FIRST Robotics Competition Blog

2018 FIRST Championship and Beyond

Feb 06, 2018 Written by Frank Merrick and Don Bossi.



2018 FIRST Championship

Written by Frank Merrick.

We have changes in store for how we are running the playoff rounds and closing celebration at FIRST Championship. As folks may know, the Detroit and Houston Championship locations are comparable, in that they use a convention center for most activity before the focus shifts to a football or baseball stadium some distance away for closing celebrations. We learned a great deal from our experience in Houston last year, and we believe these changes will make things better. No approach is going to be ideal from every perspective, but our target is 'improved', not 'perfect'.

We heard feedback from folks that Houston last year, during qualification rounds, felt in many ways like 6 individual events that happened to be playing at the same time. This is not what we wanted it to feel like. FIRST Championship is the biggest FIRST Robotics Competition of the year, and we want folks to be able to feel that. So, in the convention centers at both Houston and Detroit, we're going to be rotating the fields and putting them end to end. Spectators, while focusing on their own fields, will be able to look side to side and realize they are part of something much larger. The image below is not necessarily the final layout, and just shows Houston, but the Detroit layout will be similar.

2018 Draft Houston Layout FIRST Robotics Competition

This change in field layout also facilitated our next change. We believe the closing celebration should be intense, predictable in length, and feel like it's moving at a good pace. For this reason, the round-robin portion of the Einstein tournament with the 6 sub-division winning alliances will be played in the convention center on the center two fields that have been converted to the 'Mass' and 'Energy' Einstein fields. Viewing for spectators not near the center of the seating areas will be supplemented by the large video screens that will be hanging over all fields. At the conclusion of the round-robin play, when we are down to our top two Alliances, the action will move to the stadium, for the best 2 of 3 matches between those final contenders. The stadium is also, of course, where we will be presenting the most prestigious of all awards in FRC, the Chairman's Award. FIRST Tech Challenge will also be playing their final matches in the stadium and presenting their top award, the Inspire Award. With a little entertainment mixed in, we think this is going to be a fun and exciting activity that will be an enjoyable length.

We know this is a significant change to how we did things last year in Houston, and we can't predict precisely how this will go, but just like many FRC teams themselves, we think it's occasionally worth risking a change to make an improvement.




Festival of Champions Update

Written by Don Bossi.


Dear FIRST® Community,

What makes a champion? In FIRST®, it means truly embracing our mission and our core values of Gracious Professionalism® and Coopertition®. It means pursuing the spirit of innovation. It means having a passion for using technology and engineering to make the world a better place.


As many of you know, in 2017 we expanded FIRST Championship to two locations. Our primary intent was to make the life-changing excitement and inspiration of the FIRST Championship more accessible and affordable to more kids and teams. I’m proud to say we’re moving in that direction: 1,400 teams attended the 2017 FIRST Championship, 500 more than in 2016.  Of course, that’s out of more than 50,000 FIRST teams worldwide, so we’re doing this while still providing a very selective level of competition. 


When we announced the dual FIRST Championship structure, we did not plan to host a culminating event for winning teams from both events. However, based on feedback from the FIRST community, we decided to pilot the FIRST Festival of Champions here in New Hampshire this past summer. The event included the winning FIRST® Tech Challenge and FIRST® Robotics Competition Alliances and Chairman’s and Inspire Award-winning teams from the FIRST Championship 2017 events in Houston and St. Louis.


We learned a lot at our pilot Festival event. One item of note was that teams already felt like world-class champions at the conclusion of the FIRST Championship events, just as they had in past years. Another was that the additional resources required to travel and compete at another official FIRST event created a hardship for many teams. For those and other reasons, we have decided to discontinue the FIRST Festival of Champions event.


After Championship last year, we designated members of the winning Alliances and Chairman’s and Inspire Award winners at both FIRST Championship events as members of the FIRST Class of Champions. This special distinction will continue to be given in recognition for reaching the highest level of achievement in our community. To all current and future members of the FIRST Class of Champions: You should be incredibly proud to achieve this honor and to share it with other world-class members of the FIRST Community.


To all teams competing this season: Good luck! I look forward to meeting some of you at the 2018 FIRST Championship in Houston and Detroit this April and celebrating all the champions.



Donald E. Bossi

President, FIRST

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I understand the reasons for discontinuing the Festival of Champions, but to me, something will be missing from FRC, without having a true championship alliance.  For now, I'll say congratulations to Teams 2767, 254, 862, and 1676, the last ever (at least for now} FRC champions. Those teams are now a part of FRC history.  I still appreciate being part of the last pre-alliance team, Team 45,  to win the championship, in 1998.

That is not just true for FRC.  It's true for FTC too.  I am an FRC mentor, but I am a fan of FTC Festival Winner Rednek Robotics. I started following them last year.  I know that it was great to make it all the way to the Festival of Champions, and win, but I also know that it nearly did them in financially, not just as a team, but the people on the team too.  So it was a great win that they probably could not afford to repeat.  I am sure that they are not the only ones that would have that problem.  Still...having a true "Champion" would be nice...

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