Why does it seem like no Vex teams Scout??

This is something that I have noticed after I’ve been doing Vex for the past 3 years. There is always a lack of Scouting at Vex Competitions. :frowning:

When the alliance selections go around, its almost always the same story. 1st picks 2nd, 3rd picks 4th, etc etc…which is fine, if a teams ranking always matched up with the quality of the robot! But it never does. Teams get stuck in not so great matches or have some issues with their robot in the qualifications and it throws them down in the rankings. A good team would have noticed from pre scouting and watching matches where that robot was working and simply had some issues. After talking to the team and watching them give a brief demo, the team can show that the robot has been fixed and is in perfect working order. The picking team now has a solid alliance partner. But I don’t see any of this! What is wrong?

I’m part of an FRC team and scouting is a whole different story. Teams will pick teams from whatever rankings they would like. I can’t remember exactly, but there was a case last year that a robot was dead throughout all the qualification matches then they got it working just in time for the alliance picking. A team that did pre scouting and talked to the team picked them and they won the regional. Some might call that cheap, I would say its smart scouting.

Could it be the lack of memeber on the team to designate a the job of scouting soley to one person? Maybe, but at a regional with about 32 members. Its not to hard to walk through the pits and categorize teams to watch and teams to, well, not worry about. :confused: Such a task could also be given to parents to keep a list of teams to check out based on how they looked on the field and not if they won or lost a match.

I feel Scouting is a very important part of the game that many teams are over looking. If your in the top 12. You should have a list of teams ready to go. There should never be a case when you are clueless and are looking down the line and pick w/e robot looks good. Many good teams that had some issues in the qualifications and get stuck with not so great alliances.

To all teams, do your scouting! Talk to teams! If your picking a team in the top 8, its always a good idea to tell them that you want to pick them, so if they feel that your the better robot, they will deny everyone else and except you. If your on your 2nd pick, and the robots aren’t looking so great, focus in on the ones that can do one thing really good, for example, a team that has a fast/powerful DT that can harass the other team allowing you to do all the scoring.

Scouting is important, and can’t be based on numbers. It takes observation and communication. :smiley:

We do not generally focus our scouts on alliances, but more on oppositions. We send them to find out what their robots can, cant and have trouble doing. We also get them to derive strategies to defeat these robots, as in cleansweep where some robots could not get balls in corners (and in one case, the robot broke while attempting to get them). We generally dont get them to focus on alliance selection because in New Zealand, all the teams know each other and who are good so it is rather easy - in fact, yesterday the top 6 teams had a group talk about who would go with who…

I really must tend to disagree because at the majority of tournaments i have attended the alliance picks more often than not reflect the quality of the robots. I think at most large tournaments, like Pan Pacific or Worlds, the top 8 teams will pick teams which are deserving of the selection. I also believe that it may be more common for 1 to pick 2 etc etc… in smaller tournaments because their are a lot fewer robots in attendance; thus, the good robots will be more likely to be at the top of the rankings because of fewer matches or other factors that come with a smaller sized tournament.

All in all, I know of several VEX teams which do have a substantial scouting section which pays off in many situations.

Just my 2 cents :slight_smile:

I agree with 254pride, many of the big competitions have people scouting. However at small tournaments here, there is a significant difference in how many people scout.

At Pan Pacific, my teams were ranked around high, but not alliance picking high. We were still picked because of one team’s capabilities, and one team’s driving. My old schools second or first tournament, I remember people on our team scouting.

I think the reason people aren’t seen scouting is because they know who is good by the screen (small tournaments) or they just don’t have motivation. :frowning:

We actually have teams consisting of 4 people at the maximum. My team (a team of two) scouts nevertheless. Our driver goes alone sometimes, while I scout. The reason my team scouts is to find how well an opponent works, and to see how the next match is going to work out. Nevertheless, scouting helps.

I think it’s mainly because Vex teams are usually about 4-7 people per team. You really need about 4 people to scout well, so there’s just not the manpower unless you have multiple teams per school and share data.

i think for smaller competitions, everyone already “knows” who the best robots are (team number wise)
all it takes is a glimpse of it at a match and you can tell right away if they are still at the top or not.
i agree that at the US finals and at Worlds, scouting will be HUGE because you wouldnt know each and every team from past experiences

Scouting isn’t really needed to find the best robots. It’s needed to find the diamonds in the rough.

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Scouting is also needed to find the best TEAMS. Being able to work well with your alliance partners is crucial in the elimination rounds.


I think scouting to find a third partner that can contribute is more useful than scouting all bots at smaller tournaments.

My team is currently preparing a monstrous plan to scout at worlds which involves recording every detail of every match in the divisions we have robots in. We are also experimenting with different ways to get the data to the drive team. This would be easy if we had internet, but since there is no WiFi at worlds and it is an event hall, so I’m gonna guess there is little to no 3g service in there. (unless Disney had microcells installed).

Right now we working on ad-hoc solutions for data transport (Bluetooth, WiFi)

at worlds, were planning to have a dedicated guy just sitting in the stands all day with a scouting binder and a tripod and camcorder
that way we can analyze the videos and notes when we get back to the hotel

It’s not true that no VEX teams scout. I know of one team at Worlds last year that not only scouted, they printed up their scouting results and distributed them to other teams in their division. I see more and better scouting at older local events than at new ones, and (obviously) the more experienced teams better understand the value and do better scouting.

VRC has added more than 2,000 new teams in the last two years, and there is a LOT for these rookies to learn about competition robots beyond just building a robot.

I guess the real question is, what are you doing to teach new teams how to be effective competitors?

I was actually going to do exactly this… Although I am one of the drivers on our robot, and I can’t see anyone else agreeing to this, mainly because we are all drivers on our sub-team… Although now I’ve derived an iPhone/iPod Touch scouting system, that we will be using. After collecting all the scouting data we will dump all the data from the iPhones/iPod Touches and will sort and view the data from there. When it comes time for alliance selection, we will most likely move the CVS file with all the data on it back onto the iPhones/iPod Touches, (as they will be more portable) and we will use those to pick our alliance partners.

At our last tournament we tested this, and it worked pretty well. It was nice having the info there, even if we had a somewhat mad dash scanning the data as we were not prepared as much as I’d like to have been, but testing it at the VMAC should get everything perfected. Also we should have plenty of time at both the VMAC and Worlds to overview all the data and sort the teams in our desired order.


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In many new competitions, there are several cases of 1 picks 2, 2 picks 2, etc.
This leaves the original rank 10-14 as captain of alliance #8.

A veteran rank Captain #1 rarely needs 1 or 2 picks for their second alliance slot, and then by their third slot pick they only need to pick the top of a list of 8. Captain #1 only needs a simple ranked list of teams they like 10 deep.

When Rank 13 becomes Captain #8, their 3rd pick is the 16th robot chosen, so their list needs to be at least 16 deep. They need the longest list, and are likely the least experienced. Thats why Shouting out numbers often works.

What other ways can competition organizers (, or competition software) help these novices make their alliance selections in a timely manner?

I feel like there is actually a good amount of scouting going on. It may not all be FRC style scouting where you have a notebook or laptop and you write down a bunch of things in different categories, i feel like in Vex there is a lot of going through the pits or watching the matches and seeing who is good, figuring out if you are with team X which teams will likely then group together and thinking about whether or not you and team X can beat the predicted alliances that will form.

As far as second pics go i have noticed that at small regionals by the time the second pics start it seems as though most of the robots are all right around the same level of competitiveness and for the most part picking based on rank for a second pick (at a small regional) is not the worst thing ever.


At our last tournament we were 3rd I believe. We were picked by the #2 seed (if I’m not mistaken) but declined, because we had done scouting and knew we wanted the #5 seed. (again I’m not 100% sure on these numbers) If we hadn’t done as much scouting work as we had, we most likely would have accepted to the #2 seed, and may not have won the tournament. Scouting is very important, even just a little will help you a lot. At smaller tournaments, maybe not so much. Especially early in the year when there are only a few truly good robots out there most of the time. But later in the year, you better have some sort of list of who you want, because the ranking system won’t always be the best way to go. (Unless you’re in a ~13 match tournament, like the VMAC, in that case the rankings are usually pretty accurate, anyway.)


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I setup a website that publishes tournament data. The primary purpose is to help all teams scout (even small ones with no money). The idea is for everybody to be able to access matchlists, rankings, scores, and useful statistics. The secondary purpose is to help people who can’t make it to the competition follow the results live. It can be accessed at the following URL:


Click the checkboxes on the bottom of the rankings pare to see averages, skills scores, and some predictions.

So far it has been primarily used around Maryland and Pennsylvania. However, anyone who runs an event is welcome to use it. Just let me know when you want to use it (only one event can use it at a time) and I’ll give you a URL to put in Tournament Manager.

The currently displayed data is from the DC Knights Championship this weekend. On Thursday it will be updated for the Vex Mid-Atlantic Championship.

There is a possibility it might be available in April…

… O.O Oh my gosh… that would be… awesome to say the least! I’m guessing the results would have to be projected somewhere? Due to the problem of no Wi-Fi?


I know that our team takes scouting very seriously, and we have about 15 scouts on our team. Im the lead scout, as you might know from “Scouting with Michael Amoun”. At competitions in Southern California there are a lot of teams that scout. In fact almost every team does scout at competitions. Im not sure if teams in your area scout, but i know that scouting is the big big part of winning the worlds or winning your division at worlds. If your not allyed with good teams, your going to lose, no matter what team you are. Even team 44 design this year is based off of having a good alliance partner. They will focus on mwb, while their alliance partners will focus on high goals and hanging. Basically you have to have good allys this year, this is why scouting is so important. And trust me every team will be scouting at worlds. :wink:

We reference scouting as spying round here haha, and we will take a stroll through the pits during opening ceremony, but our team is trying to get a good scouting team formed, the issue is we’re a young program and all the guys who have any experience at all in what a good robot might have or perform like are either A) Driving B) Coaching a driver or C) Making minor adjustments to one of our robots. We have one freshman in particular, who I wouldn’t trust to build with Legos let alone Vex and kills computers just looking at them, but he is a true social butterfly and would make a wonderful scout team leader the only issue is bringing him up to speed…