TSA Nationals Competition Format Opinions

Hi Everyone,

For those of us that compete in TSA either at Nationals or just at the state level, I want to get opinions on the competition and particularly it’s format. For those that don’t compete and want to chime in the format is thus:

**Qualifications **are skills only. Each team has up to 3 attempts at both skills runs. The rankings from these are then combined forming a ranking.

Personally, I don’t mind this part. It is set up in this format so that teams that are participating in other competitions have time to get in their runs when they are free.

**Eliminations are 1v1. They take all teams and this year had 61 teams enter eliminations. I understand that everyone wants to compete. but this seems excessive. looking at the bracket, there were very few teams that were able to pull off an upset. Eliminations with 1v1 is not nearly as much fun for the competitors or the spectators. While sitting in the stands it was obvious that spectators didn’t have the enthusiasm they do at worlds during eliminations.

What do others think about this format? Those of you that don’t compete, why? What would need to change for you to want to compete? RECF and VEX want our opinions and value the time they put in for us to have this additional opportunity.


Team 2131**

I love 1v1. Robot vs Robot No room for error. No whine about your alliance partner. You control your own destiny.

Get someone that knows what they are doing to run the event on multiple fields, you’ll have more matches than your battery packs can take.

We owe most of everything we have done in VEX to TSA. We were founded inside of TSA during gateway season. TSA Nationals was our first event we ever attended with a robot. The format there was exactly like every other VEX event. The students loved every minute of it, and even though we didn’t win they had the drive to want to get more involved in VEX.

For the last three years VEX in TSA has been as Davis says. We also agree the skills qualifying is for sure an easier and fair way to represent robots and allow teams to make other events. The finals however in our opinion don’t embody what VEX is. There is no social interaction and no scouting needed as you won’t need a partner for finals. If teams simply had to select a partner this would eliminate all of that. Not to mention it would cut the eliminations matches in half. There would also be much better matches to watch as there would be fields cleared instead of just watching two teams build the Skyrise. There is also single elimination matches so if a robot DC’s (which happened to us in sack attack nationals) you watch the other team win with no challenge.

Keep the qualifications the same, but have alliances of two teams and double elimination finals. This would be the best of both worlds in our opinion.

I almost fully agree with this setup. In my honest opinion, the current way TSA is set up almost always results in the best robot winning (as it did this year). first off however, the elimination bracket is much too large. If the event were to be transferred to a system like the cyber pirates have mentioned, I believe it should be an 8 alliance bracket (entirely double elimination). This does however present a few individual difficulties for teams: First they must build a robot capable of being best with the aid of another, while qualifying as a singular team. This could be difficult for robots that sacrifice motors and performance to gain a system (like a lifting system) that might harm their qualification attempts. Secondly many teams will travel for many days and only get the chance to be on field 5 times (for skills) - This year i unfortunately lost in the round of 16, so was only able to participate in 2 team v. team matches. Regular Vex tournaments are much more exciting because all teams constantly have things to do and matches to compete in, but TSA is often lackluster comparatively.

If TSA wants to properly crown the right champions, they’re doing nothing wrong. But if they want to make a more enjoyable and exciting event and environment for students and viewers, i believe the tournament setup would benefit greatly from a change as the cyberpirates have mentioned.

I definitely see the advantage of ensuring the best robot wins by making it all 1v1. But there’s also something to be said about the strategy aspect of 2v2. I personally find defensive robots to be some of the most interesting robots (although I may be a bit biased in that respect having built a few D bots) simply because they change the game up and force people to think on their feet, and that kind of robot can pretty much only work in the 2v2 format. Even if none of the robots are dedicated D bots, one of my favorite things in VEX was the fighting over the goals in Toss Up, it made for some very entertaining play, and forced teams to make design decisions between the strength to push robots out of the way and the speed to get where they wanted. A 1v1 match seems to just become a synchronized skills run and take most of the interaction out of the game.

Then there’s the problem that the game is designed for two robots on each alliance. This is especially going to be a problem this year where elevating can’t be a thing because 1v1. That takes an entire mechanic out of the game and gets rid of the incredibly interesting design challenge of lifting a robot you’ve never seen before.

Back when I was in high school (and this remains true) my opinion was that if I wanted to build a cool robot, I could do better than I could with the VEX system. If I wanted an interesting design challenge, there are better design challenges out there. But the thing that I found most interesting was the format of the alliances and playing the metagame. The challenge wasn’t how do I score the most points possible, the challenge was how do I ensure my alliance scores more points than the other alliance. That’s the reason I wouldn’t have wanted to do TSA back in high school, because it doesn’t have the part that made the game fun for me, and if you add that part in you just get regular VRC.