AerialDroneComp_LogoFinal_2-color REC Hori Drone Logo 1  (3) - Copy.png


Leagues are an event format that operate a little differently from Tournaments. A league can be thought of as a tournament in which the Qualifying Matches are broken into pieces during different days (called Ranking Sessions) with all matches feeding into a ranking system for the finals matches, which only occur on the last league session (called League Finals). This is also when judging is done.

A league must have at least 3 Ranking Sessions and a Finals Session.

Teamwork Mission - At each ranking session, teams should compete in 2 - 4 Teamwork matches.

Piloting Skills Mission - Event Partners have the option of allowing teams to run up to 2 Piloting Skills Missions at each session (rankings and finals) OR only offering Skills Mission at the Final Session.

Autonomous Flight Mission - Event Partners have the option of allowing teams to run up to 6 Autonomous Flight Skills Missions at each session (rankings and finals) OR only offering Skills Mission at the Final Session.

Communications Mission - This should only be offered at the Final Session.


Advantages of Leagues

  1. Qualifying matches and finals are run on different days.  This allows for league Ranking Sessions  to run in short timeframes, such as after school. A typical Ranking Session may give each team 2-4 Teamwork matches. For a 16 team league session, that can be done on a single field in under two hours.
  2. A Ranking Session does NOT need all of the teams in the league to be present at each session. A 24 team league, for instance, can have 12 teams run in one session, and the other 12 play in another. This format:
    • Reduces the need for teams to travel - particularly if the league will travel to different locations - teams can take turns hosting.
    • Reduces the number of fields needed at a Ranking Session (often 1 will suffice)
    • Reduces the volunteers needed to support a league (Since judges, scorekeepers for multiple fields, etc. will not be needed)
  3. Unlike tournaments, you do not need to host an open league to host an invitational league.  Leagues also can ignore the number of teams per organization limit. This is useful in the following scenarios:
    • A school district wishes to pool resources and have all of their teams attend a league - this gives teams multiple opportunities to play while keeping all expenses in-district, and Ranking Sessions can be scheduled when convenient for the district.
    • Large organizations may wish to host leagues internally in order to give teams opportunities to play.
    • EPs with limited space can host smaller Ranking Sessions and have all of those smaller events build to the League Finals instead of running as self-contained events
    • Leagues can be run for a particular subset of teams - for example, first-year teams.

Organizing a League

Leagues can either be Invitational or Open.  

Open leagues are open for anyone to attend until the registration deadline is reached, much like a typical Tournament. 

Invitational leagues need some pre-planning to ensure that the target population is aware of the league and will register for it.  Because leagues are multi-day events spread over weeks of time, it does require careful scheduling and a higher degree of commitment from teams than a typical single-day event.

Because the league is broken into Ranking Sessions, some internal coordination is needed to ensure there are enough spots at Ranking Sessions for all teams to participate. Teams will need to attend a minimum number of matches in order to be eligible for the League Finals. For some leagues, this may be inclusive to all teams in the league.

When in a league, every Team will be ranked based on the number of Matches played. Students that participate at least 60% of the total Matches available will be ranked above Teams that participate in less than 60% of the total Matches available (e.g., if the league offers 3 ranking sessions with 4 Qualification Matches per Team, teams that participate in 8 or more Matches will be ranked higher than Teams who participate in 7 or fewer Matches). 

More information on league requirements and rankings can be found in the competition manual.

Tournament Manager

Leagues work a little different in Tournament Manager (TM) than regular events:

  1. The same Tournament Manager file must be used for each session in the league.
  2. When setting up TM, there is a box to check to indicate the event is a league. This must be checked for the league to be set up properly.
  3. When starting a league session in the TM file, the TM operator will be asked to check-in teams for that session - this allows matches to be generated that do not schedule teams that are not present.
  4. Any teams in the league need to be added to RobotEvents first - NOT added to the League via Tournament Manager. Just as regular tournaments, teams must be registered on RobotEvents before they can be added to any events.
  5. Results are Finalized only after the final Ranking Session-not after each Ranking Session. However, match results and skills scores should be uploaded to RobotEvents after each session.

To see how to create a League in Tournament Manager, visit the Tournament Manager for Leagues article. (coming soon)

Best Practices

  1. Create a schedule for which teams are attending which Ranking Session - ask teams to sit out a session in order to keep the Ranking Session numbers down. Smaller Rankings sessions = more matches for teams, less time needed to run those matches, and fewer fields and volunteers needed.
  2. For an invitational league, have an idea of how many teams are going to be joining - this will help you plan out the number and size of the Ranking Sessions needed.
  3. Ranking Sessions can occur at the same location, or different locations depending on the needs of the EP. Sometimes a single central location works best (some facilities can keep fields set up, making them an ideal location for leagues since fields don’t need to be set up or broken down). In other situations the location can travel to allow multiple locations or organizations to help share the workload of hosting. 
  4. The League finals is the only session to include Judging and Finals Matches - often this session will feature more ”bells & whistles” than Ranking Sessions.
  5. The Ranking Session format is very well suited for after-school as a small number of teams can play matches in a few hours. Often the League Finals will occur on a weekend and be longer in duration, and include some practice or qualification matches as well as finals matches and judging.
  6. To save time, have teams pre-inspect drones so that they will easily and quickly pass inspection during league Ranking Sessions.
  7. Space out Ranking Sessions so that teams have time to learn from their experiences and improve their flying and programming in between Ranking Sessions. 
  8. Because there is no judging at Ranking Sessions, you do not need to assign pit tables  - if the event is small enough, teams can easily find alliance partners to discuss upcoming matches.
  9. Offer Skills Challenge Matches at all Ranking Sessions to give all teams an equal opportunity to post scores. Teams can do up to 2 Piloting Skills and 6 Autonomous Flight Skills matches per Ranking Session.

Qualifying Criteria

For Leagues to be Qualifying events, they must follow the Qualifying Criteria. Should anything in this guide contradict the Game Manuals or Qualifying Criteria documents, the Game Manuals and/or Qualifying Criteria documents will take precedence.

Posting on

  1. Ensure you have confirmed dates and venues for the Ranking Sessions and Finals Session.
  2. Create the League Event at Use the first Ranking Session date as the first “Start” and “Stop” Date.
  3. Add each ranking session and the finals session. Select “+New Date” and repeat for each session. You can specify different locations (venues) for each league session. Do not enter a range (first session - last session). Each session must be its own date. For example, if there are 5 sessions, there should be 5 separate dates listed in this section.
    • There must be at least 1 week between ranking sessions.
    • IMPORTANT! All the league sessions must be added before the league can be approved.
  4. Include the agendas for all Ranking Sessions and the Finals Session in the Agenda content block.
  5. For full instructions on posting your league to, visit the Posting an Event article.
  6. Set the Registration Opens date as early as possible, more than 8 weeks before the first Ranking Session.
  7. Consider setting the Event Capacity to a number larger than the capacity of the smallest venue and ask teams to sit out one of the ranking sessions. Encourage teams who are sitting out to come to the event as volunteers in a non-refereeing and non-judging role. This allows more teams to participate and provides more event volunteers.

Ranking Sessions

  1. Share resources. Just because it is your event this week, does not mean that you have to create everything new. Use equipment, volunteers, and ideas from the other sessions as a starting point.
  2. Keep things as simple as possible.
    • Use 1 computer with a single Audience display.
    • Only play 2-4 Qualification matches per team per ranking session, then be done.
    • For those with technical expertise, use tablet scoring for quick scoring and verification.
  3. Plan time for inspections.
  4. Be sure to save (but do not finalize!) the Tournament Manager file and upload it to RobotEvents at the conclusion of each session. Only finalize after the final session.

Finals Session

  1. Start the session with Judging and Skills Challenge Matches. Once Judging and Skills are both completed, then continue to the Alliance Selection and Finals Matches.
  2. Involve as many teams as possible in the Elimination and Finals Rounds.
  3. If giving awards for which you do not have trophies, you can print certificates from TM.
  4. Save a copy of the Tournament Manager file.  Finalize, and upload results to at the conclusion of the final session.

Best Practices for Leagues

Leagues have been around for many years, and the following suggestions are based on what has been successful throughout the years.

  • Give teams an off week in the schedule and encourage them to support the event as volunteers while they are not competing.
  • Form a partnership with another EP to share game resources and volunteers.
  • Ask each team to provide 1 volunteer for the event.
  • Keep the event simple with technology.
  • Collect the competition logbooks at the last regular session and return them at the League Championship.
  • All award judging is at the League Championship.
  • Offer skills at each session.
  • Start the League with a Practice session. This should include inspection and troubleshooting robots as well as the flow of the event for students.
  • Consider the cost of the event to reflect the amount of sessions and matches.