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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. 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.
|Current season, competition or edition:|
|Formerly||Japan American Football League (1971–1997)|
|No. of teams||53 (X1:18, X2:18, X3:17)|
|Fujitsu Frontiers (4th title)|
|Most titles||Obic Seagulls (8 titles)|
|Official website||Official website|
Game rules are based on those of the NCAA college division in the United States, 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.
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 are two spring tournaments as well which are used by teams to ready themselves and evaluate new players before the fall season. One is the larger Pearl Bowl which teams from eastern Japan compete in, and the other is the Green Bowl for teams in western Japan.
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.
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 BowlEdit
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 gamesEdit
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.
2018 X-League team organizationEdit
- Club Hawkeye
- Nishinomiya Bruins
- Osaka Gas Skunks
- Golden Fighters
- Isono Superstars
- Opatsu Fukuoka Suns
- Club Islands
- Club Bears
- Aichi Golden Wings
- Okayama Standing Bears
- Kirix Toyota Bull Fighters
- Honjetsu Blazers
- Eco Ring J-Stars
- Hiroshima UCS Hawks
- Wako Raiders
- Osaka Prefectural Police Shields
- Mie Fire Birds
Past League ResultsEdit
X-League Divisional Standings since 1997Edit
|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.|
|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|
|2016||East||Fujitsu Frontiers||IBM Big Blue||Asahi Beer Silver Star||All Mitsubishi Lions||Tokyo MPD Eagles||Bulls Football Club|
|Central||Obic Seagulls||LIXIL Deers||Nojima Sagamihara Rise||Tokyo Gas Creators||Meiji Yasuda Penta-Ocean Pirates||Bullseyes Tokyo|
|2017||East||Fujitsu Frontiers||LIXIL Deers||Asahi Beer Silver Star||Fuji Xerox Minerva AFC||Tokyo Gas Creators||Tokyo MPD Eagles|
|Central||Nojima Sagamihara Rise||IBM Big Blue||Obic Seagulls||All Mitsubishi Lions||Meiji Yasuda Penta-Ocean Pirates||Bulls Football Club|
|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|
|2016||West||Panasonic Impulse||Elecom Kobe Finies||Asahi Soft Drinks Challengers||AS ONE Black Eagles||Nagoya Cyclones||Sidewinders|
|2017||West||Panasonic Impulse||Elecom Kobe Finies||Asahi Soft Drinks Challengers||AS ONE Black Eagles||Nagoya Cyclones||Club Hawkeye|
- 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.
Awards and honorsEdit
All X-League TeamEdit
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) awardEdit
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.
|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|
|2014||Gino Gordon||Running Back||Fujitsu Frontiers|
|2018||Trashaun Nixon||Running Back||Fujitsu Frontiers|
X-League Rookie of the Year (ROY) awardEdit
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.
|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|
|2014||Colby Cameron||Quarterback||Fujitsu Frontiers|
|2015||Mason Mills||Quarterback||Asahi Beer Silver Star|
|2016||Devin Gardner||Quarterback||Nojima Sagamihara Rise|
|2017||Taku Li||Running Back||Obic Seagulls|
|2018||Michael Birdsong||Quarterback||Fujitsu Frontiers|
X-League Fairplay awardEdit
Since 2012, the X-League Fairplay award is awarded to the team that had accumulated the least amount of penalties during the regular season.
|2013||Central||All Mitsubishi Lions|
- 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)
- Renown 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)
- "League Playoff Works". xleague.com. Retrieved January 6, 2016.
- Nagatsuka, Kaz (February 2, 2016). "Takata named MVP; 8 Impulse make All X-League team". xleague.com. Retrieved March 4, 2016.
- "Cameron named MVP, heads 9 Frontiers on All-League team". xleague.com. January 31, 2017. Retrieved February 5, 2017.
- Marantz, Ken (November 30, 2017). "Panasonic QB Anderson named MVP; Impulse, Frontiers lead All X-League selections with 7 each". xleague.com. Retrieved November 30, 2017.