Each season of the IPL starts with the league stage. The team that finishes in the top four positions in the points table after the league stage qualifies for the playoffs (knockouts). The team winning a match is awarded 2 points, while a draw or no result fetches a point each to both teams. In case more than one team ends up with the same number of points in the table, the one with a better net run rate is placed above the one with a lesser net run rate.
The top four teams in the table play the playoffs, which comprise three matches – Qualifier 1, Eliminator and Qualifier 2. Qualifier 1 is played between the teams that finish in the top two. The eliminator is contested between the teams that finish third and fourth. The loser of Qualifier 1 then plays the winner of Eliminator in Qualifier 2. The final is played between the winner of Qualifier 1 and winner of Qualifier 2.
It can be noted that in the first three seasons of the IPL, the playoffs simply meant a semi-final game each between the teams that finished in the top four. The switch to the current playoffs format was made in 2012. Let’s recall the history of the IPL playoffs and how they panned out.
The first semi-final of IPL 2008 was played between Rajasthan Royals and Delhi Daredevils, while the second semi-final was played between Chennai Super Kings and Kings XI Punjab. In the final, RR beat CSK by three wickets.
Deccan Chargers and Delhi Daredevils played the first semi-final of 2009, which the Chargers won by six wickets. In the second semi-final, RCB beat CSK by six wickets to face the Chargers in the final. RCB lost the final by six wickets.
In 2010, a third-place playoff was also played along with the two semi-finals which were won by MI and CSK respectively. In the final, CSK beat MI by 22 runs, a match that led to the El Clasico of IPL for years to come.
The Qualifier 1, Eliminator and Qualifier 2 came into being from the 2011 season onwards. In the Qualifier 1, CSK beat RCB by six wickets while in the Eliminator, MI beat KKR by four wickets. Qualifier 2 saw RCB win by 43 runs, but they eventually lost the final to CSK.
KKR won IPL 2012 after defeating CSK in the final. Earlier, they won Qualifier 1 against Delhi Daredevils while CSK eliminated MI in the Eliminator. In the Qualifier 2, CSK beat DD.
The qualifier 1 of 2013 saw CSK defeat MI. In the Eliminator, RR beat SRH by four wickets while in Qualifier 2, MI eliminated RR. The final between CSK and MI was won by MI.
KKR won their second title in 2014 after defeating PBKS in the Qualifier 1 and also in the final. CSK eliminated MI in the Eliminator before being eliminated by PBKS in Qualifier 2.
MI beat CSK in Qualifier 1, before CSK beat RCB in Qualifier 2. In the final, MI lifted their second trophy by beating arch rivals CSK by 41 runs at the Eden Gardens.
The IPL got a new winner in 2016 when SRH beat RCB in the final after beating Gujarat Lions in Qualifier 2. Earlier, RCB beat Gujarat Lions in Qualifier 1, after which SRH eliminated KKR in the Eliminator.
MI won their third trophy in 2017 after defeating Rising Pune Supergiants in the final which was a Maharashtra derby. Earlier in Qualifier 1, Pune beat Mumbai and in the Eliminator, KKR knocked out SRH before being knocked out themselves in Qualifier 2 by MI.
CSK won the IPL 2018 after defeating SRH in Qualifier 1 and then again in the final. Qualifier 2 was won by SRH over KKR while in the Eliminator, KKR beat RR.
MI became the most successful team in the IPL after lifting a fourth trophy. They beat CSK in the Qualifier 1, DC beat SRH in the Eliminator and CSK beat DC in Qualifier 2 to play the final.
An unstoppable Mumbai Indians won a record fifth title in IPL 2020 which was played in the UAE due to the Covid19 pandemic. MI first beat Delhi Capitals in Qualifier 1, after which RCB were knocked out by SRH in the Eliminator. Delhi Capitals won Qualifier 2 before losing the final.
CSK won IPL 2021 after winning Qualifier 1 over Delhi Capitals and the final over KKR, who beat RCB and DC in the Eliminator and Qualifier 2, respectively.