The FIVB World League is back, and in a brand new form. The FIVB announced on December 1st that they were not only changing the format of the 2013 World League, but also expanding the competition from 16 to 18 teams, creating the largest competition in the history of the event.
Instead of the regular format of four pools of four teams, the FIVB has opted to go with three pools of six instead, to allow the competition to expand to 18 teams. Where they really changed things was the composition of the pools; Pools A and B are made up with the top 12 ranked teams in the competition, divided into pools using a serpentine system based of the current world rankings. The third pool, Pool C, is made up with the four remaining teams, and will be joined by the two teams joining the competition, who will be decided by the FIVB Executive Committee at their year end meeting on December 15th. Here’s a look at the pools:
The three highest ranked teams will play three matches at home and two away, while the three lower ranked teams will play twice at home and three times away.
The World League Finals will be comprised of the top three teams from Pools A and B, the top team from Pool C, and the host. The host country will be announced in January.
Canada is poised to break into the final round being the highest ranked team in Pool C, though it’s far from a safe bet. Familiar faces Finland and Korea will be other contenders for that top spot. Canada has faced Finland in their past two editions of the World League, in 2007 and 2012, with Canada struggling to find consistent success with an overall record of 3-5 against the Fins. Korea is another team from the 2007 edition, with Canada only managing one win against the Asian squad, finishing 1-3 as well against the Koreans in 2007. The Netherlands is looking to rebound from a disastrous decade in the 2000’s. For those who remember the 90’s, The Netherlands was the cream of the crop in Men’s Volleyball, finishing with silver at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona, and winning the Gold in 1996 in Atlanta.