Lausanne, Switzerland: As we approach the end of a challenging year, the International Hockey Federation (FIH) can confirm that Belgium men and the Netherlands women will finish 2020 sitting top of the FIH World Rankings.
In January, FIH introduced its new match-based model for the calculation of the FIH World Rankings, with the FIH Hockey Pro League matches that were played in early part of the year seeing regular fluctuations in the standings before the COVID-19 global health pandemic brought the competition – and all international hockey – to a standstill in March.
The brief but wonderful return of the competition between September and November saw further exchanges of points between the men’s and women’s national teams of Belgium, Germany, Netherlands and Great Britain.
The Netherlands (2631.99 points) are 457 ranking points ahead second placed Argentina (2174.61) at the top of the women’s FIH World Rankings, with Germany (2054.28) occupying third position, climbing one place following their FIH Hockey Pro League results against Belgium in September. Australia (2012.89) finish the year in fourth place, with England / Great Britain (1952.74) and New Zealand (1818.98) fifth and sixth respectively. Spain (7th place - 1802.13), Ireland (8th place - 1583.09), India (9th place – 1543.00) and China (10th place – 1521.00) complete the top ten.
In the men’s FIH World Rankings, reigning world and European champions Belgium (2496.88 points) sit at the summit in front of 2019 FIH Hockey Pro League winners Australia (2nd place - 2385.70), Netherlands (3rd place – 2257.96) and India (4th place – 2063.78). Olympic champions Argentina (1967.39) are in fifth, followed by Germany (6th place – 1944.34), England / Great Britain (7th place – 1743.77), New Zealand (8th place – 1575.00), Spain (9th place – 1559.32) and Canada (10th place – 1417.37).
The rankings calculations model that FIH introduced on 1st January 2020 moved away from the previous tournament-based rankings system to a dynamic, match-based method where opposing teams exchange points in official, FIH sanctioned games. The number of points exchanged depends on the result of the match, the relative ranking of the teams and the importance of the match.
While the impact on the number of international matches being played in 2020 was dramatically reduced due to the pandemic, FIH Sport and Development Director Jon Wyatt felt the new approach to the FIH World Rankings was having a positive impact.
“Clearly with so few matches played this year compared to what we would expect in any normal year, the movement in rankings, now that we are using a match-based system, was not as great as it will be”, said Wyatt. “However, even in the limited number of matches that were played we saw the system working well, with points being exchanged that resulted in some movement up and down the rankings table after each match. We are all looking forward to seeing the dynamism of the system working to its full potential once the complete programme of international matches restarts again, so that the rankings will reflect the current form of each team. Let’s hope that’s not too far away.”
FIH World Rankings: The new model explained
- Based on the Elo rating system, which is used as the basis of many other sports ranking systems
- When two nations play against each other, a number of ranking points are exchanged between them
- In every match, the number of points gained by one team is exactly matched by the number of points lost by the other
- Teams will win more points for beating teams ranked above them, and therefore teams will lose more points for losing to a team ranked below them
- Teams will win less points for beating teams ranked below them, and therefore teams will lose less points for losing to a team ranked above them
- If a draw occurs, the lower ranked team will gain a small number of points and the higher ranked team will lose the same number of points
- The number of points exchanged is dependent on the result of the match (win, lose, shootout win/loss or draw), the importance of the match (part of a major tournament, or a test series for example), and the relative difference in ranking points between the teams before the match