The 24th FIVB World League, which offers $5.7m in prize money, sees the competition increase from 16 to 18 teams split into three pools of six. It is the first time the World League will feature 18 teams, having had 16 teams from 2001-2003 and 2006-2012. The World League featured eight teams in its inaugural year in 1990, 10 in 1991 and then 12 from 1992-2000 and 2004-05.
Defending champions Poland, will play Olympic silver medallists and nine-time World League champions Brazil, last year’s runners up USA, and 2012 World League and Olympic Games fourth-placed team Bulgaria along with Argentina and France in Pool A.
The second pool features Olympic champions Russia, eight-time World League winners Italy, last year’s World League bronze medallists Cuba, Serbia, Germany and World League debutants Iran.
2013 World League Pools
Pool A: Brazil (WR1), Poland (WR4), USA (WR5), Bulgaria (WR8), Argentina (WR9) and France (WR16)
Pool B: Russia (WR2), Italy (WR3), Cuba (WR6), Serbia (WR7), Germany (WR10), Iran (WR14)
Pool C: Canada (WR18), Korea (WR22), Finland (WR31), the Netherlands (WR41), Japan (WR19), Portugal (WR36)
Pools A and B were determined using the serpentine system based on the world rankings as of August 13, 2012. Pool C features teams ranked as the next best four in the world rankings after the 12 teams in Pool A and B in addition to Japan and Portugal who were confirmed by the FIVB Executive Committee during its year-end meeting in December 2012.
The top three world ranked teams in each pool play three matches at home and two away with the bottom three world ranked teams playing twice at home and three times away. The customary World League format of two teams playing twice over the course of a weekend returns after the 2012 edition experienced change due to the congested pre-Olympic Games calendar.
The Intercontinental Round runs from May 31 until July 14 before the Finals take place in Mar del Plata, Argentina from July 17-21. The Finals will feature the top two teams from Pools A and B, the winners of Pool C and the host nation. As Argentina is in Pool A and is already among the qualified teams, the best two ranked teams of Pool A – outside of Argentina – will be selected.
At the Finals in Sofia in 2012, the Poland team led by coach Andrea Anastasi, picked up their first ever World League title after overcoming USA 3-0 in the final. Cuba collected the bronze medal, their first since 2005, while hosts Bulgaria were also on impressive form as they finished fourth.
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