Suwon ended the season strongly with only three defeats since the start of August, and finished the season only three points off automatic promotion. They were given a scare in the first play-off match when Seoul Eland took the lead twice but in the end were held to a three-all draw that was enough to see Suwon go through. In the second playoff round they managed to beat Daegu two-one thanks to a late goal by Japa. Next season they will be in the K-League Classic, and will have a local derby against Suwon Bluewings, this season’s K-League runners-up. With the two grounds only a long walk apart, those matches are bound to create wider interest, but with one of the lowest average attendances in the K-League Challenge, Suwon FC may struggle in the league above next season. For the best chance of success, they need to keep hold of their star players; Japa was the league’s third highest goalscorer and also racked up a decent number of assists while former Spanish Under-21 star Sisi’s arrival from Osasuna was the catalyst for their great form in the second half of the season. It is equally important for Suwon to keep hold of manager Cho Duck-Je whose management of the club has seen them rise from a semi-professional team to where they are today.
Busan on the other hand have had a disastrous season. Usually a firm mid-table club, they have struggled all year and would have finished bottom if not for Daejeon’s completely inept form (the two clubs between them only managed nine wins all season). It is likely that they will lose some of their better players such as goalkeeper Lee Beom-Young and national team striker Lee Jeong-Hyup. Lee’s goals whilst on military service helps Sangmu Sangju gain automatic promotion, but Busan’s hopes that he could also keep them in the top-flight were undone by injury. The league form, and backroom struggles, of local rivals Gyeongnam over the past season will worry Busan fans who will be hoping that they don’t suffer a similar fate next year.