Picking your alliance

Hey everyone. I’ve been looking through the forum and I noticed that no body really talks about there strategy when picking alliances at a tournament. Or getting picked. Some of the best teams can show up to a tournament and fall short all day, and still get picked by the 1st place seed. Why do you think this is? What are some things you guys do to get picked by higher seeds, or things you look for when you’re picking your two alliance partners? Outside of having a good bot, what do people say to make you want to pick them? I’m looking forward to hear what you all think

As my teams design their robots and analyze the game strategy, they put thought into what a good complementary robot would be. For example, if one of our robots can not climb the pole, they would look for a robot that can. It is not always strictly on the record of the other teams, but more on what the robots is capable of.
Many times, alliance selections are made just by taking the next highest ranked robot. This is NOT always the best strategy. A particular teams ranking could be the result of a really lucky (or unlucky) set of Qualification pairings. When we run events, we strive to have a minimum of 6 qualification matches in order to get a better view of true ranking.
Some times, teams will select robots from teams that they know or their sister teams or teams with good past reputations. Not always the best strategy either.

Scout, Scout, Scout!!!

If you are trying to convince a team to pick yours, make a case for how your robot can benefit the alliance. Does your robot compliment theirs? Look for robots that may be picking and find the ones that your robot will complement. Make your case with them.

Scout, Scout, Scout!!!

536 Mentor has some really good tips. Also, in feedback from my teams (since they do the scouting, I don’t) is: don’t be a jerk. Don’t try to get picked by critisizing another team’s robot - talk yours up and explain why you would be complementary. Don’t be jerks to a team early in the competition then make nicey-nicey when you realize that they are a selecting alliance. Exhibit good sportsmanship throughout the tournament. Be nice to the all girl teams. In summary: don’t be a jerk!

Here is an additional question! When a team comes up to you during the time that you are trying to decide your alliance, do you think they appear a better pick when they start by showing off there robot? Or they stay with talking about the strategies that they think can win the tournament? Are there any times that a team you hadn’t considered before come up to you and somehow manage to blow your mind and you just HAVE to pick them?

Thanks to 536Mentor and Gear Geeks for the quick reply!

Be ‘nice to the all girls team’?

Of course, all teams deserve the same respect and consideration as any other team your considering. Which I know is what you meant. I just want to make a quick point, though.

Please don’t just ‘be nice’ to the girls teams. Sincerely evaluate them and give them same opportunity as any other. I’m know you didn’t intend to imply anything, but I wouldn’t assume they’re less of a pick until after you see them on the field. There are some really amazing girls team across the field.

I have one all girl team and one “mostly girl” team and they have been subjected to “less than nice” behavior. Not sure if all teams get the same blowback - but mine have. I just wanted to point out that it is not acceptable behavior to be demeaning to girl teams. But, yes, as I pointed out in my post - exhibit good sportsmanship regardless of who is on the team. My perspective is from a girl’s viewpoint because 80% of our program is girls and I’m a girl - well, woman.

Your post was perfectly fine, I just wanted to take it one step farther.

First, you are welcome. If your team has done a good job of scouting, they shouldn’t be blown away by someone showing off their robot. They should have already seen all of the robots in the pits and on the field. About the only time, I can see this happening is if there is a really good robot that struggled early in Qualification, but got things fixed and really turned it around.
In my opinion, scouting should go like this:

  1. Decide what a good complementary robot to yours would be. Or conversely, what type of robot would yours be a good compliment for. Know this before going to the event.
  2. Have your scouts wander the pits before Qualification starts looking for robots that fit what they are looking for.
  3. During Qualifications, your scouts should try to watch at least 3 matches of the robots that have been identified, early, middle and late. They need to know, was the robot consistent? Did it improve as the day went on? Did it get worse as the day went on? How did it fare when paired with a robot similar to yours (or with yours)?
  4. During deliberations, go talk to the teams that you are considering or that your are selling yourself to.
  5. During Alliance selections, if you are picking, have a list of 6-8 robots ranked in order that you would like to choose.

Just adding on to what everyone else has said, I also like to take into account reliability and build quality especially when it comes to your third bot. I like teams that have higher power drive trains because when it comes down to that later you do not want your alliance stalling out and clogging up space on the field. As well, a powerful push bot will be useful in early games against other third picks as defence from under the fence points. Second, it’s good to pick teams that know what they’re doing and work fine under pressure.

I like the suggestions above, except that teams that might become alliance captains need more like a top 15 list, than a top 6-8. By the time the alliance captains all pick once, your favorite teams will likely be gone, and you will be left with no idea who to pick second. A longer list gives you more control.

Also, the very top teams are on everyone’s list, and the real skill in picking is that third alliance partner. A good scout that can find a perfect fit team, or one that had bad “luck” in Qualifying, can turn a third alliance partner from a liability to an asset.

I’ve seen a 3rd alliance partner at Worlds play every single match because even the alliance captain thought they had the most reliable autonomous routine and were effective in the driver-controlled period. (That alliance ended up Worlds Finalists that year, in large part because of that great 3rd pick.)

Well… maybe not the robot blowing your mind… but the way a team presents the opportunity to work with their robot. A team that you talk with and have to stop and think “I knew there robot was good but now I really don’t want to be against this team!!” I have seen this happen before but never to me. What about you guys?

Just make sure that your partners can do something that you can’t, and one thing that you can.

For example, we had a competition today. Our robot can score stars and cubes, but not hang. So we picked a team who could high hang and score stars. We won the tournament this way

When people who aren’t on my radar come up to me and do this, it can be super annoying, but I certainly understand where they’re coming from - my annoyance is just from the stress of a tournament. It often doesn’t turn out to be a serious conversation. I’m generally scrambling to figure out for myself who my first pick/alliance captain is going to be, because that’s the most important and the simplest to predict. Usually we talk with the other top teams and we know the top 5-6 alliances’ first two teams before they are even picked, which has to do with the advantage of the social network we’ve developed. At least teams that aren’t, uh, “stand-out” usually ask to be a second pick. They’re being realistic, which is definitely appreciated. To be honest, I never really know who my second pick is going to be. I just pick a few that I think could go to the second round and rank them.

No one has changed my mind by talking with me. However, I think I have changed some people’s minds by talking to them and we managed to get good alliance. Our plans were pretty persuasive, and the alliances we picked and the strategies we employed accounted for about as many tournament wins as our robot’s ability alone.

So I would be super nice and passive if you ask people to pick you, basically. If you’re a good first pick candidate, they’ve seen you. If not, that may not be a good alliance to be on, since they don’t know what they’re doing or they have serious manpower shortcomings. Showing off the robot seems kind of silly to me, that’s what the competition field is for! The exception is if you have recently fixed something that might change their mind. Otherwise, stick to strategic talk. You’ll get points in their books for sounding like you know what you’re talking about. Don’t be too pushy or they’ll push back. Good luck!