FIH Hockey Pro League 2022-23: “Hockey at its Best” and some novelties
Season 4 of the FIH Hockey Pro League is almost upon us. Starting this weekend, 28 October 2022, till 5 July 2023, the Pro League will see 18 top teams (9 men’s and 9 women’s) from around the globe go head-to-head to become the 2022/23 champions, after 144 matches. There’s more at stake for the teams this time, however, as the team finishing at the bottom of the table will get relegated at the expense of the winner of the inaugural FIH Hockey Nations Cup. With a new mini-tournament format that will help athletes perform to their peak level, rapidly improving squads and the added incentive of surviving the threat of relegation, the 4th edition of the FIH Hockey Pro League promises to be the most competitive one yet!
The logistical format of the Pro League games has seen an evolution, even though the competition format remains the same. Each team will face the other 8 teams twice in the season, for a total of 16 games played by each team. But while the old format saw teams travel frequently, the new format drastically reduces the travelling requirements of each team by introducing the mini-tournaments format.
The entire season of the FIH Hockey Pro League will be split into multiple mini-tournaments, where a set of 3 teams will gather in one host nation and play all their matches against each other, setting up 6 games per mini-tournament. This initiative contributes towards creating a more environmentally sustainable event, while also reducing the travelling burdens on the teams and athletes, allowing them to give their very best in each game.
It was clear from the very beginning of the FIH Hockey Pro League that the principle of promotion-relegation would be implemented at some point, since it raises the interest of the competition. To achieve this, FIH has created a new competition, the FIH Hockey Nations Cup, which gives high-ranked teams the opportunity not only to play a top-flight tournament but also to join Pro League in the subsequent season.
The scoring system remains the same as the previous season.
- 3 points are awarded to a team for winning a match inside the regulation 60-minute period.
- A tie in the regulation time leads to each team earning 1 point for a draw, however, the match then goes into a shoot-out.
- The team that wins the shoot-out is awarded 1 bonus point in addition of the point awarded for the draw.
- A team losing in regulation time is awarded no points.
A word on the champions before we look at the teams that will be hoping to challenge their supremacy.
Argentina women’s national team, or Las Leonas, as they are popularly called, were thoroughly dominant through the 2021-22 season. They ended the season without losing a single game outright and won 13 out of the 16 games they played. The only points they dropped all season were in games against Netherlands (twice) and India (once), in tied games where they lost in the shoot-out. Their attack and defense were both in the top gear as they scored the most goals through the season (43) and conceded the second fewest goals (18). As the defending champions they will get their opponent’s best effort in every game, but on the evidence of last season, the Leonas can handle any challenge their opponents present them.
Netherlands men’s team took home the title in season 3 of the FIH Hockey Pro League after an intense battle against Belgium and India who were both in the hunt for the title until the final month of the competition. But Netherlands reigned supreme by doing the best thing they could; taking 5 of the 6 available points against both India and Belgium, through an outright win and a shoot-out win.
In the end Netherlands finished 7 points clear of 2nd placed Belgium and a further 5 points ahead of 3rd placed India. With the FIH Odisha Hockey Men’s World Cup 2023 set to take place in the middle of the Pro League season, Netherlands will once again look to start their campaign off strongly, and if they manage to do that, they will take some catching!
Australia are back in the FIH Hockey Pro League after their 1-year absence due to the pandemic-enforced travel restrictions. Australia made its comeback to international hockey in the FIH Hockey Women’s World Cup 2022, where their resolute defence and a penchant for scoring at the right moments led them all the way to the podium as they finished 3rd to earn a bronze medal. They followed that up with another impressive showing at the Commonwealth Games Birmingham 2022, going one step further to win the silver medal.
Belgium achieved their best ever finish in the Pro League in the 2021-22 season, ending their campaign in the 4th position. The most encouraging sign for Belgium was the late surge they put together to end their Pro League campaign, winning 6 out of their final 8 games. With a vibrant young team that will continue to improve as the players get more international experience, Belgium are definitely a team to watch out for, in the upcoming season.
No team in season 3 of the Pro League had two more contrasting halves to the season than China. They began their Pro League campaign with six straight losses struggling to find an identity, but come back strongly in the second half under the guidance of new head coach, Australian hockey legend Alyson Annan, to finish their campaign on 15 points, just 3 points behind England and 4 points behind Germany who they defeated 3-0 in their penultimate game of the season.
Germany had a transitional year in the Season 3 of the FIH Hockey Pro League, handing out scores of debuts to young players, including a whopping 10 debuts in their game against India on 10th March, as they look to build the next generation of their national team. In total 63 players represented Germany across the 16 games of the season 3, as they finished 6th with 19 points. The German team had a strong showing in the Women’s World Cup, narrowly missing out on a podium finish with a last gasp defeat against Australia in the bronze medal match.
Great Britain makes a comeback to the FIH Hockey Pro League as England played in season 3. Great Britain was a dominant team in the season 2 of the FIH Hockey Pro league, finishing in the 3rd position, ahead of the likes of Australia and Germany. With a big part of the team being from the English contingent that recently won the gold medal at the Commonwealth Games Birmingham 2022, Great Britain will be aiming to go even higher this season.
Netherlands finished second in the season 3 of the Women’s Pro League, 4 points adrift of the champions Argentina. They followed their Pro League campaign with a brilliant showing in the FIH Hockey Women’s World Cup 2022, winning a third consecutive gold medal at the event. As the current Olympic gold medalists and reigning world champions, Netherlands will be looking to add a third Pro League title, having previously won the title in seasons 1&2. The Netherlands are likely to pose the biggest threat to Argentina’s hopes of repeating their success, having gotten the better of them in the finals of both the Olympics and the World Cup.
New Zealand missed out on season 3 of the Pro League due to pandemic-enforced travel restrictions, but have been a tough team to beat in the first two editions of the Pro League with two 6th-placed finishes. New Zealand made its return to international hockey in the FIH Hockey Women’s World Cup 2022 where they finished in the 5th place and did one better, finishing 4th in the Commonwealth Games Birmingham 2022.
USA did not have the campaign they would’ve wished for in season 3 of the Pro League, finishing in the final spot with 5 points, but they had some good performances through the season with the results not going in their favor. The team earned hard fought draws against Spain and England in back-to-back games and their sole win came in a match against Alyson Annan’s Chinese team, who were favourites to begin the contest.
Argentina matched their best ever finish in the FIH Hockey Pro League in season 3, by ending their campaign in the 5th position, 3 points adrift of Germany who finished 4th. Argentina will begin the campaign at home where they host Belgium and Germany, and are traditionally a stronger team when they play at home in front of their supporters. As a prodigiously talented team, the sky’s the limit for Argentina if they get off to a good start.
Australia returns to the FIH Hockey Pro League after missing out on the previous edition due to the pandemic-enforced travel restrictions. Australia finished 1st and 2nd in the first two seasons of the Pro League respectively and have returned to the international hockey scene without missing a beat, winning their 7th consecutive gold medal at the Commonwealth Games in 2022. Australia will be roaring to carry their form into the Pro League as they build up to the upcoming FIH Odisha Hockey Men’s World Cup 2023.
Belgium have been the most consistent team in the history of the FIH Hockey Pro League with 3 consecutive top-2 finishes, including a title winning campaign in season 2. As the reigning World and Olympic gold medalists, Belgium will aim to perform at their best from the first mini-tournament of the Pro League in Argentina (beginning on 4 November 2022)..
Germany had a topsy turvy campaign in season 3 of the Pro League suffering a couple of heavy defeats at the hands of Belgium and India, while registering a couple of extremely impressive victories over Argentina and eventual champions Netherlands. Much like their female counterparts, Germany played a lot of youngsters through the season and even handed 9 debuts across 2 games against India on 14 and 15 April 2022. With a more settled side looking to gear up for the Men’s World Cup, Germany will be a team to watch out for in season 4 of the Pro League.
Great Britain return to the Pro League, as England played in season 3. Great Britain competed in the first two editions of the Pro League and finished in the 4th and 6th positions in the two editions respectively. With English and Welsh hockey players in the team who will also be aiming to be a part of their respective nations in the Men’s World Cup, Great Britain will be a team of motivated personnel brimming with top-tier talent, who begin their campaign in Argentina on 13 December, exactly a month before the start of the World Cup.
The Indian team earned its best-ever finish in season 3 of the Pro League, ending their campaign in the 3rd position behind Netherlands and Belgium. India’s brand of free-flowing offensive style of hockey led to the team scoring 62 goals in season 3, which is the most goals a team has managed to score in a single season of the FIH Hockey Pro League. As the hosts of the upcoming Men’s World Cup, it is of great importance for India to begin the season off on the right foot, and as their opponents found out over the previous season, a motivated Indian side is difficult to stop.
New Zealand missed out on season 3 of the Pro League due to pandemic-enforced travel restrictions, but make a return to the event this season. Historically, New Zealand have been a tough team to beat in international hockey, however their Pro League finishes in their two appearances have not been to their high standards, finishing in the 8th place in season 1&2. New Zealand finished in the 5th place at the Commonwealth Games Birmingham 2022, and will look to use their performances in that event as a springboard to a good start to the 4th season of the FIH Hockey Pro League.
Spain were another team to go through an up-and-down campaign in season 3 of the FIH Hockey Pro League, but were never found wanting when it came to entertaining the crowds. Their counter-attacking style of play produced plenty of spectacular matches especially early in the season against India when the teams played two high-scoring matches as India won the first game 5-4, but Spain took the points in the next game, winning 5-3. They ended their campaign in the 7th position, but have the potential to finish much higher in the upcoming season with many young players showing their promise in season 3 of the Pro League.
To see the full match schedule of the FIH Hockey Pro League Season 4, click here.
Where to Watch
Global broadcast and live streaming information for each individual match will be published on the FIH Hockey Pro League website as soon as it becomes available.
In territories where broadcast rights agreements are not in place, fans can watch live match action from the FIH Hockey Pro League via the Watch.Hockey app.
Keep up to date with all the latest news on the FIH Hockey Pro League via the Watch.Hockey app, event website, and through FIH social media channels – Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
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