CrossFit Games

Four Takeaways From the Rogue Invitational

June 16, 2020 by
Photo Credit: Patrick Vellner (
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And just like that, it’s over. The first major competition in over three months came into our lives over the weekend and entertained us all (over 1 million combined views on the Rogue Fitness YouTube Channel). It was a huge logistical undertaking that showcased why Rogue continues to lead the way when it comes to broadcasting and holding fitness events.

Our analysts Tommy Marquez and Patrick Clark give their top takeaways from the 2020 Rogue Invitational.

Tommy’s Takes

Number 1 is Number 2: It’s hard to walk away from Patrick Vellner’s win and not think of him as the 2nd best CrossFitter in the world on the men’s side behind Mat Fraser. We’re not taking away ANYTHING from Noah Ohlsen and his magical run at the CrossFit Games last year where he rightfully earned the silver medal and his spot on the podium, but take a look at Vellner’s live competition performances since he burst onto the scene in 2016.

Between Regionals, Sanctionals (for argument’s sake we’ll include this weekend), and the Games, Vellner’s notched 11 podiums, including an East Regional championship, three Sanctional wins, and three podiums at the CrossFit Games. This season he’s won Wodapalooza, Rogue, and finished second in Dubai. The Games last year stands as a glaring outlier, but Vellner is clearly the next in line behind Fraser.

Toomey lives for game day: This seems fairly obvious at the moment, but go back and watch the 2016 Games documentary, and try to convince us that the Tia-Clair Toomey in that film is the same person we just watched crush a 270 pound clean and jerk just for kicks at the Rogue Invitational. The defeated, self-doubting 2016 version of Toomey pales in comparison to her future self — who during the moments with the highest stakes, carries herself with fearlessness and aplomb that has elevated her to three consecutive CrossFit Games titles and G.O.A.T status on the women’s side.

Toomey’s performance this weekend, specifically in the event 4 Clean and Jerk Lift-Off, showcased the adaptability of her mindset. With no fans, no atmosphere, and no competition next to her, she took an extra lift AFTER she had already won the event, hitting a PR and putting the proverbial final nail in the coffin for her competition. Her transformation has been magnificent.

Patrick’s Points:

Team Judgement: Being a former Games and Sanctional judge, one of the first things I notice in competitions is the team of unheralded workers on the competition floor, the judges. Taught to be incognito, the Rogue Invitational broadcast instead showcased them along with the athletes in their unique settings. What I saw were some of the best, unbiased judges in the community deployed by Rogue throughout the world to not only maintain competition fairness but help coordinate a nearly flawless live broadcast in 33 different gyms, in ten countries and nine different time zones.

The judges didn’t just share the screen with the athletes, they were undoubtedly in control of each of their individual environments. They weren’t there simply to count reps, they were upholding the movement standards, no-repping, controlling the clock and keeping the athletes informed in what would be normally a chaotic environment. Rogue is onto something here. Every year during the CrossFit Open we see major penalties or some sort of controversy surrounding the judging of some of the top athletes. These issues are often judged-related as the athletes are being judged by a friend, a coach, or someone who has never judged and simply took the online course. With a $375,000 total prize purse, Rogue was able to host a fair contest by reaching out to the judging community and figuring out the logistics to set a high standard for all future online competitions.

They’re just like us: I don’t know about you but I felt a little comfort knowing that these amazing athletes are also mortals just like us. Too often we see them whisked away immediately after finishing their events at a competition. But in the security and comfort of their own gyms, we saw them laying down in exhaustion and rolling around in agony much like many of us after a WOD.

We saw Samantha Briggs kick-off her shoes immediately after doing 211 snatches. We also saw Briggs playing fetch with her dog after bowing out early during the clean and jerk lift-off. We saw the utter disdain and hatred directed towards a barbell knowing you had to pick it up from the stare of Patrick Vellner. We saw athletes looking for places to sit during the early rounds of an EMOM. Athletes forgetting the movement they were supposed to be doing or just changing the movement altogether. Of course, it wouldn’t be a competition without Jacob Heppner poking fun at his fellow athletes.

However, we also saw the top athletes grinding through workouts, grunting, screaming and celebrating. If all of this seems familiar it’s because it’s what we all do and witness in our own gyms. Rogue gave us an unfiltered look into the lives of our favorite athletes for two days and what we saw is that while their weights might be heavier, their speed is faster and capacity greater, at the end of the day these amazing creatures are just like us in many ways.

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