2015 FIRST Championship (and beyond) Eligibility

Blog Date: 
Friday, August 22, 2014 - 11:18

As I said in an earlier blog, we have had a task force working on Championship eligibility for FRC.  The members of this task force are as follows, in no particular order:

  • Jamee Luce – Districts Representative
  • Dennis Hughes – Mentor for Team RUSH, 2014 Chairman’s Award Winner
  • Lane Matheson – 2014 Woodie Flowers Award Winner
  • Naomi Mancuso – FIRST Operations (Customer Service)
  • Jen McManus – FIRST Finance
  • Cindy Stong – Chief Judge Advisor
  • Dana Henry – FIRST Senior Mentor
  • Teri Benart – FIRST Senior Mentor
  • Connie Haynes – FIRST Regional Director
  • Collin Fultz – FRC Team Advocate
  • Me

I want to thank the task force members for all their hard work.  We’re not quite done yet – see below – but we’ve made significant strides.  We have, however, completed our work for changes to the 2015 FRC Championship eligibility.  As a reminder, you can find information about the 2014 eligibility rules here. If no change to the 2014 rules is noted below, the 2014 rules will still hold. 

Also, Districts will be getting the number of available Championship slots (total Championship capacity less the number of pre-qualified teams) proportional to their percentage representation in all FRC.  As an example, if a District has 10% of the teams in FRC, they will be getting 10% of the available slots.  This is similar to what was done last year, but this year, the allocation will be done on current season - 2015 - team counts.  Districts will still be using the points-and-awards system to determine Championship eligibility, as they have been.

Wild Card Changes for 2015

Unlike in prior years, any team arriving at a Regional who has already earned a Championship spot, and ends up on the Winning Alliance at that Regional, or earns an award at that Regional that would make them eligible for Championship, will generate a Wild Card slot.  As an example, if a Hall of Fame team (who is pre-qualified for Championship before the season starts) ends up on the Winning Alliance, that will now generate a Wild Card slot for the Finalist Alliance.  Or, as another example, a team that is on the Winning Alliance at one Regional, then wins the Engineering Inspiration Award at a later Regional, will generate a Wild Card slot at the later Regional.

Also, if a team at a Regional earns the right to attend Championship through two accomplishments at the same event, for example, being on the Winning Alliance and earning Chairman’s Award, that will also generate a Wild Card slot.

These rule changes are cumulative.  So, if a team who already has earned a slot at Championship attends a Regional and is both on the Winning Alliance and wins a Championship qualifying award, like Engineering Inspiration, that team will generate two Wild Card slots.  And will get a congratulatory phone call from POTUS, as they clearly rock.*

Wild Card

If you think this through, you will find that, in most cases, this means that Regionals will be making 6 new, unique teams eligible for Championship attendance.  One important caveat – Wild Cards recipients will still be limited to the Finalist Alliance.  If more Wild Cards are generated than can be absorbed by the Finalist Alliance, those Wild Cards will still go unused and can’t be backfilled or replaced.   

This is good news, right?  I think it’s good news.  But I’m sure you’ll let me know.

Waitlist Changes for 2015

With the increase in team capacity at the 2015 FIRST Championship, even with the increase in Wild Card availability outlined above, we expect to be able to offer a good number of Waitlist slots in 2015. To support our interest in the fair distribution of these slots, and to provide greater opportunity for teams that haven’t attended in a few years, we are making some changes.

Waitlist slots will no longer be first come first served, as they have been – essentially – in prior years.   When teams sign up for the Waitlist will no longer matter, as long as they sign up during the time the Waitlist is open.

Also, teams will be selected randomly from the Waitlist, with the number of chances they have of being selected equal to the number of years they have missed attending Championship.  As an example, if a team on the 2015 waitlist last attended Championship in 2012, that team has ‘missed’ Championship twice, and so will have their number ‘put in the hat’** twice.  If a team on the 2015 waitlist last attended Championship in 2004, they have ‘missed’ Championship 10 times, and will have their number put in the hat 10 times.***     Teams who have never been to Championship will be considered as missing every year they have been a team.  You will note this means that teams who attended Championship in 2014 will not be eligible for selection from the Waitlist.  As a practical matter, though, since for several years Waitlist sign-ups for teams attending the prior year Championship have been later than those who had not attended the prior year, we rarely – if ever – have ended up inviting those prior-year teams anyway.   One final note – teams must have participated in FRC during all their ‘missed’ years for those years to count in this system.  As an example, for a team that participated in FRC in 2002, then did not participate again until 2005, we would only look back to 2005 in determining Championships missed.

Rookie All Star Changes for 2015

This is less of a change and more of a fine-tuning that we wanted to let you know about.  Rookie All Star winners at Regionals, and District Championships, will still be offered a slot at Championship.  However, we have noticed that at nearly every Regional, regardless of the number of Rookies present, Rookie All Star gets awarded.  It has become more of an ‘automatic’ award then was intended.  We will be working with the Judge Advisors this season to help clarify the standards for this award.  We love having Rookies at Championship, and we absolutely want to recognize the many outstanding Rookies we have every year, but winning an award that makes a team eligible for Championship should be a big deal, and we want to keep it meaningful.  We don’t expect, or desire, a significant drop in the number of Rookie All Star awards presented, but you may see a few more Regionals not presenting Rookie All Star award than you have in the past, and this will be the reason.

This issue is not a concern at District Championships, as Rookie All Stars selected there have already had to pass through a selection gate at the District level, and only one or two Rookie All Stars from each District as a whole are selected to go to the FIRST Championship.

Longer-Term Changes

To get serious now.  While changes for 2015 Championship eligibility were easy for us, we see a problem on the horizon.  We project that within a few years, our current system of Championship eligibility for Regionals will result in an overbooked situation.  The task force continues to work on longer-term changes, and will release information on eligibility for later Championships by the end of October.  You should know, though, that for us to ensure we don’t exceed our Championship capacity in later years, we will likely need to change eligibility rules, so some teams that have been eligible in the past will no longer be eligible.   These won’t be easy decisions for us, but we are working very carefully to ensure the fairest result possible, and we will detail the reasons for our decisions when the information is released.


* I’m joking about that call.

** No actual hat will be used.  We think.

*** Yes, this is the Hunger Games model, but you’re getting invited to an awesome party instead of near-certain death.  No, you may not ‘volunteer as tribute’, wise guys.


Will this change district championship eligibility/points system?

Is there a listing anywhere of which awards are optional? Or are all awards optional? I know that I thought, and I believe many others think too, that the Judges' Award was the only one.

There is still no relationship between the number of teams allowed at a Regional and the number of Championship slots given. Some Regional events have fewer team slots than some districts. Need a way to ensure percentages across the board not just in the district models. Question on the District percentage allocation. Are the Hall of Fame teams and last year's champions included in the District Slots? Michigan has 3 Hall of Fame teams, so are 3 of the MI slots taken very year by these 3 teams?

Has the number of fields and how many teams will be at Championship been announced already? I feel like this might be important to know/understand with these new changes.

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