[FIRST Inspire Blog] 2021 FIRST Championship Update

Posted on the FIRST Inspire Blog, 3/10/21: https://www.firstinspires.org/community/inspire/2021-first-championship-update

2021 FIRST Championship Update

We’re sharing an update on the 2021 FIRST Championship events

Mar 10, 2021 | Written by FIRST Staff

Dear FIRST ® Community,

This season, we have explored 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. What has remained constant is our mission to inspire young people to be science and technology leaders and innovators. We are grateful to our entire community for their flexibility and patience as new information becomes available and we adapt to changing conditions.

Previously, we announced an extension of the FIRST ® GAME CHANGERSSM powered by Star Wars: Force for Change season to provide additional time and flexibility for build seasons and local and remote events. As part of that extension, we hoped to move our season-culminating 2021 FIRST Championship events from April to a July/August timeframe.

These past few months, we have continued to evaluate the scale and viability of hosting 2021 FIRST Championship events that meet health, safety, and international travel guidelines. Due to conditions created by the ongoing pandemic, we are unable to host the events as planned and have made the decision to cancel the 2021 FIRST Championship events in Houston and Detroit. We share in your deep disappointment that we will not be gathering as a global community in person this season. However, the safety of our community is our overarching priority.

Fortunately, the FIRST GAME CHANGERS season continues. Around the world, many teams are still working diligently on their robots and projects as they prepare for judged FIRST activities. Additionally, we are still planning remote global celebrations to recognize the amazing accomplishments of FIRST teams this season, such as showcasing our teams’ innovative, real-world solutions on June 28-30, 2021, at the 2021 FIRST Global Innovation Awards powered by Star Wars: Force for Change. Stay tuned for details about additional season-culminating celebrations.

For more information on the 2021 FIRST Championship events cancellation, read our FAQ.

FAQ: 2021 FIRST Championship

We are all eager to get back on the field again when it is safe for us to be together. Please visit our COVID-19 impact page and subscribe to the FIRST Newsletter for the latest updates as we continue our FIRST GAME CHANGERS season and prepare for an exciting new season of FIRST kicking off later this year.

Your friends at FIRST HQ


What is FIRST Championship?
Hosted by FIRST, FIRST Championship is the culmination of our youth robotics competition season and our annual celebration of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) for the FIRST community. It brings together students, mentors/coaches, educators, volunteers, sponsors, and supporters from around the world who are dedicated to the FIRST mission. Prior to the pandemic, the 2019 FIRST Championship was attended by over 75,000 people in Houston and Detroit.

Was there consideration for having a scaled down version of FIRST Championship?
We carefully examined options for gathering our community for FIRST Championship including hosting a smaller event or a hybrid event. However, due to the ongoing conditions and uncertainty created by the pandemic as well as requirements to meet all health, safety and international travel guidelines, we have determined that it was not feasible to host FIRST Championship.

When is the end of the current season?
As previously discussed, the 2020-2021 FIRST GAME CHANGERS season will conclude at the end of June.

Will there be any virtual/remote alternatives to the 2021 FIRST Championship?
We are exploring different ways to celebrate the accomplishments of our Teams and will share more details with our community as they become available.

Is there any FIRST Championship pre-qualification carrying over to 2022?
We have not yet determined pre-qualification for future FIRST Championships.

What is known about the ability to hold offseason FIRST ® Robotics Competition events?
We are evaluating the possibility of offseason FIRST ® Robotics Competition events and will provide further guidance in April.

My organization is interested in sponsoring FIRST Championship in spring of 2022, who can I contact?
Please contact Mark Giordono, VP of Development, at [email protected] or +1.603.206.2417 for more information about sponsoring FIRST Championship or supporting FIRST financially in other ways this year.


Words cannot express how surprised I am at this controversial and unexpected turn of events. I never saw global pandemic and mass death for the last year?ish in my rearview mirror.

I will be missing all of the following:

  • Long walks along the beach convention center to get to our field
  • Admiring the view in the exotic concrete jungle that is the TCF/Cobo Center

In all seriousness, this sucks and champs was great, but I don’t think anyone’s surprised. Most people I know thought this was already official.

Edit: One thing I would like to see is some way to have virtual seminars/conferences like there normally were at champs. Sure, there are 101 offseason virtual conferences but I feel like FIRST could get the best of the best and really get some good conferences up for a wider range of teams.


Rough stuff, I was hoping for at least something.

We’ll carry on. Some way, some how.


[tongue firmly in cheek]But Texas is 100% open. Governor’s words not mine [/tongue firmly in cheek]


Well, they say everything’s bigger in Texas. Apparently, that includes case numbers.


Not surprising, still sucks to be confirmed.

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Honestly, while I think they could have pulled off an August championship (in Detroit) with the way things are going, you don’t want to commit to something like that right now and potentially lose millions in sunk cost just to find out your event was one month too early to be safely held. We’ll be back in 2022, which I’m sure everyone is looking forward to at this point.


Holding out hope that off season events are a thing. I would particularly like to see the Rah Cha Cha Ruckus happen this year. I really need it badly now.


Even if they did hold Detroit, I think it would be a bit of a stretch to call it a world championship since international travel might still be shut down, or at the very least not advised. (plus the short timeframe to ship robots between things opening up enough for FIRST to make the definitive “this is happening” statement and the Championship occurring)

But like you said, on to the 2022 FIRST Championship in ??????? and ?????????????!

(2020/2021 champion will be determined by the biggest offseason in 2021, which will be CowTown ThrowDown with the best teams from Kansas, Missouri, Iowa, and sometimes Arkansas, sorry, I don’t make the rules)


Decided to make a video ranting about my thoughts on this: https://youtu.be/JLEUA9SCnG0


Bummer, but the safe choice. Getting tackled at the five-yard line would be really bad news.

I hope this line keeps cranking downward so we can have local events in a responsible manner. And tell the Astros we’re setting up on home plate next year.


While very disappointing to hear for the Infinite Recharge game, I agree with this decision while looking at the safety of students and staff (and also the business side of things; much worse to be held liable closer to the actual event).

I personally hope that all registered teams that were hoping to take part in the previously possible in person competitions are taking part (or have taken part for the already due ones) in these supplementary challenges. It’s always good to keep your whole team involved for future years when the pandemic will be a lot less prominent. To all those who did take part in the challenges, I know I and a lot of other FRC students are really excited for the results, so we have something to be hype about!

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It’s really hard organizing a big party. You gotta make sure the venue is available. You gotta make sure it can host all the people you invite. You gotta make sure its safe.

…and then you gotta make sure the people you invite can actually make it.

And for this year’s FRC competitions, there may be plenty (really only a small percentage) of teams who can meet on their own campuses to do At Home challenges, but who knows how many of those will be allowed to travel out of state for a championship event. Probably not many.

FIRST is making the responsible decision here.


Great points Tyler-- nuanced thoughts about how this messaging misses the mark because it betrays an apparent lack of planning for likely contingencies.

Echoing one point in particular: It’s not too much to ask for FIRST and its affiliate partners to already have a plan for how they will support summer/fall 2021 offseason events. Since 1996, offseason events have been an essential link between FIRST seasons; their importance is further heightened in summer/fall 2021 as teams learn how to be teams again.


I can’t expect they’re going to know too much more about the state of the world in a month to six weeks compared to now. That gives me hope (and that’s all I’m running with, hope) the delay in the announcement is “we have to get this through legal”, not “lol idk”.



I think (cynically and therefore perhaps a little unwisely) that if there was any well-developed thinking on any of the issues that are still being carefully examined, then it would have been shared here to help dull the impact of the bad news.


I’ll take “Things we already knew that were presented as major news” for 100, Alex.


How many teams normally participate in that event? I know that Kettering really tried to hold the Kettering Kickoff last November (two months later than usual) but, COVID disagreed. Given how hard they pushed for 2020, I can easily imagine a 40+ team Kettering Kickoff this fall if Michigan has opened by then.