Hello Vex GDC,
We are contacting you through this open letter regarding the recent manual update that occurred on April 5th.
There are several issues with the best of one elimination format, including the dependence on luck and the repudiation of creative, out of the box ideas, which we will be detailing in the following paragraphs.
First of all, if a driver does not perform perfectly in one match (tipping, missing game objects, or otherwise making mistakes), the alliance is severely penalized, most likely losing to a potentially worse team that just played better in that one match. Even if the alliance that lost had a single fixable robot failure that had not happened before and that could be fixed before the next match, they would lose any chance of winning worlds because of this single unlucky event. Single chance events, can easily destroy a season’s worth of hard effort and a world’s experience, and there is no way a team can pull through a eliminations matchup after having a failure, even if it happens in only one match. Although this emphasis on consistency is valid and encouraged in STEM, the tendency for current VEX electronics to perform inconsistently could potentially disqualify an otherwise world-championship level team, as disconnects (DCs) and other motor failures are extremely common with the current v4 system. This magnitude of change in the rules could be accepted for next year, with the reportedly more consistent v5 system, but not at this point in time.
This new system, overall, places a larger emphasis on luck as opposed to quality engineering. With single eliminations, a team that has a poor robot could possible be rewarded instead of one that has an excellent robot but was possibly defended and accidentally broken. The best of three matches truly allow the better team to advance, whereas the best of one system allows the luckier team to advance. One match cannot indicate the caliber of one team, whereas three matches do a much better job.
In terms of the reasons stated in favor of single match eliminations, the main two are a faster eliminations experience and increasing number of teams in eliminations. While a single round of eliminations does have the possibility of decreasing the amount of time taken to run eliminations, since the number of alliances at Worlds is being doubled, this gain is somewhat nullified. Additionally, while the viewer experience may seem to be improved, the competitor’s experience is severely degraded, and it is the competitor who will be paying more than $1000 to attend the event in the hopes of an exhilarating robotics experience. Regarding increasing the number of teams in eliminations, while the new system will allow eight additional teams to enter eliminations, these teams will be at a severe disadvantage and most likely lose in the first round as a team ranked 16th or likely higher will almost certainly have a significantly lower performing robot than a first or second seeded team. As a result, although more teams are allowed to enter eliminations, their experiences in it will be brief and filled with sadness at a fast, decisive loss.
Furthermore, we believe that such major changes to the way the VEX elimination process works should not occur this close to the VEX World Championships. We strongly feel that changes as major as this need to be tested through the season in order for teams to gain familiarity with the process instead of facing it for the first time at the World Championships.
On behalf of all of the signatories, we strongly urge you to consider reverting the part of the manual update pertaining to eliminations at Worlds. We are not opposed to the future experimentation with this system, but we feel that it will not be appropriate at Worlds 2018.
Kevin Z. 1437Z
Sele Okojie 3922A
Danny L. 99371