For the first time in an international beach championship, ECBU2013 has brought 4 separate masters divisions to Calafell: Open Masters, Women’s Masters, Mixed Masters, and Grandmasters. Here’s a quick rundown of the divisions and how they’re shaking out: Open Masters, which is officially open to anyone age 33 or over, is the biggest master division at ECBU, with 12 teams split between two pools of 6. From each pool, the 4 teams heading to quarterfinals is now clear: In Pool A, three teams had 4 wins each, with France coming up on top of the seeding, which came down to who beat whom and point-differential, followed by the Netherlands, Finland, and Austria. In Pool B, Great Britain dominated each of their opponents, handidly claiming the top seed in its in the quarter bracket, followed by Spain, Russia, and Germany. So far, there have been no real shockers, though the fifth seed in each pool managed to upset the fourth seed and take their spot. The final match of the day between GB and Spain on the arena field may have been the most-well-attended of the tournament, with both the teams and their fans demonstrating that masters matches are very-much worth watching. It’ll be interesting to see if another day of playing, sun, and partying begins to wreck havoc on these older-but-smarter legs on their final days of play.
The mixed masters division is hosting 6 teams this year, only one more than at its inaugural tournament of WCBU2011, but with two new teams from Europe. Thus, France handed reigning world champions, Great Britain, a surprise, when they came out too strong for GB to fully recover, winning 12-10 By early Friday, the top 3 semi spots were set for Germany, France, and GB, but Spain and Austria were still duking it out for the 4th spot. Spain was not able to upset France in their afternoon game, and Austria squeaked past the suddenly hot Belgium, earning the 4th spot in the semis. How Saturday will play out is anyone’s guess, as there is no team dominating this experienced bunch of players. The women’s masters division has a lower age threshold than the other masters teams, such that ladies as young as 30 can claim master status. Even with the low cutoff, the division only fielded 4 teams: Great Britain, Germany, France, and the United European Islands. Since the UEI cannot compete for a medal, each of the other teams will receive some bling. With France having lost at universe point to both GB and Germany, who have 3 wins each, France should be taking home the Bronze, regardless of the outcome of the 3rd place game against UEI. The only question left to be determined is whether GB or Germany will bring home the gold Saturday evening.
With no UEI participation, any of the four of the teams in the over-40 Grandmasters division could qualify for a medal, and they have been battling to avoid being the odd-team out. With four wins each, France and Austria look to be the likely contenders in the Final, but a Saturday-morning upset by Great Britain over Austria could make for some complicated, last-minute calculations. Currently winless Germany doesn’t have a shot at the gold, but the games have been close enough that bronze is still a real possibilty, as they will automatically play in the third-place game.
Photo by Ruggero Maio