The 2014 CrossFit Invitational Games happened this past weekend, with Team USA taking the title! However, that’s not the major talking point of the weekend – it was in fact the bombshell Dave Castro dropped, giving us some more insight into the new 2015 CrossFit Games Regional format, something which he initially hinted at towards the end of the 2014 CrossFit Games.
The first CrossFit Games Open took place back in 2011 and since then the concept was to create a broad and open qualifying process for athletes from across the globe to compete against each other. The top athletes from each region would go on to compete at ‘Regional’ events and then the top athletes from there would make it to the CrossFit Games to compete to become the Fittest on Earth.
Unfortunately, the goal to be as inclusive as possible, making sure athletes from all corners of the globe could be a part of the CrossFit Games, meant that there was often the case where athletes who qualified for the Games were possibly lessor athletes than those who didn’t make it from other regions. What is meant by this is that there were many instances where athletes who qualified for the Games where in fact beaten, based on performances at Regionals, by athletes from other Regionals, when compared, and yet these other athletes did not qualify for the Games because they finished outside of the qualifying spots for their region. Example: an athlete from Regional X placed 4th (not qualifying for the Games) and posted better overall scores than an athlete from Regional Y, but that athlete placed 1st in their Regional, making it to the Games.
This shortfall, if you will, has forced the CrossFit Games Director, Dave Castro, to reevaluate how they ensure only the very best make it to the Games.
17 Qualifying Regions (or ‘Realms’) for the Open Plus a New Scaled Division
We will still see the original 17 regions taking part in the Open, as before. The same format will follow where athletes will do the weekly announced workouts, normally over five weeks. Your placing will be based on how you scored and where you placed per workout. From here, we will now see country and even ‘state’ champions crowned, based on their performance in the Open. So, the top Open finisher in each country or even state will be crowned the champ, up to that point of the competition.
From here it gets a little cloudy and hotly debated, with some saying there are not going to be the original ‘Regionals’ (Castro referred to them now as ‘Realms’, as if we’re doing workouts in middle Earth) and only a new ‘Super Regional’ will be held (discussed below). Some say we still will do the same format ‘Regionals’, and then the new ‘Super Regional’ is held afterwards – like a new qualifying round for Games.
Additionally, the Open will now also feature a scaled division, and that means they are making it even more inclusive, especially as we’ve seen how the Open workouts are becoming a little harder each year. A scaled division means that even beginners will have the opportunity to get involved and test themselves against people from around the world. Obviously the new scaled division will only see athletes take part in the Open portion of the Games.
New ‘Super Regionals’
So, from the Open top athletes then supposedly move onto the old ‘Regional’/new ‘Realm’ events, or not, and the top qualifying athletes from each region will now compete in ‘Super Regionals’. These ‘Super Regionals’ will see specific countries forming a combined qualifying event. An example put out was NorCal and SoCal will be combined and 20 athletes from each would compete and the top five athletes will go on to compete at the Games. This will extend to every other region with Canada West and North West combining, Canada East and North East combining, Asia and Australia combining, and then Africa and Europe will be combined, among others. Some regions, like Asia and Africa, will likely have less qualifying spots available for these ‘Super Regionals’. It also seems like now there will be 40 athletes who will qualify to make it into these ‘Super Regional’ events, and from there the top five go to the Games.
What This All Means
The goal is that the CrossFit Games want to ensure that only the best and most deserving athletes make it to the Games. The positive side is that they eliminate criticism about who makes it to the Games, especially when it’s obvious that more deserving athletes are sidelined because of inclusiveness rather than being there based on direct comparative merit and performance. The addition of crowning country and state champions allows there to still be “Fittest in Country X”, even if those athletes do not qualify at the ‘Super Regional’ to go to the Games. Then, the scaled division is a great way to be more inclusive, making it more appealing for all levels of athletes to get involved.
On the negative side, does this mean that there will no longer be Regional events held in certain countries or regions, like Africa? It’s still very unclear if this is still part of the qualifying events and process. If Africa and Europe are now only going to do combined ‘Super Regionals’, for example, with no Regional events like before, and there are more athletes that will make it from Europe, the likelihood of a ‘Super Regional’ event ever being help in Africa is slim – something which is not great, considering the Regional events held here have been such a great success and have gotten better and bigger year on year.
At this point, there is very little information to go on, and we look forward to more details emerging to help settle the dust. One thing is for certain, if these new ‘Super Regional’ events replace the previous ‘Regional’ events altogether, we’ll see few athletes having to opportunity to compete on a grand scale after the Open, and that means we’ll see a higher emphasis placed on local non-official CrossFit events needing to grow and keep the CrossFit community satisfied on a competition level.