FTC League Play FAQ (2015-2016 season)
Last updated: 2015.10.28
Overview of this document
This page attempts to document what is known (and not known) about League Play and Qualifying Tournaments in the North Texas FTC Region for the 2015-2016 season. This page is not an official document; the statements below are simply opinions and citations from various sources, and they do not represent official rulings from the regional organizers. Where possible, we will attempt to link to or cite official sources for each of the answers below.
Patrick Michaud (Pm) is the primary maintainer for this page. If you have further questions, suggestions, additions, corrections, or alterations for this page, please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org or post them to the NorthTexasFTC Google Group.
What is League Play?
League play is a different way of organizing FTC competition within a region. A League is a group of 10 to 16 Teams that compete together in a series of League Meets, followed by a League Championship. A League Meet is a one-field competition that is approximately 3-4 hours long, consisting only of robot inspection, qualifying matches, and some minimal judging.
A League Championship consists of inspection, qualifying matches, judging, alliance selection, elimination rounds, awards, and advancement to the Regional Championship. Thus a League Championship is roughly equivalent to a Qualifying Tournament, except that the results of the League Meet matches are also used in the determination of Team Rankings and thus selection of Alliance Captains for the Elimination Rounds (playoffs).
Patrick Michaud likes to say that a League is akin to a 15-20 round Qualifying Tournament that is conducted as a series of smaller events spread out over several weeks.
Why move to League Play?
League Play offers a more robust competition experience to more teams within the Region.
In a Qualifying Tournament, teams usually play only 5 or so rounds of Qualification Matches, and only a small percentage of those teams advance to a Championship. This means that for the majority of teams in the region, a season’s competition is a single day event with 5 or 6 matches, and little or no opportunity to improve, practice, and compete again. League play allows all participating teams to have more matches, and experience the important process of evaluating performance and redesigning for improvement after a competition event.
Also, Qualifying Tournaments rank teams based on a relatively small number of Qualifying Match rounds — usually 5 or 6. This small number of matches means that team rankings are heavily influenced by the match schedule, such as the set of teams you were randomly paired with or against. Since League Play has 15 or more rounds of matches over several events, the resulting rankings are a much more accurate reflection of team and robot performance.
Who decides if a Team is in a League?
For the 2015-2016 season, each team is given the choice between participating in a League or entering a Qualifying Tournament. The final call for joining a league this season was emailed to coaches on October 15.
There is an intent that teams choosing to participate in a league will also be given an opportunity to compete in the final qualifier tournament if desired.
How are Teams assigned to Leagues?
For the 2015-2016 season there are two leagues in North Texas. One is being coordinated and hosted by Greenhill School in Addison, and the other is being hosted by Roosevelt High School in Dallas.
For future seasons, organizing teams into League is an even more open question, and answers will form as our region gains experience with League Play .
How many League competitions will be held?
Is there a preliminary schedule published yet?
The answers to these questions are to come directly from the League itself (i.e., the Teams participating in a League), and are not imposed by the regional organizers. It’s up to each League to decide when events will take place, where they will take place, how they will be staffed, and so on. The main scheduling requirement is that a League must complete all of its meets (at least three are required) and its League Championship by the end of January .
Note that League Meets are typically much easier to organize than a Qualifying Tournament, since League Meets have fewer numbers of teams, require only a single field (and a single set of referees), and do not require judging rooms, awards, playoff rounds, etc. Also, the regional organizers expect to be providing a lot of support assistance to any Leagues formed this season .
How are a Team’s standing in the League determined?
This question was asked at the FTC Team Workshop held on 8/29; as of that time (and as of this writing) the exact mechanism for determining team standings and/or advancement have not been decided yet .
According to the FTC League Meet Guide (2014-11-04, page 15) : At the League Championship the results of the League Meets are imported into the scoring system, with the top 10 Qualifying Points and top 10 Ranking Points being used as the starting values for each Team. Thus, each Team starts out at the League Championship ranked by their top ten Match results. Should a team not have ten Match results, the system will simply use all of the available results for the Team (and their initial standings will be impacted accordingly).
How many teams will advance from a League Championship to the Regional Championship?
There’s no way to know the answer to this question in advance. The number of teams advancing from an event depends on the number of teams participating in the event, the number of teams participating in all other regional advancing events, and the number of slots available at the Regional Championship [3:Section 4.7.3]. These won’t be known until teams complete registration, and in some situations the number of advancing teams may even be increased after an event has completed.
According to Dave Davis at the 8/29 FTC Workshop , the goal is to keep the ratio of advancing teams to participating teams the same across all events. Therefore a 15-team League Championship or Qualifying Tournament will advance half as many teams as a 30-team Qualifying Tournament.
Some pure opinion/speculation from Pm based on the 2014-2015 season: Last season there were four qualifiers, each qualifier advanced approximately 3 teams for every 10 teams competing (i.e., passing robot inspection). This season there is expected to be more teams in the region and more advancing events than last year, thus for this season we can expect that ratio to be somewhat smaller. Pm expects a 10-team League to advance 2 or perhaps 3 teams; a 15-team league or qualifier will likely advance 3 or 4 teams. Again, this is Pm’s speculation and not official.
What is the advancement criteria for advancing from a League Championship?
When asked at the 8/29 FTC Workshop , the answer was that the advancement criteria for Leagues in our region are still being discussed.
The FTC Game Manual Part I  and other resources seem to imply that League Championships are generally equivalent to Qualifying Tournaments, and that the standard Advancement Criteria (Section 4.8) apply.
How does a Team join a League?
For now, teams that are interested in participating in League Play for the 2015-2016 should contact Dr. Carter Tiernan (Affiliate Partner), she will then work with interested teams to pull together a feasible set of leagues.
I still have questions/concerns! Who do I ask?
Questions requiring official answers or responses need to be directed to Dr. Tiernan at UT-Arlington. However, if you ask on the NorthTexasFTC Google Group or send email to Patrick Michaud, other coaches and teams will also be quite happy to let you know what (unofficial) answers they’ve been able to find, and we will update this document accordingly.
1. “FIRST Tech Challenge 2015-2016 season plan” email from Dr. Carter Tiernan, North Texas FTC Affiliate Partner
2. FIRST Tech Challenge League Meet Guide, rev 1.1 (2014-11-04)
3. FIRST Tech Challenge Game Manual Part I, rev 1.1 (2015-07-29)
4. FTC Team Workshop for Android, 2015-08-29