Ranking teams is fun, but very tough. Do your own rankings in the comments, and try to justify them. Here we go.
1. Laos - Based on the final last year. ROI won, but there is no doubt the outcome would have been different if ROI had been missing Tristan, as well as Brett. Tristan was outstanding in the final. Him leaving ROI is a huge loss. If you can't rank ROI first, the only option left is Laos.
2. ROI - It would be dumb to drop ROI any further than second. They have been in the final for the last 3 years, and always do extremely well. The loss of Tristan, Brett and Benno hurts, but Ireland can replace those guys and will.
3. Ukraine - Ukraine was great team last year, and this year they have only improved. Very solid all-around team with depth that has to be considered a favorite to win.
4. Scotland - Despite what looks to be the loss of their all-star keeper, Scotland will still be a very good team. Very good defensively and with the addition of a couple players up front, there's no doubt that they're a top 5 team.
5. France - A no-brainer to round out the top 5. A team of all-stars that has become an immediate threat to win. Though they look to be lacking any depth, their starters put them at this rank. No team from last year proved they should own this spot, with the exception of Chile(more on that).
6. Jamaica - Jamaica will be looking to get back to the playoffs this year after barely missing out last year. They are ready to rumble. Don't count out a team led by Holness. This was the toughest spot to choose. Chile and ES could both be considered, but since their teams aren't set, we go with the team that has been practicing a lot and playing together for a long time.
7. Chile - Chile lost in a shootout to Scotland in last year's quarter-final. They were a great team. This year they look to have lost many players to El Salvador, but they have also gained a bunch of new players that will still keep them quite strong.
8. El Salvador - Back from the dead, there is certainly a lot of hype around El Salvador, as they were one the best teams before they folded last year. El Salvador certainly has lots of potential. They get 8th spot because they don't have the star power of France. They can be considered interchangeable with Chile.
9. Northern Ireland - Northern Ireland proved a lot last year, playing against Scotland, Ukraine and Jamaica. Incredibly, they held their own and almost made it out of the pool. They are now a legitimately good team, and we'll see if they can take it further.
10. Germany - Germany has consistently hovered around this spot. They are always good enough to make any pool interesting, but can seem to make the jump to an elite team.
11. Saudi Arabia - They've been playing together all indoor season in Div.1, and playing pretty well. They'll definitely make an impact in this tourney, but will not necessarily make the playoffs. They'll need luck at the draw.
12. Portugal - Another good team along the lines of Germany and Saudi Arabia. These teams CAN beat an elite team, but it isn't easy.
13. Norway - Norway is dealing with losses this year, but they'll still be a good team. They won't have the playmaking they've had in the past, but they will still be defensively solid and will keep games close. It's a shame they've fallen to this ranking.
14. England - England was pretty good last year, but they've lost all their playmakers this year. If they regain they guys they didn't have last year, they'll be much better than 14th.
15. Serbia - Serbia surprised everyone last year when they almost upset Germany to take second spot in their group. They are a team that the best teams have to really worry about.
-The draw is scheduled for March 7th. That is coming up FAST.