It is the final day of pool play at the World Lacrosse Championships. While the big names in Pool A and fan favorite Japan are safely into the playoffs, there are multiple games that decide the difference between a shot at a medal or playing for placement.
The playoff format allows the top 14 teams to advance to a playoff bracket. Teams 15-22 play in a placement bracket for 15th place, the same for teams 23-30. All five Group A teams, the top five ranked teams in the world entering the tournament, automatically make the playoffs regardless of how they perform in the pool stage. After that, the criteria is, in order:
Placement in pool, 1-5
Points. One point for a win, zero for a loss.
Goal differential, capped at 12 goals per game. You could win or lose by 100, it only counts as 12.
Goals allowed (fewest)
So five teams from Pool A advanced, the winners of the other five pools will make the playoffs, and then four of the five second place teams in pool play will make the playoffs. To break a tie within a pool, if teams have the same number of points, the head to head winner takes the higher spot.
From there, it's 3 vs 14, 4 vs 13, 5 vs 12, and so forth in a single elimination bracket towards the medal stand. Losing teams move to consolation games.
The top two seeds are sewn up, with USA winning Pool A and Canada’s win over Haudenosaunee securing 2nd place in Pool A. But the real fireworks today could happen further down the standings. A few big games to watch. Current team ranking in parentheses.
France (14) vs Wales (17)
Netherlands (13) vs Latvia (16)
All four teams have two points. The winner of France and Wales will finish second in Pool B, the winner of Netherlands and Latvia will finish second in Pool F. Both of these games are effectively playoff games a day early. The loser in both will find themselves in the placement games rather than the playoffs.
France and Wales faceoff at 1pm EDT, and will finish their game before Netherlands and Latvia faceoff in the second time slot.
Mexico (21) vs Hong Kong - China (18)
Pool E could get messy. Italy has the top spot locked up, win or lose. After that, it’s a bit of a shell game, and the outcome of this game swings the standings from 2nd through 4th in the group. The Pool E picture:
Scotland is done with games, they are 2-2. Hong Kong is 2-1, Mexico is 1-2.
Hong Kong wins. They go to 3-1 and lock up second in the group. Scotland finishes 3rd, Mexico finishes 4th.
Hong Kong loses.They finish 2-2, tied in points with both Scotland and Mexico, who are now both 2-2.
The second scenario is the messy one. Let’s try and sort this out. Head to head results don’t seem applicable to break the tie here, because Hong Kong will have beaten Scotland and lost to Mexico. Scotland beat Mexico but lost to Hong Kong. And Mexico beat Hong Kong but lost to Scotland. It’s circular. The next tiebreaker after Head to Head for pool play is Goal Difference in the games in which these three teams competed against Each other.
Scotland beat Mexico by one and lost to Hong Kong by 2, netting at -1.
Hong Kong beat Scotland by 2, so they are currently +2.
Mexico lost to Scotland by 1, so they are currently -1.
In this scenario, should Mexico win by 2, they would take second in the group, with Hong Kong taking third. Should Mexico win by 4 or more, Hong Kong drops all the way to 4th.
It’s the difference between possibly making the playoffs, and possibly ending up the 23-30 bracket. That’s how much of a swing this game could have today. They face off at 4pm EDT.
Philippines (19) vs Sweden (29)
Czech Republic (23) vs Israel (9)
The top two spots in Pool C are locked in, with Israel in the top spot and Puerto Rico in the second spot. Czech Republic is right on the bubble between the 15-22 bracket and the 23-30 bracket. Philippines are smack in the middle of the 15-22 bracket. Both teams are 1-2, with Philippines holding the head to head victory. If Czech Republic catches an Israel team that’s resting, or pulls off the major upset and gets to 2-2, they can finish third in the group and climb out of the bottom tier. For that to happen, they’ll need a massive loss from the Philippines, who plays the 29th ranked Sweden team today.
We'll know if the scenario is alive after the second batch of games today. Israel and Czech Republic face off at 4pm EDT.
A Czech loss and a Philippines loss would have the bottom three teams in Pool C all at 1-3, and once again, it would come down to scoring differential to break that tie. Sweden, barring an absolute thrashing of Philippines, would still likely remain at the bottom in that scenario because their differential is currently -24.
Other games today have opportunities for teams in the bottom bracket to grab a point and try to climb into the 15-22 bracket, but it’ll be a tall task. The teams at the bottom of the rankings all have sizable negative goal differentials, and most teams who already have a point are right around neutral. It’ll take some lopsided wins, or some wins and a lot of help, to climb out of the bottom of the rankings today.