The WNBA approved changes to the league’s playoff format and postseason seeding

New WNBA Playoff Format as of 2002. Image: WNBA.
New WNBA Playoff Format as of 2002. Image: WNBA.

Beginning with the 2022 season, the WNBA will have a new playoff format and postseason seeding structure. The new postseason structure includes three rounds of series-play using a best-of 3-5-5 format as approved by the league’s Board of Governors.

“We have been evaluating different playoff formats over the past 12 months, and the new playoff format being announced today will enable fans to engage with all of the league’s best teams and top stars right from the start of the postseason with all eight championship contenders immediately involved in exciting, first-round action,” WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert said. “Following significant discussions with our Competition Committee and a Playoff subcommittee we formed last year, it was clear that while the prior format’s single-elimination games created a win-and-advance level of excitement to the start of the postseason, the new best-of-three series format will provide added opportunities to create and showcase rivalries with all playoff-eligible teams participating.”

New Playoff Format Details (from

  • The eight teams with the highest winning percentages over a 36-game schedule regardless of conference will qualify for the playoffs and be seeded based on their record.
  • All eight playoff teams will participate in first-round, bracket-style play consisting of four best-of-three series.
  • The winners of the semifinals series will then meet in the WNBA Finals, which also will be a best-of-five series, to determine the WNBA champion.
  • The number of playoff rounds shifts from four to three and no teams will receive a bye to start the postseason. Teams will not be reseeded following the first round.
  • The planned change for the first-round series games will include a 2-1 format in which the higher seed will host Games 1 and 2 and the lower seed will host Game 3 if necessary.
  • The new format will add eight potential games to the playoff footprint.
  • The semifinals and WNBA Finals will each remain unchanged as best-of-five series and follow the same 2-2-1 format whereby the higher seed hosts Games 1, 2 and 5, and the lower-seeded team will host Games 3 and 4 in their respective series.
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