The Bahrain Victorious Scorpions Superstars Are Back: Team Revealed

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It’s the superstar team that has gone from the hunter to the hunted. Bahrain Victorious Scorpions are a team that simply cannot be ignored.

Their incredible athlete roster is truly remarkable and arguably strengthened following their amazing 2022 that delivered them a first ever Teams title.

While they will be without the injured Georgia Taylor-Brown in 2023, the signing of Hayden Wilde and returns of Vincent Luis and Henri Schoeman are significant.

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Having dethroned the Eagles last year, the Scorpions are the team they are all chasing this time out. They can be brash and controversial, but they are always compelling viewing. And they have only one goal in mind – to defend their title.

Here, we take a look at the 2023 Bahrain Victorious Scorpions, the dynamics, and the burning questions.

Meet The team

Men: Hayden Wilde, Vincent Luis, Henri Schoeman, Roberto Sanchez Mantecon, Tayler Reid, Shachar Sagiv, Vitalii Vorontsov

It’s a powerhouse men’s line-up with two athletes who between them boast three of the four SLT Championship Series titles. Hayden Wilde, last year’s champion and one of the sport’s current stars, is the big headliner, having been recruited by Bahrain Victorious over the winter.

Vincent Luis has had more than his fair share of injury problems of late, but the two-time Series winner expects to be ready to go, and given his Paris Olympics vision knows he has little time to waste. Speaking of injuries, Henri Schoeman, who so often battled Luis for Super League race wins, is making a big comeback, and already has an Arena Games World Championship title to his name this year.

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There is a hint that the squad will be rotated given the Scorpions have named seven male athletes, but even their supporting cast is strong. Tayler Reid has proven himself and his swim is massive, Shachar Sagiv hoovered up bike discipline points and collected a podium finish in 2022, while debutants Roberto Sanchez Mantecon and Vitalii Vorontsov are slightly more unknown quantities.

Women: Cassandre Beaugrand, Leonie Periault, Nicole van der Kaay, Barbara De Koning, Verena Steinhauser, Alice Betto

The loss of Georgia Taylor-Brown through injury will undoubtedly hit the Scorpions. Taylor-Brown was hoping to become the first three-time back-to-back Championship Series winner, and her absence will be felt in the points tally.

Thankfully for the Scorpions, they still have a bonafide superstar of the sport in Cassandre Beaugrand to lead their women’s line-up. The question will be whether her consistency has improved? Beaugrand can take discipline points and win races, making her a formidable opponent. However, as witnessed in Munich in 2022, it doesn’t always go that way.

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Beaugrand’s French compatriot, Leonie Periault, is coming back to back to her best after injury issues, and if she can hit top form then boasts huge firepower. The rest of their team looks solid. Verena Steinhauser was a bit of an unsung star in 2022, Nicole van der Kaay has SLT experience, as does Alice Betto. Barbara De Koning is an exciting young talent who has the support of such a strong team to help her perform.

Team Dynamics

Any big budget, superstar filled team will also have a question to answer as to how united they really are. While the other three teams are bonded by a common identity or goal, the Scorpions are, on the face of it, a more disparate looking group of sponsored stars and support acts. Is that unfair? Well, that’s certainly what they will be aiming to prove.

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What is harder to call is where any egos may lie. Vincent Luis, for example, has been king of the castle. An undisputed king at that. Hayden Wilde has moved into a gap that his injury issues have created. Are they really teammates? Can they work together? Or in the end will it actually be every man for himself? And what about the feelings of those who are expected to be the support acts to the stars? They may feel they are worth more than that if that is all they feel they are doing.

The management of Chris McCormack and Michael Gilliam will be crucial.

Race Dynamics

You couldn’t really get much more swim power than the Scorpions possess.

In the men’s field Schoeman, Luis and Reid are serious guns in the water. You would likely only expect a couple of athletes in the entire field to be able to live with them. Where that leaves Hayden Wilde is an interesting one. Are they going to work for him and try to bring him along with them? It is 300m and his swim has improved massively. Or will he be trying to bridge on the bike, and will the power of Shachar Sagiv help him out? Maybe, just maybe, he will be running his own race, but if his teammates are up the road he could have it tougher than when he raced for the Sharks and the squad was focussed on helping him win.

When it comes to issuing Short Chutes, good luck Michael Gilliam. Last year he rarely gave it to the athletes out the front, preferring to let them fight it out on their own and instead boost his team further down the field to convert those vital extra points here and there. Whether that remains the same this time out remains to be seen, but given their chances of winning Short Chutes are considerable, it is a problem he is likely to face.

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The women’s team will be led, literally, by Beaugrand. Where she may need backup after her incredible swim is on the bike, but there is significant power in her team. Verena Steinhauser proved last year she has an all-round game to be reckoned with, and is a dark horse to really contribute very heavily once again this year. Again, Gilliam may decide on course to support her and allow Beaugrand to do her own thing, while De Koning’s strength on two wheels means she can contend for bike points at least.

The Scorpions raised the bar last year in terms of their tactics and execution to collect points. Will it be the same game this time out, or have they come up with a new innovation for this year?

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