The AVP announced its 2022 pro beach schedule on Friday. And in its first year as new owners of the Tour, Bally’s has made sweeping changes not only to the schedule itself but how events will be executed.
Sixteen events, broken into three different tiers, a model akin to Volleyball World’s new look, fill out a schedule that features events from May to November. Three of the 16 events are the AVP Gold Series, featuring a $300,000 purse each. They’ll be held in Atlanta (August 5-7), Manhattan Beach (August 19-21) and Chicago (September 2-4).
Five tournaments will be under the AVP Pro Series moniker, which will be similar in size and prize money as former AVP events in Seattle, Austin and San Francisco — 16-team draws with $125,000 total in prize money. The remaining are AVP Tour Series events, which are essentially rebranded AVP Next Golds and will be a developmental qualifier tour of sorts.
And there is the kicker: Gone, for many of the events, are the traditional qualifiers, held the day, or two days, prior to the main draw. The only events on the schedule that will feature a qualifier as the beach world has known it is Manhattan Beach, where eight of the 32 teams will come out of a qualifying tournament, and Chicago and Atlanta, though the structure of the qualifiers for Atlanta and Chicago remain unknown.
How, then, will players qualify for the remaining five events in the Pro Series? Exact details are still somewhat murky, but in winning an AVP Tour Series event, the victors will claim a spot in a main draw event later in the year.
Even qualifying for the Tour Series, which is now considered an element of the professional tour — as it should, given the $50,000 purse — will be no small feat. Each event will feature a 24-team main draw, with 14 teams automatically seeded into the main draw, two spots reserved for wild cards, and the remaining eight to come out of a 48-team qualifier. Prize money will be distributed to the top nine teams.
In total, the AVP will distribute $2 million in prize money over 16 total events — the most on the calendar since 2009.
With such an expanded schedule, players and fans will find stops both recently familiar and several that have been resurrected from the past. There will be beach volleyball played in states to which players and fans have become accustomed — California, Illinois, Texas — and many that have been conspicuously absent, namely Florida.
The season will see its first serve on May 6, at a familiar haunt: Austin, Texas, an annual stop from 2017-2019 before the COVID pandemic hit, and host to the popular SharpeVision Four-Man, promoted by the McKibbin brothers, this fall. Three weeks later, the AVP will return to New Orleans, home to some of the wettest tournaments on record, and also home to the No. 1 ranked team on tour: Kristen Nuss and Taryn Kloth.
Both Austin and New Orleans are slotted as Pro Series tournaments.
On June 11-12, the AVP will feature its first AVP Tour Series event, returning to Muskegon, Michigan, once a regular feature on the schedule from 1998-2001. The last time the AVP was in Muskegon, Todd Rogers and Phil Dalhausser won in 2009.
Another Tour Series event follows, the Denver Open, on the first weekend of July.
Next comes a Pro Series, in Hermosa Beach July 8-10, which coincides with a Tour Series, the famed Waupaca Boatride, held annually in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.
Atlantic City, a regular feature on the AVP Next Gold tour these last few years, will again be a Tour Series event, July 22-23.
All of this precedes the much-anticipated return of Florida to the AVP schedule. Fort Lauderdale, as a Pro Series tournament, is the first stop in the sunshine state on July 29-31. It will mark the first time the AVP has stopped in Florida since 2014 when the new team of April Ross and Kerri Walsh Jennings won in St. Petersburg.
A torrid stretch begins on August 5 with the commencement of the Gold Series events, the first of which will be held in Atlanta. As it did in 2021, the Manhattan Beach Open will follow on August 19-21. But instead of a two-week breather between Manhattan Beach and Chicago, the AVP will hit Virginia Beach for a Tour Series event August 27-28.
Then comes Chicago, held annually on Labor Day Weekend, which marks the finale of the Gold Series events but not for the season as a whole. No, there will still be more volleyball played this fall.
The AVP will return to Atlantic City on September 16-18 for a Pro Series, and the following weekend marks a long-awaited development on tour: A $100,000 Tour Championship.
The top six teams of the season will clash in Phoenix, Arizona, on September 23-24 to claim the title of No. 1 team on the AVP.
While the top talents rest from Phoenix, two more Tour Series events follow, on November 12-13 in Huntington Beach, and November 19-20 in Clearwater, Florida.
The summer, as the AVP alluded to on Instagram earlier this week, “just got a lot longer.”
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