Here is the Los Angeles FIRST Tech Challenge Schedule for the 2020-21 Season

  1. September 12th – FIRST reveals the new game Ultimate Goal
  2. September 13th – The Los Angeles region will host a virtual kickoff with an overview of the season and workshops
  3. November – Remote Scrimmage #1
  4. December 5th – Kickoff Reboot
  5. December – Remote Scrimmage #2
  6. January – Remote Scrimmage #3
  7. February – Qualifying Tournaments (Remote or Hybrid)
  8. March 6th – Los Angeles Regional Championships (Remote or Hybrid) 

Qualifying Tournaments? What about Leagues?  The Planning Committee had long discussions on this. One reality we are facing is that many teams in our region won’t be able to meet until November/December/January at best. Schools are starting remote and the feeling is it could stay that way for the first semester. Our first plan was to stick with leagues and do three back-to-back meets in January with ILTs in February. Trying to get three meets all crammed into January felt like a lot and might still be hard for teams that don’t get to meet until early January. The thought then was to skip required league meets and just do Qualifying Tournaments (QT). QTs are like an ILT but you don’t carry over the match points from league play. We do like the practice and accountability that league meets provide to teams, so our plan is to do some optional remote scrimmages for teams and mentors that are able to build in the fall and want a goal to build for.

Will teams get one or two QTs?  We’re not sure. Having the option for two QTs is something our planning committee would like to make happen. It will depend on the size of events and how many teams we have in the region. 

What’s a Remote Event?  Ken Johnson did a good video on it. For remote QTs, teams would have about a week to submit scores for their five matches. Judging will be done remotely through Zoom or some other video conference platform. The same awards will be given to teams. Teams will need access to at least a partial field to score their matches. These can be done at your own site or at one of our satellite locations that we will arrange. There are no playoff rounds. Instead, teams are ranked on their individual scores. 

What’s a Hybrid Event?  These would be remote Judging and in-person match play with playoffs. If we are able to do in-person events in February, we expect that the number of people and teams will need to be restricted. We might have to limit the number of students and mentors each team brings. By keeping Judging remote, we can reduce the number of volunteers. The benefit of this system is we can still have some in-person event with the excitement of alliances and playoffs. 

What about traditional events?  That’s an option Ken talks about in the video. We would love to have traditional events but at this point we are thinking that even if we were allowed to do in-person, we will face so many restrictions that a hybrid would be a better option.

What will guide the decision to have remote vs hybrid?  Remote is the default option. We feel we can handle these pretty well. To go to Hybrid will require the state and LA County to relax restrictions to the point that schools or other venues will allow us in. Our teams will have to feel safe to travel to these events. Our volunteers will have to feel safe. We will have to compete for space with CIF trying to squeeze in their seasons. FIRST has told us to follow the local health guides and has not given specific instruction yet on what extra rules to follow for a safe event. 

How much of a field do teams need for remote events? You do not need to use official field perimeters or soft tiles. DIY perimeters are fine and any flat surface for a floor. For game elements, you could buy the $260 partial field set but we believe you could get away with purchasing $50-$75 worth of game equipment and DIY the rest. AndyMark will have a DIY guide by kickoff. So, if you want to purchase a partial set, that will work great. If you don’t want to commit that money yet, then wait until kickoff when we see the game and DIY guides. Our region will provide updated guidance then.

How much will the QT registration be?  We’re going to cut to something significantly lower than the $300 league fee. It will be at most $100 but we’re trying to push down to $50. There are some costs even with remote events that need to be covered. Our board, Next Careers, has discussed it and feels we can eat some costs this season because we know teams will be hurting for funds. We’ll have final numbers to you by our local kickoff on September 13th.

What about Los Angeles Championships?  Still planning for March 6th. We don’t know if it’ll be in-person or not. If it is in-person, we might be limited on how many teams we can fit in. If it’s remote, we can be flexible. We will also have the issue of securing a site because we don’t know what Monrovia High School will allow. Maybe we’ll know more by kickoff but it’s likely we won’t have an idea until November/December.

Will there be a World Championships?  FIRST is still planning on one. 

What else is planned?  Tune in to the virtual kickoff to find out! We are working on ways to help keep teams connected virtually. Maybe some bi-weekly Zoom meetings with rotating topics. We will also explore options to do events after Worlds and maybe a traditional in-person event if conditions allow.