Guaranteed new World Tour Finals champions will be crowned next week when the beach volleyball elite aim to catch the last and biggest prize of the season at the Beach Volleyball FIVB World Tour Finals presented by Vodafone in Hamburg.
The sand has only just settled on the A1 Major Vienna presented by Swatch but there’s no rest for former World, European and Major Series champions who make-up the 20-strong field in Germany’s famous harbor city.
It will be the second season running that Hamburg hosts the thrilling end-of-season finale where teams from across the world will battle for a share of the huge USD 800,000 prize purse – the biggest of the season.
Among those competing for one of the biggest titles in beach volleyball are the recently installed number one teams in the world.
Top of the table Norwegians Anders Mol and Christian Sørum will aim to continue their incredible 19-match unbeaten run and make it four consecutive tournament golds after winning at the Gstaad Major, Vienna Major and European Championships.
The invincible Vikings face competition from a whole host of major threats, including both 2016 Olympic silver and bronze medalists, Alexander Brouwer and Robert Meeuwsen of the Netherlands and Italians Daniele Lupo and Paolo Nicolai, who won bronze at the finals 12 months ago.
The biggest shock to men’s entry list is the fact there is not one Brazilian team among those going into battle on the sand. And neither will last season’s winners, Phil ‘the Thin Beast’ Dalhausser and Nick Lucena, who missed out in the qualification process.
For the home fans who will flock in their numbers to the Red Bull Beach Arena, there are two rising stars of the sport to support on the sand. As the highest ranked German men’s team, Clemens Wickler and Julius Thole qualify for Hamburg having beaten some of the best teams in the business this season. The young duo will hope to continue their impressive form when they make their World Tour Finals debut.
Leading the chase for the women’s title are Vienna Major champions Barbora Hermannová and Marketa Sluková. The Czech stars’ victory on the Danube Island lifted them to the summit of world rankings.
With no Laura Ludwig or Kira Walkenhorst playing this season, German fans have two top teams to cheer on inside the Rothenbaum. Chantal Laboureur and Julia Sude and Victoria Bieneck and Isabelle Schneider will be aiming to keep the gold medal in Hamburg for another year.
Last season, Brazil had two teams on the podium, and the South American powerhouse will be represented by last year’s Hamburg silver medalists Agatha Bednarczuk and Eduarda ‘Duda’ Santos Lisboa and Maria Antonelli and Carol Solberg.
The format for the tournament will change from the two previous World Tour Finals back to the system implemented at the inaugural edition in 2015. The 10 teams per gender will be split into two groups of five, with the group winners advancing straight to the semifinals. The second and third placed teams will move forward to the quarterfinals with the fourth and fifth ranked teams eliminated.
Women’s qualifiers: Hermannová/Sluková (Czech Republic), Agatha/Duda (Brazil), Maria Antontelli/Carol (Brazil), Bansley/Wilkerson (Canada), Humana-Paredes/Pavan (Canada), Artacho/Clancy (Australia), Laboureur/Sude (Germany), Bieneck/Schneider (Germany), Keizer/Meppelink (Netherlands), Summer/Hughes (USA).
Men’s qualifiers: Mol/Sørum (Norway), Brouwer/Meeuwsen (Netherlands), Kantor/Losiak (Poland), Samoilovs/Smedins (Latvia), Herrera/Gavira (Spain), Plavins/Tocs (Latvia), Bryl/Fijalek (Poland), Lupo/Nicolai (Italy), Stoyanoviskiy/Velichko (Russia), Wickler/Thole (Germany).