It has now been two full months since the International Hockey Federation (FIH) introduced its new match-based model for the calculation of the FIH World Rankings, and February saw various movers and shakers amongst the teams competing in the FIH Hockey Pro League. 

The Netherlands have retained their position at the top of the women’s FIH World Rankings, but there been some changes beneath them, most notably from the only team to have beaten them so far in this season’s FIH Hockey Pro League. Argentina’s impressive 2-0 triumph over the reigning World, European and Pro League champions in Buenos Aires helped them rise up to second in the rankings.

However, the results of their double-header against New Zealand at the weekend, where Las Leonas claimed just two points from a possible six, has seen Argentina fall back to third position, with Australia returning to second place in the rankings. 

Germany and England occupy the fourth and fifth positions respectively, while New Zealand – who currently sit second in the FIH Hockey Pro League – have climbed from seventh to sixth place, moving ahead of Spain after claiming a draw and a win against Argentina at the weekend. 

In the men’s FIH World Rankings, Belgium – who in January defeated Australia in Sydney to wrestle top spot from their opponents – remain in pole position, with the Kookaburras (2) and the Netherlands (3) also holding their positions in the top three.

The headline story comes from the national team of India, whose excellent form in the FIH Hockey Pro League has seen them move from fifth to fourth position, their highest placement since the creation of the FIH World Rankings in 2003.

India’s ascension comes at the expense of Olympic champions Argentina, who are now in fifth place. 

Germany and England remain in sixth and seventh position, while New Zealand – who have earned two wins in their last three FIH Hockey Pro League matches – have regained eighth place after briefly dropping beneath Spain to ninth in February.  

The new model for calculating the FIH World Rankings was introduced on 1st January 2020, moving away from the previous tournament-based rankings system to a dynamic, match-based model where opposing teams exchange points in official, FIH sanctioned games. 

The number of points exchanged depends on the result of the match, the relative ranking of the teams and the importance of the match

FIH World Rankings: The new model explained

  • Based on the Elo rating system, which is used as the basis of many other sports ranking systems 
  • When two nations play against each other, a number of ranking points are exchanged between them 
  • In every match, the number of points gained by one team is exactly matched by the number of points lost by the other
  • Teams will win more points for beating teams ranked above them, and therefore teams will lose more points for losing to a team ranked below them 
  • Teams will win less points for beating teams ranked below them, and therefore teams will lose less points for losing to a team ranked above them
  • If a draw occurs, the lower ranked team will gain a small number of points and the higher ranked team will lose the same number of points 
  • The number of points exchanged is dependent on the result of the match (win, lose, shootout win/loss or draw), the importance of the match (part of a major tournament, or a test series for example), and the relative difference in ranking points between the teams before the match 
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