Automatic qualifiers: Eight nations get a guaranteed entry based on the results of the 2017 WC or being holder and host.
Group A has four sides, the two top placed get entry to the WC, the other two go another qualifying group.
Group B has three teams, the top two join another qualifying group and the third placed side eliminated.
Group C has six sides. One goes into another qualifying group and the other five eliminated.
The second phase of qualifying is in two groups of three, with Italy entering the system here. Two from Group A, two from Group B and one from Group C make up six nations (including Italy). I am unsure of which of the two groups of three the teams enter, although four of them go to the WC and two are eliminated.
Americas: Four nations compete for one guaranteed place at the WC. The second placed team hosts another qualifying phase.
Asia/Pacific: One area I'm not sure on but one qualifier comes from this region, probably the Cook Islands.
Middle East/Africa: Another region I am in the dark over but one qualifies from there, probably South Africa.
The second placed Americas team added to one from each of the other two regions play off for the final berth at the tounament.
Summary: The automatic qualifiers are made up of six from the Pacific, one from the Middle East and one from Europe. Six more come from Europe, one from the Americas and the last from the last mentioned play off tournament. So it seems likely there will be seven each from the Pacific and Europe, one each from the Middle East and Americas.
Below is a chart that gives an overview of the grouping stages at their beginning. I will do another article at some point going through the whole process with nations added, effectively becoming my predictions.
|Host||Holders||Semi F 2017||Q Final 2017|
|Group A||Group B||Group C|