World Cup Series Wraps Up in Baku – What Does This Mean for Worlds? MAG Edition

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Tin Srbic

With the conclusion of the 2022 apparatus world cup series in Baku last weekend, we now know the final overall rankings that will determine both the prize money winners as well as the athletes who are all set to compete at world championships later this year – a new, but necessary, benefit of these world cups now that worlds require athletes to qualify.

For a quick recap, as many as eight of the top-ranked athletes will qualify to worlds on each event, with two athletes per NOC per apparatus able to move forward. The caveat is that the apparatus qualifiers are fully determined based on which NOCs qualify teams or all-arounders at continental championships later in the season, so while we have the rankings, we don’t know who exactly will take the apparatus spots until all continental meets are over and done with.

A reminder of how qualifying works for worlds this year:

  • Continental Championships (Teams) – 24 men’s teams and 24 women’s teams via team qualifications
  • Continental Championships (Individuals) – 40 men and 49 women via all-around qualifications (nominative, max two per NOC without a team qualified)
  • World Cup Rankings (Individuals) – Up to 48 men and 32 women via overall rankings (nominative, eight per apparatus, max two per NOC not part of teams qualified via continental championships)

You can check out the full WAG rankings and MAG rankings to see where things stand now, and I’ll go through each one to talk about which athletes are likely going to take advantage of their positions in the world cup rankings, which will end up dropping out once they qualify via continental championships, and who will be most likely to benefit. You can also check out our similar briefing on the WAG situation.

FLOOR EXERCISE

About half of the top eight gymnasts in the rankings on floor could use this as their path to worlds. The list includes 2020 Olympic champion Artem Dolgopyat of Israel in first, followed by Illia Kovtun of Ukraine, Milad Karimi of Kazakhstan, Eamon Montgomery of Ireland Antonios Tantalidis of Greece, Adam Steele of Ireland, Aurel Benovic of Croatia, and Yahor Sharamkou of Belarus.

Of these, the definites are Montgomery, Tantalidis, Steele, and Benovic. The top 13 teams from Euros qualify, and neither Ireland, Greece, nor Croatia are in a position to make this happen. Israel could potentially make it happen, but if not, Dolgopyat will be secure from his ranking here, while Ukraine will almost certainly qualify, assuming they are in a position to have a full team together, so Kovtun likely won’t need this spot.

For Asia, it’s the top five teams that qualify, so Kazakhstan could be okay, but even if they’re not, Karimi is a strong all-arounder who would absolutely qualify that way, so I don’t see him needing this spot, and then with Sharamkou, Belarus is currently banned from competing at Euros due to its involvement with Russia’s war in Ukraine, and is also banned from FIG-sponsored competitions until further notice. If the country happens to have the ban removed between Euros and worlds, Sharamkou could be lucky that he sealed the deal before the ban took hold, but I’m leaning toward this not happening.

Let’s say four of the eight spots are taken, then. Going down the list, based the likelihood of an NOC or all-arounder to qualify or not, I think the next in line are likely Utkirbek Juraev of Uzbekistan (14th), Sebastian Gawronski of Poland (22nd), his teammate Kacper Garnczarek (24th), and Ioane Jimsheleishvili of Georgia (26th), though it’ll depend on how they perform in the all-around. For back-up, I’ll also add next-in-line Nikolaj Bozic of Slovenia (30th), but after that, we’re at the end of the list of those most likely to be eligible.

POMMEL HORSE

As with floor, the top eight here are a mix of those who need these spots, and those who will instead end up competing as part of a team – though I think this one skews more towards specialists in need. The list is Nariman Kurbanov of Kazakhstan in first, followed by Rhys McClenaghan of Ireland, Filip Ude of Croatia, Matvei Petrov of Albania, Harutyun Merdinyan of Armenia, Illia Kovtun of Ukraine, Ahmad Abu Al Soud of Jordan, and Benjamin Osberger of France.

The definites are McClenaghan, Ude, Petrov, and Abu Al Soud, and then I think I’d also include Merdinyan in this list, as I don’t believe Armenia would be super likely to qualify a team and unlike Artur Davtyan, who is potentially in the mix on multiple events, he’s not an all-arounder, so this would truly be his only way in.

On the other side, Kovtun and Osberger are part of NOCs that will likely qualify, and then Kurbanov could go either way. If Kazakhstan qualifies a team, he’s fine, but if they don’t, unlike Karimi, he won’t qualify via the all-around, so it was important for him to get this berth.

Those next-in-line who are most likely to replace the two no’s and one maybe include Tan Fu Jie of Malaysia (12th), Ilyas Azizov of Kazakhstan (15th), and Khabibullo Ergashev of Uzbekistan (16th), with Xheni Dyrmishi of Austria (21st), Mohamed Amine Yousfi of Algeria (24th), and Gagik Khachikyan of Armenia (25th) also options should any of these guys end up qualifying elsewhere.

STILL RINGS

Vahagn Davtyan of Armenia leads the rings rankings, followed by Ibrahim Colak of Turkey, Artur Avetisyan of Armenia, Nikita Simonov of Azerbaijan, Salvatore Maresca of Italy, Roman Vashchenko of Ukraine, Konstantinos Konstantinidis of Greece, and Adem Asil of Turkey.

I see four definites here, including Davtyan, Avetisyan, Simonov, and Konstantinidis, and the other four will be likely to have an NOC qualify, including Colak, Maresca, Vashchenko, and Asil, though of course Vashchenko is in the same situation as Kuliak where this spot could be useful should Ukraine not end up making it to Euros for some reason.

Making up for the four who won’t need their spots, we have Vinzenz Höck of Austria (13th), Sokratis Pilakouris of Cyprus (16th), Nguyen Van Khanh Phong of Vietnam (16th), and Saba Abesadze of Georgia (18th) next, followed by Rafael Szabo of Romania (19th), Levan Skhiladze of Georgia (20th), and Luka Bojanc of Slovenia (22nd) on the waiting list.

VAULT

The leader in this field, Artur Davtyan, should be among the top all-around qualifiers at Euros should Armenia not qualify a team, but I guess the biggest benefit here would be if he was injured before Euros and therefore wouldn’t have a way in. He’s probably not going to need this spot, but he’s got it just in case, and the same goes for Ukraine’s Nazar Chepurnyi in second, whose team probably will qualify, but then again…it’s great just in case.

Andrey Medvedev of Israel is the first on the vault rankings who could potentially benefit, but I’ll also call him and fourth-ranked Artem Dolgopyat as maybes, as Israel is on the fence with potentially qualifying a team. James Bacueti of Australia and Milad Karimi of Kazakhstan aren’t likely to use their spots, nor is eighth-place Adem Asil of Turkey, so Shek Wai Hung of Hong Kong – who is ranked seventh – is seemingly the only man in the top eight on vault likely to actually need this spot.

The rest of the field is similar in that there aren’t many specialists trying to qualify on this apparatus. Those who need the apparatus cup spots most are probably Muhammad Sharul Aimy of Malaysia (10th), maybe Benedek Tomcsanyi of Hungary (17th), Aurel Benovic of Croatia (19th), Sebastian Gawronski of Poland (20th), Achraf Quistas of Morocco (22nd), Ahmed Anis Maoudj of Algeria (24th), Filip Sasnal of Poland (25th), and William Fu-Allen of New Zealand (29th), which takes us to the bottom of the rankings – and if any of these guys are able to get in via the continental alternative, it could be that the men won’t need all eight vault spots.

PARALLEL BARS

The top three spots here – Illia Kovtun of Ukraine, Ferhat Arican of Turkey, and Mitchell Morgans of Australia – are all gymnasts likely to compete with their teams, and the same goes for Milad Karimi of Kazakhstan in fourth and Marios Georgiou of Cyprus in seventh, both likely to qualify as all-arounders even if their teams don’t make it.

Those in the top eight who are most likely to use these spots are Utkirbek Juraev of Uzbekistan, and Krisztian Balazs of Hungary, though even his spot could be hit-or-miss depending on what Hungary does at Euros. Balazs has been injured on and off, so I don’t know if a full all-around program will be possible for him this summer, in which case it’s good that he got his qualification out of the way here just in case.

As for others who could hope to use one of these spots, I’ll go with potentially Loran de Munck of the Netherlands (23rd; given that their program isn’t where it was a quad ago, I don’t see a full team happening, but you never know…), Mikhail Koudinov of New Zealand (25th) if he doesn’t make it as an all-arounder (though I feel like he will), Stefanos Tsolakidis of Greece (27th), Gytis Chasazyrovas of Lithuania (30th), and Jorden O’Connell-Inns of New Zealand (31st).

HIGH BAR

Alexander Myakinin of Israel leads this field, followed by Illia Kovtun of Ukraine, Robert Tvorogal of Lithuania, Mitchell Morgans of Australia, Carlo Macchini of Italy, Tin Srbic of Croatia, Brody Malone of the United States, and Joe Fraser of Great Britain. Of these athletes, it’s really only Srbic who is a definite for me, with Myakinin a maybe.

Outside of the top eight, this is another event where we’ll have to dig pretty deep to find potentially eligible athletes, and there are more “maybes” than those I think will absolutely use them. Most “absolute” are probably Ioane Jimsheleishvili of Georgia (15th), Leo Lehtinen of Finland (26th), Nabil Zouhair of Morocco (27th), and Dinh Phuong Thanh of Vietnam (31st), but there are lots of guys who could go either way, like the Hungarians – Krisztian Balazs and David Vecsernyes – as well as the Dutch men – Martijn de Veer and Jordi Hagenaar – as well as Mikhail Koudinov of New Zealand, again, assuming he doesn’t qualify as an all-arounder (though I’m almost certain he will).

WHO BENEFITS MOST?

As with the women, a good majority of the specialists are either members of programs that will qualify as teams, or they can also do the all-around well enough to not need to qualify as specialists, though the world cup route is a great back-up plan should they not make it to continental championships for whatever reason.

That said, there are several specialists from small programs who won’t have a shot at sending a team, and who also don’t train all six events (at least not at a high enough level at the moment to be a sure shot for an all-around berth).

This includes the Irish guys (Eamon Montgomery and Adam Steele on floor, along with Rhys McClenaghan on pommels), the Croatians (Aurel Benovic on floor, Filip Ude on pommels, and Tin Srbic on high bar), basically any of the Armenians who aren’t Artur Davtyan (and even he could end up relying on the series as a back-up), Matvei Petrov of Albania and Ahmad Abu Al Soud of Jordan on pommels, Shek Wai Hung of Hong Kong on vault, Nikita Simonov of Azerbaijan on rings…these are all examples of guys who definitely do not fit the team/all-around picture, and who essentially did the world cup circuit for the sole purpose of making it to worlds (though I’m sure the prize money was also a win!).

But I do think there are plenty of others who maybe didn’t see this as their primary means of qualification, though could eventually end up relying on what they’ve done here, and I think they were smart to get it out of the way early – specifically, the all-arounders who may not end up having a full team qualify, who wouldn’t want to risk having just one shot at continental championships end up not happening due to injury or some other drama. Someone like Milad Karimi of Kazakhstan probably won’t need his spots here, but he has them just in case.

Article by Lauren Hopkins

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