2018 FIRST Championship Information Update

More than 25 years ago, FIRST® became a game changer in the STEM world. Over the years, we’ve built an incredible culture with our K-12 FIRST Progression of Programs that celebrates kids’ accomplishments through high-quality, inspiring, life-changing experiences, the culmination of which is our FIRST Championship. FIRST is the oldest and largest youth robotics program in the world, and now we can deliver the FIRST Championship experience to many thousands more young people worldwide!

Geographic Proximity

When FIRST announced the dual FIRST Championship structure starting in 2017, our primary intent was to make the life-changing excitement and inspiration of the FIRST Championship more accessible, available, and affordable to more kids and teams. 

To stay true to this goal, geographic proximity became our first-order determinant when assigning teams from a given state, province or country to a “home” Championship, especially when those geographic regions are viewed to be within a reasonable driving distance of one of the Championships. Within this constraint, we then tried, as best we could, to balance the number of teams that feed in to each Championship, recognizing that the number of teams in any given region varies and grows from year to year. Importantly, we then aligned geographic assignments across all four FIRST programs, so that participants, Mentors, and Sponsors who support teams across multiple FIRST programs in a given geographic region will be able to support all of those teams at a single FIRST Championship. 

A committee of FIRST staff and community volunteers worked diligently to appropriately allocate geographic areas to the FIRST Championships for both 2017 and 2018, recognizing that the FIRST Championship will be in Houston, Texas, U.S. and St. Louis, Missouri, U.S. in 2017 and then in Houston, Texas, U.S. and Detroit, Michigan, U.S. in 2018-2020. Based on our learning and experience in 2017 and 2018, we may or may not make additional changes to the assignment structure in 2019 and beyond. 

Teams will be assigned to attend a FIRST Championship (i.e., their “home” Championship) based on the location where the team is based and not the location of the event through which they qualify for Championship. 

Please note that in the transition year of 2017, we recognize that there is not a lot of geographical separation between Houston and St. Louis. In 2018-2020, the geographical separation between the two Championships is greater, and there will be a significant improvement in average team drive time for North American teams. (As you already know, this metric would be even better had we been able to secure a more western-U.S. venue that met our needs. Unfortunately, that was not possible.)

A full slate of team and individual student awards will be presented at each of the FIRST Championships.

2018 Geographic Assignment Maps (PDF)

2018 Cities & Dates

As previously announced, the 2018 FIRST Championships will be held in Houston, Texas, U.S. on April 18-21, 2018 and in Detroit, Michigan, U.S. on April 25-28, 2018. The 2018 geographic assignment map (page two of PDF) shows which states, provinces and countries will feed into each of the Houston and Detroit Championships in 2018. Again, each 2018 Championship will host up to 400 FIRST Robotics Competition teams, 128 FIRST Tech Challenge teams, 108 FIRST LEGO League teams and 60 FIRST LEGO League Jr. teams.

With the exception of Kansas and Missouri, all of the states, provinces and countries that are assigned to the St. Louis Championship in 2017 will transfer to the Detroit Championship in 2018. Teams from Kansas and Missouri will transition to attend the Houston Championship beginning in 2018. 

To maintain alignment with the FIRST Tech Challenge Super Regional advancement structure, the states of Kansas and Missouri will also move to the South FIRST Tech Challenge  Super Regional in 2018 and beyond. States participating in the East and North FIRST Tech Challenge Super Regionals will compete at the Detroit Championship, and states participating in West and South FIRST Tech Challenge Super Regionals will compete in the Houston Championship.

Ability to attend your “non-home” FIRST Championship

As noted above, our primary goal is to ensure teams have the ability to attend their “home” Championship, which in most cases will be closer to where they live than their non-home Championship, thereby hopefully minimizing travel costs and transit time. However, we recognize that some teams may desire to attend their non-home Championship for a variety of reasons.  Hence, we are working to finalize a mechanism whereby FIRST Robotics Competition teams can elect to attend their non-home Championship. However, to maintain balance between the two events, not every team who asks may be able to move to their “non-home” Championship. Specifically, FIRST may limit the quantity of teams allowed to change from one event to the other for various reasons. As noted above, details on this program are still being worked out and will be communicated at a future date. Due to the processes by which FIRST Tech Challenge, FIRST LEGO League and FIRST LEGO League Jr. teams qualify for Championship, those Programs will require teams to attend their home Championship.


The FIRST Robotics Competition and FIRST Tech Challenge programs will have Waitlist slots available for both Championships. The details for Waitlist slots, along with the number of earned slots assigned to each FIRST Robotics Competition District, each FIRST Tech Challenge Super Regional event and countries outside the U.S., and each FIRST LEGO League and FIRST LEGO League Jr. region and Partner are still being worked out.

Culminating Event

In response to your questions and feedback from teams, we are exploring options to bring the top alliances from each Championship together at a high-caliber, potentially made-for-TV-type, post-season event. However, we do not currently have definitive plans for such an event, but continue to explore our options.

Posted May 5, 2016