FIRST Robotics Competition Blog

Priority Waitlist Slot Releases

Mar 18, 2022 Written by Frank Merrick, Director FIRST Robotics Competition




In the Championship Potpourri Blog, we explained the Priority Waitlist Process. Step #2 in that process was indicated as “Determine the number of slots to be awarded based on FIRST Championship declines, position in the season, and any other factors.” I would like to give you a little more detail on that step and tell you how we plan to be more transparent on that determination.

We have a spreadsheet that shows the number of teams that have registered for FIRST Championship to date, how many Regionals we have coming up, how many slots Districts will fill, and a place for us to enter our best estimate on the future Regional slot offer acceptance rate. Taken together, this gives us an estimate of how many slots we will have filled by the time we get to the big dance.

Every week, the day after the deadline for teams to accept and pay for their Championship slot offers, a small group of us from several departments updates the spreadsheet and determines how many waitlist slots we should release that week. Our objective is to release as many slots as possible every week while ensuring we will not exceed FIRST Championship capacity. Nominally, our capacity is 450 FIRST Robotics Competition teams, though we plan to have about 460 or so pits, so we can over-invite slightly to make sure we hit that 450-team target.

In practice, this means waitlist slots are released Thursdays early in the season and Wednesdays later in the season, as we need some time for the dust to settle from the events that happened over the weekend.

We’re sure the teams on the Priority Waitlist are anxious to know if and when they may be invited to FIRST Championship. We have decided we will be posting the number of waitlist slots that are being released weekly on the Championship Eligibility Page. We will also be posting to social media when those slot counts are updated.

Important Note: Teams that are eligible for the Priority Waitlist are automatically added to it. There is no action required by teams to join that list.

We completed our meeting for this week’s waitlist release Thursday and can release three Priority Waitlist slots this week. If you are one of the lucky teams, you will be getting an email soon if you haven’t already. And keep an eye on social media for more updates!


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How about you stop taking away district slots when a team earns a spot at a regional. Indiana has already lost 1 of our slim 8 slots.

FIRST Championship slots are challenging to allocate fairly between District and Regional teams even in an ordinary year. This season, the smaller number of slots available made a difficult situation worse. However, every District gets allocated the number of slots at FIRST Championship equal to their percent representation in all of FIRST Robotics Competition. Even though one team from Indiana earned their slot to Championship by attending a Regional, Indiana will still send 8 teams to Championship. To add a slot would be to exceed their fair representation at Championship and take one away from Regional teams, who, unlike Districts, do not have guaranteed representation. I recognize that it's painful to not have any points-based advancement from the Indiana Championship. Regionals are experiencing pain this season also, with the loss of the standard extra Wildcard slot and the loss of automatic advancement of Rookie All-Star award winners and the 2nd pick on the winning alliance. We all need to share in the difficulties this season, unfortunately. Hopefully, in the coming years, we will get back to having a larger number of slots available at FIRST Championship. 

Thanks for the insightful comment Frank, like Scott in the thread above I too actually found this thread whilst trying to figure out how IN didn't get to send any teams by the district point system. I'm an alumni of a team who made it all the way to Einstein one year after earning our slot via district points, so it was frustrating to not see some of our best competitors represented at champs - doubly so when finding out a spot was "stolen" by a regional win. Your explanation makes a lot of sense, especially after finding out championship had ~150 less slots than my time in FRC as well as understanding the changes made to the regional system this year.

However, I wanted to comment on a quote from you though. You say:

"To add a slot would be to exceed their (IN) fair representation at Championship and take one away from Regional teams, who, unlike Districts, do not have guaranteed representation".

Which is fair, but also implies an over-representation for teams competing at a regional coming from a district. I.E. any team coming from a district whilst at a regional are competing to take slots from teams that have no representation by a district AND potentially taking a spot away from their home district by competing outside the scope of said district, they're double dipping in my eyes. 

To my knowledge there is no limitations or rules against district teams competing at regionals which furthers the issue as it makes earning champs slots "pay to win" in a way. Recognizing the registration fees are $5000 for two district events and $5000 for one regional, this representation double dipping is only available to the wealthier teams. I know FIRST does its best to stand for fairness, equity, and equality across it's competition but district teams being allowed to compete at regionals feels like a small oversight in that regard. 

Just my two cents, thanks for all you do for the FRC community!

Charles, you are welcome! And I think it's true that teams with more resources are likely to have a greater chance of making it to FIRST Championship. On the other hand, we do want to have a system that reasonably supports additional plays for teams, as they desire and have the means to attend. Also, it's no secret that those additional plays help keep FIRST going financially. Without a robust additional play system, we'd have to look at some potentially painful choices. However, it's clear the advancement system is due for review. We'll be looking at it for 2023, once we have a good idea of how many teams we'll be able to advance to the FIRST Championship level.

What is the likelihood of even being chosen on the open waitist? I'm sure this year it is nearly impossible.

Correct. There were so many teams that accepted their invitations to the FIRST Championship, we had little opportunity to backfill and haven't yet been able to even exhaust the Priority Waitlist. 

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