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J. League Cup

J. League Cup

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About J. League Cup

The J.League Cup, previously known as the J.League Yamazaki Nabisco Cup, is a domestic league cup held in Japan and run by the J.League. The tournament began in 1992 and co-exists side by side with the Emperor’s Cup.

The format of the competition has changed over the years. The J1 League sides that make the AFC Champions League group stage are given a bye to the quarter-finals, which means the number of teams that compete in the J.League Cup first stage can vary. In the 2016 edition and several seasons prior to that, 18 teams participated. All but Japan’s four representatives at the Champions League were split into two groups, with the top two sides from each group joining the already-qualified four in the quarter-finals.

In 2017, a playoff stage was introduced to precede the quarter-finals. By 2018, the group stage was shaken up. The number of participants was increased to 20 but that number dropped back down to 16 for the 2020 edition. Depending on the number of Japanese teams that make the AFC Champions League, 14 or 15 J1 League clubs while another one or two participants from the J2 League can take part in the group stage.

The playoff, quarter-final, and semi-final are two-legged affairs while the final is a one-off match. The winners of the J.League Cup go on to qualify for the J.League Cup / Copa Sudamericana Championship the following summer.

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