Early Season Predictions: How The 2021 Season Event Partners Could Line Up
Last week, we covered some potential details regarding the 2021 CrossFit Games season, including the status of the middle portion of the season, previously composed of 28 Sanctionals, and before that nine Regional competitions. As we reported, and as Eric Roza has mentioned in various media appearances, the middle portion will act essentially as Regionals but will be operated by “event partners,” that were previously Sanctionals.
With approximately 12 event partners slated for 2021 and Open registration determining the number of events in each region, the truest representation of the greater CrossFit community’s numbers is the 2018 Open when participation was at its peak, and closer to Roza’s stated 2021 goal of 500,000 registered athletes.
- The proposed events: 5 in North America, 3 in Europe, 1 in Australia, 1 in Asia, 1 in Africa, 1 in South America.
- 2018 Open registration by region: North America 62.7%; Europe 19.2%; Australia 6.8%; Asia 2.5%; Africa 2.6%; South America 6.2%
- Worth noting: In 2018 the Middle East was grouped with Africa, and the above percentages include Central America (1.9% in 2018) in North America’s percentage.
The takeaway: Comparing the proposed event partner numbers with the registration percentages from 2018, North America is under-represented by two full events, and every other region is overrepresented in the number of events given to them.
- These numbers do not tell the whole story however, and growth rates after the 2018 season heavily favored regions like Europe, and South America where major national markets like Brazil, the United Kingdom, Spain, and Italy were projected to tip the balance of participatory power away from the United States.
- This would likely explain the decision around event numbers along with CrossFit HQ and the new regime making a concerted international effort to expand in new, untapped markets and make the sport a global powerhouse.
So who gets to be event partners?
Looking at the 2020 Sanctionals slate below here are my best predictions on who could be in the mix going forward with the assumption that no new events will be created and chosen for the season.
North America: West Coast Classic, Granite Games, Mayan CrossFit Classic, CanWest Games, Atlas Games, Mayhem Classic, Mid-Atlantic CrossFit Challenge, and Ashbury Park Summer Games.
- Notably not on this list are Wodapalooza and the Rogue Invitational, which is fueled by multiple sources saying they could be a part of a separate prize money rich competitive season with Dubai outside of the classic Games calendar. Otherwise, they would be at the front of the line.
- Geography will be the primary factor in deciding North America, as has been the case for Regionals in the past, and certain events like West Coast Classic seem like a no-brainer based on location and historical relevance.
Europe: The Filthy 150, Strength In Depth, The French Throwdown, and Madrid CrossFit Championships.
- Europe could be a tough call due to a host of other high quality events in Iceland, Italy, and Norway, but what it could come down to is the size of the market within the host country and its ability to host a large, accessible event.
Asia: The Asia CrossFit Championship (ACC) and Pandaland CrossFit Championship.
- There are only two to pick from in Asia based on Sanctionals history, and both have a year of running their event under their belt. The edge might go to the ACC based on the fact that the host city of Shanghai is a huge market, and major international hub.
Australia: Down Under CrossFit Championship (DUCC) and Australia CrossFit Championship.
- Similar to Asia, there are two to pick from and both have had at least one iteration of their event as evidence of their ability to carry the torch forward for a dedicated Australian fanbase. The DUCC has the edge here thanks to their ability to run a livestream, and the fact that their venue has played host to Regionals in the past.
Africa: Fittest In Cape Town.
- Cape Town has long been a hub for CrossFit in Africa, playing host to the Africa Regional in past years. The Fittest In Cape Town is a well established event that despite being victim to a dispute with their venue, could step in and host a growing African community. The ELFIT CrossFit Championship is another possible host, but they have yet to host an official event under the CrossFit banner.
South America: Brazil CrossFit Championship.
- Brazil is the clear frontrunner in South America thanks to two years of Sanctioned competition and being one of only four Sanctionals to have completed both iterations in 2019 and 2020 before COVID put an end to the season. SouthFit is also an option but Brazil is the largest market in South America and the second largest in the world behind the United States.
One thing to keep in mind is that Roza has stated his intentions to grow the sport in a manner that includes a significant media presence throughout the season, so the event partners that eventually get the nod will need the productions capabilities to provide quality live coverage, as well as an onsite fan experience on par with what was seen in the past at Regionals.