After a series of hard-fought regional events at locations around the world, the World Wrap Masters 2023 competition concludes this month with the grand final in Germany. Taking place at the FESPA Global Print Expo 2023 at Messe Munich, the final will run from 25 to 26 May, immediately after the World Wrap Masters Europe regional contest concludes at the same venue.
The final will welcome the best wrapping talent from all corners of the globe, with competition for the chance to be crowned World Champion set to be fiercer than ever before.
With just a matter of weeks until the final, we checked in with some of our finalists to find out how they are feeling ahead of the event and what their strategies might be to secure victory in Munich.
Meeting of the best
First up, Wouter Knol clinched victory in the World Wrap Masters Netherlands regional event in March this year. Part of a two-man team that runs WTR Wrap in the Netherlands, Knol is familiar with the World Wrap Masters, having taken part in events in previous years.
"I competed one year in Frankfurt, where I finished second behind Michael Szwacki, who won the Europe leg of the competition last year," Knol said. "I also took part in and won an event in Orlando, Florida in the US."
"The main reason I have entered again this year is that I like to challenge myself and see what my position is in the wrapping world. I also like to meet new wrappers, and there is no better place to do so than at the World Wrap Masters."
Caption: Michael Szwacki (centre) won the UK and Ireland regional event after clinching the World Wrap Masters Europe title last year
While Knol will obviously by vying for first place at the final in a few weeks, he said just the thrill of competing at the event is a big enough honour for him at WTR Wrap.
"Of course, I hope to win, but most of all I hope to enjoy the days and meet great wrappers from all over the world," Knol said. "The competition is a great way to learn more about wrapping. There are so many people, all with their own ways of wrapping. It is always fun to speak to wrappers you already know and new wrappers."
First time’s the charm!
Also competing at the final is Joakim Sveen of Sarpsborg Wrapping, who won the inaugural World Wrap Masters Norway back in February. Sveen launched his own business in 2019 after working in and around the sector since 2010 and has gone from strength to strength ever since.
Sveen is taking part in the World Wrap Masters for the first time this year and admitted he only entered after being convinced by a colleague to test his skills against some of the best wrappers in the world.
"It’s actually quite a funny story; one of my colleagues said I would be a chicken if I didn’t enter the new World Wrap Masters Norway event this year," Sveen said. "So, I signed up and ended up winning the whole thing! It was a really cool experience and great to meet with so many good installers."
"I now get to look forward to the final in Germany, where I will meet even more great people and get to drink good beer. It’s such a great experience and I would recommend it to anyone thinking of entering next year."
Seeking a hat-trick
Already mentioned by a fellow competitor, Michael Szwacki of MEK Wrap Squad in the UK won the World Wrap Masters UK and Ireland – the second consecutive year he has won a regional event after clinching victory at the World Wrap Masters Europe leg in 2022.
This will be the 10th year, on and off, since I started competing,” Szwacki said. “For me, it was a no-brainer to take part in front of a home crowd that included lots of my pupils from the William Smith Wrap Academy in the UK.
“I chose the UK and Ireland regional event to increase my chances of qualifying for the final in Germany. Winning the regional leg was an absolute pleasure and it’s another title under my belt!
Looking ahead to the final, Szwacki said winning in Munich would be a “dream come true” and allow him to complete an impressive hat-trick of World Wrap Masters victories: UK and Ireland, Europe and grand final.
“My hopes are very high, but hope is nothing without full commitment and I’m going to give 100%,” Szwacki said. “Everyone should enter the competition once to experience the feeling of pressure of hundreds of eyes watching you and other competitors wanting to be better than you!”
Caption: Joakim Sveen won the inaugural World Wrap Masters Norway
Connect and learn
Another regional winner going for glory in Germany is Maikel Maine of Carmaikel, who won the World Wrap Masters Finland event in what was his first time taking part in the contest.
“I saw the commercial about it and it made me think about it,” Maine said. “In the end, I thought ‘why not, I have nothing to lose’. I thought it would be fun to see how good I really am, and I can only learn more from doing it and create more contacts with other companies, wrappers in Finland.
“To win the regional event was a surprise; it was pretty close with the runner-up. As I had never competed before and I stand for quality, the time pressure from the competition was tough. But in the end, taking a bit more time in the finishing and making sure I had clean and perfect cut install made me the winner.”
As for the final, Maine will be going into the event with an open mind, aiming for a top-three finish in what he acknowledges will be a hugely competitive content.
“I know it’s going to be tough battle,” Maine said. “Aside from winning, the competition i’s a nice way to connect with other wrappers, exchange ideas and thoughts. and learn from each other.”
Joining this quartet at the final will be Hiroki Kawakami of Yamax, who won the Japan event, as well as World Wrap Masters Mexico champion Juan Antonio Ramírez Ávila, and World Wrap Masters Denmark winner Simon Manley Jokumsen.
Add in yet-to-be-announced winners of the World Wrap Masters Belgium and World Wrap Masters Europe events, both of which take place in the weeks leading up to the final, and we are set for two days of incredible wrapping talent at Messe Munich!
To find out more about the World Wrap Masters 2023, click here
, and to catch up with the latest developments at the FESPA Global Print Expo, click here