In the Wikipedia article 2017 IIHF World Championship I read that: The rules state that "the bottom ranked two teams will be relegated" and the 2018 hosts (Denmark) cannot be relegated by rule.

The reference given in the Wikipedia article is Statutes and Bylaws (701.3) (Internet Archive). However the information there is not much more detailed:

The IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship will consist of 16 teams including the team of the hosting Member National Association and/or as further stipulated in the Bid Regulations for joint-hosting. The 16 teams will be seeded in two groups following their world ranking with each group playing as specified in the Sport Regulations. The bottom ranked two teams will be relegated to Division I Group A.

The formulation the bottom ranked two teams seems a bit ambiguous to me. It could mean the last team from the group A and the last team from group B. Or it could mean the last two teams in the final ranking where all 16 teams are ranked.

How exactly are two relegation teams decided? It would be nice to have also some official source for this.

  • 1
    I asked this question since I have seen some discussions online which suggest that the rules were a bit unclear to the fans. I did my best to also answer the question based on sources I was able to find. I will be grateful for other answer or corrections - in case I missed something or misunderstood the rules.
    – Martin
    May 14, 2017 at 5:05

2 Answers 2


On the website of the 2017 World Championship in the part about tournament format (Internet Archive) we can read that:

The final ranking will follow the following procedure:

  1. Higher position in the group,
  2. Higher number of points,
  3. Better goal difference,
  4. Higher number of goals scored for,
  5. Better seeding number

So in fact the two bottom ranked teams in the final ranking will be the two teams who finished last in their respective groups.

Since the above quote is from the official website of the tournament, this probably can be considered official information.

In fact if we look at final ranking at 2015 IIHF World Championship, we can see that Denmark was ranked ahead of Austria, despite Denmark having only 4 points from the group stage and Austria having 5 points. Austria finished 8th in their group, so they were ranked after Denmark who finished in the 7th place in group B. (From the information on tournament website, it seems that 2015 tournament was played in the same format as the most recent championships.)

It might be worth adding that the host(s) of the next championship are usually exempt from relegation. The exact rules seems to be changing, mostly depending on whether there are two hosts or single one. For example, 2017 tournament website explicitly states that: "The 2018 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship will consist of 16 teams including the team of the organizing member national association, thus Denmark cannot be among the two relegated teams." In 2016 the rules were: "If the co-hosts for the 2017 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship (Germany and France) end up in positions 7 and 8 in Group B during the 2016 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship, only one team will be relegated – the 8th-ranked team of Group A – and only the winner of the 2016 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship Division I Group A will be promoted."

The 2009 tournament was the last time this rule was applied. However, in 2009 the tournamnet format was different from the current one.


This, in fact, might not be true, if Denmark finishes last in its group. Because then it will be decided between 5th placed teams in both groups, as Denmark can't be demoted. First relegated will be 6th in the other group and second relegated will be worse team from 5th places than...

  • Did you mean to say 7th and 8th placed teams, rather than 5th and 6th?
    – Martin
    May 16, 2017 at 5:31

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