Teams intentionally throwing matches

I would like to start this off by saying that as VEX competitors, we should strive to learn how to design, build and compete in a positive fashion. The goal is not to win or lose, but to learn how to overcome challenges, and apply engineering concepts to build a competitive robot to meet the game’s obstacles, and hopefully inspire the young minds to become interested in following these ideas into post-secondary education, and become our future engineers.

However, we are involved in a competition. Teams spend a lot of money on materials, registration fees, travel and meal fees. We do this so that our teams can proudly show off what they have spent the many hours creating. All of this comes to a screeching stop when a team with multiple robots strategize to manipulate a competition by losing on purpose so that they can have their other teams who are paired together win a competition.

Sadly, this was the case from this past weekend’s competition in Japan. The Chinese team of 7090A intentionally threw their finals matches so that their other two teammates would win the tournament. Now, how did they do this? They set their controllers on the ground during the match, and then did the fist pump when their team mates were declared the victors. All of this was seen on the webcast. This was not fair to the number one seed team who had picked them, and the third robot who had never made it to the finals before, in hope of winning the tournament.

I don’t know if there is anything the GDC can do about this, but I would like this to serve as a warning to teams who consider picking a Chinese team in the future. And to the mentor of those teams, I say “bad show”, sir!

I completely agree that what was done was unfair, but the comment about not choosing Chinese teams in general is very unfair. American teams do the exact same thing - I’ve experienced it before at competitions. It’s wrong to say that all Chinese teams play unfairly just because of one team that acted unsportsmanlike.

i would seriously consider deleting this thread and looking up the word “Racist”

even if you had a bad experience, please do not generalize to “all Chinese must act this way”

I have met great people and crap people of every race

Please think about what you are saying next time you start a thread like this one…

A much more appropriate title would be “7090A intentionally throws match”

It is unfair to stereotype any group, let alone an entire race.

I think you guys are attacking the post a little to much.

Emotions are high and the poster is trying to tell us real information even if doing so poorly.

Calling this racist when vex teams constantly talk about how chinese teams pump to 300 psi and charge batteries to 9V is hypocritical. Both are wrong obviously but a double standard is created.

I for one am happy to know that in the future I should avoid picking this team but won’t use this information as a reason to have issues with other chinese teams and hope no one else does.

This thread should be deleted though as it is not in the spirit of vex even if the point was sincere.

I’ve seen COUNTLESS teams employing this strategy anywhere from regionals all the way up to national and world tournaments. I feel that adding anymore hate is a waste of time, but I have seen plenty teams of all races and nationalities doing this. Without naming names, I can definitely think of a few particular american teams guilty of throwing matches.

Regardless, I wish something was done about this as it isn’t getting any better.

Personally, I don’t think anything can (or should) be done. It’s a strategy, just like any other. Is it cheap? Yes. Would our team purposely throw a match? Absolutely not. But if someone wants to, for whatever reason, they can. And making rules to prevent it would be nearly impossible.

It’s not hard to make it look like an accident or equipment failure. Off the top of my head, you could lightly jiggle the VEXNet key to start disconnecting. “Forget” to plug in the power expander battery, or use a dead one to render your base immobile. “Accidentally” plug motors into the wrong ports, and swear angrily as your lift and arm are fighting each other. Use the “wrong” autonomous mode and crash into your partner, disabling both robots. I’m sure that if you were so inclined, you could be even more discrete.

Really, I’m just surprised that the team in question was so obvious.

<G16> All teams are expected to conduct themselves in a respectful and professional manner while competing in VEX Robotics Competition events. If team members are disrespectful or uncivil to event staff, volunteers or fellow competitors, they may be Disqualified from their current or upcoming Match. It is important to remember that we are all judged based on how we deal with adversity. It is important that we all exhibit maturity and class when dealing with any difficult situations that may present themselves in both the VEX Robotics Competition and life in general.

Regardless of who it was or where they came from we should all be mindful of <G16> even outside the competition arena. One would assume the judges at that event took the noted actions into account before handing out the excellence award, which btw is a WC qualifying slot.

Out of interest can teams competing in another country actually “win” WC slots? Only 10 out of 24 teams were actually from Japan and it would be sad for a country to be excluded.

Wow. What an interesting thread. Let be begin with a disclaimer that I wasn’t at the event, don’t know the teams, and thus am not aware of any subtleties that may have been overlooked by the O.P.'s report on the video.

But, for arguments’ sake, I’ll assume that the report is reasonably representative of what occurred. I’ll just put a different headline on it:

“Team 7090A Nobly Sacrifices Match so Colleagues May Advance”

and report that a team from China displayed an outstanding respect for rule 16 (quoted above) by behaving in a respectful and professional manner by making the logical decision that was best for their team, their school and their nation.

I’m not being sarcastic here… we all do the same thing. When I watch the world championships, who do I cheer for? Teams from BC come first, Washington state a close second (I know the WASABI’s and Exothermics and really like to see them do well) and the other Canadian teams are third followed by teams affiliated with FRC teams that I’ve known over the years. (If you’re Canadian, and FRC-afiliated, like 1114, and 1241… well, you move up a notch or two.) Chances are, most everyone cheers for the teams from their home city or state, or teams that they have some connection with, even if they just spent the entire year trying to beat them. We all want to see “us” beat “them”.

In an individualistic culture with a western (mostly English, I suspect) sporting tradition, carrying this “us” vs. “them” to the ‘extreme’ of sacrificing a match is viewed negatively, but in a less individualistic culture, with a different tradition, failing to act in the best interest of one’s colleagues could be considered exceptionally selfish, rude and unprofessional. And, let’s be clear here… while the team in question may have had an alliance partner at one tournament, they are pretty unlikely to ever see that team again. Their alliance partners were very likely “them” from a long-term, pragmatic sense.

Oh, sure, you’ll say… but “we” never cross that line. Perhaps I’ll say that I’ve never heard of it being done so honestly before and leave it at that.

This is an English-language forum. I don’t really expect anyone involved in these events to be aware of this thread, and certainly don’t expect them to reply… any more than I expect the original poster to express their concerns in the home language of the competition, as would be more appropriate under the circumstances, perhaps.

But I do wish to encourage people reading this thread to challenge their own biases. And I also expect people reading this thread to know that saying “Chinese Intentionally Throwing Matches” is as much a representation of the poster’s cultural bias towards sport as it is about the allegations they are making.

It is even a representation of my own bias, in that I’m presuming how someone from a different culture than my own might view the events that have been reported. But if there is one thing that I have learned is that with grey hair comes the ability to see many shades of grey in events such as this… and to welcome and respect the diversity that the world brings. Thank goodness we aren’t all the same!


A bit of reading for those who think this kind of [alleged] behavior is appropriate:


With a bit of luck we’ll see a rule added outlawing actions like this with serious punishment along the lines of excluding all involved teams from an event and possibly the whole season at RECF discretion. Sounds rough but if that’s what a small minority of teams/clubs are actually doing, and getting away with by the sound of it, I think the majority of teams shouldn’t have to put up with this kind of disgraceful behavior.

Disclaimer: I know nothing of the OP’s allegations and only speak in general terms based on points raised in this thread.](

This type of thing comes up in sports and robotics pretty often.

What quickly comes to mind was the 2012 Olympics and the 4 disqualified badminton teams. Badminton contains a rule that demands “one’s best efforts to win a match” and bans “conducting oneself in a manner that is clearly abusive or detrimental to the sport.”

Often in robotics competitions teams have incentives to lose a match. FRC history contains the 2010 scoring system that rewarded two alliances scoring together (6v0). In other games its often better to lose to get a better match up in eliminations. You also see scoring on yourself in nearly every VEX game, which is a much less egregious version of manipulating matches but it’s still on the same scale.

What I am trying to say is that this isn’t really a new issue in robotics, just a different variation. It’s a problem that might be fixed if the GDC decides to add an “effort rule” like badminton. However, like the posts above highlight if teams want to throw matches they can find a way to do it that would make event officials have to make unreasonable assumptions about intent.

I don’t want point to be taken as defending 7090A’s actions but they could have done something far worse and played for the opposing alliance.

Also if the “effort rule” were to exist which teams would you penalize in this specific case. What if the drivers of 7090A were acting alone and their coaches and other teams from their school knew nothing of their intent. What solution would be acceptable in this case? Who would be the winners? In most sports this is often rectified with investigations and penalties (wins forfeited, financial penalties, suspensions, etc) after the event. With over 7,000 VRC teams and a very small group of RECF officials not all situations could be handled in that manner (and the RECF’s mission is to inspire students, fair competition helps but isn’t required to support the goal).

My teammate lost at a home competition last year in the finals due to this [alleged] occurrence. Make sure to, if possible, thoroughly inspect and talk to the people in your elimination round’s alliance if you are selecting. Try and pick people that are very good, but also people that you know from past years or that you got friendly with without the intent of teaming up with them.

According to the coach/mentor for team 359, the team who picked 7090A to be their alliance partner, he “shook hands with the [7090] teacher to ensure that they would not throw matches if [they] got to the finals against the 2 other teams. They changed their minds in the finals.”

It’s hard to find a complete history of the team if you’ve encountered them for the first time.

It’s definitely sad to see such a betrayal of trust, especially when the matter was discussed beforehand, and there were middle schoolers who have made it to the finals for their first time.

I don’t know who to avoid that then…

Disqualifications really need to be issued for flagrant violations like this.

I understand that there are many grey areas in which case the ruling should be in favor of not disqualifying the team, but putting your controller on the ground is just being an *** and there is no way that’s legal under <G16>.

One specific “grey area” I want to comment on is that if you “don’t put your key in all the way” then you can always fix it at the start of the match since your bot never left the starting tile.

What good would a disqualification do? The teams wouldn’t play either way…

Unless teams that do this actually do this lose something beyond that competition, they won’t care.

Also, these teams could simply play poorly or intentionally sabotage their robot. There’s a multitude of things teams can do to botch matches. Point is, even if teams lose, say a world / regional qualification, it would still be easy to evade whatever standards are set up.

Let me suggest that putting the controller on the ground is actually the most honest way to go about refusing to try your best to win a match.

“Oh, darn… we put a dead battery on the robot. Ooops.”
“You mean we weren’t supposed to touch the hanging robot? So sorry we got DQ’ed.”
“I don’t know why we got stuck on the bump… we had been getting over it fine all tournament. Darn, eh?”

Those are all easy ways to lose matches and refuse to compete that are completely undetectable.

Putting the controller down is an indication that the team in question was seeking acknowledgement for the fact that they were refusing to compete. I think it is pretty universal to say that we usually only seek acknowledgement for behavior of which we are proud.

So although it may be difficult to understand, and a challenge to how I personally perceive sportsmanship, I don’t think berating or insulting the decision this team made is likely to be helpful. It might encourage them to be more subtle, or less honest about their actions in the future, but it is very clear that just as they don’t understand how I feel about sports, it is also very likely that I don’t fully understand how they feel about sports.

In their context it is quite possible that they followed G16 to the letter and behaved in an appropriate manner.

I’m leaving aside the reference to what the coach of 359 may or may not have agreed with the teacher from 7090. If we accept that the teacher is an appropriate representative for the team (which may or may not be fair and correct) then I think that does make a difference. I’ve already pushed my comfort zone for commenting on events where I do not have a complete understanding of everything that happened, though, and believe that restraint is in order. Rarely have I begun a meaningful dialog or found satisfactory resolution to problem by starting out with accusations, insults and anger.



Here is my take on all of this

It seems to be poor sportsmanship, from where I stand and the info presented, but its not against the rules.

I might feel a bit different if an entire alliance decided to throw the match but then I might feel they were disrespecting the game and your opponents as well. Mind you I might be able to imagine a situation where this might be a “classy” thing to do.

Disqualification would not work unless it was bigger than that tournament. For instance, if your team was world qualified and you threw the matches, and then you lost your world qualification as a penalty, that would get some attention.

But I am sure as soon as a big penalty was added, then some of the “accidental failure” modes would come into affect.

Also some of the reasons to “throw a match” are built into how playoffs work and how world spots are awarded, and if anyone has a suggestion for a better system then by all means suggest it. RECF (and VEX itself) has a pretty good record of listening to good suggestions.

And yes please don’t lump in a entire country for the actions of one team. A small point; being Chinese is a nationality, not a race, Asian would be the race.

And as much as we want to draw upon the similarities to other sports, competitive robotics is different. The round robin first then, then picking your alliance is kinda unique, and this has its weaknesses, but for the most part I have seen the process work very well.

The net result is that I have a sneaky suspicion that 359 will NEVER pick 7090A again.

there is my 2 cents…well 5 cents…we dont have pennies anymore

Match begins at 4:28:22.

Fist pump at 4:30:48.

Throwing matches are not limited to only “Chinese teams” … every time it happens, those teams disgrace themselves.

I don’t know if it is necesarry to have the GDC issue some punishment, since if they did create a “effort” rule, teams could still easily throw the match without anyone noticing as noted before. It would simply stop teams from blatantly throwing a match.

Throwing matches has much bigger consequences than the GDC would dole out anyway. While the two other Chinese teams will get to go to whatever competition they qualified for, other teams will know that they did not truly earn their spot at the competition. Additionally the whole program’s reputation is tarnished. Every person who saw that final or who read this thread will likely find it difficult to trust a team that may or may not try their best at future competitions.

To any team that might consider this: I can see where you’re coming from. those are your friends on the other alliance, and you want to compete with them at the next level. However, once you accept an alliance partner, you form a bond of trust with them and you have the responsibility to try your hardest to make them not regret choosing you. Also, I can guarantee you someone from the other alliance will feel uneasy about the way they qualified. Instead of giving your frriend teams the win, you should help them earn it by teaching them the skills and techniques that will let them win in the competition and in life in general. Handing another team a win will NOT teach them anything positive.

Sorry for the super long post lol, but I have a lot of thoughts on the issue, once being the leader of a program and I wanted to get them all out.