The Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks finished the 2018 regular season in second place behind the Saitama Seibu Lions, securing them a place as host team for the First Stage of the Climax Series, a best-of-three series against the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters. After defeating the Fighters 2–1, SoftBank advanced to the Final Stage where they competed against the PL pennant winning Lions. The series is best-of-six and the Lions were awarded a one-win advantage as well as home field advantage for the entire series. The Hawks defeated the Lions 4–2 to advance to the Japan Series. Since the Climax Series' creation in 2007, it was only the second time a Pacific League team that didn't win the pennant advanced to the Japan Series and only the fourth time between both leagues. For the third year in a row, the Hiroshima Toyo Carp won the Central League, giving them a First Stage bye and advancing them directly to the Final Stage. They swept the third place Yomiuri Giants in three games securing them a place in the Japan Series.