WNBA axes single elimination and byes in new 3-round playoff format
The WNBA is implementing a new 3-5-5 playoff format that will begin in the 2022 season, the league announced Thursday.
The new format will consist of all eight playoff teams partaking in best-of-three series in the first round. The first two games of the first-round series will be hosted by the higher-seeded team, while the lower seed will host a decisive third game if necessary.
The second round and championship round of the postseason will then move to best-of-five series, with the higher seed hosting Game 1, Game 2, and a potential Game 5.
"We have been evaluating different playoff formats over the past 12 months, and the new playoff format being announced today will enable fans to engage with all of the league's best teams and top stars right from the start of the postseason with all eight championship contenders immediately involved in exciting, first-round action," WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert said in a statement.
"Following significant discussions with our competition committee and a playoff subcommittee we formed last year, it was clear that while the prior format's single-elimination games created a win-and-advance level of excitement to the start of the postseason, the new best-of-three series format will provide added opportunities to create and showcase rivalries with all playoff-eligible teams participating."
Under the previous playoff setup, which spanned four rounds instead of three in a 1-1-5-5 format, the top two seeds each received two straight byes to the semifinals, which is now no longer the case. Additionally, the first two playoff rounds previously consisted of single-elimination games.
Playoff seeding will now be determined based on the eight teams with the highest winning percentage overall, regardless of conference. The teams will then be seeded based on their records.