Thursday, April 19, 2012

How to fix the FIRST Championship

Next week is the 21st edition of the FIRST Championship and it will be the largest one yet. It will not only feature FLL and FTC teams but almost 400 FRC teams in four divisions. This is up from 352 last years and its starting to get to the point where it is too big and something need to be done. Over the past couple of weeks there have been numerous thread on Chief Delphi discussing ways to fix Championship and most revolve around moving it to a larger venue. I have my own idea which I will lay out below and it doesn't involve moving to a new venue and here it is:

Before I get to the FRC Championship I want to discuss the FTC Championship and FLL World Festival. There are around 2000 FTC teams throughout the world and 128 of them compete at Championship which is 6% of all FTC teams. Compare that to FRC's 17% participation at Championship and your average FTC team will make there Championship once every 15 years. That means that like FRC most FTC students will never make Championship in there time on their team. Lego Leagues' percentages are even worse because of the quantity of teams, something like over 5000. On top of that as long as FRC is in the same building both FTC and FLL is be overshadowed and won't be able to get much recognition.

To fix this and improve both FRC's championship as well as FTC and FLL's I would give them there own championship event earlier in the year. Reasoning behind it being earlier is that their seasons start in September and for FLL is done before the end of the year. FTC events stretch into the FRC season and normally end week after build season ends. I would compress the FTC season to have all State events end at the end of January and then have the Championship in the off-week between Week 0 and Week 1. As for location, because of the time of the year it has to be somewhere warm and I would say the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, FL. Reasons for Orlando: Its warmish in February (High 73, Low 52 courtesy of Wikipedia) and Disney World and Universal are only a short drive away. The OCCC is one of the largest convention centers in the nation and could fit a FTC/FLL Championship more than double the size of the current one. The brand new FTC Championship and FLL World Festival would also give FRC teams that also have an FTC team as part of their program a chance for the same students to participate in both championships, something that isn't really possible now.

With FTC and FLL having there own event it opens up a lot of space in the America's Center for FRC pits. Now having 150 teams in a division is no better than having a 100 teams per division, so with this new found space FRC would expand from four divisions to eight. Archimedes, Curie, Galileo, and Newton would be join by new divisions tentatively named Kamen, Flowers, Lavery, and Baker. I think it would be possible to fit all nine field in the dome with Einstein at one end, three along each sideline, and two at the other end, each in one corner of that end. It might be a little cramped but it would be an awesome sight to see.

Each of the eight division would have between 70 and 75 teams meaning there would be around 560 teams at Championship. In the short term that means that Michigan and MAR can have a few extra championship spots, couple that with the new regionals and you have around 125 extra open registration spots at Championship. I could delve more into open registration and how spots should be divided up but I'll save that for another blog post either this week or after Champs. As for scheduling, it would stay basically the same except that qualification matches would stop around 10:30 on Saturday so alliance can be done around 11:00 and Elimination matches can start at 12:00 giving an extra hour for the extra matches on Einstein.

Hopefully I've been able to illustrate my idea pretty well and I'll be back later with a post about the District system.

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