November 18, 2021
WNBA changes playoff format
After six seasons with the current format, the WNBA is changing the playoff structure from 2022.
The WNBA will be using a new playoff format beginning in 2022, the league announced Thursday afternoon.
The current format was introduced in 2016 and consists of four rounds of play, with two single-elimination rounds to open the postseason and the No. 1 and 2 seeds receiving byes into the semifinals. Both the semifinals and finals have been best-of-five series.
Under the new format, there will be three rounds of play, beginning with a three-game series followed by two rounds of best-of-five in the semifinals and finals.
“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.”
The eight teams with the highest winning percentage, regardless of conference, will make the playoffs. Seeding will be based on records. No teams will receive a bye, and the first round will be a traditional bracket format with four best-of-three series.
The No. 1 seed will face the No. 8 seed and the No. 4 seed will play the No. 5 seed in one side of the bracket, and the No. 3 seed will play the No. 6 seed and the No. 2 seed will face the No. 7 seed in the other side of the bracket.
The teams will not be reseeded after the first round, so the bracket structure will continue throughout the duration of the postseason.
The first-round series will be a 2-1 format, where the higher seed will host the first two games and the lower seed will host the third game if it’s required. The hosting structure for the best-of-five semifinals and finals will remain unchanged with a 2-2-1 format. The higher seed hosts the first two games and Game 5, while the lower seed hosts the third and fourth games.