Tough, tougher, Vienna – this World Championship has been highly competitive
After the final match has been played, it might be worthwhile having a closer look at the tournament’s competitions. While in the women’s competition we did rather meet the usual suspects, the men’s competition was a whole different story.
As to be expected, the women’s competition was dominated by Brazil, Germany, USA and Canada. Like in the Olympics in Rio 2016, it was again Ludwig/Walkenhorst, Larissa/Talita and the American teams ruling the matches and making their way through the tournament. Perhaps you would have expected more Brazilian teams in the late rounds. But some of them eliminated each other due to the tournament format. Overall, nothing new on that side.
The men’s competition, in contrast, looked more like a crazy “anybody can beat anyone” set-up. 8 teams from 8 different nations reached the quarterfinals. There were many close matches, many tie-breaks and many close sets. At the same time level of play was huge. Hardly ever has beach volleyball been played at such a high standard with such a big number of teams being able to play in the world’s elite. No surprise then that some of the most decorated, top-seeded teams were alreay eliminated in early knock-out rounds.
Top-seed Filho/Barbosa from Brazil were kicked out early in two sets by Varenhorst/Van Garderen (Netherlands) in the round of 32. Former World Champions Brouwer/Meeuwsen did not go any further than that and were eliminated by Koekelkoren/Van Walle (Belgium). Same story for Lupo/Nicolai (Italy), silver medal winners in Rio 2016. They were defeated by Canadians Pedlow/Schachter. #2 seed Smedins/Samoilovs (Latvia) lost against the later World Champions Evandro/Andre Loyola (Brazil). Current World and Olympic Champions Alison/Bruno were eliminated by Saxton/Schalk from Canada. And the list goes on.
For the teams, it has probably never been harder to win a World Championship in the men’s competition. For the audience, it was spectacular. Great rallies, hard hits and breath-taking serves. Spectators were at anytime able to find amazing matches at some side court in early knock-out rounds or even pool play. Never has beach volleyball been more attractive. And if the momentum from Vienna can be kept, beach volleyball can step out of its niche existence in the future.