With Sochi in the rear-view mirror, the IIHF has released the Olympic qualification structure and dates for the 2018 Olympic Winter Games in PyeongChang, Korea.
The qualification structure for the Olympic men’s tournament will have an immediate impact on the upcoming IIHF World Championship, as the 2015 IIHF World Ranking will be used to seed the top eight automatic entries and the men’s qualification program.
The Olympic men’s tournament format will be the same as in Sochi, with four teams seeded into three groups. The top eight teams in the 2015 IIHF Men’s World Ranking – which is determined following the results of the 2015 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship – will be automatically seeded 1-8 in the tournament. Korea currently holds the 12th seed as tournament host, leaving three qualification positions available.
On the women’s side, the 2016 IIHF Women’s World Ranking will be used to seed the women’s program. The top five-ranked teams following the 2016 IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship will earn automatic entry into PyeongChang 2018.
As in Sochi a total of eight teams will be competing at the 2018 Olympics, seeded into two tiered groups. The top four teams will make up Group A, while the fifth-ranked team, tournament hosts Korea, and two qualifiers will form Group B. The four teams from Group A and the top two teams from Group B will advance to the playoff round. The top two teams of Group A get a bye to the semi-finals.