CrossFit Games

The CrossFit Open Numbers Game and Who to Watch for the Top 20 Worldwide

February 14, 2019 by
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In just one week, the 2019 CrossFit Open kicks off with five weeks of competition. This year, elite athletes will be competing to qualify for the CrossFit Games one of two ways: as national champion or by finishing top 20 on the worldwide leaderboard. 

In previous years, an athletes’ worldwide standing was largely irrelevant except for bragging rights. The stakes are much higher this year. 

We’ve analyzed the worldwide leaderboard for the past five years to identify some trends and establish some benchmark performances.

Know These Numbers

7 and 18: While placement on the worldwide leaderboard was insignificant in past years, it was a key  indicator of an athletes’ propensity to podium at the CrossFit Games. In the history of the Open, no athlete who’s ever finished outside of the top 20 has ever won the CrossFit Games. In 2016, Mat Fraser finished 7th worldwide which is the lowest of any male athlete. In 2017, Tia-Clair Toomey finished 18th.

785 and 585: The pathway to qualification rewards consistent performance over winning workouts. In 2018, the worst single event finish for a male athlete who still finished in the top 20 was 785th; for women it was 585th. In 2017, the number was even lower: 285th for men and 200th for women. Athletes hoping to make the top 20 can have, at most, one bad workout to remain in contention.

BUT WHY ARE THESE NUMBERS SO DIFFERENT? There were six scored events in 2018 (remember 18.2a) and only five scored events in 2017. The extra scored event gave athletes more opportunities to catch up. Expect the margin for error to decrease in 2019.

12 and 7: There are only twelve female (Table 1) and seven male athletes (Table 2) who have finished in the top 20 for the past two consecutive seasons.

4 and 8: In 2018, there were four male and eight female athletes in the top 20 who would have been crowned national champion. Taking this into account, that means an athlete still has a realistic shot of qualifying if he or she is 24th to 28th. This number could be extended a few more spots to account for a winner of a sanctioned event or an athlete like Rich Froning declines to compete with a team. For more information on backfilling, read this explanation.

Athletes to Watch with a High Propensity to Top 20

To build this list, we analyzed the top 20 athletes from the past five years and applied the following criterion:

  • An athlete has finished top 20 in the the last two consecutive seasons (2018 and 2017).
  • An athlete finished top 20 in 2018 but no previous years and qualified for the 2018 CrossFit Games.
  • An athletes finished top 20 in at least three of the past five seasons. One of the seasons has to be 2018 or 2017. 

Female Athletes

  1. Camille Leblanc-Bazinet
  2. Annie Thorisdottir
  3. Carol-Ann Reason-Thibault
  4. Katrin Davidsdottir
  5. Jamie Greene
  6. Cassidy Lance-Mcwherter
  7. Kari Pearce
  8. Emma McQuaid
  9. Kristin Holte
  10. Sara Sigmundsdottir
  11. Samantha Briggs
  12. Tia-Clair Toomey
  13. Brooke Wells
  14. Mckenzie Riley
  15. Laura Horvath

Male Athletes

  1. Mathew Fraser
  2. Rich Froning
  3. Alex Vigneault
  4. Patrick Vellner
  5. BK Gudmundsson
  6. Noah Ohlsen
  7. Scott Panchik
  8. Travis Mayer
  9. Michael Palomba
  10. R. Paul Castillo 
  11. Willy Georges
  12. Alexandre Caron
  13. Logan Collins
  14. Tim Paulson
  15. Garret Fisher
  16. Nicholas Urankar
  17. Streat Hoerner
  18. Samuel Kwant

Table 1: Female Athletes Who Finished Top 20 in the 2017 and 2018 CrossFit Opens

Total in Past Five Years
Camille Leblanc-Bazinet 5
Kara Saunders 4
Annie Thorisdottir 4
Katrin Tanja Davidsdottir 4
Carol-Ann Reason-Thibault 4
Jamie Greene 3
Cassidy Lance-Mcwherter 3
Kristin Holte 3
Emma McQuaid 3
Kari Pearce 3
Brooke Wells 2
Mekenzie Riley 2
Tia-Clair Toomey 2

Table 2: Male Athletes Who Finished Top 20 in the 2017 and 2018 CrossFit Opens

Total in Past Five Years
Mathew Fraser 5
Richard Froning Jr. 5
Alex Vigneault 4
Patrick Vellner 3
Björgvin Karl Guðmundsson 3
Michael Palomba 2
R. Paul Castillo 2


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