Chinese National Football League semifinal pits 4-1 Conquerors against unbeaten Smilidons

After a first-round that saw the higher seeds take both games, the Chinese National Football League 2020-2021 playoffs continue with an exciting semifinal matchup* taking place as the Qingdao Conquerors and Hangzhou Smilodons battle for a place in the finals.

* The Chengdu Pandaman vs Beijing Barbarians game has been postponed due to a recent Covid-19 outbreak in Chengdu.

#4 Qingdao Conquerors (4-1) vs #1 Hangzhou Smilodons (4-0)

Saturday, December 12, 3 pm, Hangzhou Thunder Football Field, Hangzhou

This game is a battle of firsts in what has been milestone seasons for both teams. First place Hangzhou is looking for their first-ever playoff win and both teams are seeking their first-ever appearance in the finals.

After going one and done in their playoff debut last season, the Hangzhou Smilodons are looking to avoid the same fate this time around. An undefeated regular season gave them the overall first seed and a free ticket to the semifinals where they will enjoy the advantage of being at home and can secure a spot in the championship game with their first playoff win.

Despite only having 20 players available to make the long 7-hour trip via high-speed train to Hangzhou, the Qingdao Conquerors will still be a redoubtable foe. Helping their cause is the fact that among the players making the trip are their best players on offense, #2 WR/SS Sasha and RB #15 Owen.

On the other hand, Hangzhou’s defense is at full strength with linebackers #58 Storm, #29 Mark, #52 Big Tony, and #94 Martin all healthy and playing. Their versatility at stopping the run and being able to generate pressure with the blitz is the reason why the Smilodon front seven has dominated opposing offenses this season. Qingdao will need their big fullback #86 Jerry to bulldoze a path for Owen if the Conquerors want to have any success on offense.

On the flip side, Hangzhou’s offense will be looking for wide receiver #86 Kevin to create a mismatch at either wide receiver and tight end with his size and speed, and it will be up to Qb #5 Roger to find him. Qingdao’s best defensive linemen, #76 Jiang Teng Liang (蒋腾梁), is key to the Qingdao defensive game plan. He will have to win the line of scrimmage and generate pressure for Sasha and the rest of the Qingdao defense to have a chance at stuffing the Smilodon offense.

All eyes will be on Hangzhou this weekend to see who will be the first team to qualify for the finals! Will it be the seemingly unstoppable Smilodons with the best defense in the league, or the Qingdao Conquerors, who can continue to surprise and make the championship game in their second year as a team! We’ll find out on November 12!

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