The Elitserien, unofficially known as the Swedish Elite League (SEL), is a professional ice hockey league in Sweden. It was founded in 1975 and is composed of 12 teams. Ice hockey was introduced to Sweden in 1920 by the American film director Raoul Le Mat. IK was the first team to win the championship finals. The league was initially made up of 10 teams but was expanded later on to include 2 more teams.
Elitserien is considered as one of the major European hockey leagues alongside others such as the Finnish SM-liiga, the Czech Extralgia and the Kontinental Hockey League.
Swedish hockey championships have been played in various forms since 1922 but the 1975-1976 season was the first time that they were played under the name Elitserien. Over 70% of the players in the Elitserien league are Swedish. As of the 2006-2007 season, there were about 127 players playing for the different teams.
Elitserien expanded from 10 teams to its current 12 in 1987. The two teams which ranked lowest each season are made to play with four teams from the HockeyAllsvenskan league in a series called Kvalserien. The two highest-ranking teams in this series become eligible to play in the Elitserien the following season in order to complete the league’s roster of 12 teams. In theory, it is always a possibility that two new teams will play in Elitserien beginning each new season.
Beginning 1975, the most successful team in Elitserien is the Farjestads BK which has won 7 Swedish Championship titles. The team is followed by the Djugardens IF with 6 championships. Counting from 1922, the Dujagardens IF is the most successful team with a total of 16 championship wins followed by Brynas IF with 12 and IK Gota with 9.