FINA has released the group draws for the 2016 Olympic, and while the matchups here are not as significant in the men’s tournament, they can still have vital implications for seeding then the tournament advances to the knockout stage.
The reason why the women’s draws don’t have as big of an impact is that in the women’s tournament, all 8 teams advance to the knockout stages, regardless of results. In the men’s tournament, 8 out of 12 teams advance.
Note that the silver medalists from last year’s World Championships, the Netherlands, failed to qualify for this year’s tournament.
Number in parenthesis represents finish at last year’s World Championships
A1 – Italy (3rd)
A2 – Russia (8th)
A3 – Australia (4th)
A4 – Brazil (10th)
B1 – Spain (7th)
B2 – China (5th)
B3 – Hungary (9th)
B4 – United States (1st)
Despite the assured advancement, and really only needing one specific win in the knockout stages to be guaranteed a medal match, women’s draws are still important because seeding is crucial in the women’s tournament. That’s because, with such a small, tight field, there is a huge difference in the level of opponent played in a second-round matchup between a team finishing 1st in their group and 2nd.
For example, a team that wins group B will play Brazil in the 1st round. Brazil qualifies to the tournament as the host team, but were only 10th at the World Championships last year and have only competed in the Olympics once in 1996. The team that finishes 2nd in group A has a best-case scenario of playing Russia (8th at Worlds) who are a former FINA World League champion in 2008.
Group B is the more underrated of the two groups, with no easy matches in sight – the “lowest seeded” team based on last year’s World Championships are the 9th-placed Hungarains, who won the European Championship and the Olympic qualification tourney already this year. After them come the 7th-placed Spanish, who just so happen to be the defending silver medalists and the 2013 World Champions who just so happened to have a really bad year in 2015; a rising Chinese team, who were 5th at Worlds in 2015 and won the 2013 World League title; and the favorite Americans who won Worlds last year and are the defending champions.
In short, the top teams in group A (Italy and Australia) will have an easier run at taking high seeds into the knockout stages, but will have a much more challenging route to the medal rounds thereafter.
Complete Match Draw process is below, including Olympic bracket for the knockout stages:
|GROUP A||GROUP B|
|A1 – ITALY||B1 – SPAIN|
|A2 – RUSSIA||B2 – CHINA|
|A3 – AUSTRALIA||B3 – HUNGARY|
|A4 – BRAZIL||B4 – UNITED STATES|
Tournament Women after FINA BL 22.214.171.124
Two (2) groups of four (4) teams form Group A and Group B and play a single round robin each group.
Preliminary Round – 9 August 2016 – Day 1
1. B2 – B3 3. B1 – B4
2. A2 – A3 4. A1 – A4
Preliminary Round – 11 August 2016 – Day 2
5. A1 – A3 7. A2 – A4
6. B2 – B4 8. B1 – B3
Preliminary Round – 13 August 2016 – Day 3
9. B2 – B1 11. B3 – B4
10. A2 – A1 12. A3 – A4
Quarter Final Round – 15 August 2016 – Day 4
13. 2A – 3B 14. 3A – 2B 15. 1A – 4B 16. 4A – 1B
Semi Final Round – 17 August 2016 – Day 5
17. L13 – L16 18. L14 – L15 19. W13 – W16 20. W14 – W15
Final Round – 19 August 2016 – Day 6
21. L17 – L18 (Winner 7th, Loser 8th)
22. W17 – W18 (Winner 5th, Loser 6th)
23. L19 – L20 (Winner 3rd, Loser 4th)
24. W19 – W20 (Winner 1st, Loser 2nd)
Games 13 through 24 must be played to a conclusion, accordingly it may be necessary to apply the Water Polo Rules relating to penalty shoot-out.
Please note that the Management Committee of FINA Competitions may change the order and schedule of games to meet with the requirements of the Host Federation and/or television provided that at least twenty four (24) hours’ notice is given.