FIRST Robotics Competition Season Events Update

We’re sharing an update on in-person game play for FIRST Robotics Competition.

Jan 29, 2021




Dear FIRST® Community,

Earlier this month, we kicked off the 30th season of FIRST® Robotics Competition by revealing three new engineering, innovation, and design challenges that were created for a remote season with remote judging. They are part of our commitment to explore new and exciting ways to deliver our programs with your safety and wellbeing as our top priority, while ensuring all students can participate in meaningful ways.

As previously announced in September, we opened our 2021 FIRST Robotics Competition season registration without in-person INFINITE RECHARGESM game play, based on ongoing global health conditions that restrict our community’s ability to travel and attend large gatherings. Unfortunately, these COVID-19-related conditions in North America and throughout the world are statistically  worse now than they were in September. Although vaccines are starting to be administered, widespread distribution prior to this summer will be constrained by supply. As a result, current conditions and anticipated near-term conditions do not warrant a change in our global plans regarding official in-person INFINITE RECHARGE game play this season.

Therefore, there will be no official in-person 2021 INFINITE RECHARGE game play events during the regular season, which ends in June. Where local conditions allow for safe gatherings, there may be unofficial in-person activities for FIRST Robotics Competition teams organized by local FIRST Program Delivery Partners. FIRST HQ anticipates very few unofficial activities, and is working with a small number of partners, primarily outside North America, on approvals for these activities. Read our FAQ for more about 2021 FIRST Robotics Competition Season Events.

Over 3,000 FIRST Robotics Competition teams have registered to be part of this unique season, and we can’t wait to see what they accomplish with INFINITE RECHARGESM at Home, the Game Design Challenge, and the FIRST® Innovation Challenge presented by Qualcomm. For those who are unable to join us this season, we understand and look forward to welcoming you back for the 2022 season.

We are all eager to get back on the field together and are hopeful that the COVID-19 pandemic will soon be behind us. Visit our COVID-19 impact page and subscribe to the FIRST Newsletter for the latest updates as we continue building on our FIRST® GAME CHANGERSSM powered by Star Wars: Force for Change season.

Your friends at FIRST HQ



What is an “official” FIRST Robotics Competition game play event?

Official FIRST Robotics Competition in-person game play occurs during regular season or FIRST Championship events that are planned and managed by Program Delivery Partners, centrally registered volunteers, and FIRST Headquarters. They are authorized as official events by FIRST, use regulation FIRST Robotics Competition fields, follow official rules, and present awards that are recognized in permanent team records at FIRST Headquarters. During a typical season, official regular season game play occurs during in-person district and regional events that teams compete in to qualify for FIRST Robotics Competition awards and advancement to the international FIRST Championship. There will be no official regular season in-person FIRST Robotics Competition game play events during the 2021 season ending in June.

How do you determine if/where unofficial activities can be held?

Restrictions related to the pandemic are dynamic and vary widely depending on country and regional impacts of COVID-19. Although we anticipate very few unofficial activities, FIRST Headquarters is working closely with Program Delivery Partners to assess local conditions and the viability for having any in-person activities. Stay tuned for more information from your local partner for any activities that may be planned in full compliance with local health guidelines.

Can off-season game play events be held after the official season concludes?

We have not ruled out the possibility of allowing unofficial, off-season events hosted later in the year.

Does this update affect the 2021 FIRST Championship?

We continue to evaluate the scale and viability of FIRST Championship events, including adjusting invitation and attendance criteria to allow for event scaling.  After we have additional clarity on the scope and scale of FIRST Championship, we will communicate the qualification parameters for attending the event in the absence of official FIRST Robotics Competition game play.  We will share more details on the FIRST Championship as they become available.

Does this update impact official FIRST® Tech Challenge or FIRST® LEGO® League events?

No. FIRST Tech Challenge and FIRST LEGO League teams will continue to register for events directly with their local Program Delivery Partner. While the vast majority of events are planned to be held remotely, the local Partner determines the format of the event, including some in-person or hybrid events if local conditions allow.

How does FIRST Robotics Competition remote judging work this season? Do you need judging help?

Yes! Volunteering looks different this season, but we still need you. FIRST Robotics Competition is looking for volunteers to serve as judges for the at-home challenges: Game Design Challenge, INFINITE RECHARGE at Home, and the FIRST Innovation Challenge presented by Qualcomm. While we do require that judges be at least 23 years old, no prior judging experience is necessary, and we will provide all the training necessary. Learn more about the 2021 FIRST Robotics Competition judging process on the FIRST Robotics Competition blog.  View step-by-step instructions on registering as a volunteer.

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