Japanese J1 League Introduction for Sorare.
The J1 League is one of only 3 Asian leagues covered on Sorare. This article will give an introduction to the league, including providing some tips and strategy pointers to help build your teams on SO5 Asia and All Star divisions on Sorare!
Introduction to J1 League
The J-League was formed in 1992 and has a very strong and dedicated fanbase in Japan, making it the second most popular sport in the country after Baseball. The season usually lasts from February - early December. The 2022 season had a different schedule due to the World Cup. It is likely that the 2023 reason will begin from later Feb - Decemeber
There are 18 clubs in the 2023 J1 League, each playing each other twice with the bottom 2 automatically going down and the top 3 getting spots in the ACL (Asian Champions League). 3rd bottom will play a relegation playoff game against a J2 side & if they avoid defeat they will remain in the league.
There are 2 domestic cups in Japan, the Emperor's Cup and the League Cup. These do not count within Sorare, however can give important information around rotation/injuries of players. The winner of the Emperors cup will get a spot in the ACL too.
The ACL is an annual continental club competition that sees up to four J1 League teams participate. This competition does count on Sorare, so it is important to understand which teams are participating as their players will give extra utility (up to 10 extra games for the teams that get to the final!)
League Table 2022
A good place to start to get a feel of a league is last seasons final table:
Asian Champions League (ACL)
Yokohama Marinos & Kawasaki Frontale secured automatic qualification to the ACL group stage
J2s Ventforet Kofu were the surprise Emperors cup winners and also qualify for the group stage.
Urawa are in the final of this years ACL and if they win they will also qualify automatically. If they lose, Hiroshima will get the spot though will need to win their play off round to qualify for the group stage.
The ACL will take place from August 2023 - May 2024.
The ACL games give extra utility for the players of these teams which can allow for unto 10 games if the team reaches the final! However, its also important to note that although this is a huge positive, we did see a lot of rotation in this seasons ACL which frustrated Sorare managers (me included!)
Relegation from Japan J1 League
This year the 2 teams confirmed to be relegated are Shimizu and Iwata. The players from these teams will not be eligible for Sorare. There is plenty of players moving in the off season. You can check out my Transfer Rumours page here
J1 League 2023 Info
Start- 18th February 2023
End - 3rd December 2023
Winter: Jan. 6 ~ March 31
Summer: July 21 ~ Aug. 18
Only 1 team gets relegated with an expanded league of 20 teams from 2024
Yokohama are a powerhouse of the J League and current champions of the J1 League They have an excellent core team with Iwata, Mizunuma , Nishimura and Kida in particular being their driving force. They have an excellent squad with versatile players and an excellent youth setup with players like Fujita , Yamane and Tsunoda all excelling last season. There was alot of rotation last season with the team which was frustrating/hard to predict for Sorare. I expect this to calm down next season with a more normal schedule in operation.
Kawasaki Frontale have been dominant in recent times & have won the title 4 of the past 6 seasons. Last season, they were hit hard (like many teams) by Covid cases and a loss of key players who transferred to Europe. They still have a very strong core (JSR, Wakizaka, Ienaga etc) and youth setup and I expect them to be challenging for the title again next season
Hiroshima were an original founder team of the now disbanded Japan Soccer league in 1965 and have also won the J1 league 3 times. There were low expectations for them last season but new manage Skibbe galvanised the side and they were the most improved team from last season with players such as Sasaki, Notusda and Mitsuta being phenomenal all year.
They also reach the final of both the Emperors and League Cup, winning the latter.
Kashima Antlers are the most successful team in J1 League history, winning it a record 8 times. They have a strong connection to Brazil, with legendary former player Zico supporting the team as a player and now working as technical director and bringing through a number of Brazilian players.
Despite finishing 4th last season, it was a disappointing year for Kashima. There is a movement towards bringing increased Japanese players that can form the spine of the club and I expect their to be plenty of transfer of activity this off season
The most famous and highly paid player currently playing the J league is undoubtedly Andrés Iniesta, who joined Vissel Kobe in 2018. The iconic world-class midfielder was brought in not only for his qualities as a player but also for his global influence and experience. In recent times, Vissel Kobe have brought in a series of Spanish players including Samper and Krkić.
Kobe had a chaotic and poor season last year, spending alot of the season near the bottom of the league. They were able to put on some impressive form with Kobayashii, Kikuchi and Osako in particular stabilising the ship. They have individual talent, putting it all together and gelling as a team has been the main issue for Kobe.
J1 League and Sorare
J1 League Players and Sorare
With the introduction to the league done, let's look at it from the Sorare perspective!
The J1-League is in onlythe Asian Division alongside the K-League. The Chinese Superleague is also eligible but no licensed teams have been minted (yet!), you can still use players who have transferred to the league.
The popularity and competitiveness of the Asia leagues have increased over time and currently around 2000 teams are entered every game week.
There are a few barriers to entering the J-league, which has frustrated many managers surprising them with unexpected DNPs from time to time. These include:
Language – most sources are in Japanese with poor translations an issue
Injuries – there is less injury information compared to the MLS and European leagues, however, there are some tricks to help with this (more on this in the articles to follow)
Contract length– the information is not very transparent. Contract info on transfermarkt.com isnt always accurate. In general, the risks are the same as other leagues and only players not performing well with be let to expire
Transfers – In recent years, we have seen a number of promising Japanese players leave for Europe including teams not covered by Sorare (Tanaka to Dusseldorf!)
Time difference – Japan is 9 hours ahead of GMT, which makes watching games problematic
All of these barriers can be managed if we do our research and plan just as we would in any other league. The Sorare Tactics Discord provides a community where you can find out more info and ask questions
J1 League players can also be used in the All-Star Divisions and this is where they can be very cost-effective relative to other leagues. For example, Sasaki has comparable last 40 scores to players such as Pavard and Schlotterbeck and considerably cheaper. This difference is linked partially to utility of the player in Champ Europe giving better rewards, however, J-League assets value for All-Star divisions can give you a real edge within Sorare
There is a range of players I really like in the J-league. One area I really like for the J1 League is for U23 players. You can find a post about this here .
Sorare Tactics Patreon
Sorare Tactics will be providing information on all things J1 League on this site, twitter and also lineup info on Play sharper
Sorare Tactics Patreon also provide further benefits to really give you an edge on your sorare journey. Benefits include:
J1 Lineup predictions (example sample post can be found here )
In depth reports each GW including betting odds, player injuries/suspensions
Access to DM me for injury/player info where I deep dive into Japanese websites
Transfer rumour info
Monthly giveaways including SRs and Rares
SO5 advice for all budgets
Data analysis of players
Exclusive access to Patreon only Discord channel which is separate to the free to use Sorare Tactics Discord