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Kerala Blasters vs East Bengal to kick off ISL 2022-23, new playoff format announced

ISL trophy. Pal Pillai/Focus Sports/ ISL

The Indian Super League will kick off season 2022-23 in Kochi where Kerala Blasters will take on East Bengal on October 7, Friday.

This will be the first time in two seasons that crowds are allowed in stadiums, and the ISL moves out of its bio-bubble controlled-environment in Goa. This will also be the first time that the ISL will not be played daily - with matches scheduled from Thursdays to Sundays to facilitate fans coming to stadiums.

The most major development, though, is the introduction of a new playoff system. Instead of the standard four, there will be six entrants in the playoff stages this season. The top two teams at the end of the league stage will automatically qualify for the semi-finals. Teams finishing between 3rd and 6th will feature in a single-leg playoff to determine the other two semi-finalists.

Key matches

Defending champions Hyderabad FC start their title defence against Mumbai City FC on October 9, in Hyderabad. League shield winners Jamshedpur host Odisha FC for their first match on October 11.

The Kolkata derby, meanwhile will see ATK Mohun Bagan take on East Bengal on October 29 and February 25: both at the iconic Salt Lake stadium.

There will 117 matches this season, with the league stage running for five months before the playoffs begin. The league stage ends on February 26.

The ISL is being preceded by the Durand Cup, with all ISL teams taking part (some have sent their reserve teams). They will also participate in the Super Cup once the ISL gets over.

Eliminator 1: 3rd placed team vs 6th placed team

Eliminator 2: 4th placed team vs 5th placed team

Semi-Final 1 1st Leg: 1st placed team vs (Winner - Eliminator 2)

Semi-Final 2 1st Leg: 2nd placed team vs (Winner - Eliminator 1)

Semi-Final 1 2nd Leg: (Winner - Eliminator 2) vs 1st placed team

Semi-Final 2 2nd Leg: (Winner - Eliminator 1) vs 2nd placed team

Final: (Winner Semi-Final 1) vs (Winner Semi-Final 2)