League Play! How Does It Work?

The SoCal/Greater LA Region is growing! In order to give all teams across our 9 counties ample opportunities to compete with their robots, in 2016 we moved to a League model for tournaments. We are excited for you to come play with us!  (Note: Our region will be closed to outside teams this season due to space constraints. If you are in San Diego County, please visit this link for their League information.)


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 3 events, and the top teams would then progress to Championships. In 2015, we grew to 130 teams and 10 Qualifiers, with only one or two chances to compete. The ‘one and done’ model was not achieving what we hoped for the teams – an iterative, competitive program to learn STEM over a season. We therefore moved to League. At Leagues all teams play at the League Level, and all teams advance to an Inter-League Tournament (ILT).   A percentage of the top Regional Championship teams will advance to FIRST® Championship in Houston, TX in April.


Locations: We have 12 Leagues in Greater LA, created based on population of teams and by those teams who were 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

Structure: Leagues are made up of no more than 16 teams that are located (hopefully) geographically close. The League plays 4 Meets, with 5 matches in each Meet. Meets run from November to late January, with dates Saturdays or Sundays determined by the host, and approximately 2 weeks apart. With Thanksgiving, Christmas and school breaks, this typically works out to 1 Meet in November, 2 in December and 1 in January.  These Meet Events run 3-4 hours. This is game play only, with no judging. If a team competes in Meets 1, 2, 3 – a team has 15 match results. The top 10 match results out of those 15 standard matches will carry forward to Interleague. EVERY TEAM is invited to Interague. Your 10 match scores are combined with the 5 scores you receive during InterLeague qualifying to determine your ranking for Alliance Selection. Note – we do not use scores from Meet 0, the first Meet event, which serves as a practice event for teams and volunteers to get acquainted with each other and the system before points start to accumulate. Just because Meet 0 is practice, it is still recommended you attend. It gives you a chance to test out your robot in competition without worrying about scores.

Volunteers: Even though there is a Host to the League, the Region requires that all teams in that League provide at minimum one volunteer for each of the 4 Meets. The volunteer will be provided training for the position. It is not necessary the volunteer be the same person for all 4 meets. With 12 leagues and 4 Meets over 8 weekends, there will be 3 or 4 Meets in different parts of LA on the same Saturday or Sunday. So while the LAFTC Committee will organize, we are but part-time volunteers and cannot run all the events. We need each team to take an active role, so when your League Host calls, please provide a responsible volunteer(s). Positions range from the non-technical through the technical, and include Volunteer Coordinator, Registration/Team Check In, Robot inspector, Field Inspector, Field Technical Advisor, Queuer, Scorekeeper, Referees, Game Resetter, Field Setup, and Field Teardown.
Inter League Tournaments (ILT) Every team is invited to one Inter League Tournament. There is no eliminations from League Level – everyone is invited to ILT. This 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. One group of Leagues may play at a location on Saturday, and then two different Leagues may play at the same location on Sunday. Inter league matchups will be set up using a random generator with the following in mind: 1) keeping the distance of the drive for the Leagues as short as possible 2) mixing up play from last year’s ILTs so teams can experience different competitions 3) the League providing the location will play at that location 4) League Play Match 4 is complete and 5) the total teams are 32 or less.

ILT Structure: Inter-Leagues are made up of 2-3 Leagues, with no more than 32 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 at the pit from 7 am to 8 am. Following the completion of judging interviews, Opening Ceremonies start at approximately 10 am.  For round robin play, teams typically play 5 matches. The points from these 5 matches are combined with the Qualifying points from the top 10 of 15 matches from League. These points determine the order of Alliance Selection and Playoffs. Playoffs run from approximately 3 pm to 5 pm, with Awards Ceremony following immediately after the final match is completed. The goal is to finish by 6-7 pm, but 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 5 Interleague Tournaments will proceed to the Los Angeles Championships. Volunteers: As with the League Meets, to have the 75+ volunteers to run this day-long event, it is a Regional requirement that all teams in that League provide at a minimum two volunteers. The volunteers will be provided training for their position. 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 ILT.  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 most roles.  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.

Structure: Championship is comprised of the 48 top teams from the 5 Inter-Leagues.  The 48 teams are divided into 2 groups that will compete within two different Divisions all day 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 at the pit from 7 am to 8 am. Following the completion of judging interviews, Opening Ceremonies start at approximately 10 am.  For round robin play, teams typically play 5 matches. This is a clean slate and no points are brought forward from the Inter-League Tournaments. Both Divisions will have separate Playoffs that run from approx 3 pm to 5 pm. The two Division winning teams will playoff for an overall Event winner. 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 Championships in Houston Texas.

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 LAFTC to cover your 4 League Meets and the one Inter-League Tournament.

If after the Inter-League Event you are one of the teams to proceed to the Los Angeles Championship, there is fee of $250.00 paid to LAFTC to compete. If after LA Championship you are one of the teams to proceed to Worlds at Houston, there is a fee of $2000.00 paid to FIRST to complete.