A Qualifier is a match played during week 15 of a season during the regular league match date for that season. The match is played to determine what teams will promote to the next league level in their country, and what teams will be relegated to the lower league level. A qualifier is played with Cup rules, with extra time in case of draw after 90 minutes, and eventually Penalty shoot-out.
Teams finishing 5th or 6th of their groups in league levels 1 through 5 will play a qualifier match. They will play as the home team in this match. Bottom half of the teams finishing 1st from league levels 2 through 6 that do not earn enough points in regular season play to auto-promote will play as the away team in these matches. As a result of the home field advantage of the higher level team combined with the superiority of squads in higher league levels, the vast majority of qualifiers are won by the home team, or the team from the higher division.
What are the advantages of playing a qualifier?
A qualifier offers many advantages for the home team, enough that some teams even go as far as to aim for 5th place in their league instead of 4th place. The teams get an additional week of training (since they play two games in the 15th week instead of only one), along with the additional income brought by a home game. To address these advantages, the Hattrick Team has adjusted the income of the home game so that both sides split the earnings. The attendance is also usually significantly less than regular season home games.
Who plays a qualifier and who auto-promotes?
After the last league game of the season, the server generates a table of all the league leaders for a specific league level.
The list is ordered first by league points, then by goal difference, and finally by number of goals scored. If these are all equal, it comes down to a lucky dip.
After this has been done, the teams in the top half of the promotion table will autopromote, whilst the bottom half will have to face qualifiers. The promotion table can always be views on the individual page of your own series.
Some teams stubbornly refuse to promote to a higher division. Sometimes these teams are faced with a qualifier against a team that wish to be relegated, and thus we have what is called a Double WO. In this case, in a qualifying game, the team from the lower division is promoted, as opposed to a "normal" Double WO in a cup, where the highest ranked team is declared the winner and is promoted to the next round.