (If you don’t believe me, go watch the google stream in QF 1-1.) With all the insane defense and v5 bases in this game, robots should malfunction more towards the end of qualifications if anything.

If a robot breaks down at the end of qualifications, no system will allow them to do well in eliminations. That’s on the robot, not the system :slight_smile:

Anyhow, since this discussion is ultimately not relevant to the OP, I should probably start a new thread. Sorry for the clutter!