Matches Determined at Random

After thinking about this concept, I have decided to make a bold prediction: At world finals and other competitions with high-performance robots, the matches will be determined at random. I am seeing a lot of design convergence this year, specifically a claw with prongs under it to hold large numbers of stars. If these robots are well built, they preform nearly identical. As we know, the stars are thrown back and forth during the match, so the winner will be determined by whoever threw the last set of stars, as they would have less stars on their side and more on the other side. One batch of 4 stars is worth at least an 8 point sway which is a huge difference in a match. What are your thoughts? Do you agree?

I disagree.

I think that there is less design convergence this year than there is last year, as last year there were flywheels and linear punchers. This year, you have claws, forklifts, claw forklift hybrids, even some pushbots and side rollers.

I very much doubt that matches will be decided at random, rather, by autonomous. If a small lead in auton can be maintained throughout the course of a match, that team will win.

However, the third match at world finals last year, both alliances attempted a high lift. Only one worked, the other destroyed itself. If they both had worked, the winning alliance would have won by 1 point in a game where scores were in the high 300s.

Ever since the beginning of the year, i though of starstruck as a game of robot hot potato, where whoever through some objects last would win. In terms of design convergence, no matter what design it is the max star toss that is reasonable is 6-8, so whatever design it is the maximum performance seems to reach a peak. Gathering more than 6 stars is extremely impractical in a match, and high preforming robots will have similar star capacity and “throwing” times.

I’ll ignore the cubes, because they’re bigger and heavier and complicate everything.

24 stars = 12 stars per side in an even game, most likely evenly distributed (or at least, not all clumped together).

It’s absurd to think that a robot can clear half of its field in one quick dump. No claw as of now can cover half the field in one actuation, afaik.

Let’s assume that a claw can gather every star within the half circle in front of it with radius equal to the length of one of its claw arms.

Arm length = 24 in (12.5 in channel with 12.5 in flipout)
Area of half circle = (pi*(2 ft)^2)/2= 4pi = 6.28 ft^2
Area of one side of field = 612 = 72 ft^2
Average stars collected in one actuation = 6.28/72
12 = 1.05 stars

This is obviously flawed, as drivers will move their robots to areas of highest star density, but it’s unlikely that you would ever get to 6 times that many stars in an even match without taking a significant amount of time.

By driving forward, the area of stars you grab increases, and the stars within the range of your claw increases. When you throw the stars over, the stars stay generally clumped together, which makes it easier to pick them up in groups. Its a back and forth game of hot potato, and the results will be like hot potato. Whoever has the potato at the end of the match will lose.

So what if a robot was designed such that they scattered the stars as they fell out of the robot? I’m sure good teams could figure out something between launch velocity and a simple mechanism. Would that eliminate the “hot potato”-esque nature of the game?

Also, strategies will evolve to eliminate this “hot potato”-esqueness. If a robot can dump 8 stars in one dump, why don’t they just wait for all the stars to go to their side, then dump 16? I’ll assume that all objects are equally near and far, to eliminate that, too. 16 stars vs 8 stars is a 12 pt advantage (half near and half far), enough to offset a hang.

Also, autonomous will be huge. A winning autonomous will not only give an advantage in objects in the game, but also a 4 point deficit the other side has to overcome. And given some of the current autons, auto field clear with synchronized bots isn’t out of the question (cube + corner star + preload, with corner star + preload + 3 center stars).

First, objects generally spread a bit when thrown. Second, I could definitely see teams gathering stacks of 8 in ideal throwing position while volleying other objects back and forth. If stars are well-positioned, they can be dumped in about 3 seconds. If two teams on one alliance do this, are they not almost guaranteed the win, given that all other things are equal?

I would have to say that design convergence this year has not been nearly as bad as in years past, especially in NBN. Last year we saw single flywheels, double flywheels and the occasional puncher as the only designs that could really hold their own. This year however, we are seeing claws, claw dumpers, dumpers, catapults all of which have different arms and drives. Even just in the claw design, there’s a million different designs of claw out there, some that work better than others.
Getting to the second part, I don’t think that matches will be random, this year even the smallest skill gap between alliances becomes very evident only 30 seconds into the match, and sometimes the occasional super exciting match you described where whoever gets the last match load wins. But I wouldn’t go so far to say that matches will be as close as you described. It’s all gonna depend on who’s playing who, and more importantly driver skill as well as how good an alliance’s autonomous routine is.

Vex U :wink:

But seriously I think at the middle/high school level teams robots will have similar quality however different speed/quantity (of stars) ratio. If a team can pull out a lead decent lead in autonomi (maybe about 6) they should be able to hold that lead and with the autonomous bonus should win. However as mentioned above driver skill is incredibly important this year. The decision of when to block and when to attack is something I’m seeing a lot of the younger UK teams struggling with for instance. Anyway it is very hard to judge but i doubt it will be random. You will find teams that win their matches because they have that perfect balance of speed/capacity/driver skill and autonomous.

I’m interested to hear your opinion on this topic in a Vex U context.

Yes, it’s weird how this year, matches that I think are going to be close end up with one side emptied because that alliance was slightly faster and their advantage built up. cameron I hope you’re right because that would be all the more exciting, but I think there will be a standout alliance.

Exactly, if one alliance falls behind it will take a very good robot just to keep up with the other alliance, if one side manages to bury the other, even during just auton. It’s possible to “win” a match before driver control even starts.

Excellent points, I agree with your points on design convergence, I just meant that it’s less egregious than last year. It certainly does exist however. I think the interesting part is hang mechanisms in this game and how people incorporate that into their designs.

The problem I see with hanging, especially in a very back-and-forth match, is that you are leaving your side of the field open to your opponents while your partner is alone to score back or play defense. This is a game where you have to make the last move to win a close match - but it’s also possible to make a 12-point swing in the last few seconds of a match (a cube and a couple stars from one far zone to the other, for instance.

In high level play hanging will be useless, so lets ignore that. Designs are all pretty similar but there are a few key differences.

  1. Cycle Time
    All high level robots have wildly different cycle times depending on gearing, motors, and rubber bands.
  2. Distance
    Robots either throw stars to the fence, middle, and far. This can have a large effect on the opposing teams driving, scoring, and maneuverability.
  3. Driving
    The skill of the driver will have a large effect on the alliances ability to score stars in fast high level competition. You can see this in the NBN world finals.
  4. Consistency
    This will make or break an alliance. Even the slightest mishap in this game can destroy an alliance. This can also be seen in the NBN world finals.

Basically, to win the game, per cycle, you have to score more than the other team. If you have watched a Wisconsin finals match , they lost because they could not keep up with the other alliance in terms of score per cycle.