The Japan Championship Series (日本選手権シリーズ Nippon Senshuken Shiriizu ), or Japan Series (日本シリーズ Nippon Shiriizu ) is the annual championship series in Nippon Professional Baseball, the top baseball league in Japan. It is a seven-game series between the winning clubs of the league's two circuits, the Central League and the Pacific League.
The Series is the highest level of play in professional baseball in Japan. It is usually played in October or November. As in all of the best-of-seven series, the first team to win four games is the overall winner and is declared the Japan Series Champion (日本一 Nippon Ichi , number one in Japan) in each year. The winner of the Japan Series also goes on to be the Japanese representative team in the annual Asia Series.
The home team for games 1, 2 and eventually 6 and 7, alternates between the two leagues with the Pacific League having the advantage on the years ending with an odd number and the Central League on the years ending with an even number. Designated Hitters are used if the team from the Pacific League hosts the game.
There is a 40-man postseason roster limit, and the rule on drawn games is changed to 15 innings instead of 12. If the series is tied after the seventh game, a Game 8 will be held without any limits in extra innings with the same team hosting Games 6 and 7 hosting this game.
Historically, the Central League has been more successful in the Japan Series than the Pacific League, having won thirty-four times versus the Pacific League's twenty-six. The team with the most championships is the Yomiuri Giants, who have won the Japan Series twenty-one times. However, the Pacific League won four consecutive Series from 2003-2006, and did not lose the Series since the inception of their three-team stepladder playoff format to determine the league champion. But starting with the 2007 postseason, the Central League has also adopted the playoff format (now dubbed the "Climax Series"). Since the Climax Series does not affect a team's position in regular season, the nature of the Japan Series slightly changed from a match between the Champions of leagues in the past to the current mini-tournament postseason, somewhat like the World Series in MLB.
On November 6, 2010, the Chunichi Dragons and Chiba Lotte Marines played the longest game in Japan Series History. It lasted fifteen innings and resulted in a 2-2 draw.
List of winners of Japan Series
|Central League||Pacific League|
NOTE: There is a limit to the number of innings which may be played during any game in Japanese professional baseball. All ties after 15 innings (was originally 12 innings) are official tie games.
Teams by number of wins in Japan Series
|Saitama Seibu Lions||13||8|
|Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks||5||9|
|Tokyo Yakult Swallows||5||1|
|Chiba Lotte Marines||4||2|
|Hiroshima Toyo Carp||3||3|
|Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters||2||4|
|Osaka Kintetsu Buffaloes||0||4|
Leagues by number of wins in Japan Series
- Nippon Professional Baseball
- World Baseball Classic
- Baseball World Cup
- Asia Series
- Baseball awards#Japan