On November 30, 2008, they were promoted to J. League Division 1 for the first time. They achieved their highest league placing of 13th in 2010. However, in 2011, two strong rental players from Kashima Antlers go back to their own team and this influences the team in a bad way to lead to be relegated back to J.League Division 2 at the end of 2011. On top of that, main reason for going back to Division 2 is because of many injured players in the middle of the season. At the end of the season, the manager, Shinji Kobayashi, stepped down even though many fans glorified his accomplishment for the past 4 years.
Yamagata returned to J1 after three seasons in J2 by winning the promotion playoff final. However, they were back to J2 after only one season.