Thoughts on the new elimination rounds system?

Let’s just make this simple. If there wasn’t such thing as issues with field connections, VEXNet keys, as well as issues with battery connections and teams are given a nice amount of time to prepare for the matches, would most people be neutral or supporting of the “Best Of 1” Idea?

@Grant Cox

Thank you for your response. It’s this type of back-and-forth that creates the ideal dialogue needed to properly debate a topic such as this. Allow me to likewise address a few things about these points:

  1. The first 7 things on that list have absolutely nothing to do with this topic. Those things are either minor technical changes meant to make things easier for event staff and competitors, with the exception of the Gateway rule change, which I can’t really comment on because I wasn’t a part of VRC at the time. The last 3 bullets actually pertain to a major bracket changes like this, so those are what I will focus on.

In regards to the VEX U brackets, you’re using their situation as a means to justify doing the same thing to us (and honestly, it’s not really fair to them, either). Is it okay to change a child’s footwear from sneakers to roller blades and just expect them to adapt just because their older brother is adept at wearing multiple types of footwear, sneakers and roller blades inclusive? I realize this may not be the best analogy, but surely you get the point. Not only is it questionable for you to do this to VEX U to begin with , but using an already questionable system to justify a second questionable system doesn’t really do the second system any justice. If anything, it’ll just lower its standards by association with the first questionable system.

For the implementation of a round robin elimination format, this was actually a change for the better representation of the most skilled team. With round robin, each alliance faces every other alliance in a best of 3. Because every single alliance faces each other, there is a balanced representation of who is really the best, as no arguments like “Team X and team Y never faced each other during elimination rounds, so even though team X won the event they could’ve easily been knocked out by team Y.” can be made. Meanwhile, this change to a BO1 format with even more alliances does little, if not less than the previous system, to actually determine the best team. If anything, it does that even less due to the inherent luck factor, which I’ll discuss in my response to your second point.

I’ll skip over divisions and division finals because it pretty much gets the same explanation as the above paragraph.

  1. Let’s not get too technical about what specific type of luck is introduced or reduced, because we can all agree that in the end, the net amount of luck needed in a BO3 format is less than that needed for a BO1 format, regardless of whether or not it’s “good” or “bad” luck. In regards to a randomized qualification system, people actually do “bat an eye” at it; in fact, it’s been a large discussion for a matter of years. Several more accurate systems exist, such as Swiss (used in many popular gaming tournaments) format where rounds aren’t determined at the start of the day, but are determined after each current round ends, and teams with the same W/L record are paired against each other in order to weed out the undefeated teams one by one. Because going undefeated in Swiss events requires beating every other undefeated team, it really does a great job at not only pairing the best with the best, but gives smaller, less experienced teams a chance by pairing them with other teams at their skill level. So yes, that’s also an issue, but a completely different one that the GDC has not yet addressed.

Regarding having to get lucky all through R16 to the finals being extremely unlikely, that’s not how that works. Yes, the probability of one single team having amazing luck throughout every single match is low, but what I think you’re missing here is that we’re looking at 32 teams, not just one. The probability of at least one team having good or bad luck in at least one match in each R16, quarter-, semi-, and finals matches is actually pretty high if you consider the pure amount of teams competing. This, through a butterfly effect, skews the overall results of the competition. If seed 1 had a field control error in R16 and lost, it means that seed 16 will now move on to quarter-finals, so whoever faces seed 16 will have a much easier time than they did if seed 1 had won and no bad luck was had (which is much more likely to occur in a BO3 system). The point is, things add up. Bad luck adds up. Not just on one team, but on 32 teams as a collective.

  1. Every time a ref rules that no replay is needed on a match where VEXnet disconnected randomly, every audience member, drive team member, and live stream spectator does a lot more than just twitch. Yes, there is always a reason, but the chances of those reasons being caused by both robots at the exact same time, for the exact same amount of time is so ridiculously low, I’d argue that I’d have a better chance getting through R16 to finals on luck alone. Yet, this has happened twice on camera, both in F1 of Worlds 2017 and in F1 of this year’s CREATE U.S. Open. Please don’t pin situations like this on battery voltage or loose pins, because if it happens to both teams on one alliance, clearly it was something with the field control itself, and it’s these situations that we’re talking about.

Thank you for providing a field tech crew at Worlds, but clearly that didn’t work so well last year as the aforementioned finals match was not replayed even after something as blatantly obvious as that occurred. I’m not sure if the field techs were involved in that so much as the refs, but there are some very clear issues that need to be fixed here if this point is to actually be valid.

  1. I don’t really take any issue with this, so thank you for the assurance that your players are your number one concern. Hopefully this comes true not just in words, but in practice.

  2. Although I don’t really believe that there have been over 150 positive messages sent about this change as this thread has received replies in dissent of the change, I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt on that one. I’d just like to explain how opinions like these given through the forums are actually the most accurate opinions you’ll ever receive:

In person, people like to appeal to their audience. They like to know that they’re being listened to and they want to please who they’re talking to. I notice you didn’t mention the opinions of the people you and Paul talked to at the Open and in Texas, but let’s just assume they weren’t all negative. Those opinions were given with the bias of wanting to please a senior representative of VEX robotics. Obviously they aren’t going to say much negative, as they’re talking to someone extremely important! On the flip side, here on the forums, people can use the virtual mask of the Internet to provide the most honest opinion possible. Sure, I may get to meet you guys at Worlds, but right now, I don’t have any obligation to please you with my speech. This is why I can be as honest as possible, because there is no bias towards an elder here. It’s just pure, candid, honest speech. I can say the same for most of the other posts on this thread, or on any of the other countless threads that all echo our same message.

So, much like you say that we should be careful in assuming our opinion is unanimous (which we don’t), I urge you to be careful in assuming the opinions you’ve received in person are actually the opinions they hold when they aren’t speaking to someone as important, and are a little more comfortable sharing their real opinions.

Thank you for reading this (if you do), and I hope this echoes some of our concerns as a community towards these points. Hopefully our civil discussion can continue on in a cohesive fashion as it has so far.

@[TVA]Connor I would be less against it, but still against it as I believe that a single 2:00 match is not the best way to determine which set of robots is better.

For “Best Of 1,” since 3 minute time outs will probably be used by every team since teams know that they need to be prepared, think about this:
Why don’t we remove the 3 minute time outs entirely, at worlds eliminations, and instead introduce a Challenge Match where the higher seeded alliance in a branch is allowed to do ONE rematch during eliminations if they’ve lost to see if they are actually better than the other alliance. If the alliance that provokes a Challenge Match wins, they will be allowed to do a tie breaker match to be able to get back into the branch.
I think that this Challenge Match should only be allowed to be used by the higher seed only to ensure that there is efficiency on time as well.
By the way, I think the analogy of the “Challenge Match” should be called the “Challenge Match” because the higher seed is challenging the loss of their previous match.

Now, If you believe this is a bad idea, this also benefits the lower seeds as well. If I were in 16th seed, and I’m against the 1st seed. I win against them once, and then I win against the Challenge Match as well, I would become the higher seed for the remainder of the eliminations and I would be allowed to do one Challenge Match myself. This benefits everyone, and yet it is efficient on time too.

1 Like

Believe me, it almost certainly isn’t.

What is it then? I’ve been witnessing these simultaneous disconnects for four years now and am still baffled as to what causes them. The field control is the only common factor that I see every time an alliance simultaneously disconnects.

I don’t want to either derail this thread or get into a deep technical discussion here, but take a look at this;

This is a nice idea, I think that it needs to only be available during and after the quarter finals to reduce the length of the round of 16 and also it should only be available for a team to use once during the elims again to keep the length of the elimination rounds short.

The robots that go to the Round Robin, I believe, will be deemed most consistent in the competition. To be put through all that work and stress yet still function very well is a difficult task to pull off.

@Grant Cox Thanks for taking the time to discuss this on the forum. I don’t think anything any of us say that is contrary to what has been introduced on the 5th will be implemented, or, honestly, considered. Vex seems pretty set in how this will all happen. It is a shame, but the “our way or the highway” mentality is prevalent in a number of responses both in this thread and others.

I’m not sure where you guys keep getting the statistics that you post, but they don’t jive with reality at all. Either that, or every team I have surrounded myself with as friends and colleagues are the most unlucky group. For example, if the vex net system has a 99.5% uptime then, on average, a team should be able to go 200 tournament matches with only a single disconnect. For the more competitive teams that attend four or five tournaments, attend States, and make eliminations at each, that would be an entire season with just one disconnect. For teams that are in the middle of the pack that would be a few seasons with just one disconnect. Or, going by tournament, it would be a few good sized tournaments without a single disconnect. I would challenge you to find teams with that kind of experience. I am really impressed with the V5, the thoughtfulness of it, the features, lots of great stuff, probably some glitches and such getting worked out now. You guys seem to have done a great job with it, but, to the contrary, the vex net system has a lot of flaws. One thing I see a lot is defending the design and saying there are a lot of ways teams can mess it up (which is true). However, you guys designed it, if you designed it so it was that easy to have issues with, then own it and give the teams consideration when it comes time.

With respect to the latter, I bought up our terrible experience in IQ last year during one of these threads and Paul mentioned that it had nothing to do with the present discussion about one and done. I would contend that it does and that it speaks to the need for vex to start considering these kids more and the World schedule a bit less, or at least re-work it’s priorities. Teams are concerned about losing in the one and done for issues out of their control. I would agree. Based upon our experience last year in IQ I spent months emailing Vex that there was an issue with their boot loader, that it would randomly halt the brain and could happen at any power up. It happened at our State tournament and I emailed Vex again to let them know and asked how it would be handled at Worlds. You guys gave the same answer you posted, that there would be vex technicians on site to fix it and all would be well. Well… it happened to us at Worlds, your technician gave us a new sensor, and then made us use the placebo robot because they would not let us take the 60 secs need to implement it (back to stats, Paul stated IQ had 0.4% placebo usage so it was dropped, somehow we had 30% all on our own at Worlds last year?). It really upset our children and then I am the one getting scolded for being unprofessional and a bad example for our kids? Teams are afraid of the one and done issues not because of assumptions, but because of poor experiences with Vexnet, inconsistent ref’ing, etc… they have learned it, not assumed it. The good news is that there are opportunities to improve it, hopefully that will happen at Worlds this year.

This is a larger-scale, though very much less severe, version of the issue we had in our state for many years. Our RECF reps focused on getting tournaments done early, to the point where they said we could not send a team member back for batteries between elimination matches. Yes, really. Apparently the risk that somehow sending one kid back for batteries after an elimination match, with ten minutes of free time before the next match would delay that match from happening was not worth letting us have charged batteries. Nothing nearly as bad is happening here, to be clear, but this is seeming a little too similar for my comfort.

Got to agree with @TriDragon, since the manual update have been officially published, GDC isn’t going to change anything for the upcoming Worlds, with the exception of maybe bringing VEX U division finals to the Arena. It would be a huge surprise even if division finals are changed to BO3 based on the popular demand…

So, here is a crazy idea that might excite those of us who are scientifically minded, and think all experiments are supposed to be run with at least one control group and in the identical environments. Ideally, such experiments would have to be with randomly selected groups, but this thread is the proof that random selection is not going to go well with this crowd - we would have to live with self-selection bias. :slight_smile:

The experiment:

Upon arrival to VEX Worlds 2018 each High School team will be asked their preference between:

  • BO3 eliminations with 8 x 3 team alliances
  • BO1 eliminations with 16 x 2 team alliances
  • or choose “no preference” if they don’t know or don’t care

Then teams will be assigned to the divisions run either as BO1 or as BO3 according to the team’s choice and “no preference” teams will be assigned to pad those divisions randomly.

After each division crowns their finalists, 3 team alliances will have a choice of which 2 teams are going to play in each RR game as well as the Finals, assuming they will make it that far.

If such experiment were to be conducted, first, you would learn how many people prefer each system.

Second, everybody will feel great because they made their own choice.

And, third, assuming divisions uniformly split between BO1 and BO3, we would see which system is better at selecting best robot, based on RR and Finals result.

Of course, it is not going to happen, but, I would encourage RECF to let some sociology major students to conduct pre- and post-worlds surveys of the random selection or, if possible, all teams to ask them:

  1. What would be their elimination bracket format preference?
  2. How high in ranking do they expect to get (or actually did)?
  3. How far in eliminations do they expect to get (or did)?

Then you could run simulation of virtual tournament with game predictions trained on actual World match results (i.e. Elo Ranking or some other model) and see how each tournament format plays out.

This would be the gold mine for anyone majoring in sociology or modelling and looking for masters or PhD thesis topic!

I really hope this one round thing doesn’t carry over to next year. IQ runs a similar way, and it wasn’t fun. There’s a lot of pressure on the drivers. And the risk of a malfunction is real. I didn’t get to nationals last year because a small malfunction that happened maybe once in the whole tournament happened twice in the finals round.

I would first like thank you for responding, and the way in which you responded. whenever Paul posts on something controversial, he always comes across as if he’s trying to say “We know what’s best for you, you don’t, we’re 100% right, and at any point where you contradict us you’re 100% wrong, shut up you idiot children because you haven’t a clue about what you’re talking about” and while I’m sure he doesn’t mean to come across as condescending jerk, that (at least in my opinion) is what ends up happening, as can happen to anyone in a heated debate. I’ve not met him personally so I don’t know what he’s like on a personal level, I’d like to believe that the posts I’m talking about are not a great reflection of that. I know I often am guilty of the same thing, and am making an effort not to do so in my criticisms of Paul, and this post as a whole, so I’m sincerely sorry if I fail at that. bottom line is, you’re response contrasted greatly to many of Paul’s responses in that regard.

It means a lot to me and I’m sure everyone else that you admit to error on this. Perhaps in the future, specific rule changes for worlds can be announced further in advance so teams know what to expect, but leave the game manual alone until the scheduled update.

looks like I have to break this up into 2 posts because of the character limit, I wish it would let you know why the “Post a Reply” button isn’t working instead of failing silently, but anyway…

there’s no part in even the qualification match assignments that are truly random, computers can’t generate numbers that can’t be predicted if you know all the factors of what goes into generating the number, I think it would be fair to say that disconnections happen “randomly” in the same sense that computers generate “random” numbers. perhaps a more correct term would be pseudo-random disconnects? while there may always be a reason for disconnects, vexnet seems to be too susceptible to these potential causes, and I would argue that the causes are at least sometimes out of the control of the teams. As others have pointed out, it seems unlikely that a situation where a whole alliance, or whole field disconnects at the exact same time is caused by a vexnet key being in a less than ideal location or not being plugged in all the way. I’ve seen situations where throughout the day there’s issues with connection with the common denominator being a specific field even alliance color, if it hasn’t already been done, there should be investigation on what causes this and what teams can do to make it less likely (teams can’t make everyone in the area turn off hotspots). Something interesting I’ve noticed is after a match, when I unplug my controller from field control I consistently observe disconnection a few seconds later, and I’ve never observed it being able to reconnect until the power is cycled. I’ve always thought this to be caused not to be caused by field control itself but my some behavior programmed into the cortex that caused it to happen with the right combination of changes of the state of competition control. If competition control has absolutely nothing to with vexnet connections, even indirectly, then what causes this, and could it be related to what causes whole alliance/field disconnects? Maybe the issues are within the control of competitors, but we just don’t know or understand them so it’s hard to control.

again, thanks for your response, I still don’t completely agree with the changes, but I do respect the decision a lot more.

Unfortunately, I doubt that the decision will be repealed. However, I have committed treason, have turned my back on my countrymen, and am now in favor of the BO1 system. However, I think that there are just too many variables, too many unknowns, to launch every competition into a straight-up, unforgiving BO1 finals and elims. Whether or not @[TVA]Connor Challenge Match is the way to go–currently I’m in favor of it, as it is the best equalizer that has been proposed so far–I absolutely and unequivocally believe that something of the sort must be done. Some sort of fail-safe system that ensures the integrity and consistency of all finals and elims to be played in the future. @Grant Cox , is there any chance whatsoever that something of the sort can and will be implemented?

Most of the time, disconnects are caused by either loose connections from a computer to a tower or by a loose battery connection with a CORTEX. A charged 9V can fix a great amount of disconnects with the remotes, but when it comes to alliance disconnects, there’s no doubt it’s not the team’s fault, so I think it’s best that there should be rematches offered of some sort if it were the case of alliance disconnects.

The VEX Robotics website states the following:

Nice job highlighting the thing you got right. JPearman made a nice thread about how field control works and he contradicts the second part of your statement in detail along with others there.