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Too Early to Tell: Ranking Semifinal Strength

April 21, 2022 by

You’re well aware of the road the fittest in the world take to get to Madison: a winnowing of the competitive field from the Open through Quarter- & Semifinals with a hail mary Last Chance Qualifier to close things out before the Games.

In terms of qualifying events, the 2022 competitive season is halfway through, & I’ve got one question on my mind: 

with Semifinals a little more than a month away, how hard is the next step? 

In other words, which Semifinal has the highest-performing field?

Let’s break it down.

Methods

As the saying goes, there are many ways to feed a cat. It’s no different in a sport still cementing its go-to statistics. 

Determining semifinal strength could include previous Games experience & performance (how many times has an athlete been to the Games? Where did they place overall? Where did they place each event?), current season performance (how did an athlete fare in the Open? Quarterfinals?), performance relative to common competitive modalities(how does an athlete handle strict gymnastics? Heavy lifting?), or anecdotal information (is an athlete going through big life events? Injuries? Coaching changes?).

Needless to say, there’s a lot to consider.

To get the conversation rolling, I decided to score Semifinal’s Strength using a weighted rating system based on the number of athletes with any of the following criteria:

  • Top-3 event in the previous season’s Games (6 pts/athlete)
  • Top-10 event in the previous season’s Games (5 pts/athlete)
  • Top-10 event in current season’s Quarterfinals (4 pts/athlete)
  • Participated in previous season’s Games (3 pts/athlete)
  • Top-100 event in current season’s Quarterfinals (2 pts/athlete)
  • Top-250 event in current season’s Quarterfinals (1 pt/athlete)

*All Quarterfinal rankings are based on worldwide Quarterfinal rankings.

I added those up, divided by 10 (for a nicer number), & bam! I had a data-driven approximation of Semifinal Strength.

You’ll notice two primary pieces of info I’ve left out.

  1. Current season Open performance
  2. Previous Games performance beyond the previous season

Due to qualifying the top 10% of athletes from the Open to the Quarterfinals, I didn’t feel that Open performance was adequately representative of an athlete’s true potential to add to the Semifinal Strength number.

Though previous Games performance & experience can be a huge help to an athlete, for my analysis, I decided there has been too much time between Games prior to 2021 & now, as well as too much opportunity for potential noise.

Before I reveal the numbers for all you stat-heads, it’s important to note that Semifinal Strength (similar to strength of schedule in other sports) is not a PREDICTIVE value—I’m not telling you which Semifinal will be the most competitive. 

Rather Semifinal Strength is a DESCRIPTIVE value, describing the recent Games & Quarterfinal performance of the athlete field at a given Semifinal.

Also, these numbers are current at the time of writing. As Semifinals fill up, as invitations are rejected, & as spots are backfilled, these numbers will change.

Results

MEN:

*Dark blue indicates most of any given athlete group, blue is second most, & light blue is third most

With athletes like Chandler Smith, Brent Fikowski, Travis Mayer, Colten Mertens, & Tim Paulson, it’s no wonder that Granite Games ranks high in terms of Semifinal Strength.

Of the 29 athletes currently headed to Minnesota in June, all athletes finished with at least one top-250 Quarterfinal event, two-thirds of the field with a top-100 Quarterfinal event, & three previous Games competitors with a top-3 event in the 2021 Games.

WOMEN:

*Dark blue indicates most of any given athlete group, blue is second most, & light blue is third most

One big story for the women is the data double take for the Torian Pro. With big names like Toomey, Saunders, Simmonds, Clifton, & up-&-comer Turner, the caliber of the event is much greater than these numbers would have you believe.

& don’t sleep through the CrossFit Lowlands Throwdown! With nine athletes snagging a top-10 Quarterfinal event & five spots for Madison, it’s possible we’ll see a Games rookie or two make her way to Wisconsin.

Regardless of how the data is sliced, you’ll want to have your meals prep & protein shakes shook because you won’t want to miss these events—this semifinal season is stacked.

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