The IIHF Ice Hockey U18 and U20 World Championships will have a new competition format, with four teams from each group making the playoffs and playing traditional quarter-finals. This means that the semi-final bye for the preliminary round winner is eliminated. Also the relegation system will be changed.
The new format was proposed by the participating nations and the decision to change was taken during the Annual Congress in Helsinki 18-19 May. The old format has been in place since 2003.
The new format will first be implemented at the 2013 IIHF Ice Hockey U18 World Championship in Sochi, Russia (18-28 April). As the playing schedule for the 2013 IIHF Ice Hockey U20 World Championship in Ufa, Russia (26 December 2012 – 5 January 2013) was set already before the congress, the new format will be applied for the 2014 World Juniors in Malmö, Sweden.
Under the old format, three teams from of the five-team preliminary round groups qualified for the playoffs with the two group-winners enjoying a bye to the semi-final, while teams placed 2nd and 3rd played cross-over quarter-finals.
This consequently meant that teams placed 4th and 5th went to a relegation round where the last-placed team was relegated to Division I.
The new format will see teams placed 1-4 in each of the two groups qualify for the playoffs where the eight teams will play cross-over quarter-finals, paired against teams placed 1-4 in the other group.
The two teams placed fifth and last in each group will play a best-of-three series to avoid relegation. The loser of this series will be relegated to Division I.
This also means that the 5-6 placing game (between the losers of the old-system quarter-finals) will be eliminated. The losers of the quarter-finals will be ranked according to their preliminary-round placement and records.
This means that – providing that the best-of-three relegation series goes full length – the new format will feature a tournament total of 31 games, just as the old one. If the relegation series will end after two games, the total will be 30 games.