In my region, I’ve heard from several teams that they don’t plan to sign up for Worlds this year, for various reasons, including conflict with standardized tests and the amount of time it would take to attend two Live Remote Tournaments in 1-2 weeks. I understand their reasons for not wanting to go, although I would encourage teams not to let their disappointment with the lack of an in-person Worlds prevent them from having what might be a really enjoyable experience.
Here are some of the reasons I would encourage teams not to miss out on Worlds if they have the ingredients they need to make it enjoyable:
- It’s still the best chance to show your skills [Edit: My estimates may be wrong, but it is still the best cross-section of teams worldwide, and if all goes well, it can still be the most competitive, and it’s still the only one called Worlds for this year]: Even though the conditions will be different from in-person tournaments (both in gameplay and in field conditions), Live Remote Worlds is still the closest thing to the regular Worlds as far as which teams are participating. Doing well at Live Remote Worlds shows how good you are at Live Remote Tournaments compared to the teams in the rest of the world who have tried them, just like in-person Worlds shows how good you are at in-person tournaments. Live Remote Tournaments have some differences from in-person events (both in the gameplay and the field conditions), but part of being a good team is adapting to whatever circumstances you’re facing, much like how different events sometimes have slight differences in the way the field is constructed (and at the other end of the spectrum, the fact that each season has a different game).
- It’s still the most competitive event of the year: Even though some teams will choose Live Remote Skills while others choose the Live Remote Tournament, and even though there will be some high-quality teams who don’t sign up for Live Remote Worlds at all, I expect both parts of Worlds will still have a much more competitive cross-section of teams than any one Showcase Event will, and doing well at Live Remote Worlds will show where you rank among a large percentage of the top teams in the world. At the South Florida Regional Championship this weekend, the EP said that even though there were only 30 teams this year compared to the 55-60 there were in previous state championships, the 30 teams who showed up were the ones who persevered the most and didn’t let COVID stop them from putting in the effort to have a successful season. (There were a few teams who would’ve made States if it wasn’t for COVID, but the vast majority of the most successful teams from last year were back again this year, and most of them did just as well as before.) I expect it will be similar with Worlds, although Worlds will still have several teams who were competitive throughout the season but lacked the time or money to compete at Worlds (or chose Skills over the tournament or vice-versa, and weren’t able to show how good they were in the other category).
- VEX/RECF want to make it worth it: I expect VEX and the RECF will do everything they can to make the virtual Worlds experience as enjoyable as possible, as long as it can be done without requiring higher registration fees.
- It helps reward VEX and the RECF for the money they spent to make VEX continue during COVID: Signing up for Live Remote Worlds helps VEX and the RECF recoup money from everything they spent on setting up last year’s Worlds only to have to cancel about 6 weeks before it was going to happen, and for refunding teams their registration fees, and for developing the Live Remote Tournament and Live Remote Skills, and for keeping their staff employed even during times when there wasn’t much for them to do (not all of them would have the skills to work on the new developments), and for all the expenses they need to run this year’s Worlds.
- Benefits of not having to travel far: Live Remote Worlds allows you to compete from the comfort of your own school, with easy access to all the parts you need without having to bring all of it to another state/country, and without worrying about anything getting stolen, or getting broken by the people handling your luggage. You also don’t have to spend any time traveling other than driving to the place where you have the field you’re using.
That being said, there are a few reasons why I would understand a team skipping Worlds, some of which would include:
- Cost of Worlds: The high cost to register, especially compared to the amount of enjoyment they feel they would get, and especially compared to previous years’ Worlds experiences.
- Cost of in-person substitutes: Some teams might choose to go to a Showcase Event instead of Worlds since they value the in-person experience more than the team list (or prefer in-person to Live Remote in general), and this might leave them without enough time/money to sign up for Worlds on top of this.
- Time: The time it takes to compete at Worlds, or to compete at two Live Remote Tournaments between now and May 8th if they haven’t competed in 1-2 already. It takes more time to compete at in-person Worlds, but in-person Worlds has other benefits that Live Remote Worlds doesn’t, such as the ability to meet other teams in person. (Live Remote Tournaments do help you get recognition from teams outside your region, though, somewhat like a Signature Event. If they posted the results on Robot Events, that would make them even better, but at least some of them have livestreams available to replay online, and I expect most of the teams who competed there would notice who won.)
- Setting up for LRT: The effort it would take to set up their field for a Live Remote Tournament/Skills if they haven’t competed remotely already (or don’t have the resources they used to compete remotely last time, like needing to find a different field).
- Difficulties with multiple teams: If there are multiple teams competing at Worlds who normally use the same field (either teams from the same school or teams who don’t have their own full field setup and need to borrow one from another team), they would need to arrange a way for all of them to have access to separate fields at the same time. They could have one team compete in the morning division and one in the afternoon division, but that would only work for two times the number of fields they have access to. They could also choose one team to compete and the others to help with rebuilds/scouting, but that could lead to some disagreements about who should get to compete and how much of a role the members of the other teams should have compared to the first team.
- Some mainly went for the parts of Worlds that aren’t happening this year: Some teams went to Worlds in the past mainly because of the off-the-field experience, and didn’t care as much about how well they’d do or their ability to play alongside/against other teams from around the world. For these teams, Worlds without getting to meet other teams in person isn’t the same, and might not be worth the cost of registration or the time it takes to prepare and compete.
- New scheduling conflicts: Worlds this year is a month later than normal, so it might conflict with standardized tests or other activities that team members might consider more important than going to Worlds.
In summary, if you decide that Worlds still isn’t worth it for you, I understand completely, but if you want a chance to show how competitive a team you are, or if you want to see and compete against most of the best teams from around the world, I highly recommend signing up for Worlds if you can, whether it’s one of the Live Remote Tournament divisions or Live Remote Skills.
P.S. If I was on a team, I’d personally prefer Live Remote Tournament unless either (1) I felt like I could get a really high Skills score, (2) I’d get a high Skills score but not do well in matches, and wasn’t interested as much in the experience of competing against/alongside other teams in matches (or was worried I’d let them down), or (3) if the Live Remote Tournament wouldn’t work with my schedule but Live Remote Skills would.
Edited to add:
Also, just being on the team list for Worlds proves that you qualified, no matter what your performance at Worlds looks like (unless you just got in through the waitlist, but then you can make up for that with your performance, and I expect many people will assume you qualified anyway).
Also, Live Remote Skills doesn’t require any Live Remote Tournaments, so that would be an option for teams who only have time for Worlds (and can afford it).
Like @jrp62 said, traveling is also one of the highest costs for attending Worlds, so that makes Live Remote Worlds more cost-efficient as far as competing against other teams, but like @Xenon27 said, some schools are reluctant to fund a virtual event, even if it’s less expensive than an in-person event. Also part of the reason you’re willing to pay so much for Worlds is because you get to meet teams in person (and to a lesser extent, the rest of the fun that comes with traveling).