BREAKING: CrossFit Announces New Games Season Structure, Dates For 2021

December 17, 2020 by
Image Credit: CrossFit LLC
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The CrossFit community got an early holiday gift this morning, as CrossFit LLC announced a slate of details about the 2021 CrossFit Games season, including some new additions to the season. 

CrossFit’s General Manager of Sport Dave Castro teased the announcement Tuesday evening via Instagram, and in classic Castro fashion, the post included a cryptic photo that left many wondering the details of the announcement and implications for the season.

One big thing: Amongst a host of new adjustments to the season, a new qualifying step for the Games will be added in 2021. Labeled the “Quarterfinals,” this stage will be conducted online in the same fashion as the Open and will serve as an additional competition stage after the Open. The change makes it the first time in history the CrossFit Games season will feature four distinct stages for individuals and teams.

  • The Quarterfinal stage will include approximately 10% of the Open athletes, which means a wider range of athletes worldwide will have the opportunity to continue their season beyond the Open. For reference, Regional qualifying athletes for team and individual competition accounted for roughly .3% of the total Open registration in 2018.
  • CrossFit CEO Eric Roza teased the concept on the Talking Elite Fitness podcast in November when he discussed wanting a similar qualifying step to be added for the Age Group athletes in the future. 

What else is new: 

  • The Open starts March 11 to give gyms and communities time to work through local pandemic restrictions to ensure that more people have access to compete during the Open.
  • New Semifinal stage: A much speculated departure from the original Sanctionals format was confirmed with a new in-person semifinal stage that is effectively a hybrid between the Regionals and Sanctionals system, with 10 qualifying events taking place on six continents run by “CrossFit partners,” presumed to be previous Sanctionals event organizers. 
  • The Adaptive Division is officially here, and the announcement makes good on statements made by Roza about the inclusion of the division in previous months. 
  • The Affiliate Cup is back: Affiliate teams will return to the competition format, and teams will compete during the Open, Quarterfinals, Semifinals, and CrossFit Games Finals. There was no mention of what will happen with the super team format of the previous two seasons.
  • The Last Chance Qualifier: A new single-shot opportunity for athletes who barely missed the cut during the semifinal stage to compete online for a spot at the Games. The last chance qualifier was previously utilized in 2009, when eventual 2nd place finisher at the Games, Tommy Hackenbruck, earned his spot through the qualifier to Aromas. 
  • The Finals: The in-person Games finals are currently scheduled to take place in Madison, WI during the week of July 26, 2021.
  • The gift of fitness: CrossFit also announced that for the first time they will be selling “gift codes,” for Open registration that will allow members of the community to purchase registration for the 2021 Open as a gift for friends and family. 

2021 CrossFit Season Calendar

  • January 7 —  Open Registration Starts.
  • Week of March 8 — Open, Week 1.
  • Week of March 15 — Open, Week 2.
  • Week of March 22 — Open, Week 3.
  • Week of April 5 — Quarterfinals, Individual.
  • Week of April 19 — Quarterfinals, Teams.
  • Week of May 3 — Masters/Teens Qualifier.
  • Week of May 24 — Semifinals, Week 1.
  • Week of May 31 — Semifinals, Week 2.
  • Week of June 7 — Semifinals, Week 3. 
  • Week of June 14 — Semifinals, Week 4.
  • Week of June 28 — Last-Chance Qualifier.
  • Week of July 26 — CrossFit Games Finals.

*Authors Note: CrossFit has explicitly stated that online contingency plans are in place for all competition stages if scheduled in-person competitions are impossible given ongoing pandemic restrictions.

Worth noting: No mention was made of qualifying numbers for the semifinal stage for individuals and teams, or the qualifying numbers for age group athletes at the CrossFIt Games. Many had speculated that the Age Groups would see their qualifying numbers bumped up following a  50% reduction in 2020. 

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