One more reason to love BO3 (and other things that could make VRC less stressful)

I don’t know about others, but I find it tiring to read through all these “justice” and “fairness” threads lately.

Yes, those are important topics to discuss, but they seem to turn quickly into @Foster vs “Discord” and @Anomaly et al. vs “establishment bureaucracy” spectacles, which I don’t find amusing. @sazrocks summarized the mood pretty well here:

You can substitute @Foster with the name of your most favorite or most hated EP or replace @Anomaly with any other student practicing his/her fighting for the social justice skills in the VRC sand-boxed environment.

It is great that we let students to practice their debate skills but, in my opinion, it is mostly wasting a lot of everyone’s time and attention that could, instead, be spent on solving technical problems.

However, it would be a mistake to blame students (@Anomaly) for stirring the controversy. Had it not be him, it would be somebody else creating similar topics at comparable rate.

My reading on this is that it is mostly switch to BO1 that created a lot of negative potential. Coincidentally, Worlds spots are now scarcer (proportionally) and, as a result, it is now more desirable to qualify and earn awards there. Combined theses two create an increased difference between upside and downside potentials. And the amount of hard work and resources expanded by each team to win would now correlate even less with the predicted/desirable result.

No wonder that everyone is now more anxious and keeps freaking out over the issues that would seem minor just a year ago.

RECF officials must have noticed that they (@DanMantz) are spending more and more time entangled with this type of issues. They may hope that it all will fade away as the current class of senior competitors will graduate out of the program. Their reasoning might be that the younger competitors, who have never tasted the more relaxed environment of BO3, will not complain as much.

Unfortunately, I must disagree, but if anyone has a good counter-argument, please, prove me wrong.


I think that there was some major changes that got to the Worlds spots being more scarcer. The Worlds Skills made a difference. Changes to counting actual teams vs fake teams. The addition of Signature events that moved a number of slots to those events.

B01 only changed the outcomes of some of that. So it’s not the catalyst.

I think that the B01 change was a surprise to people at Worlds last year. People don’t like surprises.

I think that it will face additional heat in a few weeks when people start posting about how their V5 system failed. For most people this hasn’t been their best season with VEX.

But as with all things, time will pass and things will be forgotten…


V5 is pretty robust all things considered. Like with any system, it is good to know what the weak spots and figure out how to maximize the performance for the application. No system is perfect.


It’s been my experience that complaining is contagious. So if new students are on the forums this year they already have the bug. There is always something about which to complain.


If you run the numbers on the odds of a strong team winning BO3 vs BO1, it doesn’t turn out too terribly different. The worst difference is a theoretical 9% difference at chance of winning = ~79%.


V5 seems to disconnect more frequently, and it also suffers from the white screen of death and random motor and wire blowouts. Overall it’s just a lot more buggy than the cortex system.

But the bigger issue for me is the randomness that is out of anyone’s control and has nothing to do with v5. Drivers choke, chains snap, cables get yoinked, refs make unfair DQ calls, robots flip, and Murphy’s Law is otherwise obeyed. In a bo3 setup, there’s just a little more wiggle room for these kinds of anomalous issues, and it takes stress off spectators with kids in elims and makes everything more educational for the students. A “reverse sweep” where the alliance that loses match 1 comes back to win matches 2 and 3 statistically happened about 11% of the time in finals matches with 2 team alliances, and it’s even more common at states, nationals, and worlds.

The scarcity of worlds spots is a subpoint of this IMO. It’s slightly worse to get 10 worlds spots than 12 worlds spots, but it’s MUCH worse to get 10 worlds spots when top teams can basically lose the spots they deserve at random.

At Nats / Create, the losing alliance in Finals 1 ended up winning the tournament for the second year in a row. To me, this makes it pretty clear that bo3 does not “almost always” produce the same results as bo1, as Paul Copioli claimed last season.

Some of us have made poorly supported claims that the status quo is perfect and anyone who suggests anything different is being disrespectful. But no matter who tries to bully or silence who, the added stress of bo1 contributes to the controversy that surrounds it. I’m going to compete for the last time in 19 days, but there is going to be someone who takes my place, and when they graduate, there will be someone to take their place. There aren’t many competitors who like bo1, and that’s never going to change.


@Foster, I am not saying that BO1 contributed to Worlds spots being scarcer. In fact, I agree with many of your points and I really like some of the recent changes like the addition of the Signature Events.

What I am saying, is that with BO1 students are scared that all their hard work over the entire season could be negated by one unfortunate event, regardless if it is in or out of their control. Whether the probability of such even is statistically significant or not - the fear and associated anxiety is very much real and significant.

This creates a large gap between perceived upside and downside potential. And when there is an increased difference in potentials, it allows a lot of energy to flow into the system. Some of that energy could be used in constructive ways, and some could end up damaging the system.

After reading recent threads one could consider @Foster and @Anomaly to be at the completely opposite sides of the discussion. But for some weird reason, I couldn’t get an image off my mind of Anomaly growing into Foster 2.0 with both being very passionate about what they are doing and willing to easily take up on a mission to help others.

I find it very unfortunate that we are in the situation where changes made by RECF ended up driving a wedge between people, instead of facilitating constructive cooperation.

I don’t read Discord regularly. I peek into it every once in a while and find there usual teen talk trying to show off themselves being brave and confident. However, behind that talk I see a lot of wariness and anxiety, and BO1 contributes a lot to that. Some of the members may trash talk Foster or other EPs for defending BO1, but I bet they secretly admire him for taking on RECF in his sometimes opinionated posts.



I might volunteer after this year but I’m not going to ever feel the need to blindly defend the RECF. I’m sorry, but I really disagree with this.


@technik3k didn’t mention blindly defending the RECF. It looks to me like he sees you being passionate about VEX (or whatever else) and helping others. :smiley: Seems like a compliment to me :man_shrugging:


While you make a good point, I think many people in the discord don’t like several of the mentors on this forum for less obvious reasons. While at face value, it looks like it is because we’re in disagreement, I think a much larger part is how arguments are framed. To use Foster as an example, many of his arguments are based on the point. “I have hosted events and been an EP since 2006, therefore, I know better,” or something of that nature. While not necessarily false, this argument only serves to alienate many of the students on the other side of the arguments. Additionally, though this may not be the intention, it comes across as condescending and pretentious.

However, you’re base point I definitely agree with.


I’ve seen Foster talking to RECF reps many times in a very animated manner. Even from a distance it is anything but “blindly defending RECF” as you imply.

Also, if you don’t like my future speculative tense, I could restate my conjecture in the past-hypothetical:

Had Foster been a teenager doing VRC, he would have been a perfect fit for the Discord crowd and would not only have been loved by them as a captain of one of the highest achieving high school teams, but would get in more trouble with RECF and VexForum admins for raising uncomfortable topics than Anomaly and the next two runner-up justice fighters combined.

How does that sound?


Honestly I disagree. Eventually the bo3 arguing will die down, at least on the forums. As dissenters continue to be shut down and disrespected, more and more will give up. Just look at all the people on the old bo3 thread. They didn’t change their mind, they lost hope. I often post comments in bursts and then get tired of arguing because I don’t have the strength to keep begging for rational discussion. People on the forums act so done whenever @Anomaly posts. Whenever I see that, I just get a little sad. I’m tired, all of this negativity, and I’m tired.


Yes, once Anomaly graduates, it is very unlikely to see another topic with BO3 in the title on the forums.

However, my argument is that BO1 makes a lot of people very nervous.

If it is not changed back to BO3 after a few years, students may be freaking out about possibility of bad things happening in eliminations even without consciously knowing that it was BO3 -> BO1 change.


Hope was lost for a while now honestly, threads like this are just to remember and spread positivity. Unfortunately, a lot of people take it down and make it negative, no matter what the debate is.


Agree to disagree. But thank you for the compliments :slight_smile:

I think that’s right. Mentors like technik and meng devote their expertise to solving technical issues people have (technic has literally done coefficient of friction testing on vex wheels) and they are generally embraced by the community. Other adults on the forums unfortunately flex their experience as a justification for why they can say whatever they want, and anyone who disagrees is malicious or ignorant. Most of the students here aren’t in vex for more than 2-5 years, but some of the adults have been here since 2006 with no intention of leaving, and they’re just as active as they were 13 years ago. It’s like arguing with a brick wall.

I hoped, I guess foolishly, that by being way more active on the forums in the last few years and way more aggressive than I am in real life, I could help get other people behind me. Some of these people would be equally aggressive, some would be more courteous, but I could help lead the way for competitors voices to be heard again. When 2015 powerhouse teams like 400X and 2915A basically stopped posting on the forums, it didn’t take a genius to realize that something was wrong. But instead of competitors returning to the forums, the huge majority of competitor viewpoints, both about how vex is run and about technical and software objectives, have moved to discord. Discord is not moderated by vex, there are relatively few EPs, and a lot less effort (elements as basic as correct grammar and punctuation) needs to go into a discord post. But discord is also less attainable for new teams, somewhat elitist, and generally less civil than the forums, at least before this new wave of criticism resulting from the 448X DQ and the poor reffing at Create Us Open. I think there’s a place for both platforms, and it’s sad to see people shut down and attacked on the forums who then choose to move to discord or sever their online communication entirely. “Net teching” is a great way to meet people, share ideas, and get inspired.

I don’t doubt that other student with too much time will pick up where I leave off, but I also don’t doubt that the forums will become an even less welcoming cyber space for competitors. The 448X DQ was the first time that messages from discord were used as a major source of evidence to demonize and ban a team. As discord continues to grow and RECF oversight exacerbates, competitors may choose an even more protected pocket of the internet to share ideas and vent. And as the RECF tries to establish oversight in the new platform, competitors may move again. It’s unfortunately a positive feedback loop, because as the RECF gets more strict and punitive, competitors will become more outraged, and as this happens, the RECF will be criticized even more and will become even more strict and punitive.

The goal needs to be to strike a balance, with competitor’s voices being heard and respected, but the RECF’s authority also being upheld. If students are frustrated about the happenings at a tournament, rightfully or not, they should be able to express that without fear of being banned, but they also should make those remarks in private so that the event staff is not thrown under the bus. So there needs to be a place both for a forum centered around competitors and a discord without RECF oversight. As it stands, the RECF is respected because it is feared, not because it is liked, and the huge majority of highly competitive teams have totally lost faith in the RECF. This is an unfortunate reality and it needs to change. Dan Mantz is for the most part taking steps in the right direction and I think he’s done a pretty remarkable job overall, but there are still some deep cracks that need filling before the RECF’s reputation can be reversed.

On discord, there isn’t much discussion about bo1 or bo3 because everyone supports bo3. On the forums, the silent majority who prefer bo3 are tired of being shut down or scared of being punished, so they for the most part remain silent. But when half the teams at Nats have 3D printed plates that say “Bring Bo3 Back” or when competitors use the term “bo1ed” as a verb to describe losing on a fluke, it’s pretty clear where the competitor mindset is. If you disagree, you’re not a bad person and you’re not unwelcome in vex, but you are disconnected from the competitors this program is centered around.

When things aren’t going well, we as humans look for someone to blame. The Germans blamed the Jews in WWII, America has blamed waves of immigrants for basically every problem we’ve faced at a national level, people have blamed the current US President for a lot of the worlds current problems, etc. When you feel you lost fairly, there’s no one to blame. But when you feel you lost by getting “bo1ed,” suddenly someone is at fault. And when you’re friends with your alliance partner and your opponents, the blame doesn’t fall on them, it falls on the refs, the game design, or bo1.

So yeah. @technik3k, the points you made in the OP were extremely accurate, and they’re more relevant now than ever. I’ve done everything reasonably in my power to convince the GDC to bring bo3 back, but I haven’t yet been successful. So I can only hope for the sake of my friends in this program and for the program itself that bo3 is restored. If not, it’s going to be more of the same.


RECF and many EPs may argue that BO1 saves time and makes VRC more like a real world. But I still strongly believe that more forgiving environment, when students get second chances, is better suited for the education.

Additional uncertainty and randomness associated with BO1 may seem like a no big deal on the surface, but apparently adds enough “heat” into the system to make people unhappy and ready to snap at any moment. The relationship in threat perceptions is not linear. Small increase of just 10% of uncertainty could make otherwise calm people start freaking out.

Anomaly does a lot of thankless work interpreting collective mood of the competitors on the “Discord” and translating it into the format appropriate for the forums. Just read what he writes, with understanding that is really an accurate account representing majority of the students, rather than simply his personal opinion.

However, it isn’t even topic of this thread. My point is that if people are more nervous in BO1 environment, you should expect more heated arguments like here, here, and here. And anyone who is quick to blame the students for being spoiled simply misses full dynamic picture of the system.

Yes, with time people will adapt to a new pain thresholds and the system will reach another point of equilibrium, but I don’t think that new point is where everyone wants to be. That is just my 2 cents.


@technik3k Thank you for your thought provoking thread. I have been thinking about it all evening and do understand your premise. While the BO1 topic has been one the most emotional issues on this forum, this is not one of the issues that gets the most attention outside of this forum community. The biggest “stressers” that I have personally spent the most time on this season are: V5 Delivery issues, “parent” built robots, not enough events and disrespectful student / coach / EP behavior. Any / all of these may be contributing to the anxiety and heated arguments.

The RECF is trying to balance the needs of the students, teachers / coaches, Event Partners and Volunteers. One of my biggest long term concerns is making sure we have enough events for students to compete at. I get that the top teams hate BO1. I really do. But I have talked to over 150 EPs this season and over 90% really like the change for reasons stated many times on the other threads on this topic. We are getting some EPs to consider hosting additional VRC events and the efficiency of two team alliances and BO1 is a direct reason. As I have previously promised, the REC Foundation and GDC will review BO1 again after VEX Worlds is over. And I will include your premise in the discussion.

Thanks again for your feedback,



You are becoming more active on the forums than I am :joy: thank you for the post and the transparency.

Since local qualifiers constitute the huge majority of tournaments, EPs’ benefit most from bo1 at local qualifiers. And since the stakes are highest at states, nats, and worlds, students benefit most from bo3 at these events. A lot of EPs also have top tier teams in the program, so they’re both playing the role of a coach and an EP, and such EPs often prefer bo3 at states, nats, and worlds. Overall, it seems like bo1 at local tournaments and bo3 at higher stake events makes everyone’s life easier.

Is there an issue I’m not seeing with this solution? It seems like it gets the best of both worlds.

Thanks again!


I am 100% behind BO1 for local tournaments. The full chain of reasoning and the benefits behind it are sound to me. My only argument against having a different structure at States, Nationals, and Worlds is the added potential for confusion.

The VRC tournament structure has always been a nightmare to explain to new competitors and an exercise in futility to explain to most parents. About half of the parents of last year’s seniors had more than the loosest grasp on how rankings, alliance selection, awards, and the tournament worked. Removing second pick alliances, switching to BO1, and even the previous change of making AP a higher order tie breaker than SP have all made it much easier to follow and understand what is going on and where everyone stands.

Changing the TM software to allow two tournament types, one for local tournaments with BO1, and one for higher level tournaments with BO3 will open up the possibility of a local tournament deciding to run the wrong one (we had a lot of drama over an Indiana tournament that decided to run a tournament counter to the standard and got torn apart far more than was really called for), and it will be a struggle for a lot of newer teams who have spent all of their first season ever competing in BO1 to then change how they approach tournaments with BO3. This is less of an issue now with better batteries, but i still think it would add a layer of confusion and room for wrong decisions that just doesn’t need to be there.

There has always been a lot of luck involved. Getting rid of third alliances removed a huge amount of luck, and switch to BO1 swung it back. I don’t know that there is data to suggest that the switch to BO1 outweighed the removal of third alliances on the Candy Land to Chess Luck-Skill continuum. In many cases, tournament matches were BO1 anyway, as one match would be R1 & R2 vs B1 & B3 with an easy win for red, R1 & R3 vs B1 & B2 with an easy win for blue, then R1 & R2 vs B1 & B2 for the deciding match.


I swear I thought the function was there in TM already, it just mentions that your event isn’t an official event if you do Bo3.

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