Reflecting on the impacts of the global pandemic and the challenges the sporting world is yet to face, LEN has restructured the 2020-21 edition of the water polo Champions League. It will feature 12 teams in the regular season and the qualification process is also cut to a single round.
Since the 2017-18 season, accommodating the clubs’ demands, the regular season was played with 16 teams in two groups of 8, twelve teams held wildcards and four joined them from the qualification. The newly shaped Champions League proved to be a tremendous success and became the reference point in the water polo world thanks to its branding policies, live TV action and social media coverage.
Still, the global pandemic and its impact forced LEN to reconsider the playing format for the following season for several reasons. One of them is that the competition calendar has already been overloaded by the postponement of several national team events including the Olympic qualification tournaments.
The main round shall be played with 10 wildcard-holders and two teams are set to join them from the qualification. This latter process will be cut back to a single round where one or two round-robin tournaments are planned, depending on the number of entries. These tourneys are scheduled for 23-25 October, while the main round is to kick off on 10-11 November.
Despite the reduced number of participants in the regular season, the Final Eight format is kept as the highlight of the year. The event is set to take place in Hannover over the first weekend of June.
The Euro Cup, LEN’s second-tier competition, will welcome all other teams including those missing the cut in the Champions League qualifications. Here two qualification rounds appear in the schedule – teams falling in the CHL qualifiers will join the field at this stage. Then the competition will continue with the knockout phase played on a home-and-away basis, starting with the eight-finals. The finals are to be played on 10 and 24 April.
The women’s competition shall not be altered, the Euro League will feature
the usual quarter-finals where the winners shall qualify for the Final Four, while the losers will play for the LEN Trophy. The qualification process begins
on 27-29 November and the Final Fours are scheduled for 16-17 April and 30
Wildcard-holders in the Champions League
FTC-Telekom Waterpolo (HUN), Olympiacos Piraeus (GRE), Pro Recco (ITA),
Zodiac-Atletic Barceloneta (ESP), Jug Croatia Osiguranje Dubrovnik (CRO), CN
Marseille (FRA), Spandau 04 (GER), Dinamo Tbilisi (GEO), Waspo 98 Hannover