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

No change in Tournament Manager would be required. Currently, Tournament Manager supports both Bo1 and Bo3, which can be specified by round of elimination and division.

State tournaments would merely need to change these settings based on RECF requirements


It may exist already. It wouldn’t be a difficult option for them to add if not. But “if you check this box your tournament is no longer valid for qualification” will catch a lot more immediate attention than “for use at advanced competitions only”. It can definitely be done. If the TM software is tied in to the ID number of the competition, they could work to add a special flag for advanced competitions and automatically set the TM state based on that.

The technical challenges are less a concern than the human challenges.


This is an insightful analogy, but it seems to support the idea that blaming the refs, game design or bo1 is a misplacement of blame. Those are just the easy targets to deflect blame from oneself, which is almost always the real root of the issue.

I’ve heard a lot in arguments for Bring Back BO3 that the majority of competitors hate BO1 and desperately want BO3 back, and despite some biased attempts at data collection, I don’t think there is anything to support that conjecture. The vast majority of competitors aren’t stating a preference (they aren’t a part of the conversation). The ones making the noise are the ones that are passionately objecting to the change. I could surmise that the silent majority is OK with it since they are accepting it and adapting to it.

There is another side of the BO1 vs BO3 argument that I don’t see being acknowledged. What about the team that wins when another team feels they got “bo1ed”? Why should they be made to feel like they didn’t earn they win, that they don’t deserve to be there? Isn’t it incredibly disrespectful to them to claim you were "bo1ed’? You are saying, “Yeah, you win, but it was a fluke. If everything went the way it was supposed to, I would have destroyed you!” Isn’t that just petty, sore-loser trash talk? To extend that, there are almost always teams that enter eliminations with little to no expectation of winning. They know they are ranked lower than the “best teams.” They are just canon fodder. You know what BO1 does? It gives them a chance! It gives them an opportunity to defy the odds, to let David slay Goliath, to let them be a Cinderella story. Does it happen a lot, no. Does BO1 allow it to happen a bit more frequently, I think it might!

BO3 was a safety net for the “good teams.” Arguably that was appropriate in the 3 team alliance format. In a 2 team alliance format, the BO3 handicap isn’t necessary. Does BO1 make it more stressful on teams, especially the good ones - sure. Is that bad - no, it doesn’t have to be. This is a COMPETITIVE robotics program - stress is intrinsic to competition.

I think if the high-performing teams decided individually or as a group that they were going to move on and not use BO1 vs. BO3 as a punching bag or a rallying flag or whatever and just said, “This is the way it is. We will adapt and overcome!” then that would be it - current teams wouldn’t see it as an injustice that needs to be righted, future teams wouldn’t see it as something they missed. You can still talk about BO3 occasionally and remember how things were in the gold ol’ days, but you could also live in the now and say that things are always changing in VEX and that’s part of what makes it so cool!


I could not have said it better myself. Thank you so much for a coherent and logical post.


The problem with this interpretation is that many different variables and circumstances come into play in a BO1. If we deserve to lose a match due to a lack of skill, strategy, or robot ability, that is fine; the problem becomes that the good teams may be eliminated due to situations that they cannot control, that they cannot influence through driving or the quality of their work. The heightened intensity is a gift and a curse, increasing worry along with anticipation and excitement. I disagree with the idea of a “safety net”. While the prior formatting may have allowed teams to rebound from sluggish early performances, destroyed or altered subsystems may dictate the outcome of an entire tournament’s work in BO1, as the driver’s control is relinquished. That should not instantly end the day or season of a deserving team that was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Thank you for your time.


i have one idea, although its unconventional, its a compromise.

BO2, similar to BO3, minus the third match.

its essentially a two match series, with the total points as a tiebreaker.

lets say RED wins 21-5 on the first match. they then win 24-6 on the second. they take the series by default.

if BLUE wins the second match 23-10, the total points is the tiebreaker, RED wins with 31 points, compared to blues 28 points.

this is a very brief explanation, as i do not have much time, but i can offer a better one when i have time


So basically like the aggregate system in major soccer tournaments?

destroyed or altered subsystems may dictate the outcome of an entire tournament’s work in BO1, as the driver’s control is relinquished. That should not instantly end the day or season of a deserving team that was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Thank you for your time.

Robot issues and failures aren’t a reason to replay matches. They weren’t a reason with BO3, that doesn’t change with BO1.

One of my teams had a bad Power Expander Connector along with their alliance partner lift deploy mechanism failing and breaking, in the 3rd match. The 2nd match they won but were DQed because their partner knocked over a stack of cones.

Robot failures happen


i dont watch soccer, so im not sure how that works. but, yes, if thats what major soccer tournaments use

1 Like

This is true. Tournament Manager has had this ability for a few years. It was added back when VEX U used to have some crazy big elimination brackets at Worlds and used BO1 for the first round.

When I see the term “bo1ed”, I have a similar reaction. I get the impression that people think that their alliance is inherently better than their opponent and they deserve to win the match. Any other outcome does not follow logic. Maybe that’s not how they really feel, but that’s how it comes across.


I think that the term “bo1ed” is often used when something goes wrong and the team feels that they didn’t get to compete at their full potential. Not so much “I definitely would have won” as “My chance of winning was lower than it should have been.”

As an example: In the finals match of the WPI signature event, 9605a’s intake broke and their alliance lost. Would they have lost anyway? Perhaps, but they didn’t get to play the game to their full potential and truly see who the better team was.


Feeling cheated when the V5 Brain white screens is reasonable. Mechanical failures of the system are on the team.


I understand that, but their intake hadn’t broken before and it was sort an unusual occurrence. In bo3 they would have had the opportunity to play to their full potential in the next 1-2 matches.


I disagree. Once your robot breaks, you have pushed it to its full potential. You aren’t entitled to a second try. It sucks, but you learn from it and do better next time, and raise the potential of your robot so that it doesn’t break at that point again.

The design and construction of a robot that can survive a full day of competition is every bit as much a part of their potential as their programming or driving abilities. A failure of the mechanical system is every bit as valid of a reason to lose as any other, as it really is within their control.


FIRST did this in 2003, and our team leveraged this in our strategy to great advantage to win Worlds.

Even though we won, I don’t think our team was a fan of this system. It changed the game way too much in eliminations. Basically, unless the first match was very very close, the winning alliance started the second match already up big, so they would just stick to defense to minimize the opponent’s score. It didn’t always even matter if we won the second match, as long as we kept the other alliance from scoring enough points to overcome our first match margin of victory.

I’d argue this isn’t any better than BO1 and possibly even worse, for most of the cases that people seem to be concerned about. Sure, you get another chance, but if your robot was dead the first match for some reason then you’re likely way behind the other alliance in points and have a large deficit to overcome. And, your opponents will be devoting a lot more effort to stopping you from scoring than they would normally.

FIRST ditched it after one season because I think most everyone realized it didn’t work out too well.


oh wow, i didnt know that.

im sure there is a compromise to bo1/bo3, my idea is certainly less than ideal, but we could probably think of a better way than mine


I say bo1 for all regional tournaments, and bo3 for states, signature events, and worlds.


My biggest problem with a lot of the arguments about this whole thing is the mentality that BO1 is the most extreme bad thing ever, and that there NEEDS to be a compromise between BO1 and BO3.

Has anyone considered that BO1 is itself the compromise, a concession to remove the second pick alliance and still have as many teams as possible experience the tournament?


That is exactly the point I’m trying to make. People make those claims with bo1, and people are a lot less inclined to do that with bo3. I actually see this as a huge argument against bo1, since bo3 helps people accept the results as they are.

If a team you consider “cannon fodder” has a probability of 0.2 to win any specific match, they’re more likely to upset their opponent in 1 round with bo1, but they’re still almost never going to win the tournament. Bo1 doesn’t allow terrible teams to win tournaments, it allows terrible teams to win individual rounds on flukes and then promptly lose the next round. They’re still cannon fodder. The teams that benefit from bo1 are really the second and third strongest alliances in the bracket, since the first is more likely to be eliminated on a fluke.

Do you like being stressed? Lol I feel like this is a pretty silly point. Stress is bad.

But that’s the question- how do we adapt and overcome it? The fact that the National Champions would have lost in finals in a bo1 bracket now 2 years in a row shows that some of the top teams in the world have not learned how to adapt and overcome bo1. Telling us to adapt and overcome is like telling a gambler to adapt to a random number generator spitting out bad numbers. The point is that there’s nothing to adapt to or overcome, because there are things out of our control that can decide matches.

I want to take the legendary QF 1 match at google as an example.

In this match, against remarkable odds, 21S pulled off a 1 point win against the 1st seed in a 2 v 1. But when we look more carefully at what happened, 21S’s alliance didn’t even place a robot on the field, 6627X became disabled early on in the match, and Pigpen lost a chain on their intake that rendered their ball system useless. Had the bracket been bo3, I think it’s safe to say that 6627X and 6842Z would have won the round against an alliance with only one robot. But the 21S win in match 1 would still be one of the most incredible Cinderella stories in the history of vex and people would still watch the match with the same amazement and awe. 21S didn’t really benefit from bo1, because they were promptly eliminated in the next round, and 6627X and 6842Z certainly didn’t benefit. Who benefited? 448X and 6627A. 448X and 6627A may well have been able to beat 6627X and 6842Z, but it would have been a much tougher match than against 21S and a largely broken 5327X. So the team that really benefited was not the team who’s opponent got bo1ed, nor was it the 1 seed who at least would have had a shot at the tournament, it was the 13 seed who was granted an easier route to finals as a result of an unlikely loss.


Pigpen learned from their mistake and doubled up their intake chain at nationals. But they still would have lost if finals had been bo1. Randomness is a lot more broad than just pieces snapping.

Lol I guess if it’s already a compromise, it can’t be improved at all ! That’s pretty logical !

Bo1 is not the worse thing to ever happen to anyone, but it’s a significant downgrade to the tournament experience for many competitors. A compromise system with bo1 at local tournaments and bo3 at states, nats, and worlds seems to benefit the most people with a reasonably easy change. The fact that bo1 is already a compromise really has nothing to do with anything.


You have never yet given the specific metrics you are trying to improve. I did ask before. Follow the engineering design process. Make a facts and data driven argument. Make it clear who all of the stakeholders are, what is important to each of them, what objective metrics you will use to measure different systems in terms of each of the stakeholders’ goals, and show that your way is objectively better. You say that there needs to be additional compromise to improve on BO1, but any improvement in one metric is likely to be a step back in others. Your personal desires are not paramount. You cannot demand that a system meet all of your desires and ignore the priorities of all others. You program does not exist without volunteers.


Well I guess I am part of the 10% of EP’s who preferred BO3, although it is hard for me to believe that I am a part of such a minority.

I can really relate to the original post. I have seen a huge increase in stress at tournaments this year, both my own and others that I have attended as a mentor. There is more stress on the competitors because they no longer get a second chance, that is obvious, but I have also felt more stress as an EP and my referees have been more stressed as well.

In my area we have been paying our referees for the last few years. They are well trained, professional and extremely fair. Most of them are alumni from elite Vex teams themselves, so they really understand how it feels to be a competitor as well as an official. That said, they are human and occasionally make mistakes, or see some new situation where the rules aren’t perfectly clear. When we had BO3, if the missed a call, or made a judgement about something they weren’t sure about they at least knew that their call wasn’t ending someone’s day, or even season. Being a ref has always been stressful, but now it is more than ever.

As an EP my goal is that the kids who attend my events have a good day. Not everyone can or should win, but everyone should have a positive experience and learn something. Usually the night after I host an event I am exhausted, but satisfied, because my goal has been accomplished and all the hard work was worth it. This year hasn’t really felt that way. Yes I know there have been many new “challenges” this year (V5 rollout, registration process, etc.) but I definitely feel like doing away with BO3 was a major contributor to the frustration.

It seems to me that most likely the reason BO3 became BO1 is because we needed to do away with 3 team alliances. I completely agree with that change. It doesn’t seem like people ever really had a problem with BO3 itself- BO1 came about so that more teams could play in the elimination brackets without the tournament taking longer. It seems like there have been some very feasible compromises proposed. I think it’s a great idea to go back to BO3 for championships and larger events. True, those events might take a bit longer, but in my opinion it would really be worth it for the kids to be able to go home knowing they had every opportunity to do as well as possible, the refs to not feel like their call ended a season and the EP to know they gave the competitors the best experience possible.

After all, this is about the kids. Isn’t it?