For GB it's not going to be anything like the 2019 tournament... unfortunately.
GB were effectively unknowns in Slovakia (first time at the top level in 25 years) and were expected by just about everyone to be relegated straight back down again. (Allegedly the French team manager said that GB shouldn't have been allowed into the top level, that it was a disgrace we were even there... if that's true, there was some epic poetic justice served up later on... ). But nobody knew what to expect, we were an unknown quantity, and probably weren't taken at all seriously by a lot of people. That attitude started to change with our very first game, making the Germans work very hard to beat us... the expected drubbing by Canada came after that, then the unfortunate game against Denmark where everything just went totally and horribly wrong. But after the game against USA... that was the difference-maker. Fans, organisers, teams... everyone woke up to the realisation that maybe this bunch weren't quite as weaky-squeaky as they thought.
And then GB beat France.
So the 'surprise underdog' factor is lost... even teams who rightly can expect to beat us aren't going to be quite so complacent. This year's success has made next year's survival much harder.
But the main reason is down to the hosting for the 2021 Worlds - Belarus & Latvia co-hosting. It's an IIHF rule that host countries cannot be relegated the year before, to ensure that the host nation is actually playing. In most cases, that's not an issue... let's face it, Canada, Sweden, Switzerland etc - nobody expects them to come even close to the bottom of the table. But Belarus and Latvia are a different story... Latvia less so (they finished 10th out of 16 this year) but Belarus are promotes... the bottom reaches of the top level are where they are seen to belong. But it means that - since 2 teams have to be relegated and both Belarus & Latvia are safe - GB are going to have to get enough points to make sure that there are 2 teams other than Belarus or Latvia below them in the final standings. That's going to be hard... not impossible, GB having finished 13th this year with Latvia above us... so if we did the same next year, as long as at least one of Latvia or Belarus was above us - we'd stay up. But the mix of opposition is going to make that very hard indeed.
I'll be going out there cheering them on... but in all honesty, I'm expecting relegation. I pretty much expected it in May over in Slovakia... but the difference between that tournament and next year's is simply that we really didn't know what to expect in Slovakia... we've got a much better idea for Switzerland.
It’s a matter of distinction, a real fine line
[br]Between an orgy of destruction and a wonderful time
[br]There is always a well-known solution to every human problem - neat, plausible, and wrong.
[br]Owning the Steelers is a crime. Fortunately, it’s also the punishment…
[br]British ice hockey is so Mickey Mouse, I don't know if Disney should sponsor us or sue us!