VIQRC Spectator Primer Part 2: Tournaments

The articles in this series are intended to give families and spectators a general understanding of the VEX IQ Robotics Competition (VIQRC) so they can better appreciate watching their students at competitions. Be sure to check out Part 1 of this series, "The Big Picture—Structure & Season."

Activities at a VIQRC Tournament

Schedule and Layout

Most VIQRC tournaments—including local, championship, Signature, and the VEX Robotics World Championship—include the same set of basic activities. Here’s a sample schedule that would be typical for a large, local qualifying VIQRC event. We’ll dig a little deeper into some of these activities later in this article.

All VIQRC tournaments designate areas for team pits, competition fields, one or more skills fields, and spectator seating. Here’s a sample event layout.

Depending on the size of a team, its members will take part in a wide range of activities during a tournament. This illustration identifies some common team activities at events.

Qualification Matches

At most tournaments, each team typically competes in 6 or more qualification matches. Each match includes two teams who work together to earn shared points. Teams are randomly assigned to matches by the tournament software. Each VIQRC match lasts one minute, and the two drivers from a team must hand off the controller in the middle of the match. Some VIQRC games include an “endgame” period during which robots are challenged to complete a final task with modified game rules.

Each team competes in the same number of matches during the event, and each team’s lowest score is dropped after every 4 matches.

Here’s a sample of qualifying match results from a VIQRC tournament.

Robot Skills Matches

At most tournaments, teams compete in two Robot Skills Challenges: Driver Skills, and Autonomous Coding Skills. Teams compete to earn the highest combined Driver & Autonomous Coding scores, and each team can make up to three attempts at each challenge. A team’s best Skills result from the season is used to rank them in the World Skills Standings.

Teams are not usually assigned specific times for their Skills runs, and run them on a first-come first-served basis as their schedule allows. At some tournaments, the Skills field(s) will remain open during the lunch break. The Skills field generally closes before Alliance Selection begins.

The game manual often identifies minor modifications to the game rules that only apply to Skills Matches. These are defined in a skills-specific section of the game manual.

Here’s an example of ranked Skills results from a VIQRC tournament.

Finals Matches

Results from qualification matches are used to determine teams’ ranks for finals matches. Rankings are determined by a team’s average score, and ties are broken by removing teams’ lowest scores and recalculating. Here’s a segment of a qualification match ranking list from a VIQRC tournament. The 1st & 2nd-ranked teams (marked in red) will be paired as an alliance, then the 3rd & 4th-ranked teams (marked in orange), and so forth.

The number of alliances that participate in Finals Matches is predetermined by event staff, and may include all teams at the event. Finals matches begin with the lowest-ranked alliance, and each alliance plays in a single match. The alliance with the highest score during these finals matches will become the Teamwork Champions. Here’s a segment of the finalist rankings from a VIQRC event. The two teams ranked #1 are this event’s Teamwork Champions. Ties for first place result in a series of tiebreaker matches.


Volunteer judges evaluate teams’ submitted engineering notebooks, interview teams online or in their assigned pits, and observe teams’ behavior during the event. Judges work in groups of 2-3, and meet before the finals matches begin to determine the winners of the event’s judged awards. Teams will not receive feedback from the event judges.


Tournaments give out performance awards based on the activities held at the event. A team may earn multiple performance awards at an event. Some performance awards will qualify teams to the next level of competition.

  • Teamwork Champions - Awarded to the 2 team alliance that records the highest score in the finals; Usually qualifies the winners to the next level of competition
  • Robot Skills Champion - Awarded to the team that scores the highest combined Driver & Autonomous Coding scores at the event
  • Teamwork Finalists - Awarded to the two team alliance that places 2nd in the finals

Judged awards can also qualify teams to the next level of competition. A team cannot earn multiple judged awards at an event.

  • Excellence Award - The highest award in VIQRC, given to a team that excels in everything (notebook, interview, qualification matches, skills matches, & conduct); Usually qualifies the winner to the next level of competition
  • Design Award - Awarded to a team with a strong notebook, interview, and understanding of the engineering design process
  • Judges Award - Awarded to a team that the judges feel deserve special recognition, perhaps for something that doesn’t correspond to other judged awards
  • Other Awards (Innovate, Think, Amaze, Build, Create, Inspire, Energy, & Sportsmanship) - Awarded to teams that excel in a specific area of the competition, such as mechanical design, construction, or coding; these awards are less common at local events, but may be awarded at championships, Signature events, and the VEX Robotics World Championship

Tournament Personnel

VIQRC tournaments are volunteer-driven events, with a wide variety of roles. Most roles require little prior experience or knowledge, but a few have specific training requirements/suggestions.

  • Event Partner (EP) - Responsible for running the event; required certification course
  • Head Referee - Enforces rules during the tournament; required certification course
  • Judge Advisor - Oversees and coordinates the judging process; required certification course
  • Scorekeeper Referee - Assists the Head Referee and calculates & enters match scores
  • Judge - Interviews teams, reviews notebooks, observes teams, and helps identify award recipients
  • Emcee - Serves as the voice of the event and engages the audience with match play-by-play commentary
  • Computer Operator - Runs the VEX Tournament Manager software and coordinates field control, tournament displays, and score entry
  • Inspector - Checks robots against a list of specifications for the game
  • Check-in - Welcomes teams and/or volunteers to the event, and collects/shares information
  • Queuer - Ensures that the correct teams are present and ready for upcoming matches

For more information on the volunteer roles available at VIQRC events, visit this article.

Apps for Spectators


The VIQRC Hub app is the ideal competition companion for teams, spectators, and event planners involved in the VEX IQ Robotics Competition!


  • A searchable, easy-to-use official game manual
  • Ensure you always have the latest rules with in-app alerts
  • Keep score at home with an intuitive calculator for the current game
  • Use the included timer to run your own practice matches (featuring official sounds!)



VEX via allows you to follow the progress and results of VEX V5 Robotics Competition, VEX U Robotics Competition, and VEX IQ Robotics Competition events. Team lists, match schedules, match results, rankings, and skills challenge results are easy to access and can be sorted by event or by team. Result updates can be downloaded as the events unfold, and you can also register to receive instant score alerts for your favorite teams.



Much of the information in this article comes from a 2022 presentation by Lovejoy High School Robotics 1082 titled “Introduction to VEX Robotics Competitions,” and is used with their permission.