This is the first time since the first World Championship in 1930 that was played in France, Austria, and Germany. In early September, it was also announced that the tournament organizers’ suggestion to change the tournament format had been accepted by the IIHF Congress.
In the new system, the 16 teams will play a round-robin in two qualification groups, or seven preliminary round games, with the four best in each group advancing to the quarterfinals. The last-placed teams in each group will be relegated to Division I.
Also, in the new system, the quarterfinal games will be played within each group. The teams that meet in the quarterfinal will have already played one game against each other, which adds a layer of suspense to the already important game. They won’t have to travel to another venue and country for the quarterfinal game.
On one hand, the new structure will make the tournament easier on participating teams, as there’s less travel: only two teams will have to travel from Sweden to Finland, after the quarterfinal games. (And from Finland to Sweden in 2013).
On the other hand, to go all the way, the winning team will have to battle through ten games, instead of nine like in the current format.
Also, both Finnish and Swedish fans can be sure that their teams will play on home ice at least seven games, possibly eight with the quarterfinals, which helps with the marketing.
“This is a good change and everyone is happy,” IIHF President René Fasel said when the new format was announced.
“After the initial three games in the preliminary round there was no way of knowing when my team will be playing. The qualifying round has been a tough sell and there hasn’t been enough time for the fans to purchase tickets. It has also been difficult to plan the event for traveling fans,” he added.
The main venue, and the arena for the semi-finals, bronze medal game, and the final of the 2012 World Championship is the Hartwall Areena in Helsinki. The Swedish venue, and the home of Tre Kronor, is Ericsson Globe Arena in Stockholm, also the main venue for the 2013 tournament.