We have been told from many sources that, in competetion, the sauce (if used) should compliment the meat and not overpower it. Judges are told that the presence or absence of sauce "is not to be considered" in the scoring. Yeah, sure...Judges are human.
All of the Judges I have worked with seemed to be neutral except one. She wanted her stuff swimming in sauce and scored accordingly. You can never second guess the Judges. I think if you go easy on the sauce, you will hit a high percentage of approvals.
The one common guidance is to avoid the flavor extremes, expecially on Spice. If you sauce, keep it a "mild" version of the flavor you are adding.
Too me, sauce should be used to add just a touch
of spicy, sweet, or "whatever" sub-flavor you are looking for.
Just keep it light and do not let it be the focus of your product and you will have the best chance to do OK.
We use only tiny amounts of sauce (if any) and it is just brushed on lightly to provide a moist glaze to the meat. Our sauce is modified commercial sauce. No secrets, but we just have not found the recipie we want yet.
The "regional taste" thing comes into play when the competetors and Judges are all from the region, for sure. FBA is dominated by 3 (very talented) teams who have established the "taste" the Judges are looking for. I think with a MAJOR KCBS event, there are teams and Judges from all over and the regional taste factor is minimized due to the variety of flavors and Judges involved. Just my theory
Just the opinion of a new-guy competetor!
KCBS event in Tulsa this year--My home town is Bartlesville--HUM... :D