Home teams sweep wild card playoffs in China

The first round of the 2020-2021 CNFL Playoffs went off with a bang, as one team finally exorcised a demon, and another made team history. With the home team sweeping both games in the first round, the matchups for the semi-finals are set.

Beijing bushwhacks Shanghai

Beijing Barbarians 48 – Shanghai Titans 0, Beijing Shounong Yingshi Sports Park, Beijing

The Beijing Barbarians finally got the proverbial monkey off their back as they beat the Shanghai Titans 48-0 in the rematch. After years of losing to the Shanghai teams in the playoffs, the Barbarians broke through in a big way.

The scores came early and often for the Barbarians as RB#84 Cao Yu led the way as he ran for 5 touchdowns in the game. In addition to the shut out, the Barbarian defense added a score of their own with a CB #10 Damon Dong pick-six.

It was always going to be a tall task for the undermanned Titans, who were only able to bring 18 players to Beijing. When the Barbarians got ahead early, the Titans were doomed as they had no available receivers capable of stretching the Beijing defense.

The Barbarians earned a trip to Chengdu for the semifinals, where they will play the #2 seeded Chengdu Pandaman. Unlike Shanghai, Chengdu will be at full strength and possess multiple receiving threats in stark contrast to the Titans this year.

Conquerors outlast Apaches

Qingdao Conquerors 8 – Guangzhou Apaches 6, Qingdao Baishawan Football Field, Qingdao

The Conquerors made team history by winning their first-ever playoff game, beating the Guangzhou Apaches 8-6 in a low-scoring affair in Qingdao, and advancing to the semifinals. Despite having only 19 players available for the game, the shorthanded Apaches took advantage of Qingdao’s rustiness and it was the Apaches who looked like the better team in the first half.

The Apaches drew first blood on a touchdown run by QB #28 Huang XiaoYu (黄晓宇), and the stout Apache defense held strong as the Apaches took a 6-0 lead into halftime.

However, the second half was a different story as Qingdao took advantage of tiring Guangzhou legs when RB #15 Owen plunged in from a few yards out, and a successful 2 point conversion gave Qingdao the 8-6 lead they were able to hold on to.

While both defenses brought their A-game, the same couldn’t be said for the offenses as Guangzhou turned the ball over several times in the second half, while Qingdao showed their rust in committing multiple drive-killing penalties. Nevertheless, Qingdao won’t be complaining about the final score.

The Conquerors will advance to the semifinals where they meet the top-seeded Hangzhou Smilodons in Hangzhou.

The big takeaway from the first round was just how short-handed the away teams were. Neither away team was able to bring more than 19 players, and it showed as the lack of depth played a key factor in both home teams winning. With the top two seeds well-rested and playing at home for the semifinals, it will take a tremendous effort by either Beijing or Qingdao to pull the upset and make it to the finals.


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