Timing Is Everything – World League 2014

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There are some people who say that every point is equal, or every match is equal or other similar things that are all equally wrong.  If you have ever watched any sporting event you know that every point is not equal.  Equal in numerical value perhaps, but the point at 24-24 is not the same as the point at 0-0.  Every match is not equal.  Friendly matches are not the same as league matches and league matches are not the same as playoffs.  And the league champion is not the champion of the whole season, but the champion of the playoffs. And so on…
In all these cases, it is not winning the point or match that is important but the timing of winning that point or match.  For example, France during the 2014 World League.  They lost only three matches during the entire season and were one of the most impressive teams overall.  But one of the matches they lost was in the final of Group 2 and so they missed playing in the Final tournament that their overall performances had deserved.  Conversely Australia won only seven matches, but one of those was the one that counted, against France, and off to Florence they went.
The same theme held for the final round itself.  Italy crushed USA in the group phase in a really dominating performance, but completely lost the plot in the semi final against Brazil and finished third.  Brazil were great against Russia and Italy, but lost the final.  And USA were far from impressive in the group but played wonderfully in the final and are World League Champions for the second time.  All three teams played at the world best level during that last weekend, but only one did it at the right time.  Timing is everything…
Overall, I’m not quite sure what to make of this year’s edition.  As I’ve mentioned in the past, World League can be a funny competition because not everyone takes it 100% seriously.  USA won, but were the only top team to play the whole competition at full speed.  Brazil, seemed to also play mostly their top lineup but were not impressive until the semi final.
However, while the results might not give us too many hints about the upcoming World Championships, the performances might.
The USA played an excellent World League season, from the first weekend to the last.  The appearance of Taylor Sander has been very significant.  The use of Matt Anderson as opposite was almost as significant in that it allows two great attackers to play at once.  Looking forward to World Championships though, I would recall that in 2012, the teams that focused on World League bombed at the Olympics.
Brazil were for the most part unimpressive and only qualified for the finals in the last weekend of the Intercontinental Round.  Once they got there though, they played the best match I have seen a team play for the last two or three years in completely decimating Italy in the semi final.  They played well for the most part in the final.  Murilo was back playing at a high level, but I have no clue what to expect in Poland.
Italy seemed to do everything right.  They won in Brazil.  They rested their main guys at appropriate times.  They were great against a very good American team in the final round.  And then Brazil made them look like they were playing in slow motion.  I have rarely seen a team so completely demoralised as the Italians in that first set.  Zaytsev’s celebration after scoring a single point in the second set showed just how demoralised.  Even after having done everything right, they still had no solution after Kovar was injured.  That doesn’t bode well.
Russia did enough to make the finals but never looked close to last year’s form although they changed a lot during the Intercontinental Round partly due to injuries to Mikhaylov and Sivozhelez who won’t play World Champs (as far as I know). They do still have Muserskiy, but as with Brazil, I have no clue what they will look like at World Champs.
Ultimately the lesson from World League is that there are a few teams capable of playing at a very high but none capable of sustaining that for a whole month. Which means the World Champion, as always, will be the team that plays its best matches at the right time(s).
Because as we know, timing is everything.


  1. I think it is anomaly of the tournament that Australia can basically win both games in the Group 2 finals and qualify for the finals in Florence. If Australia weren’t the host of the Group 2 Finals there is no way they should have qualified for Florence. Actually in the game of France in the 5th set France at 13-11 should have won on side outs rather Australia played the next points really well to win 16-14. So I agree timing is everything.


  2. The timing thing is so true. My women’s team last season only won a single match in our 4-team group during Final 8s (championship playoffs), but won the one that mattered, in the required fashion, to become unexpected national semifinalists. Had we won a different match that weekend, we might not have made the semis.

    I also once watched a U12 girls team, that I think went the whole regular juniors season without dropping a match, lose in the semifinal of the regional championship tournament. I had parents actually complain to me as tournament director that it wasn’t fair that team wasn’t going to end up as champions!


    1. I can’t tell you that! That is my secret 😉
      Seriously, the only real answer is something along the lines of the ‘Internal Standards’ post.


  3. Oliver, I think Vital Heynen wants to / should be asked that question after the World Championships 😉


  4. So is there more prestige in world league or world championships or Olympics? Is the timing controlled to win that which is deemed to be more prestigious? Surely it would be more prestigious to win all three? I agree with you Mark, timing is important and I think not easily controlled. Look at Port Power…….. peaked too early this season. TIMING!


    1. World League is mildly prestigious, but not at the level of Olympics or World League. Nobody really remembers who won World League. It is like one day cricket.


  5. Also interestingly it seems that more swimming world records are set in finals rather than in heats… is it also due to timing?


    1. I am not an expert on swimming, but I am pretty sure that swimmers don’t go flat out in the heats. Or at least the swimmers that are in danger of breaking world records don’t. The second part is the higher level of competition in the final.


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