We’ve reached the rest day and there is one day to go in the qualifying stage so time to reflect of the progress of all our teams, and sum up the position of the main opposition.
It’s still all going very well, all of our teams are still occupying their respective qualifying positions, and three of them, the Women, the Seniors and the Under 21’s are virtually assured of qualification to the knockout stages. Let’s look at the series one by one.
The Open team are still going well in Group D, and are still lying 3rd in their group. It’s panning out very much as I predicted in my last report, with five teams in contention for the four qualifying slots. Every match is important but there will be three matches on the final day that will have a large bearing on the final outcome of the group. They are Germany (1st) against Turkey (4th) in round 15, England (3rd) against Germany (1st) in round 16, and USA (2nd) against Indonesia (5th) in round 17. Germany have a sizeable lead but it is not yet an unassailable one, they can still be caught. The most important thing for England is to qualify, but if they can qualify in 1st or 2nd position that would allow them to have some choice of opposition in the first knockout round, and avoid the top seeds (listed below).
What about the other groups? There always seems to be one group that gets labeled the group of death, but in this case I think there are two groups that could qualify for that label.
First take a look at group A. Italy look safe, but behind them Denmark, Canada, France, Brazil, South Africa, Ireland, Pakistan & Japan are all teams that would fancy their chances of qualifying, but at least four of them are not going to make it. Even worse, from their point of view, is the fact that Estonia are occupying one of the qualifying slots at the moment, which mean five may not qualify. Also don’t rule out Romania and Finland who are also in there with a chance.
Now look at group B. Israel lead by a large amount and look safe, and main contenders for the other slots are Netherlands, China, Hungary & India. Again there could be a few casualties in this group, Austria, Sweden, Argentina & Russia, all fancied teams, are all quite a bit off the pace.
There are no big surprises in group C. Norway & Poland are neck & neck at the top, with just half a VP separating them, both look safe. Behind them the main contenders are Bulgaria, Spain, New Zealand and Belgium.
Who will be the top seeds? Well it can still change quite a bit in the last three matches but if the seeding were to be done on the currents scores the top eight would be 1. Germany 2. Israel 3. Italy 4. Norway 5. Poland 6. USA 7. Netherlands 8. Estonia, quite a formidable bunch.
The England Women’s team have continued their terrific form in Group E, winning thirteen of their fourteen matches so far, and have collected the maximum 25 victory points from six of them. They lead their group by 15 VPs from second placed USA and are a massive 50 VPs ahead of third placed Italy. They are certain to qualify for the knockouts, and the only question now is whether they can hold onto their lead and win the group. The match that will probably decide the group comes in round 15 when they play the USA, if they get a decent result from that match they should take the group. It will be very advantageous to win the group, as it will give the team a better choice of opposition on the first knockout round, and also get them a higher seeding for the latter stages which is very important. USA, who are currently second in the group look safe too. The other qualifying slots are currently occupied by Italy, Poland & Japan, with Brazil leading the chasing group.
Women’s Group F is very tight. Hosts China lead the group, but they are far from safe. The other qualifying slots are currently occupied by Finland, France, Denmark & Russia, with Spain and Scotland not far behind. China have a really tough finish, they still have to play Finland, France and Denmark, and France and Denmark also have to meet each other, so there will be opportunities for the chasing group, which means Scotland have a good chance of qualifying.
Women’s Group G has been completely dominated by Germany. They’ve won 12 and drawn one of their fourteen matches, and have just had a run of seven successive maximum 25VP wins. They are virtually certain to win their group, and Netherlands, who lie 2nd, look fairly safe too. There will be a mad scramble for the other qualifying places, it’s impossible to predict who the other qualifiers might be.
Who will be the top seeds? Well it can still change quite a bit in the last three matches but if the seeding were to be done on the currents scores the top eight would be 1. Germany 2. England 3. China 4. USA 5. Netherlands 6. Finland 7. France. 8. Italy.
The England women will be hoping this order doesn’t change, since at things stand they would not be due to meet any of the strongest teams, Germany, China, USA & Netherlands, until the semi-final.
The Senior’s team are currently lying joint 3rd in group K, and they now a comfortable 36 VPs ahead of the last qualifying slot, so with only two matches they are certain to qualify. Their aim now is to finish as high as they can since if they finish 1st, 2nd or 3rd in the group, this will allow them to have some choice of opposition in the first knockout round. USA who lead, and Japan who are second have built up quite a large lead over the rest, and may be too far ahead to catch, so the realistic target for the England team to aim for is 3rd in the group. France (joint 3rd) and Chinese Taipei (5th) also look safe.
A similar situation exists in Group L where Indonesia who lead and Australia who are second have built up a big lead over the rest. Poland (3rd) Canada (4th) and Egypt (5th) look fairly safe too.
The top seeds, as things stand, would be 1. USA 2. Indonesia 3. Australia 4. Japan 5. Poland 6. France 7. Canada 8. England, but both groups are so close that this order is likely to change quite a bit by the finish.
The Under 28’s continued their fine form, and although they are not yet guaranteed to qualify, they are certainly in a very good position. They are currently lying 3rd with an 18 VP lead over the last qualifying slot. All the teams at the top have already played each other, so the teams that are making a late surge will find it difficult, as they will probably have to play the teams at the top in each of their last three matches, so it won't be easy for them to dislodge any of the leading teams. Ideally the England team would like to finish 1st, 2nd or 3rd in the group, as this will allow them to have some choice of opposition in the first knockout round. They are only 12vps behind leaders Poland, so it’s still possible that they could finish in first place. The leading 5 teams, who have been at the top most of the time, are Poland, Israel, England, Belgium & China, and I’ll be surprised if any of these five don’t qualify.
The Under 21’s are 2nd in their group, they have qualified in comfort and are now setting their sights on finishing as high as they can in the group. France lead the group and Bulgaria are in 3rd place. Ideally the team would like to finish 1st, 2nd or 3rd in the round robin, as this will allow them to have some choice of opposition in the first knockout round, and as things stand it looks very likely they will achieve this.
We’re not represented in this event, as our team did not qualify from the Europeans. Poland are leading this event, and are followed by Netherlands and Australia.
Other Home Nations
A very brief round up of the other home nations:-
Ireland are 9th in Group A, 10.5vps behind the last qualifying position and still have a chance of qualifying, Scotland are 14th in Group B, Wales did not enter a team.
Scotland are 7th in Group F, 7vps behind the last qualifying position and still have a chance of qualifying Ireland are 13th in Group G, Wales did not enter a team.
Ireland are 11th in Group L, Wales are 15th in Group K, Scotland did not enter a team.
Ireland are 42nd, Scotland are 48th, Wales are 51st.