American Football League of China adds new teams, releases regular season schedule

The American Football League of China (AFLC), China’s oldest American football league, today made a few big announcements for its upcoming regular season, which will be its fifth overall. The total number of teams participating in the league has now increased to 18, up from 14 a year ago, making this the highest number of teams participating in league history. With the influx of new teams also comes a new division, the North Division, that will feature two of these new teams. Finally, the league has released its full regular season schedule.

Read on to catch a glimpse of the schedule, as well as read Life in the Huddle’s take on some of the 2017 AFLC regular season’s key matchups.

New teams joining the AFLC this season

 

Almost every team from the AFLC’s 2016 season will play in the upcoming season, with the exception of the league’s inaugural champion in 2013, the Chongqing Dockers. The Mountain City Fury, also representing Chongqing, has been formed by many former Dockers players, and will compete in the AFLC West Division.

Other new teams in the league include the Xi’an Dark Tide, Hangzhou Smilodons, CUAFL Team (which will consist of players coming from any team that is a member of the China University American Football League), Taiyuan Troops, and Tianjin Pirates, an original member of the AFLC in 2013 who are rejoining the league, while also staying part of the City Bowl this season.

The Xi’an Dark Tide (black) facing off against the Mountain City Fury (white) earlier this preseason

The AFLC North Division will consist of three teams; the Beijing Iron Brothers, Taiyuan Troops, and Tianjin Pirates, while the AFLC East Division will have six teams, the Shanghai Titans, Shanghai Warriors, Shanghai Nighthawks, CUAFL, Hangzhou Smilodons, and Hefei Crocodiles. The AFLC South Division will consist of the same five teams as last season; the Hong Kong Warhawks, Hong Kong Cobras, Hong Kong Combat Orcas, Guangzhou Apaches, and Guangzhou Tigers, and the AFLC West will have four teams; the Chongqing Centaurs, Mountain City Fury, Chengdu Pandamen, and Xi’an Dark Tide.

In addition, another new team, the Zhengzhou Steamers, have joined the league as an associate member, and will not play during the regular season, but will focus on improving and preparing to enter league play in 2018. Below is a list of all 18 teams participating in the AFLC this season, separated by division:

The season will start off with the first ever game in the history of the Taiyuan Troops, as they host the Beijing Iron Brothers on Saturday, August 12th. The weekend of August 26th-27th will be the first busy weekend for the league, with four games on the schedule, highlighted by what is traditionally the South Division’s biggest rivalry game, a Hong Kong derby between the Cobras and Warhawks.

The defending AFLC champion Shanghai Titans kick off their season the very next weekend (9/2-9/3) with a massive clash against their cross-town rivals the Warriors, while a potential new in-city rivalry will kick off on the weekend of September 23rd-24th with the Chongqing Centaurs hosting the Mountain City Fury.

Below is the full regular season schedule for the 2017 season, first separated by division, then overall:

Moving into October, the weekend after the end of the national holiday (10/14-10/15) is packed with SEVEN games on the slate, highlighted by a rematch of last year’s championship game between the Shanghai Titans and Shanghai Nighthawks.

Two weeks later, two AFLC South title contenders will hit the field, as the Hong Kong Warhawks host the Guangzhou Tigers in a rematch of last season’s quarterfinals. November is marked by two more derby games, as the Shanghai Warriors host the Shanghai Nighthawks in China’s oldest football rivalry, as well as a rematch of the 2015-16 AFLC Championship Game, on the weekend of November 4th-5th, while the Guangzhou Tigers will close out the regular season the next weekend by hosting the Guangzhou Apaches.

The Beijing Iron Brothers (orange) now play the Tianjin Pirates (red) in a preseason game every year

The AFLC Playoffs will still have eight teams, and more specific details about playoff seeding and matchups will be released as the regular season goes along. As always, the location of the AFLC Championship Game will be determined once the two finalists are determined. Stay tuned early next month for Life in the Huddle’s AFLC team-by-team season preview.

The Taiyuan Troops are set to host their first ever game on August 12th.

Below are results from this past weekend’s football games in China, as well as details about games for this upcoming weekend.

Danny Zhang
Danny Zhang is a Chinese-American college student who grew up playing American football in the Boston area. He has a keen interest in the development of the sport in China, where he has recently studied, worked, and experienced football’s rapid growth firsthand.
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