No room for error at World Cup Final

Mackenzie Brown shoots at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

Dispense with the formalities – of easing ourselves into the throes of competition. 

The 2021 Hyundai Archery World Cup Final will start off with a bang on Wednesday at Riverside Park, with eight archers from each of the four usual categories immediately taking to the arena to battle for one of archery’s most coveted titles. 

No qualifying rounds. No deceptive early-round match-ups lulling the world’s top competitors into a false sense of security. 

“We’ve essentially gone through qualifications already,” said USA archer Mackenzie Brown, who secured her invitation by accruing enough tour-ranking points throughout the season. 

“By doing well at competitions and working hard during the different stages, and then to jump right into the matches, it’s kind of like the medal final for the whole year. I think that’s kind of awesome.”

The consensus among most elite archers is that qualification rounds are of modest importance; while achieving a higher seed is preferable to a lower one, a poor performance won’t inherently ruin an archer’s chances of winning a medal. After all, if you intend to crest the podium, you’ve got to be able to beat everyone anyway.

Kim Woojin and Sara Lopez seeded first last week on their way to individual titles at the 2021 Hyundai World Archery Championships, which also took place in Yankton, while Jang Minhee and Nico Wiener ranked third and 13th, respectively, before ultimately reaching the top of the medal stand. 

Nicholas D'Amour shoots at the Yankton 2021 Hyundai World Archery Championships.

Evren Cagiran of Turkey, meanwhile, seeded first among compound men – but then lost in his first match after receiving a bye into the third round.

A strong qualification round is indicative of overall talent and reinforces an archer’s chances at success, Nicholas D’Amour said, but medals are still won during matchplay.

“I’m never too worried about it,” said D’Amour, who rebounded from seeding 69th at the third stage of the international circuit in Paris to finish fifth overall.

“At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what happens in qualifications. It’s about what happens inside the elimination field, and eventually inside the finals arena. That’s always what I'm looking forward to the most.”

The world’s top archers can recover from an underwhelming qualification round, and a strong score can still yield a difficult path through the bracket.

Perhaps more meaningful, though, is the opportunity for archers to familiarise themselves with the competition field and make the necessary adjustments should they struggle early on.

Archers competing here in Yankton won’t have such a luxury. Instead, they will need to be in top form from the moment they step to the shooting line. 

A single wayward arrow could derail their chances of advancing to the final match. 

“The bracket is already super competitive, which I think is really good, honestly,” Brown said. “To be able to go into the matches straight away is a little bit more high-intensity, but it’s also really good, because that’s the shooting we’ve all trained for to be able to turn these matches into medals.”

Atanu Das celebrates winning stage one of the Hyundai Archery World Cup in Guatemala City.

While some competitors received an automatic invite to the season-ending event by winning one of the three stages of the international circuit – in Guatemala City, Lausanne or Paris – the majority of the archers in contention earned their spot through consistent shooting throughout the year.

That same consistency should ease any concerns of shooting poorly early on.

While winning a stage outright speaks to the top-level talent an archer possesses.

Ultimately, everyone competing in Yankton is here for a reason. You don’t make it this far without being more than capable with your bow. 

Only three matches stand in the way of an archer and being crowned champion.

Like any international competition, winning the Hyundai Archery World Cup Final becomes a question of who rises to the occasion and makes the most of the opportunity in front of them.

“It doesn’t matter where you end up,” said India’s Atanu Das, who won stage one of the international circuit in Guatemala City.

“The only thing that matters is how you manage each match. Every match is different, so it becomes a question of how you manage yourself, your thoughts, your skills. Everything is there.”

Competition at the 2021 Hyundai Archery World Cup Final starts with compound day on Wednesday.