June 15, 2020 / 8:41 AM / 22 days ago

Baseball-Japan shakes up postseason structure after COVID delay

TOKYO, June 15 (Reuters) - The Central League, one of two divisions that make up Japanese professional baseball (NPB), said on Monday its top-ranked team at the end of the regular season will advance to the title series instead of holding playoffs.

The other division, the Pacific League, will have just one round of playoffs to decide which team goes to the Japan Series. Previously the top three teams from each league went through playoffs series to decide who would go through to the finale.

Friday marks the NPB’s Opening Day after a three-month delay to the season caused by the coronavirus pandemic and the NPB is keen to ensure the competition is completed.

Last season, Pacific League champions Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks defeated the Central League winners Yomiuri Giants to secure their 10th Japan Series title. (Reporting by Jack Tarrant; Editing by Peter Rutherford )

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