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K League 2 Final Day: Permutations of a complicated playoff race

The 2023 Hana 1Q K League 2 campaign comes to a close this Sunday with Round 39. Incredibly, the title is still up for grabs, as too two places in the playoffs with no fewer than five teams vying to extend their seasons. K League United has crunched the numbers to see what the permutations are.

A headache-inducing maths exercise later and K League United thinks it's got a handle on what the teams need on the final day this Sunday. Be warned, though, it is very complicated.

K League 2 title & automatic promotion


Thankfully, the K League 2 title race is actually very simple. Busan IPark, despite defeat to Jeonnam Dragons before the international break, still have the K League 2 title in their hands. All they have to do is match Gimcheon Sangmu's result to seal a return to K League 1. However, because of Gimcheon's superior goals scored tally compared to Busan's (70-49), a Busan loss and Gimcheon draw would mean the latter finish first. A Gimcheon win and a Busan draw would also mean the army side finish top.

Final day fixtures

#GIMvSEFC: Gimcheon Sangmu vs. Seoul E-Land
#BUSvCHFC: Busan IPark vs. Chungbuk Cheongju

The playoff race: it's complicated...


Incredibly, thanks to wins before the break, Chungbuk Cheongju, FC Anyang, and Jeonnam Dragons all have a mathematical chance of finishing in the playoffs. Gyeongnam sneaked into fourth spot after a last-gasp draw against Gimcheon last time out. But, the Roses' lead over Bucheon, who slipped to fifth after not playing in Round 38, is only on goals scored.

There are no fewer than 27 combinations of results this weekend and each leads to a slightly different outcome - each without taking the exact number of goals scored in each game into consideration. Mathematically, Chungbuk Cheongju can make it into fifth with a win over Busan but realistically they can't due to a lack of goals scored (36) compared to other teams. Basically, it would take a huge, huge win, and for results elsewhere to go their way.

Gimpo FC are guaranteed third place. Gyeongnam FC are ahead of Bucheon FC 1995 on goals scored (53-41), but not Jeonnam (54) - if Gyeongnam win, they're fourth. If Gyeongnam draw, a win for Bucheon sees them leapfrog Gyeongnam. If Gyeongnam draw, a win for Jeonnam sees them leapfrog both Gyeongnam and Bucheon; Bucheon then miss out and Gyeongnam finish fifth.

If Gyeongnam lose a draw between Bucheon and Jeonnam would see Gyeongnam miss out... but for who, we don't know. Gyeongnam are -1 to Jeonnam in terms of goals scored, so would need to score one more in defeat than in Jeonnam draw. But they are also -3 goals behind FC Anyang. If Anyang win, they could sneak fifth if Gyeongnam lose and Bucheon and Jeonnam draw - with Bucheon finishing fourth and Anyang finishing fifth.

Anyang Addendum


Anyang, though, as alluded to, still can make the playoffs, despite being three points behind fifth. If Gyeongnam and Bucheon both lose, and Anyang win, the Violets will move on to 54 points - level with Gyeongnam and Bucheon. Anyang currently have more goals scored than both (56), so would jump ahead of both in the league. Jeonnam would finish fourth and Anyang fifth. If Gyeognnam and Jeonnam lose, Bucheon would finish fourth, and Anyang - with a win - would likely move ahead of Gyeongnam on goals scored into fifth.

What it all means


Finishing higher up in the playoff positions has advantages. The K League 2 runners-up will go straight into a two-leg playoff with 11th in K League 1, meaning Busan or Gimcheon won't need to go through the K League 2 playoffs first. 

Gimpo FC are guaranteed to finish third so will be at home against the winners of fourth versus fifth and will only need a draw to advance to the two-leg playoff against 10th in K League 2. Fourth will be at home against fifth in a one-and-done affair and, again, will only need a draw to go through to face Gimpo. 


Final day fixtures

#ANYvCCFC: FC Anyang vs. Cheonan City
#GFCvGYE: Gimpo FC vs. Gyeongnam FC
#BUCvJDFC: Bucheon FC 1995 vs. Jeonnam Dragons

Where to Watch

Follow the action LIVE, for FREE, and in HD on TV.KLeague.com.

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