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The first was the inaugural season , in which Dumbarton and Rangers both earned 29 points and had to play off for the title. The match ended in a draw and both teams shared the title.
The second happened 19 years later, in the Second Division , when Leith Athletic and Raith Rovers both earned 33 points. This time, the clubs chose not to play off.
In goal average was finally instituted. However, due to reserve teams being allowed to compete in the same football league system, subsequent places may be allowed to play off depending on reserve teams finishing within the 3rd to 6th places.
This system had been introduced in the s but ended in In Major League Soccer in the United States and Canada, at the end of the regular season , the top five teams in each of its two conferences qualify for the playoffs from the season to the season.
Under this system, the conferences have separate playoff brackets. From to , six teams per conference qualify, 12 teams in total, and Audi is the official sponsor.
In the first round of the postseason knockout tournament, the fourth-place team in each conference hosts the fifth-place team from the same conference in a one-off match, with the winner advancing to the Conference Semifinals.
From the season the third-place team plays host to the sixth in the other one-off match, with the two winners advancing to the Conference Semifinals.
The Conference Semifinals and the Conference Championships are conducted under a home-and-away, aggregate-goal format.
For each conference, the top seed plays the first-round winner, and the 2nd seed faces the 3rd seed in the Conference Semifinal series, with the lower seeded team hosting the first game.
From the season the top seed plays the lowest remaining seed, and the 2nd plays the next-lowest seed in the Conference Semifinals.
The team that scores the most goals in the home-and-away series advances to the Conference Championship, which expands from a one-off match to a two-legged match starting in If the teams are tied after 90 minutes of the second leg in either the Conference Semifinal or Conference Championship, a minute extra time period divided into two minute periods would be played followed by a penalty-kick shootout, if necessary.
As in the Conference Semifinals, the lower seed in the Conference Championship hosts the first leg. The winner of each conference will play for the MLS Cup , the league championship.
Since , the MLS Cup is hosted by the conference champion with the most table points during the regular season. In the case of ties after regulation in the First Round and MLS Cup, 30 minutes of extra time divided into two minute periods would be played followed by a penalty-kick shootout, if necessary, to determine the winners.
Historically MLS did not use the away goals rule in any playoff series, but it has begun to do so in to be consistent with international practice.
The third seed hosted the fourth seed in the first round. The winner of that game advanced to the "Super Semifinal", hosted by the second seed.
The Super Semifinal winner traveled to the top seed for the championship game. The replacement of WPS, the National Women's Soccer League which launched in , has a more standard four-team knockout playoff in which the winners of two one-off semifinals advance to the one-off final.
Playoffs are used throughout Australia in Australian rules football to determine the premiership. The term finals is most commonly used to describe them.
In each league, between four and eight teams depending on league size qualify for the finals based on the league ladder at the end of the season. Australian rules football leagues employ finals systems which act as a combination between a single elimination tournament for lower-ranked teams and a double elimination tournament for higher-ranked teams in order to provide teams with an easier pathway to the Grand Final as reward for strong performances throughout the season.
Finals are decided by single matches, rather than series. The Australian Football League , which is the top level of the sport, currently has eight teams qualify for the finals under a system designed by the league in Between —, variants of the McIntyre System were used to accommodate four, five, six and eight teams, and prior to , six different finals systems were used.
In most other leagues, from state-level leagues such as the South Australian National Football League and West Australian Football League , down to local suburban leagues, it is most common for either four or five teams to qualify for the finals.
In these cases the Page—McIntyre final four system or the McIntyre final five system are used universally. The Australian Football League which was known until as the Victorian Football League was the first league to introduce regular finals when it was established in The South Australian National Football League introduced finals in , and other leagues soon followed.
Prior to , the premiership was generally awarded to the team with the best overall win-loss record at the end of the season. If two teams had finished with equal records, a playoff match for the premiership was required: The teams finishing in fourth and fifth place in the regular season face each other in the wildcard game.
The winner of the wildcard game faces the team that finished in third place in the first round of the play-offs. The winner of the first round faces the team that finished in second place during the regular season, and the winner of that round faces the team that finished in first place for the championship in the Korean Series.
This type of format is known as the stepladder playoff. Before the original Japanese Baseball League had been a single-table league of franchises.
Before the playoff system was developed in both professional leagues, the Pacific League had applied a playoff system on two occasions. The first was between —, when a split-season was applied with a 5-game playoff between the winning teams from both halves of season unless a team won both of the halves so that they did not need to play such a game.
The second time was between —, when the top three teams played a two-staged stepladder knockout 3 games in the first stage and 5 games in the second stage to decide the League Champion and the team playing in the Japan Series.
The success of such a playoff system convinced the Central League to consider a similar approach.
In , a new playoff system, named the "Climax Series", was introduced to both professional leagues in NPB to decide the teams that would compete for the Japan Series.
The Climax Series basically applied the rule of the playoff system in the Pacific League, with one important change: This means that the two League Champions are not guaranteed to make the Japan Series.
The Chunichi Dragons took advantage of this in the first Climax Series season, finishing second in the regular season but sweeping the Hanshin Tigers and the League Champion Yomiuri Giants in the Central League to win a place in the Japan Series; they subsequently defeated the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters to claim their first Japan Series in 52 years.
In , the format of Climax Series will have a slight change, in which the second stage will be played over a maximum of six games, with the League Champion starting with an automatic one game advantage.
Instead they use the term "postseason" as the title of the official elimination tournament held after the conclusion of Major League Baseball 's regular season.
Since the season , it has consisted of a first round single-elimination knockout game between the two wildcards in each league, a best-of-5 second round series called the Division Series, and two rounds of best-of-seven series for the League Championship and World Series.
MLB uses a "" format for the final two rounds of its postseason tournament. In the Majors, the singular term "playoff" is reserved for the rare situation in which two or more teams find themselves tied at the end of the regular season and are forced to have a tiebreaking playoff game or games to determine which team will advance to the postseason.
Thus, in the majors, a "playoff" is actually part of the regular season and thus can be called a " Pennant playoff ".
However, the plural term "Playoffs" is conventionally used by fans and media to refer to baseball's postseason tournament and has always been used by minor league baseball for its own postseason play , not including the " World Series " see below , so this article defers to that usage.
MLB is the oldest of the major American professional sports, dating back to the s. 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 s.
The "Playoffs" determine which two teams play in the " World Series ". Taiwan's playoff is different to many such competitions, due to the league's split-season format.
The winners of the first half-season and the winners of the second half-season are eligible to play in the playoffs, but if the best overall team have not won either half season then they qualify into a wild card series against the weaker half-season winner, with the winner of this advancing into the Taiwan Series to face the other half-season winner.
If the first and second half winners are different, but one of them is also the best overall team, then both teams progress directly to the Taiwan Series.
Finally, if one team wins both halves of the season then a playoff will take place between the second and third best teams for the right to play them in the Final Series; in this case the team winning both halves of the season will begin the Taiwan Series with an automatic one game advantage.
Teams had always have different strength of schedule from each other; currently, a team plays a team outside its conference twice, a team within its conference but outside its division three or four times, and a team from its own division four times.
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 —03 season, the first-round series were expanded from best-of-5 to best-of-7; all other series have always been best-of In all series, home games alternate between the two teams in a format.
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. With games against Michigan State and Michigan still remaining, the crew debates whether the Buckeyes should control their own destiny.
Kirk Herbstreit explains why the Wolverines are a championship-caliber team, commenting on their steady improvement throughout the year.
Selection committee member Rob Mullens explains why No. When it comes to the College Football Playoff selection, Rece Davis explains why whether a team won their division should be irrelevant to the conversation.
Kirk Herbstreit says No. With Georgia coming in at No. Rankings are revealed, with Michigan cracking the top four and Alabama remaining No.
The Tigers fall to No. Rankings are reveled, with Kentucky falling to No. Michigan is up to No. Bosa and Oliver rank Nos.
Mel and Todd pick their favorites. Week 10 told us so much about what the final playoff picture could look like, but questions still remain -- including whether the committee prefers Georgia or Michigan at No.
The first playoff rankings are out, but a lot can change in the coming weeks. Which teams are most likely to be in the top four on Selection Day? The Knights have won 20 in a row, but the playoff still seems like a long shot.
And last year's self-proclaimed national title may be sparking anti-UCF feelings. Clemson's Dabo Swinney discusses his teams ranking including how Alabama is way ahead and the Tigers are with the rest of the pack.
Alabama leads the College Football Playoff rankings as the No. Chris Fowler breaks down the top seeds in the CFP rankings and compares the committee's apparent strategy to past seasons.
College Football Playoff committee chairman Rob Mullens goes through the rankings, including Central Florida and their poor strength of schedule.
Kirk Herbstreit discusses the top 6 and thinks the committee got initial rankings right.