Shot of the Day from Doha: Bas Verwijlen’s epee tip bends into Sylvio Fernandez’s mask in the semi-final of men’s individual competition at the Qatar Grand Prix. Photos by S. Timacheff/FIE/FencingPhotos

Bas Verwijlen took 3rd at the Grand Prix event in Doha to claim the top spot in the FIE World Rankings and 2nd in the Adjusted Olympic Rankings (AOR). The tournament was worth 1.5 times the normal world cup points and is one of the last 3 events in the qualifying window.

Most fencers have maxed out their 7 slots with points and are looking to trade up to move into one of the hotly contested qualification spots.

The top-6 in the AOR (Adjusted Olympic Rankings) seem to be safe, but there is a lot of room to move in the lower half of the “Top 12” ranks and the Zonal spots.

Silvio Fernandez (VEN) proved in Doha that none of the lower slots are safe from contention. With his 2nd place finish, he moved from not being in the top-25 to 17th in the AOR (Adjusted Olympic Ranking) and the 1st Americas zonal spot. Fernandez is at 89 points now and the last “Top 12” spot clocks in at 97 points. Given that 5 of the top 12 failed to make the 16 in Doha, the door is open for another outlier result to jumble the rankings.

The move by Fernandez dropped Seth Kelsey (USA) down to the 2nd qualifying spot in the Americas zone. He still holds a double-digit lead over Canada’s Hugues Boisvert-Simard but Kelsey has proved to be more consistent down the stretch.

The top rankings that are calling out to me are the final couple of spots in the top-12 and the battle for the European Zonal spots.

The last three of the top-12 spots are at 99, 99, and 97 points. The top 3 zonal representatives hold point totals of 95, 91, and 90 points. One of the current qualifiers going out early coupled with a top-16 result from someone with a zonal bid will shake things up.

Tagliariol vs. Boczko

Right now, the battle for the last European Zonal slot is between Matteo Tagliariol (ITA) and Gabor Boczko (HUN). Tagliariol (ITA) and Boczko (HUN) are tied at 90 points. Right now, Tagliariol gets the edge with the FIE World Ranking of 11th vs. Boczko’s WR of 16.

If it comes down to a tie in points, the official tie break is who had the best finish in world cup competition. (The # of 1st place then # of second place, etc.)

Here are Tagliariol’s top-8 finishes in Olympic Qualifying:

3rd – Heidenheim
5th – Legnano
6th – Sheffield

His 1st place in Paris won’t count since it is from March 2011.

Here are Boczko’s top-8 finishes:

5th – Stockholm
6th – Heidenheim
6th – Legnano

Based on these results, Tagliariol wins the tie break. Boczko needs to have one more top-16 than Tagliariol in the final 2 tournaments.

The lowest point result being counted for Boczko or Tagliariol is a 5 from World Championships. Those points stay since you cannot replace the Worlds result The lowest world cup results for each are top-32 placements They will need a top-16 to improve on that.

Is anyone safe?

Looking at the math, the final two events are worth 32 points each for a 1st place. That puts the maximum swing to 64 points added for a fencer. Based on that, it’s possible for anyone to come out of nowhere to win 2 events and get 128 points to qualify. (We’ll accept that such an event would be highly unlikely.)

Allex Gruman from SwordSport has stated that he feels 115 points puts a fencer into the “safe zone” for qualifying. That would make the top 6 fencers in the current AOR standings safe.

Here are the current Olympic Qualification Rankings as calculated by taking the top 7 points results during the qualification period. We’re showing the top-12 and then the top 2 from each zone. After qualifying there will be separate zonal tournaments to fill out the final few spots for the Olympics. You can see the full spreadsheet and check the formulas here.

Name Nationality ZoneNotesTotal Points
PIZZO PaoloITAEuropeTop 12162
VERWIJLEN BasNEDEuropeTop 12150
PARK Kyoung DooKORAsiaTop 12146
KAUTER FabianSUIEuropeTop 12129
HEINZER MaxSUIEuropeTop 12124
THOMPSON SorenUSAAmericasTop 12116
NOVOSJOLOV NikolaiESTEuropeTop 12112
IMRE GezaHUNEuropeTop 12107
GRUMIER GauthierFRAEuropeTop 12103
LIMARDO RubenVENAmericasTop 1299
BOREL YannickFRAEuropeTop 1299
JUNG Jin SunKORAsiaTop 1297
FIEDLER JoergGEREuropeEU 195
FERNANDEZ SilvioVENAmericasAM 189
KELSEY WestonUSAAmericasAM 274
BOUZAID AlexandreSENAfricaAF 173
LI GuojieCHNAsiaAS 268