League Play! How Does It Work?

SoCal FTC Region: We are the SoCal FIRST Tech Challance region, and we are growing! Our territory covers eight counties, spanning from Paso Robles in the north, to San Juan Capistrano in the south, to Palm Springs in the east, to Lancaster in the northeast, and to Temecula in the southeast. The eight counties we cover are San Luis Obispo, Kern, San Bernardino, Santa Barbara, Ventura, Los Angeles, Orange, and Riverside. We are excited for you to come play with us!  We are a “closed” region due to space constraints and are only accepting teams in our own region.  (If you are in the San Diego or Imperial County areas, please visit SDFTC.org for their League information.)

SoCal FTC League Play: In order to give all teams across our eight counties ample opportunities to compete with their robots, we use a League model for competitions. Please note: The League Play system operates under a community model and teams are expected to contribute to its success. Therefore, each team is required to submit at least one volunteer per League Meet competition (there are four: Meet 0, 1, 2, 3) and two volunteers for the Qualifier Tournament competition. Failure to fulfill team commitment could lead to negative consequences for your team. (Please see below for a thorough description of how League Play works.)

SoCal FTC League Assignments:  If you are a new team and have registered with FIRST, you will receive an email from us assigning you to a SoCal League. We will do our best to place you close to your city, but please know there are limited spots in each League so you may need to drive. All League events are Saturdays or Sundays to avoid impacts to afterschool activities, homework, and weeknight traffic. The drafts of the Leagues can be found here. Once your team has been placed in a League, the team mentor may request a change in League location up to one time before League competition starts. To do so, or for any other registration question, please contact registration@firsttechsocal.org. For all other questions, please contact community@firsttechsocal.org. (Note: some Leagues are already full at 16 teams for the season.)

SoCal FTC Registration: The single payment to compete in the SoCal FTC Region League system is $300. Note, this is a separate fee from the $275 FIRST registration fee that is paid directly to FIRST. The $300 SoCal FTC registration fee covers up to four League meets (Meets 0-3) and one Qualifier Tournament. Your team is not required to attend all events but it is strongly encouraged to do so. Each team must register and pay both FIRST and SoCal FTC to retain their League placement in order to play. Payment can be by credit card via PayPal, check, or a full PO (not just the number). When a team registers with FIRST, the team mentors will receive an email inviting them to register with SoCal FTC with the link provided to do so. If you have questions about registration details, please reach out to registration@firsttechsocal.org.


In 2005, when Los Angeles started competing in FIRST Tech Challenge, there were 15 teams and we hosted one Championship. When we grew too big for everyone to attend the Championship, we added Qualifier Events where teams attended up to three events, and the top teams would then progress to Championships. In 2015, we grew to 130 teams and ten Qualifiers, with only one or two chances to compete. The ‘one and done’ model was not achieving what we hoped for the teams, which is an iterative, competitive program to learn STEM over a season. We therefore moved to League Play. At Leagues, all teams play at the League Level, and all teams advance to an Qualifier Tournament.   A percentage of the top regional Championship teams then advance to FIRST® Championship in Houston, Texas in April.


Locations: We have 12 Leagues in the SoCal FTC region. These Leagues are created based on population of teams and by those teams who are willing to provide the host school:

  • A1 – Los Angeles
  • A2 – Los Angeles
  • B – Inglewood / Compton
  • C1 – La Canada
  • C2 – Monrovia (San Gabriel Valley area)
  • D –  San Fernando
  • E – Claremont
  • F1 – Romoland (Hemet / Perris area)
  • F2 – Romoland (Hemet / Perris area)
  • I – Palmdale
  • O – Orange County
  • V – Ventura / Ojai

League Play

League Play Structure: Leagues are made up of no more than 16 teams that are located (hopefully) geographically close. The League plays four Meets, with five matches in each half-day (3-4 hours) Meet. Meets run from November to late January, either on Saturdays or Sundays (which is determined by the host of that League), and are approximately two weeks apart. With Thanksgiving, Christmas and school breaks, this typically works out to one Meet in November, one in December and two in January.  These Meet Events are game play only, with no judging. If a team competes in Meets 1, 2, 3 – and each Meet has five matches – a team can accumulate 15 match results. The top 10 match results out of those 15 standard matches will carry forward to the Qualifier Tournament (QT). EVERY TEAM is invited to compete in one Qualifier Tournament. The 5 scores you receive during the Qualifier Tournament will determine your ranking for the Alliance Selection.


Meet Volunteers: Even though there is a Host to each League, the SoCal FTC Region requires that all teams in that League provide a minimum of one volunteer for each of the four Meets (Meet 0, 1, 2, 3). The volunteer will be provided training for their position. It is not necessary that the volunteer be the same person for all four meets. With twelve Leagues and four Meets over eight weekends, there will be three or four Meets in different parts of SoCal on the same Saturday or Sunday. So, while the SoCal FTC Committee will organize the events, we are but part-time volunteers and cannot run all the events alone. We need each team to take an active role, so when your League Host calls your team, please provide a responsible volunteer(s) to help. Positions range from non-technical to technical, and include positions such as Volunteer Coordinator, Registration/Team Check In, Robot inspector, Field Inspector, Field Technical Advisor, Queuer, Scorekeeper, Referees, Game Resetter, Field Setup, and Field Teardown.

Qualifier Tournaments (QT): Every team is invited to one Qualifier Tournament. There are no eliminations from League level Meets – everyone is invited to compete at a QT. The QT event is a full day, complete with Alliance Selection and playoffs, as well as judging and an Awards Ceremony with trophies.  It is labor-intensive to set up and tear down the full venue, so in some cases we have booked locations for the full weekend so as to minimize the time-consuming set-up and tear-down.

QT Structure: QTs are made up of 24 teams.  There will be two competition fields with matches moving from one field to the other. The day starts for teams and volunteers at 7 am. Judging and Robot Inspection starts promptly at 8 am, so teams need to check in and set up their table in the pit area from 7 am to 8 am. Following the completion of judging interviews, the opening ceremony starts at approximately 10 am.  For round robin play, teams typically play 5 matches. The points from these 5 matches are used to determine the order of Alliance Selection and Playoffs. Playoffs run from approximately 3 pm to 5 pm, with an Awards Ceremony immediately following after the final match is completed. The goal is to finish by 6-7 pm, but that is dependent on the complexity of the game and any technical difficulties during the day. The top percentage of teams (based on FIRST criteria) from each of the five Qualifier Tournaments will proceed to the SoCal Championships.

QT Volunteers: As with the League Meets, it is a regional requirement that all teams in that League provide at a minimum two volunteers to achieve the 75+ volunteers needed to run this day-long event. Training will be provided for all volunteer positions. Family, friends or neighbors can be your volunteer, as long as the persons is responsible, and we have enough adults for the key volunteer roles for each QT.  Roles run from the high-touch people roles to high-tech robot interface roles, and there is a great role for people no matter what their background is. See FIRSTInspires.org for descriptions of volunteer roles and this link for manuals for a list of volunteer roles and their descriptions.  All Volunteers must be registered within the FIRST VIMS Volunteer system and all adults must pass Youth Protection clearance, which may take up to 7 days.

Championship Structure: The Championship is comprised of the 48 top teams from the Qualifier Tournaments.  The 48 teams are divided into 2 groups that will compete all day within two different divisions until the finals.  The day starts at 7 am. Judging and Robot Inspection starts promptly at 8 am, so teams need to check in and set up their tables in the pit area from 7 am to 8 am. Following the completion of judging interviews, the opening ceremony starts at approximately 10 am.  For round robin play, teams typically play five matches. This is a clean slate and no points are brought forward from the Qualifier Tournaments. Both divisions will have separate playoffs that run from approximately 3 pm to 5 pm. The two division winning teams will playoff for an overall event winner. The Awards Ceremony follows and depending on the complexity of the game or any technical issues, we will end at 7-8 pm. The top percentage of teams (based on FIRST criteria, published in the Game Manuals) will proceed to the World Championship in Houston, Texas.


Two Registration Fees: There are two payments a team needs to make in order to play in a season. A $275.00 payment is made to FIRST as a general enrollment fee. There is a second fee of $300.00 paid to SoCal FTC to cover your four League Meets and the one Qualifier Tournament.

Championship and World Competitions: If after the Qualifier Tournament you are one of the teams to proceed to the SoCal Championship, there is an additional fee of $250 paid to SoCal FTC in order to compete. If after the SoCal Championship you are one of the teams to proceed to the World Competition in Houston, there is another additional fee of $2000 paid to FIRST in order to complete.