FRC Blog

Replays and Montreal Finals

Mar 06, 2018 Written by Frank Merrick.




Over the weekend, I had a decision to make about a replay based on a unique match situation.

I received a call about a finals match at the Festival de Robotique - Montreal Regional. After the match, the scores continued to increment even though the match was over. Clearly, there was an arena fault (or in this year’s parlance “Arcade Fault”). The question was “replay or no replay?” Usually this question is handled at the events themselves, but sometimes the question gets escalated, as in this case.

The replay rules are in Section 10.8 of the manual. Three conditions must be met before a replay takes place:

  1. There must be an arcade fault
  2. The arcade fault must have affected the outcome of the match
  3. The affected alliance must want a replay

While it’s common in our community, and even sometimes among staffers and key volunteers, to use the term ‘arena fault’ as a stand-in for ‘replay,’ the game manual itself makes a clear distinction. I’m sure I’ve done it myself sometimes. It can be tempting shorthand.

In the Montreal situation, condition one was obviously met. The field should not have continued to add scores. However, my understanding at the time was that there were no indications that any scoring issues were occurring before the end of the match. Field personnel did not notice any issues, and we did not have any information from teams suggesting there was a problem. Based on the belief at the time, that the arena fault was restricted to after the match was over, I did not believe replay condition two had been met.

In addition, using video of scores displayed at t=0, we felt we could clearly determine that the Red Alliance had won the match and by a substantial margin. The rules say video will not be reviewed at the event, and it wasn’t. Just like other high school sports, the call on the field is the call on the field. We don’t review video emailed to us by teams or at the request of local FIRST management. However, under extreme circumstances, like this one, when we are contacted about something very unusual, video can sometimes help provide context on information being reported in the field. Video in this case was used very narrowly, only to determine the score showing at the end of the match.

Based on all the information I had at the time, I gave the instruction that there be no replay, and that the Red Alliance be declared the winner.

As we looked more into this situation after the event though, we have come to realize that there were additional issues with scoring during the match, which we think could have affected the outcome.

Because of the additional issues found, we can’t say with certainty what the score should have been at t=0, so you won’t see any update to the match data or final score on the FRC Events page.

I believed I was making the fairest decision possible at the time, and I apologize to our community and especially to the teams involved in the Montreal finals, that we couldn’t provide a clean match for you.

However, the call will stand. The declared winners of the event are the winners, and their victory will remain in the record books. Fortunately, all six teams in the finals matches earned their way to FIRST Championship at the event, which hopefully is some consolation.

Also, we are working to understand what caused this issue in the first place. This condition does seem rare. However, we are instructing our FTAs that if they see this condition again, they should assume that it is an arena fault and likely affected match outcome, but that they should contact HQ support. Assuming the HQ team agrees the outcome was affected and the affected alliance wants a replay, a replay would then occur.

I’m sorry again for this problem.


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On behalf of team 5528, I want to thank you for your transparency, honesty and professionalism. As a team we accepted the decision on saturday night and have since move on. We are proud of what we have already accomplished this season and looking forward to Detroit. P.S. Come visit us in our pit anytime :)

As a mentor of team 5443, I'd like to thank you aswell for your honesty and for taking the time to discuss the matter more deeply. We are glad this can help you investigate more on this issue. We accept the final decision made on that day and are looking forward to seeing the teams again in detroit for the championship. Montreals Regional was a success as it is every year! Good luck to everyone for the remainder of the season!

Once again, Frank Merrick displays why he makes FRC an amazing organization. I have participated in and had issues with numerous school competitions. None of them came anywhere close to providing as much information about how decisions were made as Frank has multiple times. I have even been on the "losing" side of one of those decisions but appreciated the honesty and clarity of the explanation provided by Frank.

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