After a gruelling six-month-long premiership season, eight teams head to the finals series. This championship involves a four-week-long tournament, and in every one of the first three weeks, two teams are eliminated. In the fourth and final week, the grand final is played by the two teams that remain, and the champion awarded the premiership.
The eight teams are ranked and “seeded” (placed into match tables) before the start of the competition based on their performance in the premiership season. The system is specifically created to give the teams that performed the highest in the previous season an easier path to reaching the Grand Final. They only need to be victorious in two matches in the series in order to reach the final match, whereas the lowest four teams need to win all three matches. Out of the top four, the two top teams are given a “bye” in the second week.
The AFL Finals Series opening week seeks the eight top teams divided into two groups. From here, two final qualifying matches, and two final elimination matches are held. Below the teams are referred to as 1st, 2nd, 3rd etc., these are to order in which they were ranked before the commencement of the series.
- First Qualifying Final: 1st versus 4th
- Second Qualifying Final: 2nd versus 3rd
- First Elimination Final: 5th versus 8th
- Second Elimination Final: 6th versus 7th
Clearly, the top four teams have a higher chance of entering the final match. Also, in each group, the higher-ranked teams are the ones to play at home. Which means that week one sees the teams that are ranked first, second, fifth and sixth, playing at home. It is generally recognised that teams that play at home have a higher chance of winning that specific match, this may be due to an increased sense of morale, or a lack of the opposing team’s morale.