The 2016 HMB world championships are now over, and to many, this year felt like a turning point in the sport.
Yes, the Russian national team felt unstoppable, and they earned a great number of medals in all categories, but the overall skill demonstrated by fighters from all nations was much higher than previous years.
Also, the production value of the live feed, as well as the overall feel of the tournament was world class. HMB International (the governing body of the sport) has been working toward this, and it is paying off substantially.
There were many tremendous moments, some tense exchanges, and overall, a rich and colorful experience for the fighters as well as the Fans around the world. A lot of the small stories are now starting to pour in, and we will be serving up a sampling of these over the coming weeks.
The U.S. National team had a great showing. The 8 man team USA1 did not lose a single match until they were eliminated by Ukraine. Team USA2 looked solid, and was performing better than last year, but they were eliminated. Sir Jeff Gali came away with a second place medal in Poleaxe after an epic run. We will tell you the story of his journey later. It is certainly quite a ride!
Many HMB competitors and, in fact, the HMB announcer this year refer to the year long season leading up to the championship as “campaign”. This is a poignant word for such a thing, as the journey to the World Championship is always a year long life-encompassing quest for each fighter. The level of commitment required of these competitors is quite high, as is to be expected from a world class sport. The selection process for each nation’s teams vary a bit, depending on the demographics and how many fighters each country can pull from, but qualifying for a national team is always a demanding thing, regardless of the country.
Expect to see a number of stories from this year’s epic tournament in the weeks to come. Of course, for many, training begins anew this week for next year’s championship. Some competitors have not even made it back to their home countries yet, and they are beginning the training process; taking lessons learned from this year, and hoping to apply them to next year’s performance.
The Russian National team and their national organization is still, by far, the best and most proficient of the national programs. Some Russian fighters feel that the qualifying tournaments in their country are actually tougher than the world Championships, as other nation’s teams are still not quite up to the proficiency level required for a real run at challenging them. This is currently still the case, but if anything, this year’s crop of national teams has shown the world that they are committed to changing this reality. That goal is going to make for an extremely exciting year, and a very healthy environment of competition for years to come.