The king is dead, long live the king. We enjoyed our time in Riga and learnt so much. More or less. In 2018 Prague will be hosting the event and there’s a lot to consider.
1. Finland and Sweden are a good couple
Sure, don’t we all want some surprising finale? An underdog dethroning the Scandinavian rulers from Sweden and Finland? Especially folks from Switzerland and the Czech Republic might agree. However, this year’s finale was a proof, that the “traditional” duel of those two giants is always worth it. The rivalry of Sweden and Finland is the best advertisement our sport can get right now.
2. Penalty shots are no luck
Finland’s penalty shots were nothing but amazing skill. Vaananen, Savanen, Kohonen and Kailiala owned the place and netted in with mesmerizing confidence and fantastic accuracy. For such a performance you need great technique and balls made of steel.
3. Digital purgatory
The floorball community should be grateful to the IFF for amazing WFC content. The Flickr and YouTube pictures are something other sports envy us for. And – regarding the possibilities – the App is a masterpiece, too. On the other side, IFF, please get rid of your website(s). Don’t just update them. Shred them, put them in a wooden box and burry them six feet under ground. They are slow and they look like an accident (from 1986). But we heard you have a new design guy on board. May the force be with you!
4. The challengers are keeping up
There still might be a huge gap between the top four and the rest of the world. But Germany, Denmark and others are not only keeping up… they are keeping up with players mostly from their own competitions, who grew into these roles during the past years. An important signal to those countries, who try to save one or two ranks by preferring legionnaires to own talents.
5. Roman Pass has the best beard
Estonia defended its eighth place while showing some amazing performances. One of them was Roman Pass’ beard. That thing is so cool, you want to cut it of, cuddle it and give it a name. (Ok, this was creepy. Sorry, Roman.)
6. There is no Swedish era
Thanks to a more disciplined approach regarding the physical education of its new generation, Sweden’s comeback in 2012 promised a long term domination. But also thanks to its own prospects (junior World Champs in 2011 and 2015) Finland found a proper answer. And when you saw the broken looks in the Swedish faces, you know, this will get even more interesting two years from now.
7. Slot is king
The Czech goalie legend Tomas Kafka might have wished for a different end to his perhaps last WFC. But in their bronze medal game Switzerland densed the Czech slot area in a great way and chased the veteran out of the goal early. In fact, there were plenty of “easy-looking” goals over the whole tournament, caused by goalies not seeing what was coming. A nice lesson in the necessity of a good slot play.
8. It ain’t over till it’s over
This year’s tournament was a haven for comebacks and last minute goals. Minutes before the end of its group match Estonia came back from a 3:6 against Germany. Thailand turned their match against Australia in the last moments of the third period and in the semis Finland broke many Czech hearts with a goal seven seconds before the end. However, this year’s champ is definitely Germany’s defender Ramon Ibold, who eliminated team USA with a backhand slapper in the very last second of the game.
9. Mascots can be game changers
The match breaks were mediocre, the presenter good and the two lively lynxes just amazing. After all the embarrassing characters of Florby, Florbynka & Co. this was a salvation. The guys behind the masks were witty, daring and relentless. They even had the right moves, when the (also very solid) DJ dropped a beat.
10. Mika found his peace
It was a pretty sad view, seeing Mika Kohonen sitting through the whole final match. In minute 42 a mascot dropped a ball on the field, Mika jumped over the rink, played the ball out and returned to his seat. Yep, the pace of this final would have been too much for the 39-year-old. However, when his team needed him, he was there. Kohonen took responsibility for the important third penalty shot and scored the game-winner. As they say, “great is the art of beginning, but greater the art of ending”.
11. Home Bitter Home
Playing at home does not mean you get anything for free. In their group games against Sweden and the Czech Republic Latvia showed some very solid performances. The unnecessary draw against Norway might have sent the local heroes downstairs. After losses against Denmark and even Slovakia Latvia finished 10th, the worst rank in its 20 year WFC history.
12. Stick to the small ones
Latvias performances might have had a negative impact on the visitor numbers – the semis were disastrous, the final just fine. However, IFF, stick to it! In terms of development (and perhaps by alternating Big4 and challenger countries) such a location can give the sport important regional boosts. Apart of that (as you don’t have to forcefully provide space for 15.000 spectators on the final day) it’s a great opportunity to finally be a bit more brave. Because…
We need a Mojo. If it wasn’t about the great performances by the athletes (and the mascots), the final days would have been just another example of how not to become a trendy, modern, bold, inventive sport. Apparently, floorball tries to get so close to the professionality of handball, volleyball & others, that we even take over the dullness everyone is so fed up with. Why don’t we come up with some crazy stuff, that proves that floorball will not just follow the filthy paths of other sports? Make a ridiculous mascot Olympiad in the match breaks, go for a 360 video of the final match, put the medal games into a train station hall (ask the Swiss) or set something on fire. Let people, who just got confronted with floorball for the first time, ask “What the f$%& just happened?” A sport itself is no news in today’s media culture. And what is the point to travel to an event like that, if all you see is being streamed anyways.
by Jan Kratochvil