Everything you need to know about this year's finals series

IN JUST over three weeks' time, the revamped AFLW finals series will be playing out.

With plenty of teams still in the race to qualify for April, what do you need to know? 

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What used to happen?

In 2017 and '18, there was simply a Grand Final between the first and second-place teams in the eight-team competition.

Last year, the finals expanded along with the competition, seeing two teams from each newly created-conference playing preliminary finals, with the winner of each qualifying for the Grand Final.

This season has seen the competition swell to 14 teams, meaning some re-jigging around finals needed to be made.

The 14 AFLW club captains at the 2020 season launch. Picture: AFL Photos

So, now who qualifies?

The top three teams in each conference will earn the right to play finals.

If finals were being played today, North Melbourne, Brisbane and GWS would be Conference A's representatives, while Fremantle, Melbourne and Carlton would qualify from Conference B.

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Week 1 – April 4 and 5

Firstly, if you finish on top of your conference, you automatically qualify for the preliminary finals. This gives you a week off and a chance to put your feet up while the other teams slug it out in a high-pressure elimination final.

The elimination finals are a cross-conference affair, with the second-place team in A hosting the third-placed B side.

Likewise, the second-placed Conference B side will host the third-placed A team. 

Example:
Semi-final one: Brisbane (A2) v Carlton (B3) in Brisbane
Semi-final two: Melbourne (B2) v GWS (A3) in Melbourne
Byes: North Melbourne, Fremantle

Week 2 – April 11 and 12

This is where the top sides in each conference come into play.

The first-placed Conference A side will host the victor of semi-final one (B2 v A3), while the first-placed Conference B team will take on the winner of the other semi-final.

Example:
Preliminary final one: North Melbourne v Melbourne (winner of semi-final two) in Melbourne/Tasmania
Preliminary final two: Fremantle v Brisbane (winner of semi-final one) in Fremantle/Perth

Week 3 – April 18

The big one. The Grand Final will be played on April 18, with a deliberate twilight timeslot left free in the AFL fixture.

The winners of the preliminary finals will face off, with hosting rights to be determined by:

  • Win-loss record
  • If even, it goes to percentage
  • If that's even, the result when the two sides played
  • If the teams haven't played each other, it's a (highly unlikely) coin toss.

Example:
Fremantle v North Melbourne, with the Dockers to host in Western Australia due to superior win-loss record.