Main Round action concludes tomorrow (Wednesday) at the 2019 IHF Women’s World Championships. And, with a bunched up standings in (Group I) the possible scenarios are about as complicated as it can get.
Four teams (Norway, Germany, Netherlands and Serbia) can finish 1st or 2nd and qualify for the semifinals. And, each of these four teams could also fail to qualify.
Adding further complexity, is that there is more to play for than a semifinal berth since final placement at these World Championship will also factor into 2020 Olympic Qualification. The winner automatically qualifies for the 2020 Olympics while places 2-7 will get an entry into an Olympic Qualification tournament.
So placing 3rd in the group will earn an entry and placing 4th will mean playing for an entry in the 7th place match. Norway can finish no worse than 3rd and Germany can finish no worse than 4th. The Netherlands, Serbia and Denmark, however, could find themselves finishing 5th and out of that possibility. (Note: S. Korea as the Asian Champion has already qualified for Tokyo, but they can still play a spoiler role.)
All the Scenarios
With 3 matches to play and 3 possible outcomes (win, lose or draw) for each match that means there are 27 top level scenarios heading into Wednesday’s play. Those scenarios are displayed below. For each scenario the top level standings (points only) is displayed and where teams are level on points, I’ve applied the appropriate tiebreakers. (Those tiebreakers are displayed at the very bottom of this post.) For the most part those tiebreaker standings are known, but there are a few where the final GD might apply, although it is unlikely. (Those scenarios have an asterisk in them.)
How to use the charts: The Netherlands and S. Korea will play the first match. There are 9 scenarios associated with each outcome (win, lose, draw) of that match. So, after the outcome of that match is known, 2 of the charts below will no longer apply, leaving only 1 chart with 9 possibilities. Serbia and Denmark will then play. After that match is completed there were only be 3 scenarios left for the final match between Germany and Norway.
If the Netherlands beats S. Korea
If S. Korea beats the Netherlands
If the Netherlands and S. Korea play to a draw
How these scenarios apply to each nation
Norway: If Norway wins or draws vs Germany they will finish 1st in the Group. If Norway loses to Germany they will finish 2nd or 3rd. 3rd if the Netherlands beats S. Korea. 2nd if the Netherlands loses or draws with S. Korea.
Germany: If Germany beats Norway they will finish 1st in the Group. If Germany loses or draws vs Norway they will finish 2nd, 3rd or 4th. I won’t go in to detail here. (That’s what the chart is for)
Netherlands: If the Netherlands beats S. Korea they will likely finish 2nd in the Group. The only thing that could possibly slip them up is a draw between Germany and Norway. If they play to a draw with S. Korea there is one scenario where they still could capture 2nd and they can finish no worse than 4th. If they lose to S. Korea they will finish 4th, 5th and 6th depending on the outcomes of other matches.
Serbia: Serbia has an outside chance of finishing 2nd in the group. In order to finish 2nd, they first need the Netherlands to lose or draw vs S. Korea. Then, Serbia needs to beat Denmark. And, then finally, they need Norway to beat or play to a draw vs Germany. In terms of Olympic Tournament qualification a Serbian win or draw vs Denmark guarantees a group finish of 4th or better. A loss, however, means either a 5th or 6th place finish.
Denmark: Denmark cannot finish 1st or 2nd so their match vs Serbia is just for Olympic qualification. A win will guarantee a 3rd or 4th place finish. A loss means 5th or 6th. A draw might mean a 4th place finish, but only if S. Korea can beat the Netherlands.
S. Korea: S. Korea has already qualified for the 2020 Olympics and can finish no higher than 4th. But, they will be looking to win and should they do so they would likely put a damper in the Netherlands Olympic plans.
A Problematic Scenario (That’s Quite Possible, Too)
Should the Netherlands first beat S. Korea and then Denmark beats Serbia in the day’s second match these will be the 3 possible outcomes heading into the Germany – Norway match.
If one just looks at “win” outcomes Germany and Norway are essentially playing an elimination match. Winner takes 1st and qualifies for the semifinal. The loser finishes 3rd. But, should Germany and Norway play to a draw… both teams go through and the Netherlands finishes 3rd. Now, I highly doubt that either team will start out playing for a draw. For sure, both teams would probably prefer to finish 1st in the group and possibly avoid Russia. But, in the closing minutes with the score tied might this reality change. It very well could. An aggressive attack might win the match, but a turnover and a fast break goal would cost a semifinal berth.
Tiebreakers for Teams Level on Points