X-League

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For other uses, see Xleague (disambiguation).
X-League
X League.png
Formerly Japan American Football League (1971-1997)
Sport American football
Founded 1971; 45 years ago (1971)
No. of teams 52 (X1:18, X2:16, X3:19)
Country Japan
Most recent
champion(s)
Panasonic Impulse (7th title)
Most titles Obic Seagulls (8 titles)
Official website Official website

The X-League (Xリーグ) is the top-level American football league in Japan. It was founded in 1971 as the Japan American Football League, and changed its name to the X League in 1997. There are three divisions (X1, X2, and X3) among which there is promotion and relegation.[1] Teams in the three-tier league are split into East, West, and Central divisions. There are two types of teams, one being a company team in which only employees of that particular sponsoring company may participate as a player, and the other classified as a club team for which anyone can try out.

Game rules are based on those of the NCAA college division in America, with the exception of the length of quarters, which are 12 minutes instead of 15 during the first stage of the season.

The Japanese national team, which has won the first and second editions of the American Football World Cup and was runner-up, finishing second to the American team, in the 2007 installment of the tournament, was made up almost entirely of players from this league.

Americans are often recruited to play for X League teams, with a strict rule of four per team. No more than two foreign players per team are allowed on the field of play at a time.

Season format[edit]

Teams play six matches in the regular season, the schedule which is determined by each team's standing during the previous season.

The top six teams at the end of the regular season would advance to the Japan X Bowl tournament while the remaining two spots would be filled with winners from a wild-card match.

There is a spring tournament as well called the Pearl Bowl which is used by teams to ready themselves and evaluate new players before the fall season.

Regular Season[edit]

The 18 top tier teams are divided into 3 divisions of 6 teams each. The East and Central Divisions are made up of teams from the Kanto (East Japan) region while the West Division teams are from the Kansai (West Japan) region. The teams would also be split into two groups of nine each, with the top nine ranking teams from the previous season (top three in each division) comprising the Super 9. The lower nine make up the Battle 9.

The teams would play three games within their division, and another three against teams outside of their division, all of which are equal in strength. The relative strength would be determined by the previous season's standings.

This would allow teams from the Kanto and Kansai regions to play each other before the post season for the first time.

Post Season[edit]

Following the regular season, the top six teams among the Super 9 will advance to the Japan X Bowl Tournament, where they would be seeded according to regular-season results.

The remaining two places would be filled by the winners of two wild-card playoff matches to be played by the 7th and 8th ranked teams of the Super 9 and the top two teams from the Battle 9, respectively.

Japan X Bowl[edit]

Main article: Japan X Bowl

The two semifinal winners would meet for the league championship in the Japan X Bowl held at the Tokyo Dome. Since 1987, Japan X Bowl has decided the X League championship. Until 2002, it was known as the Tokyo Super Bowl. The winner of this game goes on to the Rice Bowl to face the winner of the Koshien Bowl, the national college championship game.

X2-X1 Promotion/Replacement games[edit]

The 6th place team from each division of X1 is paired up against the 1st place team of each division of X2. If the X2 team defeats the X1 team, that team is promoted up to X1 while the X1 team is demoted to X2 for the following season.

2016 X-League team organization[edit]

X1[edit]

X2[edit]

East[edit]

Central[edit]

West[edit]


X3[edit]

East[edit]


West[edit]

A Block[edit]


B Block[edit]

Past League Results[edit]

X-League Divisional Standings since 1997[edit]

Notations
Advanced to Final6, Super9 or Post Season Promoted from X2 Demoted to X2 at the end of the season. Team Folded at the end of the season.
East/Central
Year Division 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th
1997 East Asahi Beer Silver Star Onward Oaks Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi Apricot Fujitsu Frontiers Tokai Bank Red Wave Renown Rovers
Central Kajima Deers Nissan Prince Tokyo Recruit Seagulls Skylark Co.,Ltd. Skylarks Sanwa Bank Lark Hills Sakura Bank Dainosu
1998 East Nissan Prince Tokyo Asahi Beer Silver Star Skylark Co.,Ltd. Skylarks Tokai Bank Red Wave Sumitomo Bank Springs Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi Apricot
Central Kajima Deers Recruit Seagulls Onward Oaks Fujitsu Frontiers Renown Rovers Sanwa Bank Lark Hills
1999 East Onward Oaks Recruit Seagulls Nissan Prince Tokyo Tokyo Marine Dolphins Tokyo-Mitsubishi Bank Apricot Sankura Bank Dainosu
Central Kajima Deers Asahi Beer Silver Star Fujitsu Frontiers Skylark Co.,Ltd. Skylarks Tokyo Marine Dolphins Sanwa Bank Lark Hills
2000 East Fujitsu Frontiers Asahi Beer Silver Star Onward Oaks Skylark Co.,Ltd. Skylarks Club Dainosu Renown Rovers
Central Recruit Seagulls Nissan Prince Tokyo Kajima Deers Tokyo-Mitsubishi Bank Tokyo Marine Dolphins Tokyo Skyliners
2001 East Kajima Deers Fujitsu Frontiers Nissan Prince Tokyo Gakusei-Engokai Rocbull Club Dainosu Club Huskies
Central Recruit Seagulls Asahi Beer Silver Star Onward Oaks Lions Renown Rovers Penta-Ocean Construction Co. Pirates
2002 East Fujitsu Frontiers Kajima Deers Lions Nissan Skyliners IBM Big Blue Sakura Bank Dainosu
Central Seagulls Onward Skylarks Asahi Beer Silver Star Gakusei-Engokai Rocbull Renown Rovers Club Huskies
2003 East Onward Skylarks Asahi Beer Silver Star Fujitsu Frontiers Nissan Skyliners Tokyo Gas Creators Club Huskies
Central Kajima Deers Obic Seagulls Penta-Ocean Construction Co. Pirates All Mitsubishi Lions Gakusei-Engokai Rocbull IBM Big Blue
2004 East Kajima Deers Asahi Beer Silver Star All Mitsubishi Lions IBM Big Blue Gakusei-Engokai Rocbull Penta-Ocean Construction Pirates
Central Onward Skylarks Obic Seagulls Nissan Skyliners Fujitsu Frontiers Tokyo Gas Creators Club Huskies
2005 East Obic Seagulls Onward Skylarks Fujitsu Frontiers Yasuda L.A. Pirates Tokyo Gas Creators All Mitsubishi Lions
Central Kajima Deers Asahi Beer Silver Star IBM Big Blue Nissan Skyliners Gakusei-Engokai Rocbull Renesas Hurricanes
2006 East Onward Skylarks Kajima Deers IBM Big Blue All Mitsubishi Lions Meiji Yasuda Pirates Gakusei-Engokai Rocbull
Central Asahi Beer Silver Star Obic Seagulls Fujitsu Frontiers Nissan Skyliners Tokyo Gas Creators Renesas Hurricanes
2007 East Fujitsu Frontiers Obic Seagulls Asahi Beer Silver Star All Mitsubishi Lions Renesas Hurricanes Gakusei-Engokai Rocbull
Central Kajima Deers Onward Skylarks IBM Big Blue Meiji Yasuda Pirates Tokyo Gas Creators Fuji Xerox Minerva
2008 East Onward Skylarks Fujitsu Frontiers Asahi Beer Silver Star Meiji Yasuda Pirates Renesas Hurricanes Fuji Xerox Minerva
Central Kajima Deers Obic Seagulls IBM Big Blue All Mitsubishi Lions All Tokyo Gas Creators Gakusei-Engokai Rocbull
2009 East Asahi Beer Silver Star Obic Seagulls Nihon Unisys Bulls All Mitsubishi Lions Fuji Xerox Minerva All Tokyo Gas Creators
Central Fujitsu Frontiers Kajima Deers IBM Big Blue Meiji Yasuda Pirates Hurricanes AFC Bullseyes Tokyo
2010 East Kajima Deers IBM Big Blue Asahi Beer Silver Star All Mitsubishi Lions Bullseyes Tokyo Fuji Xerox Minerva
Central Obic Seagulls Fujitsu Frontiers Meiji Yasuda Pirates All Tokyo Gas Creators Hurricanes AFC Nihon Unisys Bulls
2011 East Kajima Deers Fujitsu Frontiers All Mitsubishi Lions Meiji Yasuda Pirates Bullseyes Tokyo Fuji Xerox Minverva
Central Obic Seagulls Nojima Sagamihara Rise Asahi Beer Silver Star IBM Big Blue All Tokyo Gas Creators Nihon Unisys Bulls
2012 East Kajima Deers Nojima Sagamihara Rise Asahi Beer Silver Star Meiji Yasuda Pirates Nihon Unisys Bulls Bullseyes Tokyo
Central Obic Seagulls Fujitsu Frontiers IBM Big Blue Tokyo Gas Creators All Mitsubishi Lions Fuji Xerox Minerva
2013 East Fujitsu Frontiers Kajima Deers Asahi Beer Silver Star Tokyo Gas Creators Nihon Unisys Bulls Hurricanes
Central Obic Seagulls Nojima Sagamihara Rise IBM Big Blue All Mitsubishi Lions Meiji Yasuda Pirates Tokyo MPD Eagles
2014 East Fujitsu Frontiers IBM Big Blue Nojima Sagamihara Rise Tokyo Gas Creators Meiji Yasuda Pirates Hurricanes
Central LIXIL Deers Obic Seagulls Asahi Beer Silver Star All Mitsubishi Lions Bulls Football Club Taiyo Building Mgmt. Cranes
2015 East Fujitsu Frontiers Nojima Sagamihara Rise Obic Seagulls All Mitsubishi Lions Meiji Yasuda Penta-Ocean Pirates Tokyo MPD Eagles
Central IBM Big Blue LIXIL Deers Asahi Beer Silver Star Bulls Football Club Tokyo Gas Creators Hurricanes
West
Year Division 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th
1997 West Matsushita Electric Works Impulse Sunstar Finies MYCAL Bears Osaka Black Eagles Iwatani Sidewinders Asahi Soft Drinks Challengers
1998 West Asahi Soft Drinks Challengers Matsushita Electric Works Impulse MYCAL Bears Iwatani Sidewinders Sunstar Finies Iuchi Black Eagles
1999 West Asahi Soft Drinks Challengers MYCAL Bears Matsushita Electric Works Impulse Kohaku Finies Iuchi Black Eagles Iwatani Sidewinders
2000 West Matsushita Electric Works Impulse Asahi Soft Drinks Challengers MYCAL Bears Kohaku Finies Iuchi Black Eagles Iwatani Sidewinders
2001 West Matsushita Electric Works Impulse Asahi Soft Drinks Challengers MYCAL Bears Iwatani Sidewinders Kohaku Finies AS ONE Black Eagles
2002 West Matsushita Denko Impulse Asahi Soft Drinks Challengers AS ONE Black Eagles Iwatani Sidewinders Hankyu Bruins Kohaku Finies
2003 West Matsushita Denko Impulse Asahi Soft Drinks Challengers AS ONE Black Eagles Naigai Denki Marvies Hankyu Bruins Iwatani Sidewinders
2004 West Matsushita Denko Impulse Asahi Soft Drinks Challengers AS ONE Black Eagles Naigai Denki Marvies Finies Football Club Hankyu Bruins
2005 West Matsushita Denko Impulse Asahi Soft Drinks Challengers Naigai Denki Marvies AS ONE Black Eagles Iwatani Sidewinders Kobe Finies
2006 West Matsushita Denko Impulse Nagai Denki Marvies Asahi Soft Drinks Challengers SRC Kobe Finies AS ONE Black Eagles Iwatani Sidewinders
2007 West Matsushita Denko Impulse Asahi Soft Drinks Challengers Naigai Denki Marvies AS ONE Black Eagles SRC Kobe Finies Nagoya Cyclones
2008 West Asahi Soft Drinks Challengers Panasonic Denko Impulse SRC Kobe Finies Naigai Denki Marvies Asahi Pretec Golden Fighters AS ONE Black Eagles
2009 West Panasonic Denko Impulse Asahi Soft Drinks Challengers Suita Marvies Elecom Kobe Finies Asahi Pretec Golden Fighters AS ONE Black Eagles
2010 West Panasonic Denko Impulse Asahi Soft Drinks Challengers Suita Marvies Elecom Kobe Finies AS ONE Black Eagles Nagoya Cyclones
2011 West Panasonic Impulse Asahi Soft Drinks Challengers AS ONE Black Eagles Elecom Kobe Finies Nagoya Cyclones Fuji Xerox J-Stars
2012 West Panasonic Impulse Asahi Soft Drinks Challengers AS ONE Black Eagles Elecom Kobe Finies Nagoya Cyclones Nishinomiya Bruins
2013 West Panasonic Impulse Asahi Soft Drinks Challengers AS ONE Black Eagles Elecom Kobe Finies Nishinomiya Bruins Nagoya Cyclones
2014 West Elecom Kobe Finies Panasonic Impulse Asahi Soft Drinks Challengers AS ONE Black Eagles Nagoya Cyclones Nishinomiya Bruins
2015 West Panasonic Impulse Asahi Soft Drinks Challengers Elecom Kobe Finies AS ONE Black Eagles Nagoya Cyclones Fuji Xerox J-Stars
  • Until 2008, the top 2 teams in each division qualified for the playoffs to the Japan X bowl known as the Final6. Starting 2009, the top 3 teams in each division qualified for the Super9 in the 2nd stage.

Playing venues[edit]

Awards and Honors[edit]

All X-League Team[edit]

Main article: All X-League Team

Since 2000, the X-League honors outstanding players by electing them to the All X-League Team. 11 offensive players, 11 defensive players and 3 special team players are voted by the Head Coaches and 5 players on each of the 18 X1 teams to be selected for the team.

X-League Most Valuable Player (MVP) award[edit]

The X-League Most Valuable Player award (X-League MVP) is an award given to the Japanese American Football player who is considered most valuable to his team in the X-League. Started in 2012, the award was divided between the best player in each division until 2014 when one overall MVP was awarded.

Year Division Winner Position Team
2012 East Yasuhiro Maruta Running Back Kajima Deers
Central Noriaki Kinoshita Wide Receiver Obic Seagulls
West Ryohei Imanashi Cornerback Panasonic Impulse
2013 East Keiya Hiramoto Quarterback Fujitsu Frontiers
Central Noriaki Kinoshita Wide Receiver Obic Seagulls
West Tetsuo Takata Quarterback Panasonic Impulse
Year Winner Position Team
2014 Gino Gordon Running Back Fujitsu Frontiers
2015 Tetsuo Takata[2]
Quarterback Panasonic Impulse

X-League Rookie of the Year (ROY) award[edit]

The X-League Rookie of the Year award (X-League ROY) is an award given to the player who is considered have made a big impact during his first year with his team. Started in 2012, the award was divided between the best player in each division until 2014 when one overall ROY was awarded.

Year Division Winner Position Team
2012 East Kohei Arai Center Kajima Deers
Central Kevin Craft Quarterback IBM Big Blue
West Hisashi Kurokawa Offensive Tackle Panasonic Impulse
2013 East Jinpei Yoshimoto Wide Receiver Fujitsu Frontiers
Central Kealakai Maiava Offensive Tackle Obic Seagulls
West David Motu Linebacker Panasonic Impulse
Year Winner Position Team
2014 Colby Cameron Quarterback Fujitsu Frontiers
2015 Mason Mills Quarterback Asahi Beer Silver Star

X-League Fairplay award[edit]

Since 2012, the X-League Fairplay award is awarded to the team that had accumulated the least amount of penalties during the 1st stage of the Fall season.

Year Division Team
2012 West Panasonic Impulse
2013 Central All Mitsubishi Lions
2014 East Hurricanes (X-League)
2015 Central Hurricanes (X-League)

Team names[edit]

  • Silver Star → Asahi Beer Silver Star
  • Matsushita Electric Works Impulse → Panasonic Electric Works Impulse
  • Kohoku Finies → Sunstar Finies → Kohoku Finies → Finies Football Club → Kobe Finies → SRC Kobe Finies → Elecom Kobe Finies
  • Recruit Seagulls → Seagulls → Obic Seagulls
  • NEC Falcons (dissolved in 1997)
  • Renoun Rovers (dissolved in 2003)
  • Onward Oaks → Onward Skylarks(Combined with Skylark Skylarks in 2001) → Onward Oaks (dissolved in 2009)→ Sagamihara Rise (Remnants of the Onward Oaks formed a new team called the Sagamihara Rise (same uniforms and colors, although different logo) and played one level down in the X2 league through the 2010 season. They subsequently won the challenge game against the Renesas Hurricanes to move back up to X1 in December 2010, and will play again in the X1 Central Division for the 2011 season, with the Hurricanes moving down to X2)

References[edit]

  1. ^ "League Playoff Works". xleague.com. Retrieved January 6, 2016. 
  2. ^ Nagatsuka, Kaz (February 2, 2016). "Takata named MVP; 8 Impulse make All X-League team". xleague.com. Retrieved March 4, 2016.