ISL Playoff Matchups Set as DC Trident and Iron Advance (SCHEDULE)

The DC Trident and Iron, based in Budapest, have booked their tickets to Eindhoven, Netherlands for the Playoff via their 1-2 finish in the first-ever “Play In” Match that concluded on Thursday in Italy.

For the Trident, the victory was historic. In the context that this match was intentionally designed of the four worst teams in the league, the win was DC’s first-ever ISL victory, and in fact their first ever top two finish. In season 1, DC became famous for their “third is first” chant in the regular season finale, where a win over the New York Breakers meant that they weren’t the worst team in the league.

Now, they can begin a “first is first” chant, as they head on to Eindhoven.

Iron mounted a furious late-meet comeback, where they’re strongest, but came up 9 points short of DC. That was still good enough to advance to the Playoff round. While the difference between first and second here was about $400 per swimmer, the potential payouts from earning three extra meets easily dwarfs that.

Under the new ISL playoff system this year, the 8 teams will be split into four pairs that will compete against each other in each of their Playoff matches. Each pair will compete against each other pair, which ensures that every team gets at least one crack at every other team in the Playoff. That’s not something we saw in the regular season where, for example, the top two teams Energy Standard and Cali Condors never faced off.

The exact pairings were determined by a draw – the 1st and 2nd place teams drew for who would face 7th or 8th, while the 3rd and 4th place teams drew for who would face 5th or 6th.

Ultimately, both pairings wound up flipping from seed. Energy Standard draws DC Trident and Cali Condors draw Iron, though in both of those cases, it’s probably moot. The middle of the bracket draw, however, is significant: London is paired with LA Current and Toronto with the Aqua Centurions. That’s a big win for the Titans, because while LA and Aqua have similar seeds, a full-strength LA team is projected to be substantially better than a full-strength Aqua team.

The regular season seedings won’t necessarily be how teams will finish – remember that most teams, especially Energy Standard, London Roar, and LA Current – have a lot of big guns who are expected to rejoin their rosters in Eindhoven, Netherlands.

ISL Playoff Pairings

  • #1 Energy Standard & #7 DC Trident
  • #2 Cali Condors & #8 Iron
  • #3 London Roar & #5 LA Current
  • #4 Toronto Titans & #6 Aqua Centurions

The ISL has also revealed who will compete in which Playoff Matches. The matches will return to their usual Thursday-Friday & Saturday-Sunday rotation, with each of the 8 Playoff teams competing once each week.

The match to watch will be Playoff #2. The top two teams in that matchup will have a huge advantage in the race for the final, both in confidence and in actual points.

ISL Playoff Schedule

  • Match 1 – November 11-12: #1 Energy Standard, #2 Cali Condors, #7 DC Trident, #8 Iron
  • Match 2 – November 13-14 #3 London Roar, #4 Toronto Titans, #5 LA Current,  #6 Aqua Centurion
  • Match 3 – November 18-19 – #1 Energy Standard, #4 Toronto Titans, #6 Aqua Centurions, #7 DC Trident
  • Match 4 – November 20-21 – #2 Cali Condors, #3 London Roar, #5 LA Current, #8 Iron
  • Match 5 – November 25-26 – #1 Energy Standard, #3 London Roar, #5 LA Current, #7 DC Trident
  • Match 6 – November 27-28 – #2 Cali Condors, #4 Toronto Titans, #6 Aqua Centurions, #8 Iron


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8 months ago

I hope they bring back Kristof.

9 months ago

Is the ISL selling tickets to these?

9 months ago

Initial impressions for each match

  1. CAC 4, ENS 3, DCT 2, IRO 1 Potentially v close for win, ENS maybe flattered by easier regular season draw
  2. LON 4, TOR 3, LAC 2, AQC 1 Second/third could switch dependent on whatever reinforcements they get
  3. ENS 4, TOR 3, DCT 2, AQC 1 Third/fourth could be close, most likely hinge on who can gain momentum
  4. CAC 4, LON 3, LAC 2, IRO 1 Whether LON or LAC can challenge CAC hinges on scope of reinforcements
  5. ENS 4, LON 3, LAC 2, DCT 1 Same scenario as match 4
  6. CAC 4, TOR 3, AQC 2, IRO 1 CAC shouldn’t be troubled, fight for third/fourth may be of greater interest

Hard to… Read more »

Reply to  Braden Keith
9 months ago

Yes, he is the most significant reinforcement they can hope for. IF he does front for play-offs in reasonable shape then it’s most certainly a “Game On” situation for the 4th finals berth as TOR’s scope for play-offs upgrades is significantly less than both LON & LAC. Should LON NOT receive the hoped-for reinforcements then they could well be less sure of a finals berth than initially thought.

9 months ago

Wait I’m just still a bit lost with the playoffs. Does the pair’s mean anything other than for the matchup schedule? Like do the pair’s combine points or something or is it just to see who’s vs who?

9 months ago

DC goes 3rd, 2nd, 3rd. Swimstradamus has spoken

PK Doesn't Like His Long Name
9 months ago

I wish they’d switch the first two matches with the last two matches. However, I’ll be curious how many Americans stick around for the last 2 matches though, with them happening over Thanksgiving.

IU Swammer
Reply to  PK Doesn't Like His Long Name
9 months ago

If they swam in college, they’re probably used to missing Thanksgiving.

Marcy Spann
9 months ago

And don’t forget about Team Iron….


(plus a more rested Emre Sakci)

Reply to  Marcy Spann
9 months ago

Hosszu will be a massive wild card. If she performs like she did in 2019 then iron will definitely be strong but it’s hard to see that she’ll be near her 2019 performance just based on her 2020 ISL performance and what we’ve seen this year. That being said I wish her the best of luck and it will be great to have her back

Reply to  Marcy Spann
8 months ago

OMG FINALLY someone mentioning MILAK.. He sat out of the whole regular season. PLEASE COME BACK!!!

9 months ago

These match ups could really do LA in for making the finals as I can easily see them getting 3rd in everyone of their matches compared to Toronto who has a clearer shot at second in all of their meets.

Reply to  swimswamswum
9 months ago

If they can’t beat Toronto in their head to head match they don’t really deserve to go to the final instead of them. This is assuming that London finishes ahead of both of them which should happen but isn’t a given.

Last edited 9 months ago by Troyy
There's no doubt that he's tightening up
Reply to  Troyy
9 months ago

Even if they beat Toronto in match 2, LA could easily get 2nd/3rd/3rd whereas Toronto could be 3rd/2nd/2nd and still come out on top.

Is Ryan Murphy swimming this ISL season? That would be huge for LA.

It would have been more fun (and fair?) if LA and Toronto drew each other in the pair, then they’d duke it out three times.

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder/co-owner of He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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