What is the ICU World Cheerleading Championship?

by TheCheerBuzz
the ICU world championship for cheerleading in Orlando Florida featuring team England cheer

There are a lot of different cheerleading competitions and keeping track of them is hard, especially if you’re new to the sport. In this article, we explain what the ICU World Championship is. From the location and dates to divisions and age groups – we cover it all! 

The ICU Worlds is the official World Championship for Youth, Junior, and Senior National cheerleading teams of different countries. Only the official National teams compete, putting countries against each other in a very competitive event. The competition is open for all ICU member nations and offers divisions on different levels and age groups, for both all-girl and coed teams. 

The competition is held by the International Cheer Union (ICU) every year in late April. It takes place at the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex in Orlando, Florida. The event is typically spread out over 3 days, starting with the Youth and Junior World Championships, then semi-finals, and lastly finals for Senior aged teams. 

An Olympic-style opening ceremony is held on the first day, as well as a closing ceremony on the last day. Watch the 2019 opening ceremony below:

Who competes at ICU Worlds? Member nations overview

The ICU currently has 119 member nations (countries) from all over the World. Teams from Africa, North- and South America, Asia, Europe, and Oceania compete every year for the World Champion title. 

Click here to see all the member nations on the ICU website.

The process of selecting the national team is different in many countries. For example, some may have tryouts, where athletes specifically try out to be on the national team. Other countries might allow the team that wins their national championship to represent the country as their national team that year.

More about ICU Worlds: 8 Amazing ICU Worlds Routines To Watch Right Now

ICU world championship divisions

The ICU World Championship offers divisions for both Youth, Junior and Senior cheerleading teams. Performance Cheer, Adaptive Abilities, and Special Olympics divisions are also a part of the competition. 

The cheerleading* divisions and levels as of the 2022-2023 season are listed below. To see the complete division list, requirements, and criteria – click here to visit the ICU website.

Youth Divisions

  • Youth All Girl Median (similar to Level 3)
  • Youth All Girl Advanced (similar to Level 4)
  • Youth Coed Median (similar to Level 3)
  • Youth Coed Advanced (similar to Level 4)

Junior Divisions

  • Junior All Girl Advanced (similar to Level 4)
  • Junior All Girl Elite (similar to Level 6)
  • Junior Coed Advanced (similar to Level 4)
  • Junior Coed Elite (similar to Level 6)

Senior Divisions

  • All Girl Elite (similar to Level 6)
  • All Girl Premier (similar to Level 7)
  • Coed Elite (similar to Level 6)
  • Coed Premier (similar to Level 7)

Adaptive Abilities Divisions

  • Adaptive Abilities Unified Median (equivalent to Level 3, no basket tosses + rules modified for Adaptive Abilities)
  • Adaptive Abilities Unified All Girl Advanced equivalent to Level 4, no basket tosses + rules modified for Adaptive Abilities)
  • Adaptive Abilities Unified Coed Advanced (equivalent to Level 4, no basket tosses + rules modified for Adaptive Abilities)

Special Abilities & Special Olympics Divisions

  • Special Abilities Unified Intermediate or Special Olympics Unified Intermediate (equivalent to Level 2, no basket tosses + rules modified for Special Abilities)
  • Special Abilities Traditional Intermediate or Special Olympics Traditional Intermediate (equivalent to Level 2, no basket tosses + rules modified for Special Abilities)

* excluding divisions like performance cheer.

Past World Championship competition results

To see results from past ICU Worlds competitions, we recommend this list on the official ICU website.

Future dates

Here are the current future dates for The ICU World Championship:

  • April 24-26, 2024

Disclaimer: this is not official information from the ICU. Visit their website for official competition info.

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