China: The 33 team CNFL has hit midseason with a few surprises

As the 2022 CNFL season rolls on, the divisional races have begun to take shape, and the contenders have started to emerge from the pack. Here is a look at the current CNFL standings and playoff picture. As a reminder, several divisions are much larger than others because the divisions are based on region. The CNFL’s 2022-2023 playoff format is as follows: The top five teams from the North and East divisions qualify for the playoffs, and the West and South will each send their top three teams for a total of 16, and the first tiebreaker between teams with matching records will be point differential.

*Note the regular season schedule is subject to sudden changes and rescheduling due to travel complications.


Qingdao Conquerors 2-0

Shenyang Spartans 2-0

W@ Tianjin Pirates 14-3, W vs Peking Watchers 21-0 (FF)

 Changchun Icebreakers 2-0

W @ Shenyang Hunters 19-18, W vs Tianjin Pirates 21-0 (FF)

Beijing Commander 1-1

L vs Peking Watchers 18-10, W @ Harbin Tigers 34-12

Shenyang Hunters 1-1

L vs Changchun Icebreakers 19-18, W vs Jinan Mammoths 34-21

Beijing Cyclones 1-1

L vs Jinan Mammoths 34-20, W vs Tianjin Black Sails 42-0

Shijiazhuang Liberators 1-1

W @ Harbin Tigers 42-12, L vs Qingdao Conquerors 21-6

Jinan Mammoth 1-1

W vs Beijing Cyclones 34-20, L @ Shenyang Hunters 34-21

Peking Watchers 1-1

W vs Beijing Commander 18-10, L vs Shenyang Spartans 21-0 (FF)

Tianjin Pirates 0-2

L vs Shenyang Spartans 14-3, L @ Changchun Icebreakers 21-0 (FF)

Harbin Tigers 0-2

L vs Shijiazhuang Liberators 42-12, L vs Beijing Commander 34-12

Tianjin Black Sails 0-2

L @ Qingdao Conquerors 31-0, L @ Beijing Cyclones 42-0

In the North division, there are three undefeated teams all tied for first place, and then six teams all competing for the last two playoff spots at 1-1.

Qingdao are the big favorites to win the division and have looked like it so far, but the big surprise is the Changchun Icebreakers, who are also 2-0 due to their upset over the Hunters in week 1. However, travel restrictions have directly impacted the regular season, with the Tianjin and Beijing teams all experiencing travel difficulties resulting in forfeits and/or schedules being changed. Due to forfeits counting as a 21-0 loss, the point differential tiebreaker will seemingly matter more for the North’s final standings as their turbulent regular season might become even more unsettled in the coming months.


Shanghai Titans 3-0

W@ Hangzhou Ospreys 34-19, W @ Shanghai Warriors 47-16, W @ Nanjing Tigers 32-6

Upcoming games: vs Shanghai Nighthawks, @ Shanghai Wolves

Hangzhou Smilodons 3-0

W vs Xuzhou Chuhan 46-0, W vs Nanjing Tigers 13-0, W@ Shanghai Warriors 42-12

Upcoming games: vs Shanghai Wolves, vs Hangzhou Ospreys

Shanghai Streetcats 2-0-1

W@ Shanghai Nighthawks 20-6, W@ Suzhou Blue Knights 54-18, D vs Shanghai Wolves 6-6

Upcoming games: vs Shanghai Warriors, @ Nanjing Tigers

Shanghai Nighthawks 2-1

L vs Shanghai Streetcats 20-6, W vs Shanghai Wolves 30-20, W @Hangzhou Ospreys 42-8

Upcoming games: @ Shanghai Titans, @ Suzhou Blue Knights

Nanjing Tigers 1-2

W vs Suzhou Blue Knights 36-0, L @ Hangzhou Smilodons 13-0, L vs Shanghai Titans 32-6

Upcoming games: @ Xuzhou Chuhan, vs Shanghai Streetcats

Hangzhou Ospreys 1-2

L vs Shanghai Titans 34-19, W @ Xuzhou Chuhan 47-6, L vs Shanghai Nighthawks 42-8

Upcoming games: vs Suzhou Blue Knights, @ Hangzhou Smilodons

Suzhou Blue Knights 1-2

L @ Nanjing Tigers 36-0, L vs Shanghai Streetcats 54-18, W vs Xuzhou Chuhan 34-7

Upcoming games: @ Hangzhou Ospreys, vs Shanghai Nighthawks

Shanghai Wolves 0-1-1

Vs Shanghai Warriors (postponed), L @ Shanghai Nighthawks 30-20, D vs Shanghai Streetcats 6-6

Upcoming games: @ Hangzhou Smilodons, vs Shanghai Titans

Shanghai Warriors 0-2

Vs Shanghai Wolves (postponed), L vs Shanghai Titans 47-16, L vs Hangzhou Smilodons 42-12

Upcoming games: @ Shanghai Streetcats, @ Xuzhou Chuhan

Xuzhou Chuhan 0-3

L @ Hangzhou Smilodons 46-0, L vs Hangzhou Ospreys 47-6, L @ Suzhou Blue knights 34-7

Upcoming games: vs Nanjing Tigers, vs Shanghai Warriors

In the East, the Shanghai Titans and the Hangzhou Smilodons have established themselves at the top of the division with three straight wins to open the season, followed by an undefeated Shanghai Streetcats and the Shanghai Nighthawks, winners of 2 straight after losing week 1. After those four teams, four teams are battling it out for the final playoff spot. The one saving grace the Wolves and Warriors have is that their game was postponed, meaning they still have a chance at a victory that will be vital for their chances of making it to the playoffs. Of the 1-2 teams, the Nanjing Tigers have the benefit of having won a game against someone other than the winless Chuhan, who are still trying to find their footing, and the Tigers should find their second win against Xuzhou.


Gun Cavalry 2-0

W vs Guangzhou Goats 21-0 (FF), W@ Foshan South China Tigers 14-8

Upcoming games: vs Wuhan Spicy, vs Guangzhou Apache, @Shenzhen Buffaloes

Wuhan Spicy 1-1

L vs Foshan SCT 28-26, W vs Shenzhen Buffaloes 21-0 (FF)

Upcoming games: @ Gun Cavalry, vs Guangzhou Goats, @Guangzhou Apache

Guangzhou Apaches 1-1

W @ Shenzhen Buffaloes 22-18, L vs Guangzhou Goats 15-14

Upcoming Games: @ Foshan SCT, @ Gun Cavalry, vs Wuhan Spicy

Foshan South China Tigers 1-1

W @ Wuhan Spicy 28-26, L vs Gun Cavalry 14-8

Upcoming Games: vs Guangzhou Apache, @ Shenzhen Buffaloes, @Guanzhu Goats

Guangzhou Goats 1-1

L @ Wuhan Spicy 21-0 (FF), W vs Guangzhou Apaches 15-14

Upcoming Games: vs Shenzhen Buffaloes, @ Wuhan Spicy, vs Foshan SCT

Shenzhen Buffaloes 0-2

L vs Guangzhou Apaches 22-18, L @ Wuhan Spicy 21-0 (FF)

Upcoming Games: @Guangzhou Goats, vs Foshan SCT, vs Gun Cavalry

In the South division, there is one undefeated team, and then it is chaos with four teams tied at 1-1. The Gun Cavalry are undefeated, but they were fortunate that a potential Foshan touchdown (2, in fact) was called back because of penalties. So while the other divisions look to have a clear-cut favorite team over the rest, the South division is top to bottom very evenly matched, and it shows in the number of close games played.

Out of the remaining games, the Wuhan Spicy-Gun Cavalry game looks to be the most impactful, as the Gun Cavalry will be able to either create more breathing space between themselves and the rest of the division or fall back into the chaos.


Zhengzhou Steamer 1-0

W@ Xian Panthers 32-12

Chengdu Pandaman 0-0

Chongqing McFuries 0-0

Tibet Khyung 0-0

Xian Panthers 0-1

L vs Zhengzhou Steamer 32-12

Unfortunately, only one game in the West division has been played so far, so by default, the Zhengzhou Steamer are in first place. However, travel restrictions that remain in place continue to put the West’s regular season up in the air.

As the CNFL season continues to move forward, the playoff picture is slowly beginning to take shape. The next round of games will be crucial to determining playoff seeds and divisional champions as contenders look to separate themselves from the pack or catch up to surprise upstarts.

Allen Hu is a Chinese-American who grew up playing American Football in Clarks Summit, Pennsylvania. He primarily spends his time in both the United States and China