J.League Championship

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The J.League Championship is a two-legged championship series which determined the season champion for the first 12 J.League seasons (19932004) excluding the 1996 season. In the early years, the J.League seasons were divided into two halves, the first and second stages, and the champions of each stage participated in the series. The competition did not take place in 1996, since the single season format was used in that year. Japanese beer company Suntory sponsored the championship, thus the name Suntory Championship was used in the media and among the general public.


As mentioned, the winners of this competition became the champions of the respective season, while the finalist became the runners-up. As for the rest of the table, points from both stages were summed up to rank the clubs from 3rd place down. In 2000, this format created an unusual situation where the 3rd place club, Kashiwa Reysol, had more points than both the season champion and runners-up in the final standing.

The series usually took place at the beginning of December, with the exception of the 1993 season, when it was held, due to the 1993 World Cup Qualifiers, in January.

The league adopted a single season format starting with the 2005 season. The J.League Championship will return for the 2015 season in a heavily modified format to previous incarnations.


Season1st stage
(Extra time & PK)
1st leg
2nd leg
2nd stage
1993 Kashima Antlers 1–30–2
Verdy Kawasaki
1994 Sanfrecce Hiroshima 0–20–1
Verdy Kawasaki
1995 Yokohama Marinos 2–01–0
Verdy Kawasaki
1997Kashima Antlers2–42–3
Júbilo Iwata A draw decided who would play the home game first.
1998Júbilo Iwata2–41–2
Kashima Antlers
1999Júbilo Iwata3–3
4–2 (pen.)
Shimizu S-Pulse PK shoot-out was required to decide the winner.
(No extra time was played)
2000 Yokohama F. Marinos 0–30–0
Kashima Antlers
2001Júbilo Iwata2–2
Extra time 0–1
Kashima AntlersExtra time (with the golden goal rule) was required
to decide the winner.
2002No competition because Júbilo Iwata won both stages.
2003No competition because Yokohama F. Marinos won both stages.
2004Yokohama F. Marinos1–1
Extra time 0–0
4–2 (pen.)
Urawa Red Diamonds Extra time (with the golden goal rule) and
penalty shootout were required to decide the winner.

Clubs who won the most points through a season

There are only two occurrences where the club that won the most points in the season also won the championship. They are the 1993 and 1994 seasons, both won by Verdy Kawasaki. The following table shows the clubs that won the most points through a season.

1993 Verdy Kawasaki
1994Verdy Kawasaki
1995Verdy Kawasaki
1996 Kashima Antlers
1997Kashima Antlers
1998 Júbilo Iwata
1999 Shimizu S-Pulse
2000 Kashiwa Reysol
2001Júbilo Iwata
2002Júbilo Iwata
2003 Yokohama F. Marinos
2004 Urawa Red Diamonds
2015 Sanfrecce Hiroshima

In the 2000 season, although Kashiwa Reysol won the most points through the season, they could not take part in the J.League Championship because they failed to win either stage. In fact, Júbilo Iwata also won more points through the season than Yokohama F. Marinos and Kashima Antlers who qualified for the Championship. According to the regulation, the official league rankings of Kashiwa and Iwata of that season are third and fourth respectively.

Suntory Cup '96 J.League Champions' Finals

As the 1996 season wasn't divided into stages, the J.League Championship did not take place. Instead, the competition titled the Suntory Cup '96 J.League Champions' Finals was held. The champions and runners-up of the 1996 J.League regular season as well as the finalists of the J.League Cup took part. Nagoya Grampus Eight won and qualified for the 1997 Sanwa Bank Cup.

Participating clubs


Semi-finalsKashima Antlers1–1
4–2 (pen.)
Verdy Kawasaki
Shimizu S-Pulse0–0
1–3 (pen.)
Nagoya Grampus Eight
FinalKashima Antlers0–1
Nagoya Grampus Eight

Meiji Yasuda 2015 J.League Championship

The Championship stage consisted of a knockout tournament involving the champions of the First and Second Stages, and any team that finishes in the top 3 of the overall table. The team with the best aggregate record earned a bye to the final. The remaining teams playoff for the other spot in the final. [1]

 Semifinal  Final
   Sanfrecce Hiroshima 314
  Urawa Red Diamonds 1   Gamba Osaka 213
  Gamba Osaka (a.e.t.)3 

Urawa Red Diamonds 1 – 3 (a.e.t.) Gamba Osaka
Ljubijankić Soccerball shade.svg 72' Report Soccerball shade.svg 47' Konno
Soccerball shade.svg 117' Fujiharu
Soccerball shade.svg 120' Patric
Saitama Stadium 2002, Midori-ku, Saitama
Attendance: 40,696
Referee: Hajime Matsuo

Gamba Osaka 2 – 3 Sanfrecce Hiroshima
Nagasawa Soccerball shade.svg 60'
Konno Soccerball shade.svg 82'
Report Douglas Soccerball shade.svg 80'
Sasaki Soccerball shade.svg 90+1'
Kashiwa Soccerball shade.svg 90+6'
Osaka Expo '70 Stadium, Suita
Attendance: 17,844
Referee: Kenji Ogiya

Sanfrecce Hiroshima 1 – 1 Gamba Osaka
Asano Soccerball shade.svg 76' Report Konno Soccerball shade.svg 28'
Hiroshima Big Arch, Hiroshima
Attendance: 36,609
Referee: Yuichi Nishimura

Related Research Articles

The 2004 J.League Division 1 season was the 12th season of the J1 League. The league fixture began on March 13, 2004 and ended on December 11, 2004. The Suntory Championship 2004 took place on December 5 and December 11, 2004. The first ever J.League Promotion / Relegation Series took place on December 4 and December 12, 2004.

The 2003 season was the 11th season since the establishment of the J.League. The league began on March 15 and ended on November 29.

The J.League 1993 season was the inaugural season of the J.League Division 1. The league fixtures began on May 15, 1993, and ended on December 15, 1993. The first ever Suntory Championship took place in the following year, January 9 and January 16, 1994.

1994 J.League

The J.League 1994 season was the second season of the J.League. The league fixture began on March 12, 1994, and ended on November 19, 1994. The Suntory Championship '94 took place on November 26 and December 2, 1994.

1995 J.League

The J.League 1995 season is the third season of the J.League Division 1. The league fixture began on March 18, 1995, and ended on November (date), 1995. The Suntory Championship '95 took place on November 30 and December 6, 1995.

The 1999 season was the seventh season of the J-League Division 1. The league began in March and ended in November. For this year, the division was contested by 16 teams following the folding of Yokohama Flügels and the relegation of Consadole Sapporo to the newly formed Division 2. In a year dominated by Shizuoka Prefecture, Júbilo Iwata won the 1st stage with neighbours Shimizu S-Pulse winning the 2nd stage. Iwata won the J.League Division 1 title for the after triumphing on penalty kicks in the Suntory Championship.

The 2000 season was the eighth season of the J-League Division 1. The league began on March 11 and ended on November 26. At the end of the season the second stage winner Kashima Antlers won the Suntory Championship against Yokohama F-Marinos who won the first stage.

The 2001 season was the ninth season since the establishment of the J-League. The league began on March 10 and ended on November 24. At the end of the season the second stage winner Kashima Antlers won the Suntory Championship against Júbilo Iwata who won the first stage.

The 2008 Nagoya Grampus season was Nagoya Grampus' 16th season in the J. League Division 1 and 27th overall in the Japanese top flight. They also participated in the 2008 J. League Cup, being knocked out at the Semifinal stage by Oita Trinita, and the 2008 Emperor's Cup getting knocked out at the Quarterfinal stage by Gamba Osaka.

1994 Verdy Kawasaki season

1995 Kashima Antlers season

1995 Kashiwa Reysol season

1995 Verdy Kawasaki season

1995 Yokohama Marinos season

1995 Bellmare Hiratsuka season

1995 Júbilo Iwata season

1995 Nagoya Grampus Eight season

1995 Cerezo Osaka season

1995 Sanfrecce Hiroshima season

Statistics of J. League Cup in the 1999 season.


See also