A playoff or final in sports (North American professional sports in particular) is a game or series of games played after the regular season is over with the goal of determining a league champion, or a similar accolade. Sport is an Activity that is governed by a set of rules or Customs and often engaged in competitively
Play-offs originated as a way to determine a champion only when the season could not, like the similarly named run-off does in elections. They have since become so popular with fans (and thus lucrative for clubs) that more sports use them every season, and include more and more teams.
In the U. S. , the vast distances and consequent burdens on cross-country travel have led to regional groupings of teams, usually called divisions. Generally, during the regular season, teams play more games against opponents that are within their own grouping than those outside it. Since every team has not had a chance to prove itself against every other team, a playoff is necessary every season. Any team that wins its grouping is eligible to participate in the playoffs. As playoffs became more popular, they were expanded to allow teams that finished second or even lower in the grouping to participate. If a team has to be the best of all the lower-ranked teams, these teams are known as wild card teams, such as in the Major League Baseball system. The term wild card refers broadly to a Tournament or Playoff berth awarded to an individual or team that has not qualified through normal play
The present organization known as the National Basketball Association, then called the BAA (Basketball Association of America), had its inaugural season in 1946–1947.
In the current system, eight clubs from each of the league's two conferences qualify for the playoffs, with separate playoff brackets for each conference. In the 2002–03 season, the first-round series were expanded from best-of-5 to best-of-7; all other series have always been best-of-7. In all series, home games alternate between the two teams in a 2-2-1-1-1 format, except for the NBA Finals, in which the format is 2-3-2.
The 2-3-2 finals format was adopted for the 1985 finals, copying the format that was then in effect in the National Hockey League. Prior to 1985, almost all finals were played in the 2-2-1-1-1 format (although the 1971 finals between Milwaukee and Baltimore were on an alternate-home basis, some 1950s finals used the 2-3-2 format, and the 1975 Golden State-Washington and 1978 and 1979 Seattle-Washington finals were on a 1-2-2-1-1 basis). Also, prior to the 1980s, East and West playoffs were on an alternate-home basis except for those series when distance made the 2-2-1-1-1 format more practical.
Teams are seeded according to their regular-season record. The three division champions and best division runner-up receive the top four seeds, with their ranking based on regular-season record. The remaining teams are seeded strictly by regular-season record.
However, the NBA system differs from other sports playoffs in the fact that division champions are not guaranteed home-court advantage at any time in the playoffs, as home-court advantage is decided strictly on regular-season record, without regard to seeding.
See NBA Playoffs and 2008 NBA Playoffs for more information and the current NBA postseason. The NBA Playoffs is a best-of-seven elimination tournament between sixteen teams in the Eastern Conference and Western Conference (called Divisions The 2008 NBA Playoffs was the postseason for the National Basketball Association 's 2007-08 season which ended with the Eastern Conference champion Boston
Main article: NFL playoffs
The National Football League divided its teams into divisions in 1933 and began holding a single playoff championship game between division winners. The National Football League (NFL Playoffs are a Single-elimination tournament held at the end of the 16-game Regular season to determine the The National Football League ( NFL) is the largest professional American football league. In 1950 the NFL absorbed three teams from the rival All-America Football Conference, and the former "Divisions" were now called "Conferences", echoing the college use of that term. The All-America Football Conference (AAFC was a professional American football league that challenged the established National Football League (NFL from 1946 In 1967, the NFL expanded and created four divisions under the two conferences, which led to the institution of a larger playoff tournament. After the merger with the American Football League, the NFL began to use a single wild card team in each conference in its playoffs, in order to produce eight contenders out of six divisions; this was later expanded so that more wild card teams could participate. Note There were three earlier and unrelated major American professional football leagues of the same name One in 1926, one in 1936-1937 and one in 1940-1941
Major league baseball, recognizing the great success of the NFL's post-season system, also created divisions in each league when it expanded at the end of that decade, leading to its first use of regular post-season playoffs to determine league champions. Further expansion by baseball led to its own adoption of the concept of wild card teams.
In 2002 the NFL added its 32nd team, the Houston Texans, and significantly reshuffled its divisional alignment. The Houston Texans is a professional American football team based in Houston, Texas. The league went from 6 division winners and 6 wild card spots to 8 division winners and only 4 wild card qualifiers.
The winners of each division automatically earn a playoff spot and a home game in their first rounds, and the two top non-division winners from each conference will also make the playoffs as wild-card teams. The top two teams with the best records in the regular season get a first round bye, and the bottom two division winners each play one of the wild-card teams. The winners of the wild-card games then play one of the two bye teams. The winners of these two games go to the conference championships, and the winner of that game will face each other conference champion in the Super Bowl. professional American football, the Super Bowl is the Championship game of the National Football League (NFL
NASCAR implemented a playoff system beginning in 2004, that they coined the "Chase for the NEXTEL Cup. The National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing ( NASCAR) is the largest sanctioning body of Stock cars in the United States. "MMIV" redirects here For the Modest Mouse album see " Baron von Bullshit Rides Again " The Chase for the Sprint Cup, originally known as "The Chase for the Championship" during its creation and then "The Chase for the Nextel Cup" (from 2004 to 2007 is " Currently, only NASCAR's top series uses the playoff system. In the original version of the Chase (2004-2006), following the 26th race of the season, all drivers in the top 10 and any others within 400 points of the leader got a spot in the 10-race playoff. Like the current system, drivers in the Chase had their point totals adjusted. However, it was based on the number of points at the conclusion of the 26th race. The first-place driver in the standings led with 5,050 points; the second-place driver started with 5,045. Incremental five-point drops continued through 10th place with 5,005 points). In addition, drivers received 180 points for winning a race, 5 bonus points for leading the most laps, and 5 bonus for leading a single lap.
The current version of the Chase was announced by NASCAR chairman and CEO Brian France on January 22, 2007. Brian France (born August 2, 1962) is the CEO and chairman of NASCAR, taking over the position from his father Bill France Events 565 - Eutychius is deposed as Patriarch of Constantinople by John Scholasticus. 2007 in NASCAR can refer to any of the following NASCAR national series 2007 NASCAR Nextel Cup Series - The top racing series in NASCAR After 26 races, the top 12 drivers advance to contend for the points championship and points are reset to 5000. Each driver within the top 12 gets an additional 10 points for each win during the "regular season," or first 26 races, thus creating a seeding based on wins. The Chase consists of 10 races and the driver with the most points at the conclusion of the 10 races is the NEXTEL Cup Series Champion. Drivers can earn 5 bonus points for leading the most laps, and 5 bonus points for leading a single lap. Brian France explained why NASCAR made the changes to the chase:
"The adjustments taken [Monday] put a greater emphasis on winning races. Winning is what this sport is all about. Nobody likes to see drivers content to finish in the top 10. We want our sport -- especially during the Chase -- to be more about winning. "
Beginning with the 2008 season, the playoff will become known as the "Chase for the Sprint Cup" due to the NEXTEL/Sprint merger. 2008 in NASCAR can refer to any of the following NASCAR national series 2008 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series - The top racing series in NASCAR Sprint Nextel Corporation ( is a Telecommunications company based in Overland Park, Kansas.
Major League Baseball is the oldest of the major professional sports, dating back to the 1870s. As such, it is steeped in tradition. The final series to determine its champion has been called the "World Series" (originally "World's Championship Series" and then "World's Series") as far back as the National League's contests with the American Association during the 1880s. For other events named "World Series" see World Series (disambiguation. This article refers to the former Baseball major league that existed from 1882 to 1891
Retaining the sanctity of the World Series as a special event rather than merely the "final round of playoffs", the major leagues themselves do not use the term "playoffs" for post-season action. MLB has stuck with "____ Series" for each level of its post-season tournament (another term MLB does not use). In the Majors the singular term "playoff" is reserved for the rare situation in which two teams find themselves tied at the end of the regular season and are forced to have a playoff game (or games) to determine which team will advance to the post-season. Thus, in the Majors, a "playoff" is actually part of the regular season and thus can be called a "Pennant playoff". A one-game playoff or pennant playoff is a Tiebreaker in certain professional sports to determine which of two teams tied in the final standings will qualify However, the plural term "playoffs" is conventionally used by fans and media to refer to baseball's post-season tournament (and has always been used by Minor league baseball for its own post-season play), so this article will defer to that usage. Part of the History of baseball series Minor league baseball is a hierarchy of Professional baseball leagues in North
Baseball has always been the least generous sport in allowing teams to enter its playoff tournament, and paradoxically so, given that it also has by far the lengthiest season in terms of games (currently 162, and it has been over 150 games every season since 1920, with the exception of 1972, 1981, 1994, and 1995). In 1903, the two modern Major League Baseball leagues began annual post-season play with a one-round system in which the American League team with the best record faced the National League team with the best record in a best-of-seven series (in 1903, 1919, 1920, and 1921 it was best-of-9) called the World Series; however, there was no 1904 Series because the National League Champion, the New York Giants, refused to play. There are several different Playoff formats used in various levels of competition in Sports and Games Some of the most common are the single elimination For other events named "World Series" see World Series (disambiguation. This single-tiered approach persisted through 1968, even with the expansions of 1961-1962 that made it necessary for two teams each year to finish their seasons in ignominious double-digits, as it were, in tenth place.
In 1969, both leagues expanded to twelve teams and this made it harder to make the World Series because there were more teams competing for the AL and NL pennants. For other events named "World Series" see World Series (disambiguation. To remedy this, and imitating the other major sports' long-standing playoff traditions, Major League Baseball split each league into Eastern and Western divisions (still fewer than the current 3), creating four divisions overall and no worse than a sixth place finish for any team in any division. This created a new round of playoffs, which was dubbed the League Championship Series (LCS), a best-of-five series. The League Championship Series ( LCS) is the official name for a round of playoffs in Major League Baseball which has been conducted since 1969. There are several different Playoff formats used in various levels of competition in Sports and Games Some of the most common are the single elimination In 1985 the LCS was expanded to a best-of-seven series.
By 1994, further expansion was making it very hard to make the playoffs again. Major League baseball went through re-alignment again, expanding to three divisions (East, Central, West) in each league. Because only allowing divisional winners in the playoffs would make an odd number of playoff teams in each league, three, the league also added wild-cards to each league, again imitating the original post-merger NFL approach. This system was in place for 1994, but the players' strike canceled the post-season. The 1994 Major League baseball strike was the eighth work stoppage in Baseball history as well as the fourth in-season work stoppage The system was realized on the field in 1995. The wild card team would be the team with the best record in each league of all the teams that did not win their division. This doubled the playoff contenders in each league from two to four, and from four to eight teams overall. The extra playoff teams meant another elimination round was needed. This new round would become the new first round of the playoffs, the best-of-five, Division Series. In Baseball, the Division Series is the official name for the first round of the Major League Baseball playoffs This term had first been used for the extra round required in 1981 due to the "split-season" scheduling anomaly following the mid-season players' strike. The 1981 Major League Baseball strike was the fifth work stoppage in Major League Baseball since the 1972 Major League Baseball strike The three-tiered playoff tournament is the system currently in use. In the event the wild card team is from the same division as the best divisional champion; the 2nd best divisional champ plays the wildcard team and the top divisional champ plays the bottom divisional champ.
Some baseball purists (such as Bob Costas) do not like the idea that teams that were not consistently good enough to win their division can still win the World Series. Robert Quinlan "Bob" Costas (born March 22, 1952) is a Sportscaster, on the air for the NBC network since the early 1980s Purists also used a similar argument when LCS teams with lesser records advanced to the Series. However, the wild card approach has proven to be a great success with the "mass market", providing the potential for a good deal of extra drama during the final month of the season, although admittedly it has sometimes taken away from the normal "pennant race" drama when the two best teams in the league happen to be in the same division. The wild card qualifier (#4 seed) has actually won more World Series than any other seed since wildcards became eligible in 1995. They have won a total of four World Series, and won three years in a row from 2002-2004, with the 2002 World Series being between both wildcards. The World Series was the 98th edition of the Fall Classic held from October 19-27 2002
There has been talk that an extra wild card team should be added to each league, and if a one-game playoff should be added before the Division Series, though as of the mid-2000s this does not have much traction. This would be the logical next step, if and when baseball expands its playoffs again. A downside to this idea is that, even with the three-tiered system, the World Series is stretching to Halloween or even into early November (in 2001). Adding yet another tier — even for a single game — would likely push the warm-weather sport's season into November every year with the potential for snow delays in northern stadiums like Coors Field in Denver, Colorado, but this could possibly be remedied by starting the season the last week of March instead of the first week of April. Coors Field, located in Denver Colorado, is the home field of the National League 's Colorado Rockies. The City and County of Denver (pronounced /ˈdɛnvɚ/ is the Capital and the most populous city of Colorado, in the United States MLB Commissioner Bud Selig in an interview on FSN, said that although he is not opposed to an extra wildcard team in each league, he doesn't want to change the playoffs yet because "the current system is working so well. Allan Huber "Bud" Selig Jr (born July 30, 1934 in Milwaukee Wisconsin) is the Commissioner of Major League Baseball and has The Fox Sports Regional Networks, or simply Fox Sports Net (FSN are a collection of cable TV Regional sports networks owned and operated by News "
Oakland Athletics general manager Billy Beane, for his part, has called for each league's postseason tournament to be seeded strictly by regular-season record without regard to whether a team has won its division. The Oakland Athletics are a professional baseball team based in Oakland, California. There is another former major league player named Billy Bean.  No major North American sports league currently uses this system in its purest form, though the NBA comes very close to doing so by treating the highest non-division team as a division winner (allowing it a higher seeding than some division winners) and awarding homecourt advantage based on record. In sports home is a term referring to both the City and Stadium, Arena, or Field where an athletic team plays games at their venue whilst Had Beane's proposal been in place in 2006, both leagues would have seen Division Series matchups between a division champion and a wild-card team from its division — impossible under present rules, which forbid intradivisional matchups in the first round. In, the Major League Baseball season ended with the National League 's St In Baseball, the Division Series is the official name for the first round of the Major League Baseball playoffs If it had been in place in 2004, the wild-card Boston Red Sox, with the second-best record in the American League, would have had home-field advantage in the Division Series over a division champion, which is also impossible under present rules. The 2004 MLB season was the 101st season of Major League Baseball The Boston Red Sox are a Professional baseball team based in Boston Massachusetts, and are the reigning (2007 World Series Champions. The American League of Professional Baseball Clubs, or simply the American League ( AL) is one of two leagues that make up Major League Baseball in In Major League Baseball, the American League Division Series ( ALDS) determines which two teams from the American League will advance to the American
The World Series used several different formats in its early years. Initially it generally followed an alternating home-and-home pattern, except that if a seventh game was possible, its site was determined by coin toss prior the sixth game. In 1924 the Series began using a 2-3-2 format, presumably to save on travel costs, a pattern which has continued to this day with the exception of a couple of the World War II years when wartime travel restrictions compelled a 3-4 format. World War II, or the Second World War, (often abbreviated WWII) was a global military conflict which involved a majority of the world's nations, including From the start of the 2-3-2 format through the 2002 season, home field advantage generally alternated between leagues each year. Prior to the 1994 strike, the National League champion received home field advantage on even numbered years and the American League champion on odd numbered years; these were reversed for 1995-2002 (because 1994 would've been the NL's turn to have home field). That changed starting in 2003.
The 2002 All Star Game had ended in a tie, much to the displeasure of both fans and sportswriters who complained about a lack of intensity and competitiveness on the part of the players. The Major League Baseball All-Star Game, also popularly known as the "Midsummer Classic" is an annual Baseball game between players from the National League This hit especially close to home for Commissioner Bud Selig, as the game had been played in his home city of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Allan Huber "Bud" Selig Jr (born July 30, 1934 in Milwaukee Wisconsin) is the Commissioner of Major League Baseball and has In response, to give some real meaning to the game, in 2003 MLB began assigning home field advantage in the World Series to the winner of that year's All-Star Game, which is typically held in mid-July.
Coupled with the American League's scheduled home field advantage in the 2002 Series, this has given the American League the extra home game in each World Series since. The American League of Professional Baseball Clubs, or simply the American League ( AL) is one of two leagues that make up Major League Baseball in It did not help the Yankees in 2003 or Tigers in 2006, but arguably it gave a jump start to the Red Sox in 2004 and 2007 and the White Sox in 2005, all three of which ended up sweeping their opponents in the World Series.
Until 1998, the LCS alternated home-field advantage with a 2-3 format in the best-of-5 era (1969-84) and a 2-3-2 format when it went to best-of-7 (1985-present). Now home-field advantage goes to the team with the best record unless it is a wild card qualifier.
In two instances, however, the switching from the best-of-5 to the best-of-7 format shaped the outcomes of the 1985 and 1986 American League Championship Series. In 1985, the Toronto Blue Jays had a 3 games to 1 lead on the Kansas City Royals, but lost that series in seven games. The Toronto Blue Jays are a professional baseball team based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The Kansas City Royals are a Major League Baseball team based in Kansas City, Missouri. The same occurred to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (then as the California Angels) in 1986; they led the Boston Red Sox 3 games to 1, but lost Games 5, 6, and 7. The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim are a professional baseball team based in Anaheim, California. The Boston Red Sox are a Professional baseball team based in Boston Massachusetts, and are the reigning (2007 World Series Champions. Had the best-of-5 format been in place, both Toronto and California would have each won their first American League pennant (Toronto would win its first pennant in 1992, while the Angels franchise would win its first in 2002). Then again, had the 2-3 format remained, Kansas City would not have won the 1985 World Series and Bill Buckner would have been spared his costly error in the 1986 World Series. The 1985 World Series began on October 19 1985 and ended October 27. William Joseph "Bill" Buckner (born December 14, 1949) is a former Major League Baseball player for the Los Angeles Dodgers, Chicago The 1986 World Series pitted the New York Mets against the Boston Red Sox.
Until 1998 the Division Series rotated which of the three division champions would not have home field advantage, with the wild card never having it. Now the two division winners with the best records in each league have home field, with the least-winning divisional winner and the wild card not having home field. The DS used a 2-3 format until 1998 and now uses a 2-2-1 format. This is seen as a much fairer distribution of home field advantage because previously under the 2-3 format, the team hosting the first two games had absoultely no chance of winning the series at home. With the current 2-2-1 format however, both teams have the home field advantage in a way. While one team gets to host three games (including the critical first and last game), the other team does get two chances out of three (games 3 and 4) of winning the series on its home field.
The National Hockey League has always used a playoff tournament to determine its champion, generally opening up its playoff games to a much larger number of teams, including those with a losing regular season record in some years. The National Hockey League ( NHL) is a professional Ice hockey league composed of 30 teams in North America Because of the grueling nature of the sport, the Stanley Cup playoffs is considered to be one of the hardest championships in all of professional sports to win. The Stanley Cup (La Coupe Stanley is an Ice hockey club championship Trophy, awarded annually to the National Hockey League (NHL playoffs champion
From the NHL's inception to 1920, when ownership of the Stanley Cup was shared between the NHL and the Pacific Coast Hockey Association the regular season was divided into two halves, with the top team from each half moving on to the league finals, which was a two-game total goals series in 1918 and a best-of-seven series in 1919. The Pacific Coast Hockey Association (PCHA was a professional men's Ice hockey league in western Canada and the western United States, which operated from Year 1918 ( MCMXVIII) was a Common year starting on Tuesday (link will display the full calendar of the Gregorian calendar (or a Common In 1920, the Ottawa Senators were automatically declared the league champion when the team had won both halves of the regular season. The Ottawa Senators (officially the Ottawa Hockey Club) were an amateur later professional senior men's Ice hockey team based in Ottawa from 1883 The two halves format was abandoned the next year, and the top two teams faced off for the NHL championship in a two-game total goals series.
At the time, the NHL champion would later face the winners of the PCHA and, from 1921, the Western Canada Hockey League in further rounds in order to determine the Stanley Cup champion. The Western Canada Hockey League (WCHL, founded in 1921, was a major professional Ice hockey league originally based in the prairies of Canada During this time, as the rules of the NHL and those of the western leagues differ (the main difference being that NHL rules allowed five skaters while the western leagues allowed six), the rules for each game in the Stanley Cup Final alternated between those of the NHL and the western leagues. Before the WCHL competed for the Stanley Cup, the Stanley Cup Finals was a best-of-five series. Following the involvement of the WCHL, one league champion was given a bye straight to the finals (a best-of-three affair starting in 1922), while the other two competed in a best-of-three semifinal. Year 1922 ( MCMXXII) was a Common year starting on Sunday of the Gregorian calendar. As travel expenses were high during these times, it was often the case that the NHL champions were sent west to compete. In a dispute between the leagues in 1923 about whether to send one or both western league champions east, the winner of the PCHA/WCHL series would proceed to the Stanley Cup Finals while the loser of the series would face the NHL champions, both series being best-of-three.
In 1924 the NHL playoffs expanded from two to three teams (with the top team getting a bye to the two-game total goal NHL finals), but because the first-place Hamilton Tigers refused to play under this format, the second and third place teams played for the NHL championship in a two-game total goals affair. The Hamilton Tigers were a professional Ice hockey team and a member of the National Hockey League (NHL based in Hamilton Ontario that played from 1920 The Stanley Cup Finals was returned to the best-of-five format the same year.
With the merger of the PCHA and WCHL in 1925 and its collapse in 1926, the NHL took sole control of the Stanley Cup, and from this point the NHL playoffs and the Stanley Cup playoffs are considered synonymous. The NHL was subsequently divided into the Canadian and American divisions until the 1937-38 season. For 1927, six teams qualified for the playoffs, three from each division, with the division semifinals and finals being a two-game total goals affair and the Stanley Cup Final a best-of-five affair. In 1928, the playoff format was changed so that the two teams with identical division ranking would face each other (ie. Year 1928 ( MCMXXVIII) was a Leap year starting on Sunday (link will display full calendar of the Gregorian calendar. the first place teams played each other, the second place teams play each other, and likewise for the third place teams). The first place series was a best-of-five affair, with the winner proceeding to the best-of-three Stanley Cup Finals, while the others was a two-game total goals series. The winner of the second and third place series played each other in a best-of-three series, with the winner earning the other berth to the Stanley Cup Finals. This format had a slight modification the following year, where the semifinal series became a two-game total goals affair and the Stanley Cup Finals became a best-of-five series. The two-game total goals format was abolished in 1937, with those series being changed to best-of-three affairs.
The 1938-39 season saw the reduction of teams from 10 to 7, and with it an end to the Canadian and American divisions. The Stanley Cup playoffs saw the first and second place teams play against each other in a best-of-seven series for one berth in the Stanley Cup Finals, while the third to sixth place teams battled in a series of best-of-three matches for the other berth (with the third place team battling the fourth place team, and the fifth place team against the sixth place team). The playoff format introduced in the 1938-39 season had a best-of-seven Stanley Cup Final, which still stands today.
The 1942-43 season saw the removal of the New York Americans, and thus the six remaining teams formed the Original Six. For the 1941 American football team see New York Americans (AFL. For the first ships of the United States Navy, see Six original United States frigates. During this era, the playoff format went unchanged, with the first and third place teams battling in one best-of-seven semifinal, while the second and fourth place teams battled in the other best-of-seven semifinal. During this time, Detroit Red Wings fans often threw an octopus onto the ice as a good luck charm, as eight wins were required to win the Stanley Cup. The Detroit Red Wings are a professional Ice hockey team based in Detroit Michigan, and current Stanley Cup champions
The Modern Era expansion saw the number of teams double from six to twelve in the 1967-68 season, and with it the creation of the Western and Eastern Conferences. The playoff format remained largely the same, with all series remaining best-of-seven, and the Western and Eastern Conference champions battling for the Stanley Cup. The 1970-71 season, because of fan demand, brought forth the first interconference playoff matchup outside of the Stanley Cup Final since the pre-war expansion, which had the winner of the 2 vs 4 matchup in one conference take on the winner of the 1 vs 3 matchup in the other conference for a berth in the Stanley Cup Finals. The following year had one minor change to its playoff format: a stronger team would face a weaker opponent. Thus, instead of a 1 vs 3 and 2 vs 4 matchup in the first round, the first round had a 1 vs 4 and 2 vs 3 matchup. This practice of having stronger teams facing weaker opposition would continue to the present day.
The 1974-75 seasons saw another change to its playoff system to accommodate the league of now 18 teams, 12 of which qualified for postseason berth. The top team from each conference would earn byes to the Stanley Cup quarterfinals, while the second and third place teams from each division started their playoff run from a preliminary round. In each round of the playoffs, the teams remaining were seeded regardless of divisional or conference alignment, with the preliminary-round series being a best-of-three affair while the remainder of the series remained best-of-seven. The 1977-78 season had one minor change in its playoff format: although the second place finishers from each division would qualify for the preliminary round, the four playoff spots reserved for the third-place teams were replaced by four wild-card spots - spots for the four teams with the highest regular-season point total but which did not finish first or second in their divisions.
With the absorption of four teams from the World Hockey Association in the 1979-1980 season, a new playoff system was introduced where 16 of the league's 21 teams would qualify for postseason play. The World Hockey Association (French Association Mondiale de Hockey) was a professional Ice hockey league that operated in North America from 1972 The four division winners would qualify for the playoffs while twelve wildcard positions rounded out the sixteen teams. At the beginning of each round the teams were seeded based on their regular season point totals, with the preliminary round being a best-of-five series while all other playoff series were best-of-seven.
The 1981-1982 season brought forth the return of divisional matchups, with the top four teams from each division qualifying for the postseason play. Division champions would be determined, followed by the Conference champions, who would meet in the Stanley Cup finals. The division semifinals was a best-of-five affair until the 1986-87 season, when it became a best-of-seven series, while all other series remained best-of seven.
The 1993-94 season brought forth the change in the playoff format that would result in the format being used today. The division winners would occupy top three seeds while five wildcard berths completed the conference playoff draws, with all series being best-of-seven. One quirk that was abolished with division realignment in the 1998-99 season was that the higher-ranked teams in Western Conference interdivisional matchups had the option of having home ice rotate on a 2-2-1-1-1 basis or a 2-3-2 basis, and if the latter was chosen having the bulk of their games at home or on the road. The 1998-99 season also brought forth a re-seeding of conference playoff matchups after the first round, as well as a third division in each conference.
As a rule, international Association football has only had championship playoffs when a league is divided into several equal divisions/conferences/groups (MLS, Primera División de México) and/or when the season is split into two periods (as in many leagues in Latin America). Association football, more commonly known as football or soccer, is a Team sport played between two teams of eleven players and is widely considered The Primera División (First Division is the First Division Association football championship established by the Federación Mexicana de Fútbol Asociación In leagues with a single table done only once a year, as in most of Europe, playoff systems are used as outlined in the examples below.
The championship of every division in English football is determined solely by the standings in the league. The Football League play-offs are a series of Football (soccer matches to determine a promotion place within the English football league system. A championship play-off would only be held if two teams were tied for points, goal difference and goals scored; however, this has never happened.
In the earliest years of the Second Division, "test matches" decided promotion and relegation between the top teams of the Second Division and the bottom teams in the First Division. A test match in football is a match played at the end of a season between a team that has done badly in a higher league and one that has done well in a lower league In many Sports leagues around the world (with North American and Australian professional leagues being the most notable exceptions promotion and relegation This system was abandoned by the beginning of the 20th century.
The use of play-offs to decide promotion issues returned to the League in 1986 with the desire to reduce the number of mid-table clubs with nothing to play for at the end of the season. The Nationwide Conference introduced play-offs in 2002 after the Football League agreed to a two-club exchange with the Conference. Organisation The Football Conference stands at the top of the National League System (NLS a comprehensive structure linking together over 50 different leagues under the
The top two teams in the Football League Championship and in Football League One are automatically promoted to the division above and thus do not compete in the play-offs. The Football League Championship (often referred to as The Championship for short or the Coca-Cola Football League Championship for sponsorship reasons Football League One (often referred to as League One for short or Coca-Cola Football League 1 for sponsorship reasons is the second-highest division of The Football The top three teams in Football League Two and the champion of Conference National are also automatically promoted. Football League Two (often referred to as League Two for short or Coca-Cola Football League 2 for Sponsorship reasons is the third-highest division of Conference National (currently named the Blue Square Premier for sponsorship reasons is the top division of the Football Conference. In each of these divisions the four clubs finishing below the automatic promotion places compete in two-legged semi-finals with the higher-placed club enjoying home advantage in the second leg. The away goals rule does not apply for the semi-finals, which has led to some games swinging the way of a team that otherwise would have been beaten by the rule. The away goals rule is a method of breaking ties in Association football and other sports when teams play each other twice once at each The Football League play-off finals were originally played in two legs, at both teams' home grounds, but were later changed to one-off affairs, which are played at the Wembley Stadium in London. Wembley Stadium is a Stadium in Wembley, located in the London Borough of Brent in London, England. London ( ˈlʌndən is the capital and largest urban area in the United Kingdom. The Conference play-off final is also played at Wembley. Organisation The Football Conference stands at the top of the National League System (NLS a comprehensive structure linking together over 50 different leagues under the
In 2003 Gillingham F.C. proposed replacing the current play-off system with one involving six clubs from each division and replacing the two-legged ties with one-off matches. Gillingham Football Club is an English professional football club based in the town of Gillingham, Kent. If adopted, the two higher-placed clubs in the play-offs would have enjoyed first-round byes and home advantage in the semi-finals. It was a controversial proposal — some people did not believe a club finishing eighth in the League could compete in the Premiership while others found the system too American for their liking. The Premier League, colloquially referred to as the Premiership, is an English professional league for football clubs The United States of America —commonly referred to as the Although League chairmen initially voted in favour of the proposal, it was blocked by The FA and soon abandoned. The Football Association, also known as simply The FA, is the governing body of football in England and the Crown Dependencies of Jersey
In 2004-05, Italy's professional league introduced a promotion playoff to its second tier of football, Serie B. Promotion and Relegation At the end of the season, three teams are promoted to Serie A and four teams are relegated to Serie C1. It operates almost identically to the system currently used in England. The top two clubs in Serie B earn automatic promotion to Serie A with the next four clubs entering a playoff to determine who wins the third promotion place, as long as fewer than 10 points separate the third and fourth-placed teams (which often occurs). Serie A (officially known as the Lega Calcio Serie A TIM for Sponsorship reasons is a professional league competition for football clubs located
In The Netherlands, a playoff was introduced in season 2005-2006. The Netherlands ( Dutch:, ˈnedərlɑnt is the European part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, which consists of the Netherlands the Netherlands It is used to determine which teams from the Eredivisie qualify for European football. The Eredivisie ( English: Honorary Division) is the highest football league in the Netherlands. The playoff system has been criticized by clubs, players and fans as the number of matches will increase. Under the original playoff format, it was possible, though thoroughly unlikely, that the runner-up would not qualify for Europe. The current format assures the second-place team of no worse than a place in the UEFA Cup, the second-level European club competition behind the Champions League. The UEFA Cup is a football competition for European club teams organised by the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA. See also List of European Cup and UEFA Champions League winners The UEFA Champions League, which evolved from the European Champion Clubs' Cup is a seasonal club
Playoffs are also used for relegation to the Eerste Divisie, the Dutch second football league. The Eerste Divisie ( English: First Division) is the second-highest division of football in the Netherlands.
In the Belgian Jupiler League, the 17th team (out of 18) in the final standings has to join a playoff pool with three teams from the Belgian Second Division after each season, to determine which of these teams gets to play in the Jupiler League the oncoming season. The Kingdom of Belgium is a Country in northwest Europe. It is a founding member of the European Union and hosts its headquarters as well as those The Belgian First Division, also known as Jupiler Pro League (it is sponsored by InBev, the makers of Jupiler) is the top competition in The Belgian Second Division, also known as EXQI League (it is sponsored by commercial broadcaster Euro1080, who have a Culture The Belgian First Division, also known as Jupiler Pro League (it is sponsored by InBev, the makers of Jupiler) is the top competition in Originally, these playoffs were introduced in 1974 and were part of the Belgian Second Division, to determine which team was promoted to the highest level together with the division champions. From the 2005-06 season on, only one team was relegated directly from the Jupiler League, with the 17th team taking part in the playoff. As a result, this playoff is still called the Belgian Second Division Final Round, although one team from the Jupiler League now takes part each year. The Belgian Second Division Final Round is the name of the Playoff part of the Belgian Second Division.
The Scottish Premier League experimented briefly with playoffs in the mid-1990s, with only one team - Dundee United - achieving promotion through it (Partick Thistle were relegated at their expense). The Scottish Premier League, currently known as the Clydesdale Bank Premier League for sponsorship reasons and often known as the Premier League or SPL Partick Thistle Football Club are a Scottish professional football club from the city of Glasgow. Currently, the bottom team is relegated to the First Division of the Scottish Football League, and the top team from there is promoted. Founding members The Scottish League's first season of competition was in 1890-91. In the First/Second and Second/Third Division, while the champions are automatically promoted and the bottom team relegated, there are playoffs of the second-bottom teams against the second, third and fourth placed teams from the league below. Home and away ties decide semi-finals and a final, and the overall winner plays in the higher league the following season, with the loser in the lower league.
In Major League Soccer in the U.S., at the end of the regular season, the top four teams in each Conference advance to the Conference Semifinals, the first round of the postseason knockout tournament. Major League Soccer ( MLS) is the top-flight professional Soccer league in the United States and Canada with 14 teams 13 in the U The United States of America —commonly referred to as the In an organised Sports league, a season is the portion of one Year in which regulated Games of the sport are in session In an organised Sports league, a season is the portion of one Year in which regulated Games of the sport are in session The winner of each conference will play for the MLS Cup, the league championship. The MLS Cup is the annual championship game of Major League Soccer.
Conference Semifinal series are conducted under a home-and-away, aggregate-goal format, with single-game Conference Championships determining the MLS Cup Finalists. For each Conference, the 1st seed plays the 4th seed, and the 2nd seed faces the 3rd seed in the Conference Semifinal series, with the lower seeded team hosting the first game.
The team that scores the most goals in the home-and-away series advances to the single elimination Conference Championship. If the teams are tied after 180 minutes in the Conference Semifinal series, a 30-minute extra time period (divided into two 15-minute periods) would be played followed by a penalty-kick shootout, if necessary. The team with the higher seed between the two Conference finalists will host the Conference Championship game.
In the case of ties after regulation in the Eastern and Western Conference Championship games and MLS Cup, 30 minutes of extra time (divided into two 15-minute periods) would be played followed by a penalty-kick shootout, if necessary, to determine the winners.
In international football, playoffs were a feature of the 1954 and 1958 FIFA World Cup final tournaments. Association football, more commonly known as football or soccer, is a Team sport played between two teams of eleven players and is widely considered The 1954 FIFA World Cup, the fifth staging of the World Cup was held in Switzerland from June 16 to July 4. The 1958 FIFA World Cup, the sixth staging of the World Cup was hosted by Sweden from June 8 to June 29. They are still a feature of the qualification tournaments for the FIFA World Cup and the European Football Championship. The FIFA World Cup, occasionally called the Football World Cup, but usually referred to simply as the World Cup, is an international Association football The UEFA European Football Championship is the main football competition of the men's national football teams governed by UEFA (the Union of European
In addition to their league competitions, most European footballing nations also have knockout cup competitions - English football, for example, has the FA Cup and the League Cup. A single-elimination tournament, also called a knockout, cup or sudden death tournament, is a type of Tournament where the loser of each The Football Association Challenge Cup, commonly known as the FA Cup, is a knockout cup competition in English football, run by and named after The Football League Cup, commonly known as the League Cup, is an English football competition These competitions are open to many teams—92 clubs compete for the League Cup, and hundreds compete for the FA Cup. These competitions run concurrently with the "regular season" league competitions and are not regarded as playoffs.
Playoffs are used in both the Australian Football League (AFL) and the National Rugby League (NRL), where they are known as finals (in rugby league, also as semi finals or semis) - although unlike North American leagues, participating teams only come from within a single division, and also consist of single matches rather than series. The Australian Football League (AFL is both the professional Australian national competition in the Sport of Australian Rules Football and its highest The term playoff was used in the NSWRL competition to describe sudden death matches used as tie breakers for finals qualification. New South Wales Rugby League premiership was the first Rugby league football club competition established in Australia
In both leagues, the top eight teams at the end of the regular season qualify for the finals. Although the systems used in both leagues are slightly different, both involve two teams being eliminated in each round until only two teams remain (the participants in the Grand Final), and both are structured so that higher-ranked teams are given a more advantageous draw. A Grand Final is a predominantly Australian sporting term used to describe a final that decides a league champion 
The system used by the AFL works as follows:
The winners of the qualifying finals advance directly to week three, while the losers of the elimination finals are eliminated. The Australian Football League (AFL is both the professional Australian national competition in the Sport of Australian Rules Football and its highest The remaining four teams continue on to week two.
The two winners advance to week three while the losers are eliminated.
The two winners advance to the Grand Final, held in week four at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
The McIntyre Final Eight System, used by the NRL but previously used by the AFL, works as follows:
After this round, the four winners are ranked in order of their positions at the end of the regular season, as are the four losers. The McIntyre Final Eight System was devised by Ken McIntyre in addition to the McIntyre Four Five and Six systems The two highest ranked winners advance directly to week three, while the two lowest ranked losers are eliminated. The remaining four teams continue on to week two.
The two winners advance to week three while the losers are eliminated.
The two winners advance to the Grand Final, held in week four at ANZ Stadium in Sydney. Stadium Australia, presently known as ANZ Stadium, is a multi-purpose Stadium located in the Sydney Olympic Park precinct of Homebush, Sydney Sydney (ˈsɪdniː is the most populous city in Australia, with a Metropolitan area population of approximately 4
In the Guinness Premiership the top four qualify for the playoffs, where they are not referred to by that name. The English Premiership (known as the Guinness Premiership because of the league's sponsorship by Guinness) is a professional league competition for Rugby Here, the team who finished first after the league stage plays the team who finished fourth, while the team who finished second plays the team who finished third in the Semi-Finals with the higher-ranked team having homefield advantage. The winners of these semi-finals qualify for the Premiership Final at Twickenham, where the winner will be champions of the league. Twickenham Stadium (usually known as just Twickenham or Twickers) is a Stadium located in Twickenham, in the London Borough of Richmond
The system used in the rugby league Super League is more complex. History See also History of rugby league The grass roots of rugby league can be traced to early football history, through the playing of ball games Introduced in 1998 it originally featured the top five highest-ranked teams after the 28 regular league rounds but since 2000 the play-offs added an extra spot to allow the top six to qualify. Year 1998 ( MCMXCVIII) was a Common year starting on Thursday (link will display full 1998 Gregorian calendar) A play-off structure involving the top five teams was used to determine the winners of the Super League competition in British Rugby league from 1998 until 2001 2000 ( MM) was a Leap year that started on Saturday of the Common Era, in accordance with the Gregorian calendar. After a top five play-off system was used a play-off structure involving the top six teams has been used to determine the winners of the Super League competition in British The current format works like this:
This format is also used by the Rugby League National Leagues to determine which teams gets promoted. Media Some games are shown on Sky Sports, games involving Celtic Crusaders are shown on Welsh-language channel S4C.
The highest level of French rugby union, the Top 14, uses a playoff system identical to that used in the Guinness Premiership, with the top four teams after the double round-robin season qualifying. The Top 14 is a Rugby union club competition which is played in France. While the teams are seeded in the same manner as in the English playoffs, the semifinals in France are held at neutral sites. The winners of these semifinals qualify for the final at Stade de France, where the winner will be champions of the league and receive the Bouclier de Brennus. The Stade de France is a Stadium in Saint-Denis, France in the inner suburbs of Paris. The Bouclier de Brennus, or Brennus Shield in English, is a trophy awarded to the winners of the French Rugby union domestic league.
The second level, Rugby Pro D2, uses a four-team playoff similar to that used in English football, but consisting of one-off knockout matches instead of two-legged ties, to determine the second of two teams promoted to the next season's Top 14 (the champions earn automatic promotion). Rugby Pro D2, also known as Pro D2 is the second level of domestic club Rugby union in France, below the first division Top 14. The promotion semifinals are held at the home fields of the second- and third-place teams, and the promotion final is held at a neutral site.
Both domestic competitions in New Zealand rugby — the fully professional Air New Zealand Cup and the nominally amateur Heartland Championship — use a playoff system to determine their champions, although the term "playoff" is also not used in New Zealand. The Air New Zealand Cup is New Zealand 's professional domestic Rugby union competition The Heartland Championship, known for sponsorship reasons as the AA Rewards Heartland Championship, is an amateur domestic Rugby union competition in
In the 2006 Air New Zealand Cup, the first season of the revamped domestic structure in that country, the top six teams after Round One of the competition automatically qualified for the playoffs, officially known as Round Three. The 2006 Air New Zealand Cup is a provincial Rugby union competition involving 14 teams from New Zealand. Their relative seeding was determined by their standings at the end of the Top Six phase of Round Two. The teams that finished below the top six entered repechage pools in Round Two, with the winner of each pool taking up one of the final two playoff slots. The seventh seed was the repechage winner with the better record, and the eighth seed was the other repechage winner.
From 2007 onward, the former Rounds One and Two were collapsed into a single pool phase of play in which all teams participate, with the top eight teams advancing to the playoffs. The 2007 Air New Zealand Cup was a provincial Rugby union competition involving 14 teams from New Zealand.
The playoffs in each season format have consisted of a single-elimination tournament. The teams are bracketed in the normal fashion (1 vs 8, 2 vs 7, 3 vs 6, 4 vs 5), with the higher seed receiving home-field advantage. After the quarterfinals, the playoff is rebracketed, with the highest surviving seed hosting the lowest surviving seed and the second-highest surviving seed hosting the third surviving seed. The winners of these semifinals qualify for the Air New Zealand Cup Final, held at the home ground of the higher surviving seed.
In this competition, teams play for two distinct trophies — the more prestigious Meads Cup and the Lochore Cup. The 12 Heartland Championship teams are divided into two pools for round-robin play in Round One, with the top three in each pool advancing to the Meads Cup and the bottom three dropping to the Lochore Cup.
Round Two in both the Meads and Lochore Cups is an abbreviated round-robin tournament, with each team playing only the teams it did not play in Round One. The top four teams in the Meads Cup pool at the end of Round Two advance to the Meads Cup semifinals; the same applies for the Lochore Cup contestants.
The semifinals of both cups are seeded 1 vs 4 and 2 vs 3, with the higher seeds earning home field advantage. The semifinal winners advance to their respective cup final, hosted by the higher surviving seed.
The playoffs begin in November. After the regular season, the top team from each division has an automatic home game berth in the Division Final, and a bye week during the Division Semifinal. The second-place team from each division hosts the third-place team in the Division Semifinal, unless the fourth-place team from the opposite division finishes with a better record. This "crossover rule" does not come into play if the teams have identical records—there are no tiebreakers. While the format means that it is possible for two teams in the same division to play for the Grey Cup, no crossover team has ever won even the divisional semifinal game. The Grey Cup (in Coupe Grey is both the name of the championship of the Canadian Football League (CFL and the name of the trophy awarded to the victorious team The winners of each Division's Semifinal game then travel to play the first place teams in the Division Finals. Since 2005, the Division Semifinals and Division Finals have been sponsored by Scotiabank and are branded as the "Scotiabank East Championship" and "Scotiabank West Championship". Scotiabank (Banque Scotia () the trademark name for The Bank of Nova Scotia, is one of Canada 's Big Five banks.  The two division champions then face each other in the Grey Cup game, which is held on the third or fourth Sunday of November.
The Edmonton Eskimos are notable for qualifying for the CFL playoffs every year from 1972 to 2005, a record in North American pro sports. The Edmonton Eskimos are a Canadian Football League team based in Edmonton Alberta. The 1972 Canadian Football League season is considered to be the 19th season in modern-day Canadian football, although it is officially the 15th Canadian Football The 2005 Canadian Football League season is considered to be the 52nd season in modern-day Canadian football, although it is officially the 48th Canadian Football
Before the playoff system is placed in both professional leagues, the Pacific League in Nippon Professional Baseball(NPB) had applied a playoff system for twice. The or is one of Japan 's two major professional Baseball leagues the other being the Central League. Nippon Professional Baseball or NPB is the highest level of Baseball in Japan. The first is between 1973-1982, which they applied a split-season and have an 5-game playoff between the winning teams of both halves of season (unless a team won both of the half so that they need not to play such games). And the second time was between 2004-2006, which the top three team will play a two-staged stepladder knockout (3 games in first stage and 5 games in second stage) the decide the League Champion (and the team playing in Japan Series. or is a seven-game championship played by the teams of Japan 's two professional baseball leagues (the Central League and Pacific League) After applied with such system, the Seibu Lions(Now Saitama Seibu Lions), Chiba Lotte Marines and Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters, which claimed the Pacific League Champion under such system, were all able to clinch the following Japan Series in that season. The are a Professional baseball team in Japan 's Pacific League. The are a professional Baseball team in Japan's Pacific League, based in Chiba City, Chiba Prefecture, in the Kantō region. The are a professional Baseball team in Japan's Pacific League. The success of such playoff system made Central League, which never used playoff system to decide League Champion shows interset to playoff system. The or is one of Japan 's two major professional Baseball leagues the winner of which plays the Japan Series against the winner of the other league the In 2007, a new playoff system, named "Climax Series", is introduced to both professional leagues in NPB to decide the team playing in Japan Series. The Climax Series basically applied the rule of the playoff system in Pacific League. But unlike the previous playoff system, Climax Series does not affact teams' standing nor indivial records in regular season which the previous playoff system in Pacific League did, this means the winner of Japan Series may not be the winner of the League. The Chunichi Dragons takes the advantage of such system in the first Climax Series-implemented season, finishing second in regular season, but swept Hanshin Tigers and League Champion Yomiuri Giants in Central League Climax Series, and beat the Champion of Pacific League Climax Series Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters to claim their first Japan Series in 52 years. The are a professional baseball team based in Nagoya, the chief city in the Chubu ("Middle of Japan" region of Japan. The are a Nippon Professional Baseball team based in Koshien Nishinomiya, Hyōgo Prefecture, Japan, and are in the Central League. The is a Nippon Professional Baseball team based at the Tokyo Dome in Bunkyo, Tokyo, Japan.
In 2008, the format of Climax Series will have a slight change, which the second stage will be played for 6-games, which the League Champion will have an extra 1-game advantage.
d) al reciproco scambio di radiocronache e telecronache (cassette incluse) per l'intera durata del Campionato, della Coppa Italia e dei relativi Play-Out e Play-Off (anche dove non sia prevista gara di ritorno) e più precisamente:
which translates as follows:
(the broadcaster provides) reciprocal exchange of sportcastings (including cassettes) for the entire championship, for the Italian cup and their Play-Out and Play-Offs (even if a return match is not scheduled) and more precisely:. . .