I think the reason they reduced the bonus was so that teams that successfully rush neutral goals have less of an overwhelming advantage. Previously, if an alliance grabs 2 out of 3 or 3 out of 3 neutral goals during auton, they will gain that huge advantage, and they will also likely gain the significant 20 point auton bonus. By making the auton bonus near-worthless, it will partially reduce the advantage rushing center has.
But I agree that 6 points is pretty ridiculous in a game where you can easily earn upwards of 200 points.
I think AWP is possibly the most important thing during qualifications matches, with or without the auton bonus being considered. The main goal of qual matches is to rank high, and getting an extra win point goes a long way in doing that.
I would argue this change makes rings more competitive during auton, because you gain less of an advantage by grabbing goals. Sure, you’ll probably lose auton if you don’t go for the neutral goals, but then you can win the AWP and score a bunch of rings on alliance goals instead. This might be a good thing if your opponents aren’t the type of robots that grab goals and then cling to them all match (because then the neutral goals are lost to you forever), but if they’re the type of bots to just drop goals on their side and leave them, going for AWP and rings is probably a good idea.
That 6 point deficit is nothing, 2 rings. But auton hasn’t been made any less important, just a little bit more of a balanced decision I think. It feels weird that the bonus itself is so insignificant, but that’s just because we’re used to it being such a large portion of the available points. But the difference this year is that the advantage you can gain in auton outside of the bonus is staggeringly high, much more so than any other game I’d argue.