Welcome back to the last segment of our trilogy. Last time we ended up talking about the flashy advertised prize money for the new Beach Pro tour.
- Futures – $10.000
- Challenge – $150.000
- Elite 16 – $300.000
Obviously this sounds and looks amazing, the same as when you hear someone winning the lotto for $300.000 but they never actually get the full amount. Unfortunately, it is the same for players: all the prize money is halved straight away as the count is split between both gender events. Not to forget a teams outgoings e.g. the costs of travel, food, paying your coach and don’t forget about the taxes. Then there is the double-edged sword of guaranteed prize money for a main draw. By the rumours, there will be a sliding scale possibly looking something like this:
|1st Place = $30.000||1st Place = $10.000||1st Place = $1.000|
|13th-16th = $5.000||19th-24th = $1.000||13th-16th = $100|
I really like this idea of guaranteed prize money for everyone, especially with the amount of events and the logistics of this new global reach. In the past with examples to the old 1* events, you could fly half away around the world for a single-K.O tournament. If you didn’t perform well out of the blocks you could be going home with nothing, potentially even worse going home with a big minus on your bank balance.
This should not happen in the Elite 16 or the Challenger events (although I cannot say for sure what the players spend their time/money on when their not playing volleyball matches). The big „BUT“ comes with the Futures, where the money is less than what many players could receive on their own national tours, so it will be interesting to see how lower ranking teams choose between points / prize money.
Going from the table above, the Elite 16 is where you want to be, no qualifiers and guaranteed $5.000 even when you have a bad day at the office. But there are still a lot of questions being expressed by players on how they get into the Elite16. When will the cut-off point for registering be, if its say 2-3 weeks before an event, the landscape of points could easily change drastically in that short period of time.
Another interesting thought for the Elite 16 events: What if a team is injured or doesn’t arrive to the tournament? Is there a reserve team just waiting for that opportunity? It’s a bit risky to fly to a big tournament as a reserve team in the hope of another not being able to compete. For the Wild Card process, the tournament organiser and National Federation decide who gets these golden tickets, and my guess is it will be also down the them to fill that spot for any teams not being able to make the event. Chances are they bring in one of their own home grown team
Movers, Shakers and Big Winners
For players moving between categories, it will be very interesting to see if the calendar makes the players‘ points easier or more difficult to manage.
The biggest winners across all tournament levels in my eyes will be the Wild Card teams, I think this could create new strategies for the National Federations. Imagine if you have a young up-and-coming team and you decide to host an Elite 16 event, the points difference alone (without thinking about the prize money) could push that team to knock on the door of the challenger events. So it will be interesting to see with the removal of country quota, will it be an „all your eggs in one basket“ or splitting the strategy over 2 or 3 teams to get as many as possible into higher brackets.
The Fight for Viewership and Revenue
Just because everything is now based coherently under Volleyball World does not mean there is no competition for the attention, viewership and income both from fans and commercially. You may think of the old saying, „if it’s not broke, don’t fix it,“ there wasn’t necessarily something broken. There where cracks starting to appear as beach volleyball and volleyball were trying to find a way to bring the sport forwards, competition usually brings innovation.
Step forward: The New Kids on the Block.
In only a few years King of the Court has grown from something we have all played in training or at camps, has now been turned into something more spectacular. It lends itself perfectly to TV broadcasting with five teams competing at once over a 15-minute slot. The quick pace of serving always from the same side speeds things up (as well as an 8 second limit to enter the next serve). The players seem to enjoy this new format as every ball/point matters, every rally played at full intensity and no longer a game of cat and mouse. King of the Court Finals are just around the corner. 5-8 January 2022 Doha, Qatar.
4 Man ATX. Somewhat the brain child from the McKibbin Brothers, it is definitely a more rogue contender than King of the Court, but a wonderful concept. Beach rules with 4v4 mayhem, if you don’t follow them on YouTube, I cannot recommend them enough.
Athletes Unlimited. Yes, yes, I know it’s Indoor not Beach. But in the overarching theme of competition for the limited attention, time and money from fans this is also another competitor, starting their 2nd season on March 16, 2022. A fixed 44 female roster, but the teams change from week to week and points are individualised per player. Then almost like being back in school, the four best point scores are designated as captains and get to pick the rest of their teams for the next games. I just hope it’s not the same person who always gets picked last.
We can dive deeper into these new formats of the volleyball world later in the blog series because next week, we have a real treat. We make a run down of the last ever 4* event from Itapema, Brazil and I will be interviewing our very own Julian Hörl to get his reflection on the event and his thoughts on the exciting times ahead.