The VEX Tournament Manager is a custom software package designed to simplify and automate many of the tasks associated with running a VEX Robotics tournament. The program is flexible and modular and designed to work for small, local tournaments as well as large, international competitions and everything in between.
Some of the main features of the Tournament Manager software are:
- Create practice and qualification match schedules based on a team list
- Run matches with automatic enabling and disabling of team robots for accurate match timing
- Enter and calculate match scores
- Automatically determine team rankings based on qualification match scores
- Create Finals matches or conduct an alliance selection process where a selected number of top-ranked teams can choose partners to compete in an elimination tournament
- Hold an elimination tournament with up to 16 alliances
- Bye rounds are automatically used if necessary for the highest-ranked alliances
- Publish match results online
- Display information such as rankings, match time clock, schedules, and match scores to team members and spectators during the event
- Keep track of awards given to teams and display the name of the winner to spectators
It is important to note that many of the features listed are not required to run an event. Many tournament configurations may not use all of the available features, depending on equipment availability, volunteers, and the overall event experience that is desired.
Where to Get Help
If you have questions or are having trouble with the Tournament Manager software, and have referenced all Knowledge Base articles, contact your REC Foundation EEM/RSM. Event Partners can also post questions in the Tournament Manager section of VEXForum.com. Only Event Partners have access to the Tournament Manager forum on VEXForum.com.
While the Tournament Manager software is designed to be as easy to use as possible, an understanding of some of the concepts used by the software is important to get the most benefit from it. In this section, we will review some of the concepts that are used by the Tournament Manager and show how an understanding of these concepts can make the job of running a tournament easier.
Matches and Match Rounds
In a VEX Robotics event, a match is a competition between two alliances on the field where each alliance can be composed of 1 to 3 teams. Matches are typically 1 to 3 minutes in length, and may contain autonomous operation (where software programmed into the robots before the match controls the robot's movement), driver control operation (where 1 or 2 humans control the movement of the robot using joysticks), or a combination of both. Matches are grouped into rounds. The three primary rounds used in a VEX competition are practice, qualification, and elimination.
The practice round is optional and gives teams an opportunity to play a simulated match on the competition field before official competition begins. Practice rounds can be scheduled, with specific teams assigned to specific practice matches, or unscheduled, where the tournament organizers permit teams to come to the field and practice in a match on an ad-hoc basis. If practice matches are scheduled using the Tournament Manager software, then scores can be entered and computed, however the results of the match do not count towards a team's record or rankings.
The qualification round is a set of scheduled matches in which 2 randomly-selected alliances per match face each other. Each alliance is composed of either 1 or 2 randomly-selected teams (depending on how the Tournament Manager is configured). The winner receives 2 win points (WPs) and the value of the loser's score as strength of schedule points (SPs). The loser receives 0 WPs and their own score for SPs. If there is a tie, every team receives 1 WP and their own score for SPs. Teams are ranked based on the sum of their WP scores followed by the sum of their SP scores as a tiebreaker. See the VEX Robotics Competition manual for further details on the rankings process and tiebreakers that are used.
Once the qualification round is complete and the final team rankings are obtained, the elimination round begins. Depending on the event configuration, the top-ranked teams may be able to select partners for the elimination round in an alliance selection process. Alliance selection is described in further detail later on. During the elimination round, alliances are assigned to matches based on their alliance ranking (which is the ranking of the alliance captain at the end of the qualification round). An alliance must win 2 matches against an opposing alliance to advance to the next level of the elimination tournament. The elimination matches continue until a final winning alliance has been determined.
Fields and Field Sets
The Tournament Manager supports the use of 1 or more competition fields on which matches are scheduled and played. While small competitions will likely only need a single field, larger competitions may choose to use more than one field to fit in more matches into the allotted time. If more than one field is being used, then fields can be grouped together into a field set. Fields in a single field set share a single match timer. The match timer is the clock used to determine how long the match will last and when the robots should be turned off at the end of a match. Because each field set has only 1 match timer, only 1 field within the field set can play a match at a time. The primary use of a field set is when a competition has multiple fields (usually 2 or 3) and wishes to play matches one at a time in a round-robin fashion. This allows time for the field crews to reset a field while the next match is being played on another field.
Each field set has a separate match timer from the other field sets. Therefore, while fields in a single field set can only be used one at a time, fields located in different field sets can play concurrently. This distinction allows for flexibility in running a VEX tournament.
For example, consider an event that has 3 competition fields. One possible arrangement of these 3 fields would be to place them all in a single field set. With this configuration, matches would be scheduled in order on each of the three fields, and only 1 field would be active at a time. If the event started at 10:00am, then match 1 would play on field 1 at 10:00am, match 2 would play on field 2 at 10:05am, match 3 on field 3 at 10:10am, and so on.
An alternate arrangement of these 3 fields, however, would be to place each field in its own field set. For instance, field 1 would be in field set A, field 2 would be in field set B, and field 3 would be in field set C. In this arrangement, matches would be scheduled and played concurrently. If the event started at 10:00am, match 1 would play on field 1 at 10:00am, match 2 would play on field 2 also at 10:00am, and match 3 would play on field 3 on 10:00am as well. All three matches can be run at the same time, and after the matches are complete then matches 4, 5, and 6 would play next.
There are pros and cons to having sequential matches versus concurrent matches. Using 3 fields in a sequential order with one field set allows the spectators to focus on a single match and allows the field crew to be setting or resetting the other 2 fields while the match is playing. Match cycle time can be reduced because the next field should be ready to run as soon as the previous match is complete. Using 3 fields in 3 separate field sets would allow the matches to play concurrently, but the cycle time between matches would need to be increased to allow for the field crews to reset the fields. The event organizer will need to decide which option is most appropriate for the event they are planning.
Note: Each field must belong to a field set. If you only have a single field at your event, you will still need one field set for that field.
Audience, Pit, and Field Displays
An important capability of the Tournament Manager program is to provide information that keeps the spectators and team members at the event updated on the event progress and team standings. The Tournament Manager accomplishes this by providing 3 different display programs that can be used. All 3 displays are optional and any combination of the 3 can be used as desired by the event organizers. Further information on how the display programs operate and how they interact with the rest of the Tournament Manager system will be provided later in this document.
The first display program is known as the Audience Display. The purpose of the Audience Display is to
provide information to the event spectators. Information shown on this display includes the match timer, match score results, alliance selection, and rankings information. Most events that use the Audience Display will show it on a large screen that faces the audience using a projector. Additionally, the Audience Display program generates the game sounds, such as the start-of-match bell and end-of-match buzzer. Typically, the audio output of the Audience Display computer will be connected to the A/V system in the competition venue to allow competitors and spectators to hear the game sounds.
The next display program is known as the Pit Display. The primary purpose of the Pit Display is to allow teams to view the current team ranking information. The Pit Display also provides some information on matches that are scheduled to play soon and can also show Alliance Selection information. A typical event will provide at least one Pit Display, often showing on a projector screen or large HDTV or computer monitor. Larger events may wish to use multiple Pit Displays to show the rankings information in convenient areas throughout the competition venue.
The final display program is known as the Field Queue Display. The Field Queue Display is meant to be
located close to a competition field and shows information specific to that field only. Prior to a match, the Field Queue Display shows which teams are scheduled to compete in the next match on that field, and during a match the Field Queue Display shows the match timer for that field. Events which use the Field Queue Display typically show it on a regular computer monitor located close to the field. A bracket is available to attach a regular LCD computer monitor directly to the field border from VEXRobotics.com.
Note: Remember, all 3 display programs are optional. However, most tournaments will want to at least use an Audience Display as this program is where the match timer is displayed and also generates the match sounds.