The Ice Hockey World Championship, which was founded by the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF), is an annual international men’s ice hockey tournament. It is the highest profiled tournament of its kind. IIHF was founded in 1908, and is based out of Zurich, Switzerland. The federation maintains the IIHF world rankings, as well as administrating yearly ice hockey tournaments. While the European Championships were first held back in in 1910, it was during the 1920 Summer Olympics in which the first internationally recognized Ice Hockey World Championships took place. From that time up until the year 1968, the victor of the Olympic hockey tournament was considered that year’s World Champion in hockey. Originally the tournament consisted of only amateur players. That is, until a ruling in 1977 allowing professional athletes to take part in the tournament was passed. Players are required to play for the country that they are citizens of, although they are granted the ability to switch national teams if they’ve participated in at least two consecutive hockey seasons and 16 consecutive months for that given country. The current IIHF World Championship format consists of 16 teams divided into two groups of the preliminary round. The seeding is based off of IIHF world rankings. The eight winners of the preliminary round face off in the playoff medal round, where the victor is crowned World Champion. 2019 IIHF World Championship It was announced in May of 2015 that Slovakia will host the 2019 IIHF World Championship. This is just the second time that the country will serve as an independent host. The tournament will take place from May 10 – 26, 2019, in two Slovakia cities’ arenas, Bratislava’s Ondrej Nepela Arena and Kosice’s Steel Arena. 14 of the 16 participating countries were automatically qualified for this year’s championships, due to placing within the top 14 of last year’s tournament. Italy and Great Britain, the final two participants, qualified through winning a promotion at the 2018 IIHF World Championships-Division I. Below are the two, eight-country groups along with their IIHF world ranking.