FIVB World Tour Finals
As the sand in Hamburg, Germany, heats up ahead of the FIVB World Tour Finals, take a look at the men’s race, including top seeded Norwegians Anders Mol/Christian Sorum and three-time 2018 gold medalists Alexander Brouwer/Robert Meeuwsen from the Netherlands.
Despite their youth, No. 1 Mol/Sorum are without question the hottest team coming into the Finals after winning 19 straight matches en route to titles at the Gstaad Major, the CEV European Championships and the Vienna Major. The pair became the youngest team ever to win the European Beach crown.
On the other end of the spectrum are four seasoned teams in Spaniards Pablo Herrera/Adrian Gavira, with 102 tournaments under their belts, followed by Brouwer/Meeuwsen (78), Poland’s Piotr Kantor/Bartosz Losiak (77) and Italy’s Daniele Lupo/Paolo Nicolai (74).
Nicolai/Lupo, the 2016 Olympic silver medalists, are the lone returning members of the 2017 World Tour championships podium in the field, earning bronze a year ago.
Brouwer/Meeuwsen also are highly decorated, earning bronze in Rio, and taking home three 2018 titles: the Doha Four Star, Huntington Beach Four Star and Aalsmeer One Star.
The men’s field represents eight countries with Latvia and Poland each boasting two entries. Seven of the 10 pairs have won a FIVB World Tour event in 2017-18.
Regardless of experience or past success, all 10 teams will be battling for the $150,000 gold medal purse, the largest in the history of the sport.
The 10 teams will be split into two five-team pools. This is a return to the inaugural format from 2015. Pool play is set for Wednesday through Friday for the men, with the winners of each pool earning a free pass to the semifinals. The second and third place teams in each pool will play in the quarterfinals.
- Pool A
- Julius Thole/Clemens Wickler (Germany) – Since teaming up in February, the Germans played in 12 World Tour events, earning just one podium finish (third at the Espinho Four Star on July 8) and two top five efforts (also fifth at Ostrava Four Star on June 24). The pair qualified as the highest ranked home team.
- Piotr Kantor/Bartosz Losiak (Poland) – After finishing fourth at the World Tour Finals in 2017, Kantor/Losiak are looking to add a fifth medal to their 2018 haul of hardware. The pair, which has played together since 2009, earned gold at the Warsaw Four Star (July 1), silver at the Hague Four Star (Jan. 7) and Ostrava Four Star (June 24) and bronze at the Itapema Four Star (May 20). The duo has six other Top 10 finishes, including fourth at the Xiamen Four Star.
- Aleksandrs Samoilovs/Janis Smedins (Latvia) – The Latvians have four podium finishes in their last six events, including a runnerup effort at the CEV European Championships on July 22. The duo, which teamed up in 2013, won the Moscow Four Star last week and also took the title at the Espinho Four Star on July 8. A bronze medal at the Ostrava Four Star rounds out their medal collection from 2018.
- Paolo Nicolai/Daniele Lupo (Italy) – The Italians won bronze at the 2017 World Tour Finals and have grabbed two medals since – silver at the Fort Lauderdale Major (March 4) and bronze at the Gstaad Major (July 15). After disappointing 17th place showings at the European Championships and Vienna Major, the duo, which has played together since 2011, rebounded with a fifth-place effort at the Moscow Four Star last week.
- Oleg Stoyanovskiy/Igor Velichko (Russia) – The Russians have just nine competitions on their resume together since joining forces in March. However, that includes a gold medal at the Xiamen Four Star (April 22), silver at the Doha Four Star (March 10) and bronze at the Moscow Four Star last week. The team, which was fifth at the European Championships, has placed in the top 10 in seven of their nine events.
- Pool B
- Anders Mol/Christian Sorum (Norway) – The Norwegians, which teamed up in 2016, have hit their stride in 2018 with seven Top 5 efforts, including golds in each of their last three events, the European championships and two Majors. A silver from the Itapema Four Star (May 20) also occupies the pair’s trophy case.
- Alexander Brouwer/Robert Meeuwsen (Netherlands) – The Dutch duo, which has played together since 2011, was a member of the Top 10 at all 13 FIVB events it played in, and of the Top 5 in all but two, garnering four medals. The pair earned gold at the Doha and Huntington Beach four star events and the Aalsmeer One Star, which also taking bronze in the season-opening Hague Four Star (Jan. 7).
- Pablo Herrera/Adrian Gavira (Spain) – After nine years together, the Spaniards had a breakout year in 2018 with seven Top 5 finishes and four medals. A gold at the Ostrava Four Star (June 24), silver at the Gstaad Major and bronze at the European Championships highlighted the team’s efforts. A bronze at the Huntington Beach Four Star rounded out their efforts.
- Martins Plavins/Edgars Tocs (Latvia) – The Latvians announced their presence on the World Tour with a gold medal at the season-opening Hague Four Star in their debut as a pairing (Jan. 7). Since then, the duo has managed nine Top 10 finishes including a silver medal at the Kish Island Three Star (Feb. 24) and a fifth-place finish at the Gstaad Major (July 15). Ninth-place efforts at the European Championships and Vienna Major followed and a surprising 17th place finish at last week’s Moscow Four Star has the team hungry for success.
- Michal Bryl/Grzegorz Fijalek (Poland) – After making their first appearance together with a fifth-place showing at the 2017 Fort Lauderdale Major (Feb. 11), the Poles managed eight more Top 5 efforts over the last 18 months. In 2018, the duo has 10 Top 10 finishes, highlighted by a runnerup effort at the Vienna Major (Aug. 5). Bryl/Fijalek managed a ninth-place finish at the European Championships and posted fifth-place efforts at four star events in Doha, Xiamen, Ostrava and Moscow).
- There will be a new champions crowned in 2018 as reigning champions Americans Phil Dalhausser/Nick Lucena just missed qualifying as the No. 11 team in the rankings (with just the top eight earning automatic berths. There is not an American men’s team in the field, ending the USA’s streak of three straight FIVB World Tour Finals podium finishes.
- The Brazilian men. Due to several partner switches in May 2018, none of the Brazilian men’s duos earned enough qualifying points to make it into the top eight in the World Rankings. There has been a Brazilian men’s team on the podium each of the last three years.
World Tour Finals History
- 2017 – Hamburg, Germany
- 2016 – Toronto, Canada
- Men: Alison Cerutti/Bruno Schmidt (Brazil) took gold, followed by Evandro Oliveira/Pedro Solberg Salgado (Brazil) and Tri Bourne/John Hyden (USA).
- 2015 – Fort Lauderdale, Florida
- Men: Alison Cerutti/Bruno Schmidt (Brazil) – gold; Phil Dalhausser/Nick Lucena (USA) – silver; Evandro/Pedro Solberg Salgado (Brazil) – bronze