Breaking: CrossFit Announces The Ten Semifinal Events
The full CrossFit Games season slate is coming into focus as today CrossFit announced the ten partner events that will make up the semifinal competition stage this season, answering one of the biggest remaining questions around the new format for 2021.
The selection and seeding process is still unknown, but with the announcement of the events and general locations, athletes now have a clearer picture of their path to the Games as the four of the six continents only have one event.
- The Atlas Games (Montreal, Quebec, Canada)
- The Granite Games (Minnesota, U.S.)
- Mid-Atlantic CrossFit Challenge (MACC; Washington D.C.)
- West Coast Classic (California, U.S.)
What stands out: Geographically the North American events have a nice spread across the continental boundaries. The Atlas Games in Montreal will be the Canadian event, the West Coast Classic in California will anchor the western United States and possibly parts of western Canada. The MACC covers the eastern seaboard, and the Granite Games will fit nicely into the Midwest.
- The Atlas Games had the unfortunate circumstance of being left stranded at the altar in 2020, having their event shutdown due to the pandemic restriction less than 24 hours prior to the start. The Morning Chalk Up was onsite for the event and given what unfolded, it is reassuring that they were able to withstand the hit.
- Loud and Live Sports will be an integral part of the North American scene with two of their events being selected for semifinal events. The Granite Games are a longstanding event within the space prior to the Sanctionals system, and CrossFit’s home state of California will remain a prominent event host with the West Coast Classic.
- The MACC and Granite Games are the two events of the four that were able actually hold sanctioned CrossFit competition thanks to their involvement in the 2019 season
- The German Throwdown (Berlin, Germany)
- The Lowlands Throwdown (Apeldoorn, Netherlands)
What stands out: The rise of Europe as a competitive powerhouse in the sport placed a heavy emphasis on the selection of the two events for semifinals. Given the heavy presence of European events in the Sanctionals system — nine events were originally slated for 2020 — and the fact that European countries represent six of the top ten affiliate markets in CrossFit, whittling the events down to just two was a difficult task.
- The Lowlands Throwdown and German Throwdown are well-established events in major markets. Germany is the 9th largest market for CrossFit, and Netherlands is the 10th as part of the Benelux (Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg) region.
- Both countries are still under mandatory lockdown, although both regions have seen improvements with regards to the daily new COVID cases, new deaths, and active cases over since the new year began.
- Torian Pro (Brisbane, Queensland, Australia)
What stands out: The biggest surprise of the announcement is that an event outside of the previous group of Sanctioned events will join the party as a semifinal event in 2021. Prior to the season changes in 2019, The Torian Pro was a well-established event in Australia, and many considered it a candidate for the original batch of Sanctionals.
- Despite being left off the list in favor of the Down Under CrossFit Championship, and the Australian CrossFit Championship, the Torian Pro held a landmark competition in November of 2019 that included a star-studded athlete field with Tia-Clair Toomey, Kara Saunders, Rich Froning and the Mayhem Crew, and the full Aussie Games athlete contingent.
- The 2019 Torian Pro was held in the Queensland Tennis Centre, a professional tennis arena that made for a great venue for the competition and should be a proper host venue capable of the production and media demands of running a Regionals-level event.
- Brazil CrossFit Championship (Sao Paulo, Brazil)
What stands out: As far as event selections go, this was a no-brainer. Brazil is the 2nd largest CrossFit market in the world and the team from the Brazil CrossFit Championship has hosted two iterations of their Sanctional with great success. The SouthFit CrossFit Challenge put on a great show last season, and one hopes they can be in the mix supporting the lone event representing Latin America.
- Brazil was also host to the last official Latin America Regional, with the event taking place in Rio De Janeiro. The event hit a major roadblock thanks to a massive truckers strike that left all the event equipment stuck behind a blockade outside the city, preventing it from getting to the event on time. Unfazed, the affiliate community rallied to collect and provide equipment from various gyms to make sure the event could still move forward.
- CrossFit Asia Invitational (South Korea)
What stands out: The timing and location of the Dubai CrossFit Championship placed it outside of the natural window for the semi-final season and made it a better fit overall for whatever potential off-season event series CrossFit might have in the works. That left the Pandaland CrossFit Challenge (Chengdu, China) and the Asia CrossFit Championship (ACC, Shanghai, China) as the two contenders for the semi-final event.
- Interestingly enough, the semifinal event has been rebranded and moved, and the organizers of the Asia CrossFit Championship also host the China Invitational. It’s possible that the new event rebrand represents a more unified, inclusive front for all countries in the continental boundaries. It also brings the central focus in terms of location outside of China, and into a host country that last hosted Regional competition back in 2014.
- South Korea is a more natural fit as a host location despite both Shanghai and Chengdu both being two of the largest cities in the world — with populations of roughly 24 million and 16 million respectively — South Korea is more accessible for both media and ease of travel as a major hub on the eastern seaboard compared to Chengdu being smack dab in the middle of China’s mainland.
- Fittest in Cape Town (Cape Town, South Africa)
What stands out: This was another fairly straightforward decision, with only two Sanctional events previously being based in Africa. South Africa has a longstanding history with CrossFit, and was host to the Africa Regional from 2009 through the 2014 season.
- The ELFIT CrossFit Championship never got to make its Sanctional debut, while the Fittest in Cape Town held its 2019 event before the 2020 event was cancelled due to a dispute with the venue after they were booted in favor of a charity tennis match between Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.
One big caveat: Due to the ongoing developments of the coronavirus pandemic it is entirely possible that the physical locations of each event could move in order to accommodate in-person competition based on nearby restrictions and mandates.