The World Championships that concluded on Sunday was the first of the social media / internet age. By that I mean news and results and updates and in many cases video were available in real time. In contrast the first World Championships that I was interested in (1986) essentially happened in private. The results arrived by sea post and the couple of videos that I received arrived literally by container. I try to remember this fact every time I’m about to angry that my live stream gets choppy. And it is the reason I can never get too upset that volleyball isn’t on TV.
This was also the first World Championships, at least for the last 40 years, without a clear favourite or favourites coming into the tournament. Before the event I commented that there were eight teams that would think they had real chances to win. It turned out that I underestimated that number.
The Format – After the disgrace of the 2010 tournament format (basically rigged to favour the hosts which led to some blatant and not so blatant tanking that I wrote about multiple times) some thought went into better balancing the advantage the home team deserves with some semblance of fairness and a reasonable expectation that teams wouldn’t tank. While it ended up being a little long and complicated at times, I think all goals were met and I don’t think any participant can have any legitimate complaints. What turned out particularly well was that no one could take any match in the first round lightly, so there was tension evident even in the first week. It did however make it a pretty gruelling tournament and I didn’t have the feeling that any of the teams in the final group were in really great shape when they got.
The Level – I will write some more later but my feeling is that the overall level is not as high as in previous editions. Not that the highest level wasn’t spectacularly high but that all teams had identifiable weaknesses and depth issues. I think that was evident in the results and in many performances.
The Tournament – Poland was a wonderful host, with the exception of the two drunk guys in front of me during the semifinals who wouldn’t sit down. The gyms I visited in Wroclaw and Katowice were great, and the others at least looked great on TV. Reports that I heard from participants and spectators support that observation. And that is not mention the 62,000 who went to, and mostly saw nothing of, the first game.
The Winner – Volleyball. Hands down. On the court obviously Poland was the team with the best timing. I don’t think they were necessarily the best team or even had the best performance, but they were impressive and irresistible in the final. And in the end that is what counts the most.
The Trophy – The trophy prepared for the winners is very beautiful. I bet €5 that the trophy was not really stolen.
The Video Challenge System – In general I am overjoyed that there is functioning video review system. That being said there were some teething problems, mostly in that the second referees were unable to interpret pictures. There were many stories of challenges being turned down only for photo that appeared on the video screen clearly showing the opposite. At least that gave the spectators some activity. During the last weekend it seemed to work well and many mistakes were corrected. I am sure it will improve.
Part Two is here.
Part Three is here.
Read about the great new Vyacheslav Platonov coaching book here.