WNBA approves new playoff format: More games, no byes or single elimination-games

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Get ready for a longer WNBA postseason.

On Thursday, the Women's National Basketball Association announced the approval of a new playoff tournament structure that has the potential to add eight more games to the postseason.

Under the new format, the playoffs will decrease from four rounds to three — first-round, Semifinals and WNBA Finals — and no team will receive a bye. Prior to the change, the No. 1 and 2 seeds received double-byes into the Semifinals (third round) and the No. 3 and No. 4 seeds received a bye into the second-round.

Instead, the eight teams with the highest winning percentages over the 36-game schedule will compete in first-round, bracket-style play. Each team will be seeded based on their season record, with the higher seed hosting Game 1 and Game 2. The lower seed will host Game 3, if necessary.

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"The new playoff format… 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 provided to USA TODAY.

And, unlike the playoff format adopted in 2016, where the first-round games were single elimination, the first-round of bracket play will now be a best-of-3 series format.

"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," Engelbert added.

The Semifinals and WNBA Finals will remain a best-of-five series.

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The Chicago Sky team with the championship trophy after beating the Phoenix Mercury 80-74 in Game 4 of the 2021 WNBA Finals.
The Chicago Sky team with the championship trophy after beating the Phoenix Mercury 80-74 in Game 4 of the 2021 WNBA Finals.

Engelbert, who was named commissioner in 2019, said the league has been "evaluating different playoff formats over the past 12 months" to keep play competitive.

The new format will begin next year with the WNBA's 26th season.

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: WNBA new playoff format: more games, no byes or single elimination games