The Majority Of CPL Teams Will Be Included In New Playoff Format
The Canadian Premier League is introducing a larger playoff format for the 2023 season.
The top five teams at the end of the regular season will now qualify for postseason, up from four – half of the league’s teams – under the previous format. Additionally, each playoff match will come in the shape of a single-round knockout.
The top two teams in the CPL regular season standings will be rewarded with a more direct path to hosting the CPL Final, fighting to host the big game in their opening match of the playoffs. We’ll get to what happens to the loser in a moment, because it’s…needlessly complicated.
The first match of the playoffs this year will take place on October 11, with the fourth-placed team hosting the fifth-place team. The winner will advance to take on the third-place team on October 14, the same day that the first and second-place team plays.
Still with us? The winner of the of second playoff match will advance to take on the loser of the first-verus-sound bout, which will come as a second chance for the loser of that match to reach the CPL Final as the away team.
Here’s a handy visual breakdown:
The team who had to slog through the second process will only have seven days of rest versus the team who wins the first-versus-second bout, who will have 14. We’ve seen that rest begets rust sometimes in this league, so it’ll be interesting to see how each team fares in a final with such differing rest periods.
The Canadian Premier League hopes to ensure postseason hype begins at an earlier point throughout the season, with five of the league’s eight teams now set to involve themselves in the action.
Suffice to say, the CPL knows what it’s doing with this: it’s a recipe for quick drama on the pitch, and that means clicks and views for the young league.
There have been several playoff changes in the league’s young five-year history, with last season also seeing disciplinary rules changes hours ahead of the 2022 playoffs.
This year will see the regular season champion awarded with a to-be-revealed trophy and the same amount of financial compensation of the North Star Shield winner, with both the regular season and playoff champion securing a berth in the Concacaf Champions League, too.
“We are excited about this new format because it provides additional incentive to perform well during our regular season and makes every single playoff match essentially a final,” says CPL Commisioner Mark Noonan. “Win and advance or lose and go home.”
The 2023 Canadian Premier League final will take place on either Saturday, October 28 or Sunday, October 29.
The CPL is also introducing extra time to the five matches of its knockout stages, with any playoff match tied after ninety minutes now set to feature two 15-minute halves and, if things are level after that, penalties.
Forge FC has hoisted the North Star Shield in three out of four final appearances, with Pacific FC making history as the only other team to win it in 2021.