11 of 36 first-round matches were decided by 4:3
Professional volleyball’s “every point counts” tension until the end
More female players, leveling the playing field
Yong Hyun-ji “Even if I’m winning, I’m worried about going to seven sets”
The 23/24 season of the Welcome Savings Bank Team League is becoming more interesting to watch with more close full-set (7-set) matches than ever before. In the first round, three of the four matches on the first day went to full sets, and on the third day, all four matches went to the final set.
The first day of the second round on April 16 also featured two full-set matches. Welcome Savings Bank defeated Huon’s and NH Card defeated Hi One Resort with a set score of 4:3.
According to the Professional Billiards Association (PBA), 11 of the 36 matches in the first round this season were full-set matches, or 30.5 percent. This season, the team league has expanded to a nine-team format, which is not much different from the overall full-set percentage in the regular season last season (31.5%, 53 out of 168 games). The current trend suggests that the percentage of full sets will increase as the games continue to be close.
At the center of this is the point system that the PBA introduced this season. It is modeled after the professional volleyball point system, where the winning team gets three points and the losing team gets zero points, but in full-set matches, the winning team gets two points and the losing team gets one point.
The change to a point system has a number of psychological effects on players. First of all, teams that are losing will not give up and will try their best to win even one point. The leading team is under a lot of psychological pressure.
Yong Hyun-ji (Hi-One Resort) said, “I feel the pressure on the players in the fifth and sixth sets when the team is leading. The opponent puts all their effort into trying to win (even one point), and if I make a mistake and it goes to a seventh set, even if my team wins, we only get two points.”
There’s also the increasingly important issue of leveling the playing field for women. Last season, TeamLeague added a two-set women’s doubles (9-point system) to the existing women’s singles and mixed doubles, increasing the role of female players.
Team management and player selection has changed accordingly. The female players have been able to improve their skills as the team league culture has stabilized. By training and playing alongside their male counterparts, their performance and horizons are expanding. The likes of Kim Ga-young and Sronpiavi, who used to dominate the individual tour stage, have also excelled in team leagues, but this has changed recently. This is also a factor in the increase in full-set matches.
“It’s not common to play with men for more than three hours and see the ball on the court,” says Yong. It’s different from what you see on TV, on your phone, or in the stands,” he said, adding, “I learn a lot from the way they choose the ball and the way they shoot.”
Im Rae (Hi One Resort) also said, “The skills of female players and the way they play have definitely changed noticeably in Team League,” adding, “From the beginning (of player selection), players are put into teams that match each other’s styles. The competition seems to be getting fiercer as the teams operate according to the Team League ecosystem.”
The PBA also cited improved player performance as a factor in the increase in full sets. “The point system and the way of entering the postseason has also changed to the winner of the five rounds (if there is an overlap between the winners of the rounds, the next best team advances based on the overall ranking of the regular season). It is becoming a device to increase player concentration,” said Jang Jae-hong, secretary general.안전놀이터
One indicator of improved performance in the women’s game is playing time. Last season, the first round was 18 minutes and 46 seconds per set, while this season’s first round is 18 minutes. That’s an average of 46 seconds less than the previous year. This means that the team league is becoming a venue for fast-paced and tightly contested matches. [Kim Yong-il, columnist/head of Sports Seoul’s Physical Education Team 1].