The draw of the groups at the 2023 World Men’s U20 World Championships in Bucharest and Otopeni (Romania) has taken place in Zagreb.
But, the most important news isn’t the draw by itself, but that World Aquatics has approved a new competition formula at the World Championships for juniors. The Championships in the capital of Romania and its suburb will be held between June 10 and 17.
The competition formula is a bit complicated and needs a little longer explanation.
In short: The teams are split into two, informally called, divisions – the higher one with eight teams and the lower one with 12 teams. After the group stage, all teams from Division 1 and the best four from Division 2 will continue to battle for medals. The others will play in the 13th – 20th place classification.
Each team will play at least six games throughout the tournament.
The purpose of the new competition system is to make the tournament more interesting. This formula should increase the number of exciting games. There won’t be too many matches in which favourites run over underdogs.
Teams of similar qualities will play more matches against each other. They will be able to test their capabilities in a better way. A game in which one team beats its rival by a 25-goal margin isn’t a real test for either of the teams. There were many of those matches in the history of the world water polo age-group competitions.
World Men’s U20 Championships (Bucharest/Otopeni, June 10 – 17), Draw
The top eight teams from the previous World U20 Championships, held in Prague in 2021, are seeded into Division 1 (groups A and B): Serbia (gold medal), Italy (silver), Montenegro (bronze), Hungary (4th place) Croatia (5th place), Spain (6th place), USA (7th place), Greece (8th place).
All other qualified teams are in Division 2 (groups C, D, E, F).
In the preliminary stage, the teams in Division 1 will play in two groups of four teams. The teams in Division 2 will play in four groups of three teams. A round-robin system will be applied (each team in groups A and B will play three, and each squad in the remaining four groups will play two games).
Draw for Division 1
Group A: Spain, Italy, Montenegro Croatia
Group B: Greece, Serbia United States, Hungary
Draw for Division 2
Group C: Canada, Japan, South Africa,
Group D: Brazil, China, Kazakhstan
Group E: New Zealand, Peru, Romania
Group F: Iran, Australia, Argentina
Road to medals
The winners and the second-placed teams in Groups A and B will advance directly to the quarterfinals.
The 3rd-placed and 4th-placed teams in groups A and B and the winners of groups C, D, E, and F will try to reach the quarterfinals, playing in the playoffs and the eighth-finals.
The winners of the Division 2 groups face each other by this formula: 1D – 1C (PO1), 1E – 1F (PO2).
All four teams participating in the playoffs will go to the eight finals, but the winners will have easier tasks.
The third-placed and the fourth-placed teams in Division 1 start the knockout stage in the eighth-finals, playing against the best teams in Division 2.
EF1: 3A – loser PO1
EF2: 3B – loser PO2
EF3: 4A – winner PO1
EF4: 4B – winner PO2
Quarterfinals, semifinals, medal matches
The top four teams from Division 1 will face the winners of the eight-final duels.
QF1: 1A – winner EF4
QF2: 1B – winner EF3
QF3: 2A – winner EF2
QF4: 2B – winner EF1
SF1: winners QF1 – QF4
SF2: winners QF2 – QF3
The winners of the semifinals play for gold and the losers for bronze
5th-8th place semifinals
Match A: Losers QF1 – QF4
Match B: Losers QF2 – QF3
The winners play for 5th and the losers for 7th place
9th-12th place semifinals
Match A: Losers EF1 – EF4
Match B: Losers EF2 – EF3
The winners will play for 9th and the losers for 11th place.
Classification for 13th – 20th place
After the preliminary stage, the teams from Division 2 that don’t advance to the knockout round will be split into two groups.
Group G: 2C, 3D. 2E, 3F,
Group H: 3C, 2D, 3E,2F.
The groups will be played in a round-robin system and after that, the games for the final standings will be played: for 13th place (1G – 1H), For 15th place (2G – 2H), For 17th place (3G – 3H), For 19th place (4G – 4H)