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The finals format was adopted from the Finals to , copying the format that was then in effect in the National Hockey League.
Prior to , almost all finals were played in the format although the Finals between Milwaukee and Baltimore were on an alternate-home basis, some s finals used the format, and the Golden State-Washington and and Seattle-Washington Finals were on a basis.
Also, prior to the s, Eastern and Western playoffs were on an alternate-home basis except for series when distance made the format more practical.
Since , the NBA Finals restored the original format. Teams are seeded according to their regular-season record. Through the —15 season, the three division champions and best division runner-up received the top four seeds, with their ranking based on regular-season record.
The remaining teams were seeded strictly by regular-season record. However, if the best division runner-up had a better record than other division champs, it could be seeded as high as second.
Beginning in —16, the NBA became the first major American league to eliminate automatic playoff berths for division champions; the top eight teams overall in each conference now qualify for the playoffs, regardless of divisional alignment.
Top flight basketball leagues elsewhere also employ a playoff system mimicking the NBA's. However, most leagues are not divided into divisions and conferences, and employ a double round robin format akin to league association football, unlike the NBA where teams are divided into divisions and conferences, which leads to different strengths of schedule per team.
Teams are seeded on regular season record. The playoff structure can be single-elimination or a best-of series, with the higher seed, if held the playoffs are not held at a predetermined venue, having the home court advantage.
Aside from the playoffs, some leagues also have a knockout tournament akin to the FA Cup running in parallel to the regular season.
These are not considered playoffs. In the EuroLeague , after the regular season plays a best-of-5 playoffs in a 2—2—1 format. However, from the semifinals on, it is a single elimination tournament held at a predetermined venue.
Still others also have a relegation playoff. A few conferences hold early rounds at campus sites and later rounds at a predetermined site. For example, the Mid-American Conference holds its first-round games at campus sites, but the rest of the tournament in Cleveland.
The Big South Conference holds its first round at campus sites, gives hosting rights for its quarterfinals and semifinals to the regular-season champion, and plays its final at the home court of the top remaining seed.
A small number of conferences do not invite all of their teams to the conference tournament, with one example being the Ivy League , in which only four of the eight members advance to the tournament which is at a predetermined site.
In many such tournaments, higher seeds are afforded byes. The winners, and some losers which are selected as "at-large bids", play in the NCAA tournament , which is also single-elimination and held at predetermined venues.
In the WNBA Playoffs , the league's best 8 teams, regardless of conference alignment, compete, and are seeded based on their regular-season records.
The top two seeds get double byes and the next two seeds first-round byes. In the Canadian Football League , 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 , so far only two crossover teams have won the divisional semifinal game.
The winners of each Division's Semifinal game then travel to play the first place teams in the Division Finals. The Edmonton Eskimos are notable for qualifying for the CFL playoffs every year from to , a record in North American pro sports.
The Eskimos are also notable for being the first crossover team to ever win the divisional semifinal game. The National Hockey League playoff system is an elimination tournament competition for the Stanley Cup , consisting of four rounds of best-of-seven series.
The first three rounds determine which team from each conference will advance to the final round, dubbed the Stanley Cup Final. Since the Conference Quarterfinals consists of four match-ups in each conference, based on the seedings division-wise 1 vs.
The division winner with the best record in the conference plays the lowest wild-card seed, while the other division winner plays the top wild-card seed wild-card teams, who are de facto 4th seeds, may cross over to another division within the conference.
In the Conference Semifinals, the four remaining teams in the conference face each other. In the third round, the Conference Finals, the two surviving teams play each other, with the conference champions proceeding to the Stanley Cup Final.
For the first two rounds, the higher-seeded team has home-ice advantage regardless of point record. Thereafter, it goes to the team with the better regular season record.
In all rounds the team with home-ice advantage hosts Games 1, 2, 5 and 7, while the opponent hosts Games 3, 4 and 6 Games 5—7 are played "if necessary".
The Kontinental Hockey League , based in Russia and including teams from several nearby countries, operates a playoff system similar to that of the NHL, also consisting of four rounds of single-elimination best-of-seven series.
The first three rounds determine which team from each conference will advance to the final round, dubbed the Gagarin Cup Finals.
The winner of each division receives one of the top two seeds in its conference; the others are based on regular-season record.
Unlike the NHL, divisional alignment plays no added role in playoff seeding—all teams are seeded solely within their conference. Playoff pairings are based on seeding number within the conference 1 vs.
The division winner with the best record in the conference plays the lowest wild-card seed, while the other division winner plays the next-lowest seed wild-card teams, who are de facto 4th seeds, may cross over to another division within the conference.
The playoff pairings are reseeded after the first round a feature that was once used in the NHL, but now abandoned.
Therefore, the Conference Semifinals feature the top remaining seed in the conference playing the lowest remaining seed, and the two other first-round survivors playing one another.
In the third round, the Conference Finals, the two surviving teams play each other, with the conference champions proceeding to the Gagarin Cup Finals.
In the United Kingdom, the Elite Ice Hockey League playoffs are an elimination tournament where the draw is based on the finishing position of teams in the league.
Of the 10 teams which compete, the top 8 qualify for the playoffs. The first round the quarter-finals are played over two legs home and away where the team who finished in 1st place in the regular season plays the team which finished 8th, 2nd plays 7th and so on, with the aggregate score deciding which team progresses.
The semi-finals and final are held over the course of a single weekend at the National Ice Centre in Nottingham. Each consists of a single game with the losing team being eliminated, with the two semi-final games being played on the Saturday and the final on the Sunday.
There is also a third-place game held earlier on the Sunday between the losing teams from the semi-finals. Unlike in the NHL, the winners of the Elite League playoffs are not considered to be the league champions for that season that title goes to the team which finishes in first place in the league , rather the playoffs are considered to be a separate competition although being crowned playoff champions is a prestigious accolade nonetheless.
The most recent playoff champions are the Sheffield Steelers. When first introduced, only NASCAR's top series used the system, although the other two national racing series currently known as the Xfinity Series and the Camping World Truck Series have since adopted similar systems.
One unique feature of the Nascar playoffs is that the non-qualifying drivers continue to compete alongside the playoff drivers: There are actually two different playoffs going on at the end of the season in each series: Only one multi-driver team has ever won the Cup series owner's point championship: Because of the way the playoffs were structured that year, however, both he and his 18 team won their respective championships with points.
There have been two cases where a playoff driver failed to enter every playoff race. In , Kurt Busch was fired by Roush Racing with two races left in the season.
Busch finished 10th out of 10 Chase drivers, but Kenny Wallace stepped in to drive the 97 car to an 8th-place finish in the owner's points race.
In , Dale Earnhardt, Jr. Regan Smith drove the 88 car for two races, including a top finish at Kansas Speedway.
In that case, Smith's 43 additional championship points on top of Earnhardt's 2, were not enough to pull the 88 team out of 12th place out of 12 playoff contenders.
In the original version of the Chase — , following the 26th race of the season, all drivers in the top 10 and any others within points of the leader got a spot in the 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, points; the second-place driver started with 5, Incremental five-point drops continued through 10th place with 5, points.
After 26 races, the top 12 drivers advanced to contend for the points championship and points were reset to Each driver within the top 12 received an additional 10 points for each win during the "regular season", or first 26 races, thus creating a seeding based on wins.
Under the points system then in use, drivers could earn 5 bonus points for leading the most laps, and 5 bonus points for leading a single lap.
Winning is what this sport is all about. Nobody likes to see drivers content to finish in the top We want our sport -- especially during the Chase -- to be more about winning.
The next format of the Chase was announced by France on January 26, , along with several other changes, most significantly to the points system.
After 26 races, 12 drivers still advanced to the Chase, but the qualifying criteria changed, as well as the number of base points that drivers received at the points reset.
They were joined by two "wild card" qualifiers, specifically the two drivers ranked from 11th through 20th in points who had the most race wins with tiebreakers used if needed to select exactly two qualifiers.
These drivers then had their base points reset to 2, instead of the previous 5,, reflecting the greatly reduced points available from each race a maximum of 48 for the race winner, as opposed to a maximum of in the pre system.
After the reset, the 10 automatic qualifiers received 3 bonus points for each race win, while the wild card qualifiers received no bonus.
On January 30, The Chase for the Sprint Cup has been generally panned since its inception, as many drivers and owners have criticized the declining importance of the first 26 races, as well as very little change in schedule from year to year.
In stick-and-ball sports, every team has a different schedule, so head-to-head series are necessary to determine a champion. That does not apply to auto racing.
The formats used in the two lower series are broadly similar to the format used in the Cup Series, but have some significant differences: Play-offs are used to decide the premiers of the National Rugby League NRL in Australasia, where they are known as finals also as semi finals or semis — as in Australian rules football, the participating teams only come from within a single division, and the tournament is staged as single matches rather than a series.
Previously, the term play-off was used in the NSWRL competition to describe matches which were played as tie breakers to determine qualification for the finals series.
Since , points differential decides finals' qualification and play-offs are no longer held. The European Super League rugby league competition has used a play-off system to decide its champion since The original play-off format featured the top five highest-ranked teams after the regular season rounds.
Starting in , the play-offs added an extra spot to allow the top six to qualify. With the addition of two new teams for the season , the play-offs expanded to eight teams.
The next format, scrapped after the season , worked as follows:. Beginning in , the Super League season was radically reorganised, and more closely integrated with that of the second-level Championship.
Following a home-and-away season of 22 matches, the top eight clubs in Super League now enter a single round-robin mini-league known as the Super 8s , with the top four teams after that stage entering a knockout play-off to determine the champion.
The four bottom teams in Super League at the end of the home-and-away season are joined by the top four from the Championship after its home-and-away season.
These eight teams play their own single-round-robin mini-league known as The Qualifiers ; at its end, the top three teams are assured of places in the next season's Super League, with the fourth- and fifth-place teams playing a single match billed as the " Million Pound Game ", with the winner also playing in Super League in the following season.
The two tiers directly below Super League, the Championship and League 1 the latter of which was known as Championship 1 from — —formerly the National Leagues until the addition of a French club to the previously all-British competition—used the old top six system to determine which teams were promoted between its levels through the season.
After that season, both leagues abandoned the top six system. Before the season, when Super League established a franchising system and ended automatic promotion and relegation in Super League, the National Leagues also used this system to determine the team that earned promotion to Super League.
The top six system involved the following:. Since , all clubs in Super League and the Championship play a match home-and-away season. Upon the end of the home-and-away season, the clubs will split into three leagues, with two of them including Championship clubs.
As previously noted, the Super 8s will feature the top eight Super League sides. The second league, The Qualifiers, will include the bottom four clubs from Super League and the top four from the Championship, whilst the third will feature the remaining eight Championship sides.
The bottom two leagues will begin as single round-robin tournaments. In The Qualifiers, the top three sides will either remain in or be promoted to Super League, with the fourth- and fifth-place teams playing the aforementioned "Million Pound Game" for the final Super League place.
In the third league, the sides compete for the Championship Shield, with the top four teams after the round-robin phase entering a knockout playoff for the Shield.
The bottom two teams are relegated to League 1. League 1 currently conducts a match, single round-robin regular season. At that time, the league splits in two.
The top eight clubs play in their own Super 8s, also contested as a single round robin. At the end of the Super 8s, the top club earns the season title and immediate promotion to the Championship.
The second- through fifth-place clubs contest a knockout playoff for the second place in the Championship. The bottom eight clubs play their own single round-robin phase; at its end, the top two teams play a one-off match for the League 1 Shield.
In the Gallagher Premiership , the top four qualify for the play-offs, where they are not referred to by that name. The tournament is a Shaughnessy playoff: The winners of these semi-finals qualify for the Premiership Final at Twickenham , where the winner will be champions of the league.
Through the —17 season, the second-level RFU Championship used play-offs—but unlike the Premiership, the Championship officially used the term "play-offs".
At the end of the league stage, top teams advanced to a series of promotion play-offs. From the first season of the Championship in —10 to —12 , the top eight teams advanced; from —13 through to —17 , the top four advanced.
A relegation play-off involving the bottom four teams existed through the —12 season, but was scrapped from —13 on.
The original promotion play-offs divided the eight teams into two groups of four each, with the teams within each group playing a home-and-away mini-league.
The top two teams in each group advanced to a knockout phase. In , the semi-finals were one-off matches; in , they became two-legged.
The top team in each pool played the second-place team from the other group in the semi-finals; the winners advanced to the two-legged final, where the ultimate winner earned promotion to the Premiership assuming that the team met the minimum criteria for promotion.
In the first year of the play-offs in , all eight teams started equal. After that season, it was decided to reward teams for their performance in league play.
Points were earned using the standard bonus points system. The relegation play-offs, like the first stage of the promotion play-offs, were conducted as a home-and-away league, with the bottom team at the end of league play relegated to National League 1.
As with the promotion play-offs, that season's relegation play-offs started all teams equal. Beginning with the —13 season, the pool stage of the promotion playoffs was abolished, with the top four sides directly entering the semi-finals.
The format of the knockout stage remained unchanged from , with two-legged semi-finals followed by a two-legged final. At the other end of the table, the bottom club is now automatically relegated.
Effective with the —18 season, the promotion play-offs were scrapped for a minimum of three seasons, to be replaced with automatic promotion for the club finishing atop the league at the end of the home-and-away season provided said club meets minimum Premiership standards.
The highest level of French rugby union, the Top 14 , expanded its playoffs starting with the —10 season from a four-team format to six teams.
In the new system, the top two teams after the double round-robin season receive first-round byes.
The first-round matches involve the third- through sixth-place teams, bracketed so that 3 hosts 6 and 4 hosts 5.
The winners then advance to face the top two teams in the semifinals, which are held at nominally neutral sites a traditional feature in the French playoffs —although in the —12 season , the semifinals were held at Stadium de Toulouse , occasionally used as a "big-game" venue by traditional Top 14 power Stade Toulousain.
The winners of these semifinals qualify for the final at Stade de France though in , the final was at Camp Nou in Barcelona due to conflict with UEFA Euro , where the winner will be champions of the league and receive the Bouclier de Brennus.
Before —10, the playoffs format was identical to that of the English Premiership with the exception of neutral sites for the semifinals.
Beginning in —18 , only the bottom club is automatically relegated to Rugby Pro D2. The second-from-bottom Top 14 side plays a one-off match against the runner-up of the Pro D2 playoffs for the final place in the next Top 14 season.
Pro D2 adopted the Top 14 playoff system effective in —18 , though with all matches held at the higher seed's home field.
The playoff champion earns automatic promotion; as noted above, the runner-up enters a one-off match for potential promotion to Top Previously, Pro D2 used a four-team playoff, involving the second- through fifth-place teams, to determine the second of two teams promoted to the next season's Top 14, with the regular-season champions earning automatic promotion.
Under this system, the promotion semifinals were held at the home fields of the second- and third-place teams, and the promotion final was held at a neutral site.
The Pro14 , originally known as the Celtic League and later as Pro12, adopted a four-team playoff starting with the —10 season. The format was essentially identical to that of the English Premiership.
Through the —14 season, the final was held at a ground chosen by the top surviving seed, with the caveat that the venue must have a capacity of at least 18, In —13 , top seed Ulster could not use its regular home ground of Ravenhill for that reason the ground was later expanded to meet the requirement.
The league changed to using a predetermined site for its championship final in — With the addition of two South African sides in —18 , the league split into two conferences and expanded its playoffs to six teams.
The top team of each conference earns a bye into the semifinals, where they will host the winners of matches between the second- and third-place teams from the other conferences with the second-place team hosting the third-place team from the opposite conference.
Both domestic competitions in New Zealand rugby — the semi-professional Mitre 10 Cup formerly Air New Zealand Cup and ITM 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, with "finals" used instead.
In the 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 finals, officially known as Round Three.
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 finals slots.
The seventh seed was the repechage winner with the better record, and the eighth seed was the other repechage winner.
From onward, the former Rounds One and Two were collapsed into a single pool phase of play in which all teams participated. In and , the top eight teams advanced to the playoffs; in what was intended to be the final season of the Air New Zealand Cup format in , the Shaughnessy format was used, with the top four advancing to the finals.
The competition was renamed the Mitre 10 Cup in The playoffs in each season format have consisted of a single-elimination tournament.
The teams are bracketed in the normal fashion, with the higher seed receiving home-field advantage. In and , the playoff was rebracketed after the quarterfinals, with the highest surviving seed hosting the lowest surviving seed and the second-highest surviving seed hosting the third surviving seed.
From onward, the winner of the Championship Final is promoted to the Premiership, replacing that league's bottom team.
Because the season ran up against that year's Rugby World Cup in New Zealand, the competition window was truncated, with only the top two teams in each division advancing to the final match.
The Shaughnessy finals series returned to both divisions in , and is currently used in non-World Cup years.
In the Heartland Championship , 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 top two teams on the league ladder each hosted a semifinal, with the top surviving team hosting the final. Through , the Super Rugby playoff involved six teams—the winners of each of three conferences Australia, New Zealand and South Africa conferences , plus the three non-winners with the most competition points without regard to conference affiliation.
The top two conference winners received a first-round bye; each played at home against the winner of an elimination match involving two of the four other playoff teams.
As in the previous system, the final was hosted by the top surviving seed. Further expansion of the competition in to 18 teams, with one extra entry from South Africa and new teams based in Argentina and Japan , saw the playoff bracket expand to eight teams.
The teams were split into African and Australasian groups, with the Argentine and Japanese teams joining the African group.
Conference winners received the top four playoff seeds, and were joined by the top three remaining Australasian teams and the top remaining team from the African group on table points, again without regard to conference affiliation.
The higher seed still hosted all playoff matches, including the final. With the contraction of the league to 15 teams for , with one Australian and two South African teams being axed, the playoff format changed yet again.
The number of conferences was reduced from four to three—Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, with the Argentine team joining the South Africa conference and the Japanese team joining the Australia conference.
The playoff will remain at eight teams, with the three conference winners joined by five "wildcards", specifically the top remaining teams without regard to conference affiliation.
The conference winners and the top wildcard will host quarterfinals, with all remaining matches hosted by the higher seed. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
This article is about scheduled postseason playoff systems. For ad-hoc tiebreaker matches, see One-game playoff. For other uses, see playoff disambiguation.
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