Qualifying for States due to double-qualifications within an event

Last season, the RECF introduced a new rule where if a team qualified for States multiple times at the same event, or if an out-of-state team won a spot, their unused spots from that event would go to the teams with the next-best Skills scores at the event who didn’t qualify from the event (regardless of grade levels or whether they qualified at previous events).

If there is a team competing at the event that is from outside of that region and wins an award that would have won a spot, or a team that double qualifies from the event (not from previous events or other methods), that spot will go to the next highest unqualified team on the Robot Skills ranking at that event. There is no look-back to previous events to see if a team has previously qualified. These spots will be filled by the Regional Support Manager.

(From the 2019-20 VRC Qualifying Criteria. Emphasis mine.)

What does it mean that the spots are to be filled by the Regional Support Manager? Does it mean that the Regional Support Manager is supposed to manually calculate which teams qualified through this rule? (I’ve heard this is how they do it in some regions.)

This sounds like a lot of work for one person, and I know of several cases in Florida last year where teams didn’t receive their invitations, or find out they qualified, until they investigated the situation themselves (after someone else told them about the rule).

Edited to add:

More details about the rule

This rule applies to all awards that qualify for States, even awards that are specific to one grade level (High School Excellence and Middle School Excellence), but the spots given out due to double-qualifications are independent of grade level. (The winners qualify for their own State Championship, just like with any award.)

For example, at an event last year, middle school team 13001A won Middle School Excellence and Tournament Champions. The top 2 Skills scores at the event belonged to 13001A and 7121F, both of whom won State-qualifying awards at the event, so the team with the 3rd-place Skills score, 7121C, got 13001A’s second States spot from this event.

In this case, 7121C hadn’t already qualified for States, but if they had, they would still have received the spot from this event, and their unused spot form qualifying at 2 events would have gone to another team based on their Skills score at the end of the season.

Also note that for Worlds, double-qualification spots are based on the World Skills Rankings for the whole season.

2 Likes

Preferably, there would be an automatic way to calculate these double-qualifications through Tournament Manager.

Until that happens (or even just to encourage teams to get good Skills scores at every event), here are some ideas that might help (as long as they don’t create further problems):

  1. VEX and the RECF should add a standard line for emcees to say at events, describing this rule in a way that teams can easily understand. Describe the rule during the award ceremony, and also mention it throughout the event (just like how you’d remind teams they can qualify for States or Worlds through their Skills scores at the end of the year).

  2. Teams should make sure to read the Qualifying Criteria all the way through, in addition to the Game Manual, Q&A, and RECF Code of Conduct.

  3. If a Regional Support Manager sends out emails with tips for teams (mine did this a lot), this would be one thing to include in those emails. The same goes for other people who share World qualification tips with teams, such as VEX social media accounts.

  4. As someone suggested on the VEX World Coaches Association Facebook group, coaches should make sure to check their spam folders, in case emails about their qualifications (or other things) get sent there by mistake.

This rule doesn’t provide as much incentive to do Skills as qualifying for States at the end of the season, but it does encourage teams to do Skills at every event (especially if they haven’t qualified for States yet).

1 Like

This simply means that the EP will not make the adjustment to the database when submitting the final results.

In terms of the risk of the team not getting the invite, this is true for all invites, they can end up in spam folder. However, there are three concerned parties looking out - the RSM, the team, and the EP for the Championship who has access to all pending invites to their events. Tournament Manager does not have access to all the information for making the decision at an event. There are factors, including Code of Conduct violations, that might not be apparent to the event EP or TM server.

Our region we put heavy emphasis on doing skills runs. There has been more and more teams each year doing it, and getting programming skills as well. I think the message is getting through in our region.

1 Like

We have a special situation with skills in Florida, less than half of the teams in Florida HS VRC actually did skills last year. Because of the increased capacity at states, the skills invites for states went pretty low…

Basically, they wanted to implement the rule, and didn’t feel confident with a software solution. As an EP I email my RSM with what I think the teams are to help them out.

I have announced this at my events, then I had teams contact me asking why they weren’t notified. Events are a little crazy at times, but the person who is the email contact for the team needs to be on point. You can even assign additional contacts for teams to make sure they aren’t just going to one person.

So… It’s weird, but TM actually doesn’t know which awards are state qualifying! That is only designated on robotevents.com .

I agree! But, as I said, you can’t make them listen!

Again, agreed but I’m not going to enforce this at my events.

I agree and I really like the change they made last year.

Ultimately, robotevents.com could easily calculate the additional spots. However, I like that it gets double checked by the RSM. Have you ever talked with an EP right after an event? Their head is getting twisted 100 different ways.

So as am EP, if I make a mistake when I am putting in the awards at the end of an event (rare but it happens) and then if robotevents.com calculated the wrong spots because of my mistake, we are going to have all kinds of cascading errors. And ultimately, if you send out an invitation to a team that didn’t earn it you are in a tough spot.

A good double check would be for the state EP to check for teams with invitations that are about to expire and just give them a ring. There aren’t that many teams that don’t register for states…!!!

2 Likes

We are told in my state NOT to make any annoucements about this at the actual event. Such as saying “Team 123A will receive an invititation to states because of their skills score” in not acceptable and was highly discourages. It is too easy to make mistakes. For my event last year, I pulled the coach aside and said “I can’t promise you anything but it appears that you have qualified for states through your skills score.” Then I explained the new rule and encouraged him to do his own investigation. I also watched the state championship registrations to verify that he had been invited. Perhaps EPs can take a more active role in making sure that there is follow through on this.

10 Likes

Yeah I remember being instructed to not do so for events last year.

I had a team that was borderline for states, but I made sure to keep a track on the skills list, and who was invited and who won what awards.

It made it pretty simple to check double and triple quals.

1 Like

I agree across the board. I remember posting about it before and Karthik said to not make any specific announcements. And if he says it…

But I also talked to coaches at my events to keep an eye out and I also emailed my RSM after the event with what I thought the results should be… But I did that later in the evening after things calmed down.

Coaches can handle the news, but you shouldn’t tell kids that they “might” be qualified for states.

4 Likes

I love this. Ideally every EP would do this, but I can understand why some don’t (especially if they’re short on time).

What should I do if I’m not part of a team, but I find out through my own research that a team I’ve never met has qualified in this way, but didn’t sign up for States? (And what should I do if my first attempt goes unanswered?)

This year I’ll likely be coaching a team, though (and volunteering a lot), so I might feel a little bit more comfortable with contacting an EP/RSM to help another team.

I agree. I remember some cases where an email is sent only to the primary contact for a team, though, so it’s important for the primary contact to be someone who is able to keep up with all the emails they receive from VEX/RECF/EP’s.

If possible, they could also set up their email account to forward these emails to their secondary contacts.

Ah, that makes sense!

Yeah. The one time that a team qualified for States but never found out about it, I think they would have ultimately gotten their spot (although it might have been too late to actually make the trip) if the awards at the event had been put in correctly.

Ideally, there would be a system where when the awards are put in, either Robot Events or Tournament Manager would create a list of the next teams in line based on Skills, and would also show warnings if the same team got multiple judged awards, or even if a quality-based award (e.g. Excellence) was given to a team who didn’t perform well in matches/Skills.

This would be a great idea! And when it’s appropriate, it would be good for other teams and those events’ EP’s to do this, too, especially if they’re already calculating which teams qualified for States from that event.

1 Like

I think this is what you really want to avoid at all costs. Getting into states is a big deal for teams and you don’t want to dangle something in front of them to only say “Ooops, I made a mistake” later. Better to err on the side of caution.

5 Likes

I think I agree with not announcing which specific teams got the spots, especially if there’s a chance the awards will be entered incorrectly.

Now, if you just announced what the rule is and not which teams qualified through it, it would be up to the teams to make their calculations, so they would be less official - and this is a rule teams would know anyway if they read the Qualifying Criteria.

I love this idea, and I think I would do this, too. (I’d also try to remind them it’s unofficial if they sounded too excited, especially if I wasn’t 100% sure I was right.)

Last year when I met a team who I believed had qualified for States through their Skills score (whether through the scores at an event or at the end of the season), I told them that I believed they qualified (or likely would qualify), and I congratulated them on it.

I think not being part of the event staff put me in a better position to do this, and so did specifying that “I think” they qualified and not that they definitely did. (Plus not all of them seemed to believe me.)

If I do this again in the future, I’ll try to make it even clearer that I can’t guarantee that they qualified, I can only say there’s a possibility.

I love this idea, and I agree completely! And coaches can keep track of this, too, if they know the rule.

1 Like

This very much depends on the make-up of your region. In regions where a handful of strong teams qualify for their regional at every competition they enter, there will be spots available at that regional. The RSM fills those spots based on season-long skills scores.

Yeah. The rule about double-qualifications between events matters a lot if you have the same teams winning a lot of events, or if your State Championship has a lot more spots than there are qualifying awards at events.

In Florida during Starstruck, however, there were a few teams who won almost every tournament they attended (6430 won 7, while 88666D and 4154A won 4 and 88666X and 619A won 3), but due to the large number of events in other parts of the state, there were still only 1-2 spots left for Skills at the end of the year (before they added 7 more, which made 8-9 total).

In regions where there aren’t many double-qualifications or extra spots at States, Skills doesn’t matter quite as for getting into States, although it’s still a good option for showing other teams how good you are.

Meanwhile the rule for double-qualifications at the same event matters a lot when there are teams who dominate tournaments and also have great notebooks and interviews (and thus win Excellence or Design a lot), and also at events where the Skills Champion qualifies and is the same as the Tournament Champion (which could theoretically include any local event where Skills Champions qualify).

Even then, though, if the same teams also finish right behind them in Skills, those teams will get the in-event double-qual spots every week, so those spots would go to the season-long Skills scores.

1 Like