New format for the Champions Hockey League

A new competitive format will be introduced by the Champions Hockey League (CHL) for the 2017/18 season.

There will be fewer teams and a merit-based qualification system designed to improve the quality of the competition.

From next season there will be 32 teams from 13 countries taking part, with a maximum of five teams per country – these will be from the same leagues as this year.

The CHL champion from the previous season automatically qualifies for the next tournament. This will not grant one extra spot for the league of the CHL winner.

Teams must reach one of the following criteria in order to become a CHL contestant – CHL champion, national/league champion, regular season winner, regular season runner-up, play-off finalist or higher-ranked remaining play-off semi-finalist based on regular-season finish.

The six founding leagues will remain ranked 1-6, with the non-founding leagues following behind.

Positions within the rankings may still vary from season to season based on the teams’ respective performances.

Sweden and Finland will each enter five teams, while the Czech Republic and Switzerland will have four each.

Austria and Germany each have three teams, with Norway, Slovakia, France, Belarus, Denmark, Great Britain, Poland all entering one team. The Continental Cup winner is also awarded a place.

The CHL still hopes to bring the KHL on board and if successful the total number of teams will stay at 32, but the numbers from other leagues will be reduced.

The 2017/18 tournament will feature 125 games over the course of 13 game days.

Four teams in each of the eight groups will battle in the group stage for play-off spots. The top two teams in each group will advance to the Round of 16.

With the exception of the final, all match-ups in the play-off stage will be two-game, home-and-away series.

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