For other uses, see Xleague (disambiguation).
Formerly Japan American Football League (1971-1997)
Sport American football
Founded 1971 (1971)
No. of teams 52 (X1:18, X2:16, X3:19)
Country Japan
Most recent
Panasonic Impulse (7th title)
Most titles Obic Seagulls (8 titles)
Official website Official website

The X-League (Xリーグ) is the top-level American football league in Japan. It was founded in 1971 as the Japan American Football League, and changed its name to the X League in 1997. There are three divisions (X1, X2, and X3) among which there is promotion and relegation.[1] Teams in the three-tier league are split into East, West, and Central divisions. There are two types of teams, one being a company team in which only employees of that particular sponsoring company may participate as a player, and the other classified as a club team for which anyone can try out.

Game rules are based on those of the NCAA college division in America, with the exception of the length of quarters, which are 12 minutes instead of 15 during the first stage of the season.

The Japanese national team, which has won the first and second editions of the American Football World Cup and was runner-up, finishing second to the American team, in the 2007 installment of the tournament, was made up almost entirely of players from this league.

Americans are often recruited to play for X League teams, with a strict rule of four per team. No more than two foreign players per team are allowed on the field of play at a time.

Season format

Teams play six matches in the regular season, the schedule which is determined by each team's standing during the previous season.

The top six teams at the end of the regular season would advance to the Japan X Bowl tournament while the remaining two spots would be filled with winners from a wild-card match.

There is a spring tournament as well called the Pearl Bowl which is used by teams to ready themselves and evaluate new players before the fall season.

Regular Season

The 18 top tier teams are divided into 3 divisions of 6 teams each. The East and Central Divisions are made up of teams from the Kanto (East Japan) region while the West Division teams are from the Kansai (West Japan) region. The teams would also be split into two groups of nine each, with the top nine ranking teams from the previous season (top three in each division) comprising the Super 9. The lower nine make up the Battle 9.

The teams would play three games within their division, and another three against teams outside of their division, all of which are equal in strength. The relative strength would be determined by the previous season's standings.

This would allow teams from the Kanto and Kansai regions to play each other before the post season for the first time.

Post Season

Following the regular season, the top six teams among the Super 9 will advance to the Japan X Bowl Tournament, where they would be seeded according to regular-season results.

The remaining two places would be filled by the winners of two wild-card playoff matches to be played by the 7th and 8th ranked teams of the Super 9 and the top two teams from the Battle 9, respectively.

Japan X Bowl

Main article: Japan X Bowl

The two semifinal winners would meet for the league championship in the Japan X Bowl held at the Tokyo Dome. Since 1987, Japan X Bowl has decided the X League championship. Until 2002, it was known as the Tokyo Super Bowl. The winner of this game goes on to the Rice Bowl to face the winner of the Koshien Bowl, the national college championship game.

X2-X1 Promotion/Replacement games

The 6th place team from each division of X1 is paired up against the 1st place team of each division of X2. If the X2 team defeats the X1 team, that team is promoted up to X1 while the X1 team is demoted to X2 for the following season.

2016 X-League team organization









A Block

B Block

Past League Results

X-League Divisional Standings since 1997

Advanced to Final6, Super9 or Post Season Promoted from X2 Demoted to X2 at the end of the season. Team Folded at the end of the season.
1997 EastAsahi Beer Silver StarOnward OaksBank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi ApricotFujitsu FrontiersTokai Bank Red WaveRenown Rovers
CentralKajima DeersNissan Prince TokyoRecruit SeagullsSkylark Co.,Ltd. SkylarksSanwa Bank Lark HillsSakura Bank Dainosu
1998 EastNissan Prince TokyoAsahi Beer Silver StarSkylark Co.,Ltd. SkylarksTokai Bank Red WaveSumitomo Bank SpringsBank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi Apricot
CentralKajima DeersRecruit SeagullsOnward OaksFujitsu FrontiersRenown RoversSanwa Bank Lark Hills
1999 EastOnward OaksRecruit SeagullsNissan Prince TokyoTokyo Marine DolphinsTokyo-Mitsubishi Bank ApricotSankura Bank Dainosu
CentralKajima DeersAsahi Beer Silver StarFujitsu FrontiersSkylark Co.,Ltd. SkylarksTokyo Marine DolphinsSanwa Bank Lark Hills
2000 EastFujitsu FrontiersAsahi Beer Silver StarOnward OaksSkylark Co.,Ltd. SkylarksClub DainosuRenown Rovers
CentralRecruit SeagullsNissan Prince TokyoKajima DeersTokyo-Mitsubishi BankTokyo Marine DolphinsTokyo Skyliners
2001 EastKajima DeersFujitsu FrontiersNissan Prince TokyoGakusei-Engokai RocbullClub DainosuClub Huskies
CentralRecruit SeagullsAsahi Beer Silver StarOnward OaksLionsRenown RoversPenta-Ocean Construction Co. Pirates
2002 EastFujitsu FrontiersKajima DeersLionsNissan SkylinersIBM Big BlueSakura Bank Dainosu
CentralSeagullsOnward SkylarksAsahi Beer Silver StarGakusei-Engokai RocbullRenown RoversClub Huskies
2003 EastOnward SkylarksAsahi Beer Silver StarFujitsu FrontiersNissan SkylinersTokyo Gas CreatorsClub Huskies
CentralKajima DeersObic SeagullsPenta-Ocean Construction Co. PiratesAll Mitsubishi LionsGakusei-Engokai RocbullIBM Big Blue
2004 EastKajima DeersAsahi Beer Silver StarAll Mitsubishi LionsIBM Big BlueGakusei-Engokai RocbullPenta-Ocean Construction Pirates
CentralOnward SkylarksObic SeagullsNissan SkylinersFujitsu FrontiersTokyo Gas CreatorsClub Huskies
2005 EastObic SeagullsOnward SkylarksFujitsu FrontiersYasuda L.A. PiratesTokyo Gas CreatorsAll Mitsubishi Lions
CentralKajima DeersAsahi Beer Silver StarIBM Big BlueNissan SkylinersGakusei-Engokai RocbullRenesas Hurricanes
2006 EastOnward SkylarksKajima DeersIBM Big BlueAll Mitsubishi LionsMeiji Yasuda PiratesGakusei-Engokai Rocbull
CentralAsahi Beer Silver StarObic SeagullsFujitsu FrontiersNissan SkylinersTokyo Gas CreatorsRenesas Hurricanes
2007 EastFujitsu FrontiersObic SeagullsAsahi Beer Silver StarAll Mitsubishi LionsRenesas HurricanesGakusei-Engokai Rocbull
CentralKajima DeersOnward SkylarksIBM Big BlueMeiji Yasuda PiratesTokyo Gas CreatorsFuji Xerox Minerva
2008 EastOnward SkylarksFujitsu FrontiersAsahi Beer Silver StarMeiji Yasuda PiratesRenesas HurricanesFuji Xerox Minerva
CentralKajima DeersObic SeagullsIBM Big BlueAll Mitsubishi LionsAll Tokyo Gas CreatorsGakusei-Engokai Rocbull
2009 EastAsahi Beer Silver StarObic SeagullsNihon Unisys BullsAll Mitsubishi LionsFuji Xerox MinervaAll Tokyo Gas Creators
CentralFujitsu FrontiersKajima DeersIBM Big BlueMeiji Yasuda PiratesHurricanes AFCBullseyes Tokyo
2010 EastKajima DeersIBM Big BlueAsahi Beer Silver StarAll Mitsubishi LionsBullseyes TokyoFuji Xerox Minerva
CentralObic SeagullsFujitsu FrontiersMeiji Yasuda PiratesAll Tokyo Gas CreatorsHurricanes AFCNihon Unisys Bulls
2011 EastKajima DeersFujitsu FrontiersAll Mitsubishi LionsMeiji Yasuda PiratesBullseyes TokyoFuji Xerox Minverva
CentralObic SeagullsNojima Sagamihara RiseAsahi Beer Silver StarIBM Big BlueAll Tokyo Gas CreatorsNihon Unisys Bulls
2012 EastKajima DeersNojima Sagamihara RiseAsahi Beer Silver StarMeiji Yasuda PiratesNihon Unisys BullsBullseyes Tokyo
CentralObic SeagullsFujitsu FrontiersIBM Big BlueTokyo Gas CreatorsAll Mitsubishi LionsFuji Xerox Minerva
2013 EastFujitsu FrontiersKajima DeersAsahi Beer Silver StarTokyo Gas CreatorsNihon Unisys BullsHurricanes
CentralObic SeagullsNojima Sagamihara RiseIBM Big BlueAll Mitsubishi LionsMeiji Yasuda PiratesTokyo MPD Eagles
2014 EastFujitsu FrontiersIBM Big BlueNojima Sagamihara RiseTokyo Gas CreatorsMeiji Yasuda PiratesHurricanes
CentralLIXIL DeersObic SeagullsAsahi Beer Silver StarAll Mitsubishi LionsBulls Football ClubTaiyo Building Mgmt. Cranes
2015 EastFujitsu FrontiersNojima Sagamihara RiseObic SeagullsAll Mitsubishi LionsMeiji Yasuda Penta-Ocean PiratesTokyo MPD Eagles
CentralIBM Big BlueLIXIL DeersAsahi Beer Silver StarBulls Football ClubTokyo Gas CreatorsHurricanes
1997WestMatsushita Electric Works ImpulseSunstar FiniesMYCAL BearsOsaka Black EaglesIwatani SidewindersAsahi Soft Drinks Challengers
1998WestAsahi Soft Drinks ChallengersMatsushita Electric Works ImpulseMYCAL BearsIwatani SidewindersSunstar FiniesIuchi Black Eagles
1999WestAsahi Soft Drinks ChallengersMYCAL BearsMatsushita Electric Works ImpulseKohaku FiniesIuchi Black EaglesIwatani Sidewinders
2000WestMatsushita Electric Works ImpulseAsahi Soft Drinks ChallengersMYCAL BearsKohaku FiniesIuchi Black EaglesIwatani Sidewinders
2001WestMatsushita Electric Works ImpulseAsahi Soft Drinks ChallengersMYCAL BearsIwatani SidewindersKohaku FiniesAS ONE Black Eagles
2002WestMatsushita Denko ImpulseAsahi Soft Drinks ChallengersAS ONE Black EaglesIwatani SidewindersHankyu BruinsKohaku Finies
2003WestMatsushita Denko ImpulseAsahi Soft Drinks ChallengersAS ONE Black EaglesNaigai Denki MarviesHankyu BruinsIwatani Sidewinders
2004WestMatsushita Denko ImpulseAsahi Soft Drinks ChallengersAS ONE Black EaglesNaigai Denki MarviesFinies Football ClubHankyu Bruins
2005WestMatsushita Denko ImpulseAsahi Soft Drinks ChallengersNaigai Denki MarviesAS ONE Black EaglesIwatani SidewindersKobe Finies
2006WestMatsushita Denko ImpulseNagai Denki MarviesAsahi Soft Drinks ChallengersSRC Kobe FiniesAS ONE Black EaglesIwatani Sidewinders
2007WestMatsushita Denko ImpulseAsahi Soft Drinks ChallengersNaigai Denki MarviesAS ONE Black EaglesSRC Kobe FiniesNagoya Cyclones
2008WestAsahi Soft Drinks ChallengersPanasonic Denko ImpulseSRC Kobe FiniesNaigai Denki MarviesAsahi Pretec Golden FightersAS ONE Black Eagles
2009WestPanasonic Denko ImpulseAsahi Soft Drinks ChallengersSuita MarviesElecom Kobe FiniesAsahi Pretec Golden FightersAS ONE Black Eagles
2010WestPanasonic Denko ImpulseAsahi Soft Drinks ChallengersSuita MarviesElecom Kobe FiniesAS ONE Black EaglesNagoya Cyclones
2011WestPanasonic ImpulseAsahi Soft Drinks ChallengersAS ONE Black EaglesElecom Kobe FiniesNagoya CyclonesFuji Xerox J-Stars
2012WestPanasonic ImpulseAsahi Soft Drinks ChallengersAS ONE Black EaglesElecom Kobe FiniesNagoya CyclonesNishinomiya Bruins
2013WestPanasonic ImpulseAsahi Soft Drinks ChallengersAS ONE Black EaglesElecom Kobe FiniesNishinomiya BruinsNagoya Cyclones
2014WestElecom Kobe FiniesPanasonic ImpulseAsahi Soft Drinks ChallengersAS ONE Black EaglesNagoya CyclonesNishinomiya Bruins
2015WestPanasonic ImpulseAsahi Soft Drinks ChallengersElecom Kobe FiniesAS ONE Black EaglesNagoya CyclonesFuji Xerox J-Stars

Playing venues

Awards and Honors

All X-League Team

Main article: All X-League Team

Since 2000, the X-League honors outstanding players by electing them to the All X-League Team. 11 offensive players, 11 defensive players and 3 special team players are voted by the Head Coaches and 5 players on each of the 18 X1 teams to be selected for the team.

X-League Most Valuable Player (MVP) award

The X-League Most Valuable Player award (X-League MVP) is an award given to the Japanese American Football player who is considered most valuable to his team in the X-League. Started in 2012, the award was divided between the best player in each division until 2014 when one overall MVP was awarded.

2012 EastYasuhiro MarutaRunning BackKajima Deers
CentralNoriaki KinoshitaWide ReceiverObic Seagulls
WestRyohei ImanashiCornerbackPanasonic Impulse
2013 EastKeiya HiramotoQuarterbackFujitsu Frontiers
CentralNoriaki KinoshitaWide ReceiverObic Seagulls
WestTetsuo TakataQuarterbackPanasonic Impulse
2014Gino GordonRunning BackFujitsu Frontiers
2015Tetsuo Takata[2]
QuarterbackPanasonic Impulse

X-League Rookie of the Year (ROY) award

The X-League Rookie of the Year award (X-League ROY) is an award given to the player who is considered have made a big impact during his first year with his team. Started in 2012, the award was divided between the best player in each division until 2014 when one overall ROY was awarded.

2012 EastKohei AraiCenterKajima Deers
CentralKevin CraftQuarterbackIBM Big Blue
WestHisashi KurokawaOffensive TacklePanasonic Impulse
2013 EastJinpei YoshimotoWide ReceiverFujitsu Frontiers
CentralKealakai MaiavaOffensive TackleObic Seagulls
WestDavid MotuLinebackerPanasonic Impulse
2014Colby CameronQuarterbackFujitsu Frontiers
2015Mason MillsQuarterbackAsahi Beer Silver Star

X-League Fairplay award

Since 2012, the X-League Fairplay award is awarded to the team that had accumulated the least amount of penalties during the 1st stage of the Fall season.

2012WestPanasonic Impulse
2013CentralAll Mitsubishi Lions
2014EastHurricanes (X-League)
2015CentralHurricanes (X-League)

Team names


  1. "League Playoff Works". xleague.com. Retrieved January 6, 2016.
  2. Nagatsuka, Kaz (February 2, 2016). "Takata named MVP; 8 Impulse make All X-League team". xleague.com. Retrieved March 4, 2016.
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