Poland's Bartosz Losiak (left) and Piotr Kantor won the opening match on Wednesday at the World Tour Finals. The men's competition in the fourth annual event only features European pairs while the women's schedule has teams from four continents.
Hamburg, Germany, August 15, 2018 - When Sunday comes about at the Beach Volleyball FIVB World Tours Finals Hamburg ’18 presented by Vodafone, men’s teams from the European continent will fill the podium at the season-ending international event at Rothenbaum Stadium.
With the World Tour Finals being the 409th event since the FIVB began sanctioning international Beach Volleyball events in February 1987 at Rio de Janeiro, the Hamburg podium Sunday will mark the 53rd time that all three spots have been occupied by European men’s teams.
While it is a credit to the Europeans that all 10 teams in the men’s World Tour Finals this week are from the continent, it also occurs at the time of a major shakeup of the men’s teams within beach volleyball power Brazil and alongside the ageing of top American players.
“I think Europe has a lot of strong teams that’s why the Europe teams are here, but also the Brazilian teams changed during the season and that’s why they don’t play here in Hamburg,” said Poland’s 26-year old Bartosz Losiak after his opening match here on Wednesday with Piotr Kantor. “It’s good for Europe and it shows our good level.”
When two-time World Tour Finals gold medal winners Alison Cerutti and Bruno Oscar Schmidt of Brazil announced on May 23 the end of their 4½-year partnership, it caused a major shakeup of the teams from the South American country.
2015 and 2016 World Tour Finals winners Alison (left) and Bruno
The Alison/Bruno partnership produced 12 gold medal finishes in 41 FIVB World Tour appearances together as the pair accumulated 19 podium placements, 23 final four appearances with a 191-52 match mark (78.6 winning percent). In addition to the World Tour Finals gold medals in 2015 and 2016, the Brazilians topped the podiums at the 2015 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships and the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
With the split, Alison joined forces with Andre Loyola while Bruno teamed with Pedro Solberg. Andre had won the gold medal at the 2017 FIVB World Championship with Evandro Goncalves before the pair finished second at the 2017 World Tour Finals where the Brazilians lost to Americans Phil Dalhausser and Nick Lucena in the gold medal match in Hamburg.
While the Americans get older with the average age of their top three teams being 37, the average age for the 10 European teams in the World Tour Finals this week is 28 led by 21-year-old Anders Mol and 22-year-old Christian Sorum of Norway, the winners of the last two Beach Major Series events in Switzerland and Austria.
Dalhausser and Lucena, who are both 38, missed qualifying for the World Tour Finals where the top eight-ranked teams on the FIVB list as of August 6 advanced to Hamburg along with two wild card selections that went to the host country (Germans Julius Thole/Clemens Wickler) and No. 9-ranked Oleg Stoyanovskiy/Igor Velichko of Russia.
The 21-year old Stoyanovskiy and 23-year old Velichko, who placed third at last week’s Moscow Open edged Qatar’s up-and-coming Cherif Samba/Ahmed Tijan for the last spot by 200 points while Dalhausser and Lucena were 460 points behind the Russians in the 11th-ranked spot.
After starting the season by winning 10 of their first 11 matches, Dalhausser and Lucena split their next 18 matches by placing ninth, ninth, fifth and ninth in their last four FIVB World Tour events.
2017 World Tour Finals winners Dalhausser (left) and Lucena
"I think it has to do with the Brazilians mixing up with the teams and the Americans playing a lot of AVP tournaments, so it’s not a big surprise for me," said 28-year old Alexander Brouwer of the Netherlands after his team's match with Poland on Wednesday.
"It’s a big thing for the press and everybody is talking about the second European Championships of this year," added Brouwer, Rio 2016 Olympic bronze medal winner with his current partner Robert Meeuwsen. "I’m really sure that you will see in the other World Tour (events), the Brazilians are starting to do better and Nick and Phil aren’t playing their best. We're just focused on our own game and we don’t care if we beat Europeans or Americans or Brazilians, we just want to beat every team.”