The 2023/24 edition of the Champions Hockey League will go ahead with a new format featuring 24 participating teams. The adapted structure will allow the CHL to run a balanced, attractive and entertaining competition.
What are the main benefits?
At the extraordinary General Assembly held on Friday, 4 November in Zug, Switzerland, the shareholders of the Champions Hockey League voted in favour of introducing a new competition format starting with the upcoming 2023/24 season.
While it was already decided two years prior that the pan-European competition shall become more exclusive by reducing the number of participating teams to 24 (currently 32), the detailed configuration of the format was still subject to drafting.
With scientific help of experts in competition design, the CHL has now presented an adapted format that focuses on the competitive balance and maximises the attractiveness and entertainment of Europe’s elite club ice hockey competition.
What changes will the 2023/24 edition bring?
The basic structure of a Regular Season (formerly referred to as the Group Stage) followed by the Playoffs has proven its worth for the CHL and will remain. However, the configuration of the Regular Season will undergo two fundamental changes:
- Teams play six different opponents in the Regular Season instead of only three (teams play each other just once).
- Teams are ranked in overall standings from 1 to 24 instead of groups.
Consequently, the 16 best-ranked teams will advance to the Playoffs. The Playoff format remains unchanged.
How will the Regular Season fixtures be drawn?
To draw the fixtures for the Regular Season, teams will be allocated into four pots featuring six teams each – similar to the structure currently in place. The seeding is dependent on the teams’ achievements in their national leagues and the respective league’s standing in the CHL League Ranking. Each team is then drawn against six opponents by drawing two opponents from each of the other three pots. Teams will play one team per pot at home and the other one away. The result of each game will combine to make up the overall standings (1st to 24th). The points format currently in place will remain unchanged, meaning three points are awarded for a win, should a game go to overtime or a shootout, teams share the points 2-1.
How will the Playoffs work?
Just like in the current format, the Playoffs start with the Round of 16 and all rounds will be played in a two-game, home-and-away, aggregate-scoring series except the Final. However, the Playoff Draw is no longer required as teams will face each other based on the overall standings (1st vs 16th, 2nd vs 15th etc.).
How are the places allocated?
The six Shareholder Leagues will take 18 places in the new format, equally split to three representatives each. Teams will qualify in their domestic leagues on sporting merits according to the following criteria:
1. National Champions
2. Regular Season Winners
3. Regular Season Runners-Up
4. Regular Season Third-Placed
The reigning CHL Champions are automatically qualified for the next CHL season, which grants an extra qualification place to their league. The minimum of participating countries is set at 11 and therefore five Wild Card teams from Challenger Leagues will be part of the CHL.
The allocation of Wild Cards is subject to Board approval for each season and will be decided at a later stage.