Many of the 24 male teams participating in the forthcoming London Games next week witnessed the last step before their Olympic campaigns begin - namely, the drawing of lots held during the Klagenfurt Grand Slam which determined their opponents in the preliminary pool phase.
Six groups of four teams each were drawn, the top two teams will advance to the single elimination second round along with the two highest-ranked third teams, whereas the other four third-ranked couples will enter a "Lucky Loser" play-off where the two winning teams (completing a total number of 16) will make it to the elimination games.
The leaders of the six pools were fixed as they were distributed according to the World Tour ranking. Only the leaders of Pool F were inserted at seed position 6 due to the right of Great Britain to have their representatives in London. As a consequence the duo Garcia-Thompson - Grotowski topped the sixth pool and immediately became the most wanted opponent for the teams to be drawn out of the other lots later.
The remaining teams followed a serpentine system distribution procedure which, unlike the World Tour system where no real draw is held and only the World ranking is applied to fill in the group spots, required a series of draws to place closely-seeded to each other teams in the top or bottom three groups. For example, after the first six seeds were placed as group leaders, the seeds 7 to 9 entered a draw for Pools D, E and F, where Erdmann-Matysik, Fijalek-Prudel and Ricardo-Cunha respectively were randomly selected. So was the procedure for most of the remaining draws.
The outcome of the draw could be considered quite fair as no real group of death hampered the teams distribution. To me, especially interesting will turn out to be Pool C where the 2009 World champions Brink-Reckermann will face no easy opponents with the likes of Xu-Wu, Heyer-Chevallier and Prokopiev-Semenov accompanying them till the eliminations. Pool F led by the hosts Garcia-Thompson - Grotowski was expected to be weakest one, there should be no problems on paper for Ricardo-Cunha to make it to the second round.
2012 Olympic Games Beach Volleyball
Men’s Pool Assignments
Emanuel Rego/Alison Cerutti, Brazil
Patrick Heuscher/Jefferson Bellaguarda, Switzerland
Paolo Nicolai/Daniele Lupo, Italy
Clemens Doppler/Alexander Horst, Austria
Phil Dalhausser/Todd Rogers, United States
Pablo Herrera/Adrian Gavira, Spain
Petr Benes/Premysl Kubala, Czech Republic
Kentaro Asahi/Katsuhiro Shiratori, Japan
Julius Brink/Jonas Reckermann, Germany
Linyin Xu/Penggen Wu, China
Sascha Heyer/Sebastian Chevallier, Switzerland
Serguei Prokopiev/Konstantin Semenov, Russia
Jake Gibb/Sean Rosenthal, United States
Grzegorz Fijalek/Mariusz Prudel, Poland
Aleksandrs Samoilovs/Ruslans Sorokins, Latvia
Freedom Chiya/Grant Goldschmit, South Africa
Reinder Nummerdor/Richard Schuil, Netherlands
Jonathan Erdmann/Kay Matysik, Germany
Martins Plavins/Janis Smedins, Latvia
Igor Hernandez/Jesus Villafane, Venezuela
John Garcia-Thompson/Steven Grotowski, Great Britain
Ricardo Santos/Pedro Cunha, Brazil
Tarjei Skarlund/Martin Spinnangr, Norway
Josh Binstock/Martin Reader, Canada