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The playoffs, postseason, or finals of a sports league are a game or series of games played after the regular season by the top competitors, to determine the league champion or a similar accolade. The term and concept are most widespread in North America.

In the U.S. and Canada, the vast distances and consequent burdens on cross-country travel have led to regional groupings of teams, usually called divisions. Generally, during the regular season, teams play more games against opponents that are within their own grouping than those outside it. Since every team has not necessarily had a chance to prove itself against every other team, a playoff is necessary every season. Any team that wins its grouping is eligible to participate in the playoffs. As playoffs became more popular, they were expanded to allow teams that finished second or even lower in the grouping to participate. If a team has to be the best of all the lower-ranked teams, these teams are known as wild card teams, such as in the Major League Baseball system.


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