So here we go again, for another season of Beach Volleyball!
This season will be a little more exciting than the last two as we get into the guts of the Olympic qualification period. Needless to say, the standard will jump up a notch. I think we will see the Brasilians finally settling down and lock in some regular partners. The Canadians might have reshuffled a bit, and there’s always the chance that the Germans or the USA players might change up (Nick Lucena being the guy to watch there), but I think most teams are going to stay the course. The older teams will all, most likely work a bit harder, and some of the newer teams out there will start to find their groove.
The first names that spring to mind would be Nummerdor/Varenhorst, who finished 2014 with a CEV Masters win (Baku), a Grandslam win (Sao Paulo) and an Open win (Mangaung).
In the women’s competition Larissa França Maestrini’s come back, after taking 2013 off, was more than impressive. Together with Talita Antunes they took out the last three Grand Slams, Klagenfurt, Sao Paulo and Stare Jablonki plus the final Open in Argentina.
The 2015 FIVB World Tour Beach Volleyball Calendar
The calendar has a new look, with the new Major Series and a World Tour Finals tournament in addition to the usual Grand Slams, Opens and of course the World Championships (which is held every two years). I’m guessing that the new tournament Major series is the result of the Red Bull tour which was confirmed and then disappeared. Hopefully we’ll see the Red Bull logo as a major feature at a few tournaments this year. (It would be great to see some comments from anyone out there who knows what happened… Hans?
All in all it’s a pretty exciting schedule with more tournaments, more money and the added excitement of the imminent Olympic Qualification cut off.
So how does the Olympic Qualification system work?
Road to the Olympics
The Olympics will be a 24 team draw in both Mens and Womens. The qualification process is the same for both genders.
The first place will come from the winner of the World Championships this year.
The next 15 places will be the top 15 ranked teams as of 3 June 2016 will qualify automatically. There is a maximum of two teams per country, so for countries with three or more teams inside the top 15, only the top two teams get through. Obviously the World Champions will also be more than likely inside the top 15, so the actual “top 15″ for everyone other than Brasil and USA will probably stretch down to about 18 or 19.
The next 7 places are won through the continental cup series, which is a lot like Davis cup in tennis (if you haven’t seen it yet). I think it’s a pretty cool format and ads a new dimension to tactics and strategies for coaches.
And the last place is the host nation.
All in all, it’s going to be a pretty awesome season!