What to Expect
Tournaments are busy, fast-moving days. Here are a few tips to help teams enjoy the day:
- Make sure your team is well rested and well hydrated. Bring snacks that are non-perishable.
- Dress comfortably and wear closed-toed shoes.
- Wearing team shirts or costumes adds to the fun.
- Ensure that your robot is charged and ready for action!
- Make sure all equipment and parts are labeled with your team/contact name or team number.
- Arrive a few minutes early, if possible, and become familiar with the event venue.
- Ensure that an adult associated with the team supervises the students throughout the event.
- Review the event agenda and match schedule. Make sure the students know their team number.
- Assign a timekeeper, who ensures the team arrives on time for their matches.
- Encourage your team to interact and share with other teams to enhance their learning experience.
- Demonstrate courtesy and respect to the dedicated event staff and event participants at all times.
- Offer positive support and encouragement throughout the day.
- Share your team spirit! HAVE FUN!
Safety at Events
Be sure to have everyone review the Safety Procedures at VRC Events. Also remember that all students are required to have a responsible adult onsite to supervise them. The adult must obey all rules and be careful to not violate student-centered policies, but must be present at the event in the case of an emergency. Violations of this rule may result in removal from the event.
When a team arrives at a tournament, they must check in. Each event has a designated check in area where coaches let the event partner know they arrived. The coach receives any pertinent information including inspection sheet, schedule, and pit map.
Team Pit Area
A designated area for coaches and teams. Each pit area has team tables and either access to outlets or a charging area. This pit area is where teams work on their robots, wait for matches, and are interviewed by the event judges. Pit tables are clearly marked by team number.
Before a team may compete in a tournament, they must go through a robot inspection to ensure the robot is in compliance with rules related to size, parts, and software. Legal and non-legal components are defined in the Game Manual. Inspections usually take 20-30 minutes but can take longer, so you'll want to allow for enough time.
An event meeting is typically run by the Head Referee and/or the Event Partner before matches begin. All participants, including students, coaches, and other adults associated with the team are expected to attend. This meeting reviews safety, rules, and behavioral expectations. Event-specific information, like where to line up and/or any adjustments to the schedule, is also provided.
VRC tournaments allows teams of students to showcase their knowledge and skill in designing, building, and programming their robot. As part of many events, volunteer judges review all submitted engineering notebooks, observe team performance, and conduct team interviews in the pit area. Each judged award has specific criteria, as described in the Judging and Awards article.
A Qualifying Match schedule will be distributed after all teams have checked in. This schedule shows the randomly assigned teams that have been paired as alliance partners for each Qualifying Match. For tournaments with multiple fields, the schedule also indicates which field each Match will take place on. Qualification Matches are used to determine rankings for Alliance Selection.
Each two-minute VRC match consists of two teams as the Red Alliance and two teams as the Blue Alliance. Teams put red or blue VRC license plates on opposing sides of their robot to indicate their alliance for the match. Each match starts with an autonomous period, which is followed by a driver-controlled period. The alliance that outscores the other is the winner of that match.
- Find your alliance partner before the match to develop a game strategy and ensure they arrive at the match on time.
- Keep track of the current match number being played and arrive at the queuing area early with your alliance partner.
Robot Skills Matches
During most events, teams have an opportunity to participate in Robot Skills Matches. These are usually held on a separate field near the competition fields or on the main field in the morning. Teams should check the event agenda to determine when the Robot Skills field opens and closes. Most events run Robot Skills matches on a first-come, first-served basis, so teams should plan accordingly to ensure they get their Robot Skills matches completed. There are two types of Robot Skills Matches: Driving and Programming.
Driving Skills Match
A Driving Skills Match consists of a sixty-second Driver Controlled Period. There is no Autonomous Period.
Autonomous Coding Skills Match
An Autonomous Coding Skills Match consists of a sixty-second Autonomous Period. There is no Driver Controlled Period.
Robot Skills Score
A team’s Robot Skills score is determined by the sum of their highest Driving Skills Match and Autonomous Coding Skills Match at the event. Robot Skills matches are optional, but are highly recommended because many awards consider a team's Robot Skills ranking, and Robot Skills rankings may be used to fill spots at Championship events. Teams should review the Robot Skills section of the Game Manual for differences in rules and/or scoring between Robot Skills and Teamwork Matches.
Finals: Alliance Selection
After the Qualifying Matches end, the top-scoring teams choose their alliance partners for the Elimination Matches. Well-formed alliances pair teams that complement each other so that they can outscore their competitors during the Elimination Matches. One member from each of the top-scoring teams serves as a team representative to participate in the Alliance Selection process. The team representative should consult with their teammates about which teams could make the most beneficial alliance partners.
Alliance Selection proceeds as follows:
- The highest-ranked team at the end of Qualification Matches becomes the first Alliance Captain.
- The Alliance Captain invites another team to join their Alliance.
- The invited team representative either accepts or declines as outlined in the tournament rules section of the Game Manual.
- If a team representative declines an Alliance Captain’s invitation during Alliance Selection, that team representative may not accept a later Alliance Captain’s invitation. However, they are still eligible to play Elimination Matches as an Alliance Captain.
- The next-highest-ranked team becomes the next Alliance Captain and repeats the process until all alliances are full. The number of teams participating in the Finals/Elimination Matches is determined by the Event Partner based on the guidelines specified in the Game Manual. Unchosen teams do not participate in the Elimination Matches.
- Teams should refer to the posted Elimination Bracket to determine the order of the Elimination Matches and their alliance color.
Finals: Elimination Matches
In Elimination Matches, Red Alliances and Blue Alliances face off against each other in a “bracket” format; the winning alliance moves on to the next round until one alliance has won over all opponents. Any ties result in additional Matches until one Alliance wins and advances. If a team is disqualified during an Elimination Match, then their alliance partner is also disqualified, and the match is recorded as a loss. The bracket continues to converge with winners moving on until a Tournament Champion alliance is declared!
There are three types of award given at VRC tournaments: performance awards, judged awards, and individual awards. Not all awards are offered at all events. An event's RobotEvents.com listing includes an "Awards" tab that lists the awards to be given at the event, as well as any Championship events that the award may qualify the winner for. Each award has specific criteria, as described in the Judging and Awards article.
World Skills Rankings
After your team attends an event and participates in Robot Skills Matches, those scores are compared to the scores of teams from around the world! Visit VRC World Skill Standings and search by Grade Level or region to see where your team stands in the global rankings.