How the College World Series works: Format, history, how to win

The College World Series has kicked off play at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha, Nebraska.

Monday’s action saw the first team sent home, as Cal State Fullerton fell to Florida State 6-4 in the Elimination Bracket. The nightcap was all Oregon State. The Beavers jumped out to an early 1-0 lead on LSU in the first and a KJ Harrison grand slam in the sixth put the game out of reach as Oregon State won 13-1. LSU and Florida State will play Wednesday, with the loser eliminated from contention.

So, with play well underway, what do you need to know about the road to the national championship?

The eight teams were split into two brackets. Oregon State, Cal State Fullerton, LSU and Florida State made up Bracket 1, while Texas A&M, Louisville, TCU and Florida composed Bracket 2. The four teams play in double-elimination format. This creates a Winners’ Bracket — consisting of both winners of the bracket’s first games — and an Elimination Bracket. Once a team loses its first game, every game becomes an elimination game for them, as a second loss sends them home from Omaha. 

RELATED: Live updates, news and scores from Omaha

The two teams that advance from Bracket 1 and Bracket 2 face off in the CWS Finals. Their slates are wiped clean, previous wins and losses no longer matter. It’s a new best-of-three series, and the first team to two wins is the 2017 national champion.

THE ROAD TO OMAHA

The format has changed quite a bit since the inaugural College World Series in 1947. The current format was implemented in 2003 and has remained intact since. Sixty-four teams are selected for the field, where they are divided into 16 four-team Regional brackets. Those four teams play in a double-eliminaton tournament.

Sixteen winners eventually advance through those Regional tournaments, creating the Super Regionals. The Super Regionals are eight, best-of-three series, pitting two regions against each other. Once the first team gets to two wins in each Super Regional, eight teams remain.

The Omaha Eight.

So, what’s left for a championship? Here’s the breakdown.

 
College World Series format  Times/Dates
Bracket 1  
Game 1: Oregon St. vs. CSU Fullerton                             Oregon State, 6-5 3:00 PM                 6/17/17
Game 2: LSU vs. Florida State                                          LSU, 5-4 8:00 PM                 6/17/17
Game 5: Elimination Bracket: CSU Fullerton vs. FSU       FSU, 6-4

2:00 PM                 6/19/17

Game 6: Winners’ Bracket: Oregon State vs. LSU           Oregon State, 13-1 7:00 PM                 6/19/17
Game 9: FSU vs. LSU 7:00 PM                 6/21/17
Game 11: Oregon State vs. Winner of Game 9 3:00 PM                 6/23/17
*If necessary TBD                       6/24/17
Bracket 2  
Game 3: Louisville vs. Texas A&M                                      Louisville, 8-4 2:00 PM                6/18/17
Game 4: Florida vs. TCU                                                     Florida, 3-0 7:00 PM                6/18/17
Game 7: Elimination Bracket: Texas A&M vs. TCU 2:00 PM                6/20/17
Game 8: Winners’ Bracket: Louisville vs. Florida

7:00 PM                6/20/17

Game 10: winner of Game 7 vs. loser of Game 8 8:00 PM                6/22/17
Game 12: winner of Game 8 vs. winner of Game 10 8:00 PM                6/23/17
*If necessary TBD                       6/24/17
CWS Finals: winner of Bracket 1 vs. Winner of Bracket 2

Begins 7:00 PM    6/26/17

FAQs:

Why would the two teams need an *if necessary game?

There are actually three possible outcomes for the second Saturday (June 24) in Omaha.

  • No games: Both brackets see two undefeated teams make it all the way through the Winners’ Bracket unscathed.
  • One game: Either Bracket 1 or Bracket 2 sees a team from the Elimination Bracket rise victorious on June 23. This will create a scenario in which both teams have one loss, needing a final game to decide double-elimination.
  • Two games: Both Bracket 1 and Bracket 2 see the Elimination Bracket teams win on Friday, forcing two win-or-go-home matchups on Saturday, June 24.

What happens if it rains?

Every game matters in Omaha. If it rains or in the event there is any weather considered unplayable before a game is played, it could be delayed or postponed to the next day. Tickets are still good for the game, whenever it is deemed suitable to play. In the case of weather causing unplayable conditions during a game in progress, it could be delayed for hours or even posptponed to the next day. There are no weather-shortened games in the CWS. Save that ticket, though. It’s still good for re-entry for the specific game, whenever play is resumed.

The NCAA makes it easy to follow along, providing weather updates on the CWS News page.

Is re-entry allowed at TD Ameritrade Park Omaha?

If you have reserved or general admission, you are permitted to reenter the park for the specific game you are attending. Reserved admission can re-enter through any gate, but general admission works differently. General admission ticket holders can only enter between Gates 3 and 4, and must go to the end of the line. Re-entry is not guaranteed for general admission. Note: Ticketing is separate for each game of a doubleheader.

What’s happening in the dugout?

Stuffed animals, pickles, rally monkeys. Expect to see a little craziness in Omaha, as it seems each year the teams come with new superstitions and improvised mascots.

RELATED: Unique facial hair, bleached hair trend brings chemistry to Cal State Fullerton

Teams use cup or cap stacks to ignite a rally. Cal State Fullerton made it all about the beards in its postseason run. There has long been a tradition of interesting nuances or dugout visitors in Omaha’s history. Last season, LSU’s rally possum became so famous, he had his own Twitter account.

The team that often wins in Omaha is the team that is able to stay loose. What new traditions will will 2017 see? Well, that’s half the fun of the CWS.

HISTORY

The College World Series began in 1947 in Kalamazoo, Michigan. California was the first national champions defeating Yale in its first of two consecutive National Runner-Up seasons. After a quick stop in Wichita, Kansas in 1949, the World Series moved to Omaha, where it has remained for the past 67 years. 

RELATED: 2017 CWS By the Numbers

CWS timeline of key moments

1947: The first CWS was not a double-elimination tournament. The eight teams were still split into two four-team brackets, however, there was no tomorrow for the losing teams.

MORE: CWS Facts and Figures

1950: The CWS finds its home at Rosenblatt Stadium in Omaha. Texas is the first victor of the Omaha Era. Longhorns’ hurler Jim Ehrler tosses the first CWS no-hitter and Texas becomes the first repeat champions, defending its 1949 title.

1960: Jim Wixson throws the second no-hitter in CWS history for Oklahoma State. It was also the most recent no-hitter.

1987: Oklahoma State reaches the CWS for the seventh consecutive season. The Cowboys began and ended the seven-year run with national runner-up finishes in the first and seventh year of the run. They were not able to take home a title in any of the seven years.

1998: Southern California wins its record 12th national title. The program also holds the record for most consecutive titles, winning five in a row between 1970 and 1974.

The Infield at the Zoo serves as a reminder of the CWS former host, Rosenblatt Stadium.

Stephen Sellner | NCAA.com

The Infield at the Zoo serves as a reminder of the CWS former host, Rosenblatt Stadium.

2010: South Carolina becomes the last CWS winner at Rosenblatt Stadium. The event would move across town, and Rosenblatt Stadium would be torn down to serve as a parking lot for the Henry Doorly Zoo. Omaha didn’t get rid of it all, however. The Infield at the Zoo still remains in the new parking lot in honor of the CWS former home.

2011: TD Ameritrade Park Omaha becomes the new home of the CWS. South Carolina becomes the first repeat champion since Oregon State in 2006-07.

2012: The eight millionth fan watches Arizona end South Carolina’s bid for a third straight championship. 

2014: TCU’s Brandon Finnegan becomes the first pitcher to throw an inning in both the College World Series and Major League Baseball World Series in the same season, spending just three months in the minors before going the Kansas City Royals big-league club.

2015: Virginia and Vanderbilt square off in the finals for a second consecutive season, marking the first time since 2006-07 that the same teams met in two-straight CWS Finals. Oregon State defeated North Carolina both times, while Virginia and Vanderbilt split, each winning one national championship.

2016: Coastal Carolina shocks the world, becoming the first team since Minnesota in 1956 to win its first CWS appearance.

BESTS:

Schools with 20 or more appearances: 

School Appearances
Texas 35
Miami 25
Arizona State, Florida State 22
Southern California 21
Oklahoma State 20

Most national championships: 

School CWS titles
Southern California 12
Texas, LSU 6
Arizona State 5
Arizona, Miami, Cal State Fullerton 4
South Carolina, Stanford, Michigan, Minnesota, Cal 2

Most titles by conference:

Conference CWS titles
Pac-12 17
SEC 10
Big 10 6
Western Athletic 5
* The PCC-CIBA schools, precursors to the Pac-12, won six titles, while independents have won 5

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