When it comes to Hockey World Cup qualification, the heat is seriously on. There are five automatic berths available here in London, although this will increase depending on the outcomes of the upcoming Continental Championships, which are also World Cup qualification events.
With this significant detail in mind, all competing nations will be determined to finish as high up the standings as possible to give themselves the best chance of a ticket to the Odisha Hockey Men’s World Cup Bhubaneswar 2018, which takes place in November-December next year.
The Rat Race:
Host nation England (FIH Hero World Ranking: 7) are joined by Olympic champions and world number one Argentina as well as Netherlands (WR: 4), India (WR: 6), Korea (WR: 12) and Pakistan (WR: 13), nations that qualified automatically by being ranked between first and 11th at the time of entry.
The line-up is completed by Canada (WR: 11), Malaysia (WR: 14), China (WR: 18) and Scotland (WR: 23), who all qualified thanks to excellent performances in the Hockey World League Round 2 events earlier this year.
Top 4 Finishers
The top four finishers in London will qualify for the eight nation Hockey World League Final, although there is a small caveat to this.
If India, the host nation of the Final, do not finish in the top four then only the top three teams in London will qualify. They will be joined by the top three finishers from the Semi-Final competition in Johannesburg, South Africa, plus the highest ranked fourth place finisher from the two Semi-Final events.
Important Tournament for many Players and Staff:
For many players and some coaching staff, the next few weeks will be their first appearances at a major international event. They will have played test series, they will possibly have played Under-21 tournaments, but in London, Johannesburg and Brussels, the Hockey World League Semi-Finals will be their first taste of the big time. The challenge to players and staff is to integrate new players as seamlessly as possible.