What is the ICU World Cheerleading Championship?

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 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 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 116 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 Junior and Senior cheerleading teams. Performance Cheer, Adaptive Abilities, and Special Olympics divisions are also a part of the competition. 

The divisions and levels (as of the 2020-2021 season) are listed below.

Junior World Championships Divisions

Each nation can choose to compete in one of the all-girl divisions and one of the coed divisions. 

  • All Girl Advanced (similar to Level 4)
  • All Girl Elite (similar to Level 6)
  • Coed Advanced (similar to Level 4)
  • Coed Elite (similar to Level 6)
  • Team Cheer Hip Hop (performance cheer)
  • Team Cheer Freestyle Pom (performance cheer)

World Championships Divisions

Each nation can choose to compete in one of the all-girl divisions and one of the coed 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 Unified Median (similar to Level 3, with Adaptive Abilities rule modifications)
  • Adaptive Abilities Unified All Girl Advanced (similar to Level 4, with Adaptive Abilities rule modifications)
  • Adaptive Abilities Unified Coed Advanced (similar to Level 4, with Adaptive Abilities rule modifications)
  • Special Olympics Unified Intermediate (similar to Level 2, with Special Olympics rule modifications)
  • Special Olympics Traditional Intermediate (similar to Level 2, with Special Olympics rule modifications)
  • Team Cheer Hip Hop (performance cheer)
  • Team Cheer Freestyle Pom (performance cheer)
  • Team Cheer Jazz (performance cheer)
  • Adaptive Abilities Unified Team Cheer Hip Hop 
  • Adaptive Abilities Unified Team Cheer Freestyle Pom
  • Special Olympics Unified Team Cheer Hip Hop
  • Special Olympics Unified Team Cheer Freestyle Pom
  • Special Olympics Traditional Team Cheer Hip Hop
  • Special Olympics Traditional Team Cheer Freestyle Pom

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:

NEW DATE: September 2021 (virtual format)

Originally April 21-23, 2021


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

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