There are 2 main parts to a competition. There are qualification matches, and elimination matches. During the qualification matches, teams are competing in random matches to rank higher going into elimination matches. In elimination, teams follow a bracket in single-elimination matches until the competition winner is decided in the finals matches.
Example Competition Schedule
In the above schedule, you can see that there is a very early start and a lot of movement throughout the whole day. Below, the schedule will be broken down a little bit.
- Doors Open
- This is the first chance to get into the competition venue and set up the team's pit. Most likely the team's pit is a table with some chairs, some outlets (very limited), and a sign with your team number. Get in early to find your pit, get familiar with the venue (look for competition fields, skills fields, judging areas, and restrooms).
- Registration and Check-In
- Here, teams need to go to the registration table and check-in with the Event Partner or volunteers. There will be a list of all teams and the team will be asked for any remaining paperwork that is needed (team registration, photography release, covid screening, etc.). Be prepared with everything required by the EP to make this go smoothly. Additional information for the event may also be given at this time (lunch orders, venue map, etc.).
- Drivers Meeting
- Here, the head referee will introduce themselves and the referee team. They will likely go over some rules that are commonly broken by teams and introduce the general layout of the competition. Here is a great time to ask about any recent Q&A posts as well as rules that might be unclear.
- Here are the qualification matches for the day. They will be discussed later but most likely, each team will play 6-8 matches allianced with and against randomly generated teams. These matches will determine the ranking for elimination matches.
- Teams are normally given about an hour here to eat, and often run skills runs. Events will often give the option to order food (most likely pizza) or teams can bring their own food or run out for something. Qualification matches resume promptly after this and this break can be shortened to make up for delays so be sure to listen for announcements and stay in earshot.
- Alliance Selection
- After all qualification matches are played, a ranking is given to each team. The top teams (normally 8-12) get to choose another team to alliance with through the elimination rounds. Starting from the number 1 seeded team, teams take turns selecting a team. The chosen team can decline, however, once they decline, they cannot be chosen by another team. After all, alliances are formed, elimination matches are played.
- Event Partners, Volunteers, and Judges give awards here based on the outcome of the day. The quantity varies by each event but generally, there is excellence, design, and 2 tournament champions along with others at the EP's discretion. All of this is laid out on robot events for each competition as well as what each award qualifies a team for.
Example Match Schedule for Team 91A
Above is an example match schedule that a team might see in a day (In the Vex Via app). The above team will be playing 8 matches which is slightly above average (expect 6-8). Each of the above matches is randomly assigned as per the game manual. The time between matches is ranges drastically though so it is important to keep track of current matches and arrive roughly 5 minutes before matches. Before each match, make sure to also talk to alliance partners before the match. Discuss robot functionality, strategies, opponent research, and anything that might be relevant to the year's game.
- Safety Glasses, Safety Glasses, Safety Glasses
- Every person who will come to the field needs to have a pair of safety glasses or they will not be allowed to stand there. Some events will allow students with glasses (for vision) to not wear a pair of safety glasses but still bring another pair just to be safe.
- Back-up Batteries
- Matches will come up close to each other in the schedule and chargers will not be fast enough to keep one or even two batteries to be fully charged at the start of each match being played. At least 3 batteries is recommended for a standard competition to be safe and not add extra stress.
- Back-up Motors
- If possible, bring extra motors and cartridges. It is possible for motors to break during competitions whether it be from over-use or by being hit during a match. Also bring extra wires and zip ties (anything needed to replace a motor). Cartridges will also sometimes break or often wear out / need grease and make a robot perform poorly.
- Bring whatever tools you can. It would be best to have several sets of Allen keys, screwdrivers, and nut drivers. Power tools are not recommended but there are often areas for cutting (so bring a hand saw and file) as well as sometimes Dremel cutting tools or drills. It would also be a good idea to bring a set of screwdrivers, a nut driver, and a wrench to the field.
- A Field Go Bag
- Teams will have to run back and forth to the fields for matches and will not have time to run back to their pit for something right before a match so a small bag is a good idea. In here, have some extra screws and nuts, zip ties, rubber bands, and a set of small tools. Also, try to keep an extra battery here.
- Limited Parts
- It is common for teams to want to bring everything they own to each competition in case something breaks. Keep in mind that the pits will be crowded with limited space and no rebuilding should be taking place at a competition. Bring some metal, some gears (to replace current ones. not every size), some backup Lexan, and hardware.
- Game Elements
- There will not be easy access to game elements for practice or testing during competitions most likely. Do not bring large pieces (Turning Point Platforms for example) but smaller elements are very helpful.