Nobody quite embodies the spirit of water polo quite like the Hungarians, and the women’s OB I is no exception. While the Hungarian women’s league might not have the glamour of some of the other leagues, there is no doubt it is still one of the best destinations in Europe for the women’s game.
In recent times, UVSE has been the team to beat in Hungary. They have won the last seven league titles, invariably holding off their fierce rivals, Dunaujvaros, to lift the OB I. Dunaujvaros, however, might not present the biggest threat to UVSE this season. In fact, their primary concern might well be Ferencvaros, who have recruited extensively with the aim of ending UVSE’s period of dominance.
There is also an air of optimism surrounding another club, Eger – who over the past few years have made steady progress. A big summer transfer window for them certainly puts them in the discussion for a top 4 spot.
Up and down the division though, there will be a number of intriguing matchups throughout the season to keep an eye on.
Participating teams: UVSE, Dunaujvaros, FTC, BVSC, ZF Eger, Szentes, Szeged, Keruleti, Gyor, Tatabanya
Position Last Season: 1st
Coach: Marton Benczur
Key Players: Natasa Rybanska, Alda Magyari, Kamilla Farago, Panni Szeged
First game of the season: Tatabanya
The defending champions have an excellent chance of keeping their crown, but for the first time in eight years, UVSE come into a new league season without the services of Rita Keszthelyi-Nagy. Losing a player of her influence would weaken any team in world water polo, so it will be interesting to see how UVSE responds to her departure. In addition, although Natasa Rybanksa’s shoulder surgery was successful, it is unclear how long her recovery period will be, which will have implications for the balance of the team.
There were no significant additions to the club’s roster, but UVSE are unrivalled in terms of the number of young, talented players at the club (such as Panni Szegedi, Kata Hajdu, Eszter Macsai), many of whom will continue to improve as they receive more playing time this season. Vanda Baksa returns from the United States after some time with the Arizona Sun Devils.
Position Last Season: 2nd
Coach: Attila Mihok
Key Players: Krisztina Garda, Geraldine Mahieu, Laura Aarts, Lili Dorina Dobi
First game of the season: GYVSE Gyor
After years of arm-wrestling with UVSE, it appears Dunaujvaros may have squandered their best opportunity to win the league championship since their last victory in 2011. With the departures of Greta Gurisatti, Dorottya Szilagyi, Csenge Szellak, and Sara Buis, the team is not really any closer to closing the gap on UVSE, nor widening the buffer between them and Ferencvaros.
With the likes of Krisztina Garda, Geraldine Mahieu, and Brigitta Horvath, to name but three, the team from Fejer County still possesses enough quality to finish in the top four, but whether they will have the ability to cause UVSE and Ferencvaros any trouble in the play-off’s is a different matter.
Position Last Season: 3rd
Coach: Gyorgy Gerendas
Key Players: Greta Gurisatti, Dora Leimeter, Zsuzsanna Mate, Tamara Farkas
First game of the season: III Keruleti TVE
There is no doubt this season that Ferencvaros will be the team that garners the most attention. Fradi have invested an awful lot into building a title challenging squad, including: Greta Gurisatti, Dora Leimeter, Tamara Farkas, Belen Vosseberg, and Estelle Millot. Gyorgy Gerendas’ team were electric at times last season, but given the quality of players they have brought in, their aspirations will be much more than the third place they achieved last time out.
At this stage, saying that Ferencvaros are the favourites is probably too strong, but they will certainly believe they have every chance to end UVSE’s hot-streak. Additionally, competing in the Champions League will be a good gauge of the true quality of their squad. They are in the same group as some formidable adversaries, including Plebiscito Padova and CE Mediterrani.
Position Last Season: 4th
Coach: Mercedes Steiber
Key Players: Alexa Gemes, Kata Meszaros Farkas, Flora Fekete
First game of the season: Szeged
After comfortably finishing in the top-four during the last campaign, the five-time national champions are considerably weaker than last season, releasing three big players; Dora Leimeter, Tamara Farkas, and Aniko Gyongyossy.
The Blue and Yellows’ new coach, Mercedes Steiber, will have her work cut-out in matching last season’s 4th place finish, particularly with the rise of Eger. However, BVSC have not finished outside the top four since the 2013/2014 season, and haven’t finished lower than 5th in 15 years.
Position Last Season: 5th
Coach: Jozef Sike
Key Players: Rebecca Parkes, Dorottya Szilagyi, Dora Czigany
First game of the season: Szentes
Eger is another incredibly fascinating team to follow this season. Jozef Sike’s team, who surprised everyone by winning the Hungarian Cup last season, have significantly strengthened their squad with the additions of two experienced Hungarian internationals, Rebecca Parkes and Dorottya Szilagyi.
Eger will target a top four berth as an absolute minimum. Only time will tell whether or not they are capable of more.
Position Last Season: 6th
Coach: Mark Matajsz
Key Players: Reka Kover-Kis, Vivienn Bonca, Dana Samsonova
First game of the season: Eger
Szentes once again put together a strong year in the middle of the pack last season. If they can repeat their sixth-place finish from last year, they will be pleased with their season.
However, the champions from 2014 will view Keruleti and possibly Szeged as their chief competitors in the league. The Saints’ season will likely hinge on what results they can achieve in their matchups against these opponents.
Position Last Season: 7th
Coach: Tamas Varga
Key Players: Natasa Lendvai, Kincso Kenez, Szonja Tatrai
First game of the season: BVSC
As with their rivals from Csongrad, Szeged will certainly be battling in the middle of the table this season. While the club’s team underwent significant changes over the summer due to retirements and departures, the club has replaced them with some of their youth team, and some talented players on loan.
Coached by two-time Olympic gold medalist Tamas Varga, Szeged’s performances in their Hungarian Cup matches against Szentes and Tatabanya last weekend were promising.
Position Last Season: 8th
Coach: Denes Lukacs
Key Players: Gerda Brezovszki, Panna Kudella, Aniko Gyongyossy
First game of the season: Ferencvaros
It is difficult to know what to expect from III Keruleti this season. Although the club lost some older, more experienced players last summer, an 8th place finish last season was still fairly underwhelming. Given the calibre of some of their players at the club, including Olympic Bronze medalist, Aniko Gyongyossy, as well as Gerda Brezovszki, the team is capable of a lot more.
The club is certainly building itself to be more competitive, but it will take time before we see III Keruleti in a position to be able to challenge the very best in the league. For this season, though, a realistic top six finish would be very welcome.
Position Last Season: 9th
Coach: Zsolt Vogel
Key Players: Kata Kurucz, Dorina Torok, Kata Huzsti
First game of the season: Dunaujvaros
Gyor are still adjusting to life in Hungary’s top division, and they narrowly avoided finishing in last place in their debut season. They will once again be dwelling at the foot of the table, but it’s not all doom and gloom for Zsolt Vogel’s team. When they are at their best, they are capable of defeating any team outside the top five; they held their own against Eger in the cup last weekend, but it will be difficult for them to maintain this level of play every week.
Position Last Season: 10th
Coach: Peter Bicskei
Key Players: Noemi Zantleitner
First game of the season: UVSE
Tatabanya are very much in the same boat as Gyor; they are quite a way off the top teams, but certainly cause problems for the one or two teams around them.
Peter Bicskei’s team will want to avoid finishing at the bottom of the table again, but they are unlikely to climb high in the standings from last season. They are more than worthy of their place in the OB I, easily defeating OSC over two legs in the relegation play-off last season.
Day 1: 15th October, Day 2: 19th October, Day 3: 22nd October, Day 4: 19th November, Day 5: 23rd November, Day 6: 3rd December, Day 7: 10th December, Day 8: 21st January, Day 9: 25th January, Day 10: 28th January, Day 11: 4th February, Day 12: 15th February, Day 13: 18th February, Day 14: 22nd February, Day 15: 4th March, Day 16: 11th March, Day 17: 18th March, Day 18: 25th March
2022 – UVSE
2021 – UVSE
2019 – UVSE
2018 – UVSE
2017 – UVSE
2016 – UVSE
2015 – UVSE
2014 – Szentes
2013 – ZF Eger
2012 – ZF Eger
2011 – Dunaujvaros
2010 – Dunaujvaros
2009 – Dunaujvaros
2008 – Honved
2007 – Honved
2006 – Honved
2005 – Dunaujvaros
2004 – Dunaujvaros
2003 – Dunaujvaros
2002 – Dunaujvaros
2001 – Dunaujvaros
2000 – Szentes
1999 – Szentes
1998 – Szentes
1997 – Szentes
1996 – Szentes
1995 – Szentes
1994 – Szentes
1993 – BVSC
1992 – Szentes
1991 – BVSC
1990 – Szentes
1989 – BVSC
1988 – BVSC
1987 – Szentes
1986 – BVSC
1985 – Vasas
1984 – Vasas
Read more about the Hungarian Water Polo League