With less than three months to go until the start of this year’s Volleyball World League nations are starting to get seriously ready for the event.
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Let’s have a look at the format and favourites for the World League and see why everyone is so excited about the event.
The Preliminary Round of the World League will be played in three groups (Group 1, Group 2 and Group 3) consisting of 12 nations each. Matches will be played at 3 different sites over the course of 3 weeks (for Group 3 nations this will be reduced to 2 weeks).
Canada joins the 11 other nations in Group 1 which took part in last year’s event. The five nations with the highest scores will be joined by the host of the Final tournament and these six nations will battle each other in the Finals. The Finals will take place from 28th June to 2nd July.
Groups 2 and 3 are also made up of 12 teams and they will play in the same format as Group 1 nations, with the only difference being that there will be only 3 nations joining the hosts in the Final tournament. The Final tournament for Group 2 nations will take place from 23rd June to 25th June.
The first Final tournament to be played this year will be the Group 3 Final tournament which will take place from 16th June to 18th June.
Promoted and Relegated Nations
Top placed teams will be promoted from Groups 2 and 3 to Groups 1 and 2 respectively. Last placed nations will get relegated to make space for promoted nations.
This happens every year. Australia were relegated with Canada taking their place in Group 1 last year. Portugal should have been relegated from Group 2, but because of Cuba’s withdrawal they keep their Group 2 status.
The improving Slovenians are now part of Group 2 after impressing last year. The last nation which has moved up in the rankings was Austria, taking the place of Puerto Rico, which was another withdrawal.
As always the focus will be on Group 1 and which nation will win the World League. Italy, Brazil, Russia and USA will definitely be among the favourites to take the plaudits. They will be joined by current champions Serbia, 2015 champions France and current world champions Poland.
The two nations which have been the most heavily tipped to win this year’s edition however, have been Brazil and Italy. Both of these teams have always been forces to be reckoned with, even though they have suffered something of a dry spell when it comes to the World League in recent years.
Brazil won last year’s Olympic final 3-0, but Italy will surely have something to say this time out. And considering that the prize money for the winners of the World League is $1 million, they shouldn’t have any motivation problems.