Match spacing 3mins

We here in Vancouver are looking for some input on match spacing from other jurisdictions that have already run competitions. (Toronto? Houston? etc.)
We’ve got teams coming in from out of town whch means we can’t start earlier but our increased number of teams (approx 35) has increased contention for the fields. Time is at a premium.

We have a two field set-up and so can alternate fields but from an event and ref perspective we can’t overlap.

Lastly, Elevation seems to have an easier set-up and scoring regimin so change over should take less time than the Hangin-A-Round softballs or the mobile goals.

What spacing have you organizers (or participants) out there found to be successful? Can I get away with 3 min spacing?

On a related note… have you generally found 3 practice rounds and 4 qualification rounds sufficient? (we have previously run with 5 & 6 respectively)


Quick question, are you thinking about have 3min between each match or starting a match every 3min?

As far as number of rounds go I think more teams would rather have more qualification rounds than practice rounds. It’s nice to practice but you don’t want to be limited by only haveing 4 of your matchs count towards your score. I would suggest having the fields open in the morning during setup and inspection for teams to practice then that way you maximize your competition time.

A match every three mins. I.e. 40 seconds after a match finishes on one field we will start on the other one.

That is what we are doing. We generate a schedule for the practice period just to keep things orderly. If teams don’t use it or trade off their slots thats perfectly ok. Some teams need some runs (particularly this early in the season) others do not.

If you have support people for each field who while the other match is running reset the field and get the teams into position I think you could probably do a match every 3min. However if the refs are the people who have to reset the field hand out crystals and position teams I think that 3min would not be enough time. See what other people say and good luck with your competition.

I managed the field area for the Lab Rat’s Tournament in Baltimore on Nov 22. We had experienced (other VEX events, FTC and FRC) volunteers around the field in key positions, so they did have a good idea of how things had to flow and what had to happen. In my opinion, 3 minutes is way too tight. We ran 5 minutes, and that worked out about right. With a 3 minute turnaround, it would be very difficult to finalize scoring, clear the robots, reset the field, and get the new robots on the field, turned on and ready to go. You might get away with 4 minutes, but you may also burn out your volunteer staff around the field at that pace. If you rush too much, mistakes will be made that will cost you more time in the long run. Good luck with your event!

If you don’t have two refs for each field it could take a while. The head ref can take up to 1 minute or longer to score the match depending if a team is on the center platform. We ran with one field and it took approximately 6 minutes per match. We ran over 40 minutes (in quals) from the schedule that is posted on our website

If you have 35 teams, 4 rounds means that RP will determine most of the top standings.

My general advice is to time slot for every part of the competition except qualification (see our vex houston schedule) and then use your remaining time to determine how many qual rounds you will have

CC4H and I usually have this mini-debate before each tournament we jointly organize :slight_smile:

His suggestion of 6 minutes is a good plan. During the event I like to push in the direction of 5 min. With enough teams, at that pace, they don’t feel to stressed out and they get to have more qual matches. With a small number of teams at that pace they send too much time standing in line and don’t get enough pit time.

The punch line of this post is at its end - That is when I tell you that because of things you can’t control, it is not wise to plan to run matches much faster than 6 minutes.

In the Lab Rats tournament, in the morning, according to the other ref, we were about an hour behind schedule; but we really kicked into gear and made up all or almost all of that time during the middle of the day.

Here are my suggestions
Have a little bucket or tray for the 8 crystal pairs each field needs. Hand them out and collect them at the field. Giving them out and collecting them at another location doesn’t help anything.

Have a dedicated multi-person (two or four) queuing group that does a serious job of “whipping” the teams to the fields on time.

When the teams arrive at the field, a ref gives out crystals, reminds the teams to check their bot connections and check their transmitter connections, then has them put their bots on the field (transmitters and bots both turned off).

In parallel have a 3-person (an adult and a couple of students) resetting the field.

As soon as the other match finishes, turn on the transmitters, then turn on the bots carefully (doing it in that order means a student can carefully stop a run-away bot from wrecking havoc if it goes into auto prematurely (transmitter not plugged in correctly…)).

Often you can start a match seconds after the previous one ends…

We/Joshua had a total of two experienced refs (each “owned” one field), 3 field resetters, one announcer, CC4H and one student handling scoring and field “control”, and more than one queuer. When we got into a rhythm things hummed along very smoothly.

However, when a close call had to be discussed, or someone wandered off with a crystal, or a bot went into auto prematurely, or a team got to the field at the very last second, or… Things slowed down. Those are the things that push the average time up to 5-6 minutes per match. You have a very hard time preventing them.



At Toronto we ran with 4:00 match spacing with two fields. We had a very experienced crew across the board - scorekeepers, refs, organizers, and A/V. We scored a match AS the next match started. When that match finished, we announced the score of the previous match. Do not underestimate the time needed to announce the prior match scores, setup and announce the teams on the upcoming match, and checking for readiness of the crew and field prior to a match.

We ran with a 3:30 match spacing for practice matches, since we did not have refs do a fully verified scoring procedure.

We had 42 teams in attendance, ran 6 qualification matches per team, 1 practice match per team, and had to re-run 2 qualification matches.

At the end of the day, we finished the event 5 minutes early vs. what was scheduled.

I think 3:00 match spacing is too ambitious. Everything will have to run absolutely perfect, with no scoring disputes, minimal time to announce scores and teams, etc. Even then, the smart money will be that you’ll run late.


I captured a screenshot from our Tournament Manager Scheduling configuration in the Wizard.

Doors opened at 8am, and our awards ceremony ended at five minutes before 6pm.
Toronto Scheduling Params.jpg

I can’t speak to match spacing, but I can say that I’d rather stay late than be limited to four qualifying matches. Six is a minimum, and I’d like to see eight.

We’ll see how tough I talk when I have to run our tournament in March. :slight_smile: At least I get to see two other Elevation tournaments first.

“Real” matches generally take longer than 2:20, because after 20 seconds of autonomous, the refs have to score before the 2:00 can start. It’s not advisable to push the refs to score sloppily to get within the time frame. After the buzzer at the end of 2:00 r/c, a few seconds inevitably get lost between “time’s up” of one match and “3 2 1 go” of the next, even if scoring/set-up is happening on one field while the other is running a match, and unexpected complications introduce further potential delays. So 3:00 seems unrealistically tight.

Just a quick entry to thank everyone for your your informed and considered advice … both via the forum and directly via e-mail. Here is what we have elected to attempt.

We have cut back to two practice runs and moved them earlier in the day to give us more time for Qualification matches.

We set up two intervals of qualification matches with lunch in between as a buffer. The first interval (20 matches) is scheduled on 5 min spacing and the second (31 matches) on 4:30 spacing. This gives us 6 maches per team for the 34 participating teams.

Our field staffing will be 3 refs + two field assembly assistants covering the two fields with two more on queue & crystal management and two on game control.

Are we foolish?
I will report back to this thread after the event to let you all know how well it works.
Thank-you again for your input.

Sounds great hope your event runs smoothly.

Ok folks. We held our event yesterday. I promised I would report back. Here is how things went from a timing perspective.

First, an addendum to our stated plan. We actually ended up scheduling all qualifying matches on a 4:30 min spacing (rather than 5:00mins on the first interval and 4:30 on the second)

Also, an addendum to my field staffing description above. We separated our crystal/queue management volunteers, and gave our (now dedicated) queue manager four student volunteers … one for each field’s staging area and two as pit-runners.

I’ve attached a diagram of the field management sequence we used.

Welcome packages were distributed to each team containing P & Q match schedules. The pit was a separate room and a pit display was used to identify teams scheduled for upcoming matches (although wifi issues sometimes delayed the update of this display making it a less reliable information source than it might otherwise have been). We did not have radios.

Here is what happened.

Practice rounds started at 9am, were scheduled on a 5 min spacing and were running in parallel to tech inspection. This contention resulted in teams missing matches while they were queued for tech. but by swapping present teams into open slots on an ad-hoc basis we were able to get through 16 of 17 scheduled matches and virtually all teams got their two practice rounds in. By the end of P-time we were reliably holding to the 5 min interval. We ran 15 mins overtime which was our buffer before Q-match start.

Q-matches started on time (11:00am). It was tough to hold to schedule during early Q-matches largely due to exception handling. Regular game play was taking place on the 4:30 interval but if a scoring discussion or team miscue took place, it was difficult to make the time back up. We were about 20 mins behind mid-way through the first Q-match interval (an effective spacing of 6 min). By the end of that interval, however, we had made it back to about 10 mins behind (an aggregate effective spacing of 5:00mins and apparently some bursts of 3:30 min spacing).

We had a planned lunch of 30 mins. Game control only got 20 mins (recommendation: encourage fast eaters to volunteer for game control duty).

The second Q-match started on time (1:00pm) and we held true to schedule over the remaining 31 match interval. Game play cycle times were largely self regulating (i.e. they were driven by the pace of game play itself rather than with reference to an external schedule). Game delay incidents were self corrected by faster cycles that followed immediately after. ( It is, of course, difficult for the match sequence to advance ahead of the published schedule as start times are governed by teams continuing to arrive in accordance with their published deadline).

We were able to remove two volunteers from queue management shortly after this interval started. Teams knew the drill well enough that the queue manager and two staging volunteers could manage both staging and notification/retrieval of errant teams when necessary.

So far… so good. Then we did Alliance Selection. This was not a place I expected a schedule delay. We had allotted 20 mins. Teams in general and coaches individually had been briefed, specifically stressing that representatives should know the rankings and indentify potential partners in advance. Nevertheless, things bogged down.

Teams further down the roster (i.e. choosing 5th or 6th had prepared their selection lists ‘optimistically’ and so were unprepared for a situation in which their first choices were already leading an alliance or selected by someone else. The situation got worse when selecting the third alliance partner. It is easy to take note of the dominant players but substantially less easy to distinguish 20th place team from a 25th. Some Alliance Captains had great difficulty making a choice… largely because they suddenly found they needed to do so with insufficient information. Could they have figured it out? Sure. They could have made a ranked list and crossed others choices off as they made them but few did. A simple system change could also have helped. Teams displayed on the alliance selection screen as available for choice are ranked numerically rather than in Q-round result sequence. (and I will pursue this separately).

A few closing comments; perhaps obvious. Elimination rounds were conducted on an alternating field basis (i.e. match 1-1 on field one then match 2-1 on field two, then match 1-2 back on field 1) and so on. The elimination rounds took just over an hour.

Hope this helps
General Purpose Busybody - VVRC
2 Field Game Sequence.pdf (47.5 KB)

Actually, the system used to display teams in ranked order, but then teams complained that it was too hard to look at the list and tell if team X that they had on their list was still available. It’s a no-win situation, because teams who are prepared want to see the list in team order and teams who aren’t want to see it in ranked order.

In almost every VEX competition I’ve been to teams have not been prepared for alliance choosing. Not sure why but it always takes much more time than it should. For example at the VRC World Championship last year more than 10min just to explain the rules to 1 team, overall it took probably 30min to choose the alliances.

Anyways sounds like you ran a successful tournament.

It ***was ***an ***excellent ***tournament. You would have thought they had been doing it for five years, and they were even nice to our USAian minority. We had a great time.

It was a pretty amazing tournament. Lance put together a great team of volunteers who worked some real magic on organizing the teams and playing fields. Teams also deserve credit for being organized and getting to queueing on time. At one point in the afternoon we actually had to pause the competition for a bit because we were… gasp… two minutes AHEAD of schedule. This was cause for a rousing ovation from the crowd.

For those used to the FRC alliance selection process, where teams have had days to observe their fellow teams, and team members dedicated to the task of selecting potential alliance partners, it should come as no surprise that it is tough for a VEX team to be suddenly thrust into the spotlight. It might make sense to have a 30 second time limit for each choice, after which they are automatically assigned the next highest ranked available team as a partner.

But that’s for the future… this year was great!


Edit: P.S. Well, gosh, Rick… how could we not make such great guests feel welcome!

One of the great strengths of Vex is that teams are usually 4-8 people, which gives everyone a chance to contribute. On the other hand, when a Vex tournament is on the same day as a state-wide math competition, and a good third of your team is also on the math team… We found out how hard it is to scout with a 3-person drive team and only 3-4 students in attendance. I think next tournament I’m going to have parents collect scouting data and pass it to the teams for decision making. Parents need something to do other than driving cars and going for pizza…

A brief follow-up on the topic of alliance partner selection.
Having observed the alliance partner selection challenges we encountered at the VVRC event, the organizers of last weekend’s Vancouver Island VRC competition implemented some changes to the process.

There were 32 teams at the event. Eight positions were established in front of the bleachers, each one occupied by an alliance captain. Twenty four chairs were arranged facing them (and the audience). At each position, in rank order, was a team representative and their robot on the chair. Signs with team numbers were also taped to the chairs. As teams were selected into alliances, their representative (with their robot) crossed the floor to their chosen alliance.

I know this is not rocket science…It’s the same basic process we used at school when we chose teams at recess but the alliance captains had the visual cue of both a team member and, probably more importantly, the robot, to prompt them when choosing and selection went MUCH more smoothly than it had at the earlier event.

The process, obviously, wouldn’t work for really large events but I suspect it could be adapted for use at events as large as 40 teams.
For what its worth…