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Last Chance Qualifier: How Close Are They?

June 24, 2022 by

In my previous article, I looked at the performance of Last Chance Qualifier (LCQ) competitors at their respective Semifinals. Some missed their Games chance by a single spot on their worst event. Others would've needed a little more help.

Simply put, I described how close they were to qualifying.

Here, I describe how close they are to qualifying.

As a competition, I believe the LCQ is not like other Semifinals. The programming possibilities & lack of environment uniformity make direct comparison only between the LCQ & other Semifinals silly.

& though the LCQ matches the Open & Quarterfinals in format (digital, semi-controlled environment/schedule), the LCQ doesn't quite match the Open & Quarterfinals in competitor intent. For most competitors in the LCQ, the Open & Quarterfinal stages were minor blips on their road to Semifinals & hopefully the Games.

So on the one hand, Semifinals mirror the stakes of the LCQ the best. While on the flip side, the virtual aspect of the Open & Quarterfinal lends some insight into athletes' performance in a digital event.

I believe that using a combination of Semifinals performance & Open/Quarterfinals performance will provide the best insight into who is closest to booking their mid-summer trip to Madison.

Methods

Up until this point all LCQ competitors have competed in 10 of the same events in 2022 (Open: 3, Quarterfinals: 5, Semifinals: 2). If you expand that to the 2021 season, most LCQ competitors have competed in 9 additional competitions ('21 Open: 4, '21 Quarterfinals: 5).

So, step 1: I compiled 2021 & 2022 Open, Quarterfinals, Semifinals event results for the LCQ competitors.

With that information in hand, how do we compare one competitor to another?

Fortunately, we have some historical data to perhaps kickstart the comparison: last year's LCQ.

In 2021, Roman Khrennikov (332), Alexandre Caron (312), Emma Tall (344), & Kristi Eramo O'Connell (328) finished 1st & 2nd in their respective decisions.

The 2021 LCQ consisted of 4 tests. Some quick numbers to help us orient ourselves in the data.

  • Tall's worst placement was 6th (twice) & averaged a 4.5 placement across the 4 events.
  • Eramo O'Connell took two events making up for 12th & 8th place finishes on events 1 & 2. She averaged a 5.5 placement.
  • Khrennikov likewise took 2 events, placed 11th as his lowest, & averaged a 5.25 placement.
  • Caron's worst placement was 10th & averaged a 6.5 placement.

3rd place averaged 7th & 10th. With that in mind, I'm assuming that LCQ qualifiers will need a 5th or better average finish.

Unfortunately, that simply tells us what it takes to win the LCQ once the event has started—not valuable for our purposes here.

Doubly unfortunate, all of the slicing & dicing below when applied to the 2021 LCQ competition did NOT predict 100% those who won. Why? I have some thoughts.

  • Data set is too small. The 2021 Open & Quarterfinal performances (9 total scores) don't provide a large enough chunk of information to objectively predict an athlete's performance relative to the field.
  • Intent varies from stage to stage. I've said this before: for elite-level competitors like those in the LCQ, Open & Quarterfinals performances don't matter as much as Semifinals.
  • Competition varies from region to region. Because qualification from the Open through Quarterfinals through Semifinals is regional, an athlete need only do just enough WITHIN THEIR REGION to qualify for the next stage.

Why is the following comparison for the 2022 LCQ comparison any different?

Honestly, it's not. The sample size is still small, intent still varies, & regional competition skews performance in early stages.

But if I left it at that, I wouldn't have had so much fun compiling all the following info.

Let's continue.

Step 2: I compared all included events ('21 Open - '22 Semifinals) across the 2022 LCQ field. I took athletes' results & scored them (using z-score—thanks, Tyler Watkins) relative to each other.

I then looked at rankings based on

  • average performance in all events an athlete participated in (R1)
  • total performance in just 2022 events (R2)
  • average performance in all events an athlete participated in + a kicker for Semifinal wins & a demerit (sorry, Mr. Schneebly) for Semifinal events in the bottom-10 (R3)
  • total performance in just 2022 events + Semifinal event win kicker & bottom-10 penalty (R4)
  • total performance of top-5 best scores in 2022 (R5)
  • total performance of top-5 best scores in 2022 + penalty for 3 worst scores in 2022 (R6)
  • total performance of top-5 best scores in 2022 + Semifinal event win kicker & bottom-10 penalty (R7)

THEN! I added each athlete's ranking based on the above to produce a single LCQ lineup.

Without further ado, me & my 100+ columns of Google sheets formulas present, my 2022 LCQ predictions.

Results

Women

After surgery + recovery, a statement at Dubai, a scare at Wodapalooza, & some highs & lows in Amsterdam, Sara Sigmundsdottir is my top pick for the 2022 LCQ. Across my rankings, her results consistently proved among the best in the LCQ field. I believe more control of her environment, the solid support crew at Training Think Tank, & a chance to return to Madison will provide the foundation for a return of the flashy, fierce 2015-2016 Sigmundsdottir.

Not far behind Sigmundsdottir, Fee Saghafi is my pick to take second in the LCQ. Among the field, Fee had the best 2022 performance + Semifinal win (0) - Semifinal penalty (1) as well as having the best top-5 scores among all LCQ women. These performances plus a Semifinals performance marred by only a single event make Saghafi a clear contender for one of the top two spots.

*Savvina & Cohen did not participate in Semifinals

Men

Based on the rankings, the men's field is much harder to pin down. Kotoulas takes first with none of his rankings outside the top-5 among the field. Agustin Richelme & Griffin Roelle both have impressive ranks with only one & two rankings outside the top-5 and Roelle's three top spots. I'd say it would be a dogfight for the top-2 spots, but all competitors will be competing alone & can a dogfight happen asynchronously?

*Tarefi & Samsonov did not participate in Semifinals

One important piece of information that I haven't built into my analysis is the importance of LCQ programming swinging an athlete's direction. If only four events are programmed again, then each skill/strength/capacity an event tests makes up 25% of an athlete's rank. If programming isn't totally well-rounded (can four events effectively gate the Games?), a specialist may strike gold or come up empty-handed.

Regardless of the outcomes, the 2022 Last Chance Qualifier will be an exciting event to follow as arguably the most qualified full field of competitors we've seen this season.

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