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ITSF World Championships and World Cup 2017 Tournament Debrief by Linda Ly (Women’s Team Captain)

 

The 2017 ITSF (International Table Soccer Federation) World Championships and World Cup competition held April 12-16, 2017 in Hamburg, Germany is in the books.  5 days of international foosball competition represented by 36 Nations made for some of the most intense competition out there.  Team Canada sent over both a Women’s and Men’s Team to play in both the World Championships & World Cup events.

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My first opportunity to attend the ITSF World Championships/World Cup came in 2013 in Nantes, France.  I had the privilege and honor of Captaining our inaugural team, and was excited to have the opportunity once again in 2017.  On this years team we had 3 returning competitors (myself, Jennifer Caron, Adrianne Lee) and 3 first timers (Jamie To, Zoe Labelle, Christine Baxter).  It was my job to prepare each team member as best possible for both their individual events as well as the Nations Cup event.  This included roster pairings & positions for (hopefully) the best strategic option going into each match.  This aspect was somewhat challenging as team coordination and discussions had to be done via group messaging.  While easy in theory, we are everyday people with full time jobs and lives, spread all over Canada in 3 different time zones.  Throw in the fact that multiple team members had never met each other before.

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World Championship Event Results (Women) – Events and played by partners of the same nation

Competitor / Team Qualified Position Eliminated Round Final Ranking
Classic Doubles

Matches are best 2 out of 3 games – single elimination

Linda & Adrianne N/A Round of 16 9th
Jennifer & Zoe N/A Round of 16 9th
Jamie & Christine N/A First Round 33rd
Speedball Doubles

Matches are best 2 out of 3 games – single elimination

Linda & Jamie N/A Semi Final / Bronze Match 3rd
Adrianne & Zoe N/A First Round 33rd
Jennifer & Christine N/A First Round 33rd
Singles

7 Qualification matches for seeding into a single elimination bracket (top two thirds of teams qualify/advance – elimination matches are best 3 of 5 games)

Jennifer 38th Third Round 17th
Linda 17th Second Round 33rd
Adrianne 29th Second Round 33rd
Jamie 68th Second Round 33rd
Zoe DNQ
Christine DNQ
Doubles

7 Qualification matches for seeding into a single elimination bracket (top two thirds of teams qualify/advance – elimination matches are best 3 of 5 games)

Linda & Adrianne 30th Quarter Finals 5th
Jennifer & Zoe 34th Round of 16 9th
Jamie & Christine DNQ

 

World Cup Event Results (Women) – Team event pitting nations vs nations.

Teams are composed of 2 singles players and 2 doubles teams.  In qualification, matches are 2 sets.  Each set consists of 40 balls (10 per team) with the winner being whichever team reaches 21 points first.  In elimination rounds, matches are best 2 sets out of 3, single elimination.

  • Qualification Rounds: Canada had a tough set of matches lined up for the qualification rounds.  Our opponents included 2 top seeded teams in Bulgaria (S4) and France (S1) as well as Italy and Russia.  
    • Vs Bulgaria – 2 sets to 0 loss:  I think the nerves on our team got the better of us here.  It was our first team match of the weekend, using the new format, and testing our roster selections.  
    • Vs France – 1 set to 1 set tie:  Safe to say, our nerves were fading as we took on top seeded France.  All our players stepped up their level of play and we won the first set by a fair margin.  We lost set 2, but not without putting up a fight.  Everyone was quite pleased with the 1-1 tie against the top ranked team in the World, and on arguably, the most difficult style of table to adapt to.
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      • Vs Italy – 1 set to 1 set tie:  Qualification matches resumed early on Saturday morning and Canada continued to improve.  We played on the same table as was played vs Bulgaria, but this time with a much better result.
      • Vs Russia – 2 sets to 0 win:  Everyone really hit their stride during this match.  We all knew that winning at least 1 set would guarantee us a spot into the elimination round, but getting a 2 set win would put as a higher seed.

Team Canada qualified in 9th position (12 of 17 teams qualified in total).

  • Elimination Round: Our first round match would be against the national team from Denmark.  Their home table is the French style Bonzini table, which is a very difficult table to play on and adapt to.  However based on our results during qualification versus France on the very same table, we knew we had a shot.  Team Canada came out of the gates very strong in set #1.  It was a battle back and forth, with both teams scoring points on both each team’s home table.  While at times Canada fell behind in the match with our struggles on the Bonzini, we would gain ground playing on our home Tornado table.  Our MVP performance would come from Canada’s Bonzini specialist Jennifer Caron.  Her singles matches on both the Tornado and Bonzini table gained a large amount of points to bring Canada level.  Canada’s last doubles match of the set on Bonzini would bring us to a 20-20 tie.  With no tie’s possible, it came to a final ball on our opponent’s table, which unfortunately we lost 21-20. Talk about a tough one to swallow.  In our second set, Canada lost a bit of steam.  While we fought tooth and nail for every point, it was not to be.  We lost in 2 sets, placing 9th overall.  Kudos to Team Denmark.  Tough opponents on the table, but great friends off.  
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Reflections on Team Performance

Our Canadian women qualified in 9th place and our final placement would be 9th.  A very respectable showing for a young team in the World Cup.  As mentioned before, this is only the 2nd time the Canadian women have participated in the World Cup.  We had moments where we shined, moments where nerves got the better of us, and moments where we were just out played.  Overall I am very proud of our team.  Our “vets” led the way and took on the task of leading by example and our “rookies” played their hearts out.  I wasn’t quite sure how our rookies would perform, and while no doubt nerves and foreign tables played a factor, they never let the situation get the better of them.  Every single member of the team took on each challenge head on.  We supported one another at every moment with coaching and encouragement.  Win or lose, everyone gave their 100% not only for themselves, but each other, and our Country.  We will learn, and come back stronger.  I strongly believe this is only the beginning for our team and the only place to move us upwards.

 

Reflections on Personal Performance

From a personal standpoint, I went into the World Championship events with a high level of expectations & goals for myself.  I knew full well that winning individual World Titles at this level of competition would be ridiculously hard, especially as we threw in different table styles that I don’t play on normally into the mix.  The competitor in me however didn’t care – play hard and aim high, there is no other way of thinking for me (I think any competitive person out there would agree with me).  Take the pressure you put on yourself, and embrace it.  

In doubles, finishing 5th is a great accomplishment when competing against the worlds best players.  But I can’t say I’m happy with the result.  In our quarterfinal match against the US team, I had a shot to win the match in the 4 game but didn’t execute.  We ended up losing that game, as well as the deciding 5th game.  We have competed again the US ladies many times in North America, and they are great competitors (current Tornado Womens Doubles World Champions).  That match up could have gone either way.  My disappointment lies in the fact that I had a chance, and didn’t close out.  If we had advanced to the semi finals, with our skills on our home Tornado table, I really did think we would have had a shot at winning the whole thing.  That said, I can’t really know how things would have turned out.

My singles results were poor.  Let’s not mince words here. I qualified well (winning 6 of 7 qualification matches) and my game was rolling.  In elimination, my performance on my opponent’s home table was dreadful.  Even worse, my performance on my home table was probably the worst it had been all week.  Not exactly the best time to have a dip on performance.  Kudos to my opponent from Great Britain.  She hustled hard and did what she needed to in order to win and I did not.   I was out played.

My personal silver lining – I get to go home with a medal around my neck. A bronze medal in Speedball Doubles with Jamie To.  I’m extremely happy with the result.  Myself and Jamie had never played together before, nor had either of us ever played this Speedball format before.  Our goal was to have fun and play as hard as we could.  To have that result in a medal is extremely satisfying.  Many thanks to Jamie for being a rock solid goalie in the event.  Her calmness and composure was impressive.

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Next on the Horizon

After all is said and done though, Canada Foosball had an amazing time in Hamburg. We all had lots of time to bond as a team and support each other along the way.  It’s great to be able to play a match, and have all your teammates surrounding the table cheering you on every single point.  

Sadly, all of us players have to wait another 2 years before having another chance.  We’ll all be using those 2 years to continue to compete (on the American tour), practice, learn, improve and prepare for the next challenge that comes along.  And even better news?  The next World Championships & World Cup for 2019 was announced and will be held in Murcia, Spain.  I’ll speak for everyone at Canada Foosball (men and women) and say that we are incredibly lucky that we get to play the sport that we get to travel the world playing a sport that we love.  There’s not other camaraderie greater than what comes along with what we know as a “Foosball Family”.

 

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