Ecuadorian Serie A

Primera Categoría Serie A
Country Ecuador
Confederation CONMEBOL
Founded 1957 (1957)
Number of teams 12
Level on pyramid 1
Relegation to Serie B
International cup(s) Copa Libertadores
Copa Sudamericana
Current champions Emelec (13th title)
Most championships Barcelona (14 titles)
Most capped player Carlos Javier Caicedo (670)
Top goalscorer Ermen Benítez (191)
Website Official webpage
2016 Serie A season

The Primera Categoría Serie A, simply known as the Serie A or the Primera A, is a professional football league in Ecuador. At the top of the Ecuadorian football league system, it is the country's premier football competition. Contested by twelve clubs, it operates a system of promotion and relegation with the Serie B, the lower level of the Primera Categoría. The season runs from February to December and is usually contested in multiple stages. It is sponsored by beer company Pilsener and is officially known as the Copa Pilsener Serie A.

While initially not a league, the Serie A has its roots in the national championship between the top teams of Ecuador's two regional leagues. For the first nine editions, teams from Guayaquil and Quito qualified to the competition through their professional regional leagues. It abandoned the qualification format to form a proper league in 1967. Since the first edition in 1957, the tournament has been held annually (except 1958 and 1959); the 2005 season had two champions. It is ranked by IFFHS as 13th strongest football leagues in the world for 2011, and the 5th strongest in South America.[1]

Eight different teams have been crowned Ecuadorian champions, but four teams have a combined total of 46 championships. The most successful club is Barcelona with fourteen titles. The defending champion is Emelec.


The format for the Serie A national championship changes consistently. The most common format is a two-stage tournament, in which teams qualify to a mini-league (Spanish: Liguilla) to determine the champion. The current format was introduced for the 2010 season and consists of three stages. The First and Second Stages each follow the double round-robin format. The winners of each stage play against each other in the Third Stage for the championship. A third-place match also takes place in the Third Stage between the next two-best teams in the aggregate table. If the same team wins both the First and Second Stage, they are automatically the champion. In this case, the second and third best teams in the aggregate table play against each other for runner-up.

Relegation takes place after the Second Stage and is determined using an aggregate table of the first two stages. As well as playing to win the championship and avoid relegation teams also compete for places in the following season's Copa Libertadores and Copa Sudamericana.


All football in Ecuador was played at amateur level until 1950 when the Guayas Football Association (Spanish: Asociación de Fútbol del Guayas [AFG]) turned professional and held its first professional tournament for affiliated clubs (for clubs in Guayaquil). The Professional Football Championship of Guayaquil (Spanish: Campeonato Professional de Fútbol de Guayaquil) was first held in 1951 and was won by Río Guayas. In 1954, the football association in Pichincha (current the Asociación de Fútbol No Amatur de Pichincha [AFNA]) decided to turn professional and hold a professional tournament of their own for their affiliated clubs (for clubs in Quito & Ambato). The first Inter-Andean Professional Championship (Spanish: Campeonato Professional Interandino) was held in 1954 and was won by LDU Quito.

The two tournaments were the top-level football leagues in Ecuador, but the champion of each could not claim to be the national champion. That changed in 1957 when a national football tournament was organized for the winners the two leagues. The first Ecuadorian Football Championship was contested between the champion and runner-up of the 1957 Campeonato Professional de Fútbol de Guayaquil of (Emelec & Barcelona, respectively) and the champion and runner-up of the 1957 Campeonato Professional Interandino (Deportivo Quito and Aucas, respectively). Emelec won the tournament and became the first national champions of football in Ecuador.

No championship was held in 1958 and 1959. The tournament returned in 1960 using the same format as in 1957. This time the field grew from four teams to eight teams. This format continued until 1967 when a number of changes occurred: 1) the regional tournaments were discontinued after the 1967 season; 2) teams contesting the national championship from 1968 onwards were now part of the Primera Categoría; and 3) a second level of Ecuadorian football (Segunda Categoría) was put into play and a system of relegation and promotion began in 1967.

In 1971, the Primera Categoría was divided into two Series: Serie A & Serie B. Serie A was to be the top level of club football, while Serie B was the second, and Segunda the third. Between, 1983–1988, Serie B was merged into the Segunda, but the Serie A continued. Serie B was brought back in 1989, and has stayed as the second level since.

In 2005, the Campeonato Ecuatoriano was divided into two tournaments to crown two champions in one year. The two tournaments were called Apertura and Clausura. The tournament returned to its year-long format in 2006.


A total of 55 clubs have competed in the Serie A since the first season in 1957. Although Barcelona is the only club to have never been relegated, no club has ever played in every season. This anomaly is due to the fact that for the 1964 competition, teams from Guayaquil (including Barcelona) declined to participate in the national championship.

The following twelve clubs are competing in the Serie A during the 2015 season.

Club Home city Stadium Capacity
Aucas Quito Gonzalo Pozo Ripalda 21,689
Barcelona Guayaquil Monumental Banco Pichincha 59,283
Deportivo Cuenca Cuenca Alejandro Serrano Aguilar 22,000
Deportivo Quito Quito Olímpico Atahualpa 35,742
El Nacional Quito Olímpico Atahualpa 35,742
Emelec Guayaquil George Capwell 24,019
Independiente del Valle Sangolquí Rumiñahui 8,000
Liga de Loja Loja Federativo Reina del Cisne 14,935
Liga de Quito Quito Casa Blanca 41,596
Mushuc Runa Ambato Bellavista 18,000
River Plate Guayaquil Fortaleza 7,000
Universidad Católica Quito Olímpico Atahualpa 35,742

Champions by year

Barcelona has 15 titles, making them the most successful club in the league. They are followed by El Nacional with 13 titles, Emelec with 13 titles, LDU Quito with 10 titles, Deportivo Quito with 5 titles, and Deportivo Cuenca, Olmedo, and Everest with one title each. All the clubs that have won multiple titles have won back-to-back titles at least once. El Nacional and C.S. Emelec are the only two clubs to have won three titles in a row, El Nacional has done twice from 19761978 and 19821984, and C.S. Emelec from 2013-2015.

Season Champion (Title count) Runner-up Third place Leading goalscorer(s)[2]
1957 Emelec (1) Barcelona Deportivo Quito Ecuador Simón Cañarte (Barcelona; 4 goals)
No championship held
No championship held
1960 Barcelona (1) Emelec Patria Ecuador Enrique Cantos (Barcelona; 8 goals)
1961 Emelec (2) Patria Everest Ecuador Galo Pinto (Everest; 12 goals)
1962 Everest (1) Barcelona Emelec Brazil Iris López (Barcelona; 9 goals)
1963 Barcelona (2) Emelec Deportivo Quito Ecuador Carlos Alberto Raffo (Emelec; 4 goals)
1964 Deportivo Quito (1) El Nacional LDU Quito Ecuador Jorge Valencia (América (M); 8 goals)
1965 Emelec (3) 9 de Octubre Barcelona Brazil Helio Cruz (Barcelona; 8 goals)
1966 Barcelona (3) Emelec Politécnico Brazil Pio Coutinho (LDU Quito; 13 goals)
1967 El Nacional (1) Emelec Barcelona Ecuador Tom Rodríguez (El Nacional; 16 goals)
1968 Deportivo Quito (2) Barcelona Emelec Uruguay Víctor Battaini (Deportivo Quito; 19 goals)
1969 LDU Quito (1) América (Q) Aucas Uruguay Francisco Bertocchi (LDU Quito; 26 goals)
1970 Barcelona (4) Emelec América (Q) Ecuador Rómulo Dudar Mina (Macará; 19 goals)
1971 Barcelona (5) América (Q) Emelec Paraguay Alfonso Obregón (LDU Portoviejo; 18 goals)
1972 Emelec (4) El Nacional Barcelona Brazil Nelsinho (Barcelona; 24 goals)
1973 El Nacional (2) Universidad Católica Barcelona Uruguay Ángel Marín (América (Q); 18 goals)
1974 LDU Quito (2) El Nacional Deportivo Cuenca Argentina Ángel Liciardi (Deportivo Cuenca; 19 goals)
1975 LDU Quito (3) Deportivo Cuenca Aucas Argentina Ángel Liciardi (Deportivo Cuenca; 36 goals)
1976 El Nacional (3) Deportivo Cuenca Emelec Argentina Ángel Liciardi (Deportivo Cuenca; 19 goals)
1977 El Nacional (4) LDU Quito Universidad Católica Ecuador Fabián Paz y Miño (El Nacional; 27 goals)
1978 El Nacional (5) Técnico Universitario Emelec Argentina Juan José Pérez (LDU Portoviejo; 24 goals)
1979 Emelec (5) Universidad Católica Manta Argentina Carlos Miori (Emelec; 26 goals)
1980 Barcelona (6) Técnico Universitario Universidad Católica Argentina Miguel Gutíerrez (América (Q); 26 goals)
1981 Barcelona (7) LDU Quito El Nacional Brazil Paulo César (LDU Quito; 25 goals)
1982 El Nacional (6) Barcelona LDU Portoviejo Ecuador José Villafuerte (El Nacional; 25 goals)
1983 El Nacional (7) 9 de Octubre Barcelona Brazil Paulo César (Barcelona; 28 goals)
1984 El Nacional (8) 9 de Octubre LDU Quito Ecuador Sergio Saucedo (Deportivo Quito; 25 goals)
1985 Barcelona (8) Deportivo Quito Filanbanco Uruguay Juan Carlos de Lima (Universidad Católica; 24 goals)
Brazil Guga (Esmeraldas Petrolero; 24 goals)
1986 El Nacional (9) Barcelona Técnico Universitario Uruguay Juan Carlos de Lima (Deportivo Quito; 23 goals)
1987 Barcelona (9) Filanbanco Audaz Octubrino Ecuador Ermen Benitez (El Nacional; 24 goals)
Ecuador Hamilton Cuvi (Filanbanco; 24 goals)
Uruguay Waldemar Victorino (LDU Portoviejo; 24 goals)
1988 Emelec (6) Deportivo Quito No third-place awarded Brazil Janio Pinto (LDU Quito; 18 goals)
1989 Barcelona (10) Emelec Deportivo Quito Ecuador Ermen Benítez (El Nacional; 18 goals)
1990 LDU Quito (4) Barcelona Emelec Ecuador Ermen Benítez (El Nacional; 33 goals)
1991 Barcelona (11) Valdez El Nacional Uruguay Pedro Varela (Delfín; 24 goals)
1992 El Nacional (10) Barcelona Emelec Ecuador Carlos Muñoz (Barcelona; 19 goals)
1993 Emelec (7) Barcelona El Nacional Ecuador Diego Herrera (LDU Quito; 21 goals)
1994 Emelec (8) El Nacional Barcelona Ecuador Manuel Uquillas (ESPOLI; 25 goals)
1995 Barcelona (12) ESPOLI El Nacional Ecuador Manuel Uquillas (Barcelona; 24 goals)
1996 El Nacional (11) Emelec Barcelona Ecuador Ariel Graziani (Emelec; 28 goals)
1997 Barcelona (13) Deportivo Quito Emelec Ecuador Ariel Graziani (Emelec; 24 goals)
1998 LDU Quito (5) Emelec No third-place awarded Ecuador Iván Kaviedes (Emelec; 43 goals)
1999 LDU Quito (6) El Nacional Emelec Argentina Christian Botero (Macará; 25 goals)
2000 Olmedo (1) El Nacional Emelec Argentina Alejandro Kenig (Emelec; 25 goals)
2001 Emelec (9) El Nacional Olmedo Ecuador Carlos Juárez (Emelec; 17 goals)
2002 Emelec (10) Barcelona El Nacional Argentina Christian Carnero (Deportivo Quito; 26 goals)
2003 LDU Quito (7) Barcelona El Nacional Ecuador Ariel Graziani (Barcelona; 23 goals)
2004 Deportivo Cuenca (1) Olmedo LDU Quito Ecuador Ebelio Ordóñez (El Nacional; 24 goals)
2005 A LDU Quito (8) Barcelona No third-place awarded Colombia Wilson Segura (LDU Loja; 21 goals)
C El Nacional (12) Deportivo Cuenca LDU Quito Colombia Omar Guerra (Aucas; 21 goals)
2006 El Nacional (13) Emelec LDU Quito Argentina Luis Miguel Escalada (Emelec; 29 goals)
2007 LDU Quito (9) Deportivo Cuenca Olmedo Argentina Juan Carlos Ferreyra (Deportivo Cuenca; 17 goals)
2008 Deportivo Quito (3) LDU Quito Deportivo Cuenca Ecuador Pablo Palacios (Barcelona; 20 goals)
2009 Deportivo Quito (4) Deportivo Cuenca Emelec Argentina Claudio Bieler (LDU Quito; 22 goals)
2010 LDU Quito (10) Emelec Deportivo Quito Ecuador Jaime Ayoví (Emelec; 23 goals)
2011 Deportivo Quito (5) Emelec El Nacional Ecuador Narciso Mina (Independiente José Terán; 28 goals)
2012 Barcelona (14) Emelec LDU Quito Ecuador Narciso Mina (Barcelona; 30 goals)
2013 Emelec (11) Independiente del Valle Deportivo Quito Argentina Federico Nieto (Deportivo Quito; 29 goals)
2014 Emelec (12) Barcelona Independiente del Valle Ecuador Armando Wila (Universidad Católica; 20 goals)
2015 Emelec (13) LDU Quito Independiente del Valle Ecuador Miller Bolaños (Emelec; 25 goals)

Titles by club

Club Winners Runners-up Winning years Runners-up years
Barcelona 14 12 1960, 1963, 1966, 1970, 1971, 1980, 1981, 1985, 1987, 1989, 1991, 1995, 1997, 2012 1957, 1962, 1968, 1982, 1986, 1990, 1992, 1993, 2002, 2003, 2005 Apertura, 2014
Emelec 13 12 1957, 1961, 1965, 1972, 1979, 1988, 1993, 1994, 2001, 2002, 2013, 2014, 2015 1960, 1963, 1966, 1967, 1970, 1989, 1996, 1998, 2006, 2010, 2011, 2012
El Nacional 13 7 1967, 1973, 1976, 1977, 1978, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1986, 1992, 1996, 2005 Clausura, 2006 1964, 1972, 1974, 1994, 1999, 2000, 2001,
LDU Quito 10 4 1969, 1974, 1975, 1990, 1998, 1999, 2003, 2005 Apertura, 2007, 2010 1977, 1981, 2008, 2015
Deportivo Quito 5 3 1964, 1968, 2008, 2009, 2011 1985, 1988, 1997
Deportivo Cuenca 1 5 2004 1975, 1976, 2005 Clausura, 2007, 2009
Olmedo 1 1 2000 2004
Everest 1 0 1962

Titles by city

City Nº of titles Clubs
Quito 28 El Nacional (13), LDU Quito (10), Deportivo Quito (5)
Guayaquil 28 Barcelona (14), Emelec (13), Everest (1)
Cuenca 1 Deportivo Cuenca (1)
Riobamba 1 Olmedo (1)

All-time top goalscorers

Ecuadorian Ermen Benítez is the league's all-time top-scorer, having scored 191 goals over 25 season. He is also holds the record for scoring the most goals for one team. The top active goalscorer is Ebelio Ordóñez.[3]

Rank Player Club(s) Years Goals Total goals
1 Ecuador Ermen Benítez El Nacional 198090 154 191
Barcelona 199192 19
LDU Quito 1993 1
Green Cross 1994 12
LDU Portoviejo 1995 5
2 Ecuador Jorge Ron El Nacional 197279 94 181
Universidad Católica 198084 73
Macará 1986 6
Aucas 1987 8
3 Ecuador Ebelio Ordóñez Técnico Universitario 1996 13 159
El Nacional 19972004; 200607 137
Emelec 2005 0
Deportivo Quito 2008; 2009 9
4 Argentina Ángel Liciardi Emelec 197071 8 154
Deportivo Cuenca 1972; 197477 132
Barcelona 1978 14
5 Ecuador Fabián Paz y Miño El Nacional 197288 153 153

See also


  1. "The strongest National League in the World 2012". IFFHS. Retrieved January 11, 2011.
  2. Andrés, Juan Pablo; Espinoza Añazco, Fernando (January 29, 2010). "Ecuador - List of Topscorers". website. RSSSF. Retrieved November 27, 2010.
  3. Espinoza Añazco, Fernando (January 29, 2010). "Ecuador - List of All-Time Topscorers 1957-2009". RSSSF. Retrieved November 6, 2010.

External links

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