Re-Visiting BO1 and BO3

So it’s been quite a while since we’ve talked about BO1 and BO3, and I wanted to revisit the issue in time for Worlds. With more than half the season elapsed, a lot of us have more informed or new opinions on this issue, and that’s what this thread is about.

I’ve been in communication with RECF President Dan Mantz about this issue, but he’s asked me not to share the contents of our messages. What I will say is there seems to be a divide, with EPs and coaches generally supporting BO1, and competitors and referees generally supporting BO3. The purpose of this conversation is to, as civilly as possible, try to close up that gap and find a system that works for everyone.

Right now, I’d just like to collect everyone’s opinion. At some point we can start discussing the merits, but for now I’d just like to see what people believe.

I’ll start. I’m a competitor, this is my fifth and final year in Vex, and I prefer BO3. I spend a lot of time on my robot and scrimmage with my friends regularly, and it’s frustrating to see my hard work compromised because of BO1. I know competitions aren’t just about winning, but it’s upsetting to see this baked into the system. BO3 brackets do take slightly more time than BO1 brackets, but I feel time could be saved during eliminations or in other ways pretty easily. And with V5 motor blowouts and white screens, notoriously buggy vex keys, imperfect refs, and a pretty unpredictable game, BO3 seems the most fair and forgiving to everyone. I don’t have an issue with BO1 at local tournaments, but certainly at states, nationals, and worlds, I feel BO3 is the best system. At this level, teams are more serious, put in more time, and are playing to win.

EDIT: With over 40 responses from mentors, EPs, coaches, and competitors, let’s turn our attention to the solution I propose below that (hopefully!) balances everyone’s needs. How do you feel about this compromise?

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I prefer BO3 due to the luck involved in this year’s game particularly. It’s a shame to see a team that put a lot of thought into their robot lose, and be eliminated due to random chance, especially if they have a superior robot to their opponents.


After spectating a handful of local competitions this season, I do like the BO1 format for that level of competition. It gets more teams into the elimination bracket, runs faster and forgoes most of the painful top vs bottom seed matches. If a robot experiences a failure, there are still several other competitions and awards through which to qualify.

That being said, I would still prefer some hybrid format for the world championships. There has to be a format that achieves the efficiency VEX needs while conserving the law of averages more than B01.

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While I prefer BO3 I have just a few things I’d like to see for BO1. I would like to see at least finals be BO3, we have had at least 3 experiences of having a loss in finals due to software issues/DC, I also think replaying elim matches due to problems out of our control would be nice

EDIT: I am a competitor in my 4th year


I agree with you, Anomaly, completely. Previously I’ve always preferred BO3 because with BO1 there’s a chance that even a push bot can win. But what you said was really true. I understand that for EPs time is of the essence, and BO1 can help with that. But I feel like for very important tournaments, such as states, nationals, worlds, etc., BO3 just makes more sense. So, in conclusion, BO1 can be used for local qualifiers, but for major tournaments, BO3 should be used more.


Lol sorry, one extra thing.

Could everyone give a 1 sentence intro? If you’re a competitor, mentor, EP, etc., please let us know!

Thanks everyone!

Im a competitor, and I definitely agree BO3 is better than BO1. I think making the eliminations in state tournaments BO3 would be a good idea, as states is far more important than local tournaments.

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I’m a competitor, and I definitely lean towards BO3. There have been at least 3 competitions this season where teams from my school lost in the finals due to a disconnect or white screen. All of these happened in the final season to a team that was favored to win. I would be willing but unhappy to keep BO1, but I think BO3 is vitally important for the finals at every single tournament. Additionally, state tournaments I think should have 100% BO3. With the stakes being so high, I think we need to minimize the involvement of luck.

I am a competitor and I think that we should keep the 2-team alliances but have best of three for the semis and finals or even the quarters, but have rounds before that be best of one. I think that this would limit the amount of one sided games being best of three, like first seed vs 16th seed, and keep the intensity of having a final 1-0, the results of the tornament almost decided, and then the lower seed reverse sweeping the first seed for the upset, it would also limit the amount of disappointing semmi’s and finals that are won by a robot malfunctionning, a robot not preforming it’s best

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Depends. When it comes to Bo3 It was set up for a third alliance partner that’s how it worked. If worlds still have 5 different divisions that would probably mean 80 alliances (assuming there would be 16 alliances). And doing Bo3 would mean 6 minutes (at the most) per 2 alliances. What i’m trying to get to is that It wouldn’t work with the alliances & elimination rounds now.

HOWEVER, It probably would work if they had changed it to Bo3 for Semis & Finals. Why those two? Because your getting rid of the fluff (The low tier alliances). If you don’t think that’s fair just think to yourself
A. You made it to Worlds.
B. Your High enough to pick or get picked.
C. Dude(or Dudette) you still made to Worlds. (That means you either Won State, Excellence, Design , or Skills Champ at State so I’d say that’s pretty noice).

Edit: I just came to the realization that this wasn’t talking about Worlds but the Bo3 or Bo1 rules in general.

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 I am a competitor in my second year of Vex. During In The Zone, I won my state competition because (or mostly because) of Bo3. I was second place and picked by first place. After I got picked, I had no worries because even if something went wrong, there was still a good chance we would win the next 2 matches.
 This year, it's different. Even if I happen to be in the top ranked alliance, I will be nervous through the end about what will happen in the matches, even the easiest ones. That's what Bo1 does. Not only is this game more random just because of its design, Bo1 makes it even worse than it did in ITZ because any slight mistake or error sends you down the drain.
 The underlying reason for Bo1 is 3rd alliances throwing matches. So what about a system where only 12 alliances of two go to the finals (still 24 teams!), and play it out in Bo3 style. (Four teams get byes.) We know from Worlds that 0% of divisions (MS and HS, so 8 total) had a team from seeds 13-16 win, or even make it to finals. Therefore the proposed system would have little effect on the outcome *except* Bo3 would make it more likely the best team would win. Also, this system takes between 22 and 33 matches, while Bo1 takes 15. So yes, the drawback is that it could take more than double the time. However, in my opinion that's a worthwhile sacrifice.


I am a recent graduate from VRC (4 years of highschool) and potentially will be involved in VEX U in the future.

I generally agree that using BO1 at regional qualifiers only would be an improvement, for much the same reasons as other people have already stated. I want to focus on two specific points, however.

Firstly, any hybrid system, such as using BO3 for finals only, does not solve the issue. There have been multiple occasions where my team would have not proceeded in tournament had the BO1 system been implemented at the time, either due to vexnet failure, minor driver error, or some other issue. I agree that there should be an incentive to make robots perform as consistently as possible, but I don’t think it’s accurate to assess consistency from single-match rounds.

My second point is issues that I would describe as “not fault of the team”. For example, notorious vexnet disconnections (which from what I’ve heard have not been eliminated by V5), firmware failures/crashes, etc. (I brought this up at the open forum at the beginning of worlds last year, specifically in the context of vexnet disconnections, and essentially got no explanation). I did like that at worlds, there seemed to be a legitimate effort to ensure that matches affected by “field-induced failure” were replayed appropriately, however if this is the policy of the RECF then it should be reflected in the game manual, which would allow consistency across all events, not just worlds. This would relieve a lot of my concerns with BO1.

TL;DR I don’t like BO1, but if it’s a necessity then there should be a guarantee encoded in the game manual that matches will not be determined by failures in the control system that are beyond the control of the teams.

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I really like Bo3, but if there are three teams/alliance, then the third pick could be a bot that does nothing but tag along. Bo3 should be used, but with 2 teams each. I think this would be a good compromise.


@vexFTW +1 (I am a competitor who has run a event and will run more)

I really like it in local competitions. Speeds things up and gives more teams a chance to make eliminations. My problem comes when it’s introduced into State/Regional Championships and the World Championship. There’s just too much at risk (Especially in such a back and forth game as Turning Point) to not at least get a cushioning net of another match. In a local competition, you can always go to another one or qualify another way. For States and Worlds it’s a different story. The mentality of “Easier and better to run for the EP’s” shouldn’t be heavily focused in grand events like these where teams qualify and spend countless hours. More focus on the actual students in these events instead of focusing solely on what the EP wants would be nice.

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I am a 2nd year competitor planning to go forth, despite whatever decision is made on this topic.
I was always in favor of BO3, but I learned during the season that BO1 really jade events move along quickly. Nevertheless, I think at least finals should be BO3. Not only would this heighten the anticipation for teams and spectators alike, it will also rule out freak accidents like tipping robots, hardware malfunctions, etc.
But BO1 really does help in early tourney matches, ruling out the alliances that (sorry) have little to no chance of progressing in a timely manner.

Off topic a bit: I think a 1st round losers’ bracket would make up for the extra match lost by the lower seed teams eliminated quickly. Perhaps large events can handle this, as a non-qualifying award bracket.

although I prefer bo3, bo1 is more efficient and practical. bo1 is okay, but there needs to be replays for events out of teams control, so someones season isn’t ruined by 99.95% reliable vexnet.

As the team leader of 1814D, I do not believe the first problem should be the fact that we have BO1, but the inconsistency of the V5 system. I have noticed that the lucky teams with the V5 system do not have any disconnects at all, and the unlucky get practically disconnects all the time. This is quite an unfair advantage, and to the unlucky who work hard to get a well-performing robot which loses because of something that isn’t their fault I feel bad for them. I believe it would be our best chance to wait one entire season with BO1 and see if VEX can get themselves together, with the addition of us, the consumers, who get what we want. I have spent thousands of my own funding for robotics, and if I do not have a say in this competition in regards to fairness and common sense, then I will no longer compete in the future. And although I have been enjoying my time, I am constantly saddened to see so many fail due to poor quality of much of the products VEX sells. I am sorry if I am having such high standards of VEX, but yet again… should I be having high standards for VEX?


I mean, for the price we pay for these things, they should at least be reliable

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I’m a competitor and I think that B01 isn’t bad at all aside from when there is a white screen or a port burnout, if there was some sort of protection for teams to get a replay if something like that outside of their control happens then I would be all for B01. But until we get some replay protection or they fix all the random issues then I think B03 is the way to go.