Qualifying Tournaments

2018-2019 Into Orbit Qualifying Tournament Assignments posted by October 31, 2018

Tournament Assignments by Qualifier

Tournament Assignments by Team Number

Illinois State Championships:

Saturday January 19, 2019:  Einstein at Elgin Community College

Sunday January 20, 2019:  Hopper at Elgin Community College

Saturday January 26, 2019: Tesla at University of Illinois at Champaign


Schedule of Qualifying Tournaments in Illinois (2018-2019 INTO Orbit)

Qualifier Tournament Information

  1. See below for the INTO Orbit Policies and Procedures
  2. Illinois Qualifying Tournament team assignments will be available by October 31, 2018. 
  3. The Illinois FIRST® LEGO® League's (FLL) Qualifier Tournament Registration will open July 16th and end October 15th.  You must be registered with FIRST nationally before you will be able to register with Illinois. 
  4. Illinois Qualifying Tournament season is during December. FIRST Illinois Robotics uses a system of qualifying tournaments leading to the Illinois FLL Championship Tournaments.  Every Illinois FLL team will participate in a single Qualifying Tournament with 20% - 25% of teams advancing to one of three Illinois Championship Tournaments.
  5. You will receive specific Information regarding your Qualifying Tournament from your Qualifying Tournament Coordinator (QTC) before your tournament.
  6. All Illinois tournaments are free and open to the public, so invite family and friends to attend an event!

Cancellation Policy

The Qualifying Tournament Coordinator will determine if there will be a delay in the start of the event or a cancellation of the event. This will depend upon:

  • The road and/or weather conditions or
  • Conditions within the facility, including power, heat water, fire and contagious disease conditions that are considered to be a threat to the safety or health of the students.
  • Other conditions that might apply.

If a qualifying tournament has to be cancelled,  the Qualifying tournament coordinator  will have 48 hours to secure a back-up date and location for the event., If a new date and location is secured, teams will be notified immediately.  Teams that are not able to attend on the new date will not be eligible for awards and will not be considered for advancement to a championship event.

If a qualifying tournament has to be cancelled and a back-up date and location is not available, the following process will be in place:

  • No Awards will be given
  • A lottery of registered teams that would have attended that qualifier will determine which teams will advance to the championship tournaments. The lottery will be held within 48 hours from the day the qualifier was intended to be held with the participation of the head judge, head referee and qualifying tournament coordinator. Teams will be notified by email on that same day.

Core Values Poster


In the FIRST Illionis region, teams are not required to prepare a Core Values Poster to present during their Core Values judging sessions at qualifying tournaments.  However, FIRST Illionis Robotics will be requiring teams that compete in one of the State Championships this season to complete the Core Values Poster.  Please follow the updated Core Values Poster guidelines that correspond with the pilot Core Values Rubric when constructing your Core Values Poster.  HERE is the link to the poster.  HERE is the link to what is new on the Core Values Rubric.  

At Qualifiers, we see the poster as a good way to organize your experiences into the poster. Judges will not be reviewing these at the Qualifiers, but teams can and should display their Core Values Poster in their pit and answer any questions from other teams or individuals who ask them about it.  If teams have a poster, we encourage them to bring it into the judging session at the qualifier.  Judging instructions will be that judges should not specifically direct questions to teams about their poster (should they have one), however a team that has a poster with them may use the poster when answering questions.  For instance, say the judges ask "can you tell us how your FIRST LEGO League experience impacted your team" - the students might respond - "as you can see on our poster - we show that ...." and go on to give an answer that way.  Some judges will also ask questions such as "is there anything else you would like to tell us about your team" and a team might use a question like that to discuss their core values poster or some of the information on it.  The core values poster will be utilized by core values judges for ALL teams that compete at the state championship events, not only during the "call-back" process.  These questions will take place in the team pit area at State.

If you have questions about the updated rubrics, please contact your FIRST LEGO League Partner Sara Lubic at slubic@firstillinoisrobotics.org or email flljudge@firstinspires.org.” If you have specific questions about judging in Illinois, please contact Illinois Head Judge Kyle Blais at kblais@firstillinoisrobotics.org

Reformatted Core Values Rubrics Pilot 2018-2019 Illinois Rules

The FIRST Illinois region is participating in a newly announced pilot using Reformatted Rubrics with revised language to the Core Values rubric for the 2018-2019 INTO ORBITSM season.  Here in Illinois we will be using different Rubrics from the ones you will find on FIRST LEGO League websites.  The updated rubrics are primarily REFORMATTED to make judging easier and to ideally improve the quality of comments given to teams. The Core Values REFORMATTED Rubric aligns with the new FIRST Core Values and includes the following changes:

  • Updated language for rows in all three award areas
  • Inspiration
    • Team Spirit replaced by Team Identity
    • Integration replaced by Impact
  • Gracious Professionalism
    • Respect and Inclusion combined into one row
    • New row added for Fairness and Integrity

While the update to the Core Values Rubric may shift what teams share with Judges, we do not expect it to have much impact on the work teams are doing throughout the season, guided by the FIRST Core Values.

The Reformatted Rubrics are not expected to have any impact on how teams complete their work.   You can download your copies of the New Reformatted Rubrics for the Illinois Into Orbit Season here:

Robot Design Rubric 2018 (pdf)

Project Rubric 2018 (pdf)

Core Values Rubric 2018 (pdf)

Robot Design Executive Summary (RDES)

Illinois qualifying tournaments will not require the RDES for this season.

This may sound like the Robot Design Executive Summary (RDES), which is optional in Illinois, but these three pages are a completely new tool for teams to use this season. These pages were created to assist teams who are opting in to the Programming Pilot, but they are a great idea for all teams to use!  Click HERE to download. (MSWord Doc)  

Need to Acknowledge Robot Design Idea Inspiration Sources 
We have received several questions asking to what extent teams are allowed to use some of the very detailed resources such as robot building instructions or robot game mission strategies created by third-parties and that are available in books and online.

Doing research for the robot game should be viewed very similarly to doing research for the project. Reading books, visiting websites, watching videos, and talking to "experts" are all great things to help inspire teams. But just like the project, teams are expected to both recognize the sources for their ideas and explain which parts of their ideas come from the work of others and which parts represent the team's own ideas. If your team uses plans to build their robot or a strategy to complete robot game missions that originated from outside the team (ie: something the team found on a website), then the team should both acknowledge where they got their ideas and explain what they did to change/improve upon those ideas when in robot design judging.

Teams should always strive to make their robot and missions "their own," and should always keep the core value of "Innovation" in mind whether working on the project or robot game! We hope teams have a great Into Orbit season exploring problems related to space travel. If teams have any questions about the judging process in Illinois please contact Illinois Head Judge Kyle Blais at kblais@firstillinoisrobotics.org

Registering the Day of the Qualifying Tournament

Upon arrival at the tournament, your team must first find the registration table and check in.  At most tournaments, the teams arrive during the same half hour, so it can be very chaotic, and lines sometimes form at the registration table for a brief period.  Keeping your forms organized and ensuring that you have all the necessary paperwork when you arrive, can help to reduce the wait for everyone.

Consent and Release Forms

Each team needs to complete signed Consent Release forms for each student, coach and volunteer attending (NO EXCEPTIONS – Participation is contingent on submitted consent before the opening ceremonies).

There are separate forms for FIRST national program, and the FIRST Illinois Robotics state program, and BOTH forms must be filled out for every participant.

Instructions to complete the National Consent Form at this link https://www.firstinspires.org/sites/default/files/uploads/resource_library/first-youth-team-member-paperwork-2016-2017.pdf

Illinois Consent Form Directions for Coaches

Illinois Consent Form in Spanish

Consent form Directions for Guardian at this link https://goo.gl/tUUXRB

Teams are required to complete these forms online prior to arriving at the tournament and submit the consent report during their on-site registration.  Paper consent forms can be turned in during registration for any participant not included in the online consent report, if necessary. Proof of consent of all participates must be provided at check in BEFORE a team will receive its tournament information packet.

Consents for FIRST National and Illinois
Please be sure that all of the National consent forms and Illinois consent forms for all your team members are complete online before your tournament. If you must use paper copies for your students, please bring them with you to the tournament to turn in. If you have electronic consent forms, all you will need to do is verbally confirm that all your consent forms are complete online. This is the Coach's responsibility and will be governed by the the honor system. PLEASE DO NOT PRINT COPIES OF YOUR ELECTRONIC CONSENTS. This will create untold amounts of paper hassle-work. If your consents are all complete online, all you have to do is tell the registration check-in person that your consents are "complete online". You do not need to provide printed proof. They will ask you if your National consents are complete online and your Illinois consents are complete online. You can simply say yes, to each question if they are all complete online. If you have some online, and some are paper, tell them at registration that you have the rest completed online and submit your remaining paper ones upon check in. Again, please do not print your electronic consent forms.

Team Information Sheet

Team Information Sheet is here.  The Team Information Sheet (Fillable) is here.  Teams, please bring three copies of this completed document to your qualifiying tournament.  One copy will go to each of the three sets of judges: Core Values, Robot Design, and Project.  The Judges see many kids and teams during the day, so the Team Information Sheet will help them identify everyone, as well as learn some important facts about your team. 

Other Forms

Some Qualifying Tournaments may have additional forms, such as food-pre-order, that will need to be turned in.  Please see the link at right for your specific tournament for additional instructions.

The Team Pit

  • The 'team pit' will be every team’s home for the day.  Each team may be assigned a specific location to set up (a pit station or pit table), but some qualifying events have areas that are first come first served.  Teams should with the registration table to find out if spectators are allowed in the pit, as some facilities allow only team members, coaches and mentors in the pit area.  Regardless of the size of a team’s pit station, teams should be gracious and keep within the confines of the teams assigned space. 
  • Generally, a pit table will be provided so teams can set up a display for other teams to see, showcase their Core Values, Robot and Project or make minor repairs.  If a team has any posters or banners those would be set up here to show your team spirit.  Some tournaments may require you to bring your own table, so please see the link at right for your specific tournament for additional instructions.
  • Electricity may be provided at the pit, but if your team brings a laptop, make sure it is fully charged.  Some venues have no power other than a few scattered laptop recharging stations, so plan accordingly.

Important Locations

When a team registers at an event, volunteers will probably provide a map or let teams know where to find important areas of the event.  It is important for teams to know how to find:

Practice Playing Field(s)  

Many tournaments provide access to a practice field where teams take turns running matches with their robot.  If a field is provided, scheduling is often tight, and teams may need to reserve a time slot to practice.  

Practice Table Missions:  Each qualifying tournament will have two practice tables available for teams.  The field set up kits used for the practice tables are on loan from teams that are attending the qualifier.  In the past it has been our experience that many of the loose mission pieces are lost or misplaced during the qualifiers, and teams are understandably reluctant to provide their field set up kits.  To reduce the likelihood of losing mission pieces FIRST Illinois Robotics has decided that only the mission pieces that are attached to the tables with Velcro will be provided at the practice tables.  Every team attending a qualifier will have to bring the loose mission pieces to the tournament for their own use at the practice tables.

Bring Loose Mission Models to your tournament to use on the practice tables! Your team must bring all loose mission models from your own team table to use at the practice tables at the tournament. You do not need to bring your entire field. As a matter of fact, most tournament coordinators will not allow you to bring your own field. You will need to use the practice tables provided. But ALL TEAMS NEED TO BRING THEIR LOOSE FIELD ELEMENTS to use on the practice table.

Competition Area

The competition area is where the official Robot Game playing fields are located, and robot performance matches are scored by official referees.  Competition tables will be set up in pairs, and during each table round a number of playing fields may be running simultaneously.   Be aware that lighting and other conditions in the competition area may be different from a team’s home practice area and the practice tables at the event, so they must be prepared to adjust as needed. 

Judging Session

Judging sessions for Core Values, Robot Design and the Project generally take place in rooms separate from the competition area.  Every team will participate in each session during the day, so teams should make sure they understand where and when a team should queue. 

Side Table Specifications at Qualifiers

Qualifying tournaments will make every effort to have a side table available for robot rounds. Teams may move the side table within the allotted space. If a team elects to use their own side table or cart, the tournament provided side table will be temporarily moved out of the students' way. 

The minimum size of a side table will be 16" by 14". Teams may bring their own side table or cart as long as it is smaller than 18" by 36" and less than 36" tall. An alternate maximum size may be defined by the QTC in advance of the event dependent on safety or size restrictions of the competition area. Teams are required to adhere to these alternate guidelines. 


Time Management

Coaches should review the day’s schedule with the team members.  Competition schedules are usually very tight, so it’s important that each team is ready and on time.  Teams must not miss their assigned robot rounds or judging sessions, as there is often no time available to reschedule a session.  Please see the link at right for each specific tournament's schedule for the day. 

Coaches’ Meeting

Some events hold a meeting for coaches at the very beginning of the day while teams are setting up their pit areas.  Teams should find out where this meeting will take place and make sure at least one coach or adult representative attends.  The QTC will often use this time to discuss any changes to the day’s schedule or any logistical concerns.  This is also a team's last opportunity to clarify the rules before the competition begins, so coaches should be ready with any last-minute questions their team may have.

Opening Ceremony

Usually the opening ceremony is very high energy and sets the tone for the day.  At most tournaments, teams have about an hour for registration, pit station setup and time on the practice fields prior to the opening ceremony.  Judges, referees and special guests are introduced. The Challenge and scoring are explained. Teams not immediately scheduled for the robot performance matches or a judging session should return to the pit to listen for queuing, use the practice fields for final robot adjustments or prepare to meet with the judges.

Robot Matches

  • During the day, teams get at least three robot competition matches lasting 2 ½ minutes each at the competition tables.  Tournament organizers may pair your team with the same team each time or mix up the pairings. 
  • Table Specifications:  The Illinois Qualifying and Championship tournaments will use competition tables with four inch walls. Illinois teams that attend post-season events may need to consider the possibility of three inch walls so their designs are robust if they venture outside of the Illinois competition arenas.
  • Two team members are allowed at a time at the competition table.  The remaining team members must stay behind the draped off area.  Let the referees know if you will be tagging in and out.   Each team will have 4 opportunities to run their robots. Please do not leave the table area until the table has been reset. This will eliminate teams walking away with mission models.
  • Teams are responsible for making sure they follow the schedule.  Queuing is the process of lining teams up for their robot matches to ensure that each match happens on time, but unexpected delays may occur.  
  • When a team’s match begins both robot operators should move to the table while the remainder of the team settles in the team standing area.  FLL expects tournaments to allow teams to rotate robot operators out during their matches.  Remember the clock does not stop for operators to change.  Be aware that most tournaments do not allow coaches or team members who are not robot operators into the area immediately around the table and must watch from the designated spectator area. 
  • Robot operators should follow the table referee’s instructions at the table, but they should not be afraid to ask the referees if they have any questions or concerns.  Before starting, the robot operators should scan the table to make sure it is properly set up.  If the robot operators have a question about the table setup they should talk to the referee immediately.  Once the match starts, it is too late to change the table.
  • Teams that have not participated in FLL tournaments before may be nervous about what to expect of the robot performance rounds.  Coaches can prepare the team by having the team run timed practice matches in the weeks before the tournament, with music playing and team members cheering.  When each practice match is over, have your team members review the field and agree on what their score would be at a tournament.

Project Components:

  • The Project consists of the following parts:

    • Research & Analysis of the Topic
    • Finding a Problem
    • Developing an innovative solution
    • Sharing your team´s problem and solutions with others.

    Explain in your presentation at the tournament how you have fulfilled all parts of the FIRST LEGO League Project.  We have found in previous seasons that teams sometimes do not always indicate how they have shared their project as part of their Presentation. Details are found at this link:  http://www.first-lego-league.org/en/fll/research-project/projectassignment.html

    In order to have standardized approach for the use of time for the project judging sessions, we will be strictly following the following policy at this year's championship tournaments.  Each judging session is only 10 minutes long, and the clock will start when the team enters the room.

    Per FIRST rules the presentation itself cannot be longer than five minutes, which means the other five minutes is split between setup and the Q&A. So please be aware that time spent setting up will take away from time available for Q&A, so your team should practice their setup so it does not take longer than a recommended 30 seconds to 1 minute.  Following this ten minute period the judges will spend another five minutes scoring the team, after the team has left the room.  Note that some qualifying tournaments this season may also be strictly sticking to this ten minute rule.

  • Spectators who enter the judging rooms must enter and leave the room with the team and must remain for the entire interview. Viewers must remain silent and cell phones should be turned off.


Scoring Confirmation

  • At the end of each match the two robot operators will witness the referee’s scoring of the table.  The referee records the condition of the field at the end of the match to determine the points the team earned.  A team member, not an adult, must talk to the Head Referee if there is any disagreement.  The Referee will then ensure that the score sheet accurately reflects the condition of the field.  This is the team’s only opportunity to bring up any difference of opinion.
  • Once a team leaves the area and the competition table is cleared for the next team, at this point teams are no longer permitted to dispute the score.  As in other competitions, the referee’s ruling on the field is final.  Graciously accept the referee’s final decision.  Teams should remember to collect all robot parts when leaving the competition tables and make sure they do not remove table elements after their match.

Team Advancement Policy:

Approximately 25% of the teams at a qualifier in Illinois will advance to a championship tournament.  Teams are eligible for advancement if they meet the following criteria as required by the FLL Global Standards and Challenge document. Teams must:

  • Have between 2 and 10 members
  • Complete all required sections of the Project
  • Have no disqualifying Core Values behaviors
  • Be competing at their first official FLL event of each qualifying level during the season
  • Perform well in all three judged areas (Core Values, Project, and Robot Design.
  • Meet the minimum Robot Performance hurdle percentage which is having a table score in the top 75% of Robot Game scores at the event.

 Judged Sessions

  • In addition to points scored during competition matches, each team is judged on its Core Values, Robot Design and Project.  This often happens in areas which are separated from the rest of the competition to eliminate noise and distractions.  Each team will report to each of the sessions at a specific time during the day and it is imperative that teams know where all of their sessions are located and when.
  • Teams meet with a panel of two judges for approximately 15 minutes in each judged area.  Teams should always ask the judges if they are ready to begin before starting to set up.  Some judging is done by observing teams in action.  Please see the link at right for any qualifying tournament's specific instructions regarding judging.
  • Some tournaments have restrictions on the number of adults that accompany team members into the judging sessions.  Please recognize that these rules are not designed to make the judging or performance process a secret, but to ensure fair judging or accommodate space restrictions of the judging rooms.
  • If the tournament organizer said that there would be audiovisual equipment available in the judging areas, teams make sure that is still available the day before the tournament.  Also, teams should double check that any equipment the team brought along is working (such as extension cords and projectors).  If anything is not available or not working, teams must be prepared to present without those items.
  • CLICK HERE to learn more about how your team will be judged at a tournament

Awards Determination Process

At the end of the team judging sessions, the head judge and all the session judges will meet to review all teams.  Judges may ask some teams to return to a judging room for a “call-back” or visit the team in the pit, so it is a good idea to have at least a few team members at your pit station once you are finished competing. 
The wait for the final awards decision can be difficult for teams.  Coaches should prepare their team before the event for a waiting period at the end of the day.  This can be an ideal time for each team to pack up their pit table and displays and load up the cars to prepare to leave after the awards ceremony. 
The tournament director may choose to do a demonstration, have a special guest speaker or run an exhibition round on the robot performance table to keep the crowd occupied while the judges make their decisions.  Teams that participate in an exhibition round need to be sure that they don’t pack up their robot or project materials.

Global Innovation Award (GIA) - Each Illinois Championship tournament will nominate 1 team to be considered for the GIA.

  • Teams must advance to one of the championship tournaments to be eligible for the GIA nomination in Illinois.
  • GIA nomination does not affect a team’s eligibility for any other awards.
  • Project judges at the Championship tournament will designate the order of the top 3 nominations for the GIA. The first place team will be asked to determine if they wish accept the nomination and if not, the second place GIA team will be given the opportunity and so on with the third place team.

Closing Ceremony

Teams should return to the main competition area for the closing ceremony.  Awards are presented, and teams are recognized for efforts demonstrated throughout the day.  There is plenty of cheering, music and smiling faces to end the tournament and celebrate the team’s accomplishments.  

Other Considerations

Teams may want to consider bringing a large storage container to hold the team’s personal items (coats, hats, backpacks, etc.). to be placed beneath their pit table to minimize clutter and avoid blocking walkways.

It will happen…someone will drop a robot and watch the parts fall in all different directions.  Consider using a plastic container or cardboard shoe box as a 'garage' for carrying your robot during the competition.  If it drops, you have a better chance of collecting the parts and reassembling it.  Decorate your 'garage' to show your team spirit.

10 Kids per Team Rule:  The FIRST website provides the following regarding the size of FLL teams:

With growing interest in FLL, some coaches have more than 10 children wanting to join the team. If they are not in a position to form a second team, they must make the difficult decision to select the final 10 members.  We recognize this is not an easy choice, and appreciate the care and thought given to making this final decision.  As such, we remind coaches who may have chosen not to make this selection to respect all those coaches globally that did. We must enforce our 10 team member policy at all FLL events. Teams attending an event with more than 10 children will be informed by the event organizer that the team is more than welcome to participate in the event to gain the valuable experience, but they will not be eligible for awards.

We will follow the FIRST guidelines above at all Illinois qualifying events. Furthermore, if it comes to the attention of any of the judges or referees at an event that there have been more than 10 children on a team but only 10 have been selected to attend the tournament, the tournament coordinator will verify that the information is correct through discussion with the coaches and, if it is confirmed, the team will not be eligible for awards or to advance to a championship event.

We will communicate this policy to all Illinois teams.  We will also advise teams that we have a sample process of how to handle the selection process which we will provide to any coach/team that requests it.

FIRST LEGO League INTO Orbit Challenge Updates at this link  https://firstinspiresst01.blob.core.windows.net/fll/2019/into-orbit-challenge-updates.pdf


It's not too late to sign up to volunteer at the tournament you are getting ready for. Many Coaches, Assistant Coaches, Team Parents, and Mentors can help make their Qualifier great by signing up to help out! Send a message offering to help your Tournament Coordinator if they need it and help demonstrate to our teams how Gracious Professionals are all around us!