As the ELF prepares for the 2023 season, several new teams have joined the League, and additional franchises have led to other changes in the ELF. Some of those changes have been a re-configuration of the ELF conferences and adjustments to the playoff qualification requirements. They consequentially have created a new path to the ELF championship game.
The addition of new teams and the changes to the league format reflect the League’s desire to grow to a 24-team league eventually. The ELF will begin the weekend of June 3rd and 4th.
Let’s take a closer look at the changes made as the ELF heads toward its third season.
New Season, New Teams
The latest teams in the ELF are the Prague Lions (Czech Republic), Paris Saints (France), Fehervar Enthroners (Hungary), Helvetic Guards (Switzerland), Milano Seamen (Italy), and the Munich Ravens (Germany). In 2022, the League had 12 teams, so the ELF had hoped to reach 18 franchises, but the Istanbul Rams chose not to play in the ELF in 2023. After going 1-11 in 2022, the Rams have decided to return to the Turkish League.
Re-configuration of the ELF conferences
The Western Conference teams are the Cologne Centurions, Frankfurt Galaxy, Hamburg Sea Devils, Paris Saints, and the Rhein Fire. The Central Conference teams are the Barcelona Dragons, Tirol Raiders, Stuttgart Surge, Helvetic Guards, Milano Seamen, and Munich Ravens. The Eastern Conference teams are the Berlin Thunder, Vienna Vikings, Wrochaw Panthers, Fehervar Enthroners, Leipzig Kings, and the Prague Lions.
Format of the Schedule
With 17 teams playing in the ELF, the schedule is a little more complex than if the League had 18 teams, which was the intention before Istanbul moved to the Turkish League. Every team will play a 12-game schedule, with each team getting two bye weeks, creating a 14-week regular season.
Each team will play every other team in their conference two times, and then they will play two opponents from the other conferences. The Western Conference franchises will play two Eastern teams and two Central teams. Teams in the Eastern Conference will play one Western Conference team. Tirol vs. Vienna will be the only matchup between the Eastern and Central Conference.
In 2022, four teams could qualify for the ELF playoffs and then play in the semi-finals and championship games. This season six teams will qualify for the playoffs, and there will be an additional playoff round. The three conference champions will be the top three seeds for the playoffs, and the following teams with the three best remaining records will be seeded 4 thru 6.
The top two seeds will get a 1st round bye to the semi-finals, the #3 seed will play the #6 seed, and the #4 seed will play the #5 source. This format will add some competitive intensity as teams battle not only to win their conference but also strive to be one of the top two seeds and earn the bye week for the first round of the playoffs.
2023 Championship Game
The championship game for the ELF will be on September 24th and will take place in Duisburg, Germany, at Schauinsland-Reisen Arena. The previous locations of the ELF championship games have been Dusseldorf, Germany, and Klagenfurt, Austria.
Germany has a deep history with American football and has some of the most dedicated and robust fan bases in the European League. In addition, 7 out of the 17 teams in the ELF call Germany home, so it makes sense for the League to play the championship in the region where they will draw the largest pool of fans.
The Regular Season
Looking at the 2023 schedule for each ELF team, it is easy to predict that the 2023 ELF season will provide exciting matchups every week. Each week offers a mix of traditional rivalries, matchups between the newest teams in the ELF, and territorial matchups that will be important for determining which franchises will represent each conference in the playoffs.
As we approach the first weekend in June, we will be examining the matchups each week and discussing what impact those games will have as the season unfolds. The third season of the European League of Football has the potential to be the best season for all teams and fans of the League.
Follow me on Twitter: @AaronSauter7
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