Normally we wouldn't talk about individual District Championships we have coming up, but Michigan has an unusual circumstance I thought folks even outside Michigan might want to know about.
The Michigan State Championship next weekend will include 160 (!) teams divided into four Divisions of 40 teams each*. The folks in Michigan came to FIRST HQ with some concerns about team assignments to those Divisions. Because of the relatively smaller Division sizes, and the fact that points earned within these Divisions will contribute to teams earning their way to the FIRST Championship, they wanted to make sure the Divisions were balanced with respect to team strength. An overpowered Division in Michigan would likely be an unfair burden to mid-level teams in that Division, as they would be facing greater obstacles in earning the points they need to get to the FIRST Championship. At the same time, they also wanted to avoid a system in which Team X and Team Y would never play in the same Division, just because they happen to be adjacent to each other near the top of the state's rankings. FIRST HQ agreed with these concerns.
Dan Kimura and Jim Zondag from Michigan developed a Divisional assignment program that balances teams by rank between Divisions and provides a roughly equal chance that any one team will be assigned to any given Division. They are providing this program to FIRST HQ, and we will be the ones to actually run the program and integrate the results into FIRST HQ systems. You can see them talk about this system in an 'extra' of Michigan's excellent RoboZone TV show, for which they provide analysis, here.
The final Michigan District events are coming up this weekend. Shortly after their conclusion, FIRST will have final ranks posted here. This will indicate which teams are qualified to attend the Michigan Championship. However, there is a chance not every team qualified will be able to attend, so we want to give at least some time for teams to decline invitations before we run the Divisional assignment program. So, we'll be running the program the night of Tuesday, 4/11, and posting those assignments that night. There's still a chance for changes, but those changes will be handled on a case by case basis manually. In other words, the full Divisional assignment program will not be re-run, just because a few teams drop out and the next ranked teams on the list are brought in. If a team sees themselves in a Division Tuesday night, they will be staying in that Division, though the exact make-up of that Division may change slightly.
A few other things to note about the Michigan Championship:
- With the exception of the Chairman's, Engineering Inspiration, and Rookie All-Star Awards, each Division will have a full set of team awards. This is the same way we handle things at FIRST Championship.
- The four Divisional winning alliances will meet in playoff matches consisting of semi-final and final rounds, in a best two of three format. Teams will continue to earn points for winning a given playoff series in these extended rounds, five points per match won in which they participated with their robot, in the same way they had earned points in their Divisional playoff rounds. As an example, a team on an Alliance that won a semi-final round in the extended playoff, and participated in all matches within that round, would earn 10 points, just as they had for earlier playoff rounds. Remember that all points earned at District Championships are multiplied by three before being added to a team's total, so these 10 points will equate to 30 points in the team's final tally.
We'll be looking through the FIRST Robotics Competition manual to make sure our rules align with this new approach in Michigan, and make any necessary changes in next week's Team Update.
I'm looking forward to all the events this weekend, and can't wait for the FIRST Championship, at which we will welcome more teams than ever!
*And, BTW, is guaranteed to be an awesome show!