The Elimination Round is the first round of the Bull League playoffs and consists of the Lake League (LL) Elimination Round and the Metropolitan League (ML) Elimination Round, both of which are best-of-five game series to determine the two teams that will advance to the Lake League Championship Series (LLCS) and the Metropolitan League Championship Series (MLCS).
For each of the LL and ML, two division leaders and two wild card teams enter the Elimination Round. The division leaders are always seeded #1 and #2, with the #1 seed being the division leader with the better win-loss record, or in the event of a tied record, the team with the larger run differential. The #3 and #4 (wild card) seeded teams are the next two best teams in that league by win percentage, regardless of which division. In some years, both wild card teams come from the same division, in other years they come from opposing divisions.
The seeding therefore looks like this:
- Division leader with highest win-loss percentage
- Division leader with second-highest win-loss percentage
- Non-division leading team with highest win-loss percentage in either division
- Non-division leading team with next highest win-loss percentage in either division
The division leaders will always have the home stadium advantage, and the format used is 2-2-1. The lower seed numbered team (1 or 2) will play at home for games 1 and 2, the higher seed numbered team (3 or 4) plays at home for game 3, and (if necessary) 4. If there is a 5th and final game in the series, the series returns to the lower seed number team's stadium. In any given Elimination Round, there is a chance that both wild card teams will advance to the League Championship Series, or that neither will.
The Elimination Round pairings are:
|Seed #1||vs.||Seed #4|
|Seed #2||vs.||Seed #3|
The Elimination Round was introduced in 2007, when wild card playoff entries were first introduced. The introduction of wild cards makes the playoffs last longer, which adds to team revenues for those teams reaching the playoffs. It also generates more fan interest as teams that are not in contention for the division title still have a chance at a postseason appearance. In fact, since the introduction of the Elimination Round in 2007, there have only been two years (2007 and 2013) where none of the teams advancing to the LLCS or MLCS were wild card teams. To date, there have never been a year in which all four of the wild card teams advanced to the LLCS and MLCS. However, in 2009, both LL wild card teams did advance to the LLCS, and in 2016, both ML (then the American Eagle League or AEL) wild card teams advanced to the league championship series.
Despite the frequent appearance of wild card teams advancing to a league championship, only four wild card teams have won the Bull Cup Championship Series.
Elimination Round results by year
Each year, two wild card teams and two division leaders play in the Elimination Round. For wild card teams, their seed is noted in superscript as either 3 or 4. For each year, the 1 vs. 4 game is listed first, the 2 vs 3 game is listed second.
Wild Card Entries by Team
Bold indicated the team won the Bull Cup Championship Series in that year. Team in Italics is inactive/has folded.
|8||Boston Brawlers||2009, 2011, 2013, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2021, 2025||—|
|7||Chicago Pit Bulls|| (AEL) 2007, 2009—2010
(LL) 2012, 2014—2015, 2020
|7||California Tidals||2008, 2014, 2020—2024||—|
|7|| Washington Freedom
(Denver Highlanders/Denver Danger/Philadelphia Liberty Warriors)
|2013—2015, 2018, 2021, 2024, 2025||—|
|6|| New York Dragons
(New York Fastballs/New York Minutemen)
|2007—2008, 2010, 2014, 2016, 2025||1|
|6|| Toronto Nomads
|2008, 2010, 2019—2020, 2023—2024||—|
|5||Calgary Inferno||2010, 2012, 2015—2016, 2023||1|
|5|| Minneapolis Ravens
(Richmond Ravens, Jacksonville Ravens)
|2013, 2017, 2021—2023||—|
|4|| Miami Storm
(Kingston Battlements, Kingston Cannons)
|2011, 2013, 2022, 2025||—|
|4||Nevada Speeders||2008, 2011, 2019—2020||—|
|4||Seattle Salts||2007, 2011—2012, 2018||—|
|4||Ohio Oxen||2007, 2009, 2019, 2022||1|
|2||Montreal Metros||2018, 2024||1|
|2|| Houston Oilers
(San Diego Seagulls, Anchorage Aces, St. Petersburg Admirals)
|1|| Kansas City Blizzard
|1|| Pittsburgh Iron Pigs
(Hamilton Crusaders/Rimouski Fighting Moose)
|0|| Grand Rapids Hops
(Battle Creek Attack/Louisville Sluggers/Milwaukee Hops)
|0||Atlanta Fire Ants||—||—|