You Won’t Want to Miss This: Beach Volleyball World Championships
The world’s finest beach volleyballers head to Germany this month for the 12th edition of the bi-annual tournament.
Hamburg is the host city and the river Elbe is set to prove a stunning backdrop in the Red Bull Beach Arena. It’s a tournament that continues to grow both in statue and revenue.
Alongside the tournament being the biggest prize in the sport, there is the small matter of a spot at the 2020 Olympics up for grabs for the winner.
With so much action set to ensue and so much history in Germany’s second largest city, we dig a little deeper into the tournament and find out how it all works and look at some of the teams involved in the 2019 World Championship.
How it works
48 teams have qualified for the World Championships with hosts Germany boasting team places in the tournament.
As both the men’s and women’s tournaments take place side by side, it means a total of 96 teams will head to Germany with multiple teams per nation allowed and bumper crowds expected.
The betting looks set to be intense too although the next crop of volleyball and beach volleyball stars are currently embroiled in the Turkish Youth Championships with Betway offering a host of odds on all volleyball markets including the World Championships.
The format is simple, the 48 teams per gender enter 12 pools of four with the top two teams from each pool then moving onto the first knockout round.
There is still hope for those who fail to make the top two as the third-place sides have a chance to progress in a single elimination format to reach the knockout stage proper.
Then, it is a straight knockout competition all the way to the final in which one team will be declared 2019 World Champions.
The land-locked German city may sound like something of a surprise venue for a beach volleyball tournament but unlike other beach sports, volleyball can be played on shipped-in sand.
And that is exactly what will happen in Hamburg’s Red Bull Beach Arena and it will be the second time the tournament has been hosted in Germany having previously been held in Berlin in 2005.
In fact, the World Championships was predominantly hosted in Europe having only twice been taken out of the continent – the first time for the inaugural tournament in 1997 when Los Angeles played host and in 2003 when Brazil hosted the event in 2003.
What happened last time?
The tournament is based on a medal basis similar to that of the Olympics and in 2017, Brazilians Evandro Gonçalves Oliveira Júnior and Andre Loyola Stein won the gold in men’s side of the draw with Austrian’s Clemens Doppler and Alexander Horst in second and Nikita Liamin and Viacheslav Krasilnikov from Russia taking bronze in host city Vienna.
On the women’s side, German duo Laura Ludwig and Kira Walkenhorst took gold with America’s Lauren Fendrick and April Ross taking silver and Larissa França and Talita Antunes from Brazil taking bronze.
Who should you watch out for this time?
Brazilian pair Rebecca Cavalcanti and Ana Patricia are the standout duo in the ladies draw.
2019 is the second season the pair have played together and so far; they have enjoyed a fruitful partnership.
Nine times they have played together this season and their medal roster is the envy of all with three gold medals, two-second places, a third and a fourth.
Their main competitors look to be their fellow countrywomen: Agatha Bednarczuk and Eduarda ‘Duda’ Lisboa who despite being seeded sixth, are viewed by many as being pretenders to the throne.
The men’s draw sees Norwegian pair Anders Mol and Christian Sorum entering the tournament as favourites.
The duo has a combined age of just 44, but do not let the inexperience of youth fool you as together Mol and Sorum have won 23 of their last 24 international beach volleyball matches.
Quite the impressive record and something Polis pair Michal Bryl and Grzegorz Fijalek will be trying to break as second seeds in the men’s draw.
When does it all start
The action gets underway on the 28th June and runs until the 7th of July.
With the prize fund set at $1 million with the winners claiming $60,000 of that, the tournament is also the richest prize in the sport.
Alongside the money is the ultimate prize of automatic qualification for next year’s Olympic Games meaning the prizes are cash rich and historic.
If you have never seen beach volleyball before you won’t want to miss this.