Robotics preparing for an unusual virtual tournament

(clockwise from top) Arnav Sardesai _23, Owen Gormley _21, Maxim Kreider _21, and Ronan Wood _23 at work at the Vexmen Finale tournament, March 28, 2021 – Ms. Victoria Kreider

After receiving the disappointing news last year that the VEX Robotics World Championship was cancelled due to the pandemic, the robotics team had been itching to get back to Louisville, Kentucky to compete with the best teams in the world. Sadly, 169 would have to wait another year, as the raging pandemic caused yet another cancellation of the event.

     Despite the cancellation of the in-person event, VEX introduced a new format of competition to accommodate the pandemic, called “Live Remote Tournament” (LRT). In LRT, two alliances composed of two teams play against each other to see which alliance can score the most points. Each team will work separately on their own fields to score points, and each alliance’s score will be averaged. Whoever has the most points wins the match. 

     LRT keeps the same two-versus-two aspect present in real tournaments, but the similarities end there. Odd and ambiguous rules for scoring in LRT enable any team to build robots that find ways to manipulate the rules. 

     Fourth Former Arnav Sardesai said, “[The virtual format] is not ideal. It takes away much of the hype around worlds and in terms of the matches, it takes away a good amount of the strategy and all of the defense.”

“They were very limited with what they could do online. What they came up with was trying to keep it as competitive as possible.”

Ronon Wood ’23

       The lack of similarities between real and virtual competition caused apprehension and annoyance among team.

     “They were very limited with what they could do online. What they came up with was trying to keep it as competitive as possible,” Fourth Former Ronan Wood said. “I believe that if they really tried hard enough they could host Worlds, but I don’t really have a say in it.”

     After making finals at the Pennsylvania State Championship, 169A and 169E are preparing to compete in the virtual competition taking place on May 17-22. After a season of working from home, the teams will return to Wilson Hall to compete in the last tournament this year.

Author: Arsh Aggarwal '24

Arsh Aggarwal is currently the Sr. Managing Editor of The Index. His previous roles were Editor of Features and Campus Opinions. In 2023, Arsh was awarded the First Place prize in the Pennsylvania Press Club Annual High School Journalism Contest for his piece titled "SAT going digital in 2024",