The World Championship is organized by the ITHF every two years. The Stiga Play Off game is the official game of the Table Hockey World Championship.
Sweden has dominated the table hockey scene from the beginning and a couple of years into the new millennium. Until the Finnish gold in Riga 2005, Sweden had won all Team World Championships, until 2006 only Swedes had won the Open Swedish Masters, and until 2007 all individual world champions were Swedes. But the new generation comes from Finland, Russia, the Czech Republic and Latvia, and its current big star is Roni Nuttunen from Finland who in the past season won all major tournaments he participated in, including the two greatest: Swedish Masters and the world championships.
Since the sport expands quickly in many countries, the table hockey map may have to be redrawn within a couple of years when nations other than the big six (Sweden, Finland, Russia, Czech Republic, Norway and Latvia) produce new talents.
First table hockeys were made in the 1930s in Sweden and Finland. Naturally there was no plastic, so they were made from sheet metal.
Usage of plastic brought in expansion of table hockey. The Swedish company Stiga started to make hockeys in the late 1950s. Thanks to enthusiasm of Swedish players, table hockey expanded to surrounding world.
Big worldwide development arrived in the late 1990s. That lead to an idea founding an international federation. ITHF was established during the World Championship 2005 in Riga, Latvia. Now it associates sixteen national federations.
Especially in Sweden, Finland, Russia, Czech Republic, Norway and Latvia, table hockey is quite popular. But it is growing in lots of countries and there are many tournaments played every week.
If any player retires during a match when the opponent insists on continuing, he/she automatically loses all his/her goals scored during the game, while the opponent may add an extra five goals to his/her score.
During the play-off matches, in the event of a draw at the end of the five minutes, there is an overtime. The overtime starts with a new face-off. The winner is the one who scores the first goal (sudden death).
All matches begin with the puck placed at centre spot. Game starts with the opening signal. If any player plays the puck before the signal, face-off is made.
Face-offs are made by dropping the puck on the centre spot.
Centre forwards and left defenders must stay on their own side of the centre red line during a face-off.
Players must be sure that their opponent is ready before releasing the puck. If the face-off is made wrong the opponent is allowed to ask for a new one or he/she may make a new face-off by himself/herself. If a player makes a lot of bad drops in a play-off match, the opponent can ask for a neutral dropper.
Three seconds must elapse after each face-off before a valid goal can be scored. This rule is in effect even if a neutral person is making the face-off.
The puck must hit the sideboards, or a playing figure other than the center must gain control of the puck before a goal can be counted.
If any unusual situation happens (e.g. broken gear, rod or game, displaced goal cage, lights go out, several pucks appear on the game or somebody/something interrupts any of the opponents), the match must be immediately suspended. A player can interrupt the game by saying „stop” if the opponent is not aware of such situation. The match resumes when both players are ready again.
If a match is interrupted and significant time is lost then the lost time must be added to remaining time and the match continues.
If a player had indisputable control of the puck before the interruption, the match continues with the puck in the place where it was, otherwise a new face-off is made.
The ITHF divides individual tournaments to six levels. The first level tournaments are: World Championships, World Junior Championships, World Women Championships and World Senior Championships. Tournaments on the second level are European Championships, European Junior Championships, European Women Championships and European Senior Championships and Big Six tournaments. The third level tournaments are the World Tour (former EuroLeague) tournaments. The fourth level contains mostly country series (e.g. Český pohár (en Czech cup)). The fifth and sixth level includes regional and city series and tournaments organized by clubs. Special Level 10 is for club tournaments, such as World Club Championships.
In 2003/04, the first world wide league, EuroLeague, was created. 6 tournaments formed the league, The tournaments were Helsinki Open, Oslo Open, Riga Cup, Swedish Masters, Moscow Open and Czech Open.
The league has changed name to World Table Hockey Tour, and consists every year of around 15 tournaments. The original 6 tournaments are still regarded as the most important tournaments, and are called the Big Six tournaments.
List of all ITHF tournaments played. Click on the links to see playoff results:
The World ranking table sorts players by their actual rank points. The ranking is sum of player's best results in last two years. Points, which player gets for participating in any reported tournament are counted on the basis of: level of the tournament, number of players beaten and world ranking of players beaten. A winner of the World Championship gets always 1000 points and a winner of World Junior, Veteran or Women Championship gets at least 500 points.