2017-09-29 10:30:00 CET
You will have heard their names but what are their chances on the Swatch Major Series in 2018?
Following on from the three women’s teams to watch next year, we put the Major Series microscope under three men’s teams who can stake their claim for success in 2018.
Unlike our women’s picks, you might be more familiar their names, as all three of these teams were regulars on the Swatch Major Series and FIVB World Tour this summer.
So, without further ado, let’s introduce to you our three men’s teams on a mission!
Oleg Stoyanovskiy and Artem Yarzutkin (Russia)
It’s fair to say these 20 and 21-year-old Russians have made a big impact on the tour since bursting onto the scene last season.
Having finished in the top 10 five times in 10 tournaments in 2016, Oleg and Artem clinched two bronze medals in 2017, in Kish Island, Iran in February and on home sand in Moscow in early June.
But arguably the 2014 Olympic youth champs’ best result of the 2017 was their fourth place at the Poreč Major. The youngsters narrowly missed out on a third bronze medal of the season when losing to Olympic champions Alison/Bruno on the Red Bull Beach Arena. There’s certainly no shame in that.
They followed that performance up with an excellent fifth place in Olsztyn and posted a 17th place in the World Champs in Vienna – losing to eventual bronze medalists Krasilnikov/Liamin in the first knockout round.
It’s been a good year for Russian beach volleyball – but will 2018 be even better? The future is certainly in good hands with Oleg and Artem.
Dries Koekelkoren and Tom van Walle (Belgium)
From a couple of youngsters taking their first steps on the World Tour, to two experienced Belgians hoping to take their good form from 2017 into next year.
Dries, 29, and 30-year-old Tom, can look-back on a decent season that has seen them rise to 16th place in the World Rankings.
From their nine World Tour tournaments, the pair from Belgium posted four top-10 finishes, including two top five places. Their ninth place at the Gstaad Major saw them battle through qualification, beating Krasilnikov/Liamin of Russia and Italy’s Carambula/Ranghieri along the way.
In Vienna at the World Championships, the pair then stunned Olympic bronze medalists Brouwer/Meeuwsen in the first knockout round before losing to Poland’s Kantor/Losiak.
With a fourth place at the European Championships to end the season, it surely can’t be long before these Belgians are celebrating a first World Tour medal.
Nico Beeler and Marco Krattiger (Switzerland)
Gstaad Major’s favorite sons, rising Swiss stars Nico and Marco will be focusing on reaching the podium for the first time on the World Tour in 2018.
The pair were in brilliant form in their first season together, kicking off with an excellent ninth place in the opening tournament, the Fort Lauderdale Major. They finished in the same position in their next two events as well, in Iran and China but the one result that saw the beach world stand up take notice of them came in The Hague.
In the three-star event, Nico and Marco stunned Brazilians Guto/Pedro and Saymon/Alvaro on their way to the semifinals and an eventual bronze medal match defeat to Italy’s Lupo/Nicolai.
A ninth place finish on home sand in Gstaad saw them run Olympic champs Alison/Bruo close before they lost to eventual silver medalists Kantor/Losiak in the second elimination round.
With this year’s experience behind them, Beeler and Krattiger stand a good chance of ending the long wait for another Swiss men’s World Tour medal.
Only time will tell if these three teams can justify their promise! 2018 can’t come around soon enough!